Secret Empire: Omega 1: Discussion

By Ryan Mogge and Drew Baumgartner

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ryan: Every event in your memory left some sort of mark. When it comes to trauma, those marks are more like deep grooves. No matter how much you heal, or how much better off you are, you are changed by what has happened to you. In the wake of a rebellion against a group of fascists bent on world domination with the face of the most trusted man alive, you certainly can’t expect to move forward without being changed. In Secret Empire: Omega 1, Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino offer a mixture of back-to-normal plot points and artful rumination that operate quite differently but still offer the same themes of trauma and the scars left behind. Continue reading

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Happy Endings Aren’t Always Happy in Unstoppable Wasp 8

by Taylor Anderson

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When asked what the best Star Wars movie is, most people will tell you Empire Strikes Back is where it’s at. Objectively, there’s no denying that it is the most cinematically sound of the all the movies, but I think a lot of people respond to it because it ends on a dour note. Seeing Han, Luke, and Leia fail resonates with so many people because it more accurately reflects our own life experiences. Aside from a select few, most of us know more failure than we do success, so the realism of a sad ending is often times preferable to a happy one. Unstoppable Wasp 8 doesn’t end sadly, in fact the entire issue is quite the opposite, and for that reason the issue falls somewhat flat. Continue reading

The Failings of Friendship in Desperate Times in Secret Empire 5

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“The power of friendship” is a popular trope in most media. The idea that most situations can be overcome through the bonds we share with our friends is powerful in a lot of ways, but it’s one that never really seems applicable to war or espionage stories like Secret Empire. Make no mistake, Hydra is not going to be defeated by friendship or optimism alone, but in Secret Empire 5, Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Andrea Sorrentino, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg do explore the effect pre-existing relationships have on their conflict. It’s not always a good one. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 28

Alternating Currents: Amazing Spider-Man 28, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 28, originally released July 7th, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Drew: When we’re frustrated with superhero comics, we’ll sometimes blame the serialized format for robbing endings of any tension (or even mocking the very idea of “endings”) — as much as a given comic may try to convince you of the danger its hero is in, we all know they’ll be back to fight again next month. And actually, genre conventions are much more prescriptive than that, generally insisting that the villain also live to fight again (though maybe not until the hero has cycled through the rest of their rogues gallery). I added the caveat of “when we’re frustrated,” because I ultimately don’t think anyone’s assessment of a story comes down to how rote certain genre conventions are — predictable stories can be great, and unpredictable ones can be terrible — just that we might misidentify (or overemphasize) “predictability” as the reason for disliking a given story. Writer Dan Slott may be most famous for throwing those presumptions out the window, but Amazing Spider-Man 28 reveals just how adept he is at making even the most familiar genre conventions feel exciting. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 25

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 25, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Spencer: As Aunt May herself points out this week, Peter Parker’s always been a busy guy. Add running a major international company to his already impressive pile of responsibilities and it’s almost guaranteed that something will start to give. The massive Amazing Spider-Man 25 digs into that dilemma from all angles, reminding readers of every task Peter’s got on his plate and what’s at risk if he fails at any one of them. It’s an almost overwhelming issue, a trait that effectively puts readers in Peter’s overstressed shoes. Continue reading

Unstoppable Wasp 3

unstoppable-wasp-3

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Unstoppable Wasp 3, originally released March 1st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: Being an adult who is every day more aware of the inescapable progression of time, it’s becoming easier to look at he past through rose-tinted glasses. When I think back to my time in high school, it’s hard not to picture it as a carefree time when things were simple. However, when I make the effort to wade through the thick seaweed of nostalgia, I remember that high school was anything but easy. One of things that made it challenging was trying to figure out who I was, what social group I identified with, and who I planned on being in the future. These are things every high schooler deals with and as Unstoppable Wasp 3 reminds me, being smart and talented doesn’t make those choices any easier. Continue reading

Unstoppable Wasp 1

unstoppable-wasp-1

Today, Taylor and Ryan M. are discussing Unstoppable Wasp 1, originally released January 4, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: One of the science teachers at the school where I work has posters hanging up all around her room depicting women scientists along with their accomplishments. Without even asking, it’s clear why her room is set up this way. By hanging these posters she wants to show her female students that yes, they too can be intelligent scientists. While that only seems like common sense to a lot of us, for many girls growing up this lesson is hard to learn because they are rarely shown that as a girl it’s awesome to smart and into science. One has only to look at comic book characters such as Black Widow, a classic femme fatale, to understand how society largely views women’s role in our world. The first issue of Unstoppable Wasp is keen to show that women not only can be scientists, but that it’s damn fun and exciting as well.

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Mockingbird 8

Today, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Mockingbird 8, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M.: When the cover of an issue includes the eponymous heroine wearing an “Ask me about my feminist agenda” t-shirt, you have no choice but to examine the work therein with a feminist lens. I will admit that going into the issue, I expected it to contend with Bobbi’s reactions to her rapist stalker and how she deals with being a trauma survivor, possibly with irreverent jokes about corgis and effortless flirting with Hunter. Instead Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk deliver those corgi jokes and Hunter-flirting as they reveal the feeble heart of the patriarchy and use the Phantom Rider to skewer it.

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Silk 8

silk 8

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silk 8, originally released May 11th, 2016.

Drew: I had a bit of an identity crisis when I got to college. Well, “crisis” is an overstatement, but I certainly had to reevaluate how I defined myself. Some of that came down to being in a new place with new people, but the bigger part was that the things that distinguished me in high school, say, my passion and talent for music, were no longer remarkable in a conservatory full of musicians. I suspect this is a common experience for a lot of teens, even if the details change a bit (maybe it’s not college, but a music scene, or space camp, or whatever), which is why identity is such an important subject for them. Of course, for all of our struggles to further define ourselves, our identities are much more stable than those of comic book superheroes, whose identities are managed by numerous writers, artists, and editors, but are often split between costumed and civilian personas, and might even run into alternate versions of themselves. Suffice it to say, Cindy Moon was not in a great place to define (or defend) her personality even before she ran into her evil doppelgänger, which lends every decision she makes in Silk 8 an almost visceral tension. Continue reading

Silk 6

silk 6

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Silk 6, originally released March 16th, 2015.

Taylor: Many of the stories I’ve encountered in my time reading comics exist in a world that is split into two halves. There are those who are good and those who are bad. S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra. The Light Side vs. the Dark Side. While these worlds are the setting for compelling stories, they aren’t necessarily a reflection of our own world. It’s rare today that something or someone can be considered entirely good or evil. Silk 6 recognizes this, and in doing so, shows us that sometimes choosing between right and wrong isn’t as easy as most comics would have us believe.

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