This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
There’s no time to explain!
Evasive Characters, Traditional
Drew: There comes a point in any mystery where the effort of maintaining the secret is obviously more trouble for the characters than simply admitting the truth. Writers may delay the inevitable by interrupting much-needed explanations, or adding some urgency that makes such explanations impossible, but inevitably, just taking a moment to put everyone on the same page is better for everyone. That is, “There’s no time to explain,” almost invariably causes more confusion and delays, taking more time than actually explaining what’s going on, and any character who is truly concerned about time would recognize that. Case in point: young Cable’s cause, when he finally gets around to explaining it in Extermination 4, is so compelling that virtually everyone who hears it is immediately on board with his plan. It would have saved him a ton of time sneaking around and fighting if he had any confidence in the necessity and righteousness of his mission. Fortunately, writer Ed Brisson has written in a remarkably effective explanation for young Cable’s illogical behavior: he’s a teenager. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
One of the frustrating things about our currently social and political landscape is that the generation pulling our country to the right was once a force for radical social change. When the baby boomers where hippies, they believed in equality and rejected conformity and corporatization. They championed peace, both as an antidote to war and on its own merit. We can argue about the efficacy of that countercultural movement all we want, but the point is that they were idealistic once. Somewhere over the last 50 years, peace and love turned into opportunism and xenophobia. To this point, the original X-Men have been spared this curmudgeonly fate. Introduced as avatars of otherneess in 1963, Jean Grey, Hank McCoy, Warren Worthington and Bobby Drake have such a long way to fall. Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman’s Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 shows this corrupting influence in action, slowly radicalizing the most level headed, unimpeachable voices for equality in the marvel universe.
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Does anyone remember the “flash sideways” device from LOST‘s final season? The show mined a lot of fun out of the mystery of just what the heck that other world was — a parallel universe? a new timeline? purgatory? — but I never really found the guessing all that fun, as the magical/metaphysical nature of that particular mystery meant that any and all of those things could be equally right. I tend to feel that way about most mysteries that delight in building up red herrings to look as likely as the ultimate answer (perfectly demonstrated in Clue‘s multiple endings; the culprit can only be found by the movie telling us whodunnit, not through any deductive work on our own), but it’s particularly pronounced in stories with a fantasy or sci-fi element that might defy our own experience of the world. That is, if we’re operating in a world with a magical island, is it possible to rule out even the most absurd theory? These are the thoughts running through my head as I read Phoenix Resurrection 2. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Jean Grey 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: Ah, the solo album — is there any more fraught trial in popular culture? Making it as a solo act is a grueling process, and while most never rise above obscurity, artists who are already well known for their work with a band have the blessing/curse of starting their solo career in the public eye. It requires instantaneously landing on a musical voice that’s somehow familiar enough to appeal to longstanding fans (capitalizing on that notoriety) yet also distinct enough to justify the solo status. Dennis Hopeless and Victor Ibáñez face a similar tightrope in Jean Grey, aiming to give the (in)famous X-Man a voice that could distinguish this series from her other adventures. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Deadpool Annual 1, originally released September 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: As a kid, I was a cartoon addict. I would wake up at 6:00 am every day for the sole purpose of watching cartoons for an hour before school. Needless to say, Saturday morning cartoons were like manna from heaven for me. Being young, I watched these cartoon shows for hours on end indiscriminately. In retrospect, much of the shows I watched were truly awful, sporting low production values and shoddy writing at the best of times. Still, I fondly remember these cartoons, and I’m willing to bet most children of the ’80s look back on these cartoons through a rosy lens like myself. In the Deadpool Annual, writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn take a look back at these shows and wonder what would happen if the Merc with the Mouth had gotten his own crack at Saturday morning.
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 41, originally released June 3rd, 2015.
…it was a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time.
Stan Lee on creating the X-Men
Drew: The X-Men’s role as a metaphor for the civil rights movement is as well-known as it is obvious — a group of people, marginalized by a coincidence of birth, struggle to be accepted by a society that fears and hates them. With so many institutions codifying racism with backwards rules, from school boards to lunch counters, it didn’t take much exaggeration to blow up that marginalization to comic book proportions. As those policies fell out of use, though, the X-Men came to stand in for other groups that were institutionally marginalized. As society continues to discard bigoted policies, however, the struggle for civil rights becomes less and less about fighting institutional rules that can be pointed at, and more about combating smaller day-to-day injustices. By their very nature, those smaller conflicts don’t lend themselves as well to superhero action: exaggerate them, and you lose the insight into how they affect people every day; don’t exaggerate them, and you don’t have anyone for your hero to shoot eye-beams at. Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud Asrar opt for exaggeration in All-New X-Men 41, and may lose their message along the way. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 40, originally released April 22nd, 2015.
Ryan: All-New X-Men 40 set the internet abuzz. People who have never picked up a comic book are posting about it. Reputable media outlets such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and even Buzzfeed wrote responses to the issue, inspiring a great deal of debate on message boards and comment sections, alike. Can you blame them? It is not every day that a seminal comic book character, one who is universally adored, receives a fresh start and is looked at with a contemporary — if not somewhat controversial — perspective. The creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud A. Asrar accomplish exactly this as they reveal that (SPOILER ALERT!)…Random is back, and he brought Boom-Boom, Karma, Masque, Madison Jeffries, and Elixir with him!! Oh, and apparently young Bobby Drake is gay. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 34, originally released December 17th, 2014. Taylor: It’s a thing that happens in most time and dimensional travel stories. The inevitable meeting (or in some cases near meeting) between a character and a different versions of themselves. It’s interesting to think about why this trope even exists. One possible explanation could be that since we enjoy reading about our heroes, it would be even better to have a double dose. However, seeing our beloved characters act in different ways or in different situations also is entertaining. And then there is the thought that we all wish we could meet different versions of ourselves, to see what we would be like if x happened instead of y. Whatever the reason, All-New X-Men 34 once again finds our heroes meeting different versions of themselves, but is there anything new left to say about this situation?Continue reading →
Patrick: Marvel and DC are known for their outrageously fun sandboxes. Each publisher has an impossibly large sack of toys to play with, and creators work their entire lives to have access to them. And when they finally get their hands on those toys, the gloves come off, and the story telling gets ambitious, bombastic and spectacular in every sense of that word. Brian Bendis, Brian Wood and Jason Aaron may have been given access to a shallower sandbox, but their gleeful deployment of several versions and generations of the same handful of characters has cast an enormous number of iconic characters into the spotlight. We’ve had the pleasure of watching them wrestle with the emotional result of all of these characters coming together, but Wolverine and the X-Men 37 finally gives us the Battle Royale (of the Atom) we’ve been waiting for. It trips every pleasure-center in my lizard brain, and I’m suddenly 9 years old, playing with my toys in my childhood bedroom. In this way, Battle of the Atom achieves something amazing — not only do I have to confront time traveling X-Men, I have to reconcile my own prepubescent excitement, as it rockets from the past and lands squarely in the present. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing All-New X-Men Special 1, originally released October 2nd, 2013. This issue is part of the three-part Arms of the Octopus story.
Patrick: No matter how well superheroes puncture the zeitgeist, there’s always going to be a stigma around actually reading comic books. Both the medium and the genre have a ton of idiosyncratic problems, and even those of us willing to suspend our disbelief to read stories about muscly warriors putting on pajamas to punch each other in the face — a suspension which is largely worth it — struggle with the way stories are distributed. Extreme serialization leads to long epic, emotionally fulfilling stories, but it also means you get entire months where nothing really happens. On the flipside, extreme episodism leads to easily digestible stories that leave little lasting impact on the reader. Mike Costa’s Arms of the Octopus seems to have its sites set somewhere in the middle, combining the fun escapism of something like A+X, with the more meaningful stories from the series it borrows its titles from. Continue reading →