Temptation Lurks in the Shadows in Astonishing X-Men 4

by Taylor Anderson

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

Being human, we are all slaves to our desires. True, most people are able to keep their impulses in check and only give in every so often. However, the urges are always there and it is only through self control that we’re able to be productive members of society as opposed to fleshy hedonism bots. So ingrained is desire in our culture that it frequently presents itself in pop-culture, usually as a dangerous temptation for heroes as they struggle to achieve their ends. For the X-Men, who are more than human, will temptation prove too great in their fight against the Shadow King? Continue reading

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Occupy Avengers

Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Occupy Avengers 1, originally released November 2nd, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M: We are at the end of a very trying election season. Many elements of the political climate have built to this, but perhaps the most powerful is the competing narratives. Each presidential candidate has been reduced to a nearly binary status. In previous elections, the term “lesser of two evils” was a shorthand to say that neither candidate was perfect. This fall, both sides actively see their opponent as a force for evil. There is a political expediency to this. It’s an easy story to tell yourself and a great reason to go to the polls. What’s lost in the simplicity of the good/evil dictotomy is the true nature of humanity. When a person is reduced to an idea, we lose the ability to connect or help them.  In Occupy Avengers 1, writer David F Walker shows the contrast between the simple stories we tell about each other and the true complexity within. Continue reading

The Uncanny Inhumans 13

Alternating Currents: Uncanny Inhumans 13, Drew and Patrick
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Uncanny Inhumans 13, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Most people believe that the 20th century was a death struggle between Communism and Capitalism, and that Fascism was but a hiccup. But today we know better. Communism was a fool’s errand. The followers of Marx gone from this earth, but the followers of Hitler abound and thrive. Hitler, however, had one great disadvantage. He lived in a time when Fascism, like a virus… like the AIDS virus… needed a strong host in order to spread. Germany was that host. But Germany did not prevail. The world was too big. Fortunately, the world has changed. Global communications, cable TV, the internet. Today the world is smaller and a virus does not need a strong host in order to spread. The virus… is airborne. One more thing. Let no man call us crazy. They called Hitler crazy. But Hitler was not crazy. He was stupid. You don’t fight Russia and America. You get Russia and America to fight each other… and destroy each other.

Dressler, The Sum of All Fears

Drew: I’m not sure if the above quote appears in Tom Clancy’s novel, but it sure plays a key role in its film adaptation, where a group of fascists run a false flag operation in hopes of pitting Russia and the US against one another. The narrative of a neo-nazi faction gaining by pitting the two powers that be against one another certainly has real-world resonance in the rise of the alt-right during this election cycle, which I suppose highlights the danger of steamrolling any narrative into a simple dichotomy. The US and Russia may have been the only superpowers left, but they were far from the only interests that could benefit from their antagonism. Unfortunately, international relations aren’t always subtle enough to fully understand those smaller interests. The same could be said of superheroes, which, even when they’re fighting with one another, tend to be almost entirely two-sided. The Inhumans already represent a kind of third party to Captain Marvel and Iron Man’s “Civil War,” but an even subtler point is how even smaller factions might exploit that conflict to their own ends. It’s The Sum of All Fears, but with superpowers in place of, well, superpowers. Continue reading

S.H.I.E.L.D. 1

shield 1Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing S.H.I.E.L.D. 1, originally released December 31st, 2014. 
Spencer: Since his premiere in the first Iron Man film, Agent Coulson has been a fan-favorite character, but it was the reveal that he was a dedicated fan of Captain America in The Avengers that truly sent his popularity skyrocketing. Believe me, I was on Tumblr to watch it happen. All of us reading comic books are obviously fans just like Coulson, so there’s just something appealing about a character who shares our enthusiasm and interests. Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco’s S.H.I.E.L.D. 1 puts this aspect of Phil Coulson front-and-center, showing how Phil’s skills make him an ideal leader but also how those same skills benefit Waid as a writer. Continue reading

Age of Ultron 6 PREVIEW

age of ultron preview

Age of Ultron 6 comes out on April 17th, 2013 and is written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco. Click here for our complete Age of Ultron coverage.

The superheroes live up to their end of the foreign exchange program by sending the Avengers to Ultron City. I expect most of the issue will involve Iron Man getting black-out drunk and hooking up with an Australian chick in a hostel and Captain America calling home to ask for more money. Also Hulk smashing, because: obviously.

Preview a couple pages after the jump. Continue reading