Tyranny Destroys Expertise in Darth Vader 8

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Authoritarian rule is often the result of resentment toward the professional political class. All it takes is one “outsider” with enough willpower to assume power, and then the common man is freed from the dubious expertise of career politicians. The problem, of course, is that the elimination of political experts leads to brain drain in all other aspects of government, and eventually the loss of all knowledge and expertise. Star Wars Darth Vader 8 shows the tenuous balance between the experts and the tyrants that force their extinction. Continue reading

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A Surprise Backstory Reveals the Depth of Curse Words 10

by Drew Baumgartner

Curse Words 10

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

What is Curse Words to you? As a series that wears its sense of humor on its sleeve, it’s easy to pigeonhole it as an irreverent romp, complete with magical beards and a talking animal sidekick. “Pigeonhole” makes it sound like a negative, so I want to make it clear that 1) goofy, fun stories are worthy of our collective attention, and 2) Curse Words worked beautifully as a goofy, fun story. But I suppose we always knew there was something lurking beneath that slick facade, whether it was some piece of Wizord’s backstory or the suspicious nature of his new magic-stealing powers. With this issue, Charles Soule and Ryan Browne take that several steps further, establishing some devastating emotional stakes that are so surprising, they can’t help but force us to question everything about this series. Continue reading

Capturing the Tension of a Post-Trump America in Daredevil 595

by Spencer Irwin

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

The Kingpin, a literal supervillain, has just been elected the Mayor of Marvel’s New York City. If you can read that sentence and not immediately see parallels to the United States’ current political climate, then you’re clearly far blinder than Matt Murdock. In Daredevil 595, Charles Soule and Stefano Landini tap into the confusion, shock, fear, and paranoia that have come to define the last year for so many of us.  Continue reading

There Are No Absolutes in Darth Vader 7

by Taylor Anderson

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

When I generally think about the causes of the fall of the Republic in Star Wars, my mind usually focuses on Palpatine and his meddling in senate affairs in such a way that he was gradually able to secure political power. While that certainly plays a part in the fall, I think we also have to wonder why the Republic was so weak that a single madman could gain solitary control of it in the first place. Certainly, I could point my finger at the Trade Federation or the Techno Union as sowers of unrest in the Republic which led to Palpatine’s rise, but that isn’t it, exactly. No, the reason the Republic fell was due to its crumbling institutions, namely the Jedi Order, which failed to protect and delegate the way it was designed to do. Continue reading

The Frustration of ‘Almost’ in Astonishing X-Men 5

by Taylor Anderson

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

I’ve recently been playing a lot of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and while I love the game, there are times it frustrates the hell out of me. Usually, this frustration comes in the form of puzzles located in shrines scattered throughout Hyrule. While a lot of the shrines are solved using logic, there are some that just require skill and a lot of patience to complete. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come close to solving one of the skill shrines only to have something get bungled up at the last minute. This sense of frustration in the face of near victory is familiar to me now, and it’s why I recognize it so readily in Astonishing X-Men 5. Continue reading

The Universal Immigrant Experience in Daredevil 28

by Taylor Anderson

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

For a long time, America celebrated the fact that it was a country made up of immigrants. People pointed to visionaries such as Albert Einstein, John Muir, and Hakeem Olajuwon to show that immigrants not only contributed to our country, but led it. However, the narrative around immigrants has changed lately, and, like all things these days, has been politicized. The result of this is that America has forgotten the value of immigrants, and with that has forgotten to care about them as human beings. This, in turn, is what drives Sam Chung to betray Daredevil, but it’s also why it’s so easy to understand why he did it. Continue reading

Pride Goeth in Curse Words 9

by Ryan Mogge

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

Hubris is like the ultimate pair of shades. You think you look pretty fricking cool but meanwhile you are not quite seeing what’s in front of you. In Curse Words 9, both Wizord and Botchko are too self-absorbed to see the trouble looming. Charles Soule and Ryan Browne play straight with the audience, creating a layer of dramatic irony that makes the attitudes of Wizard and Botchko easier to endure.

Continue reading

Political Parallels and Horny Droids Star Wars: Poe Dameron 20

by Michael DeLaney

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

Apart from the obvious comparisons to the structure of A New Hope, one thing in particular that bothered me about The Force Awakens was The First Order. How did this massive evil military force mobilize so quickly with yet another Death Star? By drawing parallels to our current political nightmare, Poe Dameron 20 attempts to explain. Continue reading

Killing Hope in Daredevil 27

by Drew Baumgartner

Daredevil 27

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

When you walk through the garden
You gotta watch your back.
Well I beg your pardon
Walk the straight and narrow track.
If you walk with Jesus
He’s gonna save your soul.
You gotta keep the devil
Way down in the hole.

Tom Waits, Way Down in the Hole

There are plenty of great morals to learn from The Wire, but one that left the biggest impression on me is the thought that many Americans simply don’t have access to the American Dream. Each successive series does a great job of detailing why both policing and education fail to end the drug trade, why politics fail to fix the police or the schools, and why the press fails to fix politics. It’s a disheartening lesson to learn, for sure, but it’s one we must reconcile with before we can mount any meaningful solutions. Unfortunately, many American’s are still too enamored of the old narrative of the American Dream — the kind represented by Matt Murdock’s “orphaned fighter’s son to high-powered attorney” origin — to accept that not everyone has access to that dream. Continue reading

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