The More Peter Changes, the More He Stays the Same in Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man 306

by Spencer Irwin

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

Peter Parker’s been a lot of things in his 50+ years of existence — a bullied high school student, a harried college student and photographer, a loving husband, a clone, a CEO — but none of those roles have ever changed who Peter really is inside. This holds true in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 306, an issue that asserts that, no matter how much Peter changes, he’ll always be a hero. Continue reading

Sex Criminals 25: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers

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

Literally none of this makes any sense to me but I am fascinated

Dr. Glass

Michael: In the Western world — America in particular — we like to think that everything happens for a reason. In times of struggle we try to see it as a challenge or part of some greater purpose laid out for us by God, fate or the universe. And like anything, the only important meaning of something is what we ascribe to it. In Sex Criminals 25, protagonists Suzie and Jon both respond to their situations as if narrative meaning or consequence are an absolute. Continue reading

Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 1 Offers a Secret History for J. Jonah Jameson

by Drew Baumgartner

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 1

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

All fictional characters — especially in the compressed world of superhero comics — start as types. It’s only as we spend more time with them that they can be fleshed out into more fully-realized, nuanced characters. But, of course, being a type is often all a given character may need to be. And so, for decades, J. Jonah Jameson was little more than the irritable, muckraking editor of the Daily Bugle. That’s not a failure — it’s all he really needed to be to move the story forward, and he was still plenty entertaining. But as with any character that’s around for the better part of a century, those little glimpses we got of him started to add up, and creators started exploring who he was behind all of that bluster, giving us the JJJ we all know and love. He’s still that irritable muckraker, but we understand that there’s more too him. Indeed, there’s enough there that Jameson can anchor a story himself every now and then, as he does in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 1. Continue reading

Doom’s Secret Origin in Marvel Two-In-One Annual 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Marvel Two-in-One Annual 1

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

Each is described as being the strongest man in the world and each as battling against “evil and injustice.”

Judge Augustus Hand (writing for the majority)
Detective Comics, Inc. v. Bruns Publications, Inc.

Augustus Hand served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1928 to his death in 1953, and just might be the most quoted judge when it comes to the definition of the superhero, owing to the decision he wrote when the Second Circuit ruled that Wonder Man did indeed constitute copyright infringement on Superman. His decision provided a revealing definition for the genre, insisting not just on superpowers, but a selfless, pro-social mission. Indeed, it’s not until after that decision that you see superheroes whose superpowers and pro-social mission are seen as separate things, with perhaps separate origins. That is, while Superman fought crime because he could, and Batman became a superhero specifically to fight crime, Spider-Man only picked up his pro-social mission after Uncle Ben died, well after he’d been using his powers for decidedly less selfless purposes. In that way, we might understand Marvel Two-In-One Annual 1 as a key part of Victor Von Doom’s superhero origin; it’s the story of how he became a good guy. Continue reading

The Tantalization of Other Timelines in Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man 305

by Taylor Anderson

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

Every time I read a news story about a tweet our current commander in chief sends out, I can’t help but think how his predecessor or opponent in the election wouldn’t debase themselves in such a way. This inevitably leads me to wonder what an alternate timeline might look like where the current president didn’t win the election. What would the country look like? Would the oval office still be dignified and one that engenders respect and appreciation? I have some ideas about that, but I can never be sure exactly what that timeline holds. This idea, of other timelines, is tantalizing and one all people think about, and as such, it dominates the narrative of the Spectacular Spider-Man 305. Continue reading

Marvel Two-In-One 6: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Drew Baumgartner

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

Taylor: Sometimes I’ll come home after work and my wife will ask me how my day was. Usually, I have something interesting to tell her, but occasionally there simply isn’t anything all that remarkable to say. In these cases, my response to her query is that is was “just a day.” See, the thing is, if you do anything enough times it’s bound to become rote every now and then. This same idea certainly holds true with monthly comics, with most series producing “just an issue” that isn’t all that remarkable. Such is the case with Marvel Two-In-One 6, which notable only for how generic it feels.

Continue reading

Ambiguity and Closure in Doctor Strange 390

by Patrick Ehlers

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

slim-banner

I had a writing teacher in college that used to say there were four kinds of stories. The first is the most common: the hero wants something, gets it, and is happy he got it. We see this one in superhero media all the time, right? Batman wants to catch the Riddler, he does, feels great about it. The second type of story is the hero wants something, gets it, is unhappy he got it. This is the old Twilight Zone twist — “I can live forever, BUT AT WHAT COST?” The last two kinds of stories are similar: hero wants something, doesn’t get it, is happy to have not gotten it, and; hero wants something, doesn’t get it, is unhappy to have not gotten it. Doctor Strange 390 manages to be a weird mix of all these types of stories, where even the question of who our hero is leads to some fascinating ambiguity. Donny Cates’ send-off to Doctor Strange is as mysterious, and true to the tone of the character, as a reader could possibly hope for. Continue reading

“What Ifs” in Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man 304

by Taylor Anderson

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

One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation involves Worf and parallel dimensions. In it, Worf is returning to the Enterprise from a Bat’leth tournament and through a bizarre set of circumstances finds himself transporting to different versions of his universe. In one, he’s married to Deanna Troi. In another he goes from placing first in the Bat’leth tournament to ninth. In yet another, he’s responsible for the inadvertent death of Goerdi La Forge. It’s a fun episode because it sets familiar characters and settings against an unfamiliar backdrop. This “what if” is a favorite of every Star Trek show and the same goes for comics. That being the case, you think I would be tired of the conceit, but the very opposite is true — I love it.

Continue reading

The Burden of Tomorrow in Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man 303

by Taylor Anderson

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

More so than most superheroes, Spider-Man knows just how much of a sacrifice it takes to use his powers for good. In fact, the very reason he decided to become a hero at all revolves around the loss of his Uncle Ben. The list of hits doesn’t end there, though: Gwen Stacy, Aunt May, and and the sometimes friendly Osborns have all died at some point or another due to Spider-Man. This means that he’s a character as much defined by his tragic circumstances as he is by his superpowers, which begs the question: if he knew how terrible it is to be Spider-Man, would Peter Parker choose to be him anyway? Continue reading

Authenticity in Sex Criminals 23

by Ryan Desaulniers

Sex Criminals 23

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

[He] felt he had to choose between being a failure and being a fake

Because going against our natural inclinations can make us feel like impostors, we tend to latch on to authenticity as an excuse for sticking with what’s comfortable.

Herminia Ibarra, The Authenticity Paradox

“Authenticity” is a big, nebulous word. I normally encounter the concept in the realm of art — whether it be performance or otherwise — as an indicator of a work’s sincerity or the artist’s commitment to an original, unique vision, but there’s no rubric or scale to truly measure these values. The same can be said about authenticity in one’s personal life. How can one accurately and honestly gauge whether their actions or behaviors come from one’s natural, earnest inclinations when any given person, on their journey through life, undergoes so much change due to a litany of reasons? At what point can the quest for authenticity become a detriment to further development instead of being a welcome pillar of deeply-held tenants? Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals 23 reads as a very busy issue, featuring an array of close-ups on the characters of the series, and these moments succeed in showing the struggle for authenticity, though these moments occur within a messy-feeling broader plot. Continue reading