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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Generations: Hawkeye and Hawkeye 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

Generations Hawkey and Hawkeye 1

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

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Spencer: Other than a codename and skills with a bow and arrow, what do the two Hawkeyes have in common? Captain America first gifted Kate her codename because “she’s the only Avenger other than Clint ever to stand up to him,” but ever since Matt Fraction’s run, writers have been downplaying Clint’s brash outspokenness in favor of emphasizing what a total human disaster he is — and though not to the same degree, Kate’s characterization has followed suit. In Generations: Hawkeye and Hawkeye 1, Kelly Thompson and Stefano Raffaele find something else the two Hawkeyes have in common: crappy mentors. Continue reading

Avengers 1.1

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Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Avengers 1.1, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Take 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 1.1-1.6 (which told a previously untold story set in Peter Parker’s first few months as a hero) and mix it together with Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s JLA Year One (which retold the Justice League’s post-Crisis origin in a modern setting) and you’ll get something resembling The Avengers 1.1. Waid and Kitson take their trademark stylistic combination of classic storytelling set in the modern day (which Waid has also been employing in his modern-day Avengers stories) and use it to tell an “untold” tale of the Avengers’ past. If you have any experience with the aforementioned stories or creative teams, then the result is probably exactly what you were expecting. Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

Spider-Woman 11

Alternating Currents: Spider-Woman 11, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Spider-Woman 11, originally released September 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

The five stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Drew: As a psychological heuristic, Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief is arguably as well-known as Freud’s id, ego, and super-ego structural model. However, that may make it one of the most misunderstood, as Kübler-Ross explains in the quote above. We often talk about those five stages as if they fall into a prescribed linear order, but it was never really meant to be understood in that way. Which is to say: someone experiencing grief may feel any or none of these feelings in any order or any combination. Grief is a remarkably complex phenomenon that everyone experiences differently — some might feel mostly depression or mostly denial, while others, like Jessica Drew in Spider-Woman 11, feel mostly anger. Continue reading

All-New Hawkeye 5

all new hawkeye 5

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released March 23rd, 2015.

Taylor: Growing up, we have total faith in our parents. Not only do they know everything, but most of the time they are viewed as paragons of virtue, morality, and justice. Basically, to the small child,  parents are knowable because they represent the perfect person. As we get older, however, we learn that our parents aren’t always these things. This leads us to wonder what else we don’t know about mothers and fathers and ultimately, one day, we have the realization we don’t know exactly who they are because we no longer hold them in such high esteem. It’s a tough lesson to learn, made all the more so when you learn your parent might be a criminal. All-New Hawkeye 5 explores the issue of figuring out who parents are and in doing so also makes a statement finding your own identity. Continue reading

Spider-Woman 5

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Spider-Woman 5, originally released March 16th, 2016.

Spencer: I’ll admit that, much like Clint Barton, I never took Jessica Drew for the motherly type — she’s always been such a socially awkward, work-oriented character that it just felt like a poor fit to me. Still, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez’s first volume of Spider-Woman was so strong that it seemed likely they could sell me on Jessica Drew as a mother, or at least get a good story out of it. Boy, was that an understatement. This first arc of the rebooted Spider-Woman has been astounding, but this week’s issue 5 is especially powerful. Not only do Hopeless and Rodriguez make a convincing argument for “Jessica Drew as a mother,” but they present such a compelling take on parenthood that their editor actually feels it necessary to include a disclaimer on the letters page! That’s some good stuff, there. Continue reading

New Avengers 3

new avengers 3

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 3, originally released November 18th, 2015.

Spencer: Al Ewing and Gerardo Sandoval’s New Avengers is rather explicitly a book about problem-solving; the very purpose of Sunspot’s revamped A.I.M. is to use their resources to solve crises on a global scale, and the bulk of the second issue was spent breaking down the threat of Life-Minus like a math problem in order to find a solution. It seems appropriate then that, with the concept of problem-solving having been thoroughly established, Ewing and Sandoval shift the focus of issue 3 to exploring the effectiveness (and morality) of various approaches to solving problems. Continue reading

New Avengers 1

new avengers 1

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing New Avengers 1, originally released October 14th, 2015. 

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Spencer: I love “team” books. There’s just something fun and exciting about throwing a bunch of heroes — be they A-List or Z-List — together and seeing what happens. Despite the potential for almost endless variations, though, many team books find themselves repeating certain familiar combinations, tropes, and ideas over and over (look how many books started using the “traitor” plot once Terra first popped up in the Teen Titans, for example — and even she was a riff on Kitty Pryde’s role in the X-Men). Thus, my favorite part of Al Ewing and Gerardo Sandoval’s New Avengers is how quick they are to acknowledge and subvert many of those tropes. This book is clever, fun, and gets right to the point; it’s pretty much everything I look for in a team book. Continue reading