Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 4/12/17

We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing Amazing Spider-Man 26, Old Man Logan, Silver Surfer 10, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 19, and Unstoppable Wasp 4. Also, we’ll be discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 21 and Unbelievable Gwenpool 14 on Monday and Black Panther: The Crew 1 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 25

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 25, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Spencer: As Aunt May herself points out this week, Peter Parker’s always been a busy guy. Add running a major international company to his already impressive pile of responsibilities and it’s almost guaranteed that something will start to give. The massive Amazing Spider-Man 25 digs into that dilemma from all angles, reminding readers of every task Peter’s got on his plate and what’s at risk if he fails at any one of them. It’s an almost overwhelming issue, a trait that effectively puts readers in Peter’s overstressed shoes. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 9

Alternating Currents: Silver Surfer 9, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 9, originally released March 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: In this day and age, episodic storytelling isn’t particularly well-respected — particularly when the episodes might follow some kind of prescribed formula — but I think there’s a lot more value in formula than we tend to give credit. For one, long-gestating stories or deep character growth might not be the point of every story; sometimes you just want to see what new shenanigans Lucille Ball gets up to this week. But I think the bigger virtue of those episodic formulas is that they reflect the cycles in our everyday lives. Sure, audiences may not arrest a new criminal or annoy their spouse or teach an important life lesson to their kids every week, but the patterns are familiar enough (and cyclical enough) to reflect their lived experiences. I don’t mean to suggest that serialized stories can’t achieve this (honestly, I can’t think of a single example that doesn’t sit somewhere in between the abstract extremes of “episodic” and “serialized”), just that there are virtues to episodic storytelling that are often overlooked. Case in point: the formula of Silver Surfer 9 is undoubtedly familiar to longtime readers of this series, but with the formula as charming as it is, it’s hard to see that as a downside. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/18/17

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing Amazing Spider-Man 23, Cage 4, Captain America: Sam Wilson 18, Clone Conspiracy 4, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat 14, Star-Lord 2, Ultimates 2 3, Unbelievable Gwenpool 10 and Uncanny Inhumans 18. Also, we will be discussing Invincible Iron Man 3 on Monday, Deadpool the Duck 2 on Tuesday, and Black Widow 10 on Wednesdayso come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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The Clone Conspiracy 1

Alternating Currents: Clone Conspiracy 1, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Clone Conspiracy 1, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

Plutarch

Drew: The Ship of Theseus, as this thought experiment is commonly known, is often used in science fiction to address the notion of personal identity — that is, how much of you has to be, say, cybernetic before you are no longer yourself — but I actually think the key to the problem Plutarch laid out is that the ship isn’t a person. The question of whether or not a partially-replaced thing could be called the same thing is an interesting question, but I’m less inclined to think that a person’s identity is tied up in the provenance of their body parts. Moreover, I doubt anyone would assert that someone who receives a liver transplant is even a little bit a different person (especially since our livers are constantly replacing old cells, and best estimates suggest a full turnover of liver cells happens every 1-2 years). I’d suggest that the inverse is also true: that someone’s identity can change without changing their bodies at all (besides their liver, obviously). Point is, identity is much more complex than the simple summation of our body parts. For colloquial evidence, we need look no further than Dan Slott’s work with Spider-Man, where characters’ identities might inhabit other characters’ bodies (or octo-bots) without any real questions about who is who. That’s not to say issues of bodies and identity can’t get messy, just that it takes something a little extra to take us there — something like Clone Conspiracy. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 3

silver surfer 3

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Silver Surfer 3, originally released April 13, 2016.

Patrick: Silver Surfer has a puzzling relationship with the concept of “history.” I suppose we should expect no less from a character that can get caught in infinite time loops and regularly has a role in actively remaking reality. But he’s also just a strange character to consider from a meta-fictional standpoint: a villain-turned-hero whose whole shtick reads like a crummy Beach Boys B-side. There’s a weird mix of highfalutin science fiction mumbo-jumbo and campy comic book irreverence built into the character’s DNA. Was he the herald of planet-devouring mega-monster? Sure, but his last name is also Radd. Dan Slott and Michael Allred use the occasion of Silver Surfer’s 50th anniversary to celebrate the character’s duality and challenge the comic book industry’s penchant for rebooting their worlds and characters.
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Silver Surfer 15

silver surfer 15

Today, Shane Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 15, originally released November 25th, 2015.

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Patrick: Why do reboots matter so much to us? The characters we’re reading about aren’t — in the strictest sense — real. The only thing that’s ever real about them are our feelings toward them. And those feelings never need to go away, even as the very qualities that made us fall in love with characters in the first place are retconned out of existence. Silver Surfer 15 tackles this notion literally, as Dawn has to chose between an idealized world based on all the wonderful things she remembers and a scary new world with limitless possibilities for change. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 1

amazing spider-man 1Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 1, originally released October 7th, 2015.

Spencer: If you’re reading a Spider-Man book, then you know his deal: “With great power must also come great responsibility.” For Peter Parker, his “power” has always been the superhuman abilities granted him by a bite from a radioactive spider, but are these abilities truly his greatest asset? It’s a question Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli tackle head-on in the newest Amazing Spider-Man 1. Skipping ahead eight months from the conclusion of Secret Wars, Slott and Camuncoli present us with a version of Peter Parker who’s found a way to honor his Uncle Ben without even needing to put on a mask; in fact, Spider-Man now exists mainly to protect and support Peter. It’s a take both radical and faithful in a way only Dan Slott could pull off. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5

Alternating Currents: The Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows 5, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5, originally released September 2nd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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Drew: It’s rare that we ever put a spoiler warning up on the site. It’s been suggested more than once, but we usually come to the conclusion that it would be redundant — it would be impossible to have the kind of in-depth discussions we have about comics without acknowledging what happened within them. That’s always been enough to end the conversation, but I also tend to think that superhero comics are impossible to spoil — or maybe that it’s they’re impossible not to spoil. That is to say, we don’t come to superhero stories to be surprised at the outcome, but to be inspired by them. I mean, “Spider-Man saves the day” isn’t exactly revelatory, but it describes the majority of Spider-Man stories (though not necessarily each individual issue), and doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Indeed, that we know Spider-Man will get back up to fight again is exactly what makes him such an enduring character in the first place. So when The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows inevitably lives up to its name, its predictability is a strength, not a weakness. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 14

silver surfer 14

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 14, originally released September 2nd, 2015.

Spencer: It took me a while to realize this, but one of the major reasons why I’ve always loved superheroes so much is because they represent a world where people can stand up to injustice, inequality, and bullies, and make a tangible difference for the better. That’s something I long for, and I’ll admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d do to reshape society if I had god-like powers. But what looks good in a fantasy — or even on the comics page — doesn’t always go as planned in real life. That’s exactly what Norrin and Dawn discover in Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 14, where their attempts to rebuild the universe to their own specifications instead of exactly as it once was could result in major repercussions.
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