Unknowability is a Strength in Star Wars: Darth Vader 3

by Mark Mitchell

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

Last month when discussing Darth Vader 2, I counted the fact that Darth Vader largely remains a cipher in his own series as a core weakness in Charles Soule’s story, but with Darth Vader 3 I think I have it all wrong. It’s still true that readers looking for a deep, complex shading of Darth Vader won’t find it here, but really, who wants that in the first place? The Prequels were predicated on the audiences’ interest in “understanding” Darth Vader, and those were terrible. The world already has enough context for Vader’s actions thanks to years and years of pop culture indoctrination. Darth Vader as a mostly silent, imposing villain is optimal Darth Vader. It’s the difference between original Halloween Michael Meyers and reinvented Rob Zombie-era Halloween Michael Meyers. Continue reading

Nova 13

nova 13Today, Spencer and Scott are discussing Nova 13, originally released February 19th, 2014.

Spencer: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: two heroes meet, but a misunderstanding causes them to fight for a while before they inevitably team-up. Wait, why didn’t you stop me? You’ve all heard this one before; TV Tropes calls it “Let’s You and Him Fight”, and it’s easily one of the best-known tropes in comics. Nova 13 is one large “Let’s You and Him Fight” scene between Sam and Beta Ray Bill, and while there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had with the fight, ultimately Gerry Duggan and Paco Medina don’t do anything interesting enough to justify devoting so much time to such a tired concept. Continue reading

Nova 12

nova 12Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Nova 12, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Spencer: Teenage superheroes are kind of my specialty. The many incarnations of the Teen Titans were my gateway into mainstream comics in general, and my undying affection for the recent Young Avengers series is well known around the metaphorical Retcon Punch offices. I feel like I know the structure and tropes of these stories like the back of my hand, which makes it even more surprising to me how effectively Nova subverts them. Nova isn’t a book full of teenage angst or love triangles, and it isn’t even a book about the exhilarating freedom of being a teenaged hero, not really. Instead, writer Gerry Duggan has crafted a book that shows the toll being Nova has taken on Sam Alexander’s personal life, a book about how handing ultimate cosmic power to a fifteen-year-old kid is probably a really bad decision, no matter how pure that kid’s intentions are. Continue reading

Avengers 21

avengers 21 infinityToday, Ethan and Drew are discussing Avengers 21, originally released October 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity dividerEthan: The Infinity arc has been many things: ambitious, epic, nail-biting, repetitive, crowded. The adjective that perhaps best describes the current bit of the story — Avengers #21 — is “compressed.” We’ve groused a bit about the many angles through which we were forced to watch the events of Starbrand wiping out a Builder fleet and an Avenger strike team freeing their teammates, so maybe this issue is a welcome departure from the exhaustive coverage of the previous battles. Yet I’d almost welcome an alternate perspective / re-hashing of the events of this issue, because it was anything but drawn-out. We get the meditations of supercomputers, hand-to-hand fighting across 6 different planets, absurdly dangerous decisions made by a handful of commanders far from the fighting. The brink of despair, total salvation, all in a couple dozen pages.

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Avengers 20

avengers 20 infinityToday, Spencer and Drew are discussing Avengers 20, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Spencer: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver; the Avengers have a long history of welcoming reformed villains into their ranks. Ex Nihilo and Abyss are the latest Avengers to take advantage of this, but after serving as the villains of the first storyline of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers — and after spring boarding the series’ central conflict — their reformation has felt just a little too easy. They basically became Avengers just because Captain Universe said so. I’m sure she knows best (well, kinda sure), but while I had no problem believing that these two were no longer threats to the Earth, I had a much harder time believing that they could reliably serve as Avengers. Now Ex Nihilo and Abyss are faced with their creators, their brothers and sisters…how will they react? Are they heroes, or villains?

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