This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk.
The ends of long creator runs in comics are a strange thing — an ending that isn’t an ending, a goodbye that isn’t a goodbye — but are also relatively commonplace. Indeed, those “final issues” are common enough to create a kind of map of morphologies, from those that send the characters in bold new directions to those that more or less put things back to neutral. One of the most common features, though, is that writers step out from behind the curtain to acknowledge their own departure. Some do this in a self-consciously postmodern way (a la Animal Man 26, excerpted above), but any hint of goodbye from the creative team breaks the fourth wall at least a little. We’ve written about plenty of those final issues over the years, but none quite as final as Invincible Iron Man 600, which isn’t just the finale of Brian Michael Bendis’s three-year run with the series, but of his 18-year run with Marvel. That is, he’s not just saying goodbye to the cast of Invincible Iron Man, but the Marvel Universe as a whole, which demands some kind of acknowledgement, which Bendis of course puts his trademark spin on. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Modern storytelling loves a narrative twist — you could argue that most stories are exclusively centered around them. With that in mind, do we let the success of a twist dictate the overall reception of a story? Hunt for Wolverine 1 may be such an example. Continue reading →
This article containersSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Taylor: When you think of the job comic book writers are tasked with, it’s damn near impossible to not stand in awe at what they accomplish. When writing for monthlies, authors not only have to come up with an engaging story, but something that stands out as unique. This is no easy task. Monthly comics have been around for the better part of a century, and many of the heroes who have titles today have participated in literally hundreds of story arcs. With that in mind, it’s impressive to consider the career of a writer as prolific as Brian Michael Bendis. Arguably the most recognizable name in comic book writing today, Bendis has written countless stories in his career, so at some point it becomes reasonable to question if he’ll ever cease to come up with new, entertaining stories. While it would be hyperbole to say Defenders 1 signals the beginning of the end for Bendis’s creativity, it’s hard to argue the lack of originality and inspiration in this first issue. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Civil War II 8, originally released December 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: The point of most blockbuster summer event crossovers is to throw as many characters together as a publisher can and coast off the spectacle, using tie-ins to boost sales and often refocusing their line of books in the aftermath. When these events are done right they can be loads of fun, but it’s hard to deny that there’s something kinda mercenary about the whole process. Is it possible for an event comic to have a soul? I’d certainly say so, and I’d imagine Brian Michael Bendis would agree with me. The problem with Civil War II, then, is that Bendis’ attempts to split the book evenly between spectacle and deeper themes results in both elements playing out unsatisfactorily. Continue reading →
Today,Taylor and Drew are discussing Uncanny X-Men 600, originally released November 4th, 2015.
Taylor: In my junior year of college I took a creative writing course that required each student to have at least one of their stories workshopped. This involved everyone in the class reading your story and then picking it apart in front of you during class. All the things your peers thought about your story, both good and bad, came out during this process. I remember it being a humbling and somewhat traumatic experience. It’s hard to put something you created out there in the world for everyone to scrutinize and it takes a thick skin to not let the negative comments beat you down. In Uncanny X-Men 600, the final of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ run on the series, Beast is put on trial by his peers for actions. In doing so he attempts to defend his actions and those of the author who gives him life. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Invincible Iron Man 1, originally released October 7th, 2015.
Drew: Whether it’s being bitten by a radioactive spider or being shipped to Earth as an infant, most superhero origins are shockingly passive. We can emphasize the decisions these characters make once they have their powers, but industrial accidents and personal tragedies are the things that force them to make those decisions in the first place. In that way, Tony Stark is a bit of a man apart: he’s a superhero by sheer force of will. More importantly, his origin is necessarily active (even if “inventing” isn’t the most exciting action), putting action at the very heart of the Iron Man formula. So when Tony finishes his latest Iron Man armor in Invincible Iron Man 1, what does he do with it? He waits for the battery to charge. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 41, originally released June 3rd, 2015.
…it was a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time.
Stan Lee on creating the X-Men
Drew: The X-Men’s role as a metaphor for the civil rights movement is as well-known as it is obvious — a group of people, marginalized by a coincidence of birth, struggle to be accepted by a society that fears and hates them. With so many institutions codifying racism with backwards rules, from school boards to lunch counters, it didn’t take much exaggeration to blow up that marginalization to comic book proportions. As those policies fell out of use, though, the X-Men came to stand in for other groups that were institutionally marginalized. As society continues to discard bigoted policies, however, the struggle for civil rights becomes less and less about fighting institutional rules that can be pointed at, and more about combating smaller day-to-day injustices. By their very nature, those smaller conflicts don’t lend themselves as well to superhero action: exaggerate them, and you lose the insight into how they affect people every day; don’t exaggerate them, and you don’t have anyone for your hero to shoot eye-beams at. Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud Asrar opt for exaggeration in All-New X-Men 41, and may lose their message along the way. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 40, originally released April 22nd, 2015.
Ryan: All-New X-Men 40 set the internet abuzz. People who have never picked up a comic book are posting about it. Reputable media outlets such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and even Buzzfeed wrote responses to the issue, inspiring a great deal of debate on message boards and comment sections, alike. Can you blame them? It is not every day that a seminal comic book character, one who is universally adored, receives a fresh start and is looked at with a contemporary — if not somewhat controversial — perspective. The creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud A. Asrar accomplish exactly this as they reveal that (SPOILER ALERT!)…Random is back, and he brought Boom-Boom, Karma, Masque, Madison Jeffries, and Elixir with him!! Oh, and apparently young Bobby Drake is gay. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 35, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Ryan: The “how” of All-New X-Men 35 may come off as complicated, but is fairly straightforward compared to some of the dimension and timeline hopping we have seen recently. With the grown-up, 616-proper X-men all converging on the last will and testament of one Charles Xavier, the temporally and dimensionally-displaced All-New (plus X-23) find themselves in the Ultimate Universe thanks to the powers of a new mutant named Carmen. These X-men find the heroes on Earth-1610 still recovering from the devastation of Gah Lak Tus’s attack during Cataclysm, and a general populace wherein mutants are not only marginalized, but actively outlawed. See? Simple. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Michael D. are discussing All-New X-Men 9, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Patrick: ”What are we doing here?” It’s a practical question, but it’s also often a petulant one. The question is so charged, packed with implications about the many other ways the asker would rather be spending their time. In my experience, the next thought after “what are we doing here?” is usually “I’m leaving.” When you’re young and unattached, it’s a dangerous question because it can lead you to take almost any course of action. So when a time-displaced mutant that feels alienated from his only friends asks “What are we doing here?” it’s cause for alarm.