The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 5

unbeatable squirrel girl 5

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 5, originally released February 24th, 2016.

Spencer: I grew up on shonen anime, so “the power of friendship” has been a beloved trope in my life for as long as I can remember. It’s nice, then, to find an American comic so willing to embrace the idea; the power of friendship is so engrained into The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl‘s DNA that sometimes that friendship even comes in the form of Squirrel Girl’s time-displaced counterparts! Yeah, this issue is a zany romp full of complicated time travel shenanigans, but its heart beats with the same moral that has come to define this series: that victory is achieved, not through violence, but by reaching out to, and learning from, others. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4

squirrel girl 4

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Spencer: What does it mean to be “unbeatable?” When Squirrel Girl was mainly a joke character, it meant that she could take down any opponent in combat, albeit always off-panel. While Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s take on Doreen still has extraordinary physical prowess, her victories under their pens have instead come from a place of compassion, understanding, and compromise; Squirrel Girl’s “unbeatable” because she always finds a way to appeal to and appease the humanity of any opponent she faces. It makes sense, then, that Doctor Doom is the first enemy to truly flummox Doreen. How is she supposed to defeat someone with no humanity to appeal to? Continue reading

Secret Wars 9

secret wars 9

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Secret Wars , originally released January 13th, 2016. 

secret wars div

“Great societies are crumbling around us. And the old men who run them are out of ideas. So all eyes turn to you — our children — to build us something better […] We must do more, go farther… to somewhere no human has ever been. Your prize, Makers… are the stars themselves.”

T’Challa, Secret Wars 9

Patrick: The entirety of Jonathan Hickman’s incursion epic has hinged on this concept of master morality — that the decisions of the powerful necessarily cannot make sense to those less powerful. Individuals’ lives and rights are trampled for a concept as nebulous as “the greater” good, and it’s not really up to the subservient class to judge that trampling. With Secret Wars, the class of person making such impossible decisions is God — a literal, physically present, hands-on creator God — in the form of Doctor Doom. His decisions are immeasurably complicated, but they are also the decisions made by Hickman himself, and the conclusion to this mini-series, this event, and Hickman’s entire run at Marvel comics, links Godliness with creativity, and ultimately places the decisions and the morality behind those decisions in the hands of the storytellers.

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Secret Wars 8

secret wars 8

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Secret Wars 8, originally released December 9th, 2015. 

secret wars div

Spencer: I recently got into a bit of a debate with the AV Club’s Oliver Sava on Twitter about whether Doctor Doom is the hero or the villain of Secret Wars. Sava argued that he’s the hero because he saved the universe — I argued that he’s the villain because he then proceeded to rule his salvaged universe as a brutal tyrant and dictator. In a way, we’re probably both right, and writer Jonathan Hickman seems less interested in laying blame at any of his character’s feet than he is in exploring their motives and varying levels of morality. Secret Wars 8 is a full-on action issue, but each confrontation changes the rules a bit in terms of who’s right and who’s wrong, who wins and who loses.  Continue reading

Invincible Iron Man 1

Alternating Currents: Invincible Iron Man 1, Drew and Michael

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

Secret Wars 1

secret wars 1

Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Secret Wars 1, originally released May 6th, 2015. 

“Oh, best war ever…”

-General Nick Fury, Secret Wars 1

Ryan: Secret Wars grabs the baton from Jon Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers beloved/despised/confusing “Time Runs Out” saga chronicling the futile struggle of Earth-616 against the collapse of the multiverse. Hickman dives in by tipping his hat to the concluding plot thread of Doom vs. The Beyonders, the significance of which — aside from helping to shrink the amount of surviving universes down to a baker’s dozen minus a bunch — is still a bit lost on me. The narration of the issue is provided by Reed Richards, and the first installment of this event belongs to him.

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Avengers 44/New Avengers 33

avengers 44

Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Avengers 44 and New Avengers 33, originally released April 29th, 2015. 

Spencer: Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers saga has gone through three different phases. The first, which lasted from the series’ debut through the end of Infinity, found Avengers exploring the forced evolution of the planet Earth via Ex Nihilo’s Origin Bombs while New Avengers established the threat of the Incursions and the drastic measures the Illuminati would have to take to combat them. The second phase found Avengers essentially spinning its wheels, waiting for the Illuminati in New Avengers to reach their limit and, ultimately, fail. Then the books skipped ahead in time eight months, and both lost a bit of their former identities as they became swallowed up in the Incursions storyline. New Avengers has spent most of phase three explaining the mechanics of everything that came before, while Avengers explored the personal fall-out between the members of all these various teams. While the Incursion storyline is continuing into Hickman’s upcoming Secret Wars, the final issues of Avengers and New Avengers focus on wrapping up the ideas they’ve been exploring since phase three began. One is decidedly more engaging than the other. Continue reading

FF 16

ff 16

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.

Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.

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FF 11

FF 11

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing FF 11, originally released August 28th, 2013.

Patrick: I don’t care how many times we say it around here — it bears repeating: comics are weird. Every time I think I get a handle on the time travel, or space travel, or clones, or moloids or whatever, I discover that the well of weird is deeper than I could ever imagine. Enter: The Impossible Man. Who’s The Impossible Man? Just a shapeshifting alien with nearly unlimited power and a comprehensive knowledge of (and fascination with) Earth popular culture. I did a little rudimentary research, just to familiarize myself with the character, and my favorite piece of trivia about The Impossible Man is that he once talked Galactus out of eating Earth, and then celebrated by going to the Marvel offices and demanding that Stan Lee give him is own solo series. It is in that spirit that FF 11 introduces his son.

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Cram Session: New Avengers 1-8 – Incursions

It can be hard to keep up with all the comics you love. But it’s damn near impossible to keep up with all the comics you’re interested in.

Retcon Punch got you covered.

What’s worse than parallel worlds smashing into each other? Not even knowing that that’s what’s happening in New Avengers. Here’s the story of what the Illuminati are putting on hold to fight aliens in your precious Infinity.