The Lies Tell the Truth in Doctor Strange 389

by Patrick Ehlers

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


Doctor Strange is not an honest dude. Whatever other virtues he possesses, Stephen will keep a secret, or distort the truth, without hesitation. Some lies are lies of opportunity: the lie gets him something. But then there’s the much more human lie, the kind that reveals what’s really wrong by highlighting an obvious omission. Issue 389 of Doctor Strange is all about tap dancing about the one hardship Strange refused to address directly: his loneliness. Continue reading

Friends Start as Foes in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 29

by Taylor Anderson

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

Back when the first Avengers movie came out, audiences were thrilled to see a fight between Thor and Iron Man. Fast-forward to last year, and many of the same audiences were similarly thrilled to see Thor fight the Hulk. That audiences love to see heroes fight each other is nothing new. There’s a very specific reason why people enjoy fights between comic book protagonists so much: it’s essentially a cinematic version of arguments comic book nerds have been having for ages — “who would win in a fight?” And truthfully, it isn’t only comic book fans who have been asking this question. Comic book creators have been discussing the question in issues for decades now. This debate continues in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 29, only now it’s accompanied by Ryan North’s distinctive humor and irony. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 28 Piles on the Grifts

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 28

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

Loki stories are fun — and have been for literal millennia — because of the dynamic way storytellers let us in on his tricks. Sometimes, we’re only tipped off to the trick after the fact, allowing us to be fooled along with his audience. In other cases, we get to be “in” on the trick, effectively seeing it from his perspective. Or our perspective can shift at any point, allowing us to be fooled for a time before revealing the trick to us halfway through, introducing that bit of dramatic irony that makes trickster stories so fun. Ryan North and Erica Henderson understand the fun of all of those approaches, and mix and match them to glorious effect in Squirrel Girl 28. Continue reading

Fearless Defenders 7

Alternating Currents: Fearless Defenders 7, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 7, originally released July 31st, 2013.

Drew: Death is hard to relate to. By it’s very nature, nobody alive has ever experienced it, and people are bad at relating to things that aren’t walking, talking people (which is why we anthropomorphize everything from pets to brave little toasters). It’s no wonder, then, that comics are so notoriously bad at dealing with death — or at least treating dead as dead. Everyone from Superman to Captain America has cheated death, and while we’re often told that it’s “against the rules” to come back from the dead, characters that actually stay dead seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. These days, the death of a character is simply the starting point for the saga of the inevitable return of that character. Fearless Defenders 7 leans heavily into those expectations, but ultimately subverts them, compressing the “saga” into a single issue, and forcing some actual consequences for Annabelle’s death (and resurrection). Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 8

uncanny x-men 8

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing Uncanny X-Men 8, originally released June 10th, 2013.

Are there demons? Please no Dormammu please no Dormammu please no Dormammu… Oh, thank God.

-Fabio “Gold Balls” Medina

Patrick: Scott Summers and the New Uncanny X-Men have spent the last three issues stuck in purgatory. I’m being literal, but what the hell – it’s a metaphor too. The fall-out from the Avengers’ battle with the X-Men has left the mutant leadership in ruins, their superpowers in shambles, and even fractured our heroes’ goals. Illyana Rasputina Conquers Purgatory featured some fantastic art; Frazier Irving rendered Dante-level hellscapes marvelously, but the story had started to spiral around obscure minutae of the Marvel world, all personified by Dormammu. Fabio starts the issue basically praying to be done with Dormammu – when he opens his eyes to see a familiar sight, home, his relief is our relief. The X-Men are back where they belong. Continue reading

All-New X-Men 13 / Uncanny X-Men 7

uncanny x-men 7 all new x-men 13

Today,  Patrick and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 13 and Uncanny X-Men 7, originally released June 26th, 2013.

Patrick: There’s a character in Final Fantasy VI named Terra. You’d be hard pressed to call her the main character, but it’s Terra’s struggle to understand and control herself that  propels the story and motivates just about every other character in the game. Terra has untold power because she is the result of a marriage between a human and a magical creature known as an Esper. As the humans wage outright war on the Espers, her magic side gets harder and harder to control. This is a weirdly recurring character in science fiction and fantasy: the woman of immense power, who proves to be a danger to herself and others, and who must be made less powerful. Enter: Jean Grey and Illyana Rasputin. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 6

uncanny x-men 6Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Uncanny X-Men 6, originally released May 22nd 2013.

Ethan: One evening in college, I was getting ready to turn in a paper that was due the next day. It was all written & polished, so I was just going to skim it one last time and make sure there weren’t any glaring issues. As the file loaded, Word showed a popup window, which I dismissed without reading in the same way you click “I agree” at the bottom of Terms & Conditions. Computers are always showing popup messages, right? They’re usually redundant, whatever. The first page of my paper rendered as a solid mass of gibberish: letters, numbers, and symbols smashed together without spaces… as did the rest of it. 15 pages of junk characters. Alarmed, I closed the file without saving & re-opened it; it turns out that the popup window was warning me that the file was corrupted. As I sat there, in the fading light of the last day before I had to turn this thing in, I thought about what it would take to reproduce the paper from scratch: all the quotes, analysis, and dozens of footnotes containing the specific page references. All of which didn’t exist anywhere else, neither as a hard copy nor digital. While I knew I could pull it together again given some time, in that moment I was overwhelmed with trying to figure out how I was going to make the situation work. While writing a paper isn’t quite the same thing as fighting a giant, fireball-headed master of a hell-dimension, the characters in Brian Michael Bendis’s Uncanny X-Men 6 are definitely up the creek without a paddle (OR MLA-formatted citations).

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Uncanny X-Men 5

uncanny x-men 5

Today, Ethan and Patrick are discussing Uncanny X-Men 5, originally released April 24th 2013.

Ethan: Each of us has at least two definitions of self – the one we show to the world, and the one we identify as our true self. The external definition — the mask — is usually a tool we use to fit in. Perhaps your mask is funnier than you believe the “real” you truly is, or more confident, or more flippant, or more compassionate. Some of us may present a version of ourselves that is not too different than the one we believe to be true; others of us may show a face that’s more dramatically different than our internal, hidden one. Whatever the distance between the public and private self, whatever qualities you infuse into this living theater of personality, you — and only you — can fully plumb the difference. That is of course, assuming that you know who the “true” you is. In Uncanny X-Men #5, Brian Michael Bendis begins to peel back the figurative and literal masks worn by Magik, reminding us of her past and exploring the present condition of the rebel mutants.

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