Historicizing the Present in Harbinger Wars II 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Harbinger Wars 2 4

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

All those innocent contractors hired to do the job were killed! Casualties of a war they had nothing to do with. All right, look, you’re a roofer, and some juicy government contract comes your way; you got the wife and kids and the two-story in suburbia — this is a government contract, which means all sorts of benefits. All of a sudden these left-wing militants blast you with lasers and wipe out everyone within a three-mile radius. You didn’t ask for that. You have no personal politics. You’re just trying to scrape out a living.

Randal, Clerks

Violence is never a good look. Self-defense may justify it in some cases, but any innocents caught in the crossfire tar even the most noble motives. It turns heroes into villains and obscures the line between good and evil. I’ve had the luxury of thinking of this as a hypothetical question for most of my life, the kind of moral quandry characters might be confronted with in comics, but not exactly an active concern in my day to day life. But in a country facing the rise of white-supremacists, I can’t tell you how many think pieces I’ve read in the past two years debating the morality of punching nazis. More broadly, the questions are about when violence is justifiable, and how much collateral damage we’re willing to accept of said violence. These are exactly the questions everyone is weighing in Harbinger Wars 2 4, though they’re far from the only “ripped from the headlines” commentary in the issue, which paints a startlingly nuanced portrait of our times. Continue reading

Heightening the Conflict in Harbinger Wars II 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Harbinger Wars 2 2

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

What is the collective noun for superheroes? An immodesty of superheroes, perhaps? A bluster, a cluster bomb, a swank? Somebody ought to settle the issue soon, if we’re going to be showered with films like “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Anthony Lane in The New Yorker

That quote comes from my least favorite culture review in recent memory. I’ve heard enough variations of “superheroes are dumb” over the years to keep my eyes rolling all the way to Anthony Lane’s door, but what’s particularly frustrating about his review is that it never bothers to support his dismissive attitude. It’s not a critique so much as a list of characters and events in the movie and the smug assumption that we all agree that that list is too long. To be clear, I think there is plenty to critique about that movie, not the least of which that it almost certainly would ring as paradoxically overstuffed and hollow without at least some familiarity with these characters — if we’re not already invested in Tony Stark’s worst fears or Thor’s grief or Doctor Strange’s sense of duty, they’ll read as pretty thin in the movie. Like most summer crossover events, Infinity War is mostly plot machinations, cashing in on the character work developed in its respective solo series. Such is definitely the case with Harbinger Wars II 2, which heightens the drama of the impending battle, but does relatively little to draw me into that drama. Continue reading

Harbinger Wars 2 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Michael DeLaney

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

Patrick: Let’s run a hypothetical scenario: you’ve got access to a shared universe, full of superpowered characters, all of whom you’d classify as either heroes or antiheroes. You want to pit them against each other, in a… I don’t want to call it a “Civil War” for litigious Disney-related reasons… we’ll say it’s a “Harbinger War.” How do you establish sides? Pick an ideological divide and let it split up your character base, right? That’s a fun, toothless way to pit all your favorites against each other! With Harbinger Wars 2, writer Matt Kindt is crafting a more direct criticism of structures of power, casting the dutiful soldiers and company-men as stooges. It’s a clash of superheroes with the courage to say “hey, some of these guys are wrong.” Continue reading

Fandom’s Power to Connect in Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special 1

by Spencer Irwin

Faith's Winter Wonderland Special

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

Fandom can be a pretty horrifying thing sometimes. A shared passion is often an excuse to harass or belittle others fans, or sometimes even creators, over differences in taste, which is inexcusable, yet practically inescapable. This is far from the way things should be, and that’s something Marguerite Sauvage, Francis Portela, and MJ Kim reminded me of in Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special. Though it’s only a small thread in the issue, the ability of fandom and pop culture to help Faith make meaningful connections is by far the part of this story that resonated the strongest with me. Continue reading

Is Time Travel Gimmick Enough in Faith and the Future Force 1?

by Ryan Desaulniers

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

Time travel is theoretically impossible, but I wouldn’t want to give it up as a plot gimmick.

Isaac Asimov

Faith Herbert returns after a very brief hiatus from her solo series for Faith and the Future Force, wherein time’s been tampered with and Faith sets out to fix it under the guidance of Timewalker Neela Sethi. It’s a simple premise, sure, but simple premises can be great; however, I am finding the nature of this story being based around time-travel to be a bit underwhelming. Nowadays, I feel like a decent time-travel yarn needs a significant gimmick, as the trope’s been so heavily used. Recent titles like ChrononautsGreen Valley, and TMNT: Beebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything show that time-travel can still be done well, but an extra layer of contrivance really helps to help the works stand out. Continue reading

Faith 12

Today, Taylor. and Drew are discussing Faith 12, originally released June 7th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: Perhaps the most well-known example of game gheory is something called the “prisoner’s dilemma.” If you’re not familiar with it, it goes something like this: two thieves are caught and interrogated separately by police. The police have separated the two thieves in order to get one or both thieves to confess to the crime since they lack the evidence to do so on their own. In doing this, the police must offer the thieves a clemency in order to get them to rat out their accomplice. In game theory, it makes the most logical sense for a thief to rat out their friend as opposed to confessing to the crime or not admitting anything. This is an interesting thought problem because it questions whether people can be trusted to work in their own best interest or in the interest of the group. For Faith, this theory is no game, but it may just be the thing that saves her life.

Continue reading