This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The tonal range of Tom Taylor’s All New Wolverine is truly remarkable. We’ve seen issues of high drama and irreverent fun, all of which gives this series a depth of emotional experience that at least approaches real life. Moreover, the range allows Taylor to wield tone with a nuance that is rare in superhero comics, juxtaposing and combining them within issues to evoke ever more specific emotions. The surprising tonal twist in issue 22 is far from the most subtle Taylor has ever pulled, but I’ll be darned if it isn’t effective. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Rocket 1, originally released May 10th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: Rocket Raccoon is a walking, talking lesson in juxtaposition. At first glance, he looks likes one the lovable characters from the Looney Tunes gang. After all, he’s an anthropomorphic, talking woodland creature. However, this fuzzy exterior conceals his true nature as a loudmouthed, gun-crazy thief. If this contrast isn’t enough, he is frequently paired with the other Guardians of the Galaxy, a group that frequently saves the universe purely because it’s the right thing to do. This contrasts mightily with Rocket’s typical motivation of doing whatever job comes his way so long as the price is right. That being said, the juxtaposed nature that is intrinsic to Rocket should take center stage in a comic where he is the star. So is that the case in the latest series to bare his name?
Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan: The Guardians of the Galaxy are taking up a decent chunk of my brain right now. I am mentally unpacking the movie and all five (!!) post-credit sequences, so I can’t say that I came into All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 1 clean. That said, the timing of the release is not coincidental, so I know I’m not the only one with at least two takes on these characters rattling around in my head. Luckily, this is a first issue, so Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder offer a balance of fresh moments and necessary set up. Continue reading →
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.
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Rocket Raccoon 10, originally released April 1st, 2015.
Spencer: Every comic character has a certain formula inherent to their stories. That’s not to say that every Batman or Superman story is the same, but think about how often you used to see Batman entangled in a death trap, or nowadays see him facing the destruction of his city, or Superman duking it out with a heavy-hitter over Metropolis. There’s more than enough variations on these stories to stop them from all being rehashes, but my point is that I can often just glance at a plot synopsis and immediately tell, “Oh yeah, that’s a Superman story” or “Oh yeah, that’s a Batman story. ” Skottie Young and Jake Parker’s Rocket Raccoon 10 is one of those issues that fits every requirement for a Rocket Raccoon story to a “t.” It’s very much a “standard” Rocket Raccoon story, but in achieving that status, it’s lost any sort of identity of its own. Instead of standing out, it blends in, to the point where I feel like I’ve read this story before. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Rocket Raccoon 5, originally released November 5th, 2014.
Drew: I think reading makes us bad at evaluating comics. Or, rather, the fact that literacy so far outstrips our art literacy that the art can often go unnoticed. I know from my own experience that there’s a tendency for beginning readers to just burn through the dialogue, barely paying any attention to the art. It’s these tendencies that make Stan Lee an inarguable household name, while Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby are only known by comic fans. Indeed, our focus on writing is so ingrained, it often takes a compelling dialogue-free issue (or sequence) to remind us that comics are a visual medium. With Rocket Raccoon 5, Skottie Young and Jake Parker deliver something of a goofy cousin of the silent issue, but one that nevertheless emphasizes just how much storytelling can be done with images alone. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Drew are discussing Rocket Raccoon 2, originally released August 6th, 2014.
Greg: In middle school I had a problem, and that problem was flood pants. You know, pants that are too short for you, leaving your ankles embarrassingly exposed, as if you want your pants to be safe in case of a flood. Maybe we didn’t have enough money for new pants, maybe I just didn’t care, but I got ravenously bullied for wearing these things. One night, as I fought back tears and told my mom my woes, she offered a line for me to say in reponse — a line so well-crafted I can’t believe my mom didn’t have a previous career as a comedy writer. The very next day, when one of my tormentors chipped away at me, I unleashed this bomb: “When the flood comes, you’ll all be sorry.” The response was intense, way more than I could’ve imagined. These kids laughed until they cried, and didn’t bother me about my flood pants so much anymore. I learned that day a valuable lesson, one that makes itself known in this issue of Rocket Raccoon: humor is a powerful way to work through traumas.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Captain Marvel 3, originally released May 14th, 2014.
Yes, but what does it mean?
Drew: We tend to talk a lot about the meaning of a given comic around here, but we’re rarely explicit in what we think “meaning” means. Or, more specifically, whose meaning we think we’re describing. Many folks are interested in authorial intent — who, after all would be better to speak to the meaning of a work of art than its creator? — but I’m personally more interested in the idea that meaning is created by the audience upon consuming a work of art. There may be objective truths about an art, but there are only subjective reactions. Of course, that doesn’t make me immune to the allure of monolithic readings of certain artworks — Virginia Woolf’s work is somehow inherently feminist, or Ernest Hemmingway’s work is somehow inherently macho. We like these readings both because they’re logical (they certainly reflect the character of the author), but more importantly, because they yield meaningful insights. But what about readings that buck those stereotypes? What about interpretations that strain against those meta-narrative to reveal something more meaningful? I suppose notions of “more meaningful” illustrate my point about subjectivity, but I firmly believe that Captain Marvel 3 gains a great deal by being very unlike what we’ve come to expect of this series.
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Captain Marvel 2, originally released April 9th, 2014.
Shelby: Mistaken identities and their resulting confusion have got to be one of the more commonly used plot devices out there. I think just about every play I did in high school drama involved people being mistaken for someone else and a lot of hiding in closets/multiple door antics. It’s commonly used because it’s one small moment that can quickly telescope into an entire story; each person’s unexpected reaction based on the mistake triggers another unexpected reaction, and so on and so forth. It’s so easy when we’re outside observers to see that if everyone would just calm down and think for a second, everything would make sense. As Carol Danvers is about to learn, however, sometimes mistakes happen so fast, you don’t even have a second to spare to think about it. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 24, originally released March 12th, 2014. This issue is part of the Trial of Jean Grey event.
Drew: As much as I can understand the appeal of seeing your favorite superheroes fight, the strained justifications for why they were fighting in the first place always got in the way of it being any fun. Shouldn’t Superman have heard of Batman? Shouldn’t they know they’re on the same side? These problems are exacerbated in cohesive publishing universes where you can confirm that, yeah, every hero should basically have heard of every other hero by now. Brian Michael Bendis discovered a creative end-run around this problem in All-New X-Men — the time-displaced original X-Men ultimately missed a LOT of introductions to Earth’s superheroes — which finds its logical conclusion issue 24 as they face off against the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. I mean, honestly, how would they know they were on the same side? Continue reading →