Secret Empire 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

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Patrick: The Secret Empire epic drives on an engine powered by dramatic irony. From the second Steve’s first “Hail Hydra” was uttered, the audience knew more about the threat the Marvel Universe faced better than any of its inhabitants. It is serendipitous (in the worst possible way) that the current political climate in the United States has made readers hyper-aware of this irony, as we’re able to draw obvious parallels between the rise of Hydra and the rise of white nationalism. We don’t need to parse out the rhetorical devices Steve uses to justify his abuses of power — we see them demonstrated by our president every day. Issue 4 doubles down on the practice of illustrating dramatic irony, giving the audience far more information than any of the characters are ever afforded. The result is an unsettling exercise in moral relativism. Continue reading

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Ant-Man Annual 1

ant-man annual 1

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Ant-Man Annual 1, originally released July 15, 2015.

Taylor: Mentorship is an ancient practice. Any of us who have had the pleasure of reading Plato’s Republic (or were assigned to read it for class) know that the practice of an elder teaching a younger the ropes is something present in almost all societies. It’s natural then that we see this same master-apprentice relationship present in comic books. Batman, the Ninja Turtles, Wolverine, Jean Grey – they’ve all had someone there to mentor them and help them become heroes who save the day. We generally like to think of those mentors knowing it all, often forgetting that they are still human and far from perfect. Ant-Man Annual 1 examines what it’s like to find this out in typical witty fashion.

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Avengers 42

avengers 42

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Avengers 42, originally released March 4th, 2015. 

“We don’t view our history as being broken or something that we need to fix. If anything we think we are building upon that history and we are taking the best and biggest pieces of it and seeing how easily they coexist with one another. We don’t expect all our moves to make everyone happy, but we think it will make for a really fascinating read through ‘Secret Wars’ and beyond.”

-Axel Alonso, Secret Wars Press Event

Patrick: The grander hyper-textual implications of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers have been apparent for some time, but the importance and meaning of the meta-textual reasons have been something of a mystery. By Alonso’s own admission, Marvel doesn’t really need a Crisis-style reboot, but Secret Wars and Battleworld seem to bear all the multiversal signatures of one of DC Comics’ rebooting events. The problem with Crises (and it’s a problem that I think both DC and Marvel are starting to experience) is that the real world drama trumps the in-narrative drama. We’re more interested in answering the question “What’s going to happen to Batman?” than “What’s going to happen to Batman?” — and that means that we are necessarily less interested in the stories themselves than the companies telling those stories. Avengers 42 tries to reclaim some of that drama for itself, representing what appear to be conflicting editorial voices as characters within the Marvel Universe. Continue reading

New Avengers 30

new avengers 30

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing New Avengers 30, originally released February 25th, 2015. 

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Spencer: Jonathan Hickman and Dalibor Talajic’s New Avengers 30 reads a bit like a textbook on multiversal theory. It’s about as dry as beef jerky, and is focused so strongly on explaining every minute detail about the Ivory Kings that it largely fails to address why they’re doing what they’re doing. The information contained within its pages will likely prove important as Secret Wars grows closer, but for the moment, New Avengers 30 feels like an issue that highlights the greatest weakness of Hickman’s Avengers books: a focus on plot that supersedes “story” or characterization.  Continue reading

A + X 18

a+x 18Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing A + X 18, originally released March 28th, 2014.

Patrick: There was always going to be something artificial about the A + X conceit. For as much as it feels like they’re all good guys, so they should have no problem teaming up for a little BAM-POW superhero adventuring, there’s just too much baggage to sustain it for very long. As the series comes to close, it appears that A + X was a promise too heavy to be supported by such a fluffy, carefree experience. The final issue seems split on this opinion, simultaneously expressing how similar the two groups are while stubbornly refusing to find common ground between the two.

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A + X 16

a+x 16

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing A + X 16, originally released January 8th, 2014.

Patrick: We quiet, sensitive nerds at Retcon Punch tend to bask in the more intimate, honest moments in our superhero beat-em-ups. It’s not that we don’t also love a good fight or car chase or explosion or whatever, but we savor those moments when the characters stop to catch their breath. Its in those moments where the characters actually distinguish themselves, not in between punches, but after when all their precious training and superpowers can’t assist them. A+X 16 tells two such stories, neither of which have easy answers and both show the real mettle of our heroes.

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A + X 15

a+x 15

Today, Ethan and Scott are discussing A + X 15, originally released December 11th, 2013.

Ethan: A + X revels in the chance to turn big name team-ups into superpowered Laurel & Hardy shorts, and A + X 15 follows suit. Along the way, we get a rehash on an age old question of metaphysics, a bio of a famous president, and the alien invasions of our fast-food franchises.

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FF 14

FF 14

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing FF 14, originally released December 2nd, 2013.

Patrick: “The eve of battle” is an experience most of us will never literally experience – simply by virtue of the fact that so few of us will ever experience “battle.” The phenomenon, however, is immediately recognizable. People get introspective and honest and fearless the night before Something Big happens. That’s why people hook up the last day of camp, that’s why you stay up too late the night before finals watching Lord of the Rings with your friends. There’s something about the Bigness of the next day that makes every flight of fancy seem relevant. As the FF find themselves staring down the barrel of a battle royale with Doctor Doom, the Allreds chase down every impulse and curiosity, revealing a beautiful mosaic as quirky and particular as the team itself. Continue reading

Age of Ultron 10 A.I.

age of ultron 10 AI AU

Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Age of Ultron 10 A.I., originally released June 26th, 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.

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Shelby: After the reality-shattering events of issue 10, we were left asking some big questions, namely, “What the hell was that?” For a second, the reality of the Marvel universe started to come unglued. Or maybe did actually come unglued, at least partially. Instead of focusing on the effects on the timeline itself, this issue focuses instead on the effects on one man, the man who started it all: Dr. Hank Pym. 
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Daredevil 27

daredevil 27

Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 27, originally released June 26th, 2013. 

Mikyzptlk: I’ll just come right out and say it, the conclusion to Age of Ultron was a huge disappointment to me. It felt less like a conclusion, and more like a setup to a bunch of other books that I may not even be interested in reading. I’m not saying I won’t be reading any of them necessarily, but it’s a pretty annoying to see a story “end” by telling me I have to read all of these other books to learn about any potential consequences of the story I’ve been reading for 10 issues. So, what the hell does this have to do with Daredevil you ask? Well, I get that comics, by nature, are supposed to get you to come back month after month. The thing is, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that. And, with the conclusion of the latest Daredevil arc, Mark Waid proves he knows how to do it rightContinue reading