What in the Ever Loving Hell is Happening in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 299?

by Taylor Anderson

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 299

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

You know those Russian dolls where you find smaller and smaller dolls inside one another until you’re left with just a tiny, little one? Sure you do — everyone knows about them even if they might not know that they’re called Matryoshka Dolls. Well what’s the opposite of these dolls? One where the dolls somehow continue to get bigger and bigger in some brain-twisting way that defies physics and space? I doubt there’s a name for such a doll, but if there was one, it would be called Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 299. Continue reading

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A Different Set of Stakes in Old Man Hawkeye 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Old Man Hawkeye 1

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

There are plenty of valid critiques of individual prequels, but I’ll never understand the argument that prequels are robbed of stakes because we know who survives the story. This ties into my wariness of spoiler concerns that privilege plot over all other aspects of consuming a story, but with the added twist of fetishizing death as the only stakes a story could possibly have. It falls apart under even the slightest scrutiny — the protagonist’s survival can be assumed for the vast majority of stories, and I reject the notion that this fact inherently makes those stories inferior. We know Vito must survive the flashback story in The Godfather Part II, but it is also regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time — held in higher esteem than virtually all movies where the protagonist might maybe die in the third act. Not all stories are life-and-death stories, and not all life-and-death stories require us to actually believe that the character might die. Such is the case with Old Man Hawkeye, which tells the story of Clint Barton before he went on that fateful road trip in Old Man Logan. (So, you know, heads up about spoilers for that series after the jump.)  Continue reading

Hastily-Laid Plans Go Awry in Hawkeye 14

By Drew Baumgartner

Hawkeye 14

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

This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you. Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on Then a friend walks by, “Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”

Leo McGarry, The West Wing, “Nöel”

Humans aren’t perfect. We often have dumb ideas or bungle good ones, we make lots of mistakes, and fail far more often than we succeed. But we do try. And what’s particularly endearing is that we often try for the sake of others. This is what Marvel heroes are all about — imperfectly trying to help others — and there’s really no better example of this in the modern Marvel canon than Clint Barton. He’s an ace archer and his heart sure is in the right place, but (bless him), he’s more prone to failure than just about anyone else out there. But he’s also the most qualified person around to help Kate, which means he’s coming to her rescue, whether she needs it or not. Continue reading

Beyond Homage in Hawkeye 13

By Drew Baumgartner

Hawkeye 13

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

When it comes to franchised characters in comics, virtually every creative team owes a huge debt to those who came before. I think this might be particularly true for Kate Bishop, who was characterized so iconically (and recently) in two beloved series — Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers — that her past interpretations are all but inescapable. I don’t mean to sell short the contributions of Kelly Thompson and her collaborators on this series, but they clearly understand the importance of reconciling Kate with her past, which is arguably why “Kate’s past” has made for such a satisfying narrative motif. But issue 13 finds Thompson and Leonardo Romero fully addressing Kate’s metatextual past, crashing a bumbling Clint Barton back into Kate’s life. Continue reading

The Joy of Teamwork in Hawkeye 12

By Spencer Irwin

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

Hawkeye 12 is an ode to teamwork. It’s not just the lesson Kate learns at the end — that she’s going to need to ask for help if she wants to find her mother — but the way she learns that lesson that drives the point home. Kelly Thompson, Michael Walsh, and Jordie Bellaire make this issue fun, showing that teamwork isn’t just beneficial, but enjoyable for all. Continue reading

Hawkeye 11: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson & Patrick Ehlers

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

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Taylor: If you read enough ancient ancient Greek myths you quickly realize that people have had complicated relationships with their parents since history began. Cronus was afraid his son Zeus would kill him and take over the world so he tried to eat him. Cronus failed. Zeus did indeed come to rule Mt. Olympus but not, without inheriting his father’s fear of his own children. Kate Bishop shares a similarly complicated relationship with her father, the only difference is that she doesn’t fear him so much as she fears to become him one day. This relationship is part of what defines Kate and the way she responds to it is fascinating in Hawkeye 11.

Continue reading

Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1: 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: One of the harsher truths of Secret Empire is that America was always run on an engine of hatred and fear. Racism, sexism, classism, fascism — neither Hydra Cap nor Donald Trump invented these things. They didn’t even popularize or legitimize them, they’re simply high profile embodiments thereof. It is increasingly easy to read the totality of American history as ugly and hateful, filled with crass opportunists, liars, and mass murderers. That can make the USA a hard hero to root for. With Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1, writer Nick Spencer goes back in time, giving both Sam Wilson and his readers a lifetime to reconsider the value in fighting for what may, at times, appear to be a lost cause. Continue reading

An Off-Color Kate in Hawkeye 10

By Spencer Irwin

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

When I first opened Hawkeye 10 I did a double-take, and had to go back to recheck the credits. I would have sworn it was Francesco Francavilla illustrating the issue, but instead, it was regular colorist and artist Jordie Bellaire and Leonardo Romero doing their best impression, bathing those first few pages in the deep, rich shades of red that have come to be Francavilla’s trademark. It’s our first sign that something is seriously wrong with Kate, and not just because thinking of Francavilla brings to mind the villain spotlight issue of Fraction’s Hawkeye; it’s because red is not Kate’s color. Continue reading

Secret Empire: Omega 1: Discussion

By Ryan Mogge and Drew Baumgartner

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

Ryan: Every event in your memory left some sort of mark. When it comes to trauma, those marks are more like deep grooves. No matter how much you heal, or how much better off you are, you are changed by what has happened to you. In the wake of a rebellion against a group of fascists bent on world domination with the face of the most trusted man alive, you certainly can’t expect to move forward without being changed. In Secret Empire: Omega 1, Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino offer a mixture of back-to-normal plot points and artful rumination that operate quite differently but still offer the same themes of trauma and the scars left behind. Continue reading

Different Kinds of Love in America 6

by Spencer Irwin

America 6

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

There are many kinds of love, so it’s always frustrated me that society places such importance on romantic love as the be all, end all of adult life. Romance is great, but the love of friends and family can be just as fulfilling and vital, if not more so. America 6 finds Gabby Rivera, Kelly Thompson, and Ramon Villalobos exploring the role each of these kinds of love plays in America’s life, and interestingly enough, it looks like they might just agree with me when it comes to their importance. Continue reading