All-New Hawkeye 5

all new hawkeye 5

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released March 23rd, 2015.

Taylor: Growing up, we have total faith in our parents. Not only do they know everything, but most of the time they are viewed as paragons of virtue, morality, and justice. Basically, to the small child,  parents are knowable because they represent the perfect person. As we get older, however, we learn that our parents aren’t always these things. This leads us to wonder what else we don’t know about mothers and fathers and ultimately, one day, we have the realization we don’t know exactly who they are because we no longer hold them in such high esteem. It’s a tough lesson to learn, made all the more so when you learn your parent might be a criminal. All-New Hawkeye 5 explores the issue of figuring out who parents are and in doing so also makes a statement finding your own identity. Continue reading

Spider-Woman 5

spiderwoman 5

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Spider-Woman 5, originally released March 16th, 2016.

Spencer: I’ll admit that, much like Clint Barton, I never took Jessica Drew for the motherly type — she’s always been such a socially awkward, work-oriented character that it just felt like a poor fit to me. Still, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez’s first volume of Spider-Woman was so strong that it seemed likely they could sell me on Jessica Drew as a mother, or at least get a good story out of it. Boy, was that an understatement. This first arc of the rebooted Spider-Woman has been astounding, but this week’s issue 5 is especially powerful. Not only do Hopeless and Rodriguez make a convincing argument for “Jessica Drew as a mother,” but they present such a compelling take on parenthood that their editor actually feels it necessary to include a disclaimer on the letters page! That’s some good stuff, there. Continue reading

Spider-Man 1

Alternating Currents: Spider-Man 1, Ryan and Drew

Today, Ryan M. and Drew are discussing Spider-Man 1, originally released February 3rd, 2016.

Ryan: The danger of starting your story with a climactic image and then jumping back in time is that it can displace interest. At best, it builds anticipation. At worst, it feels like a bait and switch. It’s like when a friend starts a story with “Did I ever tell you about the time I made out with a mime in Vegas?” and then proceeds to tell you details about how she booked her hotel room. By getting me too invested in the end of the story, you’ve diminished my interest in the preamble. At that point, I’m just listening for mime specifics that indicate we’re getting to the good stuff. Continue reading

New Avengers 3

new avengers 3

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 3, originally released November 18th, 2015.

Spencer: Al Ewing and Gerardo Sandoval’s New Avengers is rather explicitly a book about problem-solving; the very purpose of Sunspot’s revamped A.I.M. is to use their resources to solve crises on a global scale, and the bulk of the second issue was spent breaking down the threat of Life-Minus like a math problem in order to find a solution. It seems appropriate then that, with the concept of problem-solving having been thoroughly established, Ewing and Sandoval shift the focus of issue 3 to exploring the effectiveness (and morality) of various approaches to solving problems. Continue reading

New Avengers 1

new avengers 1

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing New Avengers 1, originally released October 14th, 2015. 

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Spencer: I love “team” books. There’s just something fun and exciting about throwing a bunch of heroes — be they A-List or Z-List — together and seeing what happens. Despite the potential for almost endless variations, though, many team books find themselves repeating certain familiar combinations, tropes, and ideas over and over (look how many books started using the “traitor” plot once Terra first popped up in the Teen Titans, for example — and even she was a riff on Kitty Pryde’s role in the X-Men). Thus, my favorite part of Al Ewing and Gerardo Sandoval’s New Avengers is how quick they are to acknowledge and subvert many of those tropes. This book is clever, fun, and gets right to the point; it’s pretty much everything I look for in a team book. Continue reading

All-New Hawkeye 5

all new hawkeye 5

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released September 16th , 2015.

Taylor: Often times I wonder what my life would be like had I made an important choice, differently. When I try to make this abstract thought game more concrete, I think about the decision I made of where to go to college. My life would be incomparably changed if I had attended a different university. Different friends, maybe a different major, and most likely living in a different city for the past eight years of my life. Hawkeye 5 at first has us thinking big choices never affect the totality of our lives, but as events unfold, it becomes clear a single choice can affect your life greatly.

Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5

Alternating Currents: The Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows 5, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5, originally released September 2nd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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Drew: It’s rare that we ever put a spoiler warning up on the site. It’s been suggested more than once, but we usually come to the conclusion that it would be redundant — it would be impossible to have the kind of in-depth discussions we have about comics without acknowledging what happened within them. That’s always been enough to end the conversation, but I also tend to think that superhero comics are impossible to spoil — or maybe that it’s they’re impossible not to spoil. That is to say, we don’t come to superhero stories to be surprised at the outcome, but to be inspired by them. I mean, “Spider-Man saves the day” isn’t exactly revelatory, but it describes the majority of Spider-Man stories (though not necessarily each individual issue), and doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Indeed, that we know Spider-Man will get back up to fight again is exactly what makes him such an enduring character in the first place. So when The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows inevitably lives up to its name, its predictability is a strength, not a weakness. Continue reading

Hawkeye 22

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 22, Drew and Courtney

Today, Drew and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 22, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Drew: Endings are hard. Whether they break our hearts or leave us wanting more, even the most satisfying ending must face the bittersweet truth of being the end. “The End” takes on a peculiar meaning in the world of month-to-month comics (especially where the next volume may already be a few issues in), but whatever we’re saying goodbye to — whether its a paradigm or a creative team — can still have an almost hallowed air of significance. This makes talking about comic book endings in a issue-by-issue format particularly difficult, as its tempting to use the final issue as a platform for talking about the series as a whole. I absolutely want to talk about Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run as a whole, but I want to first give issue 22 its due respect as perhaps the perfect distillation of what made his run so remarkable. Continue reading

All-New Hawkeye 3

all new hawkeye 3

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 3, originally released May 27th, 2015.

Spencer: Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye got a lot of mileage out of a deceptively simple mission statement: “Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.” What Clint does when not being an Avenger is an insanely broad concept, but in Fraction’s run it quickly narrowed into a focus on how Clint handled loss. When tasked with the duty of following up on a run as iconic as Fraction’s, it’s no surprise that Jeff Lemire flipped everything on its head, changing the mission statement to “This is what [Clint Barton and Kate Bishop] do when they do what they do best.” Lemire’s concept of focusing on Clint as a super-hero is even broader than Fraction’s, and as I’ve pored over the last few issues of All-New Hawkeye, I’ve been waiting for his story to similarly build some kind of deeper overarching theme. This month’s issue in particular is almost screaming that it has some sort of deeper meaning or underlying message, yet I’m struggling to come up with one. I’m starting to think that I’ve been approaching this title all wrong. If this is a book about what Clint and Kate do when they do what they do best, then maybe what’s most important are the actual details of what they’re doing. Fortunately, those details are pretty charming. Continue reading

Black Widow 18

black widow 18

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Black Widow 18, originally released May 27th, 2015.

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“All these voices / All these memories / Make me feel like stone.
All the people / Make me feel so alone.”

-Brian Wilson, “Midnight’s Another Day

Patrick: One of the universal experiences of the comic book reader is the gradual sense that you’re actually getting to know these characters. Readers watch them grow and evolve, and there’s frequently running voiceover to add extra context to their actions. You ever notice that comic fans are much quicker to refer to Superman as “Clark” than people that just know him as a cultural icon? Surely, everyone knows that Superman is Clark Kent, but only those of us that feel close to him would have the audacity to use his first name. But what happens when a comic series actively keeps the protagonist’s perspective at arm’s length? Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow shows off a Natasha Romanova that can only really be herself when hidden from everyone else. That includes Bucky Barnes, the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., you and me. Continue reading