She-Hulk 159: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

She-Hulk 159

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

Drew: Why do we like superheroes? For some, the appeal might be whiz-bang action or modern mythologies, but I’ve personally always been drawn to the genre for its ability to comment on everyday life (albeit by blowing it up to epic proportions). It’s not a feature of every superhero story — far from it — but there’s a certain type of superhero story that manages to scale up relatable conflicts and struggles to matters of life and death. Mariko Tamaki’s work with Jen Waters (formerly on Hulk, now retitled and renumbered as She-Hulk) has always fit into this category with ease, using Jen’s Hulk-outs as a stand-in for PTSD-fueled anxiety attacks. It’s an approach that served the character and the story beautifully, creating a series decidedly unlike any other superhero story on the shelves. This issue is at its best when it focuses on those relatable elements, though the introduction of a bona fide supervillain might just blow the parallels out of the water. Continue reading

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Discussion: Mighty Thor 700

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

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

Taylor: Midway through the extra large, special 700th issue of Mighty Thor, Karnilla, Queen of the Norns, asks which ingredient is the most essential in the makeup of a Thor. It’s a good question, and one that writer Jason Aaron has been exploring ever since he took over the reigns of Thor some 60 issues ago. While Aaron has posed various answers to this question multiple times, he’s never come outright and revealed to readers what exactly makes a Thor Thor. That is, he’s never done that until now. Using the 700th issue as his podium, Aaron waxes poetic on the nature of Thor, presenting us with not so much a new Thor narrative, but a grand tapestry that relishes in pondering what Thor has been, currently is, and what it will always be. Continue reading

Worlds Collide and Teams Clash in Avengers 672

by Spencer Irwin

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

Avengers 672 opens with both the Avengers and the Champions having the same fight in two different places. A new satellite is about to reveal images either confirming or denying proof of the High Evolutionary’s Counter Earth, a planet sharing our orbit on the far side of the sun. Nova and Peter Parker have both been to the planet, but Amadeus and Wasp insist that it cannot exist because it would defy all laws of physics and throw off the balance of the entire solar system. Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz use this scenario — of two planets that cannot share the same orbit without causing destruction — to illustrate the problem facing both of these teams: they can’t be in the same place without tearing each other down. 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

Jen is no Columbo in Hulk 8

by Ryan Mogge

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

Most detective stories make sure you know just as much as the detectives. You discover clues along with them, and are with them as they figure out what it all means. Then, there is the Columbo-style of storytelling. That’s when the audience knows the “solution” to the mystery from the beginning. The pleasure of these stories is watching the detective start from zero and deduce motive, means, opportunity and identity of the criminal. In Hulk 8, Mariko Tamaki starts the reader with all of the information, but Jen’s investigation ends up feeling lifeless as a result.

Continue reading

Proceeding(s) Forward in Daredevil 23

by Ryan Desaulniers

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

A good villain pulls a particular thread of a hero’s core fabric; a great villain can challenge a hero on multiple levels — as Wilson Fisk so often has for Matt Murdock over the years. The Kingpin’s inclusion in the current DD arc, “Supreme,” struck me as a solid idea when it was dangled as last issue’s final reveal, but this issue shows that this great villain brings with him a multi-pronged approach to opposing Murdock which helps to progress this story on many levels. Continue reading

Recovery Means Coming to Terms with the Monster Within in Hulk 7

by Spencer Irwin

Hulk 7

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

Recovering from a traumatic incident is a process that never quite ends. One can’t expect to ever be the exact same person again that they once were before the incident; instead, they have to learn to move forward and live with their new status quo. That seems to be the point Jen Walters has reached in Mariko Tamaki and Georges Duarte’s Hulk 7 — having come to terms with the fact that her life has changed, Jen’s now looking to figure out what, exactly, these changes mean and how they’ll fit into her life going forward. Continue reading

Secret Empire 3

Alternating Currents: Secret Empire 3, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 3, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: That Secret Empire is about big ideas goes without saying. As with any tentpole summer event, it promises to change the Marvel universe as we know it (at least temporarily), but the bigger story is the way the event (and the stories leading to it) have reflected the real-world political climate, often in uncanny — and uncomfortable — ways. But issue 3 reveals that, underneath it all, writer Nick Spencer may have been building to an even bigger (albeit, perhaps less controversial) question about the very nature of the superhero genre in the present day: does it still have room for moral absolutes? Continue reading

Hulk 5

Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Hulk 5, originally released April 26th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: A defining trait of She-Hulk has always been control — becoming She-Hulk gave Jennifer Walters confidence, and she could fully control that form to the point where she remained Hulked-Out 24/7. Much of the tragedy of Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s Hulk has been watching Jen lose that control as a result of the trauma she underwent in Civil War II, but Hulk 5 shows that Jen’s situation is actually far more circular and complicated; she didn’t just lose control because of her trauma, but her trauma hit her so hard because she lost control in the first place. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16

unbeatable-squirrel-girl-16

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16, originally released January 11th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Part of Marvel’s brand is using vague, subjectively defined adjectives in the titles of their comics. Words like “Amazing,” “Astonishing,” or “Totally Awesome” don’t hold any absolute value, so ultimately don’t really mean anything. “Unbeatable” is different. “Unbeatable” is absolute. What’s “Totally Awesome” today may not be tomorrow (and vice versa), but whether a thing can or cannot be beaten is timeless in its objectivity. In this way, Squirrel Girl’s defining quality stretches across time, meaning we’ll always be able to recognize her, whether we’re looking into the past or the future. That idea is at the heart of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16, an anniversary issue that reminds us that, whatever life throws at Doreen Green, she can always beat it. Continue reading