The Art of the Tie-in: Amazing Spider-Man 29

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 29

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

It’s easy to vilify crossover events for disrupting your favorite series, but that’s kind of the point, right? An event that boasts “everything changes here” should be disruptive to the universe around it — that’s just making good on that claim. The feeling that the story we were reading has been put on the back burner is definitely frustrating, but it’s exactly what would happen in the event of a Earth-shaking change in the status quo. But there are ways to soften the whiplash effect of event tie-in issues, and Amazing Spider-Man 29 features just about all of them. Actually, it might be to precise to pin it on this one issue — while this is the first to explicitly acknowledge the events of Secret Empire, so much of what happens here spins out of threads writer Dan Slott has been spinning for years. In many ways, it feels less like the event forced a change to the series and more like the changes that were coming all along were given a fresh twist by tying them to Secret Empire. Continue reading

The Failings of Friendship in Desperate Times in Secret Empire 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

“The power of friendship” is a popular trope in most media. The idea that most situations can be overcome through the bonds we share with our friends is powerful in a lot of ways, but it’s one that never really seems applicable to war or espionage stories like Secret Empire. Make no mistake, Hydra is not going to be defeated by friendship or optimism alone, but in Secret Empire 5, Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Andrea Sorrentino, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg do explore the effect pre-existing relationships have on their conflict. It’s not always a good one. Continue reading

Serve the Community, or Save the World? The Dilemma of Captain America: Sam Wilson 23

by Ryan Mogge

Captain America Sam Wilson 23

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

The central conflict of Captain America: Sam Wilson 23 is not between the Avengers and the Mole Man. Instead, it’s a reverberation of the themes that Nick Spencer has been exploring throughout the series’ run. Sam Wilson is a hero because he believes in helping people. His work begins at a human level, functioning as part of a community. By contrast, the Avengers present a plan to save the world. Their goal to rescue Steve Rogers using the cosmic cube could alter the course of human history. Continue reading

Captain America: Steve Rogers 17

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Steve Rogers: Captain America 17, originally released March 25, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Secret Empire has, thus far, been an intensely relevant crossover event. Exhaustingly so. If there’s anything that allows the reader a little distance between the democratic crisis within the pages of the Marvel Universe and our own, it’s that we can recognize the supernatural cogs at turning in Hydra’s machine. Cosmic Cubes, inter-planetary defense shields, the motherfucking Darkforce dimension — these are all superhero specifics that grant us some much needed distance from the tyranny of Steve Rogers. Captain America Steve Rogers 17 mercilessly grounds Rogers’ fascist techniques through the vehicle of reporter Sally Floyd, who is manipulated, bullied and ultimately imprisoned in an issue much more rooted in reality than fantasy. It’s enough to break my heart in real life.
Continue reading

Secret Empire 0

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 0, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: It can be incredibly dangerous to put too much faith in one person, especially if it means neglecting other connections and relationships. While this can be true on a personal level, it’s far more important to remember on a political level, where not even the most well-meaning politician can be trusted with too much power — not even Captain America himself. Continue reading

Captain America: Steve Rogers 14

Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Captain America: Steve Rogers 14, originally released March 22th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan: Sometimes, if a character is too interesting or too dynamic, they can take over a narrative. I call it the Dawson’s Creek conundrum, since that was a show that was hypothetically built around (and named after) the least engaging character.  It’s not always a problem. It can be fun to have a character enter the story, take over for a bit and then step out, as long as the story knows that it’s happening. In Captain America: Steve Rogers 14, writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz have a character taking over, but don’t cede the entire book to her. Continue reading

Captain America: Steve Rogers 12

Alternating Currents: Captain America: Steve Rogers 12, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Steve Rogers: Captain America 12, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: To say that Captain America: Steve Rogers 1 rocked the comics world would be a profound understatement. It caused an uproar unlike any I’ve seen in my time writing on comics, and it continues to be a point of controversy nine months later. It set the tone for a Captain America story unlike any we’ve seen before, built upon one huge, jaw-dropping twist. The downside of kicking off a series with a twist that large is that it’s hard to match. Writer Nick Spencer has struggled admirably in this regard — and may have actually topped himself in Civil War II: The Oath — but a twist that required the rewriting of reality as we know it is a nigh-unreachable bar. Case in point: this issue’s return of Elisa Sinclair. Continue reading

Civil War II: The Oath 1

civil-war-2-oath-1
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Civil War II: The Oath 1, originally released January 25th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Why is Steve Rogers being transformed into a Nazi such a terrifying idea? It’s because we all trust Steve Rogers, both in universe and out. Not only can he use that to gain influence that should never, under any circumstances, be given a Nazi, but that trust means that we’re probably inclined to think the best of him — out of sheer habit, if nothing else — even though he’s never deserved it less. Well, no more. Civil War II: The Oath drives home that this altered Steve’s heart is as black as they come. If only the rest of the Marvel universe was privy to that fact as well. Continue reading

Captain America: Steve Rogers 6

capt-america-steve-rogers-6

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Steve Rogers Captain America 6, originally released October 26th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Civil War II has killed the momentum of a lot of books, but its Steve Rogers Captain America tie-ins are an especially interesting case of this because the title never really had a chance to establish its momentum in the first place — writer Nick Spencer was still in expository mode, exploring how Steve’s new Hydra backstory changed him, when the title was dragged into a major event. Thankfully, Spencer and artist Javier Pina have been able to continue that exploration even throughout these event issues, but the moments tying directly into Civil War II feel unmoored in comparison. Continue reading

Vote Loki 1

vote loki 1

Today, Ryan D. and Spencer are discussing Vote Loki 1, originally released June 15th, 2016

Ryan D: This story is as much about Loki as “The Great Gatsby” is about Gatsby; it’s a narrative told through the lens of Nisa Contreras, our Nick Carraway of the story, a former Daily Bugle reporter whose Lower East-Side block was devastated by an Avengers clash with Loki back in the Golden Age. Nisa distrusts the Trickster God implicitly, and her skepticism makes sense in this comic, with her pragmatics being a decidedly grounding force to a fairly outlandish idea. I wish that writer Christopher Hastings gave the audience a bit more characterization from Nisa, who at the moment is defined by her tenacity and care for the corrupt political election system, but I am sure further issues will allow her voice to be refined and heard. Continue reading