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
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
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
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
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
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
Patrick: The most troubling thing about any inspirational figure is that they are necessarily mutable. Human beings are never only one thing, but we often reduce them to a single trait or value so that we may incorporate that into our own view of the world. John Lennon believed in peace, Martin Luther King Jr. believed in equality, Steve Jobs believed in innovation. Those are all trite reductions of fantastically complicated people, but it is useful to have avatars of these qualities and principals. Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’ Steve Rogers Captain America 1 sets out to complicate one of the most inspirational figures in comics — which I feel is a necessary exploration of the Greatest Generation — but the issue is almost more interested in the concepts of inspiration and legacy than the specific twist deployed on the final splash page. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing International Iron Man 2, originally released April 27th, 2016.
Patrick: We hear a lot of grumbling about the ubiquity of original stories in superhero fiction. Hell, I do a bunch of it myself. Aside from the fact that we’ve basically seen them all before, one of the reasons these stories feel so unsatisfying is because there’s a huge leap in logic from traumatizing inciting event to costumed superheroics. A young Bruce Wayne sees his parents gunned down, and the only gaps between that and Batman that we ever need filled in are those that answer how he become such a physical bad-ass. But obsessions, passions and pathologies don’t develop in an instant — they grow over a lifetime. International Iron Man 2 explores more of what makes Tony Stark tick in those small, measured moments between dramatic reveals, even as Tony himself searches for answer he knows will be unsatisfying. Continue reading
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Drew: Perhaps its ironic that I never knew the origin of the oft-paraphrased quote above, but it actually comes from the first volume of Santayana’s The Life of Reason, published in 1905. In its original context, the quote seeks to balance progressivism with retention of the past. Of course, it’s possible to take that too far, and some might argue that superhero comics are too obsessed with their own history to make any meaningful progress. It’s a difficult balance that I certainly don’t envy trying to strike — fans want new stories, even as they want their favorite stories and characters celebrated — but its one that Captain America 7 aims for. Marvel assembles one hell of a creative lineup for this celebration of Captain America’s 75 year history, but circumstances may have put them all in a no-win situation. Continue reading
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