Drew: I suppose it’s no surprise that the phrase Deus ex machina is ancient in origin, but I was surprised to learn that it originally described an actual machine used to levitate actors playing gods in ancient tragedies. Of course, it’s more popular meaning as a totally lazy plot device are also ancient in origin — Aristotle took Euripides to task for using a dragon-drawn chariot to whisk suddenly Medea to safety — which speaks to just how long people have been hating it. I dislike unlikely reversals of fortune or sudden interventions by benevolent higher powers as much as the next guy, but the thing that really annoys me about the thought of meeting the man behind the curtain is the expectation that it will be in any way satisfying. I’ve had enough experience to know that the more interesting a question is, the less interesting its answer will inevitably feel, which makes the presence of a being with all the answers extremely unappealing to me. Jonathan Hickman manages to avoid this a bit in New Avengers 27 by answering some of the less interesting questions, though that unfortunately also doesn’t yield particularly satisfying answers. Continue reading
Spencer: Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers hasn’t exactly been a character-driven book; that’s not to say Hickman doesn’t have an excellent grasp on the various voices of his cast, but to say that this title is very much driven by the plot, with the characters often feeling like cogs in his Avengers machine. Starting with Avengers 35, though, the title skipped eight months into the future; catching us up to the activities of the various Avengers in this new setting has given Hickman a chance to refocus on his characters, as well as on some of the many plot points that have fallen to the wayside in the last nine months or so. Avengers can sometimes be a hard book to love, but issue 36 continues the return of the kind of storytelling that made me pick up this book in the first place.
Today, Ethan and Spencer are discussing Infinity 6, originally released November 27th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Ethan: When I was starting college, I knew – objectively – that I would at some point no longer be a student; I’d graduate, get a job, do the adulthood thing. But at the time, steeped in the day-to-day evasion of and frantic return to schoolwork, hanging out with friends, sleeping as little as possible, the thought if college actually ending rarely crossed my mind. And then BAM it was time to get up to go to the early-morning rehearsal for the graduation ceremony. College was finished, I was moving into a new apartmen and starting a new job. That sense of disconnect – when something long awaited feels as though it happens and is shoved into the past before we have the chance to actually experience – is the same feeling I’ve gotten during most of the turning points in the Infinity event, and the same is true of its finale. Continue reading
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Avengers 21, originally released October 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Ethan: The Infinity arc has been many things: ambitious, epic, nail-biting, repetitive, crowded. The adjective that perhaps best describes the current bit of the story — Avengers #21 — is “compressed.” We’ve groused a bit about the many angles through which we were forced to watch the events of Starbrand wiping out a Builder fleet and an Avenger strike team freeing their teammates, so maybe this issue is a welcome departure from the exhaustive coverage of the previous battles. Yet I’d almost welcome an alternate perspective / re-hashing of the events of this issue, because it was anything but drawn-out. We get the meditations of supercomputers, hand-to-hand fighting across 6 different planets, absurdly dangerous decisions made by a handful of commanders far from the fighting. The brink of despair, total salvation, all in a couple dozen pages.
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Avengers Assemble 19, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Patrick: The Avengers is a fairly masculine construct. I recognize that most superhero teams are, but this one in particular makes you really look for the contributing female members. On a team that just recently exploded to include over 20 members, there are five women in group, two of which are bizarrely abstract concepts (Abyss, the Universe). They don’t perceive the world or act like human beings, let alone as human women. That leaves Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Spider-Woman – none of whom have gotten much attention in the main Infinity series or either of the flagship tie-ins. Kelly Sue DeConnick has been tasked with injecting a little feminine energy into the saga. Unfortunately, she’s made to retread the same events endlessly, and ground the same emotional beats into a fine paste for easy digestion. Well, Infinity fans, open up: we’ve got a piping hot serving of emotional paste for you… I just can’t promise that it’s fresh.
It can be hard to keep up with all the comics you love. But it’s damn near impossible to keep up with all the comics you’re interested in.
Retcon Punch got you covered.
Infinity is already looking to be an insane exercise in more, MORE, MORE. If you missed out on Hickman’s run on Avengers, you’ve missed out on that precedent. “Bigger” is the name of the game, and it’s in that spirit that we cram 17 issues into one six-minute video. Enjoy!
In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!
— Homer Simpson
Drew: Conservation of both matter and energy are such fundamental concepts, we sometimes take them for granted. Or misunderstand them completely. Folks may choose to ignore the water cycle or how they keep gaining weight, but we’re generally pretty keen to the notion that systems have inputs and outputs. Of course, fiction allows us to break these rules, leading to notions of perpetual motion and unlimited energy — but what if we took those for granted, too? What if the boundless energy of an alien race of children distracted us from the fact that they don’t eat? What do you do when your kids start violating the laws of thermodynamics? In Avengers 13, Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer explore this idea, throwing in a bad guy for good measure. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Mikyzptlk are discussing Avengers 12, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Spencer: One thing I’ve never really associated with Marvel Comics is sidekicks. While there was once a point in DC’s history where nearly every hero had a young partner at their side, Marvel’s adolescent characters tend to act autonomously or stay out of the fray entirely, and even Peter Parker premiered as a full-fledged Spider-Man. There are upsides to both approaches, but what it boils down to for me is that, while I could write volumes on how Batman or Green Arrow treat their protégés, I really have no idea how most of the Avengers fare as mentors. In Avengers 12, Jonathan Hickman (and new co-writer Nick Spencer, of Morning Glories fame) mine this unexplored territory for both laughs and some insightful character moments.