All-New X-Men 22

all-new x-men 22 JG

Today,  Taylor and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 22, originally released January 22, 2014. This issue is part of the Trial of Jean Grey event.

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Taylor: Poor Jean Grey, girl just can’t catch break. When you’re one of the world’s most powerful mutants, it’s hard to lead anything resembling a normal, happy life. There’s always going to be someone who wants to harness your power or someone who wants your help for good or for evil. If that weren’t bad enough, when you wield the powers she does maintaining your everyday life and personal relationships becomes a challenge in and of itself. The ability to read people’s thoughts while maybe useful can also be a burden, for the old axiom “ignorance is bliss” sometimes proves too true. All-New X-Men 22 begins The Trial of Jean Grey, a crossover event with Guardians of the Galaxy, and if this issue is a harbinger of things of things to come, it will be a blast. Not only will we get some great “X-Men in Space” action, but the complex of character of Jean Grey will step into the limelight virtually guaranteeing an entering and emotional ride.

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All-New X-Men 21/Uncanny X-Men 16

all new x-men 21

Today,  Taylor and Ethan are discussing All-New X-Men 21 and Uncanny X-Men 16, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Taylor: Ah, the father/son relationship. Daddy issues have basically been around since the birth of man, both literally and figuratively so it’s no wonder they often pop up in the stories we tell one another. After all, who hasn’t inherited some odious trait from their father or wished they had a better relationship with the man? So rich is the vein of paternal relationships that it can told time and time again and still be entertaining. Throw in a dash of mutants and a pinch of augmented super powers and you got yourself the makings of an interesting story. Given these ingredients, you think it would hard to cook up a story that resound with its fan base. However, in All-New X-Men 21 this proves to be the case. The story is a bit bland and one you slog through just for its narrative nutrients.

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All-New X-Men 18

Today,  Ethan and Taylor are discussing All-New X-Men 18, originally released November 13th, 2013.

Ethan: The best part of being in a relationship is that you get to spend so much time with the one you love. The worst part of being in a relationship is that you get to spend so much time with the one you love. For the X-Men, isolated from the world by that tricky little accident of being born with the X-gene, their ties to each other are incredibly strong. It’s no surprise that they so often find passionate love and lifelong friendship inside their circle. Just like any family or couple, though, they often drive each other completely crazy. Breathing room is hard to find when you’re all stuck in the same space, whether it’s a mansion or a mountain bunker, and All-New X-Men #18 explores how they fight, how they cope, and how they move forward.

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Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special 1

superior spider-man teamup 1Today, Greg and Taylor are discussing Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special 1, originally released October 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the three-part Arms of the Octopus story.

Greg: Towards the end of Mike Costa’s swiftly engaging issue, Cyclops asks Bruce Banner a grim yet oddly understandable question: since the Hulk causes so much wanton, uncontrollable violence and destruction, why doesn’t Banner just kill himself and save the world the headache? Banner responds with a simple, poignant mantra he lives his life by: “Hulk smashes, Banner builds.” By performing humanitarian efforts like a water purification system, Banner seeks to provide tip the scales in favor of life, of constructive rather than destructive efforts. This issue, the conclusion to the Arms Of The Octopus trilogy, follows this line of thinking in its narrative construction. We see each faction come up with logical solutions to each problem they face (it’s telling that Octavius-as-Spider-Man’s plan to “pummel” Dr. Jude “with all my strength until he falls down” is met with a striking blow to the face), with one final Hulk smash to tighten the screw and save the day. Continue reading

X-Men: Battle of the Atom 2

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Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing X-Men: Battle of the Atom 2, originally released October 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the Battle of the Atom event. Click here for our complete coverage of Battle of the Atom.

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‘But,’ said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, “I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.’

‘So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.’

-Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King

Patrick: There’s a timbre to endings — a quiet cadence that mixes melancholy with hope. It’s an absurdly powerful tool in the writer’s box of tricks, and when it works, its hits the reader’s heart like a sock full of pennies. It’s the payout on the contract struck between the author and the audience, and it’s important for those moments to land. Battle of the Atom 2 executes so many muted goodbyes that it necessitates four epilogues, and aching sincerity occupying about half the issue. None of these moments reach the poetic heights of our buddy Tolkien up there, but the issue does manage its own form of bitter-sweet closure. It’s just the kind of closure that promises that we’re going to keep right on trucking on to the next adventure… and inevitably, to the next reality-warping event. Continue reading

All-New X-Men Special 1

all new x-men special

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing All-New X-Men Special 1, originally released October 2nd, 2013. This issue is part of the three-part Arms of the Octopus story.

Patrick: No matter how well superheroes puncture the zeitgeist, there’s always going to be a stigma around actually reading comic books. Both the medium and the genre have a ton of idiosyncratic problems, and even those of us willing to suspend our disbelief to read stories about muscly warriors putting on pajamas to punch each other in the face — a suspension which is largely worth it — struggle with the way stories are distributed. Extreme serialization leads to long epic, emotionally fulfilling stories, but it also means you get entire months where nothing really happens. On the flipside, extreme episodism leads to easily digestible stories that leave little lasting impact on the reader. Mike Costa’s Arms of the Octopus seems to have its sites set somewhere in the middle, combining the fun escapism of something like A+X, with the more meaningful stories from the series it borrows its titles from. Continue reading

X-Men: Battle of the Atom 1

x-men battle of atom 1 atom

Today,  Patrick and Taylor are discussing X-Men: Battle of the Atom 1 originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of the Battle of the Atom event. Click here for our complete coverage of Battle of the Atom.

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Patrick: Hey, is it just me, or does it seem like comic book movies are growing more courageous in what they’re willing to put on the screen. I blame Thor for laying some of the sillier cards on that table and daring the audience to object. Subsequent superhero movies have followed suit: the Krypton sequence in Man of Steel is long and unapologetically alien, Avengers featured the fucking Chitauri, and the upcoming X-Men movie will feature the bonkers time travel insanity of Days of Future Past. Battle of the Atom feels like a challenge to those emboldened film franchises: as if to say: “You don’t know what crazy is. Brother, this is Marvel Comics, we’ve got three versions of Beast interacting with each other – we know crazy.”

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All-New X-Men 15

all new x-men 15

Today,  Shelby and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 15, originally released August 7th, 2013.

Shelby: No one knows better than I the importance of taking a break every once in a while; heck, I took several writing breaks before I even started this post. But seriously, it’s important to take breaks to keep from getting burned out, and the same applies to comic books. Stories take little breaks with what we call “hang-out issues,” where the bulk of the plot consists of the characters hanging-out. The beauty of the hang-out issue is, when it’s done well, we get a story break AND character development. Artists take breaks too, but the obviously visual nature of art can make an artist break more jarring and disruptive. This month, Brian Michael Bendis gives us a story break as we wait for Battle of the Atom to start, and David Lafuente gives Stuart Immonen a break on pencils; the result is a story which feels very different from what we’re used to in All-New X-Men.

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