Thunderbolts 20

thunderbolts 20

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing Thunderbolts 20, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Patrick: With issue 20, Thunderbolts enters All-New Marvel NOW! territory. Functionally, this means that this issue should serve as a good jumping-on point for new readers, and the cover broadcasts that in a variety of ways: note that the issue’s number is technically 20.NOW; there’s a second issue number in the upper right corner, declaring this “No Mercy #1”; the All-New Marvel Now logo is emblazoned along the bottom; and finally, the cover prominently features a character that’s not normally on the team. The contents of the issue follow suit, giving us another start to a delightfully self-contained adventure. With it’s one-job-for-you-one-job-for-me structure, Thunderbolts might be the series most perfectly suited for this periodic refreshing of the Marvel line. Continue reading

Thunderbolts 19

thunderbolts 19

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Thunderbolts 19, originally released December 11th, 2013.

So, that’s what life would be like if I invented the Finglonger. A man can dream through… a man can dream…

Dr. Hubert Farnsworth – Futurama, Anthology of Interest

Patrick: What’s the point of a what-if story? We only ever see those kinds of stories once we really know a set of characters. The conceit — such as I understand it — is that our connection to the characters is so strong that it trumps our connection the rest of their reality. We love Bruce Wayne enough that we can see him as a Green Lantern, we love Bart and Lisa enough that we can see them run for their life from cannibalistic lunch ladies. It’s a chance to look at those characters few a different lens. So what does it mean when a character within the story is generating his own ‘what-if’ scenarios?

[This article will contain SPOILERS – even beyond that which I teased in the intro.] Continue reading

Inhumanity 1

inhumanity 1 INH

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Inhumanity 1, originally released December 4th, 2013.

inhumanity div

Spencer: First issues are hard to pull off well. They have to be as exciting as possible to ensure that readers come back for issue two, yet they also have to somehow find space to establish a whole new world/concept/set of characters and make sure the readers aren’t lost; if those two goals sound completely incompatible, well, they often are. Matt Fraction’s task in Inhumanity 1 is made even more difficult by the Inhumans’ long and complicated history. Fraction goes out of his way to make sure we understand everything we could ever possibly need to know about the Inhumans in this issue, but unfortunately, it leaves little room for actual story—or excitement.

Continue reading

Infinity 6

infinity 6-INFINITY

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.

infinity divider

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

Weekly Round-Up: Marvel Comics Released 11/20/13

round upLook, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Drew and Ethan discuss Thunderbolts 18, A+X 14, Superior Spider-Man Annual 1, Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe 2, Young Avengers 12, Uncanny X-Men 14, X-Men 7, and X-Men: Legacy 20.

slim-banner4Drew: Our Infinity-fatigue is pretty well catalogued at this point, but Charles Soule continues to find a fresh angle in Thunderbolts 18. Where other series are preoccupied with piecing together a monolithic narrative by retracing the same steps, Soule has stayed very street-level, keeping his team focused on the mission at hand, even as New York crumbles around them. They manage to succeed in that mission in spite of each of them being focused on their own problems. Indeed, with a significant portion of the resolution arriving via the coincidental overlap of those problems, this series feels all the world like the superhero version of Seinfeld. Continue reading

Avengers 23

avengers 23 infinityToday, Spencer and Ethan are discussing Avengers 23, originally released November 20th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Spencer: Guys, I’m just gonna be frank with you; I’m getting kind of tired of Infinity.  I thought it started out great, with immense threats, exciting action, a fun war-story vibe and a colorful cast of alien supporting characters who were fleshed out just enough so that the scenes featuring them weren’t boring, but Infinity never really broke away from or added any depth to that formula, and after over ten issues of it, I’m thoroughly tired of this interstellar war-story. Maybe writer Jonathan Hickman is too; it would explain why this issue of Avengers feels so pointless. Or maybe he just thinks that the infiltration of the Peak is important enough to devote two whole issues to; unfortunately for us, it’s not. Continue reading

Infinity 5

Alternating Currents: Infinity 5, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Infinity 5, originally released October 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Drew: The ubiquity of three-act structures often makes the form of a story predictable. We know what’s supposed to happen in a second act — even if we don’t know the specifics of a given story — but what happens when a narrative breaks that structure? Infinity takes the form of a six-part miniseries, with primary crossovers into ten other issues. To further complicate things, the series has long followed an A/B structure as the avengers face two very different threats in very different locations, and the event itself could be described as the third (or second and third) act(s) of narratives started in Avengers and New Avengers. What do we expect of the fifth issue of Infinity (itself the twelfth issue of the event)? What it supposed to happen? Unfortunately, writer Jonathan Hickman doesn’t offer a particularly compelling answer in the issue itself. Continue reading

New Avengers 11

new avenger 11 infinityToday, Spencer and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 11, originally released October 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Spencer: When Infinity was first announced, we knew very little about it besides the fact that it would be vaguely connected to writer Jonathan Hickman’s two Avengers books and that Thanos was involved; once the first issue dropped, I declared that it was “the story if what happens when two different universe-ending threats hit at the same time, leaving the Earth absolutely helpless.” We’re over two-thirds of the way through the crossover and those words are still mostly holding true, but New Avengers 11 takes this concept to a place I would have never expected when Infinity began — yet a place that makes perfect sense — by tying the space-bound and Earth-bound threats together. Continue reading

Avengers 21

avengers 21 infinityToday, 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.

infinity dividerEthan: 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.

Continue reading

Infinity 4

infinity 4-INFINITYToday, Spencer and Ethan are discussing Infinity 4, originally released October 9th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Spencer: As children, most of us swear we won’t grow up to be our parents. Maybe we just hate the way they nag us, or maybe there’s a more serious fault of theirs we’re trying to avoid; either way, while it’s possible to avoid our parents’ faults, more often than not we end up repeating those exact same mistakes we once declared we’d never make. Poor Thane—the half-Inhuman son of Thanos—has more reason than most to endeavor to never become his father, but unfortunately, it turns out he may be more like the Mad Titan than he ever feared. Continue reading