X-Men Red 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Spencer: What are the X-Men best known for? I’d honestly say that there’s two answers to this, because while thematically the X-Men are most often used to explore discrimination and social justice, in execution they’re just as well known for their unwieldy cast, soap opera dramatics, and byzantine continuity. I think what I like most about Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s debut issue of X-Men Red is how heavily it leans into that first aspect, while ignoring the latter almost entirely. There’s plenty of character within these pages, of course, but this is first-and-foremost a title with a mission and a message. Continue reading

Secret Wars 9

secret wars 9

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Secret Wars , originally released January 13th, 2016. 

secret wars div

“Great societies are crumbling around us. And the old men who run them are out of ideas. So all eyes turn to you — our children — to build us something better […] We must do more, go farther… to somewhere no human has ever been. Your prize, Makers… are the stars themselves.”

T’Challa, Secret Wars 9

Patrick: The entirety of Jonathan Hickman’s incursion epic has hinged on this concept of master morality — that the decisions of the powerful necessarily cannot make sense to those less powerful. Individuals’ lives and rights are trampled for a concept as nebulous as “the greater” good, and it’s not really up to the subservient class to judge that trampling. With Secret Wars, the class of person making such impossible decisions is God — a literal, physically present, hands-on creator God — in the form of Doctor Doom. His decisions are immeasurably complicated, but they are also the decisions made by Hickman himself, and the conclusion to this mini-series, this event, and Hickman’s entire run at Marvel comics, links Godliness with creativity, and ultimately places the decisions and the morality behind those decisions in the hands of the storytellers.

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Secret Wars 8

secret wars 8

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Secret Wars 8, originally released December 9th, 2015. 

secret wars div

Spencer: I recently got into a bit of a debate with the AV Club’s Oliver Sava on Twitter about whether Doctor Doom is the hero or the villain of Secret Wars. Sava argued that he’s the hero because he saved the universe — I argued that he’s the villain because he then proceeded to rule his salvaged universe as a brutal tyrant and dictator. In a way, we’re probably both right, and writer Jonathan Hickman seems less interested in laying blame at any of his character’s feet than he is in exploring their motives and varying levels of morality. Secret Wars 8 is a full-on action issue, but each confrontation changes the rules a bit in terms of who’s right and who’s wrong, who wins and who loses.  Continue reading

Thor: God of Thunder 21

thor 21Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 21, originally released April 16th, 2014.

SpencerTo tell a good story, characters need to face consequences for their actions. Just look at Heroes, where characters could quit jobs, disappear for months at a time, or even switch between “good” and “evil” at the drop of a dime without ever facing any consequences, thus giving us little reason to care about what the characters did, since none of it mattered anyway. Contrast that with, say, Breaking Bad, where every decision the characters make, no matter how small, has the chance to ruin their lives; everybody’s actions matter, causing the viewer to become invested in the story and pay close attention to what happens. Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic follow the latter example, fortunately, in Thor: God of Thunder 21, which finds both versions of the titular god dealing with the consequences of actions he took in previous issues. Continue reading

Thor: God of Thunder 20

thor 20Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 20, originally released March 19th, 2014.

SpencerAs its name would suggest, Thor: God of Thunder is a book concerned with the more theistic side of Thor’s existence. Although at first glance this current storyline seems more interested in environmentalism than examining godhood, that doesn’t mean this element is missing completely; it just means that Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic are making us work a little harder to find it. After all, this issue features two different versions of the thunder god, a cosmic force so powerful that he makes gods tremble, and an evil CEO with the ego of a god. What’s the one thing they all have in common? They all do whatever they want, no matter what the consequences may be.

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Thor: God of Thunder 19

thor 19Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 19, originally released February 12th, 2014.

SpencerIt’s easy to take a cynical view of environmentalism — personally, I’m thinking specifically of how that one-time donation of $20 I gave to my state’s Wildlife Conservation Fund has been spent three or four times over just paying for the junk mail they’ve since sent me — and its even easier to turn stories about environmentalism into preachy tirades. Amazingly, in Thor: God of Thunder 19 Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic avoid those traps, somehow presenting us with a nuanced and “realistic” tale of the titular God’s fight to save the Earth itself while also taking the time to remind us of our planet’s beauty — and what the planet could end up looking like if we fail to protect it. Continue reading

Thor: God of Thunder 17

thor 17

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 17, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Shelby: Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want for the greater good. If it’s the happiness of just you versus the happiness of many, you just gotta bite the bullet and go for the greater good. It sucks, but it’s the right thing to do, and generally there is some consolation found in that. But if the greater good you’ve sacrificed your happiness for actually leads to even greater suffering, where does that leave you? I can tell you this much; it leaves me with a very unsatisfying end to the latest arc of Thor: God of Thunder.
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Guardians of the Galaxy 6

guardians of the galaxy 6

Today, Shelby and guest writer Kevin are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 6, originally released September 25th, 2013.

Shelby: In the real world, I’m a QA Analyst for a software development company, so my job revolves around dealing with mistakes. There are times when it’s important to take responsibility for your mistakes; if I misunderstand some software and call something a defect that isn’t, I always make sure to acknowledge I was in the wrong. It’s not easy, especially when I’ve made a big deal about it before being proven wrong, but I do it anyway. Sometimes, though, when I’m confronted with a mistake, be it mine or otherwise, the top priority is fixing it. It might feel nice to assign the blame, but at times it is just more important to figure out what we’re going to do about it.
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Thor: God of Thunder 11

thor 11

Today, Shelby and (guest writer) Christopher are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 11, originally released August 14th, 2013.


Shelby: Despite what Neverending Story would have you believe, all stories do, in fact come to some sort of conclusion. Comic book conclusions tend to be more vague than most, since the end of one arc merely marks the beginning of the next. Conclusions are especially fluid when the story features a bomb made of time, with the ability to rip through all of time, and your heroes are three versions of one character at different points in his life. This is where Jason Aaron leaves us with his conclusion to the Godbomb arc: if Young Thor will grow to be Thor the Avenger who will eventually become King Thor, is this story every really over?

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Thor: God of Thunder 8

Thor 8

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 8, originally released May 8th, 2013.

Patrick: I’ve got a story I like to tell about the end of my tequilla renaissance. Shelby and Taylor were there, they can tell you that I made some bad decisions that evening where booze was concerned. I’ll spare you all the theatricality of it, but highlights include: leading my friends in an incoherent late-night jam of Mario Bros. music in our apartment building; crying naked in the bathroom; and vomiting in the bed. What can I say – I’m a classy guy. If only I’d been accompanied by two more-experienced versions of myself-from-the-future, maybe I could have made less impulsive decisions that night. Maybe. Let’s see how that same line of thinking applies to Thor. Continue reading