Spencer: In Descender‘s earliest issues, Tim-21 was easily its star attraction. That’s not to say I didn’t love everything else the series had to offer; it’s just that the sweet, adorable, largely helpless companion bot instantly captured my heart. Throughout their third and fourth arcs, though, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have doubled-down on fleshing out the rest of their cast, allowing them to keep pace with Tim’s massive appeal. Descender 18 feels like the culmination of this work, yet throws in an ironic twist; the series distances itself from Tim-21 just as he becomes more important than ever to its central mythology. Continue reading
We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-Star Wolverine 16, Captain America: Steve Rogers 9, IvX 2, Mighty Thor 15, Ms. Marvel 14, Power Man and Iron Fist 12 and Silk 16. Also, we discussed Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16 on Thursday and Deadpool 24 today, and will be discussing Daredevil 15 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing Deadpool the Duck 1, Hawkeye 2, Moon Knight 10, Nova 2, Old Man Logan 16 and Unworthy Thor 3. We discussed Captain America Sam Wilson 17 on Thursday and U.S.Avengers 1 today, and we’ll be discussing Unstoppable Wasp 1 on Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing IvX 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: Last month’s IvX 0 did a fantastic job of summing up the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men and showing why their going to war was only a matter of time. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s IvX 1, though, is the issue where that powder keg finally ignites into all-out war, and war…well, war is ugly. IvX 1 plays up the fun of watching these two groups duke it out, but also the pain and sadness inherent in its scenario. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Moon Knight 9, originally released December 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: One of the greatest things about superhero comics is how thoroughly they live in the realm of metaphor. The limitless possibilities provided by the Marvel and DC universes mean that creators can take the most abstract of concepts and make them literal, physical threats for our heroes to face head-on. Sometimes this can oversimplify things, sure, but under the pens of the best creators this provides an opportunity to explore complicated subjects in a more straightforward manner. That’s certainly the case with Moon Knight 9, where Jeff Lemire and his murderers’ row of artists tackle Marc Spector’s mental illness in a way that’s simultaneously realistic and about as sci-fi as humanly possible. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Death of X 4, originally released November 23rd, 2015.
Patrick: At the risk of making a statement that’s been made a million times already: 2016 has been a hell of a year for high-profile deaths. Calling them “celebrity deaths” would be underselling it — figures like Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro and Prince virtually changed the fabric of reality simply by existing in it. But for all their earth-shifting influence, their deaths were all quiet, ultimately meaningless affairs. These revolutionaries did not die they way they lived, which is to say, their deaths made no specific statement. Bucking the trend, was David Bowie, who had released an eerie, melancholy record in the final weeks of his life. Bowie knew that his life was performance – it was challenging and honest – and that his death should be the same. In Death of X 4 Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule close the book on the life of Scott Summers, insisting that he die the way he lived, a revolutionary, even if that’s a performance he was never putting on.
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing A.D.: After Death Volume 1, originally released November 23rd, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: A frequent criticism of popular fiction is the overemphasis on plot instead of character. There’s a lot of moving pieces involved in “epic storytelling” and oftentimes the emotional resonance of the characters in a story gets left by the wayside in service to the overall concept. Sometimes the fantastical plot of a story so greatly eclipses everything else that the personal relationships of the characters are rendered completely irrelevant and uninteresting. Then there’s A.D.: After Death Volume 1. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Ryan D are discussing Thanos 1, originally released November 16th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS!
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
Drew: This line is often used to sell a given story as some kind of ultimate showdown, but it always strikes me as thoroughly self-defeating: either one or both of those adjectives simply prove to be false. That is, the answer can’t be as interesting as the question suggests, since the answer necessarily reveals that the question was built on a false premise. Or, if you’re feeling more diplomatic, you might take Superman’s answer to this question from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman: “they surrender.” It’s an elegant solution, but is ultimately far less entertaining than the premise suggests — “they surrender” isn’t exactly the white-knuckle conclusion the question implies, and again, betrays the falsehood of those adjectives.
Such is often the case in superhero comics, where villains are routinely trotted out as unstoppable, only for our hero to miraculously give lie to that claim. It’s enough to make anyone doubt the increasingly hyperbolic claims made of villains. This becomes especially true of big name villains, who continue to be heralded as some kind of ultimate threat, in spite of the fact that they’ve been beaten in virtually every appearance. Thanos is a prime example of this — the seriousness of his threat diminishes with each subsequent return (especially after that time Squirrel Girl defeated him) — leading to even more hyperbolic claims made next time. Cleverly breaking that pattern, Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato’s Thanos 1 sidesteps the Worf Effect by lampshading the inevitable conclusion in the first issue. Continue reading
Today, Ryan D. and Spencer are discussing Descender 16, originally released October 26th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan D: Descender 16 drops the reader directly into the past, without even stopping to say hello to the cast from last issue’s focus on Andy and Effie/Queen Between. From the cover and the lovely introductory spread, it is clear right away that it is now Driller’s turn to get the spotlight treatment. As soon as we see the two robots being dropped from orbit into the Dirishu Mining Colony, it became very clear to me where this issue was heading: we met Driller alone on the planet, so something needs to take us from Driller having companionship to its solitary, human-hating life. Though the arc seemed fairly obvious, it was still a treat to see this robot get some well-deserved further characterization, not to mention the big reveal at the end. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Descender 15, originally released September 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: The third arc of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender is called “Singularities,” and it’s an appropriate title. The progression of the narrative has slowed to a crawl as, instead, each issue gets drawn into the orbit of a single character, exploring the way the ten years since the Harvesters’ attack have shaped them into the person they are today. Issue 15 focuses on Effie (a.k.a. Queen Between), the ex-wife of Tim-21’s former owner, Andy Tavers. Not only do Lemire and Nguyen deftly flesh out the past of a character who, up until now, had been a bit player, but they pack a heartbreakingly comprehensive look at a ten-year-long relationship into a scant 23 pages. Continue reading