Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Moon Knight 4, originally released July 6, 2016
Spencer: In a solo superhero title, it’s usually a given that the book will focus on the title character. They generally drive the action, and thanks to internal monologues, we often know what they’re thinking as well. In many ways, the audience views the story through that title character’s point of view, but in Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight, that statement is far more literal — we see the world just as Moon Knight himself sees it, and like our Mr. Knight, we have no way of telling what’s real and what isn’t, nor any way to control how we perceive this world. Just as the creative team dictates the reader’s experience, the people around Marc Spektor seem to have complete control of the world he inhabits, and that goes for friend and foe alike. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Moon Knight 1, originally released April 13th, 2016.
Michael: Superheroes do so love wallowing in self-doubt and self-reflection. Along with trading blows with supervillains and helping the helpless, self-reflection is one of the great pastimes of the American superhero. “Am I strong enough?” “Am I supposed to be this?” “Can I overcome this?” and so on, and so on. In Moon Knight 1 our hero is questioning himself (or selves) on a completely different level. The main question our hero asks is “Have I ever actually been Moon Knight? Or did I make that up?” Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released March 23rd, 2015.
Taylor: Growing up, we have total faith in our parents. Not only do they know everything, but most of the time they are viewed as paragons of virtue, morality, and justice. Basically, to the small child, parents are knowable because they represent the perfect person. As we get older, however, we learn that our parents aren’t always these things. This leads us to wonder what else we don’t know about mothers and fathers and ultimately, one day, we have the realization we don’t know exactly who they are because we no longer hold them in such high esteem. It’s a tough lesson to learn, made all the more so when you learn your parent might be a criminal. All-New Hawkeye 5 explores the issue of figuring out who parents are and in doing so also makes a statement finding your own identity. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Descender 10, originally released February 10th, 2016.
Drew: While I can appreciate its visual wizardry, I’ve always been baffled at the morality of The Matrix. Never mind the half-baked philosophy of “there is no spoon” or the stoner profundity of wondering whether reality really is an illusion, it’s the vilification of the robots that really confuses me. Objectively, the humans are the bad guys, the fickle creators who try to destroy the sentient life they’ve created. The robots, on the other hand, keep the humans alive and comfortable, albeit in an oddly complex simulation. For all of the explicit Christ imagery surrounding Neo, he represents the robots’ Antichrist, a being sent by the creator(s) to end life as they know it. Can we blame the robots for wanting to avoid that?
Descender‘s inversion of the morality of The Matrix hooked me from the start. Instead of relying on our knee-jerk identification with the human characters, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have intentionally played against our expectations. Tim-21’s humanity is the core of this series (even as they highlight how odd it is), while the humans are often depicted as racist, unscrupulous, or hapless beings driven by fear and distrust. This challenges our notions of humanity and morality in ways that The Matrix never bothers to. Of course, Lemire and Nguyen’s desire to thwart our expectations finds them reversing The Matrix yet again, as Tim-21 is revealed to be the robots’ own version of The One. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Old Man Logan 1, originally released January 27th, 2016.
Michael: Comic books are full of lofty, almost impossible goals — typically on the part of the villain. We know all of the classics: world domination, citywide destruction, and the death of their most hated hero nemesis. The Joker might win small battles, but ultimately he will never win the war. Does knowing that a character will never completely achieve his or her goals ruin the story for you? Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Descender 9, originally released January 13th, 2016.
Spencer: Despite all the differences between the numerous species of aliens that exist within the world of Descender, they’re united by one fact: they’re not robots. The war between robots and non-robots has been the conflict at the core of Descender since its genesis, but there’s one character who doesn’t clearly fall on either side of that conflict: Tim-21. As far back as the first issue we’ve noticed how Tim-21 was designed to appear as human as possible, but in Descender 9 Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen finally dig into how Tim-21’s alliances with both sides of the conflict make him feel. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Spencer are discussing Descender 8, originally released December 16th, 2015.
Ryan D: While comics began to thrive on the genres of fantasy and horror for numerous reasons such as accessibility, affordability, and an allowance for the niche and pulp, I would hazard that there are so many big, bold new universes being constructed in comics right now because the medium itself lends itself to the creation of new worlds. Comics take the visual aspect of realized fantastical realms of television or film and couple that with the liberty of imagination bestowed by novels. In eight issues, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have built a far-reaching and seamless science fiction universe in a state of flux, carefully showing only what the reader needs to see, allowing for plenty of wiggle room and personal imaginative exploration. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released September 16th , 2015.
Taylor: Often times I wonder what my life would be like had I made an important choice, differently. When I try to make this abstract thought game more concrete, I think about the decision I made of where to go to college. My life would be incomparably changed if I had attended a different university. Different friends, maybe a different major, and most likely living in a different city for the past eight years of my life. Hawkeye 5 at first has us thinking big choices never affect the totality of our lives, but as events unfold, it becomes clear a single choice can affect your life greatly.
Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 3, originally released May 27th, 2015.
Spencer: Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye got a lot of mileage out of a deceptively simple mission statement: “Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.” What Clint does when not being an Avenger is an insanely broad concept, but in Fraction’s run it quickly narrowed into a focus on how Clint handled loss. When tasked with the duty of following up on a run as iconic as Fraction’s, it’s no surprise that Jeff Lemire flipped everything on its head, changing the mission statement to “This is what [Clint Barton and Kate Bishop] do when they do what they do best.” Lemire’s concept of focusing on Clint as a super-hero is even broader than Fraction’s, and as I’ve pored over the last few issues of All-New Hawkeye, I’ve been waiting for his story to similarly build some kind of deeper overarching theme. This month’s issue in particular is almost screaming that it has some sort of deeper meaning or underlying message, yet I’m struggling to come up with one. I’m starting to think that I’ve been approaching this title all wrong. If this is a book about what Clint and Kate do when they do what they do best, then maybe what’s most important are the actual details of what they’re doing. Fortunately, those details are pretty charming. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 2, originally released April 8th, 2015.
Drew: I’m sure many folks have forgotten Cursed, the one-season NBC sitcom about a man cursed with bad luck in its pilot episode, but I’ll never forget it. Not because it was particularly good — I’ve actually forgotten almost everything about it — but because of its abrupt title change. Suddenly, Cursed, the high-concept sitcom about bad luck had become The Weber Show, a series so generic, its most distinctive characteristic was apparently the presence of former Wings star Steven Weber. That was my first lesson in the dangers of a narrative tying itself to a limiting premise, a problem I’ve found to be relatively ubiquitous in modern culture. All-New Hawkeye is far from the disaster that Cursed was, but as issue 2 strains against the flashback structure that worked so beautifully in issue 1, I find myself wondering if that structure is more of a prison than a springboard. Continue reading →