Astonishing Ant-Man 11

Alternating Currents: Astonishing Ant-Man 11, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Astonishing Ant-Man 11, originally released August 31, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: When I was 13 or 14, a group of older kids vandalized our high school. They broke in after hours, threw a bunch of furniture off of the roof, and dug a bad word into the grass of the school courtyard. It got a lot of attention, but the vandals were smart enough not to leave any incriminating evidence. Until, that is, they were caught vandalizing a billboard on the other side of town. Being caught red-handed is generally only a sure indicator of guilt for the crime you’re caught doing, but these idiots also happened to have a video camera with them. Oh, right: in the decades before everyone carried a video recording device in their pocket, these knuckleheads went out of their way to create incriminating evidence, bringing along a camcorder to immortalize their crimes. But, you know, not being made out of videotapes, one tape might cover many nights of escapades. Which is to say, the police caught them with a video confession of sorts for the high school vandalism.

It was a remarkable story at the time, but in the years since, as cameraphones proliferated, stories of idiot criminals (usually teens [but not always]) caught with footage of their own criminal acts became more and more common. Sure as selfies and reality tv made navel gazing a way of life, they also created a new kind of criminal: one with the self-directed airtight case against themselves. That’s almost the situation Scott Lang finds himself in, though in his defense, he didn’t know he was being recorded and broadcast around the country. Still, how do you talk your way out of a conviction when there’s video footage of you planning and committing the crime in question? That remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that Jennifer Walters is the one lawyer who might be able to pull it off. Continue reading

Spider-Woman 5

spiderwoman 5

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Spider-Woman 5, originally released March 16th, 2016.

Spencer: I’ll admit that, much like Clint Barton, I never took Jessica Drew for the motherly type — she’s always been such a socially awkward, work-oriented character that it just felt like a poor fit to me. Still, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez’s first volume of Spider-Woman was so strong that it seemed likely they could sell me on Jessica Drew as a mother, or at least get a good story out of it. Boy, was that an understatement. This first arc of the rebooted Spider-Woman has been astounding, but this week’s issue 5 is especially powerful. Not only do Hopeless and Rodriguez make a convincing argument for “Jessica Drew as a mother,” but they present such a compelling take on parenthood that their editor actually feels it necessary to include a disclaimer on the letters page! That’s some good stuff, there. Continue reading

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! 1

Today, Ryan M. and and Spencer are discussing Patsy Walker: A.K.A. Hellcat! 1, originally released December 23rd, 2015.

Ryan M.: A first issue in a series is sort of like a first date. You don’t need the full origin treatment. It’s really a matter of figuring out if you enjoy each other’s company. It provides a sample that hopefully indicates what’s to come, but cannot necessarily lay all of that out. After Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! 1, I am ready to invite this series to my place for a home-cooked meal.

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She-Hulk 1

she-hulk 1Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing She-Hulk 1, originally released February 12th, 2014. 

slim-bannerThere’s figures on this. 70% of what people react to is the look; 20% is how you sound; and only 10% is what you say.

Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill

Patrick: Drew recently brought a Mutilversity article on comic book criticism to my attention. Interestingly, they posted another article that same day on the diminishing role of artists in comics — effectively arguing that we know series by their writers and not by their artists, and isn’t that fucked up? I think there’s room to argue that serialized storytelling in any format is going to be a writer’s medium (just look at how much more writer-driven TV is than the movies, which are much more director-driven). Regardless, the fact remains that there’s a problem in comics — and comic criticism — with focusing too heavily on the words that are written on the page. At one point in this issue, Jennifer Walters — a Hulk that spends very little of her time smashing — asserts that “90% of lawyering is conversation.” That’s an interesting inversion of the pearl of wisdom Eddie Izzard drops in the bit above, but that also might explain why we don’t have the most exciting piece of fiction in our hands. Continue reading

FF 16

ff 16

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.

Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.

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FF 11

FF 11

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing FF 11, originally released August 28th, 2013.

Patrick: I don’t care how many times we say it around here — it bears repeating: comics are weird. Every time I think I get a handle on the time travel, or space travel, or clones, or moloids or whatever, I discover that the well of weird is deeper than I could ever imagine. Enter: The Impossible Man. Who’s The Impossible Man? Just a shapeshifting alien with nearly unlimited power and a comprehensive knowledge of (and fascination with) Earth popular culture. I did a little rudimentary research, just to familiarize myself with the character, and my favorite piece of trivia about The Impossible Man is that he once talked Galactus out of eating Earth, and then celebrated by going to the Marvel offices and demanding that Stan Lee give him is own solo series. It is in that spirit that FF 11 introduces his son.

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FF 10

ff 10Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing FF 10, originally released July 31st, 2013.

“I’ve written myself into my own script.”

“That’s kinda weird, huh?”

“It’s self-indulgent! It’s narcissistic! It’s solipsistic! It’s pathetic! I’m pathetic and I’m fat and pathetic!”

Nick Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman, Adaptation

Patrick: Adaptation is the best narrative I’ve ever encountered that directly confronts the challenges of portraying beauty abstractly. The screenplay works incredibly hard to achieve this, constantly doubling down on both its own cleverness and its disdain for said cleverness. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman does this my making himself a character in his own movie about adapting the book he’s been hired to adapt. If that sentence seemed to loop back on itself — and consequently, not make any sense — that’s because the film really needs to be experienced to be understood. Matt Fraction inserts himself, artist Mike Allred and editor Tom Brevoort into this issue of FF, but the lessons he offers have more to do with history than with expression. Plus, he makes himself say “ginchy,” like he’s Velma from Scooby-Doo, so you know it’s a home run.

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FF 9

FF 9

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing FF 9, originally released July 17th, 2013.

Patrick: We recently decided to ax our coverage of the FF‘s sister series, Fantastic Four. Partially, we did this because Reed Richards is an insufferable asshole, but the series also suffered from its own apparent non-importance. The idea of the Fantastic Four’s totally episodic adventures through time and space sounded like an awful lot of fun, but they started to feel trivial pretty quickly. When you account for the Magic School Bus level of coincidence involved in some of their stories (“hey look kids, it’s Julius Cesar!”), it became clear that the story wasn’t for us. Or was it? FF’s stories have been pretty insubstantial too, but there’s something about the cast and the sense of humor we just liked more. With this issue, Fraction reveals that none of his stories have been irrelevant, and all of these threads are woven together into a single tapestry, telling personal, interested and interesting stories about the people touched by the Fantastic Four. Plus: POOL PARTY!

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FF 7

FF 7

Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing FF 7, originally released May 15th, 2013.

Ethan: Family is the most important thing. The ones closest to us make all the difference, whether that’s helping us reach our goals, being there for us when we’re down, or providing vital sustenance when we kill them and eat them. More on that later. Writer Matt Fraction and artist Michael Allred continue to shepherd FF forward through the latest crisis — the assault by The Wizard — with the all of the quirks and charm we’ve come to expect. Even for an issue that spends more time than usual on its fight scenes, Fraction still finds ample room to pack in both the standard measure of goofball interactions and touching moments.

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FF 5

Alternating Currents: FF 5, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing FF 5, originally released March 27, 2013.

Drew: Comics have a LOT of history, which is precisely what makes them so intimidating. Marketing ploys like the New 52 and Marvel NOW are designed specifically to minimize the cost of entry — sure, there may be decades of dense continuity to follow, but why bother when you can start with a brand new #1. As someone who was enticed by those ploys, I often have the false sense of security that I understand the universes these stories are told in. Sure, there are references to events and characters I don’t know, but I continue on the faith that, if it’s important, everything will be explained. For the most part that attitude has served me well, but every so often, I’m reminded of just how my ignorance might color my readings. The recent twist ending in Age of Ultron 3 is a great example — everything about the reveal told me that this was a big surprise, but I completely lacked the knowledge to understand what actually happened, forcing me to consult the Marvel Wiki for answers. Of course, the long, convoluted histories that most characters have often make that experience more confusing than helpful, which is exactly the experience I had trying to parse the ending of FF 5. Continue reading