Defenders 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Taylor: When you think of the job comic book writers are tasked with, it’s damn near impossible to not stand in awe at what they accomplish. When writing for monthlies, authors not only have to come up with an engaging story, but something that stands out as unique. This is no easy task. Monthly comics have been around for the better part of a century, and many of the heroes who have titles today have participated in literally hundreds of story arcs. With that in mind, it’s impressive to consider the career of a writer as prolific as Brian Michael Bendis. Arguably the most recognizable name in comic book writing today, Bendis has written countless stories in his career, so at some point it becomes reasonable to question if he’ll ever cease to come up with new, entertaining stories. While it would be hyperbole to say Defenders 1 signals the beginning of the end for Bendis’s creativity, it’s hard to argue the lack of originality and inspiration in this first issue. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5

Alternating Currents: The Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows 5, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5, originally released September 2nd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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Drew: It’s rare that we ever put a spoiler warning up on the site. It’s been suggested more than once, but we usually come to the conclusion that it would be redundant — it would be impossible to have the kind of in-depth discussions we have about comics without acknowledging what happened within them. That’s always been enough to end the conversation, but I also tend to think that superhero comics are impossible to spoil — or maybe that it’s they’re impossible not to spoil. That is to say, we don’t come to superhero stories to be surprised at the outcome, but to be inspired by them. I mean, “Spider-Man saves the day” isn’t exactly revelatory, but it describes the majority of Spider-Man stories (though not necessarily each individual issue), and doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Indeed, that we know Spider-Man will get back up to fight again is exactly what makes him such an enduring character in the first place. So when The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows inevitably lives up to its name, its predictability is a strength, not a weakness. Continue reading

Star Wars 7

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Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Elliott are discussing Star Wars 7, originally released July 29th, 2015.

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Patrick: Comic books are the go-to medium for fleshing out stories and characters set up in movies, TV shows and video games. There’s always going to be a Firefly comic or something featuring Lara Croft – and 90% of the time, those series are filling in gaps in the narratives. And those gaps — those times before or after or during the main stories are usually filled with precisely that: more narrative. That’s not fair to comic books as a medium, which move in their own rhythms and will always be compared to the storytelling prowess of the original. We’ve had a ton of conversations on this site about what we even want from these things: Star Wars isn’t just a set of aliens and some colloquialisms about the Kessel Run, it’s the music, the motion, the sound effects, the light, the performances. Star Wars 7 is an interesting issue; it fills in gaps in the narrative we’re already reading, which in and of itself is filling in gaps in a different narrative altogether. But rather than letting the necessarily weak plot drive the issue, writer Jason Aaron imagines what Obi-Wan Kenobi must have felt during his years on Tatooine, and builds a story out from there. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 1

ASM Renew Yor Vows 1 header

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 1, originally released June 3rd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back tomorrow for our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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Spencer: Becoming a parent requires a serious reshuffling of priorities. Unlike what a lot of movies will try to convince you, it doesn’t mean that a new parent has to drop every activity they ever loved, but it does mean that those activities — and literally everything else in the world — takes a back seat to the duty they have to raise and protect their new child. It’s a staggering responsibility, even to someone like Peter Parker, who, as Spider-Man, has devoted most of his life to shouldering great responsibility. What happens when Peter puts his family before his duties as Spider-Man? That’s the question at the heart of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 1, and the answer is rather startling. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 14

amazing spider-man 14

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 14, originally released February 11th, 2015.

Patrick: Were any of you paying attention to Twitter when they announced that Spider-Man would be appearing in the Disney Marvel movies? It was surreal: like a piece of super-fan-fantasy mutated into a news item and enthusiastically expressed itself in the middle of the night. On my feed, no one more more elated by this news than Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. He filled twitter with all-caps celebrations — not because he had anything to do with negotiating this deal (nor will he have any role in developing Peter Parker’s role in the MCU), but because he’s a goddamn super-fan. As the impresario and master weaver of Spider-Verse, Slott has had the opportunity to shout his love for all the Spiders from the heavens, and in issue 14, he goes out swinging, symbolically ceding his own control over the Spiders back to the characters themselves. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 12

Alternating Currents: Amazing Spider-Man 12, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 12, originally released January 7th, 2015.

Drew: Last week, Patrick and I spent a good ten minutes laughing about The Comic Archive’s “Marvel Movie Omnibus” — that is, all of the Marvel Studios films leading up to and through the end of The Avengers compiled into one mega-movie. Never mind that the thing weighs in at an ungainly 12-hour play-time, what really amused us was the steamrolling of narrative cohesion in favor of what the video description calls “correct story order.” I’ve always been a bit peeved when fans are more concerned with how stories fit together than whether they’re emotionally satisfying, and this struck me as the ultimate manifestation of those priorities. Indeed, flashbacks from Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy are included, even though Malekith and Peter Quill don’t otherwise appear in the movie (remember, this only carries through the end of The Avengers), passing over Chekhov’s gun in favor of boneheaded reportage. The result is a work that is so focused on its whole (however unwatchably long it may be) that it fails to offer satisfying servings, such that any movie-sized chunk of it wouldn’t be a satisfying chapter so much as an arbitrary slice of an indivisible monolith. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how I feel about Amazing Spider-Man 12, a slice of “Spider-Verse” that ends up being mostly connective tissue. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 11

amazing spiderman 11Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 11, originally released December 10th, 2014.
Spencer: My biggest pet-peeve with Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern was all the business about Hal Jordan being “the greatest Green Lantern ever.” Maybe it’s just me, but it never felt like Hal earned the title or like Johns was providing much evidence to back up his claim — it always came across like a “he’s the greatest because I say so” moment from Johns. I initially feared a repeat of this situation when, at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 9, writer Dan Slott claimed that “our” Peter Parker from Earth-616 was the most important Spider-Man of them all, but fortunately, this week’s The Amazing Spider-Man 11 convincingly demonstrates why our Peter is worthy of leading the assembled hoards of “Spider-Verse”. Continue reading

All-New X-Men 25

Today,  Taylor and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 25, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Taylor: They, the ever shifting and nebulous authority that knows more than us, is always saying that hindsight is 20/20. Once events have played out, we know exactly what we should have done in a given situation to obtain our desired results. It’s a damned feeling; there’s nothing you can do about it but you kick yourself for not doing the right thing. This feeling is often so frustrating that it can keep us up at night, pondering the grand “what if?” While that can be crushing, just imagine what the feeling would be like if perhaps you could change the past, if only you thought about it hard enough. Hank McCoy (the one in his proper time) knows this feeling and All-New X-Men 25 shows us just how deep and dark that hole can be.

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Guardians of the Galaxy 6

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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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Infinity 3

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Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Infinity 3, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

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Spencer: Infinity and its tie-ins have been dripping with ego and machismo. Between the Builders, the Illuminati, Thanos, J-Son, the Galactic Council, and even some of the Avengers, there have been a lot of big words and threats thrown around, and almost all of them are strong enough to back up their words with actions (except for J-Son, of course). This isn’t necessarily a complaint; some of the coolest moments of Infinity (such as the spree of sick burns in last week’s Avengers or the Skrulls’ touching suicide mission) have sprung from this kind of machismo. It’s exciting, but in this week’s issue, writer Jonathan Hickman flips our perspective a bit, reminding us of why we probably started reading comics in the first place: its always more fun to root for the underdog.

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