Projection and Toxic Masculinity in West Coast Avengers 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

When discussing West Coast Avengers 2, we went into significant detail about how B.R.O.D.O.K. represented the worst traits of toxic masculinity, of entitled, deluded men who think of women as objects or prizes rather than real people with their own needs, personalities, and desires. With issue 3, Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli continue to explore this topic, but come at it from a slightly different angle. This time, their attention is focused less on the delusions that drive B.R.O.D.O.K. and more on how his actions effect the women around him. Spoiler alert: things don’t go well for them. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 2: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: Kate Bishop’s California adventures — under the pens of both Matt Fraction and Kelly Thompson — have all more-or-less revolved around the idea of appearance, on Hollywood’s obsession with beauty, fame, and youth. On first glance, M.O.D.O.K.’s transformation into the chiseled B.R.O.D.O.K. in West Coast Avengers 2 seems fueled by the same kinds of obsessions, but there’s actually an even greater danger lurking deep within: B.R.O.D.O.K.’s preoccupation with appearance is driven entirely by dangerous entitlement and toxic masculinity. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers 

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

This is the true story of seven strangers picked to work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.

The Real World.

Spencer: Despite that famous tagline, reality television rightfully has a reputation for being anything but real, with contestants purposely taking on certain roles for the camera and producers editing footage in misleading ways to construct particular narratives (whether they’re “true” or not). Part of what makes West Coast Avengers so interesting, then, is that, despite its “superhero reality show” concept, creators Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli seem devoted to depicting the sad realities of their cast’s lives, to finding the truth behind their day to day existences, even when those existences are patently absurd. Continue reading

All-New Wolverine 35: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

Spencer: I think I may have missed the mark a bit when discussing last month’s installment of All-New Wolverine. I claimed that “Old Woman Laura” was a story about redeeming Bellona and defeating Doctor Doom, the last tyrant left in a world that’s otherwise an utopia, but Tom Taylor and Ramon Rosanas have proven me wrong in All-New Wolverine 35, the series’ finale. Those are a part of this adventure, to be sure, but only a small part. What this story is about — what it’s always been about — is giving Laura Kinney the happy ending she deserves.  Continue reading

The Story’s Scope is Not Well-Served in All-New Wolverine 34

By Spencer Irwin

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

I love the concept behind this “Old Woman Laura” arc. Diving into a Wolverine’s future to find a utopia is a refreshing change of pace, and a beautiful way to show how Laura’s more civil and humane approach to heroing — her attempts to be better than Logan — eventually pays off. That Laura’s final regret — and final mission — would be Bellona brings All-New Wolverine full circle in a satisfying way. Issue 34 itself has so many delightful moments; I practically squealed when Kate Bishop showed up. Yet, for everything that I love about this storyline and this issue, it also has a few major problems. A story of this scope needs more time and room to play out than it’s getting. Continue reading

Hawkeye 16: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

X marks the spot.

treasure map, traditional

Patrick: How do you know where to look? I’m asking a holistic question here. When you’re walking down the street, what draws your eye? When you’re deciding what to do next with your life, how do you decide what people and what activities are of value to you? Maybe we’re following signs, or bright lights, or that warm feeling of belonging. It’s something. Hawkeye 16 shows both Kate and Eden coming to terms with what they’ve been looking for, all while Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero expertly show the reader where to look. Continue reading

Fluid Stakes Keep Hawkeye 15 Breezy

By Drew Baumgartner

Hawkeye 15

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

That’s a dumb joke, but it’s one of my all-time favorites. It doesn’t make any sense — Bender should know that the person he’s talking about is standing directly in front of him — but the reveal to us is just so perfect. It’s the kind of joke that really only works in visual media, taking advantage of the limits of our perspective we all take for granted. We assume we understand who is in the scene because of who we’ve been shown, but anybody could feasibly be lurking just off-camera. That kind of perspective twist is part of what gives Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero’s Hawkeye such a distinct voice, as our perspective telescopes to best suit the scene. Indeed, as issue 15 demonstrates, they can shift perspective both literally and figuratively to goose just about anything. Continue reading

Hastily-Laid Plans Go Awry in Hawkeye 14

By Drew Baumgartner

Hawkeye 14

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

This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you. Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on Then a friend walks by, “Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”

Leo McGarry, The West Wing, “Nöel”

Humans aren’t perfect. We often have dumb ideas or bungle good ones, we make lots of mistakes, and fail far more often than we succeed. But we do try. And what’s particularly endearing is that we often try for the sake of others. This is what Marvel heroes are all about — imperfectly trying to help others — and there’s really no better example of this in the modern Marvel canon than Clint Barton. He’s an ace archer and his heart sure is in the right place, but (bless him), he’s more prone to failure than just about anyone else out there. But he’s also the most qualified person around to help Kate, which means he’s coming to her rescue, whether she needs it or not. Continue reading

Beyond Homage in Hawkeye 13

By Drew Baumgartner

Hawkeye 13

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

When it comes to franchised characters in comics, virtually every creative team owes a huge debt to those who came before. I think this might be particularly true for Kate Bishop, who was characterized so iconically (and recently) in two beloved series — Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers — that her past interpretations are all but inescapable. I don’t mean to sell short the contributions of Kelly Thompson and her collaborators on this series, but they clearly understand the importance of reconciling Kate with her past, which is arguably why “Kate’s past” has made for such a satisfying narrative motif. But issue 13 finds Thompson and Leonardo Romero fully addressing Kate’s metatextual past, crashing a bumbling Clint Barton back into Kate’s life. Continue reading

The Joy of Teamwork in Hawkeye 12

By Spencer Irwin

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

Hawkeye 12 is an ode to teamwork. It’s not just the lesson Kate learns at the end — that she’s going to need to ask for help if she wants to find her mother — but the way she learns that lesson that drives the point home. Kelly Thompson, Michael Walsh, and Jordie Bellaire make this issue fun, showing that teamwork isn’t just beneficial, but enjoyable for all. Continue reading