Death Roulette in Death of the Inhumans 2

by Patrick Ehlers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The title Death of the Inhumans makes one specific promise: some Inhumans are gonna die. But y’know, this is a comic book, and odds are just as good that the title is sensational hyperbole that they are of the title being literal. Writer Donny Cates and artist Ariel Olivetti spend the entirety of issue 2 insisting on three simple things:

  1. The Inhumans who have been killed already.
  2. The Inhumans left to kill.
  3. Vox’s ability to kill any Inhuman.

By the end of the issue, the reader is forced to take the threat of the title seriously. Cates and Olivetti cash in on that seriousness with one hell of a gut punch. Continue reading

Narrative Efficiency in Captain America 704

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 704

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

Superhero stories are high-concept endeavors. Beyond the origin of the hero’s powers and commitment to justice, there are villains and supporting characters that might require just as much explanation. Monthly comics tend to smooth this over by taking our knowledge of those high concepts for granted, cramming all of that exposition into a logline on the cover page in order to make room for actual action. It’s a popular solution, so ubiquitous that explaining it in this way feels almost unnecessary. But then we encounter those superhero stories — perhaps it’s a miniseries with a new character or an alternate universe — that have to fit that logline into the story itself, forcing us to recognize just how much explaining really is necessary in the genre. Captain America 704 is one such story, catching us up with (and ultimately thwarting) a multi-generational plan and addressing some long-standing Cap mythology. Continue reading

A Head-Scratching Flashback in Captain America 703

by Spencer Irwin

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

It’s a generally understood rule of storytelling that any detail included in a story should be there for a reason — extraneous plots, characters, or ideas can be distracting at best, or derail the entire story at worst. This rule goes double for flashbacks, which are so often useful, even essential storytelling tools that, nonetheless, stick out like a sore thumb when used without purpose. This is unfortunately the case in Captain America 703, an otherwise enjoyable issue that’s dragged down by an almost inexplicable flashback. Continue reading

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 1

moon girl 1Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 1, originally released November 25th, 2015.

“Hey Liz, how’s your telescope?”
“I don’t know Kelsey, how’s your mom’s pill addiction?”
30 Rock, “Reunion”
Patrick: By the time the third season of 30 Rock rolled around, the audience had grown used to Liz Lemon’s put-upon-nerd persona. It makes her a hyper competent underdog and immediately endearing in the world populated with sociopathic ego-machines like Jack, Jenna and Tracy. That’s what makes the set-up for the the episode “Reunion” so tantalizing – Liz plans to go to her high school reunion to prove to the people that used to bully her that she made something of herself. The problem, however, is that Liz was even more of a bully back to them, and whatever alienation she felt at the time was totally deserved. All of the jabs and jokes that she saw as self defense actually drove people away. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 1 introduces us to the titular Moon Girl, and leans in to her outsider status, but may go too far, presenting her less like a misunderstood kid and more of a jerk.

Continue reading

Guardians of the Galaxy 16

guardians of the galaxy 16

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 16, originally released June 25th, 2014.

Patrick: I very vividly remember being first introduced to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – it was late in the summer of 2003, and I was visiting my buddy Scott at his parents’ house between our Freshman and Sophomore years of college. Scottie had been playing the game on a borrowed console and the whole thing felt like a kind of wish fulfillment: suddenly there was a whole galaxy of Star Wars characters, stories and locations to explore, and all without leaving the confines of a single video game. There’s a promise inherent in KotOR’s premise – the depths of your imagination are already on display here, you only need look hard enough. This immediately becomes overwhelming. Even when alien races and spaceship designs look the way you remember them, you realize that any emotional connection you make with the material must be generated in-game. Without my core band of plucky rebels to get my automatic-love, I was left without a rudder, and instead of sailing the high seas of Star Wars adventures, I was mired in meaningless ephemera. This is often how I feel about the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. I may be able to recognize Broods and Spartax and Skrulls and Grand Inquisitors, but without someone to actually care about at the heart of it? Not a lot to hang a story on. Brian Michael Bendis addresses this issue head-on by spreading the Guardians of the Galaxy out among the cosmos. Suddenly, even the muddiest mythology has emotional resonance.

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Avengers 21

avengers 21 infinityToday, Ethan and Drew are discussing Avengers 21, originally released October 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity dividerEthan: The Infinity arc has been many things: ambitious, epic, nail-biting, repetitive, crowded. The adjective that perhaps best describes the current bit of the story — Avengers #21 — is “compressed.” We’ve groused a bit about the many angles through which we were forced to watch the events of Starbrand wiping out a Builder fleet and an Avenger strike team freeing their teammates, so maybe this issue is a welcome departure from the exhaustive coverage of the previous battles. Yet I’d almost welcome an alternate perspective / re-hashing of the events of this issue, because it was anything but drawn-out. We get the meditations of supercomputers, hand-to-hand fighting across 6 different planets, absurdly dangerous decisions made by a handful of commanders far from the fighting. The brink of despair, total salvation, all in a couple dozen pages.

Continue reading

Young Avengers 1-3

young avengers 1-3

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Young Avengers 1-3, originally released January 23rd, 2013, February 27th, 2013, and  March 27th, 2013. 

slim-banner

Shelby: My sister used to work at Barnes and Noble, in the Young Adult section. It’s been a long time since I was what the publishing world considers a “young adult” so I didn’t have super high hopes when she told me I absolutely had to read The Hunger Games. Like Harry Potter before it, however, Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy transcended the age of the “intended” audience to deliver strong and sympathetic characters and an engrossing plot line. I feel similarly about Young Avengers. It may not be billed as a book for teens, but  Kieron Gillen has taken the concept of “teen versions of characters you already know” and crafted something much more meaningful than I initially expected.  Continue reading