Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Phoenix Resurrection 2

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

Does anyone remember the “flash sideways” device from LOST‘s final season? The show mined a lot of fun out of the mystery of just what the heck that other world was — a parallel universe? a new timeline? purgatory? — but I never really found the guessing all that fun, as the magical/metaphysical nature of that particular mystery meant that any and all of those things could be equally right. I tend to feel that way about most mysteries that delight in building up red herrings to look as likely as the ultimate answer (perfectly demonstrated in Clue‘s multiple endings; the culprit can only be found by the movie telling us whodunnit, not through any deductive work on our own), but it’s particularly pronounced in stories with a fantasy or sci-fi element that might defy our own experience of the world. That is, if we’re operating in a world with a magical island, is it possible to rule out even the most absurd theory? These are the thoughts running through my head as I read Phoenix Resurrection 2. Continue reading

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Smart Layouts Ratchet Up the Tension in All-New Wolverine 27

by Spencer Irwin

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

All-New Wolverine 27 is an issue that thrives off tension, and while much of that tension is simply inherent to the conflict writer Tom Taylor has created between Laura and Daken, artist Juann Cabal and color artist Nolan Woodard do a tremendous job channeling that tension into their work, creating layouts that feel taut and harrowing even if you don’t know the circumstances behind them. 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

Clarity in the Mystery of All-New Wolverine 26

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There are a couple mysteries at the heart of All-New Wolverine 26. What happened to Laura’s mother? What is currently happening to Daken? Those are kind of soft mysteries, where the reader can make some easy assumptions and figure out at least some version of the events. Daken is being experimented on the the mysterious Orphans of X? Yeah, okay, there’s probably a specific reason for that, but the mystery isn’t going to keep me up at night. Where writer Tom Taylor and artist Juan Cabal pull the rug out from under us is in questioning the realty of Daken’s experience all together. Continue reading

Memories Come Rushing Back in All-New Wolverine 25

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 25

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

I think it’s fair to say that All New-Wolverine is more concerned with the idea of legacy than most comics. Laura is donning the mantle of her mentor, and the first arc of this series found her reconciling with her literal clones. Indeed, I might argue that it’s one of the greatest strengths of this series, as writer Tom Taylor has mined Laura’s history for ever more emotionally devastating gut-punches. So when issue 25 features a “Legacy” banner across the cover, it’s almost a promise of legacy-squared, somehow centralizing the idea of legacy even more than the series normally does. Those are daunting expectations, but Taylor and artist Juann Cabal more then live up to them, forcing Laura to relive some of her most traumatic memories. Continue reading

A Loss of Focus Drains the Drama from All-New Wolverine 24

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 24

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

There has been plenty to love about Tom Taylor’s run on All-New Wolverine, from its adventurous cameos to its wry sense of humor, but I’d have to say my favorite aspect has always been its emotional intensity. Each storyline has been distinguished by its intense personal connection to Laura, whether it was battling (or teaming up with) her clone sisters, or settling a score from her earliest days. Every one seemed to leave a meaningful impact on Laura, ending or beginning new chapters in her life. It’s a breathless feat to keep that amount of emotional weight moving for that long, which is why I’m almost willing to forgive issue 24 for being the complete antithesis of that kind of importance. Continue reading

Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Generations Wolverine & All-New Wolverine 1

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

slim-banner

Drew: Superhero comics have always been about wish fulfillment. We might think of a lot of those wishes (from flying to standing up to bullies) as childish, but adults are far from immune from impossible fantasies. While the wealth and power of many superheroes is certainly appealing, I’m thinking more of the more existential wishes adults may have, at once more fantastical and easier to imagine than leaping tall buildings in a single bound. The most elemental of these wishes might be to have just one more conversation with a deceased loved one. This is exactly the fantasy Tom Taylor and Ramon Rosanas mine in Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine, giving Laura Kinney one last chance to interact with her father. Continue reading

All-New Wolverine 23 Subverts a Familiar Setup

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 23

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

Get away from her you bitch!

Ellen Ripley, Aliens

As action movie quips go, Ripley’s command to the Alien Queen is far from inventive, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the most iconic. Indeed, on repeat viewings, the the tension of Ripley’s descent into the Alien nest is more or less subsumed by my anticipation of that scene. Indeed, once you know the showdown between Ripley and the Queen is inevitable, everything leading up to it feels like unnecessary padding. The Queen exists for the sole purpose of Ripley defeating her, so the movie is really just ticking boxes once she has Newt. In All-New Wolverine 23, Tom Taylor and Leonard Kirk reproduce that setup with uncanny accuracy, teasing us with the promise of Laura facing down the Brood Queen only to snatch that possibility away at the last second. Continue reading

Shifting Tone in All-New Wolverine 22

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 22

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

The tonal range of Tom Taylor’s All New Wolverine is truly remarkable. We’ve seen issues of high drama and irreverent fun, all of which gives this series a depth of emotional experience that at least approaches real life. Moreover, the range allows Taylor to wield tone with a nuance that is rare in superhero comics, juxtaposing and combining them within issues to evoke ever more specific emotions. The surprising tonal twist in issue 22 is far from the most subtle Taylor has ever pulled, but I’ll be darned if it isn’t effective. Continue reading

Subjective Martyrdom in All-New Wolverine 21

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 21

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

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:3

While I’ve often marveled at the depth of Tom Taylor’s allusions on All-New Wolverine, it doesn’t exactly take a biblical scholar to catch the parallels to Jesus in this issue. Laura practices peace, heals the sick, and ultimately dies (maybe), but it’s that middle point that Taylor really sinks his teeth into, detailing not only the pitiful masses in need of help, but the suffering Laura endures in order to cure them. She’s Jesus, just without the religious conviction (I opted not to open this essay with Luke’s account, which finds Jesus getting downright snippy when recently-cured lepers fail to praise God to his satisfaction). Continue reading