Captain America 1 Addresses the Change We Wish We Didn’t See

by Drew Baumgartner

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

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. […] We need not wait to see what others do.

Mahatma Gandhi

You might be more familiar with this quote as it is often paraphrased, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” It’s a (hilariously self-actualized) misquote that kinda sorta captures the sentiment of the original, paring a nuanced sentiment down to something that could fit on a bumper sticker. But we only need to think about the cheery optimism of that bumper sticker for a moment to see the pessimism inherent in it. We can be the solution to the world’s problems, sure, but only because we’re already the cause of them. We need to change because we are what the world is — any problems in it are caused by us (whether by malice, ignorance, or complacency).

It’s a lesson many Americans learned (too late) after Donald Trump was elected. Not because we voted for him, but because we thought not voting for him was enough. We thought we were the solution to the problems we saw in the world, but didn’t appreciate how we were also the problem. We saw the battle over the future of this country as an “us vs. them,” failing to understand that there is only an “us,” that we can only be the solution when we accept that we are the problem. We thought fascism was a thing that happened in other countries, and that America would band together to reject it. We were wrong. Few people understand this (or have articulated it quite as clearly) as Ta-Nehisi Coates, which makes him the ideal writer to tackle Captain America, a series also coming to terms with its own in-universe convulsions of fascism. Continue reading

Secret Empire 9: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers 

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

“All good things must come to an end”

Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 

Michael: Secret Empire is racing towards its conclusion: previously trapped heroes have been freed, once broken spirits have been re-emboldened, and the bad guys themselves are starting to realize that the odds might not be in their favor. After all, all “good” things come to an end — especially evil empires. Unfortunately, that repurposed Chaucer maxim can also apply to the quality of an ongoing Marvel event, as Secret Empire 9 loses a little bit of the title’s oomph. Continue reading

Secret Empire 6: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Michael DeLaney

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

Ryan: Wednesday is the worst day of the week for soap operas. The storylines all build to a Friday afternoon cliffhanger, so by mid week you are still wrapping up the fallout of last week and are too early for this week’s storylines to be very juicy. Nick Spencer and Leinil Francis Yu are mid-run in Secret Empire 6, and rather than an issue with a self-contained arc that can be completed, we get bits and pieces of several arcs, with only limited links holding them together. Continue reading

Secret Empire 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

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Patrick: The Secret Empire epic drives on an engine powered by dramatic irony. From the second Steve’s first “Hail Hydra” was uttered, the audience knew more about the threat the Marvel Universe faced better than any of its inhabitants. It is serendipitous (in the worst possible way) that the current political climate in the United States has made readers hyper-aware of this irony, as we’re able to draw obvious parallels between the rise of Hydra and the rise of white nationalism. We don’t need to parse out the rhetorical devices Steve uses to justify his abuses of power — we see them demonstrated by our president every day. Issue 4 doubles down on the practice of illustrating dramatic irony, giving the audience far more information than any of the characters are ever afforded. The result is an unsettling exercise in moral relativism. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/11/17

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-Star Wolverine 16, Captain America: Steve Rogers 9, IvX 2, Mighty Thor 15, Ms. Marvel 14, Power Man and Iron Fist 12 and Silk 16. Also, we discussed Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16 on Thursday and Deadpool 24 today, and will be discussing Daredevil 15 on Wednesdayso come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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IvX 1

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Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing IvX 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Last month’s IvX 0 did a fantastic job of summing up the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men and showing why their going to war was only a matter of time. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s IvX 1, though, is the issue where that powder keg finally ignites into all-out war, and war…well, war is ugly. IvX 1 plays up the fun of watching these two groups duke it out, but also the pain and sadness inherent in its scenario. Continue reading

Star Wars 18

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Today, Patrick and Spencer discuss Star Wars 18, originally released April 27th, 2016.

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Patrick: I’d never really considered it before, but the women of the Star Wars universe — even when they’re the heroes — tend to have the most boring and stressful possible existences. Anakin gets to jump around with a magical laser sword while Amidala has to serve in an Orwellian uber-government. And even when they split up the Skywalker twins, little Luke is sent to his ancestral home world, guarded over by a Jedi Knight, practically guaranteeing him a life of swashbuckling adventure, whereas little Leia is handed off to a political ally so she can spend her days pretending to like her Alderaanian vegetables. While The Force Awakens has started to take steps in the right direction by making Rey adventure incarnate, sometimes it’s not enough to simply fix the problem. With Star Wars 18, Jason Aaron and Leinil Francis Yu go out of their way to put this problem in clear view: the boys goof around and fuck up until the very last second, while the girls take charge and eat shit for 20 pages. The result is an oddly empowering book, that highlights just how badass the ladies the ladies of Star Wars are by emphasizing how inconsequential (and how celebrated) Han and Luke’s adventure are.

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Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues Released 9/9/15

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Secret Wars is a mammoth event — Marvel has populated an entire Battleworld with Wolverines, Captains America and Spider-Men. There’s a lot in here that’s worth reading, but we don’t always have the time to dig deep into all of them. The solution? A quick survey of what we’re reading. Today, we’re discussing A-Force 4, Civil War 4, Red Skull 3, Giant-Sized Little Marvel AvX 4, Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos 4, Planet Hulk 5 and Siege 3.

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Avengers 23

avengers 23 infinityToday, Spencer and Ethan are discussing Avengers 23, originally released November 20th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

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Spencer: Guys, I’m just gonna be frank with you; I’m getting kind of tired of Infinity.  I thought it started out great, with immense threats, exciting action, a fun war-story vibe and a colorful cast of alien supporting characters who were fleshed out just enough so that the scenes featuring them weren’t boring, but Infinity never really broke away from or added any depth to that formula, and after over ten issues of it, I’m thoroughly tired of this interstellar war-story. Maybe writer Jonathan Hickman is too; it would explain why this issue of Avengers feels so pointless. Or maybe he just thinks that the infiltration of the Peak is important enough to devote two whole issues to; unfortunately for us, it’s not. Continue reading

Avengers 22

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Today, Mikyzptlk and Spencer are discussing Avengers 22, originally released October 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

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Mikyzptlk: Infinity has been, well, infinite in is ability to dish out issue after issue of Epic Space Battles and a slew of intergalactic threats. For the most part though, I’ve been a bit let down by the lack of the smaller character moments that I love to see in my superhero funnies. Jonathan Hickman seems poised to give me exactly what I want in Avengers 22, while gearing up for his conclusion to the Infinity event.  Continue reading