Focus vs. Multiple Fronts in Black Panther 168

By Ryan Desaulniers

Black Panther 168

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

Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box

Whether you’re writing an indie comic title or trying to pen the next billion-dollar Star Wars film, a great place to start is by asking, “What is the hardest thing for my characters to do?” True character, after all, is revealed through the most difficult decisions they’re forced to undertake. After a very interesting tangent in Black Panther 166 to meet the new Klaw, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates tries to pile on the challenges facing King T’Challa and the rest of his royal court of protagonists, but is it better to assault a character from all sides, or to offer one clear, powerful opposing force? Continue reading

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The (Re)Introduction of Klaw in Black Panther 166

By Drew Baumgartner

Black Panther 166

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

There’s a lot to be excited by in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther run, but one we rarely comment on is that it’s bringing in new readers. As an already popular author and journalist, Coates has an established audience that is much, much larger than the typical comics creator. For evidence, we need look no further than his twitter followers, which number 1-3 orders of magnitude more than most comics creators — heck, he has more followers than most comics publishers. And, importantly, the vast majority of those followers (and Atlantic and Between the World and Me readers) aren’t comics readers. I’ve covered plenty of comics in our 7 years as a site, but tweets about Coates’s Black Panther represent the only times I’ve been asked “where can I buy this comic?” And that’s happened multiple times. Coates is bringing new people to the medium, and that’s something special.

Of course, it also puts him in a bit of an unusual place as a writer. T’Challa is a character with a rich, half-century-long history, and comicdom is notorious for fans who know every bit of that history. How do you reconcile the interests of those fans with those of total neophytes? From the start, Coates has struck an elegant balance, acknowledging many specific beats of that history while also creating entirely new mythologies for the character and his world. No one element represents that better than Ulysses Klaw, whose introduction at the end of last month’s issue crashed one of T’Challa’s oldest enemies into that new mythology. 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

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

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 5/10/17

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-New Wolverine 20, Amazing Spider-Man 27, America 3, and Silver Surfer 11. Also, we will be discussing Rocket 1 on Tuesday and Ms. Marvel 18 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4 Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 4/5/17

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-New Wolverine 19, America 2, Captain America: Steve Rogers 15, Nova 5 and Royals 1. Also, we’re discussing Hawkeye 5 on Tuesday, so come back for that! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4 Continue reading

Fantastic Four 2

fantastic four 2Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Fantastic Four 2, originally released March 12th, 2014.

Patrick: I don’t like the way James Robinson writes dialogue. Don’t like it. He invents unnecessarily awkward contractions; his characters use cliché superhero rhetoric; there are frequent problems with subject-verb agreement; and he’ll mix up countable and uncountable objects (using words like “fewer” and “less” incorrectly). I can accept some of these “mistakes” as affectations of Robinson’s characters: lord knows Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm aren’t going to edit the words that come out of their mouths. But dialogue is like 5% of a comic, right? As long as the art and incident are compelling, a few glaringly stupid sentences shouldn’t bother me, right? RIGHT!? Continue reading