Doctor Strange 381: Discussion

By Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

Doctor Strange 381

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

Taylor: There’s a scene in the excellent new Thor movie where the titular character comes face to face with Dr. Stephen Strange. At the time, the scene struck me as kind of weird, even if I enjoyed it greatly. What seemed odd to me at the time was the idea of Norse gods meeting a sorcerer who seemingly hails from a completely different mythology. But as the rest of the movie showed me with its zany and fun plot, there’s no reason why the two mythologies shouldn’t meet. At the end of the day, both Thor and Dr. Strange have super powers, and whether one is or isn’t magic doesn’t seem to really matter. Once I crossed the cognitive divide that these two characters shouldn’t interact, I was totally hooked. The same is true of Doctor Strange 381, because it operates in much the same way. Continue reading

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Epistolary Irreverence in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

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

The provenance of epistolary texts are always weird. Actually, it’s probably less weird than traditional narratives, where we might somehow be privy to the private thoughts of the protagonist or even the perspective of an omniscient narrator, but epistolary texts necessarily draw our attention to the weirdness in a way that more traditional narratives don’t. Because we’re reading documents composed within the diegesis of the epistolary narrative, the ostensible writer of those documents are a character, even as the actual writer attempts to become invisible. That tension, between our hyperawareness of the fictional author, and purported obliviousness of the actual author, puts epistolary narratives in this weird netherworld of headspace, embracing the self-awareness of postmodernism in an attempt to produce an entirely un-self-aware story. It’s a concept that already folds in on itself, but writer Ryan North adds a few more wrinkles, confusing the notion of self-awareness enough that the confusion starts to be to point. Continue reading

Vote Loki 1

vote loki 1

Today, Ryan D. and Spencer are discussing Vote Loki 1, originally released June 15th, 2016

Ryan D: This story is as much about Loki as “The Great Gatsby” is about Gatsby; it’s a narrative told through the lens of Nisa Contreras, our Nick Carraway of the story, a former Daily Bugle reporter whose Lower East-Side block was devastated by an Avengers clash with Loki back in the Golden Age. Nisa distrusts the Trickster God implicitly, and her skepticism makes sense in this comic, with her pragmatics being a decidedly grounding force to a fairly outlandish idea. I wish that writer Christopher Hastings gave the audience a bit more characterization from Nisa, who at the moment is defined by her tenacity and care for the corrupt political election system, but I am sure further issues will allow her voice to be refined and heard. Continue reading

The Mighty Thor 4

mighty thor 4

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing The Mighty Thor 4, originally released February 17th, 2016.

Taylor: As much as I try, I can’t escape news and opinions surrounding the Democratic and GOP primary elections. Don’t get me wrong, I like to be informed about what’s happening, but every time I log on to the internet (and social media in particular) I’m bombarded by opinions about Trump, Sanders, Clinton, Rubio, Cruz, and yes, even Jeb Bush. It’s not wrong to have a strong opinion about what’s happening in national politics, but I just don’t want to hear what everyone thinks about it all the damn time. There’s a time and a place to discuss these things and there are also a lot of subtle ways these issues can be discussed, none of which involve Facebook and the reposting of articles that support your particular belief. The Mighty Thor 4, as it always has, impresses me not only with its overall quality but, in this case, also with its subtle commentary on national politics.

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The Mighty Thor 3

mighty thor 3

Today, Taylor and Andy Spencer are discussing The Mighty Thor 3, originally released January 13th, 2016.

Taylor: I recently learned that I have a reputation for being a strict teacher at my school. This revelation came as a bit of a surprise to me since I feel like I’m not any more strict than my fellow teachers. I’m not bothered by having this reputation but I do find it interesting that I had no idea this is how I was viewed by my students. But I guess that’s ultimately the thing about a person’s reputation; no matter how hard you work to craft it or understand it, you ultimately have no control over what it is. For most of us this isn’t a huge issue, we move on with our lives no matter how others view us. If you’re Loki, however, and the fate of the ten realms rests on your actions and how others see you, it’s a completely different story. Continue reading

The Mighty Thor 2

mighty thor 2

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing The Mighty Thor 2, originally released December 16, 2015.

Patrick: I don’t remember the first time I saw Star Wars. They were just sort of always on when I was a kid – like E.T. or the first Back to the Future movie. I do, however, remember the first time I paid attention to Star Wars: it was the scene in A New Hope where Luke and Ben meet Han and Chewie in the Cantina. I knew there were spaceships and explosions and epic laser-sword fights in the other movies, but the Cantina scene uniquely made me question the nature of the Star Wars universe. Who are all these crazy looking dudes? Why are they all having a drink together? What’s the deal with this band? No one minds that Obi-Wan just sliced a dude’s arm clean off? I rewatched that scene more times than I can count, and every time, my imagination ignited with what I could only guess their individual stories to be. My imagination isn’t that obsessively active anymore, but a handful of details can still make me feel that a fictional world is real, vital, and bigger than what we see on the screen or page. Jason Aaron and Russell Dautermann’s The Mighty Thor 2 is so packed with these details, it’s like an entire universe unto itself.

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The Mighty Thor 1

mighty thor 1

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing The Mighty Thor 1, originally released November 18th, 2015.

Taylor: By now we all know the premise of Breaking Bad: a chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer turns his skills to dealing meth and things spiral out of control from there. While this is an interesting premise, it’s not what makes the show great. What makes it great is the colossal character study it became. The show ponders why Walter White does the things he does and what drives him to do it. Naturally, his cancer diagnosis is a catalyst for much of the action Walter takes. And while his disease spurs him on to nefarious pursuits, others react to the disease more nobly. Case in point: Dr. Jane Foster aka Thor. Rather than let cancer eat away at her body and her sole like Walter, Jane uses it to motivate ever  greater and more altruistic deeds. Continue reading

A-Force 1

a force 1 sw

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing A-Force 1, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

secret wars div

Michael: Full disclosure: the exact ins and outs of Secret Wars are kind of over my head. I know that it is a better (and actually planned out) version of DC’s Convergence. I also know the basics of the event, which pretty much can be boiled down to the recap page of: “The Multiverse was destroyed! The heroes of Earth-616 and Earth-1610 were powerless to save it! Now, all that remains…is Battleworld!” So I’m going to try to take A-Force objectively, at face value. Continue reading

Loki: Agent of Asgard 14

loki 14 swToday, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 14, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

secret wars div

Patrick: Secret Wars isn’t something that’s happening to the Marvel Universe. Secret Wars is the result of specific planning and action from an entire team of editors, publishers, writers and artists. It exists by sheer force of will and accomplishment, about as intentional of a thing as can happen in comics. Loki: Agent of Asgard 14, bearing the “Last Days of” banner, explores the idea of the agency of the storyteller, even if that storyteller happens to be a character from within the story. Continue reading

Loki: Agent of Asgard 12

loki 12Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 12, originally released March 18th, 2015. 

slim-banner

“It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.”

Rachel Dawes, Batman Begins

Spencer: If there’s one character who’s taken these words to heart even more than Batman, it’s Loki. From its very first issue, Loki: Agent of Asgard has been about Loki attempting to change his destiny by erasing the sins of his past and replacing them with noble missions. If nobody could remember his crimes, then surely that would make him a good person, right? On that same wavelength, King Loki poses a threat because his actions threaten to trap his young counterpart in the role of “villain” for all of eternity. It’s this idea of a narrative defining a character, established over 12 issues, that makes King Loki’s big twist hit so hard: actions mean nothing. Loki is Loki, and nothing can change that. Continue reading