Thor 3: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Drew Baumgartner

Thor 3

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

Spencer: Last weekend my grandmother was sent to the hospital. Thankfully she’s recovering nicely, but the actual task of getting her treated was complicated by the sheer amount of her children and grandchildren gathered in one place, bickering over treatments, supposedly-rude doctors, and the usual family gossip. For better or for worse, I think this kind of behavior is typical when almost any family gets together; there’s no task so important that some family drama can’t derail it. That’s certainly the case for the Odinson clan in Thor 3, who nearly bicker each other into oblivion even as the Queen of Cinders is on the verge of conquering Hel.  Continue reading

Strange Continues to Damn Himself in Doctor Strange 387

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spencer: Damnation is an appropriate title for this event in several ways. The entire city of Las Vegas was damned to Hell when it was destroyed during Secret Empire, and its revival has damned the soul of anyone who dares get near the city. Perhaps most significant, though — especially in the Doctor Strange tie-in issues — is the damnation the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Stephen Strange, faces. There’s the literal damnation courtesy of Mephisto, of course, but Donny Cates and Niko Henrichon seem much more interested in the self-damnation Strange has put himself through, the way he’s driven away his friends and allies, and the increasingly desperate and toxic ways he’s attempting to cope with this fact. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 30: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

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

Taylor: A couple days ago, Erica Henderson announced on Twitter that she would be stepping away from artistic duties on the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. For fans of the comic, particularly those who have been reading it from the beginning, this comes as crushing news, which is only moderately softened by knowing Henderson is stepping down of her own accord. While that makes the situation a bit easier to swallow it’s still is weird to consider a Squirrel Girl comic not drawn by Henderson. Luckily, there are still a few issues left to appreciate Henderson’s artwork and the 30th issue provides a great example of why she’ll be missed so much. Continue reading

Giving Meaning to the Inevitable in Mighty Thor 704

by Drew Baumgartner

The Mighty Thor 704

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

Heroes are predictable, at least in terms of the noble qualities that define heroism. That is, while a hero’s cunning plan or stroke of genius may surprise us, that they would try to save the day — even and especially at great risk to themselves — is kind of a foregone conclusion. And no hero represents that quality of self-sacrifice better than Jane Foster, whose daily choice to wield Mjolnir to protect others has slowly allowed her cancer to advance. So that she would take up the hammer once again, even with the knowledge that doing so would surely kill her, isn’t exactly a surprise Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman could have hoped to withhold. So instead, they spend this issue detailing exactly what that decision means to her beyond self-sacrifice, getting at just what it is that makes Jane so selfless in the first place. Continue reading

Embrace the Immensity of Infinity Countdown Prime 1

By Michael DeLaney

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

With all of the backstory it lays out, Infinity Countdown Prime 1 should probably be renamed “Infinity Countdown Primer.” The book is equal parts past and prologue. Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato Jr. set the stage for Infinity Countdown, cushioned between a Marvel editorial recap of what the Infinity Stones do and what their history is. And while it does throw a lot of information at the reader at once, it feels like one of the more successful starting points for a major comic event in recent memory — especially if you aren’t heavily versed in all things Infinity. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 385: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Michael DeLaney

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

Patrick: Where does trust come from, narratively speaking? It’s almost a process of subtraction: audiences trust what they are presented with until they are given a reason not to. We’ll be dubious of anything a villain says because they demonstrate themselves to be dishonest, or greedy, or whatever it is that triggers our own feeling of moral superiority. Heroes are, of course, the opposite: we will trust them, even give them the benefit of the doubt when they make bad calls. Ultimately, we’re acting on our faith in narrative structure and we trust our hero to be in the right by the end of the story. Doctor Strange 385 twists our assumptions about right and wrong, about heroism and villainy without ever truly violating our expectations for Stephen Strange or Loki. Continue reading

Friends Start as Foes in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 29

by Taylor Anderson

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

Back when the first Avengers movie came out, audiences were thrilled to see a fight between Thor and Iron Man. Fast-forward to last year, and many of the same audiences were similarly thrilled to see Thor fight the Hulk. That audiences love to see heroes fight each other is nothing new. There’s a very specific reason why people enjoy fights between comic book protagonists so much: it’s essentially a cinematic version of arguments comic book nerds have been having for ages — “who would win in a fight?” And truthfully, it isn’t only comic book fans who have been asking this question. Comic book creators have been discussing the question in issues for decades now. This debate continues in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 29, only now it’s accompanied by Ryan North’s distinctive humor and irony. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 384: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

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

Michael: This is the second week in a row that I get to name-drop the Sentry! I think I may be in the minority when I say that I like the Sentry, the Dr. Jekyll Superman analogue with a Mr. Hyde counterpart called The Void. I don’t think that he should be headlining his own book, but I do like him as a co-star or part of an ensemble. Donny Cates makes excellent use out of the Sentry in Doctor Strange 384. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 28 Piles on the Grifts

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 28

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

Loki stories are fun — and have been for literal millennia — because of the dynamic way storytellers let us in on his tricks. Sometimes, we’re only tipped off to the trick after the fact, allowing us to be fooled along with his audience. In other cases, we get to be “in” on the trick, effectively seeing it from his perspective. Or our perspective can shift at any point, allowing us to be fooled for a time before revealing the trick to us halfway through, introducing that bit of dramatic irony that makes trickster stories so fun. Ryan North and Erica Henderson understand the fun of all of those approaches, and mix and match them to glorious effect in Squirrel Girl 28. Continue reading

Life After the Title in Doctor Strange 383

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Doctor Stephen Strange was the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. It’s a baller title, and it comes with some insane responsibilities and nearly unimpeachable authority. Like, when Doctor Strange shows up on the scene, the other heroes know that he’s there because he knows what he’s doing. But when you strip the title away, what changes in Stephen’s life? Doctor Strange 383 continues Donny Cates’ saga of Loki’s tenure as the Sorcerer Supreme, but keeps Stephen under the microscope to determine what the remains of the main without the mantle. Continue reading