Projection and Toxic Masculinity in West Coast Avengers 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

When discussing West Coast Avengers 2, we went into significant detail about how B.R.O.D.O.K. represented the worst traits of toxic masculinity, of entitled, deluded men who think of women as objects or prizes rather than real people with their own needs, personalities, and desires. With issue 3, Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli continue to explore this topic, but come at it from a slightly different angle. This time, their attention is focused less on the delusions that drive B.R.O.D.O.K. and more on how his actions effect the women around him. Spoiler alert: things don’t go well for them. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 2: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: Kate Bishop’s California adventures — under the pens of both Matt Fraction and Kelly Thompson — have all more-or-less revolved around the idea of appearance, on Hollywood’s obsession with beauty, fame, and youth. On first glance, M.O.D.O.K.’s transformation into the chiseled B.R.O.D.O.K. in West Coast Avengers 2 seems fueled by the same kinds of obsessions, but there’s actually an even greater danger lurking deep within: B.R.O.D.O.K.’s preoccupation with appearance is driven entirely by dangerous entitlement and toxic masculinity. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers 

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

This is the true story of seven strangers picked to work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.

The Real World.

Spencer: Despite that famous tagline, reality television rightfully has a reputation for being anything but real, with contestants purposely taking on certain roles for the camera and producers editing footage in misleading ways to construct particular narratives (whether they’re “true” or not). Part of what makes West Coast Avengers so interesting, then, is that, despite its “superhero reality show” concept, creators Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli seem devoted to depicting the sad realities of their cast’s lives, to finding the truth behind their day to day existences, even when those existences are patently absurd. Continue reading

Hawkeye 16: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

X marks the spot.

treasure map, traditional

Patrick: How do you know where to look? I’m asking a holistic question here. When you’re walking down the street, what draws your eye? When you’re deciding what to do next with your life, how do you decide what people and what activities are of value to you? Maybe we’re following signs, or bright lights, or that warm feeling of belonging. It’s something. Hawkeye 16 shows both Kate and Eden coming to terms with what they’ve been looking for, all while Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero expertly show the reader where to look. Continue reading

Hawkeye 5

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Hawkeye 5, originally released April 5th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: A defining trait of Hawkeye is that they’re a bit of a “hot mess.” For all their skill as archers, both Clint Barton and Kate Bishop tend to be disheveled, disorganized, and often immature in pretty much all other aspects of their lives. This likewise applies to Kate’s new job as an L.A. P.I., a job she’s thus far succeeded at largely through luck and improvisation rather than skill. Thankfully for her, though, it turns out that this may actually make the job a perfect fit for her. Who better to teach that lesson than fellow P.I., and the “Queen of Hot Messes” herself, Jessica Jones? Continue reading

Hawkeye 3

hawkeye-3

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Hawkeye 3, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: Legend has it that carved upon the Ancient Greek Temple of Delphi are the words gnothi seauton — Know Thyself. For the Greeks, it was important to know who you were and your place in society. This maxim not only helped you achieve glory, but prevented you from overstepping your bounds, as so many ill-fated Greek characters learned all too late. In our modern culture, knowing yourself has taken on a completely new meaning. Because of social media, you’re not only yourself but also the brand you push out there on Facebook, Twitter, and comic blogs. Given this, it’s imperative not to only know thyself, but also know how thyself is viewed by others. Hawkeye 3, knows itself and how it comes off to its readers, and that makes it a smart, funny, and interesting read.

Continue reading

Hawkeye 1

Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Hawkeye 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M.: Los Angeles is a mainstay of detective fiction. There is something about the contrast between the sunshine and the darkness within the worst of humanity. Modern noir is rife with the stories of private investigators getting entangled in what starts as a simple case but turns into a much bigger problem, all the while surrounded by the superficial beauty of the city. In Hawkeye 1, Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero not only establish the series’ specific version of Los Angeles but also give us a spin on Kate Bishop that feels fresh, while still acknowledging her history.

Continue reading

Wolf 8

wolf 8

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Wolf 8, originally released June 8th, 2016.

Man is a symbol-making and -using animal. Language itself is a symbolic form of communication. The great writers all used symbols as a means of controlling the form of their fiction. Some place it there subconsciously, discovered it and then developed it. Others started out consciously aware and in some instances shaped the fiction to the symbols.

Ralph Ellison

Drew: I distinctly remember asking my high-school English teacher if she really thought writers consciously employ symbolism. In 1963, Bruce MacAllister had a similar question, but rather than pose it to his teacher, he sent a survey to 150 of the most famous living writers asking them about their use of symbolism. I’m less enamored with the emphasis on authorial intent, but I’m absolutely in love with the audaciousness of that move. Or, rather, I’m in love with the fact that so many writers responded — including Ralph Ellison, whose own use of symbolism so frustrated me when I was in high school. Ellison’s comments stood out to me particularly for the allowance he makes for the symbols to take primacy over other elements, turning a literary device into the very point of the work in question. In short, turning prose into poetry. Ales Kot often attains a similar poetic quality, weaving symbols deep into the fabric of his comics. Wolf 8 finds both new and old symbols once again taking the center stage. Continue reading

Wolf 1

wolf 1

Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Wolf 1, originally released July 22nd, 2015.

Ryan: Stop me if you have read this comic before: a dark, supernatural noir following a seemingly immortal protagonist and featuring Lovecraftian — oh, yes, that’s Ed Brubaker’s Fatale. Or this one, then: a hard-nosed paranormal detective named Wolf tries to right wrongs in a major American city populated by folkloric — yup, you got it, that is Fables. The first issue of Wolf strides over well-trodden territory — really, we have seen this all before. So why, then, does it work so well? Better yet, what is it that Ales Kot is doing better than everyone else? Continue reading

The Private Eye 10

private eye 10

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Private Eye 10, originally released March 19th, 2015.

Drew: One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was from my older brother as I was preparing an essay for my college applications. I don’t remember his exact words, but he advised me to ease off a bit on my conclusion, which he pointed out was trying way too hard to wrap my essay up with a grand statment of purpose. It’s a common tendency, but it’s easy to understand why: the end is your last chance to leave an impression on your audience — better make your big point now, whether you’ve earned it or not. That tendency becomes even more treacherous when the work in question is meant as a kind of critique of modern society, where the very idea of an ending might feel forced, and any kind of grand statement would feel particularly heavy-handed. It should be no surprise that the sly-as-ever The Private Eye 10 avoids this pitfall altogether, offering an ending so subtle, it might actually be too ambiguous. Continue reading