X-Men Red 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Spencer: What are the X-Men best known for? I’d honestly say that there’s two answers to this, because while thematically the X-Men are most often used to explore discrimination and social justice, in execution they’re just as well known for their unwieldy cast, soap opera dramatics, and byzantine continuity. I think what I like most about Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s debut issue of X-Men Red is how heavily it leans into that first aspect, while ignoring the latter almost entirely. There’s plenty of character within these pages, of course, but this is first-and-foremost a title with a mission and a message. Continue reading

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Discussion: Generations: The Unworthy Thor and the Mighty Thor 1

by Taylor Anderson and Drew Baumgartner

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

Taylor: I never have high hopes for crossover issues simply because, more than anything else, they tend to be really goofy. Goofy can be a good thing, but the kind of goofy I’m talking about here isn’t. Going into this issue, I was prepared to be underwhelmed simply because the the idea of pre-Mjolnir Thor teaming up with the current Thor felt, well, goofy in a bad way. However, I am delighted by this issue because it knows exactly what it is. Writer Jason Aaron is firing on all cylinders in an issue that is at once funny, brazenly over the top, full of great character moments. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 600

uncanny xmen 600

Today,Taylor and Drew are discussing Uncanny X-Men 600, originally released November 4th, 2015.

Taylor: In my junior year of college I took a creative writing course that required each student to have at least one of their stories workshopped. This involved everyone in the class reading your story and then picking it apart in front of you during class. All the things your peers thought about your story, both good and bad, came out during this process. I remember it being a humbling and somewhat traumatic experience. It’s hard to put something you created out there in the world for everyone to scrutinize and it takes a thick skin to not let the negative comments beat you down. In Uncanny X-Men 600, the final of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ run on the series, Beast is put on trial by his peers for actions. In doing so he attempts to defend his actions and those of the author who gives him life. Continue reading

All-New X-Men 36

all new xmen 36

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 36, originally released February 11th, 2015.

“It’s not as good as the first one.”

Traditional

Patrick: There’s a certain magic to the first time you experience a genre or franchise or medium. Novelty is cruel in this regard: no matter how good a sequel is, part of the luster disappears when you revisit the well. Comic book creators and fans know this too well — every reboot and relaunch is a promise to recapture whatever it was you first loved about superheroes in comics. What’s insane about this approach, is that we all fell in love with comics at different times, reading different books and for different reasons. What one person thinks of as “classic” Batman, another thinks of as new and hackneyed. There’s no guarantee that a “back to basics” approach is going to mean the same thing across fandom, never mind whether or not it’s valued the same way. As the Original X-Men wrap up their adventures in the Ultimate Universe, writer Brian Michael Bendis ruminates on just what it means to try to recapture the greatness of the original. Continue reading

All-New X-Men 34

all new x men 34Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 34, originally released December 17th, 2014.
Taylor: It’s a thing that happens in most time and dimensional travel stories. The inevitable meeting (or in some cases near meeting) between a character and a different versions of themselves. It’s interesting to think about why this trope even exists. One possible explanation could be that since we enjoy reading about our heroes, it would be even better to have a double dose. However, seeing our beloved characters act in different ways or in different situations also is entertaining. And then there is the thought that we all wish we could meet different versions of ourselves, to see what we would be like if x happened instead of y. Whatever the reason, All-New X-Men 34 once again finds our heroes meeting different versions of themselves, but is there anything new left to say about this situation? Continue reading

All-New X-Men 33

Alternating Currents: All-New X-Men 33, Taylor and DrewToday,  Taylor and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 33, originally released Ocotber 29th, 2014.

Taylor: A sense of belonging is important for our day-to-day lives. The city we live in, the place we work, where we sleep, and who we interact with are in some way or another based on our desire to feel we belong. Now, whether this sense borders on the quasi-mystical or is a simple impulse to feel comfortable is unimportant. Rather, humans being social animals just want to belong to part of the whole. When you’re a mutant, however, finding a place where you feel that sense of belonging becomes all the more difficult. It’s hard to relate to others when they very may well despise you (and also when they don’t know what it’s like to levitate and the like). The All-New X-Men, more so than their regular X-Men counterpart,s know this quandary, as they’re displaced in time along with being displaced socially. So what happen’s when their sense of belonging is stretched even further? Continue reading

Supergirl 17

supergirl 17 Hel

Today, Patrick and guest writer Zach are discussing Supergirl 17, originally released February 20th, 2013. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Patrick: I likes me a good anti-hero. There’s nothing quite like cheering for a character’s success and failure at the same time. Let’s take Walter White as a perfect example of this in modern fiction. He is a terrible husband and father, and an even worse friend, who makes dangerous decisions in the name of greed, power and desperation. And yet, I cheer every single one of his personal victories, no matter how immoral they might be. So much of Breaking Bad is about that character finding a way to feel powerful in the face of illness and poverty, and about how that need to feel powerful never goes away. The ride is exhilarating because there’s nothing more satisfying than a character with agency. Say what you will about Walter White — he has goals and he takes the steps necessary to achieve those goals. Supergirl has no such agency. She spends the majority of issue 17, fighting Wonder Woman just because, and then stops fighting her for equally arbitrary reasons. Neither a hero, nor an anti-hero, Supergirl ends up the clueless victim of her own series. 

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Supergirl 16

Alternating Currents: Supergirl 16, Drew and MogoToday, Drew and guest writer Mogo are discussing Supergirl 16, originally released January 23rd, 2013. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Drew: Supergirl really drew the short straw on this crossover event. She very quickly aligned herself with a villainous cipher whose motives and methods have yet to be fully explained, which makes her gullible at best, downright stupid at worst — traits we generally don’t associate with heroic figures. We could excuse some of this based on her desire to return to Krypton, but each moment she spends with H’el without asking for just a little more information strains credulity that much further. Supergirl 16 does well, then, to give Kara time away from H’el, reasserting that this character — and this series — might just have some agency after all. Continue reading

Supergirl 15

Alternating Currents: Supergirl 15, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Supergirl 15, originally released December 19th, 2012. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Drew: Ironically, I’m kind of a sucker for stories about con men. I like movies like Matchstick Men and Catch Me if You Can more than they probably deserve, and the scams from LOST and Justice League Dark might be my favorite parts of those series. With so many compelling, relatable con artists running around fiction, it’s easy for me to forget that they’re generally bad guys. It’s somewhat understandable that they aren’t depicted negatively more often; we like to think that we’re smart, and that the protagonists we identify with are also smart, so it’s a risky move to depict a hero being taken in by a scam. Mike Johnson attempts that risky move in Supergirl 15, with decidedly mixed results.

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Supergirl 14

Alternating Currents: Supergirl 14, Drew and Patrick HelToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Supergirl 14, originally released November 21, 2012. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Drew: For being a site run by DC fanboys (and girls), we’re not great about covering Superman’s corner of the DC universe. In fact, aside from a few annuals and zero month, we’ve barely covered any titles anchored by DC’s oldest superhero. There’s plenty to not like about the way DC has handled Supes in the New 52, but our two biggest problems hinge around the increasingly strained explanations to superpower villains and the often lazy assumption that Krypton is automatically interesting. With Supergirl 14, the H’el on Earth crossover seems poised to give us an emotionally satisfying exploration of both of those ideas, which could serve as an important turning point for the Superman family.

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