It’s All a Game in Avengers 679

by Drew Baumgartner

Avengers 679

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

We’ll often chide middle chapters for failing to maintain dramatic momentum while setting up the climax — when he actions in those middle chapters feel motivated more by what the climax needs than what came before. We refer to that phenomenon as “putting the pieces in place,” as it reduces the dramatic interest of a story to setting up a board game. It’s an unfortunate tendency that tends to crop up in event series with huge casts, and has already led to some consternation with “No Surrender,” but Avengers 679 hangs a lampshade on its game-iness, zooming out from the game board to focus on the real players. Continue reading

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The Ol’ Weekly Series Wheel-Spinning in Avengers 678

by Spencer Irwin

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

A weekly title — especially one running more than a few issues — should feel big, as if its story simply cannot be told in any other format, on any other release schedule. Instead, though, I’ve found that weekly comics often tend to feel padded, as if a typical story is being stretched out to better fit the format. That’s certainly a problem I’m starting to notice with “No Surrender,” the current weekly Avengers event. Continue reading

A New Perspective Benefits Avengers 677

by Spencer Irwin

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

The nice thing about team books is the wide and varied casts that allow the creative team to explore each story from multiple perspectives. The nice thing about weekly series is the sheer amount of space they have to work with, giving them all the time in the world to explore even the most wide and varied of casts. That seems to be the idea behind Avengers: No Surrender. Thus far Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub (with Pepe Larraz on art) have used each issue to explore the perspective of a different Avenger. While the first issue largely used Lightning as an outside POV and the second didn’t lean enough into Falcon’s unique perspective, Avengers 677 digs deep into its spotlight Avenger, Quicksilver. Continue reading

Too Many Cooks Clash in Avengers 676

by Drew Baumgartner

Avengers 676

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

I still read my old college newspaper, but the older I get, the more I recognize how terrible it is. Case in point: they recently published an article about a meeting on campus, but failed to put the meeting into any kind of context — there were no quotes from anyone involved, no explanation for why the meeting might be necessary, no connections to similar issues at other schools (I’ll apologize now for being vague, but the point isn’t to dunk on this particular article, so I’ll leave it at that). The result was something closer to meeting minutes than an actual article, overemphasizing the “what” in place of any “why”. I found myself thinking the same thing in Avengers 676, which has so many characters and events to cram in, there really isn’t any room to properly examine any of them. Continue reading

Archie 27: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Patrick Ehlers

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

Ryan M: You can’t always get what you want. It’s a tough lesson, and one my parents tried to impart by singing Rolling Stones off-key to my brother and I throughout childhood. In relationships, defining and declaring wants is only the first step — you need agreement. Archie 27 picks up right where the last issue left off, with Betty and Archie being asked to make a romantic choice by Dilton and Veronica, respectively. Dilton and Veronica have defined their wants, but the power lies with Betty and Archie. Continue reading

Avengers 675: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Avengers 675

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

Drew: The Marvel Universe is big. That much is clear from the very beginning of Avengers 675, which skips across the globe to catch up with Marvel’s countless superhero teams and fictional countries as they deal with the Earth suddenly being transported…somewhere. Characters helpfully repeat each other’s names (and the names of their respective teams) to orient us, but being overwhelmed is kind of the point — these characters are facing down utter chaos, and that chaos is everywhere. Crossover events will often feature these kinds of “cash in all the chips” moments, straining our familiarity with Marvel’s lesser-known characters to really sell the massive scope of the story. But that’s where this issue differs from the standard crossover; where other stories simply revel in the bombast of throwing all of these characters together, Avengers 675 uses it as a cover to inject a new character into the narrative. [Phew, are there SPOILERS to follow.]  Continue reading

An Attack on Steve’s Morality in Captain America 697

by Spencer Irwin

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

Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s take on Captain America is already drastically different from Nick Spencer’s that preceded it, doling out mostly episodic adventures in comparison to the one long story Spencer told, and focusing less on actual politics and more on the idea of Steve Rogers being a good and righteous man, and trying to inspire others to be the same. The return to simpler, more swashbuckling tales has been a nice palate cleanser, especially as readers reacquaint themselves to the original, non-Hydra version of Cap, but I’m hoping we get something a little more substantial sooner rather than later. Continue reading

Steve Goes Freelance in Captain America 696

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 696

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

Do the citizens of the Marvel Universe adequately compensate their superheroes? There’s little doubt that the entire planet benefits from the efforts of Captain America and his ilk, but whatever gratefulness the citizens feel doesn’t put food on the table. Which is why so many superheroes either take day jobs (with S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Heroes for Hire, for example), institutionalizing their heroic output, are already independently wealthy (like Tony Stark), or have some wealthy patron (like Tony Stark). That notion of patronage hints at what I’m getting at: superheroism is a bit like making art — society may value the idea of it generally, but that doesn’t exactly translate to money in the bank. It’s a lesson Steve Rogers is learning as his journey as a freelance superhero begins in earnest in Captain America 696. Continue reading

Earned Ultimatums in Archie 26

by Ryan Mogge

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

Ultimatums are a hallmark of melodrama. They immediately raise the stakes, making the next move carry the weight of future. Usually this is an unfair burden. Since the time that I realized that the relationships on Beverly Hills 90210 weren’t healthy, ultimatums in romance get a healthy dose of side-eye from me. When a person says “do this or we’re done” it’s usually a cop-out or a cheap way to turn a pot-hole into a roadblock. Ultimatums are the cliffhanger of choice in romance, perching a relationship’s entire future on the next moment. Given my skepticism, it’s impressive how much empathy Mark Waid and Audrey Mok are able to elicit from me for Dilton and Veronica at the end of Archie #26. Continue reading

Action and a Message in Captain America 695

by Spencer Irwin

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

What does Captain America mean to you? Given not only our current political climate, but the outcry Secret Empire and its lead-ins created among many passionate Cap fans, it seems like a more pertinent question than ever. What is it about Steve Rogers that inspires so many? That’s what Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson set out to discover in Captain America 695. Continue reading