The Shield as Excalibur in Captain America 702

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 702

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

Drew: Comics historians are obsessed with Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. There’s fun parallels to draw between the lasso and Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston’s invention of the lie detector, but another essential point is that a lasso isn’t a phallus in the same way that a sword or gun is. That is, it’s a feminine weapon, designed to entwine Wonder Woman’s enemies, rather than pierce their flesh. I think that reading certainly has utility, but I think practically, the effect of that choice is that Wonder Woman is less concerned with injuring and maiming her enemies as she is neutralizing them — her weapon of choice embodies her compassion. I think Captain America’s shield represents a similar compassion, positioning as a defender, rather than an aggressor. That fact becomes particularly salient as Mark Waid and Leonardo Romero explicitly draw parallels between the shield and Excalibur, effectively highlighting the difference between a shield and a sword. Continue reading

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A Tainted Legacy in Captain America 701

by Michael DeLaney

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

Michael: Mark Waid is a self-professed devotee of DC Comics’ Legion of Superheroes — the team from the 31st Century inspired by Superman’s actions to be heroes themselves. It should be no surprise then that he has crafted a similar future built on the inspiring example of Captain America in Captain America 701. Continue reading

Hope Springs Eternal in Captain America 700

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 700

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

Superheroes don’t get endings. They might die, sure, but are inevitably resurrected months, years, or decades down the line. And they’re brought back for the same reason superheroes don’t get endings: there’s always another story to tell (and another dollar to be made telling it). Fans may sometimes get jaded about this — especially when a hero is killed off for the umpteenth time — but that lack of closure keeps superheroes in a holding pattern in the middle of the hero’s journey. They may have momentary successes, sure, but they never get to kick up their heels at the end of a career well-served. You know, unless you can find some kind of alternate universe/timeline workaround that allows your hero some sense of closure while still allowing him to carry on the fight tomorrow. That’s exactly the kind of workaround Mark Waid and Chris Samnee cook up in Captain America 700, giving Steve the kind of heroic end he can only have if there’s some kind of trick. Continue reading

The Burden and Joy of Public Service in Captain America 699

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 699

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

For many superheroes, superheroics are a means of righting some cosmic injustice — the death of a loved one a the hands of a criminal, for example. Indeed, that particular motivation is so ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget that many heroes are motivated not out of some personal vendetta, but because they feel morally compelled to help when they can. We tend to think of Spider-Man (death of a loved one at the hands of a criminal notwithstanding) for that kind of power/responsibility stuff, but I’ll suggest that Captain America might embody those ideals even more thoroughly. For Cap, superheroing is a public service, no different from volunteering at a soup kitchen or picking up trash at your local park. He’s able to make the world a better place by being Captain America, so he has to be Captain America. Again, it’s not an attitude that’s entirely unique to Steve Rogers, but as Mark Waid and Chris Samnee crank that aspect up to eleven in Captain America 699, it’s hard to imagine any other character living that ideal so perfectly. Continue reading

Dystopia in the Not-So-Distant Future in Captain America 698

by Spencer Irwin

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

I was raised on classic television, and as a kid I remember always getting a big kick out of the fact that the original Lost in Space series took place in the “distant future” of 1997. As a general rule, ascribing a specific date to your fictional future is a great way to rob it of its power and wonder, but Captain America 698 turns that rule completely on its head, finding its most effective twist in the “when” of its dystopian future. Continue reading

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

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