A Roadmap for Jane’s Future in The Mighty Thor: At The Gates of Valhalla 1

by Spencer Irwin

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

The Mighty Thor: At The Gates of Valhalla isn’t what most readers probably thought it would be. Despite the timing of its release, it’s explicitly not an issue meant to transition from The Mighty Thor to the upcoming Thor — outside the cover, Thor Odinson doesn’t even put in an appearance — and despite the title, it spends no time in (or near) Valhalla, Jane’s Thor likewise doesn’t appear, and Jane herself has relatively little screen time. Instead, this special serves as a road map for the future of the Thor mythos, and especially for Jane’s place within it.  Continue reading

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Mighty Thor 706: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Mighty Thor 706

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

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

Genesis 2:2

Drew: Can gods be heroes? I might posit that immortality voids the noble qualities like courage and sacrifice that define heroism. To me, anyway, gods and heroes are mutually exclusive groups, which might well be the reason we created the concept of demigods — Hercules slaying the Nemean Lion is less impressive if he has infinite time and power at his disposal, and Jesus dying on the cross is literally meaningless if he can’t die. In this way, we understand that Jane Foster’s nobility comes not from her godliness, but from her humanity — from the sacrifice she can only make because she isn’t a god. But still, she was a god, at least briefly, which maybe entitles her to a bit of rest after all of that sacrifice. 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

Secrets as a Weapon in The Wicked + The Divine 35

by Spencer Irwin

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

It should be no surprise that almost every character in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine are hiding major secrets, nor that, as the series enters its final year, more and more of those secrets are coming to light. What might be a bit surprising, though, is how well the cast leverages these secrets — both their own and others’ — in order to get what they want. Secrets can be a liability, but in the world of WicDiv, they’re just as often an asset, a weapon just waiting to be fired. Continue reading

Mighty Thor 705: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Mogge

Mighty Thor 705

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

Spencer: Jane Foster is willing to do what must be done, no matter how hard or dangerous, no matter what the consequences might be, even when nobody else can or will. It’s what makes her a hero, what makes her worthy; it’s also what brings about her downfall. The Mighty Thor 705 is the swan song our beloved Jane deserves, a beautiful, action-packed, heartbreaking issue that highlights everything that made Jane’s Thor an inspiration, everything that made her important both in-universe and out. Continue reading

Growth, Chemistry, History, and Change in Runaways 7

By Spencer Irwin

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

The density of prose, as well as the ample opportunities for dialogue and conversations, make novels a format that excels in rich, deep characterization; there’s just more room and opportunity to get into a character’s head than in most other mediums. It’s no surprise, then, that writer and novelist Rainbow Rowell would excel in this regard, but it is a pleasant surprise that she’s been able to translate those skills so perfectly to her comic book work on Runaways. This is a title where every character feels real and three dimensional, more than just archetypes or action stars but like actual kids with actual concerns, desires, deep-seated fears, and the ability to grow and change. Most importantly, Rowell makes us feel the effects of their history, of everything they’ve gone through since first being created 15 years ago. 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

The Art of Doling Out Answers in The Wicked + The Divine 34

by Spencer Irwin

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

There are some stories that fall apart once they start giving out answers. Maybe all it had going for it was its mysteries, or maybe the mythology ended up dull or nonsensical, or maybe they spelled everything out in a long, listless exposition drop — the point is, the spark’s gone once the story reveals its secrets. Thankfully, The Wicked + The Divine is not one of those stories. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie turn doling out answers into an art-form, finding ways to fascinate even when revealing truths to their cast that readers already know. 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 Family That Hurts the Most in Runaways 6

By Spencer Irwin

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

I love this line, not only because it’s so perfectly in character for the prickly Gert, but because it really sums up the relationship all these kid had with their parents: the people who raised them, who tried to kill them, each other, and the entirety of the human race, the people whose deaths they were partially responsible for, and the people whose deaths they still feel guilty for, even years later. In Runaways 6 Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka add another complex, loving, evil guardian to the list of loved ones who will forever haunt these kids: Molly’s grandmother. Continue reading