Making a Connection in Black Bolt 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Bolt 4

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

Black Bolt and Crusher Creel are about as different as characters get in the Marvel universe. Sure, Black Bolt is generally a good guy and Creel is generally a bad guy, but they’re also on opposite ends of the relatability spectrum. Creel has that sympathetic backstory that makes his decisions understandable, while Black Bolt’s regality and silence make him almost impenetrably aloof. Black Bolt’s abilities stem from his genetics, while Creel’s came to him later in life. All of these things make Black Bolt and Creel unlikely bedfellows, but Black Bolt 4 finds them forging a connection, even as Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward do everything the can to illustrate how different these characters are. Continue reading

Advertisements

Inhumans v X-Men 6

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Inhumans v X-Men 6, originally released March 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

“You guys… who are the good guys?”

Ms. Marvel, IvX 4

Patrick: Kamala’s rhetorical question at the end of issue 4 might have been meant to highlight the idea that there are no “good guys” in war, just people living out of various levels of desperation. And that’s definitely true of both the I and X Camps — these are peoples who believe that their survival is contingent on the destruction of the other. What they’re willing to do to each other is resultant entirely from the treat they perceive from their enemies. In effect, everyone is retaliating, acting in self-defense, and therefore the answer to Ms. Marvel’s question is “everyone.” But that’s not true, is it? There is one agent of aggression who has been manipulating all players, X-Men and Inhuman alike. And that person — the sole “bad guy” — is Emma Frost, who defines her identity by the fear she experiences as a mutant.  It’s a heartbreaking fall from grace as the long-suffering White Queen finally succumbs to paranoia and unequivocally cedes the moral high ground. Continue reading

IvX 1

ivx1

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing IvX 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Last month’s IvX 0 did a fantastic job of summing up the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men and showing why their going to war was only a matter of time. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s IvX 1, though, is the issue where that powder keg finally ignites into all-out war, and war…well, war is ugly. IvX 1 plays up the fun of watching these two groups duke it out, but also the pain and sadness inherent in its scenario. Continue reading

IvX 0

ivx-1

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing IvX 0, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: I don’t know much about my ancestry or heritage other than the fact that I’ve got blood from at least six or seven different European countries in me (I’ve been known to describe my ethnicity as “White Mystery”). Combine that with a family that’s never been all that worried about tradition and you get a guy who just doesn’t care about his culture (if I could even be considered as having one). This is absolutely not the case with the mutants or the Inhumans, though; although the two groups’ concepts of culture and tradition differ greatly, they’re absolutely vital to both camps. That’s something Charles Soule and Kenneth Rocafort make abundantly clear in IvX 0 — the conflict that’s been brewing between them isn’t really about the literal deaths of individuals anymore, but about the possible figurative death of their very ways of life. Continue reading

Daredevil 12

daredevil-12

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Daredevil 12, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: What is art? I suppose if I had to answer that question, I’d say that art is something one creates that’s intended to elicit some sort of emotional reaction, but even that incredibly broad statement doesn’t cover the full spectrum of what art is, or isn’t, what it can or can’t do. What truly is or isn’t art is subjective, yet the debate rages on; in a way, it even defines the conflict between Daredevil and his new villain, Muse. Muse just wants Daredevil to like his work, while, of course, Matt doesn’t because his work is murder. Can murder be art? Muse certainly seems to think so, and in his mind, that justifies everything he does. Continue reading

The Uncanny Inhumans 13

Alternating Currents: Uncanny Inhumans 13, Drew and Patrick
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Uncanny Inhumans 13, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Most people believe that the 20th century was a death struggle between Communism and Capitalism, and that Fascism was but a hiccup. But today we know better. Communism was a fool’s errand. The followers of Marx gone from this earth, but the followers of Hitler abound and thrive. Hitler, however, had one great disadvantage. He lived in a time when Fascism, like a virus… like the AIDS virus… needed a strong host in order to spread. Germany was that host. But Germany did not prevail. The world was too big. Fortunately, the world has changed. Global communications, cable TV, the internet. Today the world is smaller and a virus does not need a strong host in order to spread. The virus… is airborne. One more thing. Let no man call us crazy. They called Hitler crazy. But Hitler was not crazy. He was stupid. You don’t fight Russia and America. You get Russia and America to fight each other… and destroy each other.

Dressler, The Sum of All Fears

Drew: I’m not sure if the above quote appears in Tom Clancy’s novel, but it sure plays a key role in its film adaptation, where a group of fascists run a false flag operation in hopes of pitting Russia and the US against one another. The narrative of a neo-nazi faction gaining by pitting the two powers that be against one another certainly has real-world resonance in the rise of the alt-right during this election cycle, which I suppose highlights the danger of steamrolling any narrative into a simple dichotomy. The US and Russia may have been the only superpowers left, but they were far from the only interests that could benefit from their antagonism. Unfortunately, international relations aren’t always subtle enough to fully understand those smaller interests. The same could be said of superheroes, which, even when they’re fighting with one another, tend to be almost entirely two-sided. The Inhumans already represent a kind of third party to Captain Marvel and Iron Man’s “Civil War,” but an even subtler point is how even smaller factions might exploit that conflict to their own ends. It’s The Sum of All Fears, but with superpowers in place of, well, superpowers. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 7

ms marvel 7

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Ms. Marvel 7, originally released May 25th, 2016.

Patrick: Y’know, for being one of them-there “Inhumans,” Kamala Kahn is not particularly well-suited for large-scale comic book crossovers. Her problems tend to be grounded in something so much more closely resembling reality than someone like Carol Danvers or Tony Stark or even Peter Parker. She’s not going into space, and if she is fighting some kind of superpowered evil, it’s more of a strain on her maxed-out high school schedule than it is a threat to her life. So I was a little taken aback when I saw that this issue was designated a “The Road to Civil War II” story, with all that self-serious branding on the cover. Luckily — and obviously, when you take a second to think about it — G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona understand what works about Ms. Marvel. Instead of delivering twenty pages of set-up, they craft a narrative that plays out — and subverts — the themes of Civil War in a friendly, emotionally honest way that’s true to their characters. Continue reading

The Uncanny Inhumans 5

uncanny inhumans 5Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Uncanny Inhumans 5, originally released February 17th, 2016.

Spencer: I can’t even begin to imagine how much fun Charles Soule is having with the Inhumans. Despite their decades-long existence as characters, Soule’s been able to rebuild their status quo within the Marvel Universe nearly from scratch; that’s an assignment full of amazing possibilities, but it’s also one that comes with a daunting level of responsibility. The amount of thought Soule has put into these characters’ place in their world (and how they’ve worked to define it) is clear throughout Uncanny Inhumans 5, which not only introduces a new layer to their society in the form of the Quiet Room, but then makes it explicit how this works to further their agenda. Continue reading

A-Force 1

a-force 1

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing A-Force 1, originally released January 6th, 2016.

Spencer: As comic book fans, we’re all used to the idea of alternate realities. They pop up with surprising frequency, but whether we spend just a few scant pages exploring them or several months immersed within their worlds, we’re always aware that they aren’t the “main” continuity, simply fun “what-if’s.” That isn’t true of the characters living within these alternate realities, though — for them it’s their home, their entire world, everything they know and love. That holds especially true for Singularity, the main protagonist of G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina’s A-Force 1 — hailing from God Doom’s Battleworld, Singularity’s entire life spans just the five issues of the first volume of A-Force, so for her the return of Earth-616 isn’t the triumphant homecoming it is for readers, but a strange, scary new reality that she knows nothing about. Continue reading

Uncanny Inhumans 2

uncanny inhumans 2Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Uncanny Inhumans 2, originally released November 18th, 2015.

un·can·ny
ˌənˈkanē/
adjective
 1. strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.

 

Patrick: In light of the recent nuking and un-nuking (or possibly re-nuking) of the Marvel Universe, readers are reasonably expecting some straightforward adventure storytelling. What better way to get back to the basics of these characters than by comfortably setting them in a familiar world? But writer Charles Soule seems to be after anything but “comfortable” — only two issues in and it looks like he just wiped most of the Inhumans out of existence. The series is possessed by this insane confidence, with little regard to how strange, mysterious or even unsettling it becomes. They’re not joking around when they call this thing “uncanny.” Continue reading