Secret Empire: Omega 1: Discussion

By Ryan Mogge and Drew Baumgartner

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

Ryan: Every event in your memory left some sort of mark. When it comes to trauma, those marks are more like deep grooves. No matter how much you heal, or how much better off you are, you are changed by what has happened to you. In the wake of a rebellion against a group of fascists bent on world domination with the face of the most trusted man alive, you certainly can’t expect to move forward without being changed. In Secret Empire: Omega 1, Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino offer a mixture of back-to-normal plot points and artful rumination that operate quite differently but still offer the same themes of trauma and the scars left behind. Continue reading

The Failings of Friendship in Desperate Times in Secret Empire 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

“The power of friendship” is a popular trope in most media. The idea that most situations can be overcome through the bonds we share with our friends is powerful in a lot of ways, but it’s one that never really seems applicable to war or espionage stories like Secret Empire. Make no mistake, Hydra is not going to be defeated by friendship or optimism alone, but in Secret Empire 5, Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Andrea Sorrentino, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg do explore the effect pre-existing relationships have on their conflict. It’s not always a good one. Continue reading

Secret Empire 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

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Patrick: The Secret Empire epic drives on an engine powered by dramatic irony. From the second Steve’s first “Hail Hydra” was uttered, the audience knew more about the threat the Marvel Universe faced better than any of its inhabitants. It is serendipitous (in the worst possible way) that the current political climate in the United States has made readers hyper-aware of this irony, as we’re able to draw obvious parallels between the rise of Hydra and the rise of white nationalism. We don’t need to parse out the rhetorical devices Steve uses to justify his abuses of power — we see them demonstrated by our president every day. Issue 4 doubles down on the practice of illustrating dramatic irony, giving the audience far more information than any of the characters are ever afforded. The result is an unsettling exercise in moral relativism. Continue reading

Black Widow 11

Alternating Currents: Black Widow 11, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Black Widow 10, originally released February 8th, 2017As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Mordor. The one place in Middle-earth we don’t want to see any closer, and the one place we’re trying to get to.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Drew: As far as motivations go, “destroy evil ring” is about as straightforward as it gets. Obviously, there’s a great deal more to Tolkien than his MacGuffins, but I think one of the most elegant ways he complicates that motive is the simple fact that the ring has to be destroyed in Mt. Doom. In this way, each step of they journey brings the ring closer to destruction and closer to falling into Sauron’s grasp. The only thing that could up the tension any further is suggesting that the “secret” plan to destroy the ring is simply part of Sauron’s plan to draw it out. Are they defeating him, or are they doing his work for him? Nat finds herself in a similar situation in Black Widow 11, as she apparently delivers an equally devastating MacGuffin to Recluse. Continue reading

Black Widow 10

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Black Widow 10, originally released January 18, 2017As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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“Thank you for being a friend.”

Golden Girls Theme Song

Patrick: In college, I made a friend name Melanie. She was a freshman during my senior year, and she had kind of a tough time adjusting to the more Wisconsonian aspects of her college experience. She was from Portland, Oregon, and between the winters and the culture shock, she couldn’t connect with her classmates very easily. I loved that Melanie could see through the dorky Wisconsin obsessions with the Packers, or cheese, or beer or whatever, but that meant a lot of the ways we connected were extremely cynical. We complained about people together, we came up with strategies for getting each other out of small talk at parties – I’d consider it misanthropic if it weren’t also the thing that bonded us so tightly. We used to exchange birthday cards that read “Happy Birthday you fucking cunt.” Obviously, she’s the only person in the world I’d send that card to. Being friends with Melanie was unlike being friends with anyone else, and it’s important to recognize how unique each friendship is. For me and Melanie, that meant one thing, for Natasha and Bucky it means something else.

Continue reading

Black Widow 8

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Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Black Widow 8, originally released November 30th, 2016As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Spencer: Natasha’s mission in Black Widow 8 is, ostensibly, to save the Vice-President from an assassination attempt by one of the young Dark Room recruits, yet it’s not really about trying to save the Vice-President; he doesn’t even make an appearance in the issue. Instead, the person Natasha is truly trying to save is the young assassin herself. In a way, by saving her, Natasha can save herself as well. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 8/17/16

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing Black Widow 6, Captain America: Sam Wilson 12, Civil War II: Choosing Sides 4, The Unbelievable Gwenpool 5, and The Mighty Thor 10.

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Black Widow 3

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Black Widow 3, originally released May 4th, 2016.

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Patrick: You wanna hear my theory for why we haven’t had a Black Widow solo movie yet? I don’t think filmmakers or movie audiences are prepared to sit through Natasha’s origin story. Given the global political climate, it’s bound to be difficult to mine adventure and romance out of what is essentially kidnapping young girls and turning them into child soldiers. That’s the source of Nat’s power – she’s frighteningly competent because she literally had to develop those competencies or die in the process. As Black Widow 3 drifts between the past and the present, Chris Samnee and Mark Waid make a point to keep us in the dark about how Nat pulls off any of her numerous remarkable feats. It’s a confident, unnerving read. Continue reading

Spider-Woman 10

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Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Spider-Woman 10, originally released August 26th, 2015.

Spencer: I’m a suburban kid at heart, but I also really enjoy the city. That makes me a bit of an outlier amongst my extended family, which is filled with farmers and country folk. I dunno, I just enjoy having people and places close to my home — the quiet and sparseness of the country creeps me out big time. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, though, it’s obvious that there’s a drastic difference between the city and the country. In Dennis Hopeless and Natacha Bustos’ Spider-Woman 10, those differences have come to represent Jessica Drew’s dual lives. The city — New York City, to be exact — is Jessica’s old life as an Avenger, a complicated life full of chaos, while the strange simplicity of her new life as a P.I. is perfectly — and quite literally — represented by the American Midwest. It’s crystal clear which of those lives Jess prefers, but with the end of the world approaching, she doesn’t really have a choice as to which one she must live. Continue reading

Hawkeye 22

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 22, Drew and Courtney

Today, Drew and Jack are discussing Hawkeye 22, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Drew: Endings are hard. Whether they break our hearts or leave us wanting more, even the most satisfying ending must face the bittersweet truth of being the end. “The End” takes on a peculiar meaning in the world of month-to-month comics (especially where the next volume may already be a few issues in), but whatever we’re saying goodbye to — whether its a paradigm or a creative team — can still have an almost hallowed air of significance. This makes talking about comic book endings in a issue-by-issue format particularly difficult, as its tempting to use the final issue as a platform for talking about the series as a whole. I absolutely want to talk about Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run as a whole, but I want to first give issue 22 its due respect as perhaps the perfect distillation of what made his run so remarkable. Continue reading