Black Widow 18

black widow 18

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Black Widow 18, originally released May 27th, 2015.

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“All these voices / All these memories / Make me feel like stone.
All the people / Make me feel so alone.”

-Brian Wilson, “Midnight’s Another Day

Patrick: One of the universal experiences of the comic book reader is the gradual sense that you’re actually getting to know these characters. Readers watch them grow and evolve, and there’s frequently running voiceover to add extra context to their actions. You ever notice that comic fans are much quicker to refer to Superman as “Clark” than people that just know him as a cultural icon? Surely, everyone knows that Superman is Clark Kent, but only those of us that feel close to him would have the audacity to use his first name. But what happens when a comic series actively keeps the protagonist’s perspective at arm’s length? Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow shows off a Natasha Romanova that can only really be herself when hidden from everyone else. That includes Bucky Barnes, the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., you and me. Continue reading

Black Widow 12

black widow 12Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing Black Widow 12, originally released November 19th, 2014.

slim-bannerSuzanne: Have you ever looked at your job description six months into a new job and chuckled to yourself? Rarely do expectations and generally-worded guidelines from corporate align themselves with real-life experiences. How about that summer internship when you felt more like a barista than a business student? Natasha Romanova feels your pain in Black Widow 12, as jobs constantly pull her away from her preferred role as a spy. Continue reading

Secret Avengers 3

Alternating Currents: Secret Avengers 3, Drew and ShelbyToday, Drew and Shelby are discussing Secret Avengers 3, originally released May 14th, 2014. 

Drew: There was a point in my life, from my late teens through my early twenties, where I firmly ascribed to the notion that making an impression, good or bad, was better than going unnoticed. It made me a very outgoing person, but it also made me pretty obnoxious. I may have gotten a bit more cynical over the years (I’ve definitely gotten quieter), but I’m now fairly certain that outgoing and obnoxiousness may be more than just directly correlated; frankly, I think they’re the same trait. “Outgoing” is the term we use when we find that kind of extroverted behavior charming, but it doesn’t take much to see those same behaviors as utterly grating. It forces us to walk a tricky line — we don’t want to be faceless cookie-cutter bores, but we also don’t want to be so fixated on the beat of our own drums that we turn people off (at least, not everyone).

Art walks a similar line, struggling to distinguish itself from the pack without alienating its audience. All art exists on a continuum of underdone to overdone but the vanguard has always been on that overdone edge, as artists push the envelope of taste ever further from the known. I don’t want to suggest that Secret Avengers 3 is quite on the bleeding edge of comic book trends, but it certainly toes the line of obnoxiousness. I know that sounds like a harsh criticism, but I really don’t mean that in a bad way. I may not mean it in a good way, either, but it’s certainly not all bad.

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Secret Avengers 2

secret avengers 2Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Secret Avengers 2, originally released April 9th, 2014. 

This is the Secret Avengers, there are no rules.

-S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill

Patrick: For all the crap people give the superhero genre for being “formulaic” or “predictable,” the medium of comics is anything but. I really liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier — and that flick does take a lot of big crazy chances — but one of the moments I was disappointed by was the split second we thought we were going to see Nick Fury’s car fly through the streets of D.C. Hot damn, I wanted to see that car fly. “Flying car” is one of those things you sorta just have to shrug at and say “comics are weird, man.” Or, more precisely, “there are no rules.” Ales Kot’s Secret Avengers embraces this philosophy, combining a cast of button-down Special Agents with a band of superhero (…and supervillain) misfits into one cacophonous volume. It’s a buffet of surprises, each one gleefully undermining all the others. Continue reading

Avengers 11

avengers 11

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Avengers 11, originally released May 8th, 2013. 

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Drew: Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run has been all about mystery. Issue 10 found the Avengers vowing to keep some mysterious secret, but all along, there have been more questions than answers. Ancient alien races, disturbing, otherworldly biotech, and other insane sci-fi concepts have given Hickman full control over just what we understand, and when. It’s thrilling if you’re along for the ride, but can be incredibly frustrating — even off-puting — if you don’t have faith in Hickman to explain everything. In issue 11, Hickman offers proof that he can do answers as well as questions, turning his meticulously cultivated confusion into straight-up intrigue, as the Avengers go into spy movie mode (with a little Kung Fu thrown in, for good measure). The result is a breezy, fun story, that any fans can point to as proof positive that Hickman can handle character-based stories as well as his sci-fi weirdness. Continue reading