It’s Power vs Responsibility in The Amazing Spider-Man 5

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 5

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

O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

We tend to define power optimistically — we might list the duties of say, the President of the United States, for example, with the expectation that they’ll wield their power responsibly. But there’s another (perhaps more timely) way to define power, not by the amount of good it allows someone to do, but by the amount of harm it allows someone to inflict. Try as we (or Uncle Ben) might to link the two, power and responsibility are independent variables. That is, “With great power must also come great responsibility” isn’t a statement of some inviolable rule of the world, but a goal to strive towards. That’s why the “must also” part is so essential (and so missed from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man) — it makes it clear Uncle Ben isn’t just stating a fact. Indeed, that power can be separated from responsibility is precisely what this first arc of Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley’s Amazing Spider-Man has focused on, demonstrating the inefficacy of either without the other. Continue reading

The Separation Anxiety of The Amazing Spider-Man 4

by Michael DeLaney

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

Say it with me now: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The phrase that the house of Spider-Man was built on has taken literal form as “Back to Basics” continues in The Amazing Spider-Man 4. Only in the wacky world of comic bookdom could we have two separate Spider-Men: Great Power & Great Responsibility (Superman Red & Superman Blue?) created as the byproduct of science.

Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley continue to explore what these essential qualities of Spider-Man/Peter Parker look like when put under separate microscopes. For brevity’s sake I will refer to “Great Power” as Spider-Man and “Great Responsibility” as Peter. Without his responsibility, Spider-Man is actually more successful than he’s ever been – depending on how you measure success. Continue reading

The Fix 12 is a Perfect Revenge Fantasy Parody

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“When I woke up, I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as a roaring rampage of revenge. I roared. I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction.”

The Bride, Kill Bill

I tend to struggle with revenge fantasies. The objective of the protagonist is too prescribed for me, as though the sentiment “I want the people who made me suffer to feel what I feel” is a universal impulse. That is, of course, part of the genius of Kill Bill: the revenge fantasy is challenged the second Beatrix Kiddo sees the life she’s sworn to ruin. It’s a twist on the formula, just like Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber’s The Fix 12. The motivation remains the same, but our hero’s efficacy is the variable. Roy’s complete inability to get revenge for Mac’s death makes this issue a borderline genre spoof, and it’s just so perfect. Continue reading

Doctor Strange: Damnation 4: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

Doctor Strange Damnation 4

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

Spencer: Big comic book events and crossovers aren’t exactly known for intimate, character-based storytelling — instead we read these stories to see dozens (sometimes hundreds) of characters all hanging out and mixing together in ways they never would at any other time. Damnation has been an interesting event because it’s the exact opposite — Donny Cates, Nick Spencer, and Rod Reis’ story works best when the scope remains small, and becomes weaker and weaker the more it tries to be an “event.” Continue reading

Doctor Strange Damnation 3 is Cool

By Patrick Ehlers

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

“Okay, sounds cool.”

-Blade, Doctor Strange Damnation 3

There’s a lot of heady framework supporting Doctor Strange Damnation. Writers Nick Spencer and Donny Cates are playing with some of the most amoral and immoral heroes in the Marvel Universe as they navigate the fallout of the biggest heel turn in comics history. Plus the goddamn devil is there collecting the wages of sin. So, y’know: a lot of loose morality to sort through. Issue three of this miniseries lets all of that set-up take a back seat. For 20 glorious pages, Spencer, Cates and artist Szymon Kudranski just let cool shit happen. Continue reading

Grief is Messy in The Fix 11

By Patrick Ehlers

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

I know this is hypocritical immediately following a spoiler alert, but I don’t believe in spoilers. They’re something I respect because I know other people believe in them (like God), but the threat of a spoiler doesn’t change the articles I will read or the conversations I’ll have (huh, also like God). If a movie or tv show or book is so slight as to have the experience of it ruined by simply knowing what’s going to happen, it probably wasn’t worth experiencing in the first place. The Fix 11 starts with a seismic shift, fully acknowledging the trope that Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber are subverting for shock value. “Surprise” reads the narration box. But the surprise isn’t the point, the fall-out from the surprise is. Continue reading

Doctor Strange: Damnation 2 is Basically a Heist Movie

by Taylor Anderson

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

Just as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Steven Soderbergh will reemerge from “retirement” now and again to make another heist movie. One can’t blame him for this: heist movies are fun, and Soderbergh has shown that he’s become very good at making them. Still, why is it that our thirst for these can’t be sated? Is it seeing familiar faces from different walks of life team-up? The notion of stealing for a just cause like Robin Hood? Or perhaps it’s serving comeuppance to someone who deserves it. Whatever the reason may be, the heist story is here to stay, and, as Donny Cates and Nick Spencer show, is easily transferable to the superhero genre. Continue reading

Doctor Strange: Damnation 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

Spencer: Since our audience has excellent taste, I’m going to assume that you’re all watching NBC’s The Good Place, right? Essentially a show about lost souls trying to earn their way into Heaven by becoming better people, one of the more interesting concepts percolating beneath the show’s surface is the idea that the rules dictating what afterlife you’re sent to are inherently flawed and unfair. It’s almost impossible to earn your way into the Good Place — only the most selfless and charitable of souls make it — leaving plenty of folks who led wholly mediocre lives (or whose greatest crimes were being born in Florida) facing an eternity of torture and punishment. I couldn’t help but think of this while reading Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, and Rod Reis’ Doctor Strange: Damnation 1, which finds the city of Las Vegas, the Avengers, and perhaps the entire world being judged by equally biased, unfair rules. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Writers

Best Writers

In such a collaborative medium as comics, it can be difficult to say where a writer’s influence on the story ends, but there’s no question on where it begins: words on the page. Whether they thrill, elate, chill, or deflate, the best writers create characters, settings, and situations we want to return to, again and again. These are our top 10 writers of 2017. Continue reading

The Fix 10: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

The Fix 10

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

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You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

Drew: If that quote doesn’t feel like it fits this issue, it’s because it doesn’t. Where The Dark Knight explores the ideas of good, evil, and the moral relativism that exists in between, The Fix is gleefully amoral, concerned less with good and bad as it is with whatever its protagonists can get away with. Which is to say, a quote about heroes and villains doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the world of The Fix. But I wonder if we strip away the morality from that quote, if we might get something a bit more universal (if still deeply pessimistic): you either die happy, or you live long enough to see yourself become miserable. The ordering of those outcomes betrays a cynical worldview that The Dark Knight (or at least Harvey Dent) shares with The Fix, one that presumes things are inclined to get worse. Of course, while The Dark Knight spun that cynicism into tragedy, The Fix funnels it into dark humor, making any successes Roy or Mac may enjoy are but haughty spirits before the inevitable fall. Continue reading