Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 3/15/17

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 Captain America Sam Wilson 20, Daredevil 18, Mighty Thor 17, Ms. Marvel and Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat 16. Also, we’re discussing Amazing Spider-Man 25 today and we’ll be discussing Deadpool The Duck 5 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Captain America: Steve Rogers 12

Alternating Currents: Captain America: Steve Rogers 12, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Steve Rogers: Captain America 12, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: To say that Captain America: Steve Rogers 1 rocked the comics world would be a profound understatement. It caused an uproar unlike any I’ve seen in my time writing on comics, and it continues to be a point of controversy nine months later. It set the tone for a Captain America story unlike any we’ve seen before, built upon one huge, jaw-dropping twist. The downside of kicking off a series with a twist that large is that it’s hard to match. Writer Nick Spencer has struggled admirably in this regard — and may have actually topped himself in Civil War II: The Oath — but a twist that required the rewriting of reality as we know it is a nigh-unreachable bar. Case in point: this issue’s return of Elisa Sinclair. Continue reading

Civil War II: The Oath 1

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Civil War II: The Oath 1, originally released January 25th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Why is Steve Rogers being transformed into a Nazi such a terrifying idea? It’s because we all trust Steve Rogers, both in universe and out. Not only can he use that to gain influence that should never, under any circumstances, be given a Nazi, but that trust means that we’re probably inclined to think the best of him — out of sheer habit, if nothing else — even though he’s never deserved it less. Well, no more. Civil War II: The Oath drives home that this altered Steve’s heart is as black as they come. If only the rest of the Marvel universe was privy to that fact as well. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/18/17

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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 Amazing Spider-Man 23, Cage 4, Captain America: Sam Wilson 18, Clone Conspiracy 4, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat 14, Star-Lord 2, Ultimates 2 3, Unbelievable Gwenpool 10 and Uncanny Inhumans 18. Also, we will be discussing Invincible Iron Man 3 on Monday, Deadpool the Duck 2 on Tuesday, and Black Widow 10 on Wednesdayso come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/11/17

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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 All-Star Wolverine 16, Captain America: Steve Rogers 9, IvX 2, Mighty Thor 15, Ms. Marvel 14, Power Man and Iron Fist 12 and Silk 16. Also, we discussed Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16 on Thursday and Deadpool 24 today, and will be discussing Daredevil 15 on Wednesdayso come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Best of 2016: Best Writers

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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 2016. Continue reading

Best of 2016: Best Issues

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Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2016. Continue reading

Captain America: Sam Wilson 17

capt-america-sam-wilson-17Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 17, originally released January 4, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

I’m an extreme moderate, Mr. Rutledge

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams

Drew: Of all the quotes misattributed to Benjamin Franklin, this might be my favorite. Only, this isn’t a common saying, but a line of dialogue from HBO’s 2008 John Adams miniseries. Either way, it sums up Franklin’s political beliefs beautifully. Moderation feels like a dirty word in our current political climate, but Franklin’s moderating force throughout that series (and, you know, actual history) proved essential in making any real progress in declaring and affirming the United States’ independence from British rule. That lesson feels somehow even more essential today, where moderation stands not just between the poles of the political spectrum, but as a necessary alternative to increasingly insular extremes. Of course, those extremes have happily vilified moderation (or at least, happily left moderates in the crossfire), leaving folks like Sam Wilson with enemies on all sides. It’s been a lonely road for Sam to walk, but issue 16 finds Falcon and Rage joining him in the center. Continue reading

Captain America: Sam Wilson 16

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Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 16, originally released December 21, 2016.

Patrick: Under Nick Spencer’s pen, both Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers have been intensely political figures in their roles as simultaneous Captains America. The underlying ugliness of both of these series echoes the ugliness we see in modern political system, but the nature of the characters narrows Spencer’s perspective a bit. For as much as he’s been free to comment on racism and fascism and nationalism, Spencer’s Captain America series have been relatively quiet on the subject of sexism and misogyny. Of course, that’s an incomplete picture of American politics, especially as we grow closer to having to salute the Pussy-Grabber In Chief. With Captain America Sam Wilson 16, Spencer and artists Angel Unzueta and Szymon Kudranski tackle a the very really threat of slut shaming and doxing and simplify them through the magic of the Marvel Universe. That simplification may undersell the complexity and sheer hopeless around this issue, but it sure as shit is satisfying to see it punished. Continue reading

The Fix 7

Alternating Currents: The Fix 7, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Fix 7, originally released December 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

I originally pitched [Breaking Bad] to the studio with one line. I told them: “This is a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr. Chips into Scarface.”

Vince Gilligan

Drew: Vince Gilligan’s elevator pitch for Breaking Bad might be one of the most well-known loglines in modern television — my dad knows it, if that’s any indication. I suspect people are attracted to the simplicity of Gilligan’s analogies; he calls on two films to paint before and after portraits of Walter White. For me, though, the very fact that he used two film characters to chart the endpoints of Walter’s evolution speaks to the differences between television and film — or, rather, the specific narrative capabilities of serialized stories. Where Walter White’s character is fundamentally one in transition between two points, film characters like Mr. Chips and Scarface are better understood as points.

To me, this is simply down to the matter of time. We don’t have enough time with film characters to form strong enough senses of who they are for all but the most obvious changes to even register. Any subtler changes might just be seen as inconsistency while we’re still forming our first impressions. In serialized narratives, though, we have much more time to develop a clear sense of who a character is — what they want, what they fear, what they will or won’t do — so can appreciate smaller, subtler changes. In a series like Breaking Bad, those changes slowly accumulate, building to drastic transformations that somehow never feel drastic at the moment. In a series like The Fix, those changes can provide a much more nuanced portrait when a character is pushed to the limit. Continue reading