(Re)defining the Hulk in The Immortal Hulk 1

by Drew Baumgartner

The Immortal Hulk 1

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

It might be stating the obvious to suggest that the Hulk’s identity is fraught, but I don’t mean it in the Jungian dualistic sense. Obviously, the tension between Bruce Banner and the Hulk is the primary source of drama for the character, but the Hulk has long suffered from a different kind of identity crisis, in that no two writers ever seem to agree on who and what he is. Is he a senseless destructive force, or is he capable of reason? Is he a monosyllabic brute, or a brilliant physicist? I’ve only occasionally checked in on Hulk’s solo series over the past five or so years, and I’ve seen takes that pretty much run the gamut, if that’s any indication of how rapidly and wildly consecutive runs can change the character. And to be clear, I don’t necessarily see this as a weakness — I’d argue that the flexibility of superheroes to fit the themes different creative teams are most interested in exploring is a huge part of their longevity — but I do think it demands a strong statement of purpose at the start of a run; something to clarify exactly what kind of Hulk we should expect to see. Something like Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s The Immortal Hulk 1, which introduces the specifics of this particular iteration with remarkable efficiency. Continue reading

Black Panther 11

Alternating Currents: Black Panther 11, Drew and Ryan D

Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Black Panther 11, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Comics is a medium of juxtaposition. We derive meaning from seeing two images next to one another, understanding some causal link that only exists in our minds. The magic, then, is crafting those images such that the reader can piece together the causality in a natural, intuitive way. That includes both the content of the images and the arrangement of those images on the page, which is remarkably complex. Indeed, in his seminal Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud points out that arranging panels is so complex “that even seasoned pros will sometimes blow it.” While the clarity issues in Black Panther 11 have more to do with content than layouts, I feel this sentiment is particularly apt, as the issue was drawn by not just one, but a veritable army of seasoned artists. It’s odd to argue that this artistic team failed to make this issue clear, but I’m afraid that’s really the lynchpin upon which all of this issue’s problems turn. Continue reading

Lando 2

lando 2

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Andy are discussing Lando 2, originally released August 12, 2015.

Patrick: When you think about Lando’s role in the original trilogy, it’s hard to see him as an active player in the drama. His pivotal turn in The Empire Strikes Back boils down to him sending Lobot a text. Think about his role freeing Han from Jabba’s Palace – he infiltrates Jabba’s guard and then… does what? The man is a maestro at seizing opportunity, just so long as that “seizing” doesn’t really look like anything. But damn it all: be basically thwarts the will of the Emperor to Darth Vader’s face and lives to tell the tale. Charles Soule and Alex Maleev translate that effective inaction to the comic book page in Lando 2, using trappings two separate genres to their advantage, and then punctuate the whole thing with Lando’s opposite: an agent that never stops being active. Nearly every single element of this issue, from the pacing, to the coloring, to the dialogue, to the antagonist, serve to highlight what exactly makes Lando so damn special.
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Age of Ultron 1

age of ultron 1AU

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Age of Ultron 1, originally released March 6th, 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.

ultron-div

Patrick: Y’all remember Battlestar Galactica? Until the show’s premise became too complicated to be expressed in a few simple sentence fragments, each episode would begin with the following titles projected across the screen:

The Cylons were created by man. They evolved. They rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a plan.

It’s exactly enough information to tease the world of the series. Yeah, there’s a lot more to it than that — this description makes no mention of the last scraps of humanity drifting through space in outdated battleships, or God or gods or Starbuck or Frak. It doesn’t have to: the purity of the threat represented by Cylons is so elemental and to render the rest beautiful, beautiful set-dressing to this central conflict. Battlestar would go on to tell a hundred compelling stories based of that clean slug-line, replete with rich themes and psychologically complex characters. Brian Michael Bendis’ Age of Ultron looks like it will have a great deal in common with BSG, the first such indication is a straightforward and agonizingly clean premise: “Hank Pym of the Avengers created an artificial intelligence known as Ultron. It hates humanity… and it has returned.” Game on.

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