Spencer: New Avengers hasn’t really been a title with an antagonist, at least in a traditional sense; the Illuminati are trying to stop the Incursions, but such a mysterious, primal, multiversal threat can be hard to fathom, and they largely act as the impetus behind most of the title’s action rather than the “big bad”. Instead, the Illuminati mainly grapple against themselves, dealing with matters of morality and conscience. In New Avengers 24, Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti skip ahead eight months from the climatic final pages of issue 23, giving them time to establish the Cabal as a group of horrific, homicidal monsters. In a way, they may be serving as the more physical, black-and-white antagonist this title’s been missing, but that seems to be far from their only purpose. Both the Illuminati and the Cabal have done horrific things with a noble goal in mind; the methods of these two groups, and how the world at large have responded to them both, is where the differences lie. Continue reading
Today, Ethan and Spencer are discussing Infinity 6, originally released November 27th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Ethan: When I was starting college, I knew – objectively – that I would at some point no longer be a student; I’d graduate, get a job, do the adulthood thing. But at the time, steeped in the day-to-day evasion of and frantic return to schoolwork, hanging out with friends, sleeping as little as possible, the thought if college actually ending rarely crossed my mind. And then BAM it was time to get up to go to the early-morning rehearsal for the graduation ceremony. College was finished, I was moving into a new apartmen and starting a new job. That sense of disconnect – when something long awaited feels as though it happens and is shoved into the past before we have the chance to actually experience – is the same feeling I’ve gotten during most of the turning points in the Infinity event, and the same is true of its finale. Continue reading
Drew: It’s hard to resist the synergy of a superhero team-up. Batman and Superman have megawatt star-power alone, but combine them, and you can draw an even bigger audience. As easy as it is to justify those team-ups from a business perspective, it can actually be quite difficult to justify them narratively. Writers often resort to improbably massive threats or absurd contrivances to bring their heroes together, but the biggest problem with team-ups is much more fundamental than plotting. The appeal of superheroes — the appeal of the idea of The Hero in general — is that they alone bear the power to succeed in their journey. If you put several of them in a story together, their narrative purposes are at odds, dividing any victories between them in a way that is ultimately less satisfying. But what if a team isn’t made up of such heavy-hitters? What if they were presented with a problem that the members couldn’t possibly cover on their own? Mighty Avengers 3 zeroes in on exactly what strength can be found, as its team becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Infinity 5, originally released October 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Drew: The ubiquity of three-act structures often makes the form of a story predictable. We know what’s supposed to happen in a second act — even if we don’t know the specifics of a given story — but what happens when a narrative breaks that structure? Infinity takes the form of a six-part miniseries, with primary crossovers into ten other issues. To further complicate things, the series has long followed an A/B structure as the avengers face two very different threats in very different locations, and the event itself could be described as the third (or second and third) act(s) of narratives started in Avengers and New Avengers. What do we expect of the fifth issue of Infinity (itself the twelfth issue of the event)? What it supposed to happen? Unfortunately, writer Jonathan Hickman doesn’t offer a particularly compelling answer in the issue itself. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 11, originally released October 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Spencer: When Infinity was first announced, we knew very little about it besides the fact that it would be vaguely connected to writer Jonathan Hickman’s two Avengers books and that Thanos was involved; once the first issue dropped, I declared that it was “the story if what happens when two different universe-ending threats hit at the same time, leaving the Earth absolutely helpless.” We’re over two-thirds of the way through the crossover and those words are still mostly holding true, but New Avengers 11 takes this concept to a place I would have never expected when Infinity began — yet a place that makes perfect sense — by tying the space-bound and Earth-bound threats together. Continue reading
Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Mighty Avengers 2, originally released October 2nd, 2013.
Ethan: Push the envelope. Stand on the shoulders of giants. Rules are made to be broken. Going boldly where no one has gone before. Put 110% of your effort towards your goals. Ours goes to eleven. Etc etc. Our culture has gotten a pretty good handle on this concept, as evidenced by how many ways we’ve come up with codifying it into our tropes – the idea of taking everything that came before, acknowledging it, and then moving past it. Comic books – and fiction at large – LOVE this concept. Mighty Avengers #2 is no exception, and the one-upping writer Al Ewing packs into this issue is fun, if also a little bit silly by the end. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Nova 8, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Drew: Teenage superheroes are tricky. Part of what makes them appealing is their adult-like agency, but if you give them too much, they cease to resemble actual teens — writers must maintain a careful balance between escapism and realism. One of the most common tools used by writers to keep their teen heroes grounded is to surround them with other teen superheroes, and maybe even have them fight teen villains. This effectively scales their world back, giving them a comfortable niche between regular, mortal adolescence, and full-on adult superheroics. In Nova 8, writer Zeb Wells starts building that teen cast, giving Sam a stake in the events of Infinity that are fully unique. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Mighty Avengers 1, originally released September 11th, 2013.
Patrick: My older sister has two children: a son who turned one in April and a daughter who turned four this summer. They live on the other side of the country, so I don’t see them very often. One thing that I discovered upon welcoming tiny, helpless people into our lives in that you suddenly become aware of the reality you’re introducing them to – the house, the town, the world, their relatives. Suddenly, your decisions feel weightier, like you no longer exist in a vacuum, but as a functioning cog in a machine and all you want that machine to do is not disappoint this kid. I started working out. I starting writing seriously. I moved out to LA to make good on my long-held threat to actively chase my dreams. Essentially, I became an active participant in my own life, determined to show my niece that her uncle has some kind of agency and the world he’s contributing to is something of merit. Mighty Avengers casts Luke Cage in that role — the man who realizes he has to do something of merit — in one of the more honest getting-the-team-together stories I’ve ever read. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 9, originally released August 28th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Drew: The US is lucky to have never fought a modern war on its own soil. Wartime always divides our attention between the warfront and the home front. Of course, governing a country can be a handful even in peace, so one of these often gets put on the back-burner. During World War II, it seemed that the emphasis was on the war, with resources being reallocated such that almost every American was consciously aware of the war effort. It was this kind of attitude that made George Orwell see war as an effective means of controlling the populations of Oceania in 1984 — war acts as both an explanation for a shitty situation AND a rousing source of patriotism. More recently, however, it’s been the war front that people push to the back of their minds, at times all but forgetting we’ve been at war for over a decade. That very well could have been the attitude on Earth as the Avengers rode off to face the Builders, an abstract threat that no earthling has ever even seen (hell, it’s likely that the public doesn’t even know about the threat), but they sure start to feel it in New Avengers 9. Continue reading