West Coast Avengers 2: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: Kate Bishop’s California adventures — under the pens of both Matt Fraction and Kelly Thompson — have all more-or-less revolved around the idea of appearance, on Hollywood’s obsession with beauty, fame, and youth. On first glance, M.O.D.O.K.’s transformation into the chiseled B.R.O.D.O.K. in West Coast Avengers 2 seems fueled by the same kinds of obsessions, but there’s actually an even greater danger lurking deep within: B.R.O.D.O.K.’s preoccupation with appearance is driven entirely by dangerous entitlement and toxic masculinity. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers 

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

This is the true story of seven strangers picked to work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.

The Real World.

Spencer: Despite that famous tagline, reality television rightfully has a reputation for being anything but real, with contestants purposely taking on certain roles for the camera and producers editing footage in misleading ways to construct particular narratives (whether they’re “true” or not). Part of what makes West Coast Avengers so interesting, then, is that, despite its “superhero reality show” concept, creators Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli seem devoted to depicting the sad realities of their cast’s lives, to finding the truth behind their day to day existences, even when those existences are patently absurd. Continue reading

An Unstoppable Force is not Stopped in Jean Grey 10

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Superhero comics are full of unstoppable forces. Darkseid, Doomsday, Thanos — these are all bulldozers that the heroes claim to be powerless against. But, time and time again, they are repelled, resisted and defeated. That’s done out of narrative necessity. For starters, we want to see our scrappy heroes overcome impossible odds. But more importantly, if our heroes are slaughtered and their homes razed, how can the story continue? Writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Alberto Alburquerque plow headlong into their series conclusion by giving their own nuclear option a W. Continue reading

The Mighty Thor 18

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing The Mighty Thor 18, originally released April 26th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.

Anton Chekov

Drew: In general, audiences are more consciously concerned with what happens in a story than how the story is told. That is, if you ask someone to describe their favorite movie or book, you’re more likely to get a plot summary than a thoughtful description of style. That’s not to say style doesn’t contribute to their appreciation of the work, just that it does so in ways that they may not be actively aware of. As someone who values considered analysis of art, this phenomenon is nothing short of tragic, which is why I so value narratives that aim to utterly thwart any emphasis on plotting. That’s exactly what Jason Arron and Russell Dauterman give us in The Mighty Thor 18, using every opportunity to spoil the would-be reveal of its villain.

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E is for Extinction 4

Alternating Currents: E is for Extinction 4, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing E is for Extinction 4, originally released September 30th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check out our Secret Wars Round-Up!

secret wars div

Drew: Do you ever hate movies for ruining a good premise? Like, not just for failing to live up to the potential they had, but for poisoning that premise for anyone else. You might have an interesting story where plants conspire to wipe out humanity, but the only thing anyone will see when they look at it is The Happening. A similar phenomenon can happen with smaller details, from memorable character names to meet-cutes to death scenes, that, for one reason or another, are so strongly associated with a crummy piece of art that it’s difficult to repeat. X-Men: The Last Stand is one such piece of crummy art, yet E is for Extinction 4 aims to reclaim many of the moments it had soiled. That’s an unexpected windmill to tilt at, but the more surprising fact is that the issue largely succeeds in winning those moments back. Continue reading

Wolverine and the X-Men 1

wolverine x-men 1Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Wolverine and the X-Men 1, originally released March 5th, 2014.

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

Patrick: I have a number of teacher-friends, my colleague and responder on this article, Taylor among them. The idiom above is largely bullshit, but it stings enough that I’ve seen links posted on facebook to articles decrying the attitude that it represents. The argument always follows that teaching presents its own specific challenges, distinct from the discipline being taught. (The follow-up argument, naturally, being that teachers are under-valued in our society, but like whatever: we’re all undervalued.) For my money, the hardest thing about teaching has got to be the shifting of priorities, from the betterment of yourself to the betterment of others. When I fail myself — write a bad article, perform as crummy scene, log something incorrectly in QuickBooks — I’m mostly just hurting myself. But when a teacher blows off their duties, there are a bunch of people, children even, that pay the price. Wolverine and the X-Men renumbers itself and zeros in on this burden of responsibility, just who can deal with it and who’s struggling. Continue reading

A + X 9

a+x 9

Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing A + X 9, originally released June 19th, 2013.

Shelby: I grew up watching TGIF on ABC every Friday night. Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step, Boy Meets World, the Peterson household was all over it. So too I am quite familiar with the family sitcom format that delivers a bite-sized portion of morals every episode. I gobbled that up as a kid, but now the 20-minutes-from-conflict-to-lesson-learned setup generally isn’t enough for me. I want more complexity in my story-telling. That lighter fare can still certainly be fun, but lay on the morals to thick, and it becomes a lesson you’re trying to force down my throat instead of fun and mindless entertainment. A+X usually falls on the “fun and mindless” end of the spectrum, but this issues seems to be trying to teach me a lesson, and it’s bogging things down.

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A + X 4

a+x 4

Today, Scott and Drew are discussing A + X 4, originally released January 23th, 2013.

Scott: A + X makes me feel like a kid again, playing with my action figures after school. I would create worlds where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars heroes could coexist, Han Solo and Donatello teaming up to defeat… well, something, I’m sure. It was never really the end result that interested me, but rather the excitement of combining these two things that I loved individually. What it created was an especially fleeting sort of fun, where the initial idea was the best part and it grew harder to sustain the longer it went on. I feel the same way about A +X, which is why splitting the issue into two stories is such a good idea — the novelty wears off much less over just ten pages. A + X 4 pairs Avengers and X-Men characters who compliment each other in interesting ways: first, two who have a lot in common, then two who could hardly be more different.

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