Secret Empire 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

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Patrick: The Secret Empire epic drives on an engine powered by dramatic irony. From the second Steve’s first “Hail Hydra” was uttered, the audience knew more about the threat the Marvel Universe faced better than any of its inhabitants. It is serendipitous (in the worst possible way) that the current political climate in the United States has made readers hyper-aware of this irony, as we’re able to draw obvious parallels between the rise of Hydra and the rise of white nationalism. We don’t need to parse out the rhetorical devices Steve uses to justify his abuses of power — we see them demonstrated by our president every day. Issue 4 doubles down on the practice of illustrating dramatic irony, giving the audience far more information than any of the characters are ever afforded. The result is an unsettling exercise in moral relativism. Continue reading

Unbelievable Gwenpool 14

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Unbelievable Gwenpool 14, originally released April 12th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: When you read an issue of Deadpool you know what you’re in for. Violence, cursing, and most of all, irreverent humor. Gwenpool falls much in the same line as the character that inspired her creation. Being a character who once read the comics about the other characters she’s interacting with, she can’t but be the living embodiment of meta-humor. This type of humor lends itself to the same kind of irreverence that we’re used to seeing in Deadpool but that doesn’t mean it is by any means easy to create. In Gwenpool 14 these types of laughs are present, but show the first signs that perhaps they are growing a bit stale as well.

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Spider-Woman 17

Today, Taylor and Michael are discussing Spider-Woman 17, originally released March 29th, 2017 . As always, this article containers SPOILERS!

Taylor: My ten-year college reunion is fast approaching this summer, and with it so approaches the acknowledgment that I’m basically who I’m going to be in life. At my five year reunion it was fun to see old friends and also consider how we still still had much of our life in front of us. Now, solidly in my thirties, it’s pretty apparent what trajectory my life is going to take. For better or for worse, people at the reunion will judge me by this metric and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it except choose not to care. Where did I learn such sage-like wisdom, you may ask? From the heartening and fun somewhat final issue of Spider-Woman, I answer.

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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

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

Best of 2016: Best Covers

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You know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you can’t judge the cover on its own merit. Some covers are so excellent that they pack all the drama, excitement and emotion of the whole issue into one succinct image. Sometimes they end up being their own surreal experience. And other times, we’re just exciting to see our favorite heroes kicking ass one more time. These are our top 10 covers of 2016. Continue reading

Star Wars Annual 2

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Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Star Wars Annual 2, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: I’m incredibly excited for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This isn’t just because I’m a huge Star Wars fan and it isn’t just because George Lucas apparently likes it better than The Force Awakens. True, these things do rouse my blood, but what really excites me about the movie can be found right in its title. That Rogue One is being labeled “a Star Wars story” holds so much promise. I love the depth of the Star Wars universe and it’s amazing what authors can do with this backdrop when they aren’t burdened by telling the next great chapter in the Star Wars saga. While the second annual issue of the Star Wars comic does involve some classic Star Wars characters, what makes it wonderful is that it gives us a glimpse into the day in the life of your average Star Wars universe Jane.  Continue reading

Spider-Woman 13

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Woman 13, originally released November 2nd, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS!

Patrick: “It takes a village” is perhaps a imprecise idiom about what it takes to raise a child. After all, it’s not just that it takes volume of people to effectively care for a tiny, helpless human being and mold it into a functioning member of society. It takes the emotional investment of that village, not just in the child, but in each other, to raise a child. That’s how friends, strangers, and even enemies, become family. As Spider-Woman transitions into the next chapter of Jessica Drew’s life as a new mom, writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Veronica Fish examine that interdependence, and the huge emotional cost that comes with it.

Also, f’real: spoilers ahead.

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Captain America: Steve Rogers 6

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Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Steve Rogers Captain America 6, originally released October 26th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Civil War II has killed the momentum of a lot of books, but its Steve Rogers Captain America tie-ins are an especially interesting case of this because the title never really had a chance to establish its momentum in the first place — writer Nick Spencer was still in expository mode, exploring how Steve’s new Hydra backstory changed him, when the title was dragged into a major event. Thankfully, Spencer and artist Javier Pina have been able to continue that exploration even throughout these event issues, but the moments tying directly into Civil War II feel unmoored in comparison. Continue reading

Mockingbird 8

Today, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Mockingbird 8, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M.: When the cover of an issue includes the eponymous heroine wearing an “Ask me about my feminist agenda” t-shirt, you have no choice but to examine the work therein with a feminist lens. I will admit that going into the issue, I expected it to contend with Bobbi’s reactions to her rapist stalker and how she deals with being a trauma survivor, possibly with irreverent jokes about corgis and effortless flirting with Hunter. Instead Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk deliver those corgi jokes and Hunter-flirting as they reveal the feeble heart of the patriarchy and use the Phantom Rider to skewer it.

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