Venom 7: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

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

Michael: The first arc of Donny Cates’ Venom went for bombastic action and retcon myth-making, and as fun and exciting as that was, I can’t help but find myself more interested in the more “down-to-Earth” nature of Venom 7. Cates does still add to his symbiote mythos, but this issue focuses more on the personal bond between Eddie Brock and his symbiote pal – or lack thereof, in this case. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1 Presents a Feminist History

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1

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

Pixar

As a kid, I always suspected the inanimate objects in my life had secret lives of their own. It wasn’t so much that I thought they got up and walked around when I wasn’t looking, but that they had feelings and aspirations and friends that they cared about. That was the bit about Toy Story that really hit me when it came out — that my toys were desperate for my love and attention, and they felt neglected when I turned my attention elsewhere. Worrying about the feelings of inanimate objects speaks to some of my most well-worn neuroses, but I’d defend those early experiences as helping me practice sympathy for other humans. I hesitate to call Toy Story a feminist history, since the marginalized perspective it adopts is entirely fictional, but it certainly has the shape of a feminist history, cuing us (or, at the very least, eight-year-old me) into the heretofore ignored plight of children’s toys. (To be clear: “feminist history” isn’t the history of feminism, but feminist approaches to history — approaches that highlight otherwise overlooked perspectives and narratives in history.) With Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1, Saladin Ahmed and Garry Brown achieve something similar, retelling the classic arc “Alien Costume Saga” from the perspective of the Venom Symbiote. Continue reading

“The End” is the Enemy in Fantastic Four 2

by Spencer Irwin

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

Back when the Future Foundation rode off into the sunset at the end of Secret Wars, ready to recreate and explore the multiverse, many fans (myself included) saw it as the perfect farewell to the characters. This leaves Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli with the unenviable task of bringing this “ending” to an end, of justifying more adventures for characters who had already received their happily ever after. Interestingly, Slott and Pichelli do so by demonizing the very idea of “endings,” by making “the end” the very villain that brings the Fantastic Four back together. Continue reading

Fantastic Four 1 Teases the Reader with Pathos

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Dan Slott and Skottie Young close out the first issue of Fantastic Four by giving the creative team shit for not actually reuniting the titular superheroes. It’s a cute little one-pager, playing to Young’s hyper-specific strength for drawing adorably angry characters.

But this epilogue is more than just a cute way to sign off with joke. By ending the issue with an explicit acknowledgement that “they’re not even back yet”, Slott and Young are doubling down on the idea that the absence of the Four itself is a phenomenon worth exploring. Continue reading

Doom’s Secret Origin in Marvel Two-In-One Annual 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Marvel Two-in-One Annual 1

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

Each is described as being the strongest man in the world and each as battling against “evil and injustice.”

Judge Augustus Hand (writing for the majority)
Detective Comics, Inc. v. Bruns Publications, Inc.

Augustus Hand served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1928 to his death in 1953, and just might be the most quoted judge when it comes to the definition of the superhero, owing to the decision he wrote when the Second Circuit ruled that Wonder Man did indeed constitute copyright infringement on Superman. His decision provided a revealing definition for the genre, insisting not just on superpowers, but a selfless, pro-social mission. Indeed, it’s not until after that decision that you see superheroes whose superpowers and pro-social mission are seen as separate things, with perhaps separate origins. That is, while Superman fought crime because he could, and Batman became a superhero specifically to fight crime, Spider-Man only picked up his pro-social mission after Uncle Ben died, well after he’d been using his powers for decidedly less selfless purposes. In that way, we might understand Marvel Two-In-One Annual 1 as a key part of Victor Von Doom’s superhero origin; it’s the story of how he became a good guy. Continue reading

Marvel Two-In-One 6: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Drew Baumgartner

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

Taylor: Sometimes I’ll come home after work and my wife will ask me how my day was. Usually, I have something interesting to tell her, but occasionally there simply isn’t anything all that remarkable to say. In these cases, my response to her query is that is was “just a day.” See, the thing is, if you do anything enough times it’s bound to become rote every now and then. This same idea certainly holds true with monthly comics, with most series producing “just an issue” that isn’t all that remarkable. Such is the case with Marvel Two-In-One 6, which notable only for how generic it feels.

Continue reading

A New Start for the Fantastic Four Marvel Two-In-One 5?

By Taylor Anderson

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

Earlier this month it was announced that the Fantastic Four would be returning to comics. Many assumed that their absence from the pages of Marvel monthlies was due to the fact that Fox owns their movie rights. Disney, not wanting to promote movies from which they wouldn’t profit, phased them out of their comic pages, or so the theory goes. Whether this is true or not may never be known, but now that the Fantastic Four are soon to return, it’s interesting to consider how exactly that will happen. However, if Marvel Two-In-One 5 is any indication, the Fantastic Four may already have reunited. Continue reading

Existential Fears in Marvel Two-In-One 4

By Taylor Anderson

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

There are times deep in the night, and always at night, where I am plagued by existential fears. It’s the curse of the modern age, I guess, knowing about problems that are too great for any one single human to do anything about. Climate change, the meaning of life in a godless universe, and death (just to name a few) frequently wrack my brain. Of course, this is to say nothing of the eventual heat death of the universe, which, while possibly a googol years away, still worries me because it basically means the end of anything living (as we know it) in the entire universe. That’s sad and troubling! This fear of nothing being left is hard to fathom, but it’s made easier when it happens all at once, as in Marvel Two-In-One 4. Continue reading

Lettering Reveals Status and Power in Marvel Two-In-One 3

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Marvel Two-in-One 3 is all about characters either rediscovering or redefining their relationship to their super powers. Our titular pair of marvels even goes to doctor Rachina Koul in the middle of nowhere Wyoming to jump-start Johnny’s powers. Ben describes Johnny as “broken” and whether that’s just referring to his ability to flame on, or more holistically applies to the man is left up to the reader’s discretion. But the implication is clear: without their defined roles as superheroes and supervillains, these guys just don’t know how to function. The damn Mad Thinker is going so crazy he’s styled his facial hair to look like Reed Richards and claiming to launch a “New Fantastic Four.” Basically: everyone goes nuts without boundaries. Today, I want to explore how lettering emphasizes the connection between a character, their powers, and how they view themselves in this universe. Continue reading

Simultaneous Silliness and Sincerity in Marvel Two-in-One 1

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Does writer Chip Zdarsky leverage humor to find pathos, or does he exploit genuine emotion for comedy? It’s almost impossible to tell. Zdarsky often rides the line between celebrating the absurdity and celebrating the sincerity of his characters and his stories. Marvel Two-In-One somehow achieves both simultaneously, giving the reader a sad, almost Venture Brothersian look into the loneliness and ennui of the last remaining members of the Fantastic Four, while never letting go of the inherent weirdness of these characters. It’s a stupendous feat of writing, emboldened by Jim Cheung’s reverent artwork. Continue reading