Prioritizing Responsibilities in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

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

It’s always easy to score political points against the president by suggesting they’re spending too much time relaxing. Folks of every political persuasion have made this argument at some point or another, and it always sounds reasonable because the President obviously has more important things to be doing. With great power, as the saying goes, must also come great responsibility. But of course, even Presidents are people, and while we should certainly hold them to a high standard in terms of workload (that it’s a stressful job is part of the job description), expecting them to never take a vacation is inhumane. This is a point Peter Parker has always fluctuated on. He obviously respects the responsibilities that come with his powers, but he’d also like to be a human being with a fulfilling professional and personal life. Usually, that means he’s constantly running out on dates or jobs to save the day, but Chip Zdarksy and Adam Kubert find a decidedly different approach in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2. Continue reading

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Ryan M.: How much background do you need to enjoy a single issue of an on-going serial? There is an argument that the answer is none. Most of us start out by just diving in, checking things out and then heading to Wikipedia or a very knowledgeable friend to help fill in the cracks. The serialized narrative is a moving train, you catch it when you can, and see what it has to offer. This can be one of the format’s strengths, giving the reader a feeling of discovery by entering a rich established world. You may have questions that aren’t answered or relationship dynamics you can’t understand, but you are seeing into a fictional world that is fully realized. It’s one of the reasons that origin stories can feel plodding. They are explaining why things are rather than showing what they become. In Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider Man 1, Chip Zdarsky balances out that sense of history by giving the story a day-in-the-life feel with a few big turns that make it clear that a bigger story is evolving. Continue reading

Subjective Martyrdom in All-New Wolverine 21

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 21

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

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:3

While I’ve often marveled at the depth of Tom Taylor’s allusions on All-New Wolverine, it doesn’t exactly take a biblical scholar to catch the parallels to Jesus in this issue. Laura practices peace, heals the sick, and ultimately dies (maybe), but it’s that middle point that Taylor really sinks his teeth into, detailing not only the pitiful masses in need of help, but the suffering Laura endures in order to cure them. She’s Jesus, just without the religious conviction (I opted not to open this essay with Luke’s account, which finds Jesus getting downright snippy when recently-cured lepers fail to praise God to his satisfaction). Continue reading

Secret Empire 3

Alternating Currents: Secret Empire 3, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 3, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: That Secret Empire is about big ideas goes without saying. As with any tentpole summer event, it promises to change the Marvel universe as we know it (at least temporarily), but the bigger story is the way the event (and the stories leading to it) have reflected the real-world political climate, often in uncanny — and uncomfortable — ways. But issue 3 reveals that, underneath it all, writer Nick Spencer may have been building to an even bigger (albeit, perhaps less controversial) question about the very nature of the superhero genre in the present day: does it still have room for moral absolutes? Continue reading

Secret Empire 1

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Secret Empire 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Skipping ahead into the radically altered future has become one of the hallmarks of modern Marvel event stories. Both Secret Wars and Age of Ultron rushed ahead to the moment after the unthinkable had already occurred, resting in a status quo that practically begged to be undone. Secret Empire, in its #1 issue, adopts this same tactic, catapulting over an untold stretch of time and insisting on a terrifying new normal. The difference between this story and events like Secret Wars and Age of Ultron, is that Secret Empire is based in the entirely credible rise of fascism in the United States. There is real world precedent for the world over which Captain Hydra rules, and even if it is exaggerated for the medium, and the long road to this moment is paved with recognizable warning signs. But writer Nick Spencer is no longer concerned with establishing the mechanical reality of Steve Roger’s brave new world, instead turning to the emotional reality of its occupants, dialing in on how it feels to be truly helpless and hopeless. And how it feels to resist.  Continue reading

Secret Empire 0

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 0, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: It can be incredibly dangerous to put too much faith in one person, especially if it means neglecting other connections and relationships. While this can be true on a personal level, it’s far more important to remember on a political level, where not even the most well-meaning politician can be trusted with too much power — not even Captain America himself. Continue reading

Invincible Iron Man 3

invincible-iron-man-3

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Invincible Iron Man 3, originally released January 18th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Brian Michael Bendis is a polarizing figure in comics. I know plenty of people who consider him to be one of the best writers working today, but I know just as many who find his writing to be aimless and self-indulgent. I tend to think that he’s a very good writer with some very bad habits — I think he writes charming dialogue, but tends to write too much of it, for example — but I had been impressed at how well Bendis had curbed those habits in Invincible Iron Man, keeping scenes tight and efficient, and staying very close to the perspective of his protagonist, Riri Williams. That last piece really played to Bendis’ strengths, keeping the focus on his charming and well-written lead, avoiding the kind of wandering perspective that so often bogs his narratives down. Unfortunately, issue 3 loses some of that momentum, opening with a corporate power play between characters Riri has never met. Continue reading

Invincible Iron Man 1

issinvincible-iron-man-1

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Invincible Iron-Man 1, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS!

Taylor: For many, it is a dark time. The forces of prejudice, greed, misunderstanding, and hate have conspired to elect a man of questionable values to the highest office in the United States. Unlike a lot of bad situations, many people are finding it difficult to find any sort of silver-lining to this circumstance. When the nation so emphatically states that they would rather choose a man who would divide us rather than a woman who promises unity, it’s hard not to see the logic in this thinking. But there are still wonderful things in the world. Just because ugliness triumphs for a day, it doesn’t mean that the beauty society has created thus far has been destroyed. Maybe that’s hyperbole, but on a day like today, Invincible Iron Man reminds me that all is not lost. Continue reading