No Funny in the Prose Gutters of Rocket 4

by Patrick Ehlers

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

The strength of Deadpool’s joke-telling is directly proportional to his awareness of the medium he’s in. He’s a fourthwall-breaking stinker, and love ’em or hate ’em — Deadpool’s shtick is is built on being knee-slappingly self-aware. But not every Deadpool story is a bucket o’ laughs, and Gerry Duggan’s run with the character has explored Wade’s darkness as effectively as his jovial irreverence. Writer Al Ewing taps into that same darkness in Rocket 4, leveraging the one thing Deadpool will always have reverence for — the form of the medium. Continue reading

All-New Wolverine 23 Subverts a Familiar Setup

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 23

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

Get away from her you bitch!

Ellen Ripley, Aliens

As action movie quips go, Ripley’s command to the Alien Queen is far from inventive, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the most iconic. Indeed, on repeat viewings, the the tension of Ripley’s descent into the Alien nest is more or less subsumed by my anticipation of that scene. Indeed, once you know the showdown between Ripley and the Queen is inevitable, everything leading up to it feels like unnecessary padding. The Queen exists for the sole purpose of Ripley defeating her, so the movie is really just ticking boxes once she has Newt. In All-New Wolverine 23, Tom Taylor and Leonard Kirk reproduce that setup with uncanny accuracy, teasing us with the promise of Laura facing down the Brood Queen only to snatch that possibility away at the last second. Continue reading

Irony vs. Sincerity in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 6

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s a little bit of a disconnect between the crew of the Milano. On one hand, you’ve got Gamora and Drax, honor-bound warriors who are deeply entrenched in the galactic mythology that shapes the universe around them. On the other, you’ve got Star-Lord and Rocket, both of whom would happily throw sarcastic scare quotes up around “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s a tension of values — irony vs. sincerity — that eventually melts away in Guardians of the Galaxy 6. Continue reading

Surprising Surprises in Rocket 3

by Drew Baumgartner

Rocket 3

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

Any comics creator worth their salt understands that page turns are the most basic currency of comics storytelling. It’s built right into the format of the comic book — there are images that we can’t see that are suddenly revealed to us when we turn the page. There are certainly ways to surprise the reader within a page or spread, but none of those techniques are quite as inherent to the medium. Which means you can pack a lot of surprises into an issue by doing nothing other than leaning into the page turns. Page turns certainly aren’t the only technique Al Ewing and Adam Gorham rely on for surprises in Rocket 3, but they’re used so emphatically, it’s hard for those moments not to stand out. Continue reading

Shifting Tone in All-New Wolverine 22

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 22

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

The tonal range of Tom Taylor’s All New Wolverine is truly remarkable. We’ve seen issues of high drama and irreverent fun, all of which gives this series a depth of emotional experience that at least approaches real life. Moreover, the range allows Taylor to wield tone with a nuance that is rare in superhero comics, juxtaposing and combining them within issues to evoke ever more specific emotions. The surprising tonal twist in issue 22 is far from the most subtle Taylor has ever pulled, but I’ll be darned if it isn’t effective. Continue reading

Secrets, Surprises and Criminality in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

by Patrick Ehlers

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

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

Liars. Thieves. Con men. They’ve all got secrets. It’s no wonder that the Galaxy’s rascally Guardians, who are more criminals than they are heroes, have a whole host of surprises and secrets up their collective sleeve. Writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder keep the reader in the role of the mark, setting us up to be as surprised as everyone else in their story. It’s a little frustrating to be kept at such a distance, but it is perfectly in-line with what it must be like to know these guys. 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

I Am Groot 1

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing I Am Groot 1, originally released May 24th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: When I first discovered that Baby Groot would feature in Guardians of the Galaxy v.2 I was taken by surprise, since in the comics Groot can regenerate from the kind of injury he suffered in the first film almost instantly. Of course, in the movies, James Gunn is free to make whatever changes he wants to the characters; the comics have since brought in Baby Groot as well, but that requires a bit more explanation. While the “whys” of Groot’s predicament are playing out over in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s fallen on Christopher Hastings, Flaviano, and Marcio Menyz’s I Am Groot 1 to explore the effect Groot’s new form is having on the team, and on Groot himself. Continue reading

Rocket 1

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Rocket 1, originally released May 10th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: Rocket Raccoon is a walking, talking lesson in juxtaposition. At first glance, he looks likes one the lovable characters from the Looney Tunes gang. After all, he’s an anthropomorphic, talking woodland creature. However, this fuzzy exterior conceals his true nature as a loudmouthed, gun-crazy thief. If this contrast isn’t enough, he is frequently paired with the other Guardians of the Galaxy, a group that frequently saves the universe purely because it’s the right thing to do. This contrasts mightily with Rocket’s typical motivation of doing whatever job comes his way so long as the price is right. That being said, the juxtaposed nature that is intrinsic to Rocket should take center stage in a comic where he is the star. So is that the case in the latest series to bare his name?

Continue reading

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 1

Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan: The Guardians of the Galaxy are taking up a decent chunk of my brain right now. I am mentally unpacking the movie and all five (!!) post-credit sequences, so I can’t say that I came into All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 1 clean. That said, the timing of the release is not coincidental, so I know I’m not the only one with at least two takes on these characters rattling around in my head. Luckily, this is a first issue, so Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder offer a balance of fresh moments and necessary set up. Continue reading