Lettering Through the Psychic Fog in Astonishing X-Men 11

By Patrick Ehlers

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

CORRECTION (5/3/18): A previous version of this piece credited Clayton Cowles with the lettering, as is indicated in the credits. The issue was actually lettered by Travis Lanham.

Astonishing X-Men is one of those telepathic mutant clusterfucks. You know the type: there are psychics and reality warpers and a shapeshifter all int he mix at once. The audience’s ability to tell what is happening and what is not happening will likely vary from reader to reader, but I had a hell of a time tracking who was where and what specific threats they faced. This disorientation cues the reader up for that mind-bending twist on the final page. But you can’t just be confused for 20 pages, can you? With Ron Garney’s artwork and Charles Soule’s script both actively working to distance themselves from the reader, we have to look to letterer Travis Lanham for signposts of stability. Continue reading

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Are New Mediums Influencing the Artwork in Astonishing X-Men 10?

by Taylor Anderson

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

Much has been made about how the internet and e-books are killing the printed word. Even though that’s a bit hyperbolic, it is true that more and more people are reading books on an electronic device. This same trend holds true in the world of comic books, where sites such as Comixology have cut into the traditional printed market. I myself prefer to read comic books on my iPad these days, and as I do so, I sometimes wonder how this change in medium might be affecting the way comics are made and published. With that in mind, I couldn’t help but consider Astonishing X-Men 10 an interesting case study in the way electronic formats might be alternating the way comic book artists produce their craft. Continue reading

Melting n’ Melding Bodies in Astonishing X-Men 8

by Taylor Anderson

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

There’s a scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing when Kurt Russell and the rest of crew at an Antarctic research station realize that their sled dogs have been melted by an alien and blobbed together into one hideous creature that is the stuff of nightmares. Like a lot of the movie, it’s disturbing to say the least. There’s something about the the design of the blob-dog-alien creature that just rings as…wrong. Eyes are where they shouldn’t be, jaws open up from weird crevices, and melted organic all make for something that looks like it came straight out of Hell. It sounds awful (which it is), but that’s also what makes the movie great and, coincidentally, is what makes Astonishing X-Men 8 enjoyable as well.

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It’s All a Game in Avengers 679

by Drew Baumgartner

Avengers 679

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

We’ll often chide middle chapters for failing to maintain dramatic momentum while setting up the climax — when he actions in those middle chapters feel motivated more by what the climax needs than what came before. We refer to that phenomenon as “putting the pieces in place,” as it reduces the dramatic interest of a story to setting up a board game. It’s an unfortunate tendency that tends to crop up in event series with huge casts, and has already led to some consternation with “No Surrender,” but Avengers 679 hangs a lampshade on its game-iness, zooming out from the game board to focus on the real players. Continue reading

The Ol’ Weekly Series Wheel-Spinning in Avengers 678

by Spencer Irwin

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

A weekly title — especially one running more than a few issues — should feel big, as if its story simply cannot be told in any other format, on any other release schedule. Instead, though, I’ve found that weekly comics often tend to feel padded, as if a typical story is being stretched out to better fit the format. That’s certainly a problem I’m starting to notice with “No Surrender,” the current weekly Avengers event. Continue reading

It’s Important to Use Your Words and Not Your Fists in Despicable Deadpool 293

by Taylor Anderson

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

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At work, my coworkers and I had a professional development meeting where we learned how to handle conflict with each other. It was basically a class on how to be a decent human being and how to express your feelings without terribly offending someone else. While the class seemed a bit puerile, I have to admit that it is important for people to be able to handle their conflict well, otherwise minor problems can become big ones. Given that superheroes deal with conflict almost by definition, you would think they would be able to handle it well and without the need of professional development classes. As Despicable Deadpool 293 illustrates, however, there is nothing further from the case. Continue reading

A New Perspective Benefits Avengers 677

by Spencer Irwin

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

The nice thing about team books is the wide and varied casts that allow the creative team to explore each story from multiple perspectives. The nice thing about weekly series is the sheer amount of space they have to work with, giving them all the time in the world to explore even the most wide and varied of casts. That seems to be the idea behind Avengers: No Surrender. Thus far Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub (with Pepe Larraz on art) have used each issue to explore the perspective of a different Avenger. While the first issue largely used Lightning as an outside POV and the second didn’t lean enough into Falcon’s unique perspective, Avengers 677 digs deep into its spotlight Avenger, Quicksilver. Continue reading

Too Many Cooks Clash in Avengers 676

by Drew Baumgartner

Avengers 676

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

I still read my old college newspaper, but the older I get, the more I recognize how terrible it is. Case in point: they recently published an article about a meeting on campus, but failed to put the meeting into any kind of context — there were no quotes from anyone involved, no explanation for why the meeting might be necessary, no connections to similar issues at other schools (I’ll apologize now for being vague, but the point isn’t to dunk on this particular article, so I’ll leave it at that). The result was something closer to meeting minutes than an actual article, overemphasizing the “what” in place of any “why”. I found myself thinking the same thing in Avengers 676, which has so many characters and events to cram in, there really isn’t any room to properly examine any of them. Continue reading

Avengers 675: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Avengers 675

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

Drew: The Marvel Universe is big. That much is clear from the very beginning of Avengers 675, which skips across the globe to catch up with Marvel’s countless superhero teams and fictional countries as they deal with the Earth suddenly being transported…somewhere. Characters helpfully repeat each other’s names (and the names of their respective teams) to orient us, but being overwhelmed is kind of the point — these characters are facing down utter chaos, and that chaos is everywhere. Crossover events will often feature these kinds of “cash in all the chips” moments, straining our familiarity with Marvel’s lesser-known characters to really sell the massive scope of the story. But that’s where this issue differs from the standard crossover; where other stories simply revel in the bombast of throwing all of these characters together, Avengers 675 uses it as a cover to inject a new character into the narrative. [Phew, are there SPOILERS to follow.]  Continue reading

Rogue and Gambit 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Ryan Mogge

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

Mark: There’s a thin line between romantic pursuit and creepy, unwanted attention, and fan favorite X-Man Gambit falls too often onto the “creepy” side of that line in Kelly Thompson and Pere Perez’s Rogue and Gambit 1.  Continue reading