Captain America: Sam Wilson 21

Today, Ryan M. and Drew are discussing Steve Rogers: Captain America 12, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M: Empathy and understanding can only be built by listening. That’s why representation is so important. Reinforcing norms of exclusion only bolster the narrative of inequality. An outsider telling your story, however well-meaning, influences the message. The speed and breadth of modern media only add more veils between the truth and the version people hear. In Captain America: Sam Wilson 21, Sam wrests back control of his own story.

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Captain America: Sam Wilson 17

capt-america-sam-wilson-17Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 17, originally released January 4, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

I’m an extreme moderate, Mr. Rutledge

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams

Drew: Of all the quotes misattributed to Benjamin Franklin, this might be my favorite. Only, this isn’t a common saying, but a line of dialogue from HBO’s 2008 John Adams miniseries. Either way, it sums up Franklin’s political beliefs beautifully. Moderation feels like a dirty word in our current political climate, but Franklin’s moderating force throughout that series (and, you know, actual history) proved essential in making any real progress in declaring and affirming the United States’ independence from British rule. That lesson feels somehow even more essential today, where moderation stands not just between the poles of the political spectrum, but as a necessary alternative to increasingly insular extremes. Of course, those extremes have happily vilified moderation (or at least, happily left moderates in the crossfire), leaving folks like Sam Wilson with enemies on all sides. It’s been a lonely road for Sam to walk, but issue 16 finds Falcon and Rage joining him in the center. Continue reading

Captain America: Sam Wilson 16

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Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 16, originally released December 21, 2016.

Patrick: Under Nick Spencer’s pen, both Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers have been intensely political figures in their roles as simultaneous Captains America. The underlying ugliness of both of these series echoes the ugliness we see in modern political system, but the nature of the characters narrows Spencer’s perspective a bit. For as much as he’s been free to comment on racism and fascism and nationalism, Spencer’s Captain America series have been relatively quiet on the subject of sexism and misogyny. Of course, that’s an incomplete picture of American politics, especially as we grow closer to having to salute the Pussy-Grabber In Chief. With Captain America Sam Wilson 16, Spencer and artists Angel Unzueta and Szymon Kudranski tackle a the very really threat of slut shaming and doxing and simplify them through the magic of the Marvel Universe. That simplification may undersell the complexity and sheer hopeless around this issue, but it sure as shit is satisfying to see it punished. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 8/17/16

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing Black Widow 6, Captain America: Sam Wilson 12, Civil War II: Choosing Sides 4, The Unbelievable Gwenpool 5, and The Mighty Thor 10.

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Sam Wilson: Captain America 10

capt america sam wilson 10Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Sam Wilson: Captain America 10, originally released June 22nd, 2016.

Spencer: People have certain aspects of themselves that bind them together into larger groups. Some of those qualities we choose for ourselves — our hobbies, religion, who we marry — but others we have no choice in. Our family, race and nationality, and sexuality bind us to like individuals. That doesn’t mean every member of, say, the same religion or race are alike, nor that they’re all friends, nor that they’ll even agree on anything. What it does mean is that they’ve all got one thing in common that no other group understands, and that makes them part of a community. In Sam Wilson: Captain America 10, writer Nick Spencer explores Sam Wilson and James Rhodes’ community, mining unexpected riches from the concept.

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Steve Rogers Captain America 1

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Steve Rogers Captain America 1, originally released May 25, 2016.

Patrick: The most troubling thing about any inspirational figure is that they are necessarily mutable. Human beings are never only one thing, but we often reduce them to a single trait or value so that we may incorporate that into our own view of the world. John Lennon believed in peace, Martin Luther King Jr. believed in equality, Steve Jobs believed in innovation. Those are all trite reductions of fantastically complicated people, but it is useful to have avatars of these qualities and principals. Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’ Steve Rogers Captain America 1 sets out to complicate one of the most inspirational figures in comics — which I feel is a necessary exploration of the Greatest Generation — but the issue is almost more interested in the concepts of inspiration and legacy than the specific twist deployed on the final splash page. Continue reading

Captain America: Sam Wilson 7

Alternating Currents: Captain America: Sam Wilson 7, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 7, originally released March 30th, 2016.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana

Drew: Perhaps its ironic that I never knew the origin of the oft-paraphrased quote above, but it actually comes from the first volume of Santayana’s The Life of Reason, published in 1905. In its original context, the quote seeks to balance progressivism with retention of the past. Of course, it’s possible to take that too far, and some might argue that superhero comics are too obsessed with their own history to make any meaningful progress. It’s a difficult balance that I certainly don’t envy trying to strike — fans want new stories, even as they want their favorite stories and characters celebrated — but its one that Captain America 7 aims for. Marvel assembles one hell of a creative lineup for this celebration of Captain America’s 75 year history, but circumstances may have put them all in a no-win situation. Continue reading

Sam Wilson: Captain America 1

sam wilson 1Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Sam Wilson: Captain America 1, originally released October 14th, 2015.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
And to the republic for which it stands:
One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

-The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America.

Patrick: Have you ever considered how weird it is that the Pledge of Allegiance is a common fixture at the beginning of the school day? From my first day of kindergarten, until the last day of my senior year of high school, I either recited this thing, or stood silently with my hand on my heart while hundreds of other kids recited this thing in unison. Even without that “under God” jammed in there by Eisenhower, the pledge feels more like prayer than anything else — offering oneself up in the service of a singular benevolent entity. Of course, it’s not quite that simple: liberty and justice are pretty nebulous terms, and what they mean can vary hugely depending on your perspective. I think when I was a kid, I would have just as easily swapped out “liberty and justice” for “law and order” and not given it a second thought. But that’s not the country is really about: we’re founded on revolution, on challenging the status quo, on fighting for what we believe in. In Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña’s Sam Wilson: Captain America, Captain America embraces the more revolutionary aspects of his mantle, and while he’s certainly fighting for liberty and justice, he is decidedly anti-establishment. Continue reading

Black Widow 18

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Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Black Widow 18, originally released May 27th, 2015.

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“All these voices / All these memories / Make me feel like stone.
All the people / Make me feel so alone.”

-Brian Wilson, “Midnight’s Another Day

Patrick: One of the universal experiences of the comic book reader is the gradual sense that you’re actually getting to know these characters. Readers watch them grow and evolve, and there’s frequently running voiceover to add extra context to their actions. You ever notice that comic fans are much quicker to refer to Superman as “Clark” than people that just know him as a cultural icon? Surely, everyone knows that Superman is Clark Kent, but only those of us that feel close to him would have the audacity to use his first name. But what happens when a comic series actively keeps the protagonist’s perspective at arm’s length? Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow shows off a Natasha Romanova that can only really be herself when hidden from everyone else. That includes Bucky Barnes, the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., you and me. Continue reading

Chat Cave: Avengers – Age of Ultron

Marvel’s flagship film franchise landed its second installment this weekend, assembling the Avengers to take on Ultron. Secrets were revealed! Tears were shed! Scenery was chewed! Spoilers for sure after the break: welcome to the Chat Cave. Continue reading