All-New X-Men 41

Alternating Currents: All-New X-Men 41, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 41, originally released June 3rd, 2015.

…it was a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time.

Stan Lee on creating the X-Men

Drew: The X-Men’s role as a metaphor for the civil rights movement is as well-known as it is obvious — a group of people, marginalized by a coincidence of birth, struggle to be accepted by a society that fears and hates them. With so many institutions codifying racism with backwards rules, from school boards to lunch counters, it didn’t take much exaggeration to blow up that marginalization to comic book proportions. As those policies fell out of use, though, the X-Men came to stand in for other groups that were institutionally marginalized. As society continues to discard bigoted policies, however, the struggle for civil rights becomes less and less about fighting institutional rules that can be pointed at, and more about combating smaller day-to-day injustices. By their very nature, those smaller conflicts don’t lend themselves as well to superhero action: exaggerate them, and you lose the insight into how they affect people every day; don’t exaggerate them, and you don’t have anyone for your hero to shoot eye-beams at. Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud Asrar opt for exaggeration in All-New X-Men 41, and may lose their message along the way. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 34

uncanny xmen 34

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Uncanny X-Men 34, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Closing time,
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Semisonic, “Closing Time”

Taylor: Chances are that if you’ve been in a bar in the past 17 years, you’ve heard these lyrics wafting across a half-filled room. Generally played to indicate that yes, indeed that bar is closing soon, it signals to stragglers of a long night that it’s time to go home. But be not sad, the bittersweet song entreaties its listeners. There is a silver lining to something coming to an end: it signals the beginning of something new, and isn’t that something to be optimistic about? A nice enough thought, but what if the ending of something isn’t all that great and therefore the thought of something beginning again is not cause for celebration, but sadness? A tough question to ask, but Uncanny X-Men 34 has me asking it whether I want to or not. Continue reading

All-New X-Men 40

all new xmen 40

Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 40, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Ryan: All-New X-Men 40 set the internet abuzz. People who have never picked up a comic book are posting about it. Reputable media outlets such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and even Buzzfeed wrote responses to the issue, inspiring a great deal of debate on message boards and comment sections, alike. Can you blame them? It is not every day that a seminal comic book character, one who is universally adored, receives a fresh start and is looked at with a contemporary — if not somewhat controversial — perspective. The creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud A. Asrar accomplish exactly this as they reveal that (SPOILER ALERT!)…Random is back, and he brought Boom-Boom, Karma, Masque, Madison Jeffries, and Elixir with him!! Oh, and apparently young Bobby Drake is gay. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 32

uncanny xmen 32

Today, Taylor and Michael are discussing Uncanny X-Men 32, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Taylor: In the modern world revolution has become sexy. One has but to look at our continued fascination with James Dean and Che Guevera to realize this. One reason for this obsession with revolution is that we always love new things and, if nothing else, revolution promises something new and different. However, strip away the romanticized version of revolution and you’re left with something much less appealing. In particular, the likes of the ongoing war in Syria comes to mind. In the end while we appreciate the fruits of revolution the actual process of it turns out to be quite messy. Uncanny X-Men 32 explores the difference between the perception of revolution with the reality of it to mixed results. Continue reading

Avengers 42

avengers 42

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Avengers 42, originally released March 4th, 2015. 

“We don’t view our history as being broken or something that we need to fix. If anything we think we are building upon that history and we are taking the best and biggest pieces of it and seeing how easily they coexist with one another. We don’t expect all our moves to make everyone happy, but we think it will make for a really fascinating read through ‘Secret Wars’ and beyond.”

-Axel Alonso, Secret Wars Press Event

Patrick: The grander hyper-textual implications of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers have been apparent for some time, but the importance and meaning of the meta-textual reasons have been something of a mystery. By Alonso’s own admission, Marvel doesn’t really need a Crisis-style reboot, but Secret Wars and Battleworld seem to bear all the multiversal signatures of one of DC Comics’ rebooting events. The problem with Crises (and it’s a problem that I think both DC and Marvel are starting to experience) is that the real world drama trumps the in-narrative drama. We’re more interested in answering the question “What’s going to happen to Batman?” than “What’s going to happen to Batman?” — and that means that we are necessarily less interested in the stories themselves than the companies telling those stories. Avengers 42 tries to reclaim some of that drama for itself, representing what appear to be conflicting editorial voices as characters within the Marvel Universe. Continue reading

Cyclops 10

cyclops 10

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Cyclops 10, originally released February 11th, 2015.

Spencer: When we first started covering Cyclops, Patrick and Suzanne speculated about the kind of influence Scott’s space-pirate father would have on him. Corsair isn’t a “bad guy,” but he is a morally ambiguous figure whose decisions are often based more on pulling off a score or simply staying alive than any of the more traditionally heroic values of Scott’s previous mentors. In the issues since then Scott’s been put through the wringer, but no matter what he’s faced, his humanity and morality have come out on top — in fact, Scott’s influence even seems to be making Corsair a better person, not the other way around. John Layman and Javier Garrόn’s Cyclops 10 makes that fact explicit, but questions whether Scott’s example is enough to end the years of hatred between Corsair and Valesh Malafect. Even though he’s become his own man, is Scott still doomed to repeat the mistakes of his father? Continue reading

All-New X-Men 36

all new xmen 36

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 36, originally released February 11th, 2015.

“It’s not as good as the first one.”

Traditional

Patrick: There’s a certain magic to the first time you experience a genre or franchise or medium. Novelty is cruel in this regard: no matter how good a sequel is, part of the luster disappears when you revisit the well. Comic book creators and fans know this too well — every reboot and relaunch is a promise to recapture whatever it was you first loved about superheroes in comics. What’s insane about this approach, is that we all fell in love with comics at different times, reading different books and for different reasons. What one person thinks of as “classic” Batman, another thinks of as new and hackneyed. There’s no guarantee that a “back to basics” approach is going to mean the same thing across fandom, never mind whether or not it’s valued the same way. As the Original X-Men wrap up their adventures in the Ultimate Universe, writer Brian Michael Bendis ruminates on just what it means to try to recapture the greatness of the original. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 30

uncanny xmen 30

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Uncanny X-Men 30, originally released January 28th, 2015.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly — Perhaps she’ll die!

Traditional

Drew: Way back in All-New X-Men 1, Hank McCoy was up against a problem so insurmountable, his only solution was to drag the original X-Men into the present to help solve it. Uncanny X-Men 30 finds Eva Bell against an even more insurmountable problem, one the original X-Men already failed to solve. What’s she left to do but to go back in time and call in the X-Men’s boss? It’s escalation in its purest (and most obvious) form, but does bringing Charles Xavier back from the dead suffer from the repetition? Continue reading

All-New X-Men 35

Alternating Currents: All-New X-Men 35, Ryan and Patrick

Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 35, originally released January 21st, 2015.

Ryan: The “how” of All-New X-Men 35 may come off as complicated, but is fairly straightforward compared to some of the dimension and timeline hopping we have seen recently. With the grown-up, 616-proper X-men all converging on the last will and testament of one Charles Xavier, the temporally and dimensionally-displaced All-New (plus X-23) find themselves in the Ultimate Universe thanks to the powers of a new mutant named Carmen. These X-men find the heroes on Earth-1610 still recovering from the devastation of Gah Lak Tus’s attack during Cataclysm, and a general populace wherein mutants are not only marginalized, but actively outlawed. See? Simple. Continue reading

Avengers 38

avengers 38Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Avengers 38, originally released November 19th, 2014. 

You can’t tell the players without a program!

Traditional

Spencer: I actually bought a program at a ballgame once, and while it made a nice souvenir, I can’t say it helped me follow the game any better — if anything, it was a bit of a distraction. I didn’t need to be able to tell the players to follow the action on the field, but the same isn’t true for Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers epic; thankfully, Avengers 38 provides us with a pretty snazzy program of its own, free of charge!

Program

While only the characters in color actually appear in this issue, almost all of them play some sort of role in its story, making me increasingly grateful for this handy run-down. Actually, in its own way all of Avengers 38 is a program; the issue sets up the players in the upcoming conflict between the various Avengers teams as well as their motivations, allegiances, and weapons, and I have a feeling we’re going to be referencing this issue for quite a while to come. It’s place-setting, but place-setting is rarely this entertaining. Continue reading