Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

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Patrick: One of the harsher truths of Secret Empire is that America was always run on an engine of hatred and fear. Racism, sexism, classism, fascism — neither Hydra Cap nor Donald Trump invented these things. They didn’t even popularize or legitimize them, they’re simply high profile embodiments thereof. It is increasingly easy to read the totality of American history as ugly and hateful, filled with crass opportunists, liars, and mass murderers. That can make the USA a hard hero to root for. With Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1, writer Nick Spencer goes back in time, giving both Sam Wilson and his readers a lifetime to reconsider the value in fighting for what may, at times, appear to be a lost cause. Continue reading

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Gwenpool 20 Stays Sincere in a Landscape of Cynicism

by Patrick Ehlers

Unbelievable Gwenpool 20

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

This arc of Gwenpool appears to be taking a lot of its cues from the recently concluded Secret Empire. While not retreading any of the same thematic ideas, the narrative structure of one moral-extreme version of a character over-writing the history of the opposite-moral-extreme version of that same character features in both. For Captain America, this is a battle over the national zeitgeist, a startling reflection of the persistence of racism and white nationalism, but for Gwenpool, the stakes are more personal. Secret Empire Omega 1 just chillingly illustrated how definitive, national change is virtually impossible, but Gwenpool 20 offers a more hopeful path for the individual and — more importantly — for the comic fan. Continue reading

The Bitter Taste of Regret in Deadpool 35

by Michael DeLaney 

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

Releasing the same day as Secret Empire 10, Deadpool 35 is the first book that shows us a glimpse of the Marvel U the post-Secret Empire. It’s also the issue where Deadpool admits something that we’ve known since Steve Rogers ordered him to kill Coulson: Wade is heading for a fall. Continue reading

Secret Empire 8: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Mogge

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

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Spencer: I’m writing this piece in the aftermath of one of the more horrific weekends in recent memory (Charlottesville), which arrives at the tail-end of one of the most horrific ten months or so of my lifetime. I don’t exactly feel an overabundance of hope right now, a sentiment shared by those trapped in Trump’s America and in the Hydra-Controlled America of the Marvel Universe alike. In Secret Empire 8, Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna, Rod Reis, Sean Izaaske and Java Tartaglia finally bring the light of hope to their story, but I don’t know how well their methods translate to real life. Continue reading

Stripping Down to Basics in Amazing Spider-Man 31

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 31

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

This volume of Amazing Spider-Man has always been about amplifying Uncle Ben’s famous mantra that “with great power must also come great responsibility,” forcing both global power and responsibility on Peter Parker’s shoulders. It’s an elegant way of further dramatizing Peter’s relationship to that mantra, taking a naturally street-level character responsible for resolving international conflicts and global pandemics. But, as with any change in superhero comics, this new status quo came with an expiration date — even if we didn’t know what it was. Amazing Spider-Man 31 doesn’t necessarily represent the end of Parker Industries, but it returns Spider-Man so convincingly to his platonic form that it’s easy to see it as the conclusion of that particular chapter of Peter’s life. Continue reading

Echoes of the Past, Pinocchio, and Barf in Captain America 25

by Michael DeLaney

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

Like a meta comic book continuity retcon, Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers’ Captain America titles collapse into one in Captain America 25. One of the last times Marvel published a Captain America 25, Steve Rogers was shot “dead.” While this issue might not be as monumental as “The Death of Captain America,” it is a book that is almost essential as a Secret Empire tie-in. Continue reading

How Lettering Sells the Loss in Deadpool 34

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Comic book creators have so many tools at their disposal for exploring sadness. There’s the acting of the characters, the framing of a panel, setting, color and even dialogue if it comes down to it. Throughout their run with The Merc With the Mouth, writer Gerry Duggan and artist Matteo Lolli have utilized every one of these tools to convey the extreme despair at the center of Wade’s life, and his climatic battle with Preston is no exception. The sky turns red, and all other color disappears, in the abandoned town of Pleasant Hill, setting a strong emotional tone for the battle. The previous issue saw Preston turning off her emotions (literally — she’s a robot and can just mute those things), but Lolli’s insistence on her steely visage actually ends up communicating more about the fatalism driving Wade’s fall from grace. Continue reading

Killing Has Consequences in Deadpool 33

by Michael DeLaney

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

Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli continue to propel Wade Wilson’s emotional journey forward in the face of all of the changes that Secret Empire has wrought. Deadpool 33 is bookended with Wade Wilson dealing with aspects of his Hydra-ruled life, but the substance of the issue comes in the form of a flashback. Continue reading

Exploring Thematic Connections to Secret Empire in Amazing Spider-Man 30

by Spencer Irwin

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

The current arc of Amazing Spider-Man is a direct tie-in to Secret Empire, with its opening scene even taking place during the Free Comic Book Day issue and with Otto’s newfound might largely coming from Hydra resources. This story is ultimately more concerned with Peter and Otto’s battle for Parker Industries, but even there Dan Slott and Stuart Immonen are able to create spiritual and thematic connections to Secret Empire. Continue reading

The Art of the Tie-in: Amazing Spider-Man 29

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 29

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

It’s easy to vilify crossover events for disrupting your favorite series, but that’s kind of the point, right? An event that boasts “everything changes here” should be disruptive to the universe around it — that’s just making good on that claim. The feeling that the story we were reading has been put on the back burner is definitely frustrating, but it’s exactly what would happen in the event of a Earth-shaking change in the status quo. But there are ways to soften the whiplash effect of event tie-in issues, and Amazing Spider-Man 29 features just about all of them. Actually, it might be to precise to pin it on this one issue — while this is the first to explicitly acknowledge the events of Secret Empire, so much of what happens here spins out of threads writer Dan Slott has been spinning for years. In many ways, it feels less like the event forced a change to the series and more like the changes that were coming all along were given a fresh twist by tying them to Secret Empire. Continue reading