A Beautifully Low-Key Resolution in She-Hulk 163

by Spencer Irwin

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

Last month’s installment of She-Hulk was a beautiful way to wrap up the many issues Jen’s been dealing with throughout writer Mariko Tamaki’s run, but those resolutions came at an unrealistic, breakneck speed. It’s nice, then, that She-Hulk 163 finds Tamaki and artist Diego Olortegui slowing down again, allowing this run’s finale to be the kind of simple, low-key resolution that fits the more realistic tale of trauma and recovery Tamaki’s been telling ever since Civil War II. Continue reading

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Rapid Recovery in She-Hulk 162

by Spencer Irwin

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

Enjoying any form of fiction requires a little suspension of disbelief, but this especially goes for superhero comics. Yeah, comics have rich themes and characters and exciting stories to offer, if you can get past the superhuman abilities, if you can reconcile decades of tangled continuity and retcons, if you can learn the rhythms and tricks of the medium.

adore that kind of nerd nonsense, and I’ve never had any problem accepting superhero comics for exactly what they are, but it took even me a second to accept what was happening in She-Hulk 162. It’s actually a rather delightful issue, as Mariko Tamaki and Jahnoy Lindsay take an insightful look into Jennifer Walters’ trauma and recovery, but both the methods and the speed with which they do so require quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. Continue reading

Different Kinds of Strength in She-Hulk 161

by Spencer Irwin

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

Mariko Tamaki’s been taking Jennifer Walters on a long, singular journey towards recovery ever since taking over Hulk/She-Hulk, and the antagonists Jen has faced along the way have been specifically chosen to reflect different challenges of that journey, often by turning them into mirror images of Jen’s greatest fears. What does it mean, then, that She-Hulk 161 has two villains for Jen to face down? And what do these two foes have to say about where Jen’s head is right now? Continue reading

She-Hulk 159: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

She-Hulk 159

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

Drew: Why do we like superheroes? For some, the appeal might be whiz-bang action or modern mythologies, but I’ve personally always been drawn to the genre for its ability to comment on everyday life (albeit by blowing it up to epic proportions). It’s not a feature of every superhero story — far from it — but there’s a certain type of superhero story that manages to scale up relatable conflicts and struggles to matters of life and death. Mariko Tamaki’s work with Jen Waters (formerly on Hulk, now retitled and renumbered as She-Hulk) has always fit into this category with ease, using Jen’s Hulk-outs as a stand-in for PTSD-fueled anxiety attacks. It’s an approach that served the character and the story beautifully, creating a series decidedly unlike any other superhero story on the shelves. This issue is at its best when it focuses on those relatable elements, though the introduction of a bona fide supervillain might just blow the parallels out of the water. Continue reading

Hulk 5

Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Hulk 5, originally released April 26th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: A defining trait of She-Hulk has always been control — becoming She-Hulk gave Jennifer Walters confidence, and she could fully control that form to the point where she remained Hulked-Out 24/7. Much of the tragedy of Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s Hulk has been watching Jen lose that control as a result of the trauma she underwent in Civil War II, but Hulk 5 shows that Jen’s situation is actually far more circular and complicated; she didn’t just lose control because of her trauma, but her trauma hit her so hard because she lost control in the first place. Continue reading

Hulk 1

hulk-1Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Hulk 1, originally released December 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Despite the name, She-Hulk has never settled for just being a distaff counterpart. Jen’s occupation, abilities, and especially the confidence and control they’ve granted her have always set her far apart from Bruce Banner, allowing Jen to carve her own niche within the Marvel Universe. Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s Hulk 1 finds many of the aforementioned qualities that have always defined She-Hulk violently ripped away from her, yet even then, Jen manages to cling to her individuality. While Banner’s Hulk was a creature born of anger, Jen’s Hulk is born of fear, anxiety, and trauma. Continue reading

Astonishing Ant-Man 11

Alternating Currents: Astonishing Ant-Man 11, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Astonishing Ant-Man 11, originally released August 31, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: When I was 13 or 14, a group of older kids vandalized our high school. They broke in after hours, threw a bunch of furniture off of the roof, and dug a bad word into the grass of the school courtyard. It got a lot of attention, but the vandals were smart enough not to leave any incriminating evidence. Until, that is, they were caught vandalizing a billboard on the other side of town. Being caught red-handed is generally only a sure indicator of guilt for the crime you’re caught doing, but these idiots also happened to have a video camera with them. Oh, right: in the decades before everyone carried a video recording device in their pocket, these knuckleheads went out of their way to create incriminating evidence, bringing along a camcorder to immortalize their crimes. But, you know, not being made out of videotapes, one tape might cover many nights of escapades. Which is to say, the police caught them with a video confession of sorts for the high school vandalism.

It was a remarkable story at the time, but in the years since, as cameraphones proliferated, stories of idiot criminals (usually teens [but not always]) caught with footage of their own criminal acts became more and more common. Sure as selfies and reality tv made navel gazing a way of life, they also created a new kind of criminal: one with the self-directed airtight case against themselves. That’s almost the situation Scott Lang finds himself in, though in his defense, he didn’t know he was being recorded and broadcast around the country. Still, how do you talk your way out of a conviction when there’s video footage of you planning and committing the crime in question? That remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that Jennifer Walters is the one lawyer who might be able to pull it off. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 3

silver surfer 3

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Silver Surfer 3, originally released April 13, 2016.

Patrick: Silver Surfer has a puzzling relationship with the concept of “history.” I suppose we should expect no less from a character that can get caught in infinite time loops and regularly has a role in actively remaking reality. But he’s also just a strange character to consider from a meta-fictional standpoint: a villain-turned-hero whose whole shtick reads like a crummy Beach Boys B-side. There’s a weird mix of highfalutin science fiction mumbo-jumbo and campy comic book irreverence built into the character’s DNA. Was he the herald of planet-devouring mega-monster? Sure, but his last name is also Radd. Dan Slott and Michael Allred use the occasion of Silver Surfer’s 50th anniversary to celebrate the character’s duality and challenge the comic book industry’s penchant for rebooting their worlds and characters.
Continue reading

Spider-Woman 5

spiderwoman 5

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Spider-Woman 5, originally released March 16th, 2016.

Spencer: I’ll admit that, much like Clint Barton, I never took Jessica Drew for the motherly type — she’s always been such a socially awkward, work-oriented character that it just felt like a poor fit to me. Still, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez’s first volume of Spider-Woman was so strong that it seemed likely they could sell me on Jessica Drew as a mother, or at least get a good story out of it. Boy, was that an understatement. This first arc of the rebooted Spider-Woman has been astounding, but this week’s issue 5 is especially powerful. Not only do Hopeless and Rodriguez make a convincing argument for “Jessica Drew as a mother,” but they present such a compelling take on parenthood that their editor actually feels it necessary to include a disclaimer on the letters page! That’s some good stuff, there. Continue reading

A-Force 1

a-force 1

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing A-Force 1, originally released January 6th, 2016.

Spencer: As comic book fans, we’re all used to the idea of alternate realities. They pop up with surprising frequency, but whether we spend just a few scant pages exploring them or several months immersed within their worlds, we’re always aware that they aren’t the “main” continuity, simply fun “what-if’s.” That isn’t true of the characters living within these alternate realities, though — for them it’s their home, their entire world, everything they know and love. That holds especially true for Singularity, the main protagonist of G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina’s A-Force 1 — hailing from God Doom’s Battleworld, Singularity’s entire life spans just the five issues of the first volume of A-Force, so for her the return of Earth-616 isn’t the triumphant homecoming it is for readers, but a strange, scary new reality that she knows nothing about. Continue reading