Serviceable is Not Enough in Avengers 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

I’ve been reading, collecting, and following weekly American comics for well over a decade now, and I’ve watched not only the industry grow, but my own tastes as well; the type of standard, “heroes beat villain and saves the world” stories that were once exciting have become a bit routine. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for these kind of stories within the industry, but they need a little something special to stand out and really feel worth investing in, and unfortunately, I haven’t found that spark yet in Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’ run on Avengers. Continue reading

Delayed Gratification in Avengers 2

by Mark Mitchell

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

Avengers 2 finds writer Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness still trying to explain just what their Avengers book is going to be. Like the premiere issue, Avengers 2 is incredibly chatty, stuffed to the gills with narration, banter, quips, and inner-monologue that try to help explain the presence (and absence) of various Avengers. There’s a delayed gratification aspect at play, and seeing the entire team finally all together (whenever that happens) will no doubt be cathartic, but spending so much ink explaining why this team-up book doesn’t yet have a team is a sometimes frustrating choice. Continue reading

Avengers 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Drew Baumgartner

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

Taylor: In middle school, my favorite book was a archaeology tome titles Ancient Mysteries. The book is exactly what you would think — a survey of all the unsolved mysteries archaeologists have studied such as how the inhabitants of Easter Island made their statues and the relevancy of the Atlantis story. I was entranced by these mysteries because they suggested a history of Earth that was far bigger and far stranger than anything I had imagined up to that point. This was exciting at the time, and to this day my interest is still piqued by random archaeology articles on the BBC. It’s maybe for this reason that Avengers 1 intrigues me so much. It points to a deep, weird history of Earth I want to know more about. Continue reading

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

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