Epistolary Irreverence in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

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

The provenance of epistolary texts are always weird. Actually, it’s probably less weird than traditional narratives, where we might somehow be privy to the private thoughts of the protagonist or even the perspective of an omniscient narrator, but epistolary texts necessarily draw our attention to the weirdness in a way that more traditional narratives don’t. Because we’re reading documents composed within the diegesis of the epistolary narrative, the ostensible writer of those documents are a character, even as the actual writer attempts to become invisible. That tension, between our hyperawareness of the fictional author, and purported obliviousness of the actual author, puts epistolary narratives in this weird netherworld of headspace, embracing the self-awareness of postmodernism in an attempt to produce an entirely un-self-aware story. It’s a concept that already folds in on itself, but writer Ryan North adds a few more wrinkles, confusing the notion of self-awareness enough that the confusion starts to be to point. Continue reading

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Silver Surfer 14: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Drew Baumgartner

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

Spencer: When it comes to weaving together long-term plots and storylines spanning years and years, Dan Slott might just be the best there is right now — if not in all of comics, then almost certainly in mainstream superhero books. Silver Surfer 14 is Slott (and Michael and Laura Allred) firing on all cylinders, bringing two volumes’ worth of stories to an immensely satisfying ending. It not only resolves and honors everything that’s come before, but continues to put all the qualities that have made Silver Surfer such a quality read on full display: wonder, adventure, joy, love, and pure emotion — oh, and some metatextual fun, too. Continue reading

Accepting Happiness in Silver Surfer 13

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Sometimes I think I ask too much of comic books. I always want them to be grand statements about morality or the price of heroism or contain some other largely unknowable truth about the world. Silver Surfer is one of those series that sets this expectation for me, and the creative team of Dan Slott, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred obviously have a lot to say about life, love, and adventure. The penultimate issue of this series slows that all down by speeding up time, allowing the reader to bask in the simple sweetness of a life lived together. It is a rarity among comics — something nice just for the purpose of experiencing something nice. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 9

Alternating Currents: Silver Surfer 9, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 9, originally released March 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: In this day and age, episodic storytelling isn’t particularly well-respected — particularly when the episodes might follow some kind of prescribed formula — but I think there’s a lot more value in formula than we tend to give credit. For one, long-gestating stories or deep character growth might not be the point of every story; sometimes you just want to see what new shenanigans Lucille Ball gets up to this week. But I think the bigger virtue of those episodic formulas is that they reflect the cycles in our everyday lives. Sure, audiences may not arrest a new criminal or annoy their spouse or teach an important life lesson to their kids every week, but the patterns are familiar enough (and cyclical enough) to reflect their lived experiences. I don’t mean to suggest that serialized stories can’t achieve this (honestly, I can’t think of a single example that doesn’t sit somewhere in between the abstract extremes of “episodic” and “serialized”), just that there are virtues to episodic storytelling that are often overlooked. Case in point: the formula of Silver Surfer 9 is undoubtedly familiar to longtime readers of this series, but with the formula as charming as it is, it’s hard to see that as a downside. 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

Silver Surfer 15

silver surfer 15

Today, Shane Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 15, originally released November 25th, 2015.

wait, i'm not real

Patrick: Why do reboots matter so much to us? The characters we’re reading about aren’t — in the strictest sense — real. The only thing that’s ever real about them are our feelings toward them. And those feelings never need to go away, even as the very qualities that made us fall in love with characters in the first place are retconned out of existence. Silver Surfer 15 tackles this notion literally, as Dawn has to chose between an idealized world based on all the wonderful things she remembers and a scary new world with limitless possibilities for change. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 14

silver surfer 14

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 14, originally released September 2nd, 2015.

Spencer: It took me a while to realize this, but one of the major reasons why I’ve always loved superheroes so much is because they represent a world where people can stand up to injustice, inequality, and bullies, and make a tangible difference for the better. That’s something I long for, and I’ll admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d do to reshape society if I had god-like powers. But what looks good in a fantasy — or even on the comics page — doesn’t always go as planned in real life. That’s exactly what Norrin and Dawn discover in Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 14, where their attempts to rebuild the universe to their own specifications instead of exactly as it once was could result in major repercussions.
Continue reading

Guardians Team-Up 8

guardians team up 8Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Guardians Team-Up 8, originally released July 29th, 2015.

Spencer: The best writers know when to step aside and let their artist tell as much of the story as possible — “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” right? Of course, to do this, a writer must have trust in their artist to properly convey their story, and in the chaotic world of mainstream superhero comics, where there are sometimes fill-in artists or multiple artists on a single title, that kind of trust can often be a rare commodity. In light of that point, Guardians Team-Up 8 is even more impressive — Ray Fawkes and Bengal tell their one-off story without any words (until the last page), putting Bengal in charge of all the issue’s storytelling. While this issue isn’t without its faults, I’d call it a largely successful gambit. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 12

silver surfer 12

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 12, originally released June 10th, 2015.

Spencer: “Consent” is a word I didn’t hear much as a teenager, unless it involved waivers or some other sort of legal document. While I was (thankfully) taught from a young age never to make somebody do something that would make them uncomfortable, the concept never had a name, and that’s a shame, because there are very few ventures where waiting to get consent before proceeding is ever a bad idea — especially when it comes to sex and relationships. Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 12 emphasizes the importance of consent by featuring an entire planet that, despite having the best of intentions, needs to learn a serious lesson on the subject. Continue reading

Wizard World Philadelphia 2015

philly 2015

Spencer: Last year’s Wizard World Philadelphia 2014 (which I covered in explicit detail here on the site) was my very first ComicCon, and it was a fantastic experience, so much so that it may be hard for other cons to top it. Also a disadvantage: I was only able to spend one day (Saturday) at this year’s Wizard World Philadelphia, as opposed to four last year. Ultimately the two years ended up being vastly different experiences, even if there were also a surprising amount of similarities. There was one lesson that this year’s con drilled into my brain even more than last’s, though: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. With only one day I could never do everything I did last year, but I think I made the best use of the time I had. It was a pretty terrific day. Continue reading