The Ultimates 2 4

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Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Ultimates 2 4, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible. […]

Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. […]

Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.

Aristotle, “Rhetoric”

Drew: I’ve never studied philosophy, or even public speaking, but even I’ve heard of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, the three modes of persuasion Aristotle describes in the excerpts above. Obviously, “heard of” is a pretty far cry from understanding, but to my lay mind, Logos — the mode that relies on logic — is often held up as the purest form of persuasion, as it hinges on facts rather than our emotions or faith in whoever is making the argument. But, of course, it’s difficult to truly ignore the impact of Ethos and Pathos — we’re emotional, social beings — so it’s possible for something to feel like Logos when, in fact, it isn’t (a phenomenon we call “truthiness”). Moreover, dubious Logos may shore up its logicalness by being distractingly lacking in Ethos and Pathos (a phenomenon we might call “fuck your feelings”). This is all very messy, and is threatening to turn into an essay on political discourse, but I brought it up to address the appeals characters make to one another in Ultimates 2 4 — all modes are on display, including a “logical” argument built on such shaky ground that its arguer feels compelled to call itself “Logos.” Continue reading

The Ultimates 2 1

ultimates-2-1

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Ultimates 2 1, originally released November 23rd, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: It’s odd that we have a concept of ideas that are “ahead of their time” — that is, it’s odd that ideas are so often rejected only to be later praised that we have a phrase to describe the phenomenon. Optimistically, the fact that those ideas can be reappraised suggests that you can’t keep a good idea down, but the other side of that coin reveals how common it is to reject good ideas in the moment. Indeed, the very fact that those ideas can later be proven to have value illustrates that the initial problem wasn’t with the idea, but the people involved in implementing it. Maybe it comes down to personalities involved or the politics surrounding an idea, but good ideas can be rejected for reasons totally unrelated to the quality of those ideas. Those mistakes may be corrected by history, but often over the course of generations. To me, the best way to speed up that process, unlocking the value of good ideas sooner, is to constantly reevaluate our decisions, never defaulting to the assumption that the “best” idea always wins. Such is the case with the idea of the Ultimates — the politics and personalities involved may have prevented that idea from reaching its fruition the first time around, but that doesn’t mean it should be discarded completely. Continue reading

The Ultimates 5

ultimates 5

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Ultimates 5, originally released March 23rd, 2016.

Spencer: As a team, the Ultimates exist to solve problems within the Marvel Universe that are too grand for any other team to fix; it’s fitting, then, that Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort seem to be using The Ultimates 5 to solve an equally grand problem that Marvel Comics as an entity have been grappling with for years. It’s perhaps the most meta-textual concept in an issue full of meta, but thankfully, all that meta makes for an intriguing read. Continue reading

The Ultimates 1

ultimates 1

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing the Ultimates 1, originally released November 11th, 2015.

Taylor: Canada recently elected a prime minister. His name is Justin Trudeau and people basically seem to love him. Maybe this has to do with his dashing good looks or maybe his liberalism is a nice shift from Canada’s previous, more conservative PM. Whatever the reason, he made headlines a week or so ago and further endeared himself to many when he was asked why half of his political cabinet are women. His answer: “Because it’s 2015.” Whatever your views may be on Canada’s new PM, this frank and forward thinking answer is certainly welcome in a world ready for a new breed of politician. “What does this have to do with comics?” you might be asking. Well, similar to politics, the comics world is prime for a new, fresh perspective, at least from the major publishers. Enter The Ultimates 1, a comic that promises to be progressive and different despite its trappings as a traditional title.

Continue reading

Mighty Avengers 3

Alternating Currents: Mighty Avengers 3, Drew and ShelbyToday, Drew and Shelby are discussing Mighty Avengers 3, originally released November 6th, 2013. 

infinity divider…and this whole justice league — Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman. You mean to tell me Superman can’t cover everything? For crying out loud, he’s Superman!

Jerry Seinfeld

Drew: It’s hard to resist the synergy of a superhero team-up. Batman and Superman have megawatt star-power alone, but combine them, and you can draw an even bigger audience. As easy as it is to justify those team-ups from a business perspective, it can actually be quite difficult to justify them narratively. Writers often resort to improbably massive threats or absurd contrivances to bring their heroes together, but the biggest problem with team-ups is much more fundamental than plotting. The appeal of superheroes — the appeal of the idea of The Hero in general — is that they alone bear the power to succeed in their journey. If you put several of them in a story together, their narrative purposes are at odds, dividing any victories between them in a way that is ultimately less satisfying. But what if a team isn’t made up of such heavy-hitters? What if they were presented with a problem that the members couldn’t possibly cover on their own? Mighty Avengers 3 zeroes in on exactly what strength can be found, as its team becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Continue reading

Mighty Avengers 2

mighty avengers 2 infinity

Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Mighty Avengers 2, originally released October 2nd, 2013. 

infinity divider

Ethan: Push the envelope. Stand on the shoulders of giants. Rules are made to be broken. Going boldly where no one has gone before. Put 110% of your effort towards your goals. Ours goes to eleven. Etc etc. Our culture has gotten a pretty good handle on this concept, as evidenced by how many ways we’ve come up with codifying it into our tropes – the idea of taking everything that came before, acknowledging it, and then moving past it. Comic books – and fiction at large – LOVE this concept. Mighty Avengers #2 is no exception, and the one-upping writer Al Ewing packs into this issue is fun, if also a little bit silly by the end. Continue reading

Mighty Avengers 1

mighty avengers 1 infinity

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Mighty Avengers 1, originally released September 11th, 2013. 

infinity divider

Patrick: My older sister has two children: a son who turned one in April and a daughter who turned four this summer. They live on the other side of the country, so I don’t see them very often. One thing that I discovered upon welcoming tiny, helpless people into our lives in that you suddenly become aware of the reality you’re introducing them to – the house, the town, the world, their relatives. Suddenly, your decisions feel weightier, like you no longer exist in a vacuum, but as a functioning cog in a machine and all you want that machine to do is not disappoint this kid. I started working out. I starting writing seriously. I moved out to LA to make good on my long-held threat to actively chase my dreams. Essentially, I became an active participant in my own life, determined to show my niece that her uncle has some kind of agency and the world he’s contributing to is something of merit. Mighty Avengers casts Luke Cage in that role — the man who realizes he has to do something of merit — in one of the more honest getting-the-team-together stories I’ve ever read. Continue reading