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

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Osborn Can’t Get Out Of His Own Way in The Amazing Spider-Man 32

by Spencer Irwin

Amazing Spider-Man 32

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

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin are arch-enemies, right? While both men have faced many opponents in their lives, nobody gets in their way, nobody riles them up more than the other. It makes sense, then, that when faced with the prospect of fighting his “own personal demon,” ol’ Norman Osborn would immediately assume that this refers to Spider-Man. In Amazing Spider-Man 32, though, Dan Slott and Greg Smallwood seem to be insinuating something entirely different: that Norman’s own personal demon may just be himself. Continue reading

It’s Hard to Take Peter Seriously in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

The fact that Chip Zdarsky would be writing his own ongoing Spider-Man series intrigued me from the moment it was announced. Zdarsky’s sad-sack take on Spider-Man was one of the most consistently funny gags in Howard the Duck, but seemed difficult to translate into the star of a monthly title. Even now that we’re three issues into Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man I’m honestly still not 100% sure how it’s worked out. Zdarsky and Adam Kubert ace the series’ humor and have come up with some interesting plots, but their Peter Parker is almost too stupid to function. Continue reading

Gwen Tries Her Hand at Creating Stories in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 19

by Spencer Irwin

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

Last month I theorized that Gwenpool’s newfound cosmic awareness essentially made her a god, but within the world of comics, is there really that much of a difference between a god and a writer or artist? (After all, when the Fantastic Four met their god, he was Jack Kirby). That’s something I couldn’t help but wonder about throughout Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru’s The Unbelievable Gwenpool 19, especially once Miles finally reveals Gwen’s dark future. The hell she puts Miles through should feel familiar to anyone who’s ever read a comic before. 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

Secret Empire 7: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

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

Michael: Fictional prophecies are a tricky thing. Typically, the prophecy is either dead-on or has been slightly misinterpreted, but either way it usually comes with a twist. Nick Spencer has played with a lot of elements from Marvel’s last big crossover event Civil War II, but none moreso than Miles Morales clutching Steve Rogers’ lifeless body on Capitol Hill. Secret Empire 7 finally approaches that moment…or does it? Continue reading

Prioritizing Responsibilities in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

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

It’s always easy to score political points against the president by suggesting they’re spending too much time relaxing. Folks of every political persuasion have made this argument at some point or another, and it always sounds reasonable because the President obviously has more important things to be doing. With great power, as the saying goes, must also come great responsibility. But of course, even Presidents are people, and while we should certainly hold them to a high standard in terms of workload (that it’s a stressful job is part of the job description), expecting them to never take a vacation is inhumane. This is a point Peter Parker has always fluctuated on. He obviously respects the responsibilities that come with his powers, but he’d also like to be a human being with a fulfilling professional and personal life. Usually, that means he’s constantly running out on dates or jobs to save the day, but Chip Zdarksy and Adam Kubert find a decidedly different approach in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2. 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

Gags as Story Engine in Spider-Man Master Plan 1

by Ryan Mogge

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

Long before Betty was in a coma, Archie one page gags filled my favorite digests. The form is simple: a few panels establishing the premise, a few panels executing the idea and then a twist usually capped with a pun. While Spider-Man: Master Plan 1 is certainly more fluid than a series of one pagers, it has the same rhythm throughout. 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