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

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Ryan M.: How much background do you need to enjoy a single issue of an on-going serial? There is an argument that the answer is none. Most of us start out by just diving in, checking things out and then heading to Wikipedia or a very knowledgeable friend to help fill in the cracks. The serialized narrative is a moving train, you catch it when you can, and see what it has to offer. This can be one of the format’s strengths, giving the reader a feeling of discovery by entering a rich established world. You may have questions that aren’t answered or relationship dynamics you can’t understand, but you are seeing into a fictional world that is fully realized. It’s one of the reasons that origin stories can feel plodding. They are explaining why things are rather than showing what they become. In Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider Man 1, Chip Zdarsky balances out that sense of history by giving the story a day-in-the-life feel with a few big turns that make it clear that a bigger story is evolving. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 28

Alternating Currents: Amazing Spider-Man 28, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 28, originally released July 7th, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Drew: When we’re frustrated with superhero comics, we’ll sometimes blame the serialized format for robbing endings of any tension (or even mocking the very idea of “endings”) — as much as a given comic may try to convince you of the danger its hero is in, we all know they’ll be back to fight again next month. And actually, genre conventions are much more prescriptive than that, generally insisting that the villain also live to fight again (though maybe not until the hero has cycled through the rest of their rogues gallery). I added the caveat of “when we’re frustrated,” because I ultimately don’t think anyone’s assessment of a story comes down to how rote certain genre conventions are — predictable stories can be great, and unpredictable ones can be terrible — just that we might misidentify (or overemphasize) “predictability” as the reason for disliking a given story. Writer Dan Slott may be most famous for throwing those presumptions out the window, but Amazing Spider-Man 28 reveals just how adept he is at making even the most familiar genre conventions feel exciting. Continue reading

Secret Empire 3

Alternating Currents: Secret Empire 3, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 3, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: That Secret Empire is about big ideas goes without saying. As with any tentpole summer event, it promises to change the Marvel universe as we know it (at least temporarily), but the bigger story is the way the event (and the stories leading to it) have reflected the real-world political climate, often in uncanny — and uncomfortable — ways. But issue 3 reveals that, underneath it all, writer Nick Spencer may have been building to an even bigger (albeit, perhaps less controversial) question about the very nature of the superhero genre in the present day: does it still have room for moral absolutes? Continue reading

Secret Empire 1

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Secret Empire 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Skipping ahead into the radically altered future has become one of the hallmarks of modern Marvel event stories. Both Secret Wars and Age of Ultron rushed ahead to the moment after the unthinkable had already occurred, resting in a status quo that practically begged to be undone. Secret Empire, in its #1 issue, adopts this same tactic, catapulting over an untold stretch of time and insisting on a terrifying new normal. The difference between this story and events like Secret Wars and Age of Ultron, is that Secret Empire is based in the entirely credible rise of fascism in the United States. There is real world precedent for the world over which Captain Hydra rules, and even if it is exaggerated for the medium, and the long road to this moment is paved with recognizable warning signs. But writer Nick Spencer is no longer concerned with establishing the mechanical reality of Steve Roger’s brave new world, instead turning to the emotional reality of its occupants, dialing in on how it feels to be truly helpless and hopeless. And how it feels to resist.  Continue reading

Secret Empire 0

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 0, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: It can be incredibly dangerous to put too much faith in one person, especially if it means neglecting other connections and relationships. While this can be true on a personal level, it’s far more important to remember on a political level, where not even the most well-meaning politician can be trusted with too much power — not even Captain America himself. Continue reading