Compassion is the Greatest Weapon of All in X-Men Red 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

A few weeks ago in X-Men Red Annual 1, Jean Grey met a bigoted anti-mutant protester and showed him kindness and compassion, relating to the turmoil and abuse he dealt with in his home life and continuing to worry about him long after their meeting had come to an end. Compassion continues to be Jean’s weapon of choice in Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s X-Men Red 5, and it’s a weapon she’s more than capable of deploying against an entire army. Continue reading

Shifting the Narrative in Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery in Madripoor 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Mystery in Mardipoor 1

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

The Bechdel Test

Drew: This particular Dykes to Watch Our For premiered in 1985, and its premise is still ringing in the ears of writers and readers everywhere. Now known as “The Bechdel Test,” these criteria insist on something beyond simple representation (though it’s remarkable how many films fail to satisfy even that first requirement), aiming for a dialogue that features no males (even as subjects of conversation). And that last bit is a huge stumbling block for narratives to this day. Plenty will feature two women and even manage to put them in a scene together, but the conversation will still revolve around the male characters. It’s the kind of problem you might expect to plague any all-female tie-in to the “Hunt for Wolverine” event to suffer from — Logan is necessarily absent, but that fact is likely to be the subject of discussion — but Jim Zub and Thony Silas manage to shift the focus in Mystery in Madripoor 1, pulling the story in totally unexpected directions. Continue reading

X-Men Red 4 Battles Real-World Threats

by Drew Baumgartner

X-Men Red 4

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

Comics have always reflected our real-world fears — from inner-city crime or nuclear panic — by heightening them to exaggerated extremes. Except, I’d argue, when it comes to the X-Men’s persecution. Sure, the X-Men’s superpowers would qualify as an “exaggerated extreme” of the types of differences that normally mark a minority class, but it’s straight-up not possible for writers to come up with more exaggerated ways societies persecute their minorities. From apartheid to lynchings to genocides, there’s nothing the X-Men have faced that real-world minorities haven’t already suffered, grounding even their most fanciful stories in sober reality. It’s a fact that Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar have leaned into from the start of X-Men Red, lending the series a “ripped from the headlines” approach that is truly unique in superhero comics. Continue reading

Narrative Twists and Powerful Love in Hunt for Wolverine 1

By Michael DeLaney

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

Modern storytelling loves a narrative twist — you could argue that most stories are exclusively centered around them. With that in mind, do we let the success of a twist dictate the overall reception of a story? Hunt for Wolverine 1 may be such an example. Continue reading

Using Our Voices to Help, Not Hurt in Black Panther 171

By Spencer Irwin

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

Our voices make us powerful. They allow us to make bonds and forge connections with one another, they allow us to speak out against oppression and injustice, they allow us to express our innermost desires and emotions, to be heard. Unfortunately, some voices are louder than others. Voices of men, voices of white people, they have a platform that women or people of color are so often denied access to, a platform that amplifies their voice, not only giving their words too much power, but drowning out the voices of others. This is first and foremost a problem for those whose voices are being drowned out, of course, but it’s also a problem for those doing the speaking; they’re so busy talking that they’re not listening, and that means they’re missing out on a lot of vital information. Continue reading

An Unsettling Twist Changes the Game in Black Panther 170

By Drew Baumgartner

Black Panther 170

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

Black Panther 170 is by all measures a climactic issue. Indeed, with so many of T’Challa’s villains and allies joining the fray, the bulk of the issue has a decidedly “Battle of the Five Armies” feel to it, which artist Leonard Kirk captures in all of its chaotic glory.

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

We may suspect a quieter, more personal denouement down the line — Klaw, Stane, Faustus, and Zenzi are nowhere near this fight — but this feels like the big army battle before things tighten back up to Black Panther tracking down the villains and rescuing his kidnapped friend. We think we know where this is going, but then writer Ta-Nehisi Coates yanks the rug out from under us on a stunning final page turn. [Major spoilers after the break!] Continue reading

Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Phoenix Resurrection 2

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

Does anyone remember the “flash sideways” device from LOST‘s final season? The show mined a lot of fun out of the mystery of just what the heck that other world was — a parallel universe? a new timeline? purgatory? — but I never really found the guessing all that fun, as the magical/metaphysical nature of that particular mystery meant that any and all of those things could be equally right. I tend to feel that way about most mysteries that delight in building up red herrings to look as likely as the ultimate answer (perfectly demonstrated in Clue‘s multiple endings; the culprit can only be found by the movie telling us whodunnit, not through any deductive work on our own), but it’s particularly pronounced in stories with a fantasy or sci-fi element that might defy our own experience of the world. That is, if we’re operating in a world with a magical island, is it possible to rule out even the most absurd theory? These are the thoughts running through my head as I read Phoenix Resurrection 2. Continue reading

Oppression Makes Strange Bedfellows in Black Panther 16

By Drew Baumgartner

Black Panther 16

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

The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror’s territory is termed the enemy. The king who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend (of the conqueror).

Kautilya, Arthasastra

Understood more colloquially as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the above sentiment was first recorded in a 4th Century treatise on statecraft. That is, while we might be most familiar with the concept as its used in interpersonal dramas or forming political coalitions, it was first composed to conceptualize a concept in city-state diplomacy. More importantly, Kautilya is quite specific in when this attitude should be applied — basically, only when the “conquerer” stands to lose nothing from the alliance. Such is the case when T’Challa approaches Dr. Eliot Augustus Franklin (better known as Thunderball of the Wrecking Crew) — T’Challa has nothing to lose, and Franklin has everything to gain from cooperating. Continue reading

Being a Mentor is the Ultimate Strength in America 4

by Spencer Irwin

America 4

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

Nobody can make it through life alone — not even someone as powerful and independent as America Chavez. There have been many inspirational figures in America’s life, but no direct mentor figures. That’s something Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, and Ming Doyle aim to fix in America 4, where they not only give America Chavez her very own mentor, but show why it’s important for her to have one in the first place. Continue reading

Black Panther & The Crew 1

Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Black Panther & The Crew 1, originally released April 12th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Creating any sort of real societal change can be next to impossible, not only because of the difficulty of enacting new laws or changing old ones, but because of how difficult it can be to convince people of the need for change at all. We all have our opinions and confirmation biases, and many people simply don’t want to believe they’re wrong, even when faced with compelling, truthful evidence. Such is the case for Misty Knight, who may be a bit too devoted to her fellow police to understand the damage they’re causing. Continue reading