This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Patrick: Does writer Chip Zdarsky leverage humor to find pathos, or does he exploit genuine emotion for comedy? It’s almost impossible to tell. Zdarsky often rides the line between celebrating the absurdity and celebrating the sincerity of his characters and his stories. Marvel Two-In-One somehow achieves both simultaneously, giving the reader a sad, almost Venture Brothersian look into the loneliness and ennui of the last remaining members of the Fantastic Four, while never letting go of the inherent weirdness of these characters. It’s a stupendous feat of writing, emboldened by Jim Cheung’s reverent artwork. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Fantastic Four 2, originally released March 12th, 2014.
Patrick: I don’t like the way James Robinson writes dialogue. Don’t like it. He invents unnecessarily awkward contractions; his characters use cliché superhero rhetoric; there are frequent problems with subject-verb agreement; and he’ll mix up countable and uncountable objects (using words like “fewer” and “less” incorrectly). I can accept some of these “mistakes” as affectations of Robinson’s characters: lord knows Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm aren’t going to edit the words that come out of their mouths. But dialogue is like 5% of a comic, right? As long as the art and incident are compelling, a few glaringly stupid sentences shouldn’t bother me, right? RIGHT!? Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.
Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.
Today, Drew are Shelby are discussing Age of Ultron 10, originally released June 19th, 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.
Drew: Age of Ultron 9 found Taylor asking “What is time?” It’s something so central to our perception of the world, yet something we barely understand. Issue 10 continues the trend of focusing on subjects at the edge of our scientific understanding, this time taking up the question “What is reality?” What really are these things we believe to be true? History, as they say, is written by the victors (and re-written by whoever beats them, and so on), suggesting that “reality” might be a bit more subjective than we like to think. But what if the victors could actually alter history, not just our retellings of it? What if reality was objectively malleable? That’s kind of the question this series has been asking all along, but its conclusion puts a finer point on it, making the very fabric of Marvel’s “reality” the focus of this issue. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor are Patrick are discussing Age of Ultron 9, originally released June 5th, 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.
Taylor: What is time? This is perhaps one of the most fundamental questions to human existence, and as such, it has been discussed by mankind since time immemorial. While philosophers and physicists debate about what exactly time is (it’s a question that still rages today), science fiction and pop culture have popularized the question by using it in a countless number of plots and stories. So none of us should be surprised that a comic book entitled the Age of Ultron (my emphasis) would come to center its plot on time travel and its consequences. Indeed, with time travel we have seen a proliferation of ages in this event increase exponentially, the consequence of which has been the raising of an eyebrow both for better and for worse. Yet while the plot of Ultron isn’t always all that original, issue nine raises the question of what exactly time is and what the consequences of traveling through it could be.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fantastic Four 8, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Drew: I love mysteries. Not just detective stories — I love even the smallest mysteries that happen in a narrative. Who is that? What is their relationship to the other characters? I find it satisfying when those little mysteries resolve. My girlfriend, on the other hand, has what could be fairly described as anxiety over those little mysteries — she’s always convinced she’s somehow missed the explanation for what’s going on. I think, when you get down to it, the difference is a matter of faith in the storytelling — it’s unclear because it’s supposed to be unclear. That faith flies out the window when you’re jumping into the middle of a decades-long serialized universe, where I very legitimately might have missed the explanation for what’s going on, giving me the very same anxiety I usually tease my girlfriend over. Usually, conscientious editors keep the memories of those titles fairly myopic, providing notes for anything that took place over a few issues ago, but Fantastic Four has been so historically minded as to shake my faith in Matt Fraction to explain everything to me. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick are discussing Age of Ultron 8, originally released May 15th 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.
Patrick: A few weeks ago, I noted that I wasn’t having very much fun with the whole Age of Ultron concept – issue after issue of pure, relentless destruction and doom was getting to me. But that started to feel like the point: Brian Michael Bendis was taking my comic-book-fan apocalypse-lust and rubbing my nose in it. When the heroes decided they had to take drastic action and travel through time to fight Ultron on his inventor on different chronal fronts, I cheered the initiative. Anything to stop the suffer-slog through devastated cityscapes. But as the series moves further and further away from what’s familiar in the Marvel Universe, the harder it is to get a grasp on the story. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Age of Ultron 7, originally released May 1st 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.
Drew: I wanted to start this writeup with the clip from Back to the Future part II where Doc explains the notion of “alternate 1985” — the idea that changing something while time traveling to the past can create a timeline different from the one you know. It’s a common notion (and plot device) in most time-travel stories, but Doc explains it quite clearly in a simple chalkboard diagram. When I went hunting for that clip, however, I was bemused to discover that most of the discussion of that scene hinges on how the rest of the movie doesn’t really adhere to its rules (how does Biff of 2015 return to the “original” timeline — which needs to happen in order for Marty and Doc to use the delorean to return to 1985 — if he is coming back from creating the “alternate” timeline?) which illustrates the larger problem of time-travel stories: they can’t ever make any sense. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Fantastic Four 7, originally released April 24th, 2013.
Shelby: When I read comics (or watch movies), I throw myself into it completely; I get so wrapped up in the world these types of media create, strongly written characters can affect me very deeply. This happens with characters I love (you all know of my gigantic crush on Clint Barton), and it happens with characters I hate. Sometimes, I just can’t extricate myself from a fictional universe to remember that it is, in fact, fictional, and I probably don’t need to get angry at a character for being a total ass. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Ethan are discussing Wolverine and the X-Men 27AU, originally released April 17th 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.
Taylor: Expect the unexpected. On a scale of one to ten that measures cliché sayings that enrage me, this one is at about a 9.3. How can you expect the unexpected? By its very nature a person can’t prepare for the unexpected. If something is unexpected that means you cannot see it coming, so how can you prepare for it? I understand that some of the charm people derive from this saying comes from the very paradoxical nature of it that I hate so much. However, I think a lot of people have forgotten this aspect of the saying in eschewing its true meaning. Rather, those who employ the saying often seem to use it as a way of preparing people for wild times ahead, not caring that the dribble coming out of their mouth is useless and confusing. However, occasionally this phrase is useful, like when you really have no idea what to expect from your present circumstances. I think time travel is one of the times when it’s safe to say you should expect the unexpected if for no other reason then temporal mechanics are wonky. So when Wolverine and Sue Storm travel back in time in Wolverine and the X-Men 27 AU, I think it’s safe to use the phrase I deplore so much.