Embrace the Immensity of Infinity Countdown Prime 1

By Michael DeLaney

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

With all of the backstory it lays out, Infinity Countdown Prime 1 should probably be renamed “Infinity Countdown Primer.” The book is equal parts past and prologue. Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato Jr. set the stage for Infinity Countdown, cushioned between a Marvel editorial recap of what the Infinity Stones do and what their history is. And while it does throw a lot of information at the reader at once, it feels like one of the more successful starting points for a major comic event in recent memory — especially if you aren’t heavily versed in all things Infinity. Continue reading

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Letting the Moment Linger in Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock 1

By Taylor Anderson

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

After a particularly difficult class period the other day, I found myself in the teacher’s lounge staring at a clock for several minutes. Another teacher came in at some point and commented on what I was doing. When I explained I was just enjoying the silence of the moment after my class, they completely understood. Teaching — or any stressful job — is like that. After moments of stress, it’s nice to just rest a moment and let everything sink in. The same goes for when your reading an exciting comic. After a momentous event, it’s nice when the creators give you a moment to breathe and process what just happened. Not sure what I’m talking about? Luckily, the excellent Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock 1 provides a great example of what I mean. Continue reading

Rapid Recovery in She-Hulk 162

by Spencer Irwin

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

Enjoying any form of fiction requires a little suspension of disbelief, but this especially goes for superhero comics. Yeah, comics have rich themes and characters and exciting stories to offer, if you can get past the superhuman abilities, if you can reconcile decades of tangled continuity and retcons, if you can learn the rhythms and tricks of the medium.

adore that kind of nerd nonsense, and I’ve never had any problem accepting superhero comics for exactly what they are, but it took even me a second to accept what was happening in She-Hulk 162. It’s actually a rather delightful issue, as Mariko Tamaki and Jahnoy Lindsay take an insightful look into Jennifer Walters’ trauma and recovery, but both the methods and the speed with which they do so require quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. Continue reading

Guardians of the Galaxy 148: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Taylor Anderson

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

Michael: There are a couple of ways to react when you’ve been caught in a lie. The most obvious option is to come clean and tell the 100% truth. The other, more likely way is to tell some of the truth but mitigate it with another smaller lie. This essentially comes down to self-preservation: you’ve been caught for one thing but not necessarily everything. It’s all about saving face, a truth that even applies to fictional space police.

The recent arc of Guardians of the Galaxy could be described as to “liars lying to sniff out other liars.” In Guardians of the Galaxy 148, the Guardians continue their undercover work with the Nova Corps to root out Shi’Ar spies. It’s getting difficult for the respective Guardians to maintain their covers and remember who’s in on their secret. Meanwhile some of the team starts to keep secrets from one another. Continue reading

Hulk 1

hulk-1Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Hulk 1, originally released December 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Despite the name, She-Hulk has never settled for just being a distaff counterpart. Jen’s occupation, abilities, and especially the confidence and control they’ve granted her have always set her far apart from Bruce Banner, allowing Jen to carve her own niche within the Marvel Universe. Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s Hulk 1 finds many of the aforementioned qualities that have always defined She-Hulk violently ripped away from her, yet even then, Jen manages to cling to her individuality. While Banner’s Hulk was a creature born of anger, Jen’s Hulk is born of fear, anxiety, and trauma. Continue reading

Thanos 1

thanos-1

Today, Drew and Ryan D are discussing Thanos 1, originally released November 16th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS!

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Traditional

Drew: This line is often used to sell a given story as some kind of ultimate showdown, but it always strikes me as thoroughly self-defeating: either one or both of those adjectives simply prove to be false. That is, the answer can’t be as interesting as the question suggests, since the answer necessarily reveals that the question was built on a false premise. Or, if you’re feeling more diplomatic, you might take Superman’s answer to this question from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman: “they surrender.” It’s an elegant solution, but is ultimately far less entertaining than the premise suggests — “they surrender” isn’t exactly the white-knuckle conclusion the question implies, and again, betrays the falsehood of those adjectives.

Such is often the case in superhero comics, where villains are routinely trotted out as unstoppable, only for our hero to miraculously give lie to that claim. It’s enough to make anyone doubt the increasingly hyperbolic claims made of villains. This becomes especially true of big name villains, who continue to be heralded as some kind of ultimate threat, in spite of the fact that they’ve been beaten in virtually every appearance. Thanos is a prime example of this — the seriousness of his threat diminishes with each subsequent return (especially after that time Squirrel Girl defeated him) — leading to even more hyperbolic claims made next time. Cleverly breaking that pattern, Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato’s Thanos 1 sidesteps the Worf Effect by lampshading the inevitable conclusion in the first issue. Continue reading

Secret Wars 8

secret wars 8

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Secret Wars 8, originally released December 9th, 2015. 

secret wars div

Spencer: I recently got into a bit of a debate with the AV Club’s Oliver Sava on Twitter about whether Doctor Doom is the hero or the villain of Secret Wars. Sava argued that he’s the hero because he saved the universe — I argued that he’s the villain because he then proceeded to rule his salvaged universe as a brutal tyrant and dictator. In a way, we’re probably both right, and writer Jonathan Hickman seems less interested in laying blame at any of his character’s feet than he is in exploring their motives and varying levels of morality. Secret Wars 8 is a full-on action issue, but each confrontation changes the rules a bit in terms of who’s right and who’s wrong, who wins and who loses.  Continue reading

Infinity Gauntlet 5

infinity gauntlet 5

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Infinity Gauntlet 5, originally released November 11th, 2015. This issue is part of Secret Wars. To see more coverage of this week’s Secret Wars issues, check out our Marvel Round-Up.

secret wars div

Spencer: There was one simple reason that I wanted to cover Infinity Gauntlet 5 this week: I just thought it would be a blast, both to read and write about. Spoiler alert: I was right, but considering the previous four issues, I suppose that was always a foregone conclusion. Even when his focus was on the cast’s hopeless task of trying to survive in a savage wasteland, Dustin Weaver imbued the story (and especially the art) with a certain spark of chaotic, creative energy that never failed to draw me in. That spark grew into a full-blown fire as the series progressed; the finale actually revolves around the power of creativity, both in terms of the ideas Weaver and scripter Gerry Duggan fill it with and within the story itself, where Anwen makes creativity her greatest weapon in the battle against Thanos. Continue reading

Secret Wars 1

secret wars 1

Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Secret Wars 1, originally released May 6th, 2015. 

“Oh, best war ever…”

-General Nick Fury, Secret Wars 1

Ryan: Secret Wars grabs the baton from Jon Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers beloved/despised/confusing “Time Runs Out” saga chronicling the futile struggle of Earth-616 against the collapse of the multiverse. Hickman dives in by tipping his hat to the concluding plot thread of Doom vs. The Beyonders, the significance of which — aside from helping to shrink the amount of surviving universes down to a baker’s dozen minus a bunch — is still a bit lost on me. The narration of the issue is provided by Reed Richards, and the first installment of this event belongs to him.

Continue reading

Avengers 40

Alternating Currents: Avengers 40, Drew and Mark

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Avengers 40, originally released January 14th, 2015. 

The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Drew: I think it would be fair to say that Dostoevsky’s polyphonic style — one built upon the perspectives of an array of characters — is antithetical to the notion of the hero’s journey. Indeed, Dostoyevsky’s philosophies (as articulated in the quote above) suggest that there’s an active tension between caring about an individual and caring about humanity at large. I’ve always been partial to the depth of understanding achieved by sticking with one protagonist — especially when it comes to comics — which has made me wary of the kind of expansive, Dostoyevskian scope of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers. In my mind, a tight focus on a single character more accurately reflects how we experience the world, but with Avengers 40, Hickman makes a compelling case for how his dense interconnectedness reflects how the world actually is. Continue reading