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. 

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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.

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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.

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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

Guardians of the Galaxy 20

guardians of the galaxy 20Today, Spencer and Shane are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 20, originally released October 29th, 2014.

Spencer: The first couple of times I read through Guardians of the Galaxy 20 I found myself utterly unable to figure out how to approach writing about it. To be honest, I’m still a little flummoxed; there’s plenty of moments within the issue I think are quite well done, but I don’t know if any of them ever coalesce into a cohesive whole. Is this an issue about Nova’s heroic sacrifice, or an issue about how his death has affected the Guardians? Writer Brian Michael Bendis is clearly trying to make it about both, but in the process, I’m not sure he gives either thread the full attention it requires. Continue reading

New Avengers 24

new avengers 24Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing New Avengers 24, originally released September 24th, 2014. 

slim-bannerSpencer: New Avengers hasn’t really been a title with an antagonist, at least in a traditional sense; the Illuminati are trying to stop the Incursions, but such a mysterious, primal, multiversal threat can be hard to fathom, and they largely act as the impetus behind most of the title’s action rather than the “big bad”. Instead, the Illuminati mainly grapple against themselves, dealing with matters of morality and conscience. In New Avengers 24, Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti skip ahead eight months from the climatic final pages of issue 23, giving them time to establish the Cabal as a group of horrific, homicidal monsters. In a way, they may be serving as the more physical, black-and-white antagonist this title’s been missing, but that seems to be far from their only purpose. Both the Illuminati and the Cabal have done horrific things with a noble goal in mind; the methods of these two groups, and how the world at large have responded to them both, is where the differences lie. Continue reading

Chat Cave: The Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy is the first movie in the series to turn the franchise focus toward the Cosmic end of the Marvel Universe. As pretty big Guardians fans ourselves, we just had to talk about the movie. Probable spoilers after the break: welcome to the Chat Cave.
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New Avengers 12

new avengers 12 infinityToday, Spencer and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 12, originally released November 27th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

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Spencer: Unsurprisingly for a group that claims to rule the world in secret, the Illuminati functions much like a government. Both are made up of various individuals each supposedly dedicated to bettering the world (or their country, whatever), but who are also devoted to personal causes of their own which quite often cause major conflicts of interest. In the past, we’ve worried that these conflicts could tear the Illuminati apart, but New Avengers 12 flips that situation by showing the Illuminati putting aside their differences (if only temporarily); their actions keep the world safe, but do serious damage to their personal lives. Continue reading

Infinity 6

infinity 6-INFINITY

Today, Ethan and Spencer are discussing Infinity 6, originally released November 27th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

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Ethan: When I was starting college, I knew – objectively – that I would at some point no longer be a student; I’d graduate, get a job, do the adulthood thing. But at the time, steeped in the day-to-day evasion of and frantic return to schoolwork, hanging out with friends, sleeping as little as possible, the thought if college actually ending rarely crossed my mind. And then BAM it was time to get up to go to the early-morning rehearsal for the graduation ceremony. College was finished, I was moving into a new apartmen and starting a new job. That sense of disconnect – when something long awaited feels as though it happens and is shoved into the past before we have the chance to actually experience – is the same feeling I’ve gotten during most of the turning points in the Infinity event, and the same is true of its finale. Continue reading