This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
For a long time, America celebrated the fact that it was a country made up of immigrants. People pointed to visionaries such as Albert Einstein, John Muir, and Hakeem Olajuwon to show that immigrants not only contributed to our country, but led it. However, the narrative around immigrants has changed lately, and, like all things these days, has been politicized. The result of this is that America has forgotten the value of immigrants, and with that has forgotten to care about them as human beings. This, in turn, is what drives Sam Chung to betray Daredevil, but it’s also why it’s so easy to understand why he did it. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
When you walk through the garden
You gotta watch your back.
Well I beg your pardon
Walk the straight and narrow track.
If you walk with Jesus
He’s gonna save your soul.
You gotta keep the devil
Way down in the hole.
Tom Waits, Way Down in the Hole
There are plenty of great morals to learn from The Wire, but one that left the biggest impression on me is the thought that many Americans simply don’t have access to the American Dream. Each successive series does a great job of detailing why both policing and education fail to end the drug trade, why politics fail to fix the police or the schools, and why the press fails to fix politics. It’s a disheartening lesson to learn, for sure, but it’s one we must reconcile with before we can mount any meaningful solutions. Unfortunately, many American’s are still too enamored of the old narrative of the American Dream — the kind represented by Matt Murdock’s “orphaned fighter’s son to high-powered attorney” origin — to accept that not everyone has access to that dream. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 15, originally released September 10th, 2014.
Taylor: Some of the oldest and most enduring philosophical questions ever asked have to do with the nature of reality. Actually, maybe that’s basically a working definition of the subject in general. The question of what is reality is one that spans the world. The Taoist philosophers of Ancient China believe that what we perceive is actually an illusion. Likewise, in the West, the Ancient Greeks believe that reality is but a shadow of some ideal world crafted in our minds. That two such disparate cultures should come to similar conclusions shouldn’t be surprising. After all, it’s long been known that we can’t trust our senses to accurately inform our world view. Given the ubiquity of this idea, it’s not surprising to see it spring up in the latest issue of East of West. The series is nothing if not philosophical and the question of reality seemed like a matter of ‘if’ not ‘when’. While this doesn’t surprise in issue 15, what does is just how destructive this question might prove to the world of the Seven Nations.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing East of West 13, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Shelby: It’s no secret ’round these parts how much I dislike the trope of “Two Heroes Meet For The First Time And Punch Each Other.” It’s such a transparent trick to introduce conflict to an issue, and is so often completely avoidable. I just feel like shaking these characters sometimes, and telling them if they just took two seconds to talk it out, the fake conflict would be gone and we could get back to the story. It’s rare for that sort of conflict to play out in a way that makes sense in the context of the issue; so rare, in fact, that when Jonathan Hickman uses it in the latest issue of East of West I didn’t even realize it.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing East of West 11, originally released April 9th, 2014.
That’s when the attack comes — not from the front, no, from the side, from the other two raptors you didn’t even know were there.
– Alan Grant, Jurassic Park
– Robert Muldoon, Jurassic Park
Drew: I’m not sure I can explain why, but some of my favorite movies feature surprises that are actually spoiled within the movie itself. Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy perfected this idea, basically using it to structure each film, but my all-time favorite example has to be the raptor attack from Jurassic Park. The attack doesn’t come until towards the end of the movie, but is actually explained, virtually point-for-point, by Grant within the first ten minutes. In the excitement of the scene, we forget what Grant said about raptor attacks, and can only piece it together after it happens — after we realize that we already knew what would happen. While Jonathan Hickman doesn’t hide anything quite as shocking as a surprise velociraptor in East of West 11, he does blindside us with an element that has been hidden in plain sight since the beginning: the Endless Nation.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 10, originally released March 12th, 2014.
Taylor: Anyone who’s been reading the news lately has been spoiled by a surprising amount of entertaining stories. The mystery of the vanished Malaysian airliner has captivated the world since each day new and more confounding information is released about its fateful voyage. Then there’s the ongoing political crisis in Crimea. Vladimir Putin’s bizarre quest to take back a former Russian province has set the Western world afire. With stories such as these making the news one would wonder why we need to read fiction since the real world seems capable of delivering enough entertainment on its own. As if in answer to this question, East of West 10 tells us why fiction and comics are important. This issue seems to hold a mirror up to the world and the reflection, while twisted, is all too recognizable as belonging to nothing but humanity.
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing A + X 4, originally released January 23th, 2013.
Scott:A + X makes me feel like a kid again, playing with my action figures after school. I would create worlds where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars heroes could coexist, Han Solo and Donatello teaming up to defeat… well, something, I’m sure. It was never really the end result that interested me, but rather the excitement of combining these two things that I loved individually. What it created was an especially fleeting sort of fun, where the initial idea was the best part and it grew harder to sustain the longer it went on. I feel the same way about A +X, which is why splitting the issue into two stories is such a good idea — the novelty wears off much less over just ten pages. A + X 4 pairs Avengers and X-Men characters who compliment each other in interesting ways: first, two who have a lot in common, then two who could hardly be more different.
Today, Patrick and guest writer Ethan Andyshack are discussing All-New X-Men 5, originally released January 2nd, 2013.
Patrick: I had to do a group English project in the first quarter of my Sophomore year in high school. We were on the Junior High / High School system, so this was actually my first year at the school, and sort of my first experience really having to work with new people. There were four of us, and because it was high school, we got together the night before the project was due to essentially do the whole project. I won’t bore you with the details of the project (gigantic literary baseball cards), but there came a point in the night where all three of my other group members thought we were done… but then I noticed that we had woefully neglected the assignment requirements and we actually had another night’s work ahead of us. This was around midnight, so we tabled the project for a second and had to decide which was worse: the unpleasant task of staying up all night or failure? We chose the former and still ended up just getting Bs.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 4, originally released December 19th, 2012.
Patrick: Time travel narratives end up appealing to our vague understandings of chaos theory and the butterfly effect (thanks Jurassic Park, for introducing those into our media-vocabulary). But usually that assumes a time-lapse: events unfold differently throughout time and our future is changed to match the changing past. All-New X-Men shows these same ripples, but throughout the present, as the emotional impact of Beast’s time-travel project effects everyone in turn. Instead of seeing a cause, and then skipping 25 years later to see the effect, we’re subjected to the slow, real pace of cause and effect. It makes for a much smarter, much more sincere time travel story. Oh and there are X-Men in it too. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 1-3, originally released November 7th, 21st, and December 5th 2012, respectively.
Drew: Regret is a funny thing. We’ve all felt it, even if for something as simple as wishing we had ordered that other thing that looked good on the menu. It comes in many flavors, from shame to wistfulness, but all require us to be removed in time from the event we regret. As an observation, that’s almost too obvious to mention — except when time stops working like we expect it to. We’re used to looking back, but how does regret work if you can look forward, as well? At the end of its first three issues, All-New X-Men seems poised to address this very notion, as we rapidly take the perspectives of people looking to their pasts, as their pasts gaze into their future. It’s a crazy idea, but just like the plan that brought it about, it might be just crazy enough to work. Continue reading →