Secret Empire 6: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Michael DeLaney

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

Ryan: Wednesday is the worst day of the week for soap operas. The storylines all build to a Friday afternoon cliffhanger, so by mid week you are still wrapping up the fallout of last week and are too early for this week’s storylines to be very juicy. Nick Spencer and Leinil Francis Yu are mid-run in Secret Empire 6, and rather than an issue with a self-contained arc that can be completed, we get bits and pieces of several arcs, with only limited links holding them together. Continue reading

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The Failings of Friendship in Desperate Times in Secret Empire 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

“The power of friendship” is a popular trope in most media. The idea that most situations can be overcome through the bonds we share with our friends is powerful in a lot of ways, but it’s one that never really seems applicable to war or espionage stories like Secret Empire. Make no mistake, Hydra is not going to be defeated by friendship or optimism alone, but in Secret Empire 5, Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Andrea Sorrentino, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg do explore the effect pre-existing relationships have on their conflict. It’s not always a good one. Continue reading

Spider-Woman 11

Alternating Currents: Spider-Woman 11, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Spider-Woman 11, originally released September 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

The five stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Drew: As a psychological heuristic, Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief is arguably as well-known as Freud’s id, ego, and super-ego structural model. However, that may make it one of the most misunderstood, as Kübler-Ross explains in the quote above. We often talk about those five stages as if they fall into a prescribed linear order, but it was never really meant to be understood in that way. Which is to say: someone experiencing grief may feel any or none of these feelings in any order or any combination. Grief is a remarkably complex phenomenon that everyone experiences differently — some might feel mostly depression or mostly denial, while others, like Jessica Drew in Spider-Woman 11, feel mostly anger. Continue reading

Avengers 39

avengers 39Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Avengers 39, originally released December 10th, 2014. 

Spencer: When you read enough comics, you start to see certain repeated themes and styles emerge among various writers. Brian Michael Bendis is known for dialogue-heavy, somewhat decompressed comics. Kieron Gillen makes no attempt to hide his musical influences and knack for clever dialogue. Geoff Johns loves to rehabilitate long-forgotten or mishandled characters and concepts (and is also a bit infamous for cutting off his characters’ arms). Jonathan Hickman, meanwhile, is probably best known for his cerebral, somewhat detached style of writing that can spend years setting things up before finally letting all the dominos fall into place. With this week’s Avengers 39 we’re getting closer and closer to the end of Hickman’s Avengers epic, but the most interesting part of the issue is the commentary Hickman seems to be making on his own writing style. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 25

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Uncanny X-Men 25, originally released September 3rd, 2014.

Taylor: While comics readers know it not to be true, there is a stigma that hero worship is something juvenile. Why this stigma persists I can’t say — after all, we have grown men who wear the jerseys of their sports heroes on a weekly basis. Why superhero worship is considered nerdy in comparison to these other idols, I don’t know. Still, it says something about people that we love to have heroes, even after we’ve reached an age where we like to think we don’t need them anymore. But the weird thing about heroes is that they seldom live up to our conception of them. We seem to never outgrow this aspect of hero worship, and as Scott Summers learns in Uncanny X-Men 25, this can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Continue reading

New Avengers 19

new avengers 19Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 19, originally released June 11th, 2014. 

slim-bannerSpencer: The more I look at the following panels, the more I realize how succinctly they sum up the primary conflict of Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti’s New Avengers 19.

Are we monsters, or are we DEVO?The Illuminati are no longer concerned about whether they can stop the Incursions without destroying inhabited worlds (spoiler alert: they can’t), nor are they any longer concerned about their mission turning them into monsters (they seem to have realized that it’s all but inevitable, and the title of this issue is even “We Are All Monsters Now,” as if to dissuade the reader of any hope otherwise); instead, the million dollar question now seems to be whether it’s better to die with one’s morality intact or to save the universe, but at the cost of one’s own soul.

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New Avengers 18

new avengers 18Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing New Avengers 18, originally released May 14th, 2014. 

slim-bannerSpencer: As I’m sure most of us do, I love the big, climatic final battles that usually come at the end of superhero stories. That said, I’m perhaps even more fond of the moments before the final battle, the calm before the storm, the time where the heroes prepare and steady themselves for the horrors to come. Many heroes use this as an opportunity to reflect on what they’ve lost or to visit with their loved ones, but the Illuminati — as pragmatic as ever — mainly use it to steel their resolve and to prepare to do the unthinkable. After all, for them this is only the final battle if they lose; if they win, they get to continue on dealing with an infinite number of Incursions. No wonder they’re so grumpy. Continue reading

Thunderbolts 14

thunderbolts14

Today, you and Patrick are discussing Thunderbolts 14, originally released August 21st, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

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Patrick: You might have guessed this from the name, but “Infinity” is a pretty big story. Not just in terms of page count (though, it should be pretty astonishing in that regard), but in terms of scope. It’s already taken two dozen Avengers into deep space for some interstellar warfare, and there’s still the yet-unexplored threat of Thanos invading Earth. Jonathan Hickman was said to have been setting up Infinity in his Avengers and New Avengers series – which he…. sorta did. Most of what those series accomplish — in terms of setting up this event — is that they introduce the relevant superhero teams. Each team battles its own cataclysmic threats, only to be cut short when the main aggressors of Infinity entered the fray. Issue 14 of Thunderbolts is this concept in miniature: complete with team introductions and a mission cut short by alien invaders.

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Avengers Assemble 18

avengers assemble 18 infinity

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Avengers Assemble 18, originally released August 21st, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Ethan: Ever since the birth of the film industry, it’s been a race for the technology and craft to keep suspending our disbelief as we become desensitized to each decade’s best special effects. Every once in a while, a filmmaker pulls off an innovation that jumps way ahead of our expectations, and the medium feels special again. And even while fancy visuals can surprise us, if the movie forgets that it’s supposed to have a plot and just chucks those visuals at our eyeballs for two hours without going anywhere, it feels like a waste. We talked about the long build-up to the Infinity arc, and then the first issue felt like a much more violent version of the grand finale at a fireworks show. With so many pyrotechnics and most of the characters strapped in to acceleration harnesses, it would have been easy to become distracted by the spaceships and forget the people inside of them. To balance out our view of that battle, Avengers Assemble 18 rewinds all the way back to the pre-launch scene and tells the story all over again from the perspective of one character: Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman.

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Avengers 18

avengers 18 infinityToday, Spencer and Drew are discussing Avengers 18, originally released August 21st, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Spencer: I’m not a huge fan of the genre, so this might be a complete oversimplification, but in my mind most war stories seem to be divided into two categories: the stories that are about glory, honor, and the beauty of warfare (which I’m not fond of), and the stories about the people who sacrifice themselves to protect others (which I appreciate more). Avengers 18, an Infinity tie-in, takes the form of a war story as the team joins a massive Anti-Builder Armada, and while it largely falls into that second category, a few early scenes even manage to make aspects of the first compelling to me.

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