One Impressive Spread is an Issue in Microcosm in Exiles 4

by Spencer Irwin

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

slim-banner

Exiles 4 is the series’ best issue yet, and not just because of the puns (although the “Juggernautical” joke alone certainly earned this issue a spot high in my rankings). Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez slow down just a bit, devoting the entire issue to one dimension and one story, allowing the world the Exiles visit to feel interesting and fleshed out and for a full, self-contained adventure to play out there in a way that previous issues haven’t always had room for — all while still advancing the overarcing Time-Eater plot. It’s impressive plotting, pulled off with aplomb by every member of the creative team, who never allow the issue’s density to choke out the detail, character work, or fun this series has come to be known for. It’s a killer combination, and there’s one perfect moment that epitomizes everything that’s great about this issue. Continue reading

Doom’s Secret Origin in Marvel Two-In-One Annual 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Marvel Two-in-One Annual 1

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

Each is described as being the strongest man in the world and each as battling against “evil and injustice.”

Judge Augustus Hand (writing for the majority)
Detective Comics, Inc. v. Bruns Publications, Inc.

Augustus Hand served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1928 to his death in 1953, and just might be the most quoted judge when it comes to the definition of the superhero, owing to the decision he wrote when the Second Circuit ruled that Wonder Man did indeed constitute copyright infringement on Superman. His decision provided a revealing definition for the genre, insisting not just on superpowers, but a selfless, pro-social mission. Indeed, it’s not until after that decision that you see superheroes whose superpowers and pro-social mission are seen as separate things, with perhaps separate origins. That is, while Superman fought crime because he could, and Batman became a superhero specifically to fight crime, Spider-Man only picked up his pro-social mission after Uncle Ben died, well after he’d been using his powers for decidedly less selfless purposes. In that way, we might understand Marvel Two-In-One Annual 1 as a key part of Victor Von Doom’s superhero origin; it’s the story of how he became a good guy. Continue reading

Hope Springs Eternal in Captain America 700

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 700

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

Superheroes don’t get endings. They might die, sure, but are inevitably resurrected months, years, or decades down the line. And they’re brought back for the same reason superheroes don’t get endings: there’s always another story to tell (and another dollar to be made telling it). Fans may sometimes get jaded about this — especially when a hero is killed off for the umpteenth time — but that lack of closure keeps superheroes in a holding pattern in the middle of the hero’s journey. They may have momentary successes, sure, but they never get to kick up their heels at the end of a career well-served. You know, unless you can find some kind of alternate universe/timeline workaround that allows your hero some sense of closure while still allowing him to carry on the fight tomorrow. That’s exactly the kind of workaround Mark Waid and Chris Samnee cook up in Captain America 700, giving Steve the kind of heroic end he can only have if there’s some kind of trick. Continue reading

A New Start for the Fantastic Four Marvel Two-In-One 5?

By Taylor Anderson

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

Earlier this month it was announced that the Fantastic Four would be returning to comics. Many assumed that their absence from the pages of Marvel monthlies was due to the fact that Fox owns their movie rights. Disney, not wanting to promote movies from which they wouldn’t profit, phased them out of their comic pages, or so the theory goes. Whether this is true or not may never be known, but now that the Fantastic Four are soon to return, it’s interesting to consider how exactly that will happen. However, if Marvel Two-In-One 5 is any indication, the Fantastic Four may already have reunited. Continue reading

Existential Fears in Marvel Two-In-One 4

By Taylor Anderson

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

There are times deep in the night, and always at night, where I am plagued by existential fears. It’s the curse of the modern age, I guess, knowing about problems that are too great for any one single human to do anything about. Climate change, the meaning of life in a godless universe, and death (just to name a few) frequently wrack my brain. Of course, this is to say nothing of the eventual heat death of the universe, which, while possibly a googol years away, still worries me because it basically means the end of anything living (as we know it) in the entire universe. That’s sad and troubling! This fear of nothing being left is hard to fathom, but it’s made easier when it happens all at once, as in Marvel Two-In-One 4. Continue reading

The Burden and Joy of Public Service in Captain America 699

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 699

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

For many superheroes, superheroics are a means of righting some cosmic injustice — the death of a loved one a the hands of a criminal, for example. Indeed, that particular motivation is so ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget that many heroes are motivated not out of some personal vendetta, but because they feel morally compelled to help when they can. We tend to think of Spider-Man (death of a loved one at the hands of a criminal notwithstanding) for that kind of power/responsibility stuff, but I’ll suggest that Captain America might embody those ideals even more thoroughly. For Cap, superheroing is a public service, no different from volunteering at a soup kitchen or picking up trash at your local park. He’s able to make the world a better place by being Captain America, so he has to be Captain America. Again, it’s not an attitude that’s entirely unique to Steve Rogers, but as Mark Waid and Chris Samnee crank that aspect up to eleven in Captain America 699, it’s hard to imagine any other character living that ideal so perfectly. Continue reading

Lettering Reveals Status and Power in Marvel Two-In-One 3

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Marvel Two-in-One 3 is all about characters either rediscovering or redefining their relationship to their super powers. Our titular pair of marvels even goes to doctor Rachina Koul in the middle of nowhere Wyoming to jump-start Johnny’s powers. Ben describes Johnny as “broken” and whether that’s just referring to his ability to flame on, or more holistically applies to the man is left up to the reader’s discretion. But the implication is clear: without their defined roles as superheroes and supervillains, these guys just don’t know how to function. The damn Mad Thinker is going so crazy he’s styled his facial hair to look like Reed Richards and claiming to launch a “New Fantastic Four.” Basically: everyone goes nuts without boundaries. Today, I want to explore how lettering emphasizes the connection between a character, their powers, and how they view themselves in this universe. Continue reading

Monster Magic in Marvel Two-In-One #2

by Taylor Anderson

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

As I read Marvel Two-In-One #2 I realized that I’ve never read a Fantastic Four comic before, which is surprising given how much I love Marvel and their universe. But when I consider it, a Fantastic Four comic is actually somewhat of rarity. It’s been published on and off now for awhile, with its last issue coming out in 2015. This probably has something to do with the Fantastic Four movies, which have done more harm than good to the franchise with their general terribleness. I was prepared for anything in this issue and I’m happy to say I liked it, given the way it hearkens to the roots the series is steeped in (I think). Continue reading

Silver Surfer 3

silver surfer 3

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Silver Surfer 3, originally released April 13, 2016.

Patrick: Silver Surfer has a puzzling relationship with the concept of “history.” I suppose we should expect no less from a character that can get caught in infinite time loops and regularly has a role in actively remaking reality. But he’s also just a strange character to consider from a meta-fictional standpoint: a villain-turned-hero whose whole shtick reads like a crummy Beach Boys B-side. There’s a weird mix of highfalutin science fiction mumbo-jumbo and campy comic book irreverence built into the character’s DNA. Was he the herald of planet-devouring mega-monster? Sure, but his last name is also Radd. Dan Slott and Michael Allred use the occasion of Silver Surfer’s 50th anniversary to celebrate the character’s duality and challenge the comic book industry’s penchant for rebooting their worlds and characters.
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