Doctor Strange: Damnation 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

Spencer: Since our audience has excellent taste, I’m going to assume that you’re all watching NBC’s The Good Place, right? Essentially a show about lost souls trying to earn their way into Heaven by becoming better people, one of the more interesting concepts percolating beneath the show’s surface is the idea that the rules dictating what afterlife you’re sent to are inherently flawed and unfair. It’s almost impossible to earn your way into the Good Place — only the most selfless and charitable of souls make it — leaving plenty of folks who led wholly mediocre lives (or whose greatest crimes were being born in Florida) facing an eternity of torture and punishment. I couldn’t help but think of this while reading Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, and Rod Reis’ Doctor Strange: Damnation 1, which finds the city of Las Vegas, the Avengers, and perhaps the entire world being judged by equally biased, unfair rules. Continue reading

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Mighty Thor 703: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Spencer Irwin

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

Taylor: One of the hardest lessons to learn growing up is that everything has a cost. This is a particularly difficult lesson to learn because when we’re young, things tend to not really cost all that much, if anything at all. It’s only once we become adults and begin to age that literally everything has some cost associated with it. Want to go out and drink all night? The cost is a hangover. Want to get a master’s degree? The cost is crippling student debt. Heck, even want to find love? The cost is putting in the time and effort to cultivate a meaningful relationship with someone. This isn’t to say that things aren’t worth their cost – love is a good example of something that more than pays for itself. However, the cost of things always has to be collected, as Jane and her friends learn in Mighty Thor 703.

Continue reading

Avengers 675: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Avengers 675

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

Drew: The Marvel Universe is big. That much is clear from the very beginning of Avengers 675, which skips across the globe to catch up with Marvel’s countless superhero teams and fictional countries as they deal with the Earth suddenly being transported…somewhere. Characters helpfully repeat each other’s names (and the names of their respective teams) to orient us, but being overwhelmed is kind of the point — these characters are facing down utter chaos, and that chaos is everywhere. Crossover events will often feature these kinds of “cash in all the chips” moments, straining our familiarity with Marvel’s lesser-known characters to really sell the massive scope of the story. But that’s where this issue differs from the standard crossover; where other stories simply revel in the bombast of throwing all of these characters together, Avengers 675 uses it as a cover to inject a new character into the narrative. [Phew, are there SPOILERS to follow.]  Continue reading

There’s Power Beyond the Hammer in Mighty Thor 702

by Taylor Anderson

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

In the recent arc of Mighty Thor, tension has been building regarding Jane Foster’s inability to chose between being Thor or herself. At the crux of the matter is the fact that Jane has cancer which needs to be treated — which can only be done in her human form. However, she’s needed in virtually every corner of the universe as Thor to try and stop Malekith and his armies of evil. Forced to choose between saving thousands (millions?) and saving herself, Jane makes the obvious heroic choice. But as issue 702 shows, sometimes the obvious heroic choice isn’t always the best one. Continue reading

Creating Stakes in Mighty Thor 701

by Patrick Ehlers

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

700 issues in, the gods of Asgard have faced annihilation numerous times. But they have always pulled through, because that’s how decades-long serialized mythologies work. Every threat must be bested in order to perpetuate the franchise. This isn’t something that bothers me: the “what happens” never concerns me as much as the “how it happens.” But for anyone demanding meaningful, lasting, concrete consequences in their storytelling should welcome the rise of Mangog. Mangog is here to kill the gods, and by the end of issue 701, he’s already got a definitive Win in his column. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 381: Discussion

By Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

Doctor Strange 381

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

Taylor: There’s a scene in the excellent new Thor movie where the titular character comes face to face with Dr. Stephen Strange. At the time, the scene struck me as kind of weird, even if I enjoyed it greatly. What seemed odd to me at the time was the idea of Norse gods meeting a sorcerer who seemingly hails from a completely different mythology. But as the rest of the movie showed me with its zany and fun plot, there’s no reason why the two mythologies shouldn’t meet. At the end of the day, both Thor and Dr. Strange have super powers, and whether one is or isn’t magic doesn’t seem to really matter. Once I crossed the cognitive divide that these two characters shouldn’t interact, I was totally hooked. The same is true of Doctor Strange 381, because it operates in much the same way. Continue reading

Discussion: Mighty Thor 700

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

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

Taylor: Midway through the extra large, special 700th issue of Mighty Thor, Karnilla, Queen of the Norns, asks which ingredient is the most essential in the makeup of a Thor. It’s a good question, and one that writer Jason Aaron has been exploring ever since he took over the reigns of Thor some 60 issues ago. While Aaron has posed various answers to this question multiple times, he’s never come outright and revealed to readers what exactly makes a Thor Thor. That is, he’s never done that until now. Using the 700th issue as his podium, Aaron waxes poetic on the nature of Thor, presenting us with not so much a new Thor narrative, but a grand tapestry that relishes in pondering what Thor has been, currently is, and what it will always be. Continue reading

Worlds Collide and Teams Clash in Avengers 672

by Spencer Irwin

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

Avengers 672 opens with both the Avengers and the Champions having the same fight in two different places. A new satellite is about to reveal images either confirming or denying proof of the High Evolutionary’s Counter Earth, a planet sharing our orbit on the far side of the sun. Nova and Peter Parker have both been to the planet, but Amadeus and Wasp insist that it cannot exist because it would defy all laws of physics and throw off the balance of the entire solar system. Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz use this scenario — of two planets that cannot share the same orbit without causing destruction — to illustrate the problem facing both of these teams: they can’t be in the same place without tearing each other down. Continue reading

The Power of Humanity in The Mighty Thor 23

by Spencer Irwin

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

Late in The Mighty Thor 23, as Thor and the War Thor clash over the fate of Svartalfheim, Thor yells that they “have to behave like gods!” I have to wonder what gods she’s been hanging around to make that statement, because almost all of the gods Jason Aaron has presented us throughout his Thor epic have been reckless and arrogant at best, and downright sociopathic at worst. Throughout this issue, Aaron and artist Valerio Schiti seem to be arguing that godhood is more of a weakness than a strength.  Continue reading

Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

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Patrick: One of the harsher truths of Secret Empire is that America was always run on an engine of hatred and fear. Racism, sexism, classism, fascism — neither Hydra Cap nor Donald Trump invented these things. They didn’t even popularize or legitimize them, they’re simply high profile embodiments thereof. It is increasingly easy to read the totality of American history as ugly and hateful, filled with crass opportunists, liars, and mass murderers. That can make the USA a hard hero to root for. With Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1, writer Nick Spencer goes back in time, giving both Sam Wilson and his readers a lifetime to reconsider the value in fighting for what may, at times, appear to be a lost cause. Continue reading