Heroes Sacrifice Their Humanity in The Immortal Hulk 7

by Michael DeLaney

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

In recent comic book history The Avengers have very little love for The Hulk, and the feeling is mutual. The Avengers see Hulk as a liability – a ticking time bomb that is bound to go off and destroy everything in his path. For The Hulk, The Avengers are quasi authoritarians who won’t leave him alone. It’s from this perspective that The Immortal Hulk 7 is framed. Continue reading

How The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 37 Hides Everything in Plain Sight

By Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 37

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

Doreen Green’s honesty is a key part of her character. It allows her to find nonviolent solutions to so many of her conflicts, helping her adversaries find a better path forward. But it also means she’s not great at subterfuge. It’s a weakness that Ryan North and Derek Charm lean into hilariously, as Doreen and Nancy don some truly absurd costumes in order to infiltrate Squirrel Girl’s own funeral.

Bass Lass and Fish Miss

As silly as these costumes are, they also reinforce Doreen’s natural honesty — she’s simply incapable of selling a lie convincingly. It’s a philosophy that North and Charm use to inform the whole aesthetic of the series, which tends to overshare and lampshade niggling details we might have otherwise overlooked. But unlike Doreen’s compulsive honesty, North and Charm can use our trust against us, landing a thrilling twist in this issue’s final page. Continue reading

Individuality is the Key to Teamwork in Tony Stark: Iron Man 4

by Spencer Irwin

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

Despite the double emphasis in its title, Tony Stark: Iron Man isn’t really a solo spotlight for its titular hero. Instead it’s an ensemble piece, a team book, devoting just as much (if not more) space to the stories of Jocasta Pym, Andy Bhang, Bethany Cabe, Amanda Armstrong, or Rhodey as it does Stark. In fact, issue 4 outright turns this choice into an ethos, predicating Stark Unlimited’s entire victory on the fact that they are a team who can work together and pool their ideas, and their opponents from Baintronics’ loss on the fact that they’re not a team, they’re a hive mind. Their lack of multiple perspectives and approaches seals their fate. Continue reading

Depth of Field in Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Dead Ends 1

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

I remember someone once telling me that they mostly evaluate a comics artist based on the detail of their backgrounds. That always felt like an odd facet to fixate on (especially with so many others to factor in), but it’s hard to deny that richly detailed backgrounds are dazzling. It allows artists to flex not only their attention to detail, but their capacity for deep perspective, lending a sense of lived-in reality to their settings. But it’s also time consuming — even the most detail-prone artists will pick their moments, reserving sprawling cityscapes and the likes for big splash pages, and making choices that compress the depth of field elsewhere. Time is an understandable driver of level-of-detail, but it doesn’t always coincide with storytelling in a meaningful way. With The Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends 1, artist Ramon Rosanas finds a much more thematically resonant way to use his depth of field, lending Charles Soule’s villain reveal an unsettling otherworldliness. Continue reading

Line Holds and Unreality in Tony Stark: Iron Man 3

by Drew Baumgartner

Tony Stark Iron Man 3

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

Does Stark not get HBO? Everyone knows that if you make a virtual wild west chances are the NPCs will start killing off everybody.

Jacosta, Tony Stark: Iron Man 3

It’s no coincidence that Dan Slott all-but name checks Westworld in Tony Stark: Iron Man 3, as the issue is all about our ability to distinguish humans from robots. Westworld relishes surprising us at every turn — often with the reveal that someone was or wasn’t a robot all along, but sometimes with the very fact that he world we’re seeing is or isn’t what we think it is. This issue leans into the game of “spot the robot” (with its own Westworld-ian twist), but plays things very straight with the division between reality and fantasy, relying on some smart decisions by artist Valerio Schiti and colorists Edgar Delgado and Rachelle Rosenberg. Continue reading

Serviceable is Not Enough in Avengers 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

I’ve been reading, collecting, and following weekly American comics for well over a decade now, and I’ve watched not only the industry grow, but my own tastes as well; the type of standard, “heroes beat villain and saves the world” stories that were once exciting have become a bit routine. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for these kind of stories within the industry, but they need a little something special to stand out and really feel worth investing in, and unfortunately, I haven’t found that spark yet in Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’ run on Avengers. Continue reading

Tony is the Team in Tony Stark Iron Man 1

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s no “i” in “team”.

Traditional

Tony Stark is a selfish jerk. It’s one of the things we like best about him! But there’s no denying that his success as Iron Man is contingent on the hard, capable work of thousands of employees, and countless robots and A.I. systems. As writer Dan Slott and artist Valerio Schiti take the Iron reins, they pitch Iron Man as a team venture, while casually undermining the autonomy of every individual on the team. Aside, of course, from Tony Stark. Tony remains a singular genius, more of a puppeteer than a team leader. Continue reading

Science and Magic Reconciled in Doctor Strange 1

by Taylor Anderson

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

For some, there is a fine line to be drawn between the science fiction and fantasy genres. The former often focuses on technology and space travel while the latter often takes place on Earth-like planets and features magic, and it’s easy to see why the twain should never mix. While these differences are stark, many have come to recognize that enough similarities exist between the two for them to be clumped into one genre called “speculative fiction.” The Marvel Universe, with its huge amount of both space-age technology and mystical powers, certainly belongs in this classification. While this hasn’t hasn’t always been an easy mixing, in Doctor Strange 1 it not only works, but is explained elegantly. Continue reading

A Big Goodbye in Invincible Iron Man 600

by Drew Baumgartner

Invincible Iron Man 600

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

Grant Morrison Animal Man

The ends of long creator runs in comics are a strange thing — an ending that isn’t an ending, a goodbye that isn’t a goodbye — but are also relatively commonplace. Indeed, those “final issues” are common enough to create a kind of map of morphologies, from those that send the characters in bold new directions to those that more or less put things back to neutral. One of the most common features, though, is that writers step out from behind the curtain to acknowledge their own departure. Some do this in a self-consciously postmodern way (a la Animal Man 26, excerpted above), but any hint of goodbye from the creative team breaks the fourth wall at least a little. We’ve written about plenty of those final issues over the years, but none quite as final as Invincible Iron Man 600, which isn’t just the finale of Brian Michael Bendis’s three-year run with the series, but of his 18-year run with Marvel. That is, he’s not just saying goodbye to the cast of Invincible Iron Man, but the Marvel Universe as a whole, which demands some kind of acknowledgement, which Bendis of course puts his trademark spin on. Continue reading

Delayed Gratification in Avengers 2

by Mark Mitchell

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

Avengers 2 finds writer Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness still trying to explain just what their Avengers book is going to be. Like the premiere issue, Avengers 2 is incredibly chatty, stuffed to the gills with narration, banter, quips, and inner-monologue that try to help explain the presence (and absence) of various Avengers. There’s a delayed gratification aspect at play, and seeing the entire team finally all together (whenever that happens) will no doubt be cathartic, but spending so much ink explaining why this team-up book doesn’t yet have a team is a sometimes frustrating choice. Continue reading