Projection and Toxic Masculinity in West Coast Avengers 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

When discussing West Coast Avengers 2, we went into significant detail about how B.R.O.D.O.K. represented the worst traits of toxic masculinity, of entitled, deluded men who think of women as objects or prizes rather than real people with their own needs, personalities, and desires. With issue 3, Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli continue to explore this topic, but come at it from a slightly different angle. This time, their attention is focused less on the delusions that drive B.R.O.D.O.K. and more on how his actions effect the women around him. Spoiler alert: things don’t go well for them. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 2: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: Kate Bishop’s California adventures — under the pens of both Matt Fraction and Kelly Thompson — have all more-or-less revolved around the idea of appearance, on Hollywood’s obsession with beauty, fame, and youth. On first glance, M.O.D.O.K.’s transformation into the chiseled B.R.O.D.O.K. in West Coast Avengers 2 seems fueled by the same kinds of obsessions, but there’s actually an even greater danger lurking deep within: B.R.O.D.O.K.’s preoccupation with appearance is driven entirely by dangerous entitlement and toxic masculinity. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers 

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

This is the true story of seven strangers picked to work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.

The Real World.

Spencer: Despite that famous tagline, reality television rightfully has a reputation for being anything but real, with contestants purposely taking on certain roles for the camera and producers editing footage in misleading ways to construct particular narratives (whether they’re “true” or not). Part of what makes West Coast Avengers so interesting, then, is that, despite its “superhero reality show” concept, creators Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli seem devoted to depicting the sad realities of their cast’s lives, to finding the truth behind their day to day existences, even when those existences are patently absurd. Continue reading

Impossible Decisions at Impossible Ages in Runaways 10

By Spencer Irwin

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

Teacher: Daria, what about your goal?
Daria: Uhmmm, I don’t have any.
Teacher: Oh come, Daria! You must have some goal.
Daria: My goal is not to wake up at forty with the bitter realization that I’ve wasted my life in a job I hate, because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.

Daria, Gifted

Society asks a lot of teenagers, especially when it comes to big decisions. These same children who aren’t allowed to drink, vote, or often even have a say in how they present themselves to the world are expected to commit to a career path, often burying themselves in debt to do it; it’s a daunting decision for anyone, but especially for young people who aren’t quite sure who they really are and what they want out of life yet. None of the young heroes (or “villains”) of Runaways 10 are contemplating college at the moment, but they’re nonetheless faced with similarly difficult, life-altering decisions that they simply just aren’t ready, or even qualified, to make yet. Continue reading

How Not to Communicate in Runaways 9

By Spencer Irwin

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

Miscommunication has always been a major threat in superhero comics: after all, one of the most famous tropes of the medium is the idea of pitting heroes against each other simply because they didn’t take the time to talk and explain themselves first. Of course, the Runaways have never really been superheroes, so the miscommunication that plagues their team is a more subdued, realistic one. Don’t let that fool you, though: it’s easily the greatest threat the team faces right now. Continue reading

(Not) Learning from Experience in Runaways 8

By Spencer Irwin

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

“My advice is: stand firm for what you believe in, until and unless logic and experience prove you wrong.”

Daria, Is It College Yet?

One major advantage of growing up and getting older is experience. Being young means screwing up (a lot), but every screw up teaches you something new, hopefully helping you avoid similar mistakes in the future. That’s only if you take those screw-ups to heart, though. That seems to be a problem for the Runaways (and even for the visiting Julie Powers) in Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s Runaways 8 — they’re so busy holding on to what they once were that they can’t see how badly they need to grow. They can’t learn from their own mistakes. Continue reading

Art or Madness in Beautiful Canvas 1

by Ryan Desaulniers

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

The first words uttered in Beautiful Canvas 1, “You’re overthinking it”, are spoken to the main character, Lon Eisley, but I might be in the same boat. I can’t seem to make heads or tails of this number one. On the surface the story is simple: an assassin, Lon, botches a hit for sadistic billionaire Milla Albuquerque, and we watch how things fall apart for Eisley. However, there are so many elements in this title which seem arbitrary or haphazard. Continue reading