This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Back when the Future Foundation rode off into the sunset at the end of Secret Wars, ready to recreate and explore the multiverse, many fans (myself included) saw it as the perfect farewell to the characters. This leaves Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli with the unenviable task of bringing this “ending” to an end, of justifying more adventures for characters who had already received their happily ever after. Interestingly, Slott and Pichelli do so by demonizing the very idea of “endings,” by making “the end” the very villain that brings the Fantastic Four back together. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Secret Wars , originally released January 13th, 2016.
“Great societies are crumbling around us. And the old men who run them are out of ideas. So all eyes turn to you — our children — to build us something better […] We must do more, go farther… to somewhere no human has ever been. Your prize, Makers… are the stars themselves.”
T’Challa, Secret Wars 9
Patrick: The entirety of Jonathan Hickman’s incursion epic has hinged on this concept of master morality — that the decisions of the powerful necessarily cannot make sense to those less powerful. Individuals’ lives and rights are trampled for a concept as nebulous as “the greater” good, and it’s not really up to the subservient class to judge that trampling. With Secret Wars, the class of person making such impossible decisions is God — a literal, physically present, hands-on creator God — in the form of Doctor Doom. His decisions are immeasurably complicated, but they are also the decisions made by Hickman himself, and the conclusion to this mini-series, this event, and Hickman’s entire run at Marvel comics, links Godliness with creativity, and ultimately places the decisions and the morality behind those decisions in the hands of the storytellers.
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Secret Wars 8, originally released December 9th, 2015.
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 →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Runaways 4, originally released September 23rd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!
“If there’s one thing I love, it’s teens who stay teens even when the situation is really dire, and so even when they’re running for their lives they never quite lose sight of crushes, pretensions, anxiety about their future and who they’re going to be. Sometimes those situations can feel just as life-or-death as…actual life-or-death.”
Noelle Stevenson, Runaways 4 letters page
Spencer: I loved Runaways 4′s letters page; the sheer unfettered enthusiasm and creativity from readers warmed my heart. But to me, the most insightful moment of that page is the above quote from Runaways writer Noelle Stevenson, which explains the greatest strength of both this mini-series and its finale magnificently. To these characters, coming to a romantic realization is just as significant as escaping from the Doom Institute; Stevenson and artist Sanford Greene realize that and treat every victory with equal importance. It makes for an uplifting, triumphant finale. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Secret Wars 2, originally released May 13th, 2015.
Mark: This summer finds both DC and Marvel presenting readers with big crossover events where their heroes fight for survival, but the approaches couldn’t be more different. For all of the problems DC’s Convergence has (and the list is not brief), one advantage is that DC has a long, storied history of multiverses, continuities, and characters to choose from. It does my nerd heart good to see characters like pre-Flashpoint Superman once again, characters to which I have a lot of attachment. Maybe it’s a cheap thrill, but there’s something to seeing these heroes from different times and universes coming together. Marvel does not have the luxury of history. They’ve always employed a rolling continuity that keeps their characters’ histories current without having to do a hard reboot like the New 52. Outside of Earth-616, the Ultimate universe has been a depressing mess for such a long time that Miles Morales was the only reason to keep it limping along at all. So in order for Marvel to create an interesting clash of heroes, they had to basically build one from the ground up.
Enter Battleworld. I admit to having Jonathan Hickman fatigue after his sometimes messy, always talky Avengers/New Avengers run, and I honestly found Secret Wars 1 to be rather boring, but I appreciated the mash up of sci-fi and fantasy tropes with the Marvel Universe found in Secret Wars 2.Continue reading →
Today, 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 →
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.
Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fantastic Four 8, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Drew: I love mysteries. Not just detective stories — I love even the smallest mysteries that happen in a narrative. Who is that? What is their relationship to the other characters? I find it satisfying when those little mysteries resolve. My girlfriend, on the other hand, has what could be fairly described as anxiety over those little mysteries — she’s always convinced she’s somehow missed the explanation for what’s going on. I think, when you get down to it, the difference is a matter of faith in the storytelling — it’s unclear because it’s supposed to be unclear. That faith flies out the window when you’re jumping into the middle of a decades-long serialized universe, where I very legitimately might have missed the explanation for what’s going on, giving me the very same anxiety I usually tease my girlfriend over. Usually, conscientious editors keep the memories of those titles fairly myopic, providing notes for anything that took place over a few issues ago, but Fantastic Four has been so historically minded as to shake my faith in Matt Fraction to explain everything to me. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Fantastic Four 7, originally released April 24th, 2013.
Shelby: When I read comics (or watch movies), I throw myself into it completely; I get so wrapped up in the world these types of media create, strongly written characters can affect me very deeply. This happens with characters I love (you all know of my gigantic crush on Clint Barton), and it happens with characters I hate. Sometimes, I just can’t extricate myself from a fictional universe to remember that it is, in fact, fictional, and I probably don’t need to get angry at a character for being a total ass. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fantastic Four 6, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Drew: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints” has long been the rule of thumb for eco-tourists — or really anybody visiting nature. The point is simple: don’t change things (and indeed, many ecologists now advocate for “leave no trace” practices, which argue that even footprints are too disruptive). This idea is quite common in sci-fi as well — the Star Trek had the prime directive, and Ray Bradbury’s time traveler had the butterfly effect — which exaggerates the danger of changing things to potentially harming history itself. You’d think, then, that a group as smart as the Fantastic Four would be especially careful when encountering alien cultures while time traveling, but issue 6 proves yet again that they can’t really be bothered with such concerns, willing to alter things at the very dawn of time itself. Continue reading →