The Designs Define the Characters in Exiles 7

by Spencer Irwin

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

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Exiles has been extremely lucky to have a regular artist as talented as Javier Rodriguez, but the series is just as lucky to have found a guest artist like Rod Reis, one who’s just as talented, even if his style is entirely different. I could probably spend a month just gushing about Reis’ work throughout Exiles 6 and 7, but today I want to specifically talk about his character designs and how they inform so much about each character’s role and personality without a single word. Continue reading

Everybody Has Their Role to Play in Exiles 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

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Since the very first issue of Exiles the Tallus, an interdimensional, time-traveling gauntlet, has been calling the shots, pulling our heroes from reality to reality with its own agenda in mind. In many ways, it’s the true mastermind behind the defeat of the Time Eater, having charted a path towards victory and collecting heroes and allies all with vital and specific roles to play in its plan. Early on in the series this sometimes felt like it robbed the characters of their agency, but as we reach the finale of Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez’s story in Exiles 5 that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s interesting to see the role each Exile has to play, but far more interesting to see them all embrace their roles enthusiastically and of their own volition. Continue reading

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!

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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

Staying Focused on Character, No Matter Where and When You Go, in Exiles 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

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One thing you can’t accuse Exiles of is a lack of imagination — or of decompressed storytelling, I suppose. The title flies through new ideas and worlds almost faster than readers can keep up with them. Sometimes I honestly wish it would just slow down and spend some time actually exploring the worlds it takes us to for more than a few pages, and thankfully, Exiles 3 does exactly that, spending over half its story in one scenario (a WWII-era battle with Peggy Carter’s Captain America), and ending with a legitimately shocking cliffhanger, one that finally isn’t the Time-Eater showing up yet again. I feel like this book is really starting to find its footing.

More importantly, though, no matter what era it travels to or how quickly things change, creators Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez always keep Exiles focused on what matters most: its characters. Continue reading

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! 4

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Today, Shelby and Ryan are discussing Patsy Walker: A.K.A. Hellcat! 4, originally released March 23rd, 2016.

Shelby: I don’t have a lot of female friends. I know, I know, girls love to say they’re the kind of girl who only hangs out with boys, but it’s true; I’ve always had more close friendships with men than with women. I’m sure in my salad days it was a matter of not wanting to be a girly girl, of assuming there were two kinds of girls in the world and wanted to be the cool girl instead of the girl girl. Now that I’m both older and wiser, I’ve learned that there are as many kinds of women in the world as there are people who identify as women, and there is nothing wrong with having a strong lady crew for both hair/makeup-doing and whiskey/beer-drinking (Selene, girl, I’m lookin’ at you *wink!*). Unsurprisingly, Patsy Walker: A.K.A. Hellcat! has got me thinking about the juxtaposition between being a girly girl and one-of-the-guys girl, and how it’s perfectly all right to be both and everything in between.

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Thor 8

thor 8

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Thor 8, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Taylor: Motion is an important thing to people. Most of us don’t like to be stagnant for any set amount of time whether it be an hour, a month, or a year. We visualize our lives as having a narrative that is always moving forward. Likewise, as a society, we like to think that we are also making a steady motion forward. In other words, we like to think of our society as making progress. And while most of the country can get behind progress (just look at how rapidly gay marriage became acceptable) there are always going to be those who oppose it. Thor 8 recognizes this dichotomy and in doing so makes a strong statement about the need for acceptance of progress and just how hard that can be for those who don’t want to see things change. Continue reading

S.H.I.E.L.D. 1

shield 1Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing S.H.I.E.L.D. 1, originally released December 31st, 2014. 
Spencer: Since his premiere in the first Iron Man film, Agent Coulson has been a fan-favorite character, but it was the reveal that he was a dedicated fan of Captain America in The Avengers that truly sent his popularity skyrocketing. Believe me, I was on Tumblr to watch it happen. All of us reading comic books are obviously fans just like Coulson, so there’s just something appealing about a character who shares our enthusiasm and interests. Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco’s S.H.I.E.L.D. 1 puts this aspect of Phil Coulson front-and-center, showing how Phil’s skills make him an ideal leader but also how those same skills benefit Waid as a writer. Continue reading

Fearless Defenders 9

Alternating Currents: Fearless Defenders 9, Taylor and Drew

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Fearless Defenders 9, originally released September 11th, 2013.

Taylor: Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Bros before hoes, sisters before misters. Men and women are two different species. Such platitudes have been woven into the fabric of society since the dawn of civilization. Given their age, you might find yourself uttering such phrases during awkward conversations in the lunch room at work because you know they will be accepted with little umbrage. However, that doesn’t make these seemingly innocuous phrases any less offensive or misinformed. While men and women are different in many respects, the truth is they share far more similarities than differences. Some might call this a progressive view, but in reality it’s just a logical one. With that being said, you would think Fearless Defenders, a title which seemingly strives to show that female superheroes are just the same as male superheroes, would champion the similarities between the sexes rather than exaggerate them. But is issue nine, which examines this idea, up to the task?

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Fearless Defenders 8

fearless defenders 8

Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Fearless Defenders 8, originally released August 14th, 2013.

Shelby: Another day in the life of the Fearless Defenders: tracking monsters, fighting crazy mystics, teaming up with alien parasites. All in a day’s work. It’s not all business as usual, with the whole Annabelle and Valkyrie sharing a body situation. While I’m intrigued by what that means for those two, and the rest of the team, I really found the art lacking; for the first time with this title I was really bothered by the way these awesome women are depicted.
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Fearless Defenders 7

Alternating Currents: Fearless Defenders 7, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 7, originally released July 31st, 2013.

Drew: Death is hard to relate to. By it’s very nature, nobody alive has ever experienced it, and people are bad at relating to things that aren’t walking, talking people (which is why we anthropomorphize everything from pets to brave little toasters). It’s no wonder, then, that comics are so notoriously bad at dealing with death — or at least treating dead as dead. Everyone from Superman to Captain America has cheated death, and while we’re often told that it’s “against the rules” to come back from the dead, characters that actually stay dead seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. These days, the death of a character is simply the starting point for the saga of the inevitable return of that character. Fearless Defenders 7 leans heavily into those expectations, but ultimately subverts them, compressing the “saga” into a single issue, and forcing some actual consequences for Annabelle’s death (and resurrection). Continue reading