Black Widow 10

black-widow-10

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Black Widow 10, originally released January 18, 2017As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner

“Thank you for being a friend.”

Golden Girls Theme Song

Patrick: In college, I made a friend name Melanie. She was a freshman during my senior year, and she had kind of a tough time adjusting to the more Wisconsonian aspects of her college experience. She was from Portland, Oregon, and between the winters and the culture shock, she couldn’t connect with her classmates very easily. I loved that Melanie could see through the dorky Wisconsin obsessions with the Packers, or cheese, or beer or whatever, but that meant a lot of the ways we connected were extremely cynical. We complained about people together, we came up with strategies for getting each other out of small talk at parties – I’d consider it misanthropic if it weren’t also the thing that bonded us so tightly. We used to exchange birthday cards that read “Happy Birthday you fucking cunt.” Obviously, she’s the only person in the world I’d send that card to. Being friends with Melanie was unlike being friends with anyone else, and it’s important to recognize how unique each friendship is. For me and Melanie, that meant one thing, for Natasha and Bucky it means something else.

Continue reading

Original Sin 8

Alternating Currents: Original Sin 8, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Original Sin 8, originally released September 3rd, 2014.

Drew: As the final chapter of a summer crossover event, Original Sin 8 has significantly more baggage than the average comic issue. In addition to wrapping up its own 8-issue maxi-series (9 if you count that zero issue), this issue is essentially charting of the trajectory of the Marvel Universe in the short term, setting up an array of new series and new volumes of old series that seem to fall out of the aftermath of this event. All that is to say that it’s easy for this conversation to turn into a discussion of Original Sin as a whole, or even how we feel about some of the lasting changes this issue presents. There’s certainly value in those conversations (and believe me, I’m going to talk about them a bit), but first, I want to examine whether or not this issue manages to be entertaining in its own right. Continue reading

Original Sin 5

original sin 5

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Original Sin 5, originally released July 2nd, 2014.

The Butler did it!

Traditional

Drew: As far as board game adaptations go, Clue actually does a pretty fantastic job of mimicking the experience of playing the game (it’s certainly closer than Battleship, and don’t even get me started on Twister). By the end of the movie, it really could be anyone, and the multiple endings play with that idea brilliantly. Of course, what’s truly clever is the way that those endings play with our expectations of parlor murder mysteries in general. Of course it could be anyone — that’s the whole point. Ultimately, the who, where, and what of the murder doesn’t matter so much as the why and how, which tend to be pulled out at the very last minute, anyway. Original Sin 5 subverts those explanations by showing us why Nick Fury killed all of those monsters and planets, but stopping just short of telling us who killed the Watcher. But hey, maybe it doesn’t matter! Continue reading

Original Sin 4

original sin 4

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Original Sin 4, originally released June 18th, 2014.

Spencer: Original Sin is the funniest murder mystery I’ve ever experienced.

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration (Clue certainly gives it a run for its money), but the fact remains that, in a genre not exactly known for being a laugh riot, Original Sin stands out as something strange and unique (and hilarious). Despite the deadly secrets, overwhelming paranoia, and occasional gore, Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato somehow manage to give us an issue with a laugh on pretty much every page, an issue that treats its subject matter with the utmost seriousness but that also has no problem embracing the sheer ridiculousness inherent to the medium. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but Aaron and Deodato walk that tightrope masterfully. Continue reading

Original Sin 3

original sin 3

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Original Sin 3, originally released June 4th, 2014.

Someone shot and killed…a planet. I’m gonna need a minute to process that.

Moon Knight

Drew: The last time we talked about this series, I couldn’t get over how over-the-top comic book-y it is. And I mean that quite specifically: it’s not just epic or violent (as so many summer crossover events tend to be), it’s also whole-heartedly absurd, embracing all of the silliness that makes comics so much fun in the first place. Or, at least I thought that’s what this series was. Immediately after building to the line highlighted in the epigraph, this issue takes a sudden turn into the gory. The abruptness of the shift in tone makes it utterly shocking, but it may also rob this series of the frivolity that distinguished it from the likes of DC’s joyless gore-fests. Continue reading

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 4

Alternating Currents: Winter Soldier 4, Taylor and DrewToday, Drew and Taylor are discussing Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 4, originally released May 28th, 2014.

Drew: In a time when serialized storytelling is very much in vogue, it’s easy to forget that some characters are designed for a specific narrative. That is, the situations that they endure during the story so define them that they can’t really exist outside of it. Would we even recognize Hamlet if he wasn’t having an existential crisis? The only way to reuse a character like that is to put them in essentially the same situation again, which obviously yields diminishing returns, and might just undermine the power of the original. Unfortunately, as Winter Soldier: The Bitter March ramps up to its conclusion, it’s clear that Bucky Barnes may only have one important story to tell. Continue reading

Original Sin 1

original sin 1

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Original Sin 1, originally released May 7th, 2014.

Do we… check for a pulse or… did he even have a pulse? Do we know?

Captain America, Original Sin 1

Patrick: Superhero murder mysteries are a trip. In a traditional murder mystery, the audience should all have the same basic understanding of the rules of the game. That way, we’re able to play along as detectives in our own right. Half of the fun in watching a fictional detective solve a crime is feeling like you’re one step behind, just a shade less insightful than hero of our story. But superheroes live in a different universe, with scores of different rules that change and contradict each other throughout the course of history. The abilities and motives of the murder suspects could be…literally anything — you know how many of these characters can alter reality? The first proper issue of Original Sin sets a wildly complicated stage, and while I don’t think I have a chance in hell of reaching the conclusion before our heroes do, I do have a sense of what’s at stake for our lead detective: the original Nick Fury.

Continue reading

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 3

winter soldier 3Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 3, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Spencer: Considering its Cold War setting, it’s no surprise that Rick Remender and Roland Boschi’s Winter Soldier: The Bitter March has been a story filled with pawns and masterminds, a story populated almost entirely by people who are being used and the people who are doing the using. What’s interesting about issue 3 is the way the players begin to transcend those labels. What happens when pawns tire of being pawns? And what role does Ran Shen play in all of this?

Continue reading

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 2

winter soldier 2Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 2, originally released March 19th, 2014.

Patrick: Enigmatic super-soldier spies are tough to characterize. How can you reveal someone’s true nature when they’ve been trained to be a tool of their government, forsaking all personal interests? Rick Remender’s new Winter Soldier mini-series attempts to paint a picture of a man by presenting his surroundings in as much detail as possible. Even when we get a flashback to Bucky’s more formative years, it’s his mentor’s perspective we see stated directly, and not Bucky’s. It’s addition by subtraction, and the sum is a tantalizing character sketch, made all the more compelling by a faithfully realized period thriller.

Continue reading