Coping With a Post-Truth Society in X-Men Red 10

by Spencer Irwin

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

Tom Taylor and Roge Antonio open X-Men Red 10 with a single, three-word sentence that packs so much power that it takes up an entire page’s worth of real estate.

This image has so much power because it runs counter to everything we as the audience know about Jean Grey as a character. Ultimately, though, we’re responding to it based off our pre-determined opinions and biases, deciding that it’s fake, that it clearly isn’t Jean despite no real evidence backing us up. That’s exactly how the citizens of the Marvel Universe react to this broadcast as well, and those various knee-jerk reactions provide a startlingly prescient parallel to real life politics that make X-Men Red 10 an eerie, unsettling read. Continue reading

Thor 6 is a Mirror for Our Own Societal Flaws

by Michael DeLaney

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

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In the six issues of Jason Aaron’s latest Thor relaunch, the veteran writer has the most fun with an arc set in the far future at “the end of time.” While it’s certainly been a trip to see Marvel staples like Wolverine and Dr. Doom juiced up with powers of other heroes, I was most affected by the commentary at work – both from environmentalist and societal perspectives. Continue reading

Infinity Wars 4 Pits Novel Mash-Ups Against Classic Characters

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“In a life of weird experiences, this one is up there.”

-Bruce Banner, Infinity Wars 4

In the quote above, Bruce Banner is referring to the experience of having his soul un-merged from Scott Lang’s by the combined magics / telepathies of Loki and a Power Stone-wielding Emma Frost in the barren wastes of Soul World. It’s a jumble of virtually impenetrable Marvel Universe jargon, but it’s also sort of the appeal of the event as a whole. The Infinity Warps issues that have spun out of this story are sold almost entirely on the wackiness of the premise: a Captain America Doctor Strange hybrid! A Moon Knight Spider-Man mash-up! But with Infinity Wars 4, writer Gerry Duggan and artist Mike Deodato, Jr. start making the case against the novelty of these mash-up characters by asserting the strength and usefulness of the vanilla versions of these characters, to say nothing of just how appealingly weird they are to begin with. 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

Individuality is Growth, and Regression Danger in X-23 1

By Spencer Irwin

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

It’s hard not to view Laura’s return to the name “X-23,” after wearing the mantle of “Wolverine,” as a demotion, even a regression for the character. X-23 1 does all it can to smooth over this transition — writer Mariko Tamaki’s pitch-perfect channeling of Laura and Gabby’s voices combined with the return of one-time All-New Wolverine artist Juann Cabal gives this issue a lot of forward momentum, making it feel like a continuation of the story Tom Taylor began rather than a radically new take — but never explicitly addresses the change of code-names or the reason behind it. Instead, Tamaki and Cabal tackle the ideas of identity, growth, and regression head-on through the examples of Laura, Gabby, and the Stepford Cuckoos. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all leading towards an argument for “X-23” later in the storyline. Continue reading

Cypher Drives the Action in Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 3

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 3

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

One of my favorite insights in film criticism is that a shot can only have one subject. The subject can be (and often is) an individual, but the fascinating thing about a two-shot or group shot is that the individuals can’t be the subjects of those shots, so instead, the subject is their relationship. That is, when two characters are occupying a single shot, the subject of the shot isn’t either one of them, but their relationship to one another, whether it’s familial, antagonistic, friendly, or romantic. And I think we might be able to say something similar about ensemble stories. Or, at least, that the subject of an ensemble story can’t be several individuals. The subject can be anything from a character to a relationship to a theme, but there can be only one. So what is the subject if Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost? Is it Daredevil, our narrator (and most recognizable character)? Is it Frank McGee and Misty Knight’s budding romance? Is it the group dynamics of this makeshift team? With issue three, Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni seem to have settled on an unexpected option as their subject: Cypher. Continue reading

Good vs. Evil in Astonishing X-Men 12

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“Good vs Evil” implies that there are two sides — two warring factions — battling for the fate of the world. It’s a compelling image: a battlefield with good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Good and evil are separate forces, and in our imaginations, represented by two different groups of people. While Charles Soule and Gerardo Sandoval’s Astonishing X-Men 12 still gives the reader avatars of light and darkness in the forms of X and The Night King, the armies fighting for each side are made up of all the same players. Old Man Logan is both a reformed ally-murderer and an irredeemable death machine; good and evil waging war within one mind. Continue reading

A Mid-Issue Shift Elevates Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 2

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 2

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

Listen, I know there were crime procedurals before Law & Order (and there have been plenty since), but that show was such a mainstay of my formative pop-culture years that I can’t help but think of it every time I encounter a new fictional criminal investigation. What’s remarkable to me about that show is how entertaining it could be in spite of having an entirely rote structure (it was so set in stone, in fact, that they decided to enshrine it in the very title of the series). That is, the drama was never in whether they caught the culprit (they always did), or whether they would be convicted (they were found guilty or pled out the vast majority of the time), but in how they did it — or more precisely who was doing it. Individual details of the case might be interesting, but only inasmuch as they prompted quips from Briscoe or righteous indignation from McCoy. The procedural is an excuse to watch detectives do what they do best, so giving those detectives big, distinct personalities makes or breaks the whole exercise. In this way, Charles Soule has truly stacked the deck in his favor, cramming four larger-than-life investigators into tight quarters and giving them a hard case to chew on. Continue reading

Compassion is the Greatest Weapon of All in X-Men Red 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

A few weeks ago in X-Men Red Annual 1, Jean Grey met a bigoted anti-mutant protester and showed him kindness and compassion, relating to the turmoil and abuse he dealt with in his home life and continuing to worry about him long after their meeting had come to an end. Compassion continues to be Jean’s weapon of choice in Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s X-Men Red 5, and it’s a weapon she’s more than capable of deploying against an entire army. Continue reading

Waging Peace in X-Men Red Annual 1

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“I was the Phoenix. I burned so brightly. Then I was dead. And everything was dark.”

Jean Grey, X-Men Red (2018) Annual #1

Writer Tom Taylor starts this issue with the narration above, quickly summarizing the tragic arc of Jean Grey. It was a violent life, and the bullet points of her story are mostly bummers. Over Scott Summer’s grave, Jean promises that this time is going to be different, and this annual is all about what that might look like. Taylor and artist Pascal Alixe offer an issue full of love, understanding, and difficult conversations. Jean’s still here to win, but it’s not war she’s waging. It’s peace.

Continue reading