Those Brutal Claws in Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan 4

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Omega level mutants — always a problem, right? They have such power, but so little control over it. What’s a government to do? Let the ticking time bomb walk around free? Hook them up with a mutant training academy? Or maybe it’s in the public interest to take ’em out. Education seems like the most humane option, but Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan 4 reminds the reader just how fucking deadly two non-Omega level mutants can be when they understand how to use their powers. Continue reading

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Resurrection Breeds Suspicion in Astonishing X-Men 7

by Taylor Anderson

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

Charles Xavier has been dead for some time now and while that’s not new ground for a comic book character, it is notable just how long he’s been departed. It was way back in the quaint year of 2012 when Charles was killed by a Phoenix-possessed Scott Summers. Since then, his spirit has been wandering around various spirit realms. Now, however, Charles is back in the world of the living, having possessed the body of Fantomex. While the rebirth of Charles Xavier sounds like a good thing, it’s also important to remember that rarely does someone coming back from the dead a work out for the best. Continue reading

Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Phoenix Resurrection 2

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

Does anyone remember the “flash sideways” device from LOST‘s final season? The show mined a lot of fun out of the mystery of just what the heck that other world was — a parallel universe? a new timeline? purgatory? — but I never really found the guessing all that fun, as the magical/metaphysical nature of that particular mystery meant that any and all of those things could be equally right. I tend to feel that way about most mysteries that delight in building up red herrings to look as likely as the ultimate answer (perfectly demonstrated in Clue‘s multiple endings; the culprit can only be found by the movie telling us whodunnit, not through any deductive work on our own), but it’s particularly pronounced in stories with a fantasy or sci-fi element that might defy our own experience of the world. That is, if we’re operating in a world with a magical island, is it possible to rule out even the most absurd theory? These are the thoughts running through my head as I read Phoenix Resurrection 2. Continue reading

The Specificity of Allusions in Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan 3

by Drew Baumgartner

Deadpool vs Old Man Logan 3

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

Back in high school english class, I was daunted by the idea that every work of literature alludes to earlier, more foundational works. How could I ever understand the meaning of a novel if I haven’t also read the novels it references, and the novels those reference and so on and so on. I’m still fascinated by the notion that every work of art has an ever-branching family tree of influences, but I’m less concerned about missing them — a work lives or dies on its own merits, so if I don’t “get it,” I’m happy to pin that on the work itself. I have a largely similar attitude to comics, where general familiarity with the character and the world might be a safe assumption, but a given issue can’t take for granted that we’ve read any other comic, let alone one from years ago. And yet, comics also has this rich, ever-growing continuity that can (and some might argue should) inform every character’s identity. Such is the case with Deadpool Vs. Old Man Logan 3, which draws upon writer Declan Shalvey’s own personal history with Wade Wilson in one of the most rewarding ways I’ve seen in years. Continue reading

Color and Foreshadowing in Astonishing X-Men 6

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Over the weekend, a friend who had fallen out of comics asked me how the Iron Man comics were these days. He was last reading like four years ago, when Kieron Gillen was writing about the secret origin of Tony Stark. Between the Tony Stark A.I., Riri Williams, and a reformed Doctor Doom, I realized it was almost impossible to walk him through all of it in any meaningful way. I mean, just explaining how / why Doom could be a good guy requires briefing him on all of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Secret Wars run. And in summary, it all sounds nuts — like the ramblings of a lunatic — but the moment-to-moment fireworks display that brought us to that point was exciting, compelling, and fun. That’s exactly what we get in Astonishing X-Men, a technicolor extravaganza content to sell the spectacle of the moment over the logic of the scene. But, man: what a spectacle it is! Continue reading

Smart Layouts Ratchet Up the Tension in All-New Wolverine 27

by Spencer Irwin

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

All-New Wolverine 27 is an issue that thrives off tension, and while much of that tension is simply inherent to the conflict writer Tom Taylor has created between Laura and Daken, artist Juann Cabal and color artist Nolan Woodard do a tremendous job channeling that tension into their work, creating layouts that feel taut and harrowing even if you don’t know the circumstances behind them. Continue reading

The Joy of Teamwork in Hawkeye 12

By Spencer Irwin

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

Hawkeye 12 is an ode to teamwork. It’s not just the lesson Kate learns at the end — that she’s going to need to ask for help if she wants to find her mother — but the way she learns that lesson that drives the point home. Kelly Thompson, Michael Walsh, and Jordie Bellaire make this issue fun, showing that teamwork isn’t just beneficial, but enjoyable for all. Continue reading

Cliches and Cutlery in Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan 2

by Michael DeLaney

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

Story models repeat themselves, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For me, Deadpool vs Old Man Logan isn’t trying to be anything new or groundbreaking — but then again every comic book is someone’s first. Deadpool vs Old Man Logan 2 uses the X-Men staple of a military organization hunting “the chosen one” while the two mutant former weapons trade quips and shed blood. Continue reading

Epistolary Irreverence in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

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

The provenance of epistolary texts are always weird. Actually, it’s probably less weird than traditional narratives, where we might somehow be privy to the private thoughts of the protagonist or even the perspective of an omniscient narrator, but epistolary texts necessarily draw our attention to the weirdness in a way that more traditional narratives don’t. Because we’re reading documents composed within the diegesis of the epistolary narrative, the ostensible writer of those documents are a character, even as the actual writer attempts to become invisible. That tension, between our hyperawareness of the fictional author, and purported obliviousness of the actual author, puts epistolary narratives in this weird netherworld of headspace, embracing the self-awareness of postmodernism in an attempt to produce an entirely un-self-aware story. It’s a concept that already folds in on itself, but writer Ryan North adds a few more wrinkles, confusing the notion of self-awareness enough that the confusion starts to be to point. Continue reading

The Frustration of ‘Almost’ in Astonishing X-Men 5

by Taylor Anderson

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

I’ve recently been playing a lot of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and while I love the game, there are times it frustrates the hell out of me. Usually, this frustration comes in the form of puzzles located in shrines scattered throughout Hyrule. While a lot of the shrines are solved using logic, there are some that just require skill and a lot of patience to complete. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come close to solving one of the skill shrines only to have something get bungled up at the last minute. This sense of frustration in the face of near victory is familiar to me now, and it’s why I recognize it so readily in Astonishing X-Men 5. Continue reading