Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 Corrupts a Generation

by Patrick Ehlers

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

One of the frustrating things about our currently social and political landscape is that the generation pulling our country to the right was once a force for radical social change. When the baby boomers where hippies, they believed in equality and rejected conformity and corporatization. They championed peace, both as an antidote to war and on its own merit. We can argue about the efficacy of that countercultural movement all we want, but the point is that they were idealistic once. Somewhere over the last 50 years, peace and love turned into opportunism and xenophobia. To this point, the original X-Men have been spared this curmudgeonly fate. Introduced as avatars of otherneess in 1963, Jean Grey, Hank McCoy, Warren Worthington and Bobby Drake have such a long way to fall. Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman’s Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 shows this corrupting influence in action, slowly radicalizing the most level headed, unimpeachable voices for equality in the marvel universe.

It’s a truly heartbreaking ride. Continue reading

Misplaced Trust in Coda 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Coda 2

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

There’s a scene in Coda 1 where our protagonist hesitates to smell the wine he’s just been handed — he knows his host too well to trust them. It’s a revealing moment that also cleverly sets up a spiked wine gag a few pages later, driving home the point that nobody in this world can be trusted, least of all the characters we know. And it’s a point Simon Spurrier and Matías Bergara reemphasize towards the start of this issue, revealing their glowing wizard’s tower to be little more than a dank cave. The protagonist’s senses may be as difficult to fool as ever, but now we have to know not to trust our own eyes. And yet, the rest of the issue lulls us into putting our guards down, allowing us to believe we’ve found a refuge from the violence and deceit of the outside world. Which makes it all the more shocking when we learn all of those assumptions were bad, and that there really is no honesty left in this world. 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

Lettering Through the Psychic Fog in Astonishing X-Men 11

By Patrick Ehlers

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

CORRECTION (5/3/18): A previous version of this piece credited Clayton Cowles with the lettering, as is indicated in the credits. The issue was actually lettered by Travis Lanham.

Astonishing X-Men is one of those telepathic mutant clusterfucks. You know the type: there are psychics and reality warpers and a shapeshifter all int he mix at once. The audience’s ability to tell what is happening and what is not happening will likely vary from reader to reader, but I had a hell of a time tracking who was where and what specific threats they faced. This disorientation cues the reader up for that mind-bending twist on the final page. But you can’t just be confused for 20 pages, can you? With Ron Garney’s artwork and Charles Soule’s script both actively working to distance themselves from the reader, we have to look to letterer Travis Lanham for signposts of stability. Continue reading

Faith 4

faith 4

Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Faith 4, originally released April 27th, 2016.

Shelby: It can be difficult to relate to the superheroes we admire so much; their quips are too perfect, their bodies are too perfect, hell even their flaws manage to be too perfect. It’s why so many guys I know name Spider-Man their favorite superhero. Peter Parker wasn’t a mutant, or a magician, or super rich, or a totally jacked alien; he was just a nerdy kid like we all were. No wealth, no power, no influence, just a guy with accidental superpowers trying to do the right thing. In fact, he didn’t even do the right thing to start off with; he did what any person would do and tried to make some money off the situation. I feel like roughly a third of every Spider-Man story has to do with him struggling to balance his superhero life and his regular life, and that is why we love him. He brings our reality into the his superhero world. This is exactly why I’m excited about Faith; she’s absolutely a superhero, but she’s also a regular person just like me. Continue reading