Tonal Inconsistency Leaves Secret Wars Less Than the Sum of its Parts

Look, there’s a lot of really fun stuff happening this summer in Marvel’s multiverse-spanning Secret Wars event. On the whole, it’s been a success and I’m still eagerly reading almost everything that they put out. But given how high the stakes were pushed to get us here, it doesn’t really feel like anything’s actually happening. The event works well as a way to remix the characters repeatedly—but it just seems to be a summer adventure before everything gets back to normal for the fall.

Avengers All Coming to an EndYes, the result of all this will be the end of the Ultimate universe, in favor of importing certain favorites into the main Marvel universe, or some kind of hybrid. But that seems more like continuity cleanup than something really meaningful—frustrating in light of the gigadeath apocalypse that got us to Secret Wars in the first place. Copious spoilers below—you’ve been warned.

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No Really, Trust Me: Pan’s Review of Loki: Agent of Asgard #15 & 16

I’m sure someone somewhere has already tallied how many full-scale apocalypses the Marvel universe has been through. The number is sure to be dwarfed only by the number of apocalypses it has avoided. Well, we were less lucky than average this time, because the gods are dead (along with everyone else) and reality has been destroyed. Way to jazz up a Wednesday afternoon. As I mentioned before, this latest disaster is part of a larger Marvel event called Secret Wars that has something to do with all the Nine Realms all smashing into each other, but the immediate problem in Loki: Agent of Asgard is that Evil Old Man Loki has aligned himself with Hela and freed Jormungandr to attack Asgard. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Loki Nouveau (ie “The God(dess) of Stories”) remembers only one clear thing from eir prior life, and it’s that Verity Willis was eir only real friend.

There's something macabre about wearing your friend as jewelry.

There’s something macabre about wearing your friend as jewelry.

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The Big Bad: Superheroes without Supervillains

drevilSupervillains are historically inseparable from their superhero counterparts. Batman has the Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, Joe Biden has Nixon’s Ghost. However, as comic movies keep getting bigger, and as the MCU sucks up the world’s supply of white dudes named Chris, the villains are increasingly left behind. These guys fall into a few tidy categories, and alive or dead, find themselves forgotten when the credits roll.

Somehow, the greater realism applied to superheroes, the less room there is for supervillainy. Instead, we’re left with a handful of tropes, with only a few bad guys able to break out of the box. This dynamic is crucial to the ways our current crop of superhero blockbusters reflects our wider psychology. We ache for something bigger than ourselves to believe in, and assemble the Avengers. We question that ache, and begin the Civil War. But when it comes to evildoers, we haven’t figured out what we want. Sometimes it’s just exaggerated versions of the bad people in the world, sometimes it’s faceless alien hordes, sometimes it’s pure evil, given the nasty explanation of “mental illness.” In contrast to the depth we’ve given our heroes, our villains keep falling short.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Transitions by Zethsaire

It’s common knowledge that fanfiction is positively lousy with gay relationships, and with an almost entirely queer cast of hopelessly attractive young adults, Marvel’s Young Avengers is grade-A shippable material. With two gay men, one lesbian, two bisexuals, and a genderfluid trickster god, the two presumed cishets are outnumbered three to one. I say presumed cishets, because it’s not as though we know everything about Kate Bishop or Tommy Shepherd, which leaves plenty of room to extrapolate.

The eponymously titled Transitions by Zethsaire on AO3 explores the idea that speedster Tommy Shepherd was assigned female at birth and is physically transitioning to male. Set in a slightly alternate version of the Marvel comics universe, it follows the relationship between Tommy Shepherd and Noh-Varr, two members of the Young Avengers, and details how Tommy’s gender identity and transition process affects both of their lives. It also deals briefly with different cultural perceptions of gender, since Noh-varr is also a Kree, and his perspective on the matter is different from the average human.

Enthusiastic white boy dancing.

Enthusiastic white boy dancing.

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Lady Saika’s Agent Carter Season 2 Wish List

Marvel's Agent CarterWell, now that I got my real wish (a second season of Agent Carter—and with ten episodes this time!), it’s time for my wishing to get a little more specific. We’ve got eight or so months to sit around fantasizing about what comes next—so that’s just what I’m going to do. Without further fanfare, here’s what I want most out of Agent Carter Season 2.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Sky Doll’s Spin on Institutional Religion

Cover Art for Sky Doll, Vol. 1

Cover Art for Sky Doll, Vol. 1

A few years ago I came across the comic Sky Doll. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to finish it because it was overtly sexual, and that’s not really my cup of tea, but the story and the characters were interesting so I read it all anyway. One of the most fascinating topics the comic addressed was the religious war between the two female popes (papesses), Agape and Lodovica. They were both meant to represent aspects of religion, yet they didn’t unite people together. Their church tried separating the spiritual side of religion from the carnal side, and it caused pandemonium and chaos for everyone on their planet. Sky Doll shows what happens when people misinterpret the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law (and vice versa).

Spoilers ahead! Also trigger warning for blood and nudity.

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No Really, Trust Me: Pan’s Review of Loki: Agent of Asgard #14

Welp, the whole Marvel universe is coming to an end. Again. You know, as usual, thanks to yet another over-arching Marvel tie-in event called Secret Wars that Loki: Agent of Asgard has been awkwardly shoehorned into. To be honest, I have only the most general idea of what is going on in the rest of this tie-in, because like most people I can’t be bothered to read dozens of other series in conjunction with this one, but suffice to say that the world is ending. This marks the fourth such multi-series tie-in in just fourteen issues of Agent of Asgard, which leaves very little room for the actual title character of the series to develop while ey is busy playing backup to everyone else’s central plotlines.

Then again, there is the issue of whether or not the title character even is the same title character that we started the series with. The awkward young Loki we have come to know (and love?) has now been remade yet again into the bedraggled, slightly sickly-looking “God of Stories” who seems to have inherited only the vaguest impressions of young Loki’s memories.

This was the only panel that mattered, tbh.

This was the only panel that mattered, tbh.

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