The Evolution and Devolution of Comic Book Characters

Where is the line for what can and can’t be changed in regard to certain characters?  Or rather, where is the line for what changes can be permanent as opposed to those inevitably reverted by future writers?  This question has been on my mind a lot last month (well, in addition to being terribly sick and having to do my end of term grading – but all my extra mental energy has been focused on this).  As a genre, comics demand new stories for their most popular characters every month (sometimes multiple times a month) unceasingly for decades without allowing characters to age more than five or ten years.  It’s easy to see why reboots, alternate realities, Legacy Characters assuming a mantle, time travel, alien doppelgangers, mind-wipes, and so on always pop-up.  How do you keep an unending story fresh?  One trope employed to this end is the redemption of a villain and this, specifically, has been on my mind. Continue reading

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My Comic Advice: Where to Begin Reading Spider-Man

So you’re new to comics…or you’re new to the Marvel Universe…or you’re new to Spider-Man and you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’d like to immerse myself in the amazing world of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man BUT there’s over sixty years of comic books out there.  That’s intimidating!  How do I just jump in with decades of characters and continuity??  Where do I even begin?!?”  Well you’re in luck.  I’m here to help in my new series, “My Comic Advice,” where I’ll outline the best place for any newbie to begin reading a popular comic series.  What makes me the person for this job?  Well, I’ve loved comics for over thirty years but, more importantly, you are here reading this so it seems like we already have a bond :).  That being said…where do you begin reading Spider-Man?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley: A New Era for The Amazing Spider-Man!!!

I’m usually not one to do single-issue reviews or reactions.  I tend toward essays with a larger focus.  That’s just how my mind works.  But after Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley’s debut on The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (or #802 as I see it; I love the legacy numbering) I just couldn’t wait.  To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, I got excited.  I just wanted to…shout it from the top of a mountain.  But I didn’t have a mountain.  I had this blog.  Look, I write about comics, that’s what I do.  And today’s top story, in Michael Miller’s world read something like this – I love Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley’s The Amazing Spider-Man!  Continue reading

Secret Empire’s Finale: Salvation in Hope

Nick Spencer’s Secret Empire came to a close on August 30th with Secret Empire #10.  As I read the final chapter, I knew I’d write something about it.  I’ve written about Secret Empire a few times and I’m pretty open about my love and respect for Sam Wilson: Captain America.  But I didn’t want to write something right away.  Secret Empire’s finale deserved more than my knee-jerk reaction.  I wanted to take time to really think about it before I tried to write anything.  It was an elegant story, equal parts epic superhero crossover and haunting allegory of our times.  But it didn’t stop there, daring to speak to one of our most intimate and eternal human struggles.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Thank you Nick Spencer for such a thoughtful, moving, important, and inspiring story.  And thank you Marvel for backing such courageous storytellingContinue reading

The Power of Hope in Secret Empire

This is a piece I felt I had to write.  I’ve been open about my disdain for Marvel’s seemingly endless stream of major event crossovers.  I love their comics, their characters, and their creative talent…but I avoid these cash-grab events like a plague, often dropping heavy tie-in titles from my pull list.  Yet a few weeks back I wrote of my struggle with “Secret Empire.”  While I don’t like these events, I have great respect for/trust in Nick Spencer as an author so I wanted to give this one a shot.  Today, four issues in (counting the Free Comic Book Day offering), I have to say the series is worth every penny!  While Secret Empire is obviously Marvel’s big summer event it’s also a story with a point, purpose, and message and that makes all the difference in the world. Continue reading

The Politics of Captain America

Since taking over the writing duties for Sam Wilson: Captain America in October of 2015, Nick Spencer has had a bit of a polarizing run.  There was already dissent (as there always is…sigh) over the fact that Sam Wilson had taken up Steve Rogers’ shield (with Steve’s blessing) as Captain America since he’d lost his Super Soldier Serum.  Far from shying away from the controversy though Spencer has embraced it.  In addition to the usual super villain set, Sam’s confronted polarizing political issues including immigration, racism, corporate greed, using fear to sell a political message, and police brutality.  This naturally begs the question – should a character like Captain America embrace a political message at all? Continue reading

…..really??

Before we begin, let me make two things clear.  First, this will be a TOTALLY spoiler-filled post about Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 which went on sale today.  So, if you don’t want it spoiled please, please, please don’t read this!  Second, this is my complete, emotional knee-jerk reaction to the comic.  It won’t be a long, thoughtful post.  This is a short discussion of my immediate reaction.  But I had to say it all the same.  Are you still with me?  Okay… Continue reading