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Round 2 Battle 8

E for Extinction

E-is_for_Extinction_2

vs

Squadron Sinister

SQDSIN2015002 - Copy

Coming in the middle of Round two, we pit the first two issues of E for Extinction and Squadron Sinister against one another to see who winds up moving on, and who stops here.

 

We have talked a lot about raised stakes in the second issue. Tension and conflict need to be ratcheted up a notch. There needs to be an extra layer of complexity and the audience needs to have a firm grasp of why what is happening is important. In the first two issues, one of these comics is doing this well. But the second issue of the other reveals rather insoluble inconsistencies.

 

The end of the first issue of E is for Extinction has a “boys are back in town” feel when Cyclops and Wolverine team up. There is only one purpose that can unite these two characters: saving Jean Grey.

ee.1

Cyclops, Wolverine and Emma Frost team up against the next generation of X-Men, lead by Magneto. The X-Men still haven’t learned after 50 years of this comic that you can’t trust Magneto. He will always betray the X-men, period. His ideology is at odds with the team because he doesn’t believe humans and mutants can coexist, i.e. the whole reason the X-Men exist.  His motivation is always to advance the mutant cause. In this story, he is harnessing the power of the Phoenix to protect mutant kind. And this is the biggest problem with this story. This comic is called E is for Extinction. The concept that mutants are not safe in a world run by humans is at the heart of the Magneto character. Mutants are always in danger of the human population who fears their power. Since mutants are the next step in evolution, what humans really fear is their own extinction in the wake of a more evolved race. But in the world of this comic, humans are ready and willing to lean into a future with an X-Clusively mutant population. Hopeful parents go to fertility specialists to ensure that their future child(ren) will carry the mutant gene. In this storyline, humans have accepted the superiority of the mutants. So my questions are: why does Magneto need Phoenix’s power to protect the mutant race? Who is actually in danger of extinction? Why is any of this happening?

 

Issue two is a non-stop action sequence that rips this plot hole wide open. There is a chance that these problems could be resolved with future issues. For right now, the story surrounding these problems aren’t strong enough to hold my interest. I’m tired of these lines and this plot I’d heard over and over. I think Emma Frost might agree with me.

ee.2

 

Squadron Sinister is a fundamentally interesting concept. It’s a parody of all the D.C. favorites: Batman, Superman, The Flash and Wonder Woman. That is, if the D.C. favorites were evil.

 

And they so would be.

 

Listen, there is absolutely no reason Superman or Batman would would be forces for good. Superman has absolute power in the truest sense. That means he is the most corruptible character who has ever lived. Even Jesus Christ was a man. The character based on the man of steel, Hyperion, is a politically honest interpretation of the Superman character. Batman has impeccable combat training and fuck-you money. He’s got unlimited resources and a ton of political and economic influence. I’d argue that his politically honest counterpart already exists in Iron Man, but Nighthawk’s function is to act as a Brutus to Hyperion’s Caesar. These two issues do a great job of setting up a world where corrupt and powerful people scheme to take out an even more corrupt and powerful leader. This comic shows promise, while the other doesn’t make any sense. Congratulations Squadron Sinister, see you in round 3.

 

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 2, BATTLE 7

Follow the bracket here!

MARVEL ZOMBIES #1-2

MARVEL_ZOMBIES_2

VS

RUNAWAYS_2

RUNAWAYS #1-2

At this point in Battleworld, old-school Marvel readers have come to the conclusion that none of the 48 spin-off titles mean a damn thing in the overall narrative. Is this a big deal? To most Marvel readers, maybe. Your average Marvel fan is still probably buying at least a couple Marvel titles month after month that they don’t really enjoy because they fit in somehow to the overall Marvel universe. If they thought about it for a second, they would agree that this isn’t the smartest use of their time or their money, but it’s the way they (we) were raised, and we’re used to it. It’s probably the same reasoning that half of the people who saw Ant-Man last weekend used when they bought their tickets. “This looks stupid, but I’ve seen the other eleven movies, so what the hell.” There’s something nerdily cool about being in on a shared universe. It’s the same reason you love all of your family members, even though some of them are the worst and you would never be acquaintances with most of them if you just met them today. But it’s your shared universe, and you appreciate the fact that you have one. By removing the universe that we’re used to, and then throwing 48 shared unshared universes at us with Battleworld, Marvel has officially taken that away from us, forcing us to just focus on each team of storytellers, and the stories they tell. Imagine if there was no such thing as a sequel to a movie, but every movie had to at some point mention D.W. Griffith, someone whose work the characters appreciate, despite the fact that he was probably evil.

Taken from the post-credits sequence of The Birth of a Nation, where White Nick Fury decides to form the White Avengers.

Taken from the post-credits sequence of The Birth of a Nation, where White Nick Fury decides to form the White Avengers.

But, judging stories individually, as opposed to how they push a giant overarching narrative forward, isn’t the end of the world, even for comic book readers. We’re no longer looking to see how the characters are different from the ones we already knew and tolerated, but instead making sure that whatever we learned about them in the first issue stays consistent in the second. If I was going to argue why Battleworld was great, and not whine about another two months of it keeping me from my 616, I would say that this feels more like reading non-mainstream miniseries. Instead of asking myself whether or not I should buy the next issue based on how much its ripple effect could change the universe as a whole, I have to admit that it won’t, and decide whether or not I just want to know about this particular story. This story and no other one. Just the one I’m holding in my hands. That’s something that many Battleworld titles have mishandled so far, coasting on mediocrity because they know people will buy spinoffs no matter what. Unfortunately – no, wait – FORTUNATELY I have a bit of a problem on my hands, because I’m tasked with choosing from two titles who place GodDoom and his Battleworld in the background, and tell stories that I need to finish.

Marvel Zombies was a trendy book a decade ago, about Marvel zombies for Marvel zombies. It was Marvel’s Rock Band video game: take a surprise hit, churn out countless sequels, make it so nobody ever wants to hear about it again. Runaways was a hit of a different nature. Marvel let Brian K. Vaughn create his own team in the 616, that way he could fuck around with them however he wanted, and fuck with them he did. He did it so well, in fact, that when he left, not even the God of the Nerds himself could keep the train rolling. For reasons both good and bad, both books are very “of their era,” and repurposing them for today’s audiences, and today’s giant crossover, would seem difficult. It would take two writers closing their eyes, realizing exactly what was important about those books, and about Battleworld, and trashing the rest. And that’s exactly what happened.

God of the Nerds, aka Jossymandius.

God of the Nerds, aka Jossymandius.

Marvel Zombies #2 (the first issue destroyed Mrs Deadpool and the Howling Commandos in Round 1) continues the story of monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone and a crying little bald child who worries about everything, as they make their way back home after getting lost outside of the Shield, a barrier that keeps the zombies away from the “normal” people who live in the million different worlds of battle. Their dynamic is basically Lucy and Charlie Brown, if Lucy somehow became an adult while Charlie Brown didn’t, although Elsa isn’t quite the horrible asshole Lucy is. Lucy sucks so much that she’s essentially Peggy if there was a King of the Hill Babies cartoon. Elsa’s not that bad. She’s a little rough, but she’s working on it, and she had a mean dad, so lay off. Charlie Brown is the perfect foil, because his incessant bitching (now I’m starting to sound like Elsa) allows us to see the person Elsa is, and the person she wants to become. In the meantime, zombies and Doom and Angel and Shield and blah blah, but we’ve already accepted that nobody cares. The only thing that even has a chance of earning the reader’s feelies is how Elsa makes it out of this mess. Elsa Bloodstone, a character that is unimportant in the 616. Elsa Bloodstone, a seemingly unimportant character in the grand scheme of Battleworld. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how shit is supposed to work.

Cunt.

Cunt

Runaways, on the other hand, has to do this not just with one character, but with seven or eight. Impossible to do in two issues, no? Well, writer Noelle Stevenson doesn’t bat a thousand, but she does go six for eight or so, and in two issues of a story that doesn’t matter, that’s impressive. There’s a couple ways to go about making sure readers care about an entire team of kids.

POWER BOXES

If their power is "exploding balloons," leave the power off and just put their specific home address.

If their power is “exploding balloons,” leave the power off and just put their specific home address.

I don’t know if these have a technical name, but that’s what I’m calling them here. Boom. One panel. One power box. We know the character’s name, where they came from, and what their powers are. Easy peasy.

NEW FRIENDS

HANDSHAKE

Most of the people who will eventually become our Battleworld Runaways know of each other, but they aren’t close. Getting them together seems like an extra step that the story may not need or have time for, because now they all have to meet each other, and then the action can start, as opposed to just hitting the gas immediately. That’s true, but this way we get to know the characters as they get to know each other. Stevenson is very clearly trading some action for some character development, and if you chill, it’ll make the action that much sweeter. Trust me. Fine, don’t trust me. But trust Noelle Stevenson. I mean, hell. She writes Lumberjanes.

Not a separate Battleworld...but should it be?

Not a separate Battleworld…but should it be?

There’s a green character with snake hair that has been given nothing to do. And another character dies in the second issue, which will force the reluctant leader to take his or her spot at the helm. Those two aside, you’re left with the jock, the nerd, the weirdo, the princess, and the rebel. And Molly from the original Runaways. And the jock is a Hulk. And the whole first issue details how they met in detention. Score.

If the first issue is The Breakfast Club, then the second issue is Battle Royale, because these are the steps that kids need to go through to understand things. But through it all, the creative team knows that although the action and the twists are important, the team dynamic is what matters.

As a male over 20, I'm obligated to refer to any Hunger Games reference as a Battle Royale reference.

As a male over 20, I’m obligated to refer to any Hunger Games reference as a Battle Royale reference.

Molly is on the team, and it is a bunch of kids on the run, but the main attachment between the Battleworld Runaways and the 616 Runways is the overarching theme, that the last part of growing up is finding out that your authority figures are fallible. In both cases, very, very fallible, but such is comics. That’s an attachment that doesn’t require you to know anything about the original Runaways. Stevenson didn’t throw a slight twist onto already established characters. She grabbed the heart of the original and then created her own thing. Her Runaways is to Vaughn’s Runaways as the Fargo television show is to the movie. She created her own characters and story, but kept what was important, not what original readers may or may not have demanded. The first issue of Runways had a lot on its plate, and barely beat Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo’s Weirdworld in Round One of Battleworld Battleworld. But the second issue makes the first one shine in ways it may not have appeared during the first read. Elsa Bloodstone and Charlie Brown have a tough road ahead of them, and I’ll be with them every step of the way, but it’s the Runaways of Battleworld that are moving on to the sweet 16, where they will be taking on either E is for Extinction or Squadron Sinister.

Super Hero Hour Hour 7/24/15

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Tonight, and tonight only, Mike and Ryan will be discussing Dark Matter. Just kidding! They have to do that every week until new shows come out. On the upside, they also discuss 10 comic books that should be television shows immediately. And that, dear friends, is worth sticking around through the Dark Matter segment for.

PopFilter Versus: Thor

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In the newest edition of Jason Reads A Comic, Mike and Ryan thrust upon him Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God of Thunder. Will Jason be able to swallow Asgardian dialect? Will he enjoy the multiple timelines woven throughout the first arc? Is Thor even an interesting comic?  Listen and find out!

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

WEEK TEN PREVIEW

ROUND TWOBATTLE SEVEN

MARVEL ZOMBIES #1-2

MARVEL_ZOMBIES_2

 

SIMON SPURRIER (w) • KEV WALKER (a/C)
• Stranded in the Deadlands and saddled with a mysterious child, Elsa Bloodstone is determined to traverse the zombie-ridden landscape and get home.
• But haunted by ghosts from her past—including visions of her stern father, Ulysses Bloodstone – Elsa begins to realize it may not be the zombies she fears most…

VS

RUNAWAYS #1-2

RUNAWAYS_2

NOELLE STEVENSON (w) • SANFORD GREENE (a/C)
• It’s Final Exam Day at Battleworld’s Institute for Gifted Youths!
• Of course, Battleworld’s equivalent of a final exam is a brutal deathmatch between students!
• But don’t worry, y’all, Molly Hayes has totally got this. No matter what Jubilee says about her being too young or “in way over her head.” She’s frickin’ Princess Powerful!

ROUND TWOBATTLE EIGHT

E IS FOR EXTINCTION #1-2

E-is_for_Extinction_2

CHRIS BURNHAM (w) • RAMON VILLALOBOS (a)
• The Classic X-Men rally against Magneto and his New X-Men, to save the life of one of their own!
• EMMA FROST versus her CUCKOOS! Have the students become the teachers??

VS

SQUADRON SINISTER #1-2

SQDSIN2015002

MARC GUGGENHEIM (w) • CARLOS PACHECO (a/C)
• It’s the Squadron Sinister vs. the Frightful Four for control over the “Combat” Domain of Battleworld.  Which group of villains will be the ones to take out the Howling Commandos, the Leatherneck Raiders, and the Deadly Dozen?
• And what’s up with that Starbrand army?

ROUND ONEBATTLE TWENTY-TWO

SIEGE #1

SIEGE_1

KIERON GILLEN (w) • FILIPE ANDRADE (a)
THEY CAN’T EVER WIN. THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE.
• THE SHIELD is the only thing that protects the more civilized areas of Battleworld from the ZOMBIE HORDES, DEATH MACHINES, AND ANNIHILATION WAVES.
•  Anyone who annoys Doom gets sent to The Shield. Anyone who gets sent to the Shield deals with ABIGAIL BRAND.
• Miss America, Lady Katherine, Kang the Conqueror, Leah Shieldmen, the Endless Summers Company, Leonardo Da Vinci and a cast of thousands will fight to the death to keep Battleworld safe. But don’t worry, Kieron Gillen is writing this book, so I’m sure everything will end happily for everyone.
• “Imagine NextWave as a tragedy,” says Kieron, if anyone asks him about it.

VS

STAR-LORD AND KITTY PRYDE #1

Star-Lord_and_Kitty_Pryde_Vol_1_1_Textless

SAM HUMPHRIES (w) • ALTI FIRMANSYAH (a)

• STAR-LORD AND KITTY PRYDE–finally in their own series together! But are they TOGETHER together?! And is this the Kitty Pryde that Peter loves or one from a completely different reality.
• This series takes place right in the thick of things on BATTLEWORLD and is sure to be a wild ride!

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 1, BATTLE 21

Follow the bracket here!

GUARDIANS OF KNOWHERE

1Guardians

VS

1Hydra

HAIL HYDRA

Battleworld Battleworld, Schmattleshmorld Schmattleshmorld, I say. In yet another powerhouse battle, Hail Hyrda is forced to wield its proverbial sword and S.H.I.E.L.D. (do you see what I did there?!) against the sword and shield of Guardians of Knowhere. Both books are a tantalizing appetizer to the remainders of the act ones to come; yet both are not without flaw. What is a pop culture aficionado to do? I guess, as the very famous phrase goes, I’ll just type it out.

We meet again, old therapeutic friend.

We meet again, old therapeutic friend.

Hail Hydra follows Nomad, a dude who can’t quite fully commit to being good because a nostalgic part of his past is tied to evil where Guardians of Knowhere has that wisecracking raccoon from that summer film with the guy from Parks and Recreation. Both books follow the story of a character that cannot get away from their potentially morally corrupt background, as that has become a part of who they are. Even with that, each book’s character must try to find a way to champion their own morality over the past they can no longer reconcile. So which book wore it best?

Beckinsale!

Beckinsale!

The answer to this question is harder than you might assume. To begin, Guardians of Knowhere presupposes a deeper knowledge of its subject matter. Do you not understand why this raccoon declares that someone’s face has been murdered? Get out of town, says Guardians of Knowhere. By comparison, Hail Hydra gives you all of the pertinent data in the first two-page explanation of the dissolution of the 616 and gives you easily digestible chunks of story thereafter. This sounds like a slam-dunk win for Hail Hydra, but the reasons why are not.

Oh no, why you slam your dunk so hard?

Oh no, why you slam your dunk so hard?

Hail Hydra takes a deep look into the inner workings of Nomad’s mind. Why is he so hell-bent on helping a stranger? Where does his, for lack of a better term, hero complex come from? Who is Zola? All of this is taken care of in a way that seems so easy to understand that you get duped into believing it is not thoughtful. Make no mistake; Nomad is, if only his own mind, the son of Steve Rogers. He cannot be evil. He cannot stand idly by and do nothing while Hydra destroys his beloved city. When faced with the fact that, in an alternate reality, he has given in to his biological predisposition, his reaction is drawn to startling perfection by Roland Boschi. The fact that an artist is able to draw shock, disgust, horror and pathos in a single cell is mind-blowing. Ultimately, it is the reason that the scales tip in Hail Hydra’s favor.

It's like Rybasd drew him!

Original print by Roland Boschi, oil on canvas.

Please do not misunderstand me; Guardians of Knowhere is a stellar book that is absolutely worth your time. It’s funny, sharp and finds a way to toe the line between “this is shit Marvel said we had to do” and “this is some dope shit we think Marvel should have been excited about”. Truly, Brian Michael Bendis is one of the best writers working today. That said, his wit, humor and biting commentary are all wasted on an otherwise good book. He was not necessarily a casualty of his assignment so much as his assignment refused let him to unleash his awesome power.

Pictured above: Brian Michael Bendis releasing hid aweomeness.

Pictured above: Brian Michael Bendis releasing his awesome powers.

That’s right Filterinos, Hail Hydra moves on over an extremely worthy Guardians of Knowhere. In a battle as awesome as it was challenging, the ability to meld story, art and dialogue make Hail Hydra a deep round sleeper to make this tournament its bitch.
With love,

Jason R. Noble

 

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 1, BATTLE 20

Follow the bracket here!

SPIDER ISLAND #1

SPIDER-ISLAND

VS

CAPTAIN BRITAIN

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MIGHTY DEFENDERS #1

I’m at the point with Battleworld where I have to make sure I don’t let fatigue affect my reviews.  Popfilter selected its Battleworld Battleword writers from among the strongest and most highly trained endurance athletes in the world, but even we struggle to keep up with the grueling pace of an entire comic event.  I’ve been stretching my hammies non-stop since this thing kicked off, and I’m now on a strict diet of runner’s goo packets and salt tablets, but even extreme preventative measures like that have stopped working.  I’ve started fainting a lot, and I’m hallucinating often now.  I can’t honestly be sure that the comics I read today are the actual comics I was supposed to read – most times I open up a comic book at this point I just see a skull in the center of a rotating mandala.  But it’s up to us to finish what we started, and we know you guys are all counting on us to deliver the goods, so I’ve doubled my salt intake and pushed on.

Outta the way, deer - papa's gotta read some comics.

Outta the way, deer – papa’s gotta read some comics.

I really had to push through Spider Island at first.  The very obvious hook of “look at all these spider men!” felt a little familiar within the context of Battleworld.  On the first page you’ve got your characters talking about a spider virus that conveniently gave everyone a spider disease, very similar to the way we would up with a Planet of Hulks™ and a Thor Corps.  It’s the sort of contrived setup that I’m surprised Marvel still thinks will distract its readers from their failing kidneys and blood-filled stools.  It’s just that it this point, if Marvel expects me to stay lucid and sane for an entire comic, they’re gonna have to hand me more than just bunches of spidermen to use as a final, desperate anchor to reality.

Normally this is the exact sort of thing that makes me LESS sane.

Normally this is the exact sort of thing that makes me LESS sane.

But if there’s one thing you can say about me it’s that I’m a professional.  You literally can’t say a single other thing about me.  If you did, I would know, and then we’d have a big problem on our hands.  So I rallied.  I took a good minute to remember why I agreed to do this in the first place, and then I got distracted because a few of my teeth have gotten really loose recently, but then I was right back on track – I agreed to do this because I LOVE COMICS.  It’s a privilege to read comics every day and then use their childish storylines to formulate your adult opinions.  It can be easy to forget that.

It can even be easy to forget your name.

It can even be easy to forget your name.

Once I rallied, I realized that underneath the spidery veneer, Spider Island does do more with it’s material than you’d expect it to.  The premise is a little hastily constructed, but once the work of gathering up the characters and dumping them into a setting has been finished, it puts them into motion quickly and builds the world out in unexpected ways.

and then, yes, there's crap like this.

and then, yes, there’s crap like this.

Unfortunately, Captain Britain is still standing in Spider Island’s way.  I’d say about every fourth or so Battleworld comic takes a long, hard look at what the insanity of Battleworld allows them to do and takes full advantage of the insanity rather than just existing in it.  Right off in Captain Britain, you’ve got a storyline copped from the opening scenes of the Iron Man movie, but with a pretty cool twist – Tony Stark has his doctor friend wear the armor, and dies in his place.  The doctor becomes a hero known as Rescue and creates a utopian city…which then gets sucked up into the hell’s butthole known as Battleworld.  There’s simply a way in which Captain Britain plays into the insanity of Battleworld that just works.

it just gives itself completely over to the insanity...there's some appealing about that.

it just gives itself completely over to the abyss…there’s some appealing about that.

Spider Island turned out to be a pretty decent book.  But Captain Britain turned out to be a great book right from the start.  It gave Spider Island about as much of a chance to excel as Country Britain did Ireland.  I’m glad I powered through and read them both.  It gave me the strength to keep going.  I’m low on salt.  I’m low on blood.  Low on runner’s goop.  My vision is shot.  I can’t get hard anymore.  But I’ll keep going.  These comics reminded me that you still need me.  Every clump of stringy hair I pull from my head will be a badge.  Thank you readers, see you next time.-DT

PopFilter Podcast Episode 204

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This week, the Taste Buds (TM) discuss television, television and not television! That’s right, up on the docket for the boys is TVLand’s latest offerings in The Jim Gaffigan Show and Impastor (do you see what they did there?!) as well as HBO’s Seven Days in Hell. They also build a mountain in honor of television’s greatest athletes and somehow manage to find the time to attempt another round of inductions to the PopFilter Hall of Fame.

Get it and become better.

Super Hero Hour Hour 7/17/15

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Comic-Con, bitches. Sure, Mike and Ryan review the latest episode of Dark Matter, but in the meantime, they go over the metric ton of news that was released on SDCC. Arrow season 4? Check. Agents of SHIELD season 3? Check. Constantine Season 2? Oh, guys…horrible news. BUT….all of the news about television shows based on comic books? Here. Welcome to your one stop shop for mostly everything that was announced at Comic Con. Also, a new review of a Captain Mark Datter-less episode of Dark Matter. LET’S DO THIS!!!

PopFilter Versus: TV Theme Songs Mixtape

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TV themes set the tone for what you’re about to watch, they can be catchy, they can be annoying, and no matter what they’re gonna get stuck in your head. Not a day goes by that the old them from LOST doesn’t replay 100 times before I go to sleep…In this very special episode, the Taste Buds construct a mixtape of TV theme songs–which means ACTUALLY listenable tunes you’d love to play. Check it out!

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

WEEK NINE PREVIEW

ROUND ONEBATTLE TWENTY

SPIDER-ISLAND #1

SPIDER-ISLAND

CHRISTOS GAGE & TOM DEFALCO (w)
PACO DIAZ & RON FRENZ (a)
• The Spider-Queen has turned Manhattan into an island of Spider-Madness and Peter Parker has lost, thanks to Spider-Scribe CHRISTOS GAGE (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN) & rising star artist PACO DIAZ (WOLVERINE, SCARLET SPIDERS).
• With Spider-Man defeated and captive, does Flash Thompson, A.K.A. VENOM stand a chance?
• All this, plus visit the MC2 patch of BATTLEWORLD! Mayday Parker and her Spider-Family are back courtesy of classic Spider-Girl team TOM DEFALCO, RON FRENZ & SAL BUSCEMA!

VS

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MIGHTY DEFENDERS #1

CAPTAIN BRITAIN

AL EWING (w) • ALAN DAVIS (a/C)
• Welcome to Battleworld – where, in what’s left of Mondo-City One, Boss Cage is the law!
• When the fascist futuropolis annexes neighboring Yinsen City, who’ll stand up for Ho Yinsen’s dream of universal peace?
• If you liked the Mighty Avengers — you’ll love the Mighty Defenders!

ROUND ONEBATTLE TWENTY-ONE

GUARDIANS OF KNOWHERE #1

guardians of knowhere

BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (w) • Mike Deodato (a/C)
•A single moon orbits Battleworld. But no, that’s no moon. It’s a space station. It’s Knowhere.
•The head of a dead Celestial, somehow saved in the universal collapse, a colony brimming with convicts and criminals.
•The Galaxy may be gone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places that still need heroes. Places that need champions. That need GUARDIANS.

VS

HAIL HYDRA #1

HAIL HYDRA

RICK REMENDER (w)
ROLAND BOSCHI (a/C)
• Peace Through Strength! Honor Through Obedience! Continuance Through Conformity!
• Hail Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed!
• Cut off one limb, and two shall take its place!
• We serve none but the Master—as the world shall soon serve us!
• It is a beautiful Utopia that Hydra has created.
• But when a lone figure from outside the Regime appears, could his very presence be enough to bring this perfect society to its ruin?

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 1, BATTLE 19

Follow the bracket here!

AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1

VS

CIVIL WAR #1

 

 

While the other Secret Wars books based on major events used their origins as a jumping off point, twisting the situations readers are familiar with, today’s battle focuses on books that don’t so much twist as follow their original thread. While that means there are less moments of, “ooh that’s a neat direction”, fans of the original stories will get pretty much exactly what they liked from the first incarnations. What’s interesting about this matchup is Age of Apocalypse and Civil War are pretty equally loved/reviled…though that’s probably accurate for every single large event. If you search long enough you’ll find some fucking wackjob that loved the Clone Saga or Heroes Reborn or Spider-Verse or Ultimatum or…fuck, there’ve been so many dumb events in comics.

 ultimatum-584

Because sometimes they print fan fiction and call it legitimate. 

Age of Apocalypse starts off classically in the middle of the story, while introducing a young Cypher to the raging battle between Magneto’s rebel X-Men and Apocalypse and his tyrannical generals. This way he can learn/explain the politics of the world to the reader, without it seeming too ham-fisted. Right now he’s a fairly boring “chosen one” character, and I agree when Havok asks, “what makes this kid so important?” But the book sets up the stakes, if not their reasons, quite well. It’s a smart move, which is why it’s used again and again in almost every medium. And it works for the most part in this issue, except for his incredibly insightful moments with the Summers brothers.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 12.46.56 PM

The child who just met them knows their deepest feelings. Maybe his mutant power is that of a Psych 101 student.

Fabian Nicieza and Gerardo Sandoval (and team) do a great job at bringing that AoA style to the new millennium, while holding back on some of the more EXTREME tendencies of their predecessors. Dark Beast specifically looks like a whole new character, rather than simply being a maniacal version of Hank McCoy. He’s also one of the more interesting characters here, highlighting the political machinations within Apocalypse’s regime. Anytime a story can complicate itself further than one side versus another side, it’s a good thing. Add to that Scott Summers being less than okay with how he has to enforce martial law these days, the book looks like it COULD be an exploration of good, evil, and everything in between.

the-in-between

Over in CivlWarlandia, America is divided into the Iron and the Blue, as Cap and Iron Man have been fighting for what appears to be decades. Our issue opens as they come face to face for the first time in years, to start negotiations. For the many detractors of the original Civil War, this might feel more of the same, but the update does a much better job at showing how both sides can be unreasonable and up their own ass. Numerous people point out how the war is no longer about the Registration Act, but has become to be about who has the bigger superhero dick (it’s obviously Hulk). The update seems consciously trying to tell a more thought out story, about the repercussions of war and the dangers of digging in your heel. Both Captain America and Iron Man come off as huge pricks, with their supporters on both sides telling them maybe it’s time to fucking chill out and bro-down like they used to. Another clear sign this version is aware of, if not in full conversation with, its past is this variant cover.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 12.30.50 PM

Sort of belittles the American Revolution…

While the lead up and failing negotiations may not seem like an exciting first issue, Charles Soule and Leinil Frances Yu (and team) do a good job at introducing the status quo of this specific land. The Iron is a slightly totalitarian area, where anyone with powers is kindly encouraged to join the police force. The Blue is sort-of a Wild West meets benevolent version of the Foot Clan’s hideout from the first Ninja Turtles movies. Anything goes, because fuck rules man. Except there’s hints of a violent task force, the Punishers, to handle anything too extreme. Without outright saying it, the book hints at Cap’s hypocrisies in his fight for freedom. It also gives us a pretty heartbreaking moment of Spider-Man seeing his wife and daughter for the first time in years, before having to go back to work. There’s no explanation why he lives in the Blue, and they’re stuck in the Iron, but we need not all answers right away impatient readers. The story will unfold in its own time, if we let it. Both books surprised me in their general lack of lameness, but the politics and character work in Civil War is just slightly more subtle than AoA, and the (final) battle there is more of a draw than your favorite characters with longer hair and raspier voices. Plus we get to see Spider-Man with Falcon wings, and that’s just the shit.-MG

COME BACK MONDAY FOR MORE ROUND ONE ACTION!

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders VERSUS Spider-Island

Battleworld Battleworld

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 1, BATTLE 18

Follow the bracket here!

1872 #1

18721cover

VS

RED SKULL #1

RED_SKULL_1

This is how the battle between 1872 and Red Skull plays out. Let’s start with 1872.

This is Marvel’s attempt at a western style drama. It’s complete with native Americans, saloons, and the backdrop of the American Southwest. The story uses characters familiar to the Marvel world to fill the roles of characters familiar to the western genre. Steve Rogers plays the tough, law abiding sheriff. Tony Stark is the town drunk. Kingpin is the greedy villain who wants to divert the river to pave the way for a railroad (or some such Spaghetti western bullshit). Ultimately, what 1872 has going for it is how well it adapts to western conventions. Its easy for Steve Rogers to slip into the role of an old timey Sheriff and he wears the skin of the character quite well. The second thing this comic has going for it is the casting.

1872.3

Sheriff Captain America

 

This issue does such of good job of adhering to convention that it is almost a little boring. It’s practically paint by numbers.

So what does it mean to adapt to western conventions?

 

The wild west is a mostly an invention of Hollywood. Actually history doesn’t report many duels or much gun violence during this period. The hooker with the heart of gold is an urban legend. There was only ever one show-down at the OK Corral. The world of the wild, wild west came to life on the silver screen. 1872 looks to movies for the inspiration for it’s stories. Basically, every western movie is based on the characters created by this man:

jw

John Wayne

 

and/or this man:

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood

and sometimes this man:

Sheriff Andy

Sheriff Andy

 

How Captain America is going to function within a cowboy’s jurisdiction is a wee bit enticing. I am interested in what happens to Steve Rogers because of my familiarity with his character. It’s amazing how you can place two well worn things together, in this case westerns and Captain America, and somehow it’s fresh again. I’m familiar with the characters and I’m very familiar with the genre, but perhaps because of this familiarity I am more fascinated with how well these different elements work together. This comic isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, it’s doing what Marvel does best, exploring different aspects of their superheros. The ability to explore their character’s limits is what gives guys like Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, or Steve Rogers a pulse.

capt

Moving on to the other comic book in this battle: Red Skull. The basic premise of issue one is that megadouche Crossbones has kidnapped a group of characters

 

These poor bastards.

These poor bastards.

 

and is forcing them to hunt for another megadouche and enemy of Lord Doom, Red Skull.

 

But here’s the rub, all those badguys,*ahem, Spoilers* save Magneto, are killed almost immediately. This is the opposite of a convention. This is a twist ending, and in issue #1 no less. Twists typically come during the climax of a story, near the end. The phrase “twist endings” almost always invoke the memory of this guy:

There is a reason this magazine folded.

There is a reason this magazine folded.

 

Twists exist purely for titillation. They come at the cost of whatever point was being made.

 

The fact that this happened in issue one tells me that the writers either have too much confidence in their ability to tell a story, or far too little. If it’s the first one, too much confidence, it is due to the bravado in breaking from conventional storytelling. Of course its possible to break conventions. But you really have to know what you’re doing. That means there has to be a point to it. When Janet Leigh was murdered in the first 30 minutes of Psycho, everyone was shocked because audiences assumed the main character was safe. Director Alfred Hitchcock effectively upset everyone’s expectations on purpose to create an atmosphere of uncertainty. It’s a ballsy move to break conventions. It is rarely pulled off. If the writers of this comic suffer from not enough confidence, they threw in a twist as a way to hook readers into issue #2. Either way, the twist effectively flushes everything else that has happened so far down the toilet. I hope for for the rest of the series writers keep it a little more simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, Red Skull isn’t making it out of the 1st round for this bracket.

 

The winner of this round is 1872. It leans into the future issues with much more skill than Red Skull. We’ll see if it can hold its own against Korvac Saga in round two!!

 

 

-Stephanie Brady

 

PopFilter Podcast Episode 203

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This week on the PopFilter Podcast, the Taste Buds (TM) discuss USA’s latest dramatic effort in Mr. Robot as well as the new Tame Impala record, Currents. That’s right; THEY TALK ABOUT MUSIC! They also take the time to painstakingly craft a mountain to the four most iconic anti-establishment characters in all of pop culture and painstakingly scream at each other about what society needs to SettleDown (TM) about.

It goes well. It goes very, very well.

Super Hero Hour Hour 7/10/15

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On this episode of the Super Hero Hour Hour, Ryan and Mike achieve the level of normal human American by finally completing the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. They discover not just what it’a like to fully be watchers of superhero television, but actual, full grown people. As if you needed more, they give out the Hourie for Best Show of the Year and something something Dark Matter.

PopFilter Podcast: Best of the Year (So Far), pt. 2

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The exciting conclusion to the Taste Buds’ (TM) best of the year show from Monday! Do you remember Monday? It was great, but this is better. Don’t believe me? Listen and find out how completely wrong you are.

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

WEEK EIGHT PREVIEW

ROUND ONEBATTLE EIGHTEEN

RED SKULL #1

RED_SKULL_1

JOSHUA WILLIAMS (w) • LUCA PIZZARI (a)
• One of the most vile villains of the Marvel Universe gets his very own twisted Secret Wars series!
• Red Skull should be dead but his legend grows, so a team of villains that includes Winter Soldier, Magneto and Lady Deathstrike are sent on a dangerous odyssey to the Deadlands to prove it…but no one ever comes back alive from the Deadlands!
• Forced to overcome zombies, Ultron drones and the Annihilation Wave, the rag-tag team of villains will find that they may bitten off more than they can chew…

VS

1872 #1

18721cover

GERRY DUGGAN (w) • NIK VIRELLA (a/C)
DEAD MAN’S HAND!
• BULLSEYE!
• ELEKTRA!
• GRIZZLY!
• DOC OCK!
• ‘NUFF SAID, PARTNER!

 

ROUND ONEBATTLE NINETEEN

AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1

AGE OF APOCALYPSE

FABIAN NICIEZA (w) • GERARDO SANDOVAL (a/C)
• His war has been won. The few humans left alive are enslaved, the mutant rebellion crushed. EN SABAH NUR, the APOCALYPSE, rules his BATTLEWORLD kingdom without mercy, but the terrorist X-MEN plan to end his reign. Success means finding one very special mutant named CYPHER and unleashing a weapon that will kill Apocalypse — and possibly all mutants, too!

VS

CIVIL WAR #1

CIVIL WAR

CHARLES SOULE (w)
LEINIL FRANCIS YU (a/C)
• The Civil War never ended. Welcome to the Warzone, where six years of non-stop battle between the forces of the Blue and the Iron have split the nation down its center, utterly transforming it. In a world of new alliances and strange enemies, President Tony Stark and General Steve Rogers meet to make one last attempt at peace.

 

 

 

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 2, BATTLE 5

Follow the bracket here!

FUTURE IMPERFECT #1-2

FUTIMP2015001_VAR

VS

GS_LITTLE_MARVEL_2

GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL: AVX #1-2

 

Round One of this tournament, which is a bunch of first issues fighting each other, is all about setting up the novelty, if not the storyline of each different title. This is fine, but then we NEED to get some sort of stakes in the second issues. I know it seems like the stakes should be set up immediately, or at least by the end of the first issue, but I’m being a little more forgiving here for a couple of reasons. One, every first issue is not only establishing an entire new world, but a new world inside a larger new world. That’s a lot to do. On top of that, comic book writers, especially the ones that work for Marvel and DC, are used to having their stakes built in. They are typically working with characters who have been in the middle of their Act 2’s since the early sixties. This comes with its own inherent stakes, and fans that have a pretty good idea of what’s going on with the characters, but it might take them a minute to figure out the short-form world building of the Battleworld books. So, it’s OK if the first issues of each story sell us on the world, and the second issues let us know why we should care. Or, in Battleworld terms, issue one is “DOOM IS GOD,” and issue two is “ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW WHAT? FUCK DOOM.” Now that more and more second issues are coming out, and based on what’s going on in the main Secret Wars book, it seems like God Doom is going to have his hands full pretty soon, not just with the characters that escaped the 616 unscathed, but also the citizens of a lot of the worlds he created.

 

This is how the first two issues of Future Imperfect work. They throw us into a world based on an event of the past. They show who is down with Doom. Then they show how us how no one is. And then they begin to work their way towards what will most likely be an anti-climactic showdown, thanks to too many books over too long a time putting too much pressure on the finale. But in addition to that, Future Imperfect is mostly OK on its own, too. It plays around with a smart Hulk. It shines a new light on the Thing/Hulk battle that has been raging for 50 years now.  And it tells the story of how hard it is to be an asshole when there’s a bigger asshole standing in your way. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a tired cliche, but it gets more interesting when people go against some of their beliefs in order to stop something that is against more of their beliefs. It’s not totally clear yet why Hulk and Thing would put aside their fundamental differences in order to take down Doom, or even how exactly they can help each other. But that’s OK. That’s what issue threes are for. That’s the kind of conversation that can fuel how compelling this book can be, while attaching it to the larger Secret Wars world. Right now, that’s all you need to make it into Round 3.

 

Sometimes, however, books can start to feel like the whole Battleworld event was set-up so the publisher could tell their writers and artists “Hey, do whatever you want with whichever characters you want.” I loved Giant Size Little Marvel: AVX. It wasn’t just the nice vaycay from the rest of what Marvel was doing, nor was it just the opportunity – any opportunity – to get some more of Skottie Young’s cartooning. It was the perfect blend of world introduction and forward progression, and all of that came to a screeching halt with issue two. After this latest one, it seems more like Marvel would have been better suited putting one-page stories about this world in the back of every Battleworld issue, as opposed to dedicating an entire title to it. It’s still a lot of fun, and the art will always be worth the price of admission alone, but this far into the event, we need some sort of hook to get us to keep buying. There are so many titles. It’s exasperating, and I can imagine that even readers who don’t have to write about every book that comes out are looking for any reason to cull their lists. GSLMAVX finds itself stuck in some sort of purgatory between telling a long-form story and a bunch of tiny skits. Neither one is working right now. The end of this issue finds two twins (basically Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) watching the Avengers and the X-Men fighting over which team they are going to be on (Get it? It’s like Fox and Marvel Studios). The two try and predict who will win one of the battles, one predicts wrong, and then it ends. It’s weird, and abrupt, and highlights what it’s missing. It’s missing the thing that I think the stories need at this point: the reason, either on a micro or macro level, to get us to keep tuning in. Future Imperfect has a long road ahead of it if it wants to take this whole tournament down, but the first two issues begin a story that can stand alone AND connect itself to the bigger world. That’s going to be one of, if not the, secret to winning.

– Ryan Haley

 

COME BACK MONDAY FOR MORE ROUND ONE ACTION!

RED SKULL! 1872! AGE OF APOCALYPSE! CIVIL WAR!

 

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 2, BATTLE 1

Follow the bracket here!

A FORCE #1&2

a-force-female-avengers.0

VS

Planet-Hulk-2015-teaser

PLANET HULK #1&2

In a battle as fun as it is enormous, A Force takes us on a journey to explore exactly why a utopian society is being felled by mysterious attacks and how its leaders deal with balancing the threat and their unwavering commitment to Doom. Planet Hulk takes us on a ride to discover how to take down the leaders of a dystopian society so that Captain America and his dinosaur can find their best friend and be free. Like I said, this battle is as fun and big as can be. The questions, however, is which comic deserves a spot in the sweet 16. This is the question that keeps me up at night. This is the question that plagues my waking hours.

Comics: Ruining my life.

Comics: Ruining my life.

In looking at both books, the ideas of allegiance and the all-crushing hand of Lord Doom are front and center. How are you supposed to answer to a man that you believe in, however incompletely? Knowing his power and understanding his position only takes you so far before you have to contemplate exactly how just his policies are. With A Force, we see She-Hulk fumble with loyalty to her God and loyalty to her team, resulting in everyone questioning her position. In Plant Hulk, we see a man decide that loyalty, however facetious to his God, is a worthy deceit if it will allow him the freedom to fight back. The battle, then, breaks down to how well each book does or does not make the reader believe in motive, action and consequence. And though both are absolutely tremendous reads, the edge goes to A Force.

I don't know. This seems to be some pretty fantastical shit.

I don’t know if I believe this shit. I mean, “X-Ray” spectacles???

In A Force, we see She-Hulk put herself in the very real situation of having to decide between her personal satisfaction and the greater good. Relenting to the demands of an angry Doom, She-Hulk and her team are forced to lose one of their own for the sake of keeping their creator content. Her motive for doing so is clear and her actions logically follow. She has nothing but difficult decisions to make and she does her absolute best to appease everyone, resulting, as always, in almost no one being appeased. Half way through the second book, I found myself shouting, “Fuck you, Dazzler! If you think you can do better, why don’t you try leading the A Force?! Oh, because all you can do is disco light bullshit? Exactly! Shut up, all of you!”. Then I remembered I was reading a comic book. And I was in public. My day off was out of control.

And the day only got weirder from there.

And the day only got weirder from there.

And so, A Force is able to win me over with an incredible story as well as drama and tension that is so completely relatable that you almost forget that a sentinel may come down at any moment and try to step all over your main characters. And while Planet Hulk does an equally great job at presenting wacky shit, the character moments are fewer and farther between. It’s a fun, adventurous romp through jungles and dunes with giant everythings jumping out of everywhere, but the Captain’s motive for justice at all costs is simply mishandled. As virtuous as the Captain is and as important as it is to get to the titular planet ASAP in the books, the time we spend with our hero is brief and hollow compared to the amount of desolate destruction we are hurled into before the end of the first book. Believe me when I say that I’m not asking for a 3-page soliloquy detailing the Captain’s every emotion and thought, but A Force gives me that little something extra to keep me wanting more. By the end of the second book, it felt like Planet Hulk would be fun battle with external forces. By the end of A Force’s second book, I could not wait to see more of its battle with a team’s internal struggle.

Internal team struggles.

Internal team struggles.

And there you have it; that Marguerite Bennett did it again! She refuses to write boring characters and she is a master at fusing real world relationships and drama with the insanity of storylines that only exist in comic books. Sorry everyone else, Marguerite Bennett is fucking killing it right now and her books move on to fight another day in the sweet 16 of the Battleworld Battleworld bracket. May Doom have mercy on whomever she faces next.
With Love,
Jason R. Noble

 

PopFilter Podcast: Best of the Year (So Far), pt. 1

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It’s finally here! Your Taste Buds (TM) finally tell you the 5 best albums, television shows and films that have come out so far in the year 2015! Which do you like, which do you love and which do you think they should all be lined up and shot in the face for picking? Let them know with violent emails!

Also, please do be sure to tune in on Wednesday when the other shoe drops. It is quite good.