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The (In)Humanity of Superheros

What DC and Marvel seem to differ between is style of superheros, the way in which they exist. Superman for instance is basically invincible and is also almost always right and just, which is part of the appeal to some people. While if you take Tony Stark from Marvel he has human faults and characteristics. There are many other characters that could fit into one category or another between the new universes. However, with Captain Marvel in the field now some say that she too is just too powerful, not relatable. Take the difference between Inhuman and Human archetypes of comic book/movie characters and explore why people find such interest in one or the other, is one more entertaining, or emotionally connecting? Are ‘human’ characters more emotional to the reader/audience because of the relatability? Or is the ‘inhuman’ character more appealing because it plays to people’s wildest dreams and fantasies?

  • This is why I love Marvel. People by design are social creatures. They love to connect with people on an emotional level, which is why when they read a book or watch a movie or TV show, they have a better connection with fictional characters that have a sense of human nature within them. That does not mean they need to be human per se, but they must have human characteristics. Such as vulnerabilities that anyone on earth can relate to (the loss of a love one, feeling cheated, having a disability, falling in love, being bullied etc. The more human experiences the character has, the more relatble they are and the more the audience will like them. – Amelia Arrows 3 weeks ago
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Out of the Ashes: Building New Societies in The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead comic series shows various groups of people trying to form new societies in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. Examine the different types of societies in the show (Woodbury, The Kingdom, The Hill, Terminus, etc.) and how they form and sustain their societies as well as the flaws that inevitably lead to their downfall at the hands of the Walkers.

  • I'm not familiar with this show (not a fan of zombies, vampires, and etc.) but this sounds like a fun and informative topic. It might be worth contrasting the strengths of each society with their weaknesses (e.g., is one society weak in an area where another is strong). – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
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  • This is a very engaging idea for a topic. As a fan of the show myself, Ive noticed the recurring trend of moving from location to location in a trial and error effort to rebuild civilisation. I think the different societies depicted exhibits the different humanitarian approaches to the apocalypse itself and a discussion of this would be extremely interesting. Great Idea! – AdilYoosuf 2 years ago
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  • This topic would be interesting to look at given the last major arc in the series (with the new Governor, and the idea of poeple being placed in their pre-apocalyptic roles), and that the series is now over and it finished with somewhat retrospective ideas from Carl. More to work with. – msnfrd 3 months ago
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The Representation of Art in "The Sculptor"

Scott McCloud’s graphic novel "The Sculptor" gained recognition for its art and plot. "It was the best graphic novel I’ve read in years" were Neil Gaiman’s words to describe how much it is a good read. The events pivot around the protagonist David Smith who was granted the power to turn anything he imagines into reality through sculpture. That was, however, only made possible when Death manifested itself in the form of his uncle Harry to tell him that he will, in return, have just 200 days to live. As the comic book was published in 2015, it could be assumed that it questions the position of art in modern society. Considering the capitalist lifestyle in the American society, McCloud seeks to criticize how art cannot always be treated as a business and that we should not forget its primary purpose.

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    World Expanding with the Walking Dead Novels

    Both The Walking Dead television show and the comic book series are incredibly popular, sharing similarities but so different in story and character arc that they constitute separate universes. Less well known (relatively) is the series of novels, written initially by Robert Kirkman with Jay Bonansinga, and later taken over by Bonansinga as the sole writer. These novels, set in the comic universe, explore the rise of the Governor in more depth, and then follow events in Woodbury after he is gone. What ways do the novels expand the world of the comics, in terms of character and plot development, and how does the post-governor Woodbury relate to other types of societies seen in the series?

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      Superheroes: Altruists or Status Quo Apologists

      The Marvel and DC cinematic universes have created superheroes that benefitted from the US military industrial complex then turned their backs on it. Captain America became a hero from the Army’s super soldier serum in The First Avenger then rejected surveillance overreach by government agencies in The Winter Soldier. Iron Man inherited a vast fortune from Stark Industry’s weapons development then restructured the company to clean energy development at the end of the first movie. Batman’s endless array of tech toys originated as US military prototypes of Wayne tech repurposed for war on Gotham’s crime. Nonetheless, super heroic courage, genius intellect, and god like powers are always depicted preserving the status quo (late stage capitalism with grossly corrupt governments protecting global income inequality as the earth burns) and actively combatting those who strive to fix such problems. For example, Thanos aims to eradicate overpopulation and Killmonger plots to undermine white global dominance by destroying US and NATO military superiority. What can we make of this ambiguity in superhero comics and movies?

      • I think it would also be interesting to explore what Superman and Batman represent. Admittedly, I'm not very involved in the lore, but much has been made about Bruce Wayne being a wealthy man who, besides fighting supervillians, also stops people who do petty crimes who obviously are way more economically disadvantaged than him. – Emily Deibler 4 months ago
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      • Yes exactly! Superman on the other hand has the power to shut down the 100 companies producing 70% of the carbon emissions leading to climate destruction but settles for foiling jewel heists and working as a reporter – Will Nolen 4 months ago
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      • Also, we should add Batman's obsession with surveillance and information collection...If I were to tackle this topic, I would definitely bring up Robert Kirkman's Invincible, where the main character is constantly confronted with this ambiguous dichotomy. – kpfong83 4 months ago
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      • Absolutely kpfong83! Batman's surveillance and his schemes to betray each of his allies "just in case" all echo American foreign policies even with fellow NATO members (as I recall in 2015 the NSA got busted for wire tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel). – Will Nolen 4 months ago
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      • I feel like this is really a question about what's good for individual people vs. some theoretical "greater good." Superheroes like Batman and Superman, from my admittedly limited understanding, seem like what they want is to keep "the peace" by ensuring a relatively stable society in which most people can live normal lives, even if it might leave some members of that society vulnerable in certain respects. Meanwhile, the bad guys you mention have big dreams and big ideas about how to remake the world, but the only way to accomplish these goals is to cause a lot of personal suffering, even to the people they're supposedly trying to help. – Debs 4 months ago
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      • I think that you might be right Debs but this superheroic pro-status quo perspective is quite limited in that the definition of who benefits from that "relatively stable society" does NOT include a huge portion of the global population (e.g. the 99% of the population in developing countries, the poor and other disenfranchised in the developed countries- PoC, LGBTQ, poor, etc.). So these superheoes end up reflecting the pov of the ruling elites and their beneficiaries which might explain why many superheroes tend to be white males from middle and upper class backgrounds – Will Nolen 4 months ago
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      Feminism and World-building in Monstress

      An analysis of Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress (or the first handful of issues at least) and how they build a world that seems to be very female-dominated, and what that means for gender relations within the comic. Are strong female characters in a world that is predominantly made up of women still good role models, or are they less effective without the men to act as a contrast? Is Maika a good feminist role model, or at least a good realistic female character?

      • The world is changing so much that women are dominating most important post in various establishments, they still need men though. My point is women are not ranked low now like years back. – asdfg46 3 years ago
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      • I would also examine other comic book series where this is the case and see how they compare to Monstress. – BMartin43 3 years ago
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      The Women of Frank Miller's Sin City

      In Frank Miller’s Sin City (1991-2000), the prostitutes of Old Town, Basin City’s red light district, keep the pimps and cops out. In a city filled with corrupt cops and politicians, they are the only semblance of true justice. But are they a good portrayal of strong female characters or are they merely a male fantasy? Analyze how well the women of Old Town hold up in the age of #MeToo.

      • This is a fantastic article topic! I would recommend for anyone who takes it that intersectionality feminist theory may come in handy when analyzing this thesis. Considering the race, class, and gender of the characters in question can help improve equality and make it more inclusive. – M. L. Flood 9 months ago
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      The growth of the webcomic industry

      Most of us have heard about the two biggest companies DC and Marvel when it comes to comics. But what about the growing industry of comics written by people who are not professionally working in the industry (at least not in the traditional sense)? Now more than ever, there are people writing and illustrating their own stories and publishing them online through sites such as Tapas and Webtoons. What kind of implications does this have on the online comic book industry? What are some comics to recommend? Why is the webcomic so important today?

      • Perhaps you could mention the popularity of webcomics on Instagram as well? The hashtag #webcomic has over 1 million Instagram posts. – Sophie Bouey 9 months ago
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      • If it's not too far outside the scope of what you are thinking of it would be interesting to include discussion of how the adoption of the internet in personal homes really allowed for the birth of the webcomic as a hobby to arise. Also discussion of where the comic writing and drawing skillset came from prior to the birth of the web movement. It would be interesting to spotlight what the hobby was before it came to the web platform. – rivennz 9 months ago
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