Reviewing 2020 in Comics at the Midway Point, Through the Power of Marvel Cinematic Universe Quotes

Incredibly, today is the last day of June, which means we are almost precisely halfway through the year. That simultaneously feels impossible – there is no way 2020 is only six months deep, as it’s clearly 500 years long at this point – but also…how is July tomorrow? 2020 is without a doubt the year time stopped working, alongside everything else.

Given that we’re halfway through the year, though, I thought it was the perfect time to look at the year so far in comics. While it’s been a year ravaged by the pandemic, economic crisis, unexpected closures and openings, revelations of bad behavior, and nearly anything else in the world that could potentially be thrown our way, comics, like life, have found a way.

So I wanted to look back on the year in comics so far – the good, the bad, and the ugly of it – but because the year itself has not been terribly fun, I decided to create a mechanic that would make it enjoyable for me to compile. The good news is I’ve married it with something I genuinely enjoy: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In my time inside, revisiting old favorites from that decade plus of movies has been a blessing, as it has brought escape and entertainment to a year that has had very little of either, unfortunately.

How am I marrying the two? By exploring the year so far in comics via my favorite MCU quotes, pairing the moments and corresponding gifs with the comic, creator, or moment that helped define this very weird year in comics for me. 5 The Marvel Cinematic Universe, while polarizing amongst contrarians, film enthusiasts, and Martin Scorcese, is very quotable, and it was shockingly easy to find fits for every subject I could think of, not all of which made the cut. Let’s get to that laundry list of topics and related quotes.

Luis: So, uh, he tells me that she’s working as a housekeeper now, right? And she’s dating this dude Carlos who’s a shot caller from across the bay and she tells him about the dude that she’s cleaning for. Right? That he’s, like, this big-shot CEO that is all retired now but he’s loaded. And so, Carlos and Ernesto are on the same softball team and they get to talking, right? And here comes the good part. Carlos says: “Yo, man. This guy’s got a big-ass safe just sitting in the basement, just chillin’.” Of course Ernesto comes to me cause he knows I’ve got mad thieving skills. Of course I ask him: “Did Emily tell Carlos to tell you to get to me what kind of safe it was? And he says: “Nah, dog. All she said is that it’s, like, super legit, and whatever’s in it has gotta be good!

Scott Lang: What?

Kurt: Old man. Have. Safe.

From Ant-Man (2015)

To: Incoming! leading into Empyre, sort of 6

Do you remember Incoming!? Incoming! was a monster one-shot from a slew of writers and a cast of thousands on the art side that cost $9.99 and was designed to set the stage for Empyre, 2020’s big event at Marvel. It was 91 pages long, contained a metric ton of one page story beats from varying corners of Marvel’s comic universe, and if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I could confidently tell you more than one thing that happened within that gigantic story. 7

Like Michael Pena’s Luis over-explaining the tips he receives in 2015’s Ant-Man, Incoming! is a flavor of recent Marvel lead-ins that mistakes volume for drama and telling for showing. It lost me well before Empyre even fully came to be, and certainly before it became delayed by the pandemic. Marvel is big on that Luis type of storytelling – which can be very entertaining, if used properly! – but give me Kurt’s direct nature any day of the week when you’re trying to set up an event. I don’t need to check in on every part of the Marvel universe to get excited for a big story. I just need to know the important parts of the story, like whether or not the old man has a safe (or, more specifically to Incoming!, that Hulkling is leading a united Kree/Skrull army to Earth). Less filler, more killer, Marvel! Come on now!

Security Guard: Are you an alien?
Bruce Banner:
Security Guard:
From outer space, an alien.
Bruce Banner:
Security Guard:
Well then, son, you’ve got a condition.

From The Avengers (2012)

To: Daniel Warren Johnson, operating on a different level from everyone else in Wonder Woman: Dead Earth and his commissions

Sometimes when I look at Daniel Warren Johnson’s work – whether you’re talking about his DC Black Label series Wonder Woman: Dead Earth or his unreal commissions – I wonder what exactly separates the way he’s thinking about comics versus everyone else. When you see his work, it can seem DWJ is just operating on a different plane. Like my guy Harry Dean Stanton meeting Bruce Banner, post fall from a Helicarrier, I look at Johnson’s art and I wonder to myself, “Is this guy an alien? What’s his deal?”

The level of detail. How he thinks out images to depict so much story in one vision. The unique angles and mindsets he takes. The explosive small moments and the devastating small ones. Like Banner, Daniel Warren Johnson has a condition: it’s called being one of the best there is. He’s had his full skillset on display in 2020, and it has been mighty impressive.

Howard Stark: Fondue is just cheese and bread, my friend.

From Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

To: X-Men, killing it, simply, softly, and every way

Fondue can sound like an electric thing if you don’t know any better, or it can sound super basic if you know it’s just cheese and bread. But like fondue itself, a delicious thing that is also rather simple, Jonathan Hickman and friends have been killing it every time they show up in X-Men with a stripped down formula – one-shot stories focused on character and world-building through them – much to the delight of myself.

That basic structure, the series of one-shots, is the bread, while Hickman and others like Leinil Yu and RB Silva are the cheese. Individually, they’re solid enough, but together? That’s when magic happens, and one of the most exciting and endlessly fascinating superhero comics is formed.


From Thor (2011)

To: Pandemic era collectibles, being in the wrong time and wrong place

A time where millions of people contract a virus and at least half a million die from it is not exactly a period asking for commemoration. And yet, there were Steve Geppi and Diamond Comic Distributors, announcing that in their efforts to “Back the Comeback” for comic shops – which it in of itself was a very ridiculous thing 8 – they would be creating “pandemic era collectibles” for comic shops to sell, doing just that: commemorating a stretch of time that will almost certainly be one of – if not the – worst time in many people’s lives. It was one of the most absurd things in the history of Diamond, which is saying something.

It was the comic book equivalent of walking into a pet store and demanding a horse to ride, as both were just complete misunderstandings of the situation. It was hilarious and adorable when Thor did it. When Diamond did it? It earned derision, and deservedly so.

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  1. Yes, this is a Bill Simmons mechanic. I am nothing if not inspired by my influences.

  2. I know Incoming! came out at the end of 2019, but I’m counting it because a) I read it in 2020, b) it was after the SKTCHD AWRDS and c) its thought was continued into 2020.

  3. Crucially, the thing I do remember is the last thing, which seemingly was the most important part.

  4. In actuality, not necessarily in theory.

  5. Yes, this is a Bill Simmons mechanic. I am nothing if not inspired by my influences.

  6. I know Incoming! came out at the end of 2019, but I’m counting it because a) I read it in 2020, b) it was after the SKTCHD AWRDS and c) its thought was continued into 2020.

  7. Crucially, the thing I do remember is the last thing, which seemingly was the most important part.

  8. In actuality, not necessarily in theory.