Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Batman 26, originally released December 11th, 2013
Scott: There’s real risk in presenting a story like Zero Year. Mostly, there’s a risk that there won’t be enough tension to keep the story interesting. One thing that makes a story exciting to read is that we don’t know what will happen to the characters, and there’s always the possibility of tragedy striking a character we love. Those possibilities are limited in Zero Year. Since it takes place in the past, we know a lot of things can’t happen. Bruce can’t die in Zero Year. Neither can Alfred, Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox, or any other character we saw in the first 20 issues of Batman. With that in mind,let’s take this opportunity to thank goodness that Scott Snyder knows how to exploit all of the things this type of story can do. Zero Year shows an evolution — one of strange people becoming the characters we’ve come to know — and it’s full of mystery. Seems like a risk worth taking. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Lazarus 5, originally released December 11th, 2013.
Shelby: With family dramas like Lazarus, it seems to always come down to loyalty. With family, a certain amount of loyalty is assumed; they’re your family, you have to be loyal to that. Greg Rucka really tests that with the Carlyles; the first issues are rife with schemes and betrayal. Poor Forever is stuck with the task of not only remaining loyal to the back-stabbingest family, but also not really having a choice as the family’s Lazarus. Despite her unwavering facade, there’s that tiny seed of doubt planted by the anonymous message that she’s not actually a part of the family. If blood ties are the driving force behind her loyalty, what’s she to do if those ties don’t even exist? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 12, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Lisa: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Bart: Not if you called ‘em stench blossoms. Homer: Or crapweeds. Marge: I’d sure hate to get a dozen crapweeds for Valentine’s Day. I’d rather have candy. Homer: Not if they were called scumdrops.
The Simpsons, The Principal and the Pauper
Patrick:Fearless Defenders spends an awful lot of its time collecting. Characters, Maidens (both Doom and Shield) and — of course — Defenders. But with so much time spent fretting about who’s agreed to be called what, the series finds very little energy left over to focus on the individual characters. Issue 12 takes that ball and runs it in for a cold, distant touchdown. Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman / Superman 6, Green Arrow 26, Earth-2 18, Superior Spider-Man 23, Amazing X-Men 2, Indestructible Hulk Annual 1, and Guardians of the Galaxy 9.
Drew: Greg Pak’s Batman/Superman charged out of the gate with a fascinating study of Bruce and Clark, using the funhouse mirror of Earth-2 to show us who they are — and importantly, who they aren’t. Batman/Superman 6manages to continue to demonstrate who the characters aren’t, which unfortunately means an issue full of super-powered Batman and rage-fuelled Superman. Aptly titled “Boss Fight,” this issue casts aside all of the hard-earned emotional intelligence of the first arc, favoring an insanely overpowered punch-em-up. This may read better for those with a fondness for the tropes being sent-up, but for the rest of us, this issue largely approximates the experience of watching your friend play video games. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and guest writer Dan Jones are discussing Avengers Annual 2013, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Drew: Superheroes are a lonely bunch. They’re generally unlucky-in-love. Many of them are orphans (or had other close loved ones die). They also have isolating responsibilities and power-sets that can make them difficult to relate to. Unless, of course, they’re trying to relate to other superheroes. Characters like Iron Man and Captain America seem peerless when surrounded by everyday schmucks, but they act as serviceable peers to one another. That emotional support can be lost in stories that attempt to justify their team-ups with ever-bigger baddies to punch (coughInfinitycough), but can be a goldmine for savvy writers. Kathryn Immonen goes a step further in the Avengers Annual 2013, making the subtext of superhero loneliness the text, and giving the Avengers a reason to team up besides a giant bad-guy. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing Velvet 2, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Shelby: I do so enjoy a good spy thriller. There’s something about the James Bonds, the Jason Bournes, the Ethan Hunts that is just impossibly cool. They’ve got the neatest gadgets and the most impressive skills. The life of a spy is built on lies, no one can really be trusted. The story is intrigue layered on mysteries, usually layered on top of betrayal. That’s why I think the mole-hunt/double agent story is my favorite kind of spy thriller; it transforms the necessity of the secrets and lies into a liability. Who better to hide from spies than another spy? Who could take down a secret agency other than one of its own? How is an agency supposed to find a mole when all its own tricks are being used against it? Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting take on these questions in their spy thriller Velvet, and it is exactly as fun as you would think. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Black Bat 7, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Scott: I like failure. Wait, I should clarify that a little; I like it when superheroes fail. It sucks for them, sure, but at least it’s exciting. When you read a lot of comics, you get used to seeing the heroes being, well, heroic. It’s nice to see one screw the pooch once in a while. So I can’t think of a better place for us to dive into Brian Buccellato’s The Black Bat. You see, The Black Bat just messed up real bad. I’m talking scores-of-people-are-now-dead-because-of-him bad. It’s a tough situation for anyone to rebound from, but if this issue teaches us one thing, it’s that Black Bat bounces back from failure with a vengeance. And if it teaches us a second thing, it’s that Buccellato isn’t afraid to move through plot points quickly. A little too quickly, I’d go so far to say. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern 26, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Drew: Any 8th-grade social studies student can tell you that colonialism is a sticky subject. Many decry the loss of indigenous cultures, but how do you weigh that against the boon of western medicine? Are we morally obligated to preserve human culture at the cost of human life, or vice versa? That question only gets stickier when you take those other cultures into account — perhaps they value these things differently than their would-be colonizers. These are questions that have tormented philosophers for centuries — exactly the kind of thing Hal Jordan might blunder into unwittingly. Green Lantern 26 finds Hal struggling to impose his rule on Dekann and while he succeeds, his victory suggests a disturbing new status quo within the Green Lantern universe. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Young Avengers 13, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Patrick: I like starting off an article off with a little epigram. It’s a fun, pithy way to get things jump-started, and usually it makes me look smarter than I actually am. Young Avengers has always had romance running through its veins, but the final issue of the Mother Parasite arc focuses in love — its power, its uncertainty, its sheer insanity. I thought to myself “oh, I’m got the perfect quote to kick off this piece,” but in attempting to access a beautiful, articulate saying about love, I was subjected to a deluge of insightful comments, heart-breaking one-liners, and hopeful true-isms. It turns out that we are all obsessed with love, and we all want to be in the mix for saying the most beautiful thing ever about it. Kieron Gillen has put his characters through the paces, and across countless nightmare worlds, and in the end, it’s love that keeps all of reality from collapsing. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Swamp Thing 26, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Drew: I always get awkward when meeting new people: between my own anxiety over making a good impression and trying to size them up myself, genuine interactions often get squeezed out. These problems are only exacerbated when it comes to meeting new coworkers, where there are actual stakes that you get along, and the specter of “professionalism” adds pressure to the situation. I should mention here that I have a great relationship with my coworkers, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel super awkward on my first day, and probably postured more than necessary to make them like me. Jason Woodrue faces similar awkwardness as the new Avatar of the Green, and works way too hard to impress his new bosses. Continue reading →