Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40

tmnt 40Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40, originally released November 26th, 2014. Patrick: They started out as a joke — an answer to the dare “what’s the weirdest thing you can draw?” A mutant turtle that’s also a ninja, and what the hell, let’s make him a teenager just to layer on the strangeness. “Mutant” and “teenage” made them marketable, but it’s the absurd combination of “ninja” and “turtle” that always stuck in my brain. It just doesn’t make sense: why would a turtle ever be agile and stealthy? They’re bulky, presumably sorta heavy and shouldn’t even have the fingers necessary to grip a katana. That contradiction ends up imbuing the characters with both weight and speed simultaneously, and one of the great pleasures of IDW’s run on TMNT is watching different artists try to capture the sheer momentum that these four brothers represent. Issue 40 is a tour de forces-at-motion-staying-in-motion for Mateus Santolouco, who delivers page after page of stunningly realized action. It may be a brawl between a dozen mutants, but the physicality is so present and so vibrant, believing the insane action is only natural. Continue reading

The Flash 36

Alternating Currents: The Flash 36, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Flash 36, originally released November 26th, 2014.

Drew: There’s a lot of weirdness we accept in our comics — radioactive spider-bites, a dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys, even dudes who dress up like birds to support the dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys — but we tend to think of the morality as fairly straightforward. Oftentimes it is — Superman fights for good, Dr. Doom fights for bad — but the weirdness can also raise some bizarre moral questions. Is time-travel inherently immoral? Exactly how icky is the prospect of a body-snatched romantic relationship? Somehow, writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen manage to find the overlap between these inherently comic-booky ideas in The Flash 36. Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving!

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As we ready our waistbands in preparation of Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to thank all of our readers. Comic fans have a lot to be thankful for this year, but we feel especially blessed to have such engaged, intelligent readers and commenters. Thank you for spending a little time thinking about comics with us. We’re taking the day off today, but we’ll be back tomorrow, so be sure to check in then. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 11/19/14

round upLook, 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, Spencer, Patrick and Drew discuss Teen Titans Earth One V.1, Elektra 8, Deadpool 37, Loki: Agent of Asgard 8, Spider-Woman 1, New Avengers 26, Universe! 1, Bob’s Burgers 4, Superman/Wonder Woman 13, Batman/Superman 16, Batman Eternal 33, Wonder Woman 36, Justice League 36, and Intersect 1

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Spencer: To say that I’m a big Teen Titans fan is a severe understatement. It was the animated series that motivated me to start checking out Teen Titans comics, which, in turn, pulled me into reading monthlies via Geoff Johns’ run on the title and its influence on Infinite Crisis. Sadly, though, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a Titans book I could really sink my teeth into, which is why the announcement of Jeff Lemire and Terry and Rachel Dodson’s Teen Titans Earth One graphic novel got me so excited. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time, and fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 10

amazing spiderman 10Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 10, originally released November 19th, 2014.

Spencer: Obviously, the major draw of Spider-Verse is getting to see so many Spider-Men together in one place. It’s easy to think of them all as one homogenous whole — they’re all Spiders, after all — but this group is actually quite diverse, with each alternate Spider holding their own opinions and viewpoints. The readers no doubt want to see these heroes all work together, but what happens when their ideals begin to clash? This is the bread-and-butter of Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel’s Amazing Spider-Man 10; from Silk chafing at her strict handlers to the science vs. magic debates of Otto and Old Man Spider, this issue is all about the conflicts that threaten to tear the spiders apart when they need to join together the most. Continue reading

Daredevil 10

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Today, Greg and Taylor are discussing Daredevil 10, originally released November 19th, 2014. 

Greg: Like many folks who work in a creative field, I battle with depression. Now I know that this is a site that critiques comic books, not the critics’ psyches, so I won’t go into agonizing detail, but I will tell you that there are times when you feel like you’re drowning among loved ones, I’m currently feeling a lot better, and that feeling better is something you work on daily. I’ll also tell you the only reason I’m being this forward is because Daredevil 10 touches on depression in such a refreshingly accurate and harrowing way, that I can’t help but feel disappointed when it ultimately devolves into a hastily tidy wrap-up. Continue reading

Black Widow 12

black widow 12Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing Black Widow 12, originally released November 19th, 2014.

slim-bannerSuzanne: Have you ever looked at your job description six months into a new job and chuckled to yourself? Rarely do expectations and generally-worded guidelines from corporate align themselves with real-life experiences. How about that summer internship when you felt more like a barista than a business student? Natasha Romanova feels your pain in Black Widow 12, as jobs constantly pull her away from her preferred role as a spy. Continue reading

Fables 146

fables 146Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 146, originally released November 19th, 2014.

Drew: I love thinking about art. I know that sentiment sometimes seems sterile to folks who prefer to “feel” art, but I’ve really never seen the two as mutually exclusive. Indeed, I think deep thought about why a work of art invokes the feelings that it does makes for a much more rewarding experience, not only for our understanding of the art and ourselves, but for our own emotional satisfaction. For me, analysis doesn’t distance me from the art, it immerses me in it, allowing for countless stories within our favorite works of art. Surprisingly, the biggest resistance I get to this approach is in music, where most people — including musicians — seem to dismiss analysis as a sterilized intellectual endeavor. I personally think this is the result of incomplete familiarity with the tools and techniques of music theory. Even trained musicians tend to think of “theory” as referring to harmonic analysis almost exclusively, which is effectively like saying literary analysis is just the cataloging of assonance. One tool is not enough to effectively analyze any work of art, and flattens all art to existing in a single dimension. Then again, certain works of art lend themselves particularly well to focusing on one — the orchestration of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, for instance — yielding a rich narrative about the work, even if it isn’t the only narrative. I’d argue that Fables has this kind of relationship with allusions — one that is particularly pronounced in issue 146. Continue reading

Avengers 38

avengers 38Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Avengers 38, originally released November 19th, 2014. 

You can’t tell the players without a program!

Traditional

Spencer: I actually bought a program at a ballgame once, and while it made a nice souvenir, I can’t say it helped me follow the game any better — if anything, it was a bit of a distraction. I didn’t need to be able to tell the players to follow the action on the field, but the same isn’t true for Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers epic; thankfully, Avengers 38 provides us with a pretty snazzy program of its own, free of charge!

Program

While only the characters in color actually appear in this issue, almost all of them play some sort of role in its story, making me increasingly grateful for this handy run-down. Actually, in its own way all of Avengers 38 is a program; the issue sets up the players in the upcoming conflict between the various Avengers teams as well as their motivations, allegiances, and weapons, and I have a feeling we’re going to be referencing this issue for quite a while to come. It’s place-setting, but place-setting is rarely this entertaining. Continue reading

Zero 12

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Zero 12, originally released November 19th, 2014.

Taylor: As a comic, Zero has bucked many of the conventions that have come to define our understanding of a comic book series. Whereas most comics enjoy a prolonged run of writer and artist, Zero has one writer with a rotating cast of artists each issue. Instead of following a straightforward plot progression, Zero tells its story with no truly describable pattern, instead exploring mood and ideas before plot. The hero, usually given the most amount of ink in words and artwork, here shares his pages with other characters in an act that shifts the focus of the story away from him and onto the world he calls home. All that being said, it’s easy to see why Zero might be overlooked by some. But for those seeking a unique reading experience, there’s nothing quite like it. Continue reading