Swamp Thing Annual 3

swamp thing annual 3Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing Annual 3, originally released October 29th, 2014.

Spencer: As a very young child, I loved watching Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with my mom every week. It wasn’t the first superhero show I fell in love with, but it was the first show I loved that got cancelled. I can still vividly remember sitting on the floor at my grandfather’s house bawling inconsolably the night the final episode aired. As an adult I’ve better come to appreciate that everything ends, but while many endings are absolutely triumphant (see: Trillium), there’s still always a feeling of melancholy that accompanies watching something I love come to an end. Charles Soule clearly can relate: Swamp Thing Annual 3 is all about the fact that all stories must come to an end, and how difficult those endings can be for those that have to experience them. In the process, Soule also explores the great power stories have in our lives, be it the power to comfort and inspire or the power to deceive and sow fear.

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All-New X-Men 33

Alternating Currents: All-New X-Men 33, Taylor and DrewToday,  Taylor and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 33, originally released Ocotber 29th, 2014.

Taylor: A sense of belonging is important for our day-to-day lives. The city we live in, the place we work, where we sleep, and who we interact with are in some way or another based on our desire to feel we belong. Now, whether this sense borders on the quasi-mystical or is a simple impulse to feel comfortable is unimportant. Rather, humans being social animals just want to belong to part of the whole. When you’re a mutant, however, finding a place where you feel that sense of belonging becomes all the more difficult. It’s hard to relate to others when they very may well despise you (and also when they don’t know what it’s like to levitate and the like). The All-New X-Men, more so than their regular X-Men counterpart,s know this quandary, as they’re displaced in time along with being displaced socially. So what happen’s when their sense of belonging is stretched even further? Continue reading

Wonder Woman 35

Alternating Currents: Wonder Woman 35, Patrick and DrewToday, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 35, originally released October 29th, 2014

Patrick: A lot has been made of Hollywood’s apparent inability to adapt Wonder Woman for the screen. Is that driven by the sexism inherent in action film-making? Probably, in part. But Diana, Princess of the Amazons, suffers from a pretty severe case of “what the hell is she about?” We have easily understandable slug lines for just about any other bankable superhero: Batman is the mortal knight of vengeance; Superman is invincible alien boy scout, etc. There’s a how and a why expressed in both of those descriptions. Those attitudes have aged well, but for some reason, the essential nature of Wonder Woman is harder for creators to assert in perpetuity throughout the decades. What Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have done in their 37 (and a half) issues of Wonder Woman is reassert just who this character is, and why her fundamental qualities are every bit as iconic as truth, justice and the American way. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 10/22/14

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 and Drew discuss Batman Beyond Universe 15, Batman Eternal 29, Cyclops 6, Deadpool 36, Harley Quinn 11, The Flash 35, Starlight 6, The Amazing Spider-Man 8, New Warriors 11, Avengers 37, and Secret Avengers 9.

slim-banner4Spencer: One of the things I always admired about the Batman Beyond animated series was the way it resisted the temptation to just reuse future versions of Batman’s rogues gallery; while it was always respectful of Batman’s history, the writers worked hard to give Terry McGinnis his own legacy as Batman. The Batman Beyond comics, though, haven’t always done this; the previous volume especially seemed stuck mining Bruce’s past. In light of this, I was especially pleased with Batman Beyond Universe 15, a smart one-and-done story focusing on some of Terry’s signature rogues, Inque and Ten. Continue reading

Lazarus 12

lazarus 12Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Lazarus 12, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

‘Inspire a generation’ is our motto. Not necessarily ‘Create a generation’ … which is what they sometimes get up to in the Olympic village.

London Mayor Boris Johnson on the  2012 Olympics

Drew: The bacchanalian nature of the Olympic village is well-documented, with anecdotes about the athletes’ exploits reaching near-legendary status, but even without all of the stories, the orgiastic qualities of the village should come as no surprise — what else would you expect of an international group of twenty-somethings in peak physical condition with little else to do? Throw in the fact that any given day, somebody is celebrating the most important win of their lives, and you have an obvious recipe for partying. Curiously, this is exactly the situation the Lazari find themselves in in Lazarus 12. With their families preoccupied with the formalities and strategies of the conclave, the Lazari are left with little to do other than admire each other’s super-human bodies. The result is a decidedly lighter — and alluring — respite amidst all of the tension of the conclave. Continue reading

She-Hulk 9

So, look.  I'm not saying that writing is easy.  This is a craft.  It requires a certain set of skills, a patience, a level of general competency.  And as someone who fancies himself a writer, it's a little painful to see something that reads at such a high level above what I could possibly do.  Extrapolating even further past that, She-Hulk is devastating.  Excruciating.  I want to take sharp objects and whittle away my skin, exposing my tender flesh to the harsh elements so that I may embrace the harsh, tortuous reality of my own limitations.  Did I mention that I rather enjoyed She-Hulk 9 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and the rest?  Because it was something special.  In the Marvel comics universe, superheroes are rather common.  A dime a dozen, even, and since all but a few of them are headquartered in my own home of New York City, you can pretty much toss a stone and hit someone invulnerable without even trying.  It takes little effort to read a comic about a character with super-strength, but, I must say, it's not quite as simple to read about a character in a law firm.  In fact, I can really think of only two major comic book characters who are lawyers, and, well, what do you know?  In this issue, both feature prominently.  It's almost like it was planned that way, who'dka thunkit?  Marvel legend Matthew "Daredevil" Murdock goes up against Jennifer "She-Hulk" Walters in court for, near as I can tell, the first time in comics history.  This alone is monumental, and having them war over the fate of Captain America can only add to the significance.  And as the middle issue of the saga, having the exact details of Captain America's brazen culpability revealed, with his arrogance leading to the death of an innocent, presents something of a moral quandary.  How can one defend someone that blatantly pushes an unstable man, to the point of someone else paying the price?  And at the same time, how do we condemn arguably the greatest hero in Marvel's history, the leader of the Avengers, somebody who has saved the country, the world, even the universe, countless times?    Daredevil sidesteps these issues quite comfortably, presenting the struggle in clear legal terms.  Is Captain America in any way responsible for this man's death?  Setting aside his famed heroism, the good Captain is human, and can he suffer grave errors in judgement?  And in the same vein, She-Hulk attacks Murdock's approach in technical terms, so that the judge may throw out the case before it grows further.  Although a strategy plagued by Steve Rogers' own sense of...responsibility? Justice? Guilt? The issue showcases a clear representation of a court of law, with a level of accuracy rarely seen in casual fiction.  In fact, few writers in the comics industry could show such a devoted insight to the details of the legal system, discussing case dismissals and mistrials and everything that I don't understand, but Charles Soule clearly does.  It's not a surprise, really.  Soule has quickly risen to the top of the comics industry for many reasons--his immense skill level, the top-rank books he writes, and the sheer quantity of his workload.  And yet, in addition to all of this, he has a day job. A law practice, even.  Something that most other people would consider a full-time job, Charles Soule takes on as...more than a hobby, certainly, with the level of devotion he provides.  It's admirable, and in his work, it shows.    With as much devotion as Soule puts in, though, artist Javier Pulido matches, especially in page layouts.  I'm happy to attribute many strengths to Pulido, including a recognition of facial expression matched by few modern artists not named Jamie McKelvie, but there are even less artists on top-tier titles who have such an innate mastery of the craft that Pulido expresses.  His layouts with She-Hulk pursuing Daredevil amongst the rooftops of San Francisco capture superheroics so seamlessly, and that's merely a fraction of the issue.  The final two panels of the issue, which I won't spoil here, are so casually intertwined, and yet flawlessly challenge any other artist to present two opposing viewpoints with anything resembling the same level of poignance.  Even the notable admissions of Steve Rogers in this very issue can't match the message in Pulido's work.  He's just that good.  The fate of the ongoing She-Hulk title has been somewhat the forefront of comics news as of late, with a not-unexpected but equally not-accepted cancellation that apparently fits with the creative team's plans but not hopes.  The quality of this issue presses the unpleasantness of this news, but I'm anxious to see how Charles Soule wraps the many plotlines built in this series and exacerbated by this issue.  With the last-page reveal, Drew, how do you suspect Soule may write around what could be a dramatic change to Marvel comics (one that, let's face it, will likely not be allowed in a tertiary title?)  Has this historic challenge between Marvel's two most notable lawyers met with your expectations?  And, most importantly, what do you think of Kevin Wada's cover for this issue?  Because for me, Wada's covers have been probably the best part of a series that has basically zero flaws, and yet I sort of feel like this is his weakest cover on the book yet.  It's almost traditional.  Come on, Wada.  You can do better.Today, Shane and Drew are discussing She-Hulk 9, originally released October 22nd, 2014. 

slim-bannerShane: So, look.  I’m not saying that writing is easy. This is a craft.  It requires a certain set of skills, a patience, a level of general competency. And as someone who fancies himself a writer, it’s a little painful to see something that reads at such a high level above what I could possibly do. Extrapolating even further past that, She-Hulk is devastating. Excruciating. I want to take sharp objects and whittle away my skin, exposing my tender flesh to the harsh elements so that I may embrace the harsh, tortuous reality of my own limitations.

Did I mention that I rather enjoyed She-Hulk 9 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and the rest? Because it was something special. Continue reading

Arkham Manor 1

Today, Mark and Taylor are discussing Arkham Manor 1, originally released October 22nd, 2014. 

slim-bannerMark: As DC’s unquestionable cash cow, there is never a dearth of new Batman-related titles and spinoffs in the works. Within the past month DC has launched two new Batman-adjacent titles, first the youth-oriented Gotham Academy and now Arkham Manor. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 5

wicked and divine 5

Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 5, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

Suzanne: Comic book solicitations bring out my cynical side. How can they so casually throw around phrases like “changed forever,” “new status quo” and “earth-shattering events”? Does every sentence need to end with an exclamation point?! I get that their purpose is for marketing and selling comics, really I do. But the end result is that readers expect instant gratification each month. Some of us lose sight of the bigger picture — story arcs need time to build dramatic tension and not every issue will (or should) end in a cliffhanger or a climactic moment. I’d go a step further and argue that smaller moments can be equally important to character and plot development.

The Wicked + The Divine 5 effortlessly combines shocking, “game changing” events with softer character reactions. The first four issues of this series laid the groundwork for this departure. Gillen and McKelvie gave readers hints of what these gods were capable of like Sakhmet’s fierce, primal aggression. But this issue invokes an awe and apprehension in readers that mirrors Laura’s fangirl reaction to The Pantheon. Continue reading

The Multiversity: The Just 1

multiversity the just 1Today, Spencer and (guest writer) Michael D. are discussing The Multiversity: The Just 1, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

Spencer: So far Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity has been chock-full of ideas and meta-commentary, but while the first issue was essentially a celebration of everything comics offer as an art form, The Multiversity: The Just 1 explores much more critical, perhaps even cynical takes on the medium. Fortunately, it’s just as dense, thought provoking, and flat-out bonkers as the issues that came before. Continue reading

Catwoman 35

catwoman 35Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Catwoman 35, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

Such hath been our sinceritie in these tymes, not to give any comfort to the hurt of the King or his countries; and now, if these reports which we heare should be true, we might think ourselves evil recompensed, and should be provoked for our defense to use such means as otherwise of ourselves we did never allow or like.

Queen Elizabeth I, 1570

Shelby: Sadly, we are already knee deep in speculation over who will run for president in 2016. As much as I hate the way politics is far more about campaigns than actually accomplishing anything, I have to admit a certain curiosity over Hillary Clinton; will she try to run again? Is it possible I’ll soon see the first female leader of this country? What sort of unique challenges will she have to face, whether based on Ms. Clinton’s previous political history, or her gender alone (be it Clinton or not)? Based on the numerous references to Queen Elizabeth I in Catwoman 35, I suspect new writer Genevieve Valentine has a lot of similar questions in mind.

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