Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 4/16/14

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, Drew and Patrick discuss Batman and Wonder Woman 30, Uncanny X-Men 20, and Ultimate FF 1.

slim-banner4Drew: What is it that attracts you to superhero comics? Is it the incredible feats? The straightforward emotions writ large? Is it the insane, mind-bending concepts? Is it the complex mythology built collaboratively over decades of a shared universe? Obviously, different fans are drawn to different elements of the genre, but anyone looking for an issue that delivers on all counts might be happy with Batman and Wonder Woman 30. Continue reading

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 3

winter soldier 3Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 3, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Spencer: Considering its Cold War setting, it’s no surprise that Rick Remender and Roland Boschi’s Winter Soldier: The Bitter March has been a story filled with pawns and masterminds, a story populated almost entirely by people who are being used and the people who are doing the using. What’s interesting about issue 3 is the way the players begin to transcend those labels. What happens when pawns tire of being pawns? And what role does Ran Shen play in all of this?

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The Unwritten Apocalypse 4

Alternating Currents: Unwritten Apocalypse 4, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Unwritten Apocalypse 4, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Drew: What do we need to talk about when discussing a work of art? Obviously, the answer will vary quite a bit depending on the art in question, but in the abstract, virtually every discussion needs to touch on the art itself, the artist(s) that created it, and the audience that observes it. We tend to focus on the relationship between the art and the audience here, believing that meaning arises when art is consumed, and that interpretation is the most important end-product of art. It’s an approach that keeps us from getting too mired in concerns over what the artist meant or what they might believe, but it might also prevent us from fully appreciating the art itself. The Unwritten Apocalypse 4, raises some interesting questions about the relationship between art and the artist that creates it, presenting it in the much more alluring (and knowingly meta) form of a story ripe for interpretation.

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Batman 30

batman 30Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Batman 30, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Drew: Adults are very good at pretending to know what they’re doing. Indeed, they’re so good, most folks don’t figure this out until they’re already in the midst of pretending to know what they’re doing themselves, and by then, they’re already adults. It’s almost a secret that there’s basically nothing that qualifies us to have jobs, pay rent, get married, have kids, and whatever else it is that grownups do. You’re not going to be adequately prepared for these things by the time you start doing them, and you’re only going to get better through trial and error. It’s that “error” part that’s scary — nobody wants to lose their job, home, spouse, or kids — but fortunately for us, the stakes of any single mistake are relatively low. Batman, on the other hand, has always played for much higher stakes — typically the wellbeing of his hometown — and Batman 30 explores just what happens when he isn’t up to the challenge.

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Sinestro 1

sinestro 1Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Sinestro 1, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Patrick: Thaal Sinestro is a complicated character, driven by exactly as many conflicting emotions and values as the Great Hal Jordan. While the yellow ring-slingers bear his name, he was always underserved by that characterization. Sinestro is no monster, but the Sinestro Corps is nothing but. He’s a Green Lantern. He’s a patriot. He’s a hero. Cullen Bunn and Dale Eaglesham take the first issue of their new series to explore the gulf between what Sinestro is and what Sinestro is supposed to be. Continue reading

C2E2 2014!

It’s that wonderful time of year when hordes of our fellow geeks descend upon the fair city of Chicago for C2E2. Our esteemed editors Drew and Patrick will be flying in to join Shelby for three days of con madness, and we’d love to see your shining faces there!

If any of you guys out there in the ether are planning on making the trek to the Windy City and would be interested in meeting up with us for a drink Saturday night (and who doesn’t need a drink after the second night of a con?), sound off here! Join us in celebration of the three editors being in the same time zone for the first time since we started this crazy blogging adventure. You’ll be able to find us at Plymouth, 327 S. Plymouth Court (near State and Van Buren). The con floor closes at 7:00, and that’s when we’ll head over to get our drink on.

If you can’t make to C2E2 this year, don’t fret; we’ll be covering the con all weekend, so tune in here for updates. Hope to see you there!

Justice League 29

justice league 29

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Justice League 29, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Patrick: Here’s a little bit of a confession: I don’t know why we make fun of people who use Internet Explorer. I think most of us use Chrome or Safari to navigate the internet, and I know a lot of smart, young, web-savvy types that will also use Firefox in a pinch. But IE? You might as well be my grandmother at that point. The browser is so closely associated with disinterested or novice internet use that it’s sorta become shorthand for “the person using this product doesn’t know anything about technology.” I’m sure that’s unfair, and I’d be willing to wager that most of the bugs and clumsy UIs that drove us all away from IE in the first place have been worked out and it’s a totally serviceable browser. Still though. Fucking n00bs, right? As Geoff Johns decides that technology vs. humanity has always been a theme of Forever Evil, the solutions feel less logical and reasoned and more magical. If the story is trying to convince me that it’s in anyway tech savvy, Justice League 29 is not putting forth the most compelling argument. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 3

ms marvel 3

Today, Suzanne and Shelby are discussing Ms. Marvel 3, originally released April 16th, 2014.

slim-bannerSuzanne: Let me just come out and say it — as a Muslim, I’m equal parts thrilled and reluctant to embrace a comic that represents someone from my faith. Overall, I like when writers incorporate details like ethnicity or religion as part of a whole character. This goes across the board — from Kitty Pryde being Jewish to Daredevil being Catholic. I’m signed on as long as the writing doesn’t divert into tokenism or pandering to a specific group.

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Hulk 1

hulk 1

Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Hulk 1, originally released April 16, 2014.

Shelby: I love online quizzes, the dumber the better. If I can answer a dozen questions and find out which sandwich I am, I rest easier at night. There’s always that one question, “If you friends could pick one word to describe you, what would that word be?” that always gives me pause. How can a person be distilled down to just one, defining thing? And how am I supposed to know what other people would say that one thing is? Comic book characters probably don’t suffer the same sort of existential crisis I feel talking personality quizzes because most of them do have that one thing that defines them. Take Bruce Banner, for instance. He’s defined by his intelligence; he’s one of the smart ones. Well, I suppose he’s also defined by his predilection towards turning into a green rage monster, but if we consider Bruce alone, the one word I’d use to describe him would be “smartypants.” So, what does it mean for the character if he loses that one thing that makes him who he is? Or who he was, anyway.

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Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 2 – Representation

Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 1 - Context

Interviewer: So, why do you write these strong female characters?
Joss Whedon: Because you’re still asking me that question.

This exact change may be a tad apocryphal. The rhetoric is too biting, too effective, even for a wordsmith like Whedon to toss out on the fly. The quote comes from a speech Whedon gave on gender equality, and it’s the well-scripted button on the top of an extremely well-crafted, well-reasoned argument for normalizing equality. The reason his response cuts so deep is because it is an intuitive truth. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve patted artists on the back for not being lecherous fuckers, or how frequently we need to sing the praises of a writer that creates female characters with real agency. We are so used to the imbalance between quality female characters and quality male characters that simply resisting this trend is often greeted as progress. This needs to change. Continue reading