To all our friends in Internetland, Happy Halloween! Do you have a sweet comic book costume to garner enthusiasm from your nerd pals and confused stares from everyone else? To celebrate, here are some photos from the Halloween Party at my LCS, AlleyCat Comics. The first one is yours truly, Shelby, as John Constantine: more after the jump.
Shelby: You may not know this, but we don’t review everything we read. We’ve stuck primarily with DC up until now because we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew. DC was starting at one, we were already basically familiar with the characters, it was an easy starting point for us. As we became more familiar with the creative talent DC has harnessed, we realized there was a huge chunk of titles we were missing out on. I’m not talking about Marvel, I’m talking about the endless array of independently published comics. Good independent titles can be hard to find, literally; if the creator doesn’t have the funds for a wide distribution, there aren’t going to be a lot of physical copies to be had. Unless you knew to look for it, you could pass right by it. So, when Patrick and Drew heard that Brian Buccellato (famous ’round these parts for his awesome work on The Flash) had a Kickstarter to fund an anthology for his self-published title Foster, they jumped on it, and pulled me along for the ride. Like all our reviews, this one is going to be spoiler heavy, so if you’re interested in reading the issues before the review, head over to Dog Year Store to get yourself caught-up. It’s cool, we’ll wait.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing the Batman, Incorporated 4, originally released October 24th, 2012.
Shelby: When I set out to write a review, I like to be as fully caught-up on the story as I can be. I don’t feel that I can accurately judge an issue without taking into consideration the story which has has taken place so far. That’s why the relaunch has been so easy; even if I pickup up a new title, I’ve only got 13 back issues to get through. There is certainly merit to the uninformed opinion, we proved that with zero month, it’s just not the approach I prefer to take. Batman, Inc puts me in an unique and frustrating position; I am fully caught-up, in that I’ve read all 5 issues, and yet I still have no idea what’s going on.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing the Red Lanterns 13, originally released October 24th, 2012. This issue is part of the Rise of the Third Army crossover event. Click here for complete Third Army coverage.
Drew: Let’s be frank: Red Lanterns is not on my pull. I’m willing to tolerate a lot of the goofiness inherent in the Green Lantern universe, but blood-vomiting rage-monsters just doesn’t sound like fun. As I read through this issue, I couldn’t help but compare the Red Lantern Corps to the Hulk. It’s an easy comparison to make: both are powered by anger, and (until recently), both lose control when super pissed. The danger with that basic formula is that it turns both the Hulk and the RLC into forces of nature — horrible natural disasters that I can’t even fathom rooting for. For the Hulk, writers have often mitigated this by allowing Hulk to retain some of Bruce Banner’s heart; he still won’t hurt the ones he loves. More important, Bruce actively avoids Hulking-out; he knows it’s dangerous for everyone around him and he does everything in his power to prevent it from happening. Peter Milligan has a different solution, giving the Red Lanterns renewed sentience via some kind of blood baptism, but eliminating their heart from the equation altogether. The effect is that they charge into situations — like the one depicted in Red Lanterns 13 — knowing full well that they’ll probably just kill everything. It’s hard to empathize with that.
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Hawkeye 1-3, originally released August 1st, September 5th, and October 17th, 2012.
Patrick: My Improv 101 teacher, used to stop our scenes all the time to give the following note: “Today’s the day.” What he meant was that today was the day these characters confronted the thing that was already weird about their relationship: everything comes out into the open, and friendship may not survive the encounter. It’s fantastic advice for making a short narrative infinitely more compelling – we all have routines and we all inherently understand the drama that unfolds when one of our routines is broken. As superhero comics have grown in such cultural importance, the need to express the routine of a superhero has gone the way of Blockbuster Video. There’s so much implied crime fighting between the issues we actually read, that they tend to focus on gigantic, world-shifting EVENTS. And those events are grim. Somewhere between the Rotworlds and Deaths-of-Families, among the Third Armies and H’els on Earth, I forgot that comics can speak the language of fun. Hawkeye not only speaks that language, it’s a master dialectician, artfully deploying the most elegant fun you’re going to see printed on the page.
Taylor: I enjoy professional basketball. It’s fast paced, fun, full of dunks, trick shots, and some of the most gifted athletes on the face of the planet. With that being said, you would think that every game of basketball would be an amazing show worth watching every second it’s on. However, we can’t disregard the fact that these are professional basketball players who, whether we like to acknowledge it or not, don’t enjoy every game they play. It’s their job and sometimes they take the floor with their sole purpose being to win a basketball game and cash a check, regardless of how entertaining it is for the fans. Commentators often call this a “workman-like approach,” a phrase which also aptly describes All-Star Western 13. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Superman 13, originally released October 24th, 2012. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.
Patrick: Poor Superman just doesn’t belong in the 21st century. As readers and audiences grow more sophisticated, the desire to see an invulnerable man of infinite strength and unquestionable morality has waned. Hell, even the modern James Bond gets his ass kicked from time to time. So when Scott Lobdell starts his first proper issue of Superman with Clark bench pressing the Earth, you’ve got to wonder what he’s aiming for. And it’s in the wondering that Superman 13 gets interesting.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 13, originally released October 24th, 2012.
Mikyzptlk: In my 9 to 5 work life I find that it’s important to remember to have a little fun from time to time in order to get through the day. If you neglect to reward yourself with a little fun in your work life, you might not be able to handle the stress that the average work day may present you. Issue 13 of Justice League Dark could have felt like just another stressful day of work, but because series writer Jeff Lemire made sure to infuse the issue with a sense of fun, he made it more than what is essentially just a lead up to the big conclusion taking place in the upcoming Annual. Continue reading
Drew: I like The Flash. It’s a crisp, fun, dense comic, full of endearing characters and incredible art. Reading it over the past year has been an extremely rewarding experience as a fan of comics. I also like liking The Flash. The fan community around this title, from commenters to bloggers to the creators themselves have been as open and inviting as anywhere in comics. Writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have been incredibly approachable, and willing to discuss all of the things that make me love this title so much. In many ways, liking this title has been as rewarding as reading this title, thanks to all the wonderful discussions we’ve had about it. For that reason, issues that fail to meet my (admittedly high) expectations for this title are especially disappointing, to such a degree that I lose any objective sense of how good the issue actually is; is it the issue, or is it me? Let that be the grain of salt you take when I say that The Flash 13 is one of those issues.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Talon 1, originally released October 24th, 2012.
Shelby: It’s not easy meeting someone for the first time. There’s a lot of business you have to get through before you can get to the really interesting stuff. All of the “where are you from? what do you do for a living? etc.,” stuff is boring and awkward, but it’s also necessary to establish base for the relationship. Even though this is really the second issue of Talon, we’re still firmly in the “getting to know you” camp. That means a lot of exposition, and while it doesn’t make for the most compelling reading experience, I find I’m really intrigued by what I’m learning about this new addition to the DCU.