Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing All-Star Western 14, originally released November 28th, 2012.
Taylor: The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, originally written in 1886, has interested readers and writers alike continuously since it’s initial publication over 100 years ago. What perhaps gives the tale its enduring legacy is its exploration into the contradictory nature of mankind itself, both in action as a whole and on an individual level. While humans have done great things, like sending man to the Moon and ending the Cold War, they have also committed countless atrocities against each other. On an individual level a person may be kind to you one day and a jerk the next. All of this is part of the human experience and while it’s sometimes paradoxical and counterproductive to behave in such ways, it would seem that we just can’t help ourselves and they are here to stay. And while this aspect of humanity certainly makes for the stuff of great stories and philosophical inspection, it’s not something I appreciate in my comics. All-Star Western 14 is an exercise in this duality, being at times fun and at others trying, but ultimately giving us something to look forward to.
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing the Flash 14, originally released November 28th, 2012.
Drew: I’ve always seen postmodernism as inevitable. As someone who likes art, consuming art about art just makes sense to me. It’s quite easy to take commentary too far — forcing the art to far up its own ass to really be relatable — and while I have a special place in my heart for stories that do that, it’s much more satisfying when they can support a compelling narrative, as well. Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul nail that type of just-right meta-text time and time again, as Barry grapples with his relationship to his own identity, history, and even time itself. Their pacing and narrative style have remained fluid enough to accommodate all of these ideas, tying them back to Barry’s own experience of the world. Issue 14 continues the recent trend of expanding the scope beyond Barry’s subjectivity, revealing a rewarding complexity to the world he lives in. Continue reading →
Shelby: It’s the holidays again, which means we must all learn the lesson: families are hard. As an adult, visiting your family forces you back to the person you used to be when your were a child. Sometimes, that’s a hard thing to reconcile with the person you’ve become. I’m super lucky; my family understands I’ve become my own person, and respects the choices I’ve made. I know there are LOTS of people for whom that isn’t the case. Clark Kent, on the other hand, is super unlucky in this regard. He spent all of his life thinking all his family was dead. Suddenly, he’s got a cousin who hates everything he loves and an adopted brother who not only hates everything he loves, but is also hell-bent on destroying it. Oh, and a clone. That makes for a real awkward Christmas dinner.
Mikyzptlk: There’s been some internal discussion of whether or not the “Throne of Atlantis” storyline should be considered an event. Some of us here have grown tired of DC’s seemingly endless run of events and I can’t really blame them. The comic book “event” is a double edged sword. While they definitely bring attention and increased sales to the books that are involved, they tend to get bloated with needless tie-ins, many of which are written by writers who may not be nearly as talented as the showrunners themselves. The current Batman event “Death of the Family” is a good example of this. Compare some of the “DotF” tie-ins to the main series and you’ll know what I mean. Fortunately for “ToA,” the entire story is being handled by the one and only Geoff Johns, so we shouldn’t have to worry about any bloating. In fact, as it’s only 6 issues (3 in Aquaman and 3 in Justice League) some may consider it more of a crossover than an event. Regardless of that, however, Johns gives us something that feels like a big event, with a prologue that is both foreboding and fairly intense in a mostly quiet way. I think it’s safe to say that I actually enjoyed this issue more than any other so far and it’s gotten me pretty psyched for the “events” to come. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Sword of Sorcery 2, originally released November 21st, 2012.
Shelby: Who doesn’t love political intrigue? I’m not talking about the presidential campaign nonsense we recently had to put up with, I mean the old school machinations that only a royal family could conceive of. When power is passed through bloodlines (literal magical powers divied up among the relatives), manipulating those bloodlines and relations suddenly becomes crucial to keeping a position of authority. Things are about to get complicated, so I’m going to try to map this out as best I can.
Today, Drew and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 4, originally released November 21st, 2012.
Drew: Back in issue 2, Clint assured us that “work’s work.” The very notion of considering the Avengers a day job says a lot about his character, but the notion that he could separate his personal life from his professional one is laughable. Hell, my mom can’t even do that, and her job doesn’t involve killing people, saving the world, or supervillains bent on exacting revenge (at least, I don’t think her job involves those things). The first three issues of Hawkeye have brilliantly explored what a guy like Clint might get up to when he has nothing better to do — fighting local crime and righting small wrongs just for the hell of it — but issue 4 brings reality back to Clint’s doorstep. It just so happens that, for Clint, reality comes in the form of a floating aircraft-carrier filled with superheroes. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Blue Beetle 14, originally released November 21st, 2012.
Drew: Last month, Patrick accused Blue Beetle of pulling a Million Dollar Baby — that is, getting you emotionally invested in the narrative, only to dramatically switch the story it is telling in the final act. I can totally understand being frustrated with Million Dollar Baby for tricking us into watching a heavy-handed morality play, but I actually appreciate that it did something more interesting with its scrappy, up-and-coming boxer (win or lose, Rocky has already been there). It suddenly became much harder to summarize, wading into heady ideas in lieu of simple events, and found something besides simple pride to mine from the relationship formed between Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank’s characters. With that more specific definition — that Million Dollar Baby switches from a rote, event-driven story to a character-driven meditation on family — I would actually classify Blue Beetle‘s recent tonal change as a reverse-Million Dollar Baby. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Birds of Prey 14, originally released November 21st, 2012.
Patrick: Why do we read comic books? Yes, I’d like to begin this write-up with a question so abstract. I ask because sometimes the answer isn’t readily apparent. Some of the comics we read are revolutionary — expressing incredible themes and concepts in exciting ways. But I’m not a total snob: I’m just as happy with simpler pleasures. Adventures are fun, characters are iconic, art is compelling. It’s a magic spell that’s been successfully cast on me time and time again. Birds of Prey may have dropped a few steps from those early issues we loved, but the spell shouldn’t have worn off entirely. Right?
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Nightwing 14, originally released November 21st 2012.
Drew: As a former sidekick, it’s difficult for Nightwing to define his life without Batman. This is as true outside of the mask as it is behind it — just try to define Dick Grayson without mentioning Bruce Wayne. This makes Dick’s investment in Haly’s Circus (the one part of Dick’s origin story that doesn’t involve Batman) make a lot of sense — it’s his best shot at agency in his life. Dick seems poised to begin a new chapter in his civilian life, yet his costumed life finds him pulled inextricably back towards Batman, as some of Bruce’s oldest foes demand Nightwing’s attention. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Ray Bari are discussing Daredevil 20, originally released November 21st, 2012.
Patrick: Let’s talk about dramatic reveals. No, no — no spoilers before the jump (but boy-howdy: spoilers after the jump). There’s nothing worse than a botched reveal — the sense that the storytellers just don’t understand the value of their own story is discouraging as hell. But a well-deployed revelation — one that alters the fundamental nature of a character or conflict — should turn your stomach just from sheer excitement. Daredevil 20 drops two such revelations, and with an uncharacteristically graphic imagery, ratchets that stomach turning up to 11.