Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing All-Star Western 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Drew: For all of the subtle differences fans can talk about in DC’s current publishing lineup, the fact is: they publish A LOT of superhero comics. A simple lack of capes and tights is enough to make a title like All-Star Western stand out, but writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti aren’t content to rest on those laurels. Indeed, recent issues have cribbed stylistic elements form the likes of parlor dramas and Victorian novellas, in addition to the old Westerns that inspired the characters in the first place, all while seamlessly folding in elements of DC’s own fictional universe. It’s a tonal chameleon, taking on whatever style best fits the material at hand. Continue reading →
Shelby: How do you tell any kind of story about a man who sees all of time at once? He knows his past, his future, and everything in between; how do you find a compelling narrative in the story of a man who knows his whole story? J. Michael Straczynski has tried to do that by exploiting Dr. Manhattan’s kooky relationship with time. “Doc Manhattan knows every possible future? FINE. I’ll WRITE every possible future!” JMS seemed to say. This title hasn’t been terrible (especially compared to the othermonstrosities JMS had his hand in), but it hasn’t been great, either. At best, this book has been conceptually interesting, but has fallen short in execution. This issue is no different; JMS tries out something new that’s interesting, but ultimately the story doesn’t go much of anywhere. Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Mikyzptlk are discussing Deadpool 5, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Ethan: As we’ve discussed before, Volume 4 of Deadpool is a wild, absurd, hilarious ride, and #5 doesn’t disappoint. Jokes are cracked, villains are disemboweled, our titular hero suffers excessive bodily harm, etc etc. That said, if you were beginning to wonder how long this cycle could continue on a purely frivolous level, issue #5 answers this question with a bang, proving the old adage that “it’s all fun & games until the villains kill the main character’s friend.” Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Saga 10, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Drew: I owned a lot of magic sets when I was a kid. That is to say, I enjoyed magic, but I wanted to understand how it was done. In may ways, this is the approach that I’ve taken towards art — I love being amazed by good music, movies, writing, etc, but I desperately want to know the techniques (the tricks, if you will) that make art so enjoyable. In general, that has been a very rewarding approach, allowing me a much deeper appreciation for how art works than I might have otherwise, but it has its limits. Ironically, I’ve never been able to really apply that approach to magic — partially because the techniques there are guarded as a matter of course, but mostly because I simply can’t get over how dazzling the effect is. Reading Saga leaves me similarly flabbergasted. Continue reading →
Shelby: There are times it’s important we don’t let our emotions get the best of us. Emotions are beautiful, terrible, irrational things that can lead us to commit wonderful, stupid acts. While acting on our emotions alone can be totally awesome, sometimes we gotta let cooler heads prevail, and let reason dictate our next move. The Guardians, evil little bastards though they may be, were half right; sometimes dispassionate logic is the correct choice. Volthoom, of course, takes the opposite approach; he is powered by emotion, the more he can make everyone feel the better off he’ll be. So, on a scale from Guardian to Volthoom, where does our favorite master of the emotional spectrum fit?
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Sword of Sorcery 5, originally released February 20th, 2012.
Drew: Let’s talk motivation. It’s an important thing for characters (both good and evil) to have, but what is it? In the most abstract terms, it’s simply what the character wants, be it an object, a result, or a status (or avoiding any of those things). Morally, we can set up a continuum of motivation from altruism to greed, with most daily motivation falling somewhere in between. Comics, being a medium of contrasts, tend to focus on the extreme ends, with heroes often acting selflessly, with villains serving only their own ends. It’s an arrangement so ubiquitous, it can start to feel trite (which is why writers are so keen on subverting those expectations), but when it’s done well, as it is in Sword of Sorcery 5, it can remind us why we value those traits the way we do.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Daredevil 23, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Patrick: We write a lot of these Alternating Currents — enough that I am often writing one of these things when I should be doing something else. I can’t count the number of times my girlfriend has asked me when we’re going to be able to leave to do something, only to have me respond that I need another 15 minutes. Decoded, I need like half an hour, maybe more — it always takes more time than I think it’s going to. It’s shitty to keep someone waiting — and it’s even shittier when you know they need you. Foggy Nelson legitimately needs Matt Murdock, but Daredevil is always one step away from solving the case. As the clock on the page tells later and later times, I found myself saying “oh, I can see how this is frustrating.” Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and guest-writer Suzanne are discussing Batwoman 17, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Patrick: We’re posting this two days after the Academy Awards, but I’m writing this at 9:25PM, Pacific Standard Time, the Thursday before the ceremony. I’m being so specific because I want to make a prediction: Lincoln will not win Best Picture (editors note: called it!). For everything Lincoln does well, it does not earn the sentiment expressed in its many soaring speeches. Endings are so naturally powerful, and it’s a shame how frequently Spielberg employs John Williams’ moving score and the impassioned performances of some of the best living Hollywood actors to approximate the feeling of catharsis. It’s a shortcut, it’s phony, and it stinks. J.H. Williams III and Hayden Blackman employ no such tricks as they wrap things up in Batwoman 17 and every single moving moment — and there are many — is earned.
Patrick: I likes me a good anti-hero. There’s nothing quite like cheering for a character’s success and failure at the same time. Let’s take Walter White as a perfect example of this in modern fiction. He is a terrible husband and father, and an even worse friend, who makes dangerous decisions in the name of greed, power and desperation. And yet, I cheer every single one of his personal victories, no matter how immoral they might be. So much of Breaking Bad is about that character finding a way to feel powerful in the face of illness and poverty, and about how that need to feel powerful never goes away. The ride is exhilarating because there’s nothing more satisfying than a character with agency. Say what you will about Walter White — he has goals and he takes the steps necessary to achieve those goals. Supergirl has no such agency. She spends the majority of issue 17, fighting Wonder Woman just because, and then stops fighting her for equally arbitrary reasons. Neither a hero, nor an anti-hero, Supergirl ends up the clueless victim of her own series.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Captain America 4, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Shelby: I’m a big fan of juxtaposition of conflicting styles. Heavy metal guitar paired with female vocals? Yes please, Nightwish! Ice cream with sweet chocolate and salty peanuts and pretzel bites? I’ve got two pints of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby in my freezer right now. The old adage may be that “opposites attract,” but I prefer to think of it as “opposites compliment.” That is definitely the rule of Rick Remender’s take on Captain America, as straight-laced Cap is paired with sci-fi weirdness and the problems of being a dad are compounded by having your nemesis implanted in your chest, talking to you all day and all night. And yes, if you were wondering, I did have to get up and get one of those pints of Chubby Hubby out of the freezer. Continue reading →