Princess Leia 1

princess leia 1

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Princess Leia 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Taylor: The Empire Strikes Back features a memorable scene where Han and Leia share their first kiss. The scene is a gem, with both of them behaving in such a manner so essential to their characters that they (and the audience) can’t resist each other. Han is charming, smooth talking, and a little sleazy. Leia, on the other hand, is cool, distant, and fiercely independent. Looking at this scene, you can’t help but recognize that this is who Leia is. Even though we know passion burns hotly underneath her cool exterior, she’s never one to give away her true feelings. Princess Leia 1 picks up on these characteristics and fleshes out not only one of cinema’s most famous heroines, but also fleshes out Star Wars at the same time. Continue reading

Suiciders 1

suiciders 1

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Suiciders 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Patrick: I usually resist pulling in creator’s comments about their own material when discussing a comic book — especially a first issue. But I’ve heard Lee Bermejo pitch this series twice now, once at NYCC in 2013 and again at C2E2 in 2014. Both times, he lead with a joke about the premise: “It takes place in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles… which is to say: Los Angeles.” It’s a good line, and far be it for me call someone out for re-using a clever turn of phrase. What interests me about his repeated use of the joke is that there’s really no point in any post-apocalyptic storytelling unless it can tell us about life in the pre-apocalypse. In a manner reflecting his detail-heavy drawing style, Bermejo writes about many specific societal ills that plagues LA, blowing everything out to grotesque proportions. The remarkable thing — and the thing that makes me most uneasy as a reader and resident of the City of Angels — is just how recognizable it all is. Continue reading

Gotham Academy 5

gotham acadamy 5

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Gotham Academy 5, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Spencer: It’s not easy figuring out how and when to reveal key plot points and answer pressing questions when constructing a narrative. Some stories get so caught up hyping big mysteries that the solutions can’t live up to the audience’s expectations — others lose their inertia by revealing all too early. Thus far, I’ve been quite impressed by how Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher have handled their mysteries in Gotham Academy. Issue 5 is full of big reveals, balanced expertly by Cloonan and Fletcher, which fill in many of the blanks about Olive’s lost summer and Tristan’s identity. This new information expands the world of Gotham Academy and helps flesh out the cast, both individually and as a unit, while avoiding the pitfalls I listed at the outset of this article. Plus, it’s loads of fun. Continue reading

Daredevil 13

Alternating Currents: Daredevil 13, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 13, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money…or candy!

George Oscar Bluth, Arrested Development

Drew: While I understand the distinction magicians make between “trick” and “illusion” — the former is about the techniques a magician uses, the latter is about the effect those collected techniques have on the audience — I think we’re perfectly justified in calling them “tricks.” The “illusion” — that a rabbit appears out of thin air, that a lady survives being sawed in half, that a card jumps to the top of the deck — dares us to believe that “magic is real,” but the actual techniques used to pull it off tend to be much more clever, if simpler, explanations. For me, an understanding of those tricks leaves me much more impressed about the illusion — knowing just how subtly they palmed the coin, or how convincing their false shuffle allows me to appreciate the actual craft that goes into what they’re doing. Indeed, any “magic” in the illusion lies in the skills of the magician, making knowing the trick more magical for me. Which I suppose is my way of asking forgiveness in focusing on the “tricks” of Daredevil 13, which pulls off an illusion so compelling, it’s hard to deny its magic. Continue reading

Batman 39

Alternating Currents: Batman 39, Michael and Drew

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Batman 39, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Michael: When it comes to Batman, Joker stories are pretty much hit or miss. We’ve seen great successes and failures in film, animation, television (I’m looking at you Gotham), and of course, comic books. He’s an iconic character that has been built up to mythic proportions equal to (or greater) than Batman’s. Counting the Joker’s brief appearance in his Detective Comics run, this is Scott Snyder’s third stab at the Clown Prince of Crime. To make a truly remarkable Joker story, the approach to the Joker and how the story is told have to be changed. Continue reading

New Avengers 30

new avengers 30

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing New Avengers 30, originally released February 25th, 2015. 

slim-banner

Spencer: Jonathan Hickman and Dalibor Talajic’s New Avengers 30 reads a bit like a textbook on multiversal theory. It’s about as dry as beef jerky, and is focused so strongly on explaining every minute detail about the Ivory Kings that it largely fails to address why they’re doing what they’re doing. The information contained within its pages will likely prove important as Secret Wars grows closer, but for the moment, New Avengers 30 feels like an issue that highlights the greatest weakness of Hickman’s Avengers books: a focus on plot that supersedes “story” or characterization.  Continue reading

The Black Hood 1

Alternating Currents: The Black Hood 1, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Black Hood 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Drew: Superhero comics are a trope-filled medium. That’s doubly true of origin stories, which need to explain what would drive a normal person to dress up to fight crime. It turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of explanations out there. Was their family murdered in front of them? Were they the victim of some kind of science experiment gone wrong? Have they inherited some kind of mythical power? Every variation has been done, but so few have been done well. Indeed, the drive to get to the actual superheroics tends to leave origins rushed and expository — not the best recipe for a great story. The Black Hood 1 manages to avoid the tropes and the gratuitous exposition — while still taking its lead from regular guy to masked vigilante — trading our expectations in for some good old fashioned mystery. Continue reading

Spider-Gwen 1

spider-gwen 1

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Gwen 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Patrick: If you had to name the most important quality for a superhero story to nail, what would it be? Action? Adventure? Humor? Relatability? Kind of depends on the character, doesn’t it? What I think ends up being most important across publishers and mediums is the story’s ability to express the fundamental nature of the character. If you’re telling a Batman story, it better be dark, grimey, and morally ambiguous. If you’re telling a Spider-Man story, it better be humorous, optimistic and dutiful. So how on earth would anyone write a Spider-Gwen story? The character barely exists beyond a small roll in the recent Spider-Verse event. Fans latched on to the character for a number of reasons (everyone misses Gwen Stacy), but the clearest virtue of the character is that she looks amazing. In lieu of a letter’s page, editor Nick Lowe thanks fans for worshiping the incredible design of Gwen’s costume, celebrating it through fan-art and cos-play. This obsession with image becomes the fundamental nature of stories in Gwen’s world, as Spider-Gwen turns the superficial into the substantial. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43

tmnt 43

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Taylor: They say we’re living a golden age of television. One has but to flip on the television or log onto Netflix to see that they are probably right. The amount of quality television shows being made today is staggering, and one of the reasons for that is the quality of cast that mans several of the best shows. Many shows now have regular casts which number in the 30s and most of those characters are interesting enough we would enjoy watching a spinoff that just follows their adventures. While this might seem novel to a lot of people, comic book fans know this is no new thing — comics have had large casts of characters for ages now. But, just like TV, comics are really only as good as the characters in them and the mark of a quality comic can easily be measured by the strength of its cast. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a title that enjoys a large cast, and it is one that is so strong, we rarely miss our main characters, even when they take the back burner. Continue reading

Batgirl 39

batgirl 39

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 39, originally released February 18th, 2015.

Michael: In most pieces of pop culture, the protagonist is the point of entry for the audience into the fictional world that we are experiencing. You’ll often see events or circumstances that the protagonist themselves isn’t immediately aware of, but for the most part you are riding shotgun with the main character. In comic books, that means you follow the story with the benefit of the main character’s narration/inner monologue. The tricky thing is that your hero may not always be a reliable narrator. Even if they aren’t intentionally misleading you, they are probably not giving you the full story. Such is the case of a one Barbara Gordon, the titular Batgirl. Continue reading