Patrick: This series always makes me feel warm and fuzzy about families. While the four brothers all have their differences, it’s clear that their shared strength — both emotional and physical — is greater than the sum of the parts. They struggle, but they also love. Part of the reason I find those relationships so powerful is because I was exposed to them at a very early age, when I was trying to figure out how I fit into a family with my siblings, so it’s been easy to see myself and my sisters in the turtles. I had a pretty healthy family, maybe a little touch too cold and German, but everyone was happy and allowed to be whatever they needed to be. Not all families are so healthy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 33 turns it eye towards the most dysfunctional family in the line-up: the Jones’. It’s a heartbreaking look at what happens when support structures fail.
Drew: I lost a part of my innocence when Richard Harris passed away. It wasn’t an existential crisis brought about by confronting mortality, but the cognitive dissonance brought about by his role of Albus Dumbledore being filled by Michael Gambon. I’m sure for many young Harry Potter fans, that was the first time they were confronted with the notion that the identity of a beloved fictional character is so dictated by casting decisions, but looking at the differences between the two actors’ performances, it’s almost as if they were playing different characters. Harris imbued the role with a quiet, almost doddering sweetness, while Gambon’s take was notably sterner. Both takes are supported by the books, but it had never occurred to me before seeing Prisoner of Azkaban that an actor’s (or director’s) emphasis on certain traits could have such a profound effect on the final product. I found myself thinking those same thoughts as Robert Venditti and Van Jensen assert their own read on Barry Allen in The Flash 30.
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?
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.
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.
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
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
Today, Suzanne and Shelby are discussing Ms. Marvel 3, originally released April 16th, 2014.
Suzanne: 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.
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.
Spencer: To tell a good story, characters need to face consequences for their actions. Just look at Heroes, where characters could quit jobs, disappear for months at a time, or even switch between “good” and “evil” at the drop of a dime without ever facing any consequences, thus giving us little reason to care about what the characters did, since none of it mattered anyway. Contrast that with, say, Breaking Bad, where every decision the characters make, no matter how small, has the chance to ruin their lives; everybody’s actions matter, causing the viewer to become invested in the story and pay close attention to what happens. Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic follow the latter example, fortunately, in Thor: God of Thunder 21, which finds both versions of the titular god dealing with the consequences of actions he took in previous issues. Continue reading