Grayson 10

grayson 10

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Grayson 10, originally released July 22nd, 2015.

Spencer: Once, way back when Wally West was the Flash, he ran so fast that he merged with the Speed Force, a fate from which no speedster had ever returned. Wally did return, though, all because of the love of his life, Linda Park. Wally called Linda his “lightning rod” — no matter what weird shenanigans he had to deal with, Linda’s love always kept him grounded in reality. I think most of us have a “lightning rod” of one sort or the other, some person or thing that acts as a constant in our life, that keeps us tethered to our old lives even as everything else around us changes. Dick Grayson has gone through more changes than most ever since his “death” in Forever Evil, but even as an agent of Spyral, he had both his mentor Batman and his faith in his own abilities acting to keep him grounded. With Grayson 10, though, Tim Seeley, Tom King, and Mikel Janin strip those last familiar comforts from Dick, leaving him with nobody he can trust — not even himself. Continue reading

Cyborg 1

cyborg 1Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Cyborg 1, originally released July 22nd, 2015.

Michael: Words are an interesting thing, are they not? In one of those “Woah, its crazy how humans work” moments, the assemblage of letters, words, sentences, punctuations and so on is impressive. Memorable moments in pop culture can often be whittled down to a few buzzworthy quotes – especially with our 2015 short attention span. This particular mindset heavily influenced my reading experience of Cyborg 1; and that’s not really a good thing. Continue reading

C.O.W.L. 11

cowl 11 Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing C.O.W.L. 11, originally released July 22nd, 2015.

Spencer: One of my favorite expressions is “would I do it all again?” Usually it’s only uttered after a long string of consequences (“So I ended up breaking both legs…but would I do it all again?”), and it’s never an actual question — if you’re asking “would I do it all again,” you’re basically admitting that yes, you would. No matter what consequences you faced, it was worth it. This phrase has an opposite as well — “Was it worth it?” Just like “would I do it all again,” “was it worth it” is rarely a question — it’s almost always an admission that no, whatever you did was not worth the consequences. It’s a phrase uttered by Geoffrey Warner in the final moments of Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis’ C.O.W.L., leaving the readers with the impression that even Warner knows that the actions he took to keep C.O.W.L. in business aren’t justified. No matter what C.O.W.L. goes on to accomplish in the future, Warner’s actions will forever be hanging over the organization like a dark cloud. Continue reading

Justice League: Gods and Monsters Batman 1

JL gods & monsters batman1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League: Gods and Monsters Batman 1, originally released July 22th, 2015.

Michael: There are a couple of questions we face when we read an “Elseworlds” tale in regards to the main continuity. What’s the point of any of this? Why does any of this matter? We are presented with alternate versions of the heroes that we know and love and wonder, “what the hell does this have to do with anything?” The worst case scenario is that we follow the exploits of a character that has a familiar name, but is absolutely nothing like what we know, and just different for difference’s sake. The best case scenario is that the character — while different from what we know – resonates with us to a certain truth at their core. Justice League: Gods and Monsters Batman 1 stars a different Dark Knight that circles a lot of familiar Batman tent poles. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 2

tmnt casey & april 2

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 2, originally released July 22nd, 2015.

Taylor: Last summer’s Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie met with lukewarm reviews. There were a lot of reasons cited by critics for the movie not being great, but the one thing that was almost universally harped upon was the confusing nature of the action sequences. Bay aficionados, however, were not surprised by this: chaos is one of his trademarks. What this goes to show is that clarity is incredibly important when crafting a story. It makes sense – if the audience can’t understand what’s going on, how are they supposed to take anything from it? Casey and April 2 is an interesting study in clarity: how it succeeds, how it fails, and how it succeeds despite its failings.

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Guardians of Knowhere 1

Alternating Currents: Guardians of Knowhere 1, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Guardians of Knowhere 1, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy regains girl.

Traditional

Drew: I’ve never seen any codified theories to this effect, but I strongly believe that every narrative has an ideal length. The Old Man and the Sea couldn’t be longer without losing its essence, just as War and Peace couldn’t be shorter. I can’t claim to understand all of the factors that determine the ideal length for a story, but it’s obvious enough when the length isn’t ideal. The epigraph may functionally describe a lot of stories we’re familiar with, but it’s too short to be a satisfying story — we have no empathetic connection to “boy,” no investment in his relationship to “girl,” no context for their eventual reunion. Conversely, Brian Michael Bendis is often criticized for making his stories too long to be satisfying, with each plot point dragged out for too many issues for us to be invested in the bigger picture. Of course, one of the big mitigating factors in the world of comics is the quality of the art — a dazzling action sequence may not require much of a plot, and indeed may be better off without many distractions. Nobody does “dazzling” better than Mike Deodato Jr., which makes him an ideal pairing for Bendis’ decompressed style. So does Guardians of Knowhere 1 live up to that “match made in heaven” expectation? Continue reading

Robin: Son of Batman 2

robin 2Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Robin: Son of Batman 2, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Spencer: We see a lot of redemption stories in comics (and in pop culture in general), and while many of them end in death, almost all of them end with the person seeking redemption finding some sort of forgiveness. Yes, the ideas of atoning for past crimes and being forgiven for them tend to go hand-in-hand, but should they? It’s an interesting notion, one which Patrick Gleason seems interested in examining throughout Robin: Son of Batman 2. Damian Wayne is out to atone for a year full of horrors he committed before becoming Robin, but atoning for some crimes is clearly going to be much harder than atoning for others — and it may simply come to down to who he’s seeking redemption from. Continue reading

Ant-Man Annual 1

ant-man annual 1

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Ant-Man Annual 1, originally released July 15, 2015.

Taylor: Mentorship is an ancient practice. Any of us who have had the pleasure of reading Plato’s Republic (or were assigned to read it for class) know that the practice of an elder teaching a younger the ropes is something present in almost all societies. It’s natural then that we see this same master-apprentice relationship present in comic books. Batman, the Ninja Turtles, Wolverine, Jean Grey – they’ve all had someone there to mentor them and help them become heroes who save the day. We generally like to think of those mentors knowing it all, often forgetting that they are still human and far from perfect. Ant-Man Annual 1 examines what it’s like to find this out in typical witty fashion.

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Justice League 42

justice league 42

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Reid are discussing Justice League 42, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Patrick: Justice League 42 is all about gods – who are gods, who are not gods, who can defy gods, who can become gods, whose godliness can be taken away. But that’s the real difference between a ‘god’ and a ‘superhero?’ Is it physical abilities? Do our gods need to be able to destroy worlds? Do we need our gods to present pure morality? Do we just need to feel that our gods are in control and have a plan? Or maybe gods just need to come from an established pantheon? Whatever other qualities you want to ascribe to gods, I think the most important idea is that they matter in a way that mere humans don’t. Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s “Darkseid War” zeroes in a conflict so big and so “important” that we need to check in on the godliness of every hero and every villain. Continue reading

Hawkeye 22

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 22, Drew and Courtney

Today, Drew and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 22, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Drew: Endings are hard. Whether they break our hearts or leave us wanting more, even the most satisfying ending must face the bittersweet truth of being the end. “The End” takes on a peculiar meaning in the world of month-to-month comics (especially where the next volume may already be a few issues in), but whatever we’re saying goodbye to — whether its a paradigm or a creative team — can still have an almost hallowed air of significance. This makes talking about comic book endings in a issue-by-issue format particularly difficult, as its tempting to use the final issue as a platform for talking about the series as a whole. I absolutely want to talk about Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run as a whole, but I want to first give issue 22 its due respect as perhaps the perfect distillation of what made his run so remarkable. Continue reading