Drew: Last month, in our discussion of Daredevil 6, I was struck by the darker, distinctly Miller-esque tone of that issue, wondering “is it a sign of respect to that era of Daredevil history, or an assertion that a return to that style would only bring pain?” I don’t know what would compel me to apply such a simple binary to this series, but true to form, Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez manage to deliver an answer that is somehow both and neither option. Waid’s run has been all about pulling that darkness into the light (with a twist), and this issue distills that theme into a charming bite-sized little adventure. Continue reading
Ignorance is bliss
Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College
Drew: If I ever needed an example of cognitive dissonance, I would simply point to the above statements, acknowledging that the majority of people know that both are true. It makes no sense, but we at once want to know things that will disturb us while wanting to unknow things that enrich our lives. It’s perhaps most true when it comes to analyzing the arts. Some folks prefer to examine their art, while others believe they are happier without that closer look, as though art were some mysterious and secretly unsavory sausage whose origins could only yield misery. It should be obvious that I’m in the first group, which is why a thoughtful, intricate work like Ales Kot and Michael Gaydos’ Zero 10 is so utterly rewarding. Continue reading
Patrick: This is going to be one timid-ass example, but rest assured, the story is so tame because I want to save face here. In high school, I was all about grand romantic gestures — mix tapes, love letters, picnics, whatever: it was all my jam. So, early on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, I picked up my girlfriend from her house and drove us to the shores of Lake Michigan to watch the sunrise. Mind you, it’s April and both the lake and the beach are covered in ice. Already not the smartest idea. But I was on my way to her house, zipping along mostly-deserted roads far too quickly and I got pulled over for speeding. Driving safely just wasn’t a thought in my horny little head at that moment. Luckily, I only got a ticket — no one was hurt or anything like that. But who knows what kind of damage my hormone-addled body could have caused? This is the G-rated version of a story we all have; especially when we’re first discovering it, sex turns us into weirdly irresponsible monsters, monsters that make mistakes. Continue reading
Spencer: Although I haven’t been talking about it much (if only because I’d work myself into a frenzy it’d take hours to recover from), I’m absolutely livid about the injustices going on in Ferguson right now. A police force essentially militarizing and terrorizing an entire city to cover up the murder of a child is some straight-up supervillain level madness, but what’s worse is that no one in any positions of authority are doing anything about it. I’m legitimately having a hard time focusing on comics at the moment, but if there’s one book that can bring me some peace of mind right now, it’s Scott Snyder, Gerry Duggan, and Matteo Scalera’s Batman 34. Although the situation faced by the Meek’s victims isn’t exactly the same as the people of Ferguson’s, it’s hard not to see parallels in how both groups are looked down upon or considered unworthy of merit or compassion. This issue is a timely reminder to always treat everyone with dignity, but it’s also a showcase of the best sides of Batman’s personality; here he provides an example we should all aspire to. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 37, originally released August 13, 2014. Drew: By the time I was watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it was already airing in syndication 5 days a week. That was awesome for the part of me that wanted to see sweet ninja turtle action on a regular basis, but decidedly less awesome for whatever part of me was supposed to learn patience. I could wait exactly one day between episodes, but no more. Indeed, I didn’t even have patience for scenes on the show that didn’t feature the turtles (to my credit, they almost never ordered pizza at the technodrome), so the finer points of plotting were often lost on me. Intrepid youtubers have aimed to rectify my ignorance, compiling all of Shredder’s scenes with Krang into bite-sized videos, but life has offered a much more fulfilling second chance in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 37, which focuses exclusively on Shredder and Krang’s first (er, second) meeting. Continue reading
Greg: In middle school I had a problem, and that problem was flood pants. You know, pants that are too short for you, leaving your ankles embarrassingly exposed, as if you want your pants to be safe in case of a flood. Maybe we didn’t have enough money for new pants, maybe I just didn’t care, but I got ravenously bullied for wearing these things. One night, as I fought back tears and told my mom my woes, she offered a line for me to say in reponse — a line so well-crafted I can’t believe my mom didn’t have a previous career as a comedy writer. The very next day, when one of my tormentors chipped away at me, I unleashed this bomb: “When the flood comes, you’ll all be sorry.” The response was intense, way more than I could’ve imagined. These kids laughed until they cried, and didn’t bother me about my flood pants so much anymore. I learned that day a valuable lesson, one that makes itself known in this issue of Rocket Raccoon: humor is a powerful way to work through traumas.
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Green Arrow 34, originally released August 6th, 2014.
Spencer: Eighteen months ago, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino began their run on Green Arrow, which had been a meandering, mediocre title ever since the New 52 relaunch. Lemire and Sorrentino arrived with a distinct style and a strong, specific vision, quickly transforming the title into one worth paying attention to. Now — with the exception of next month’s Futures End tie-in — their run has drawn to a close, and more than ever it’s apparent how much effort the creative team has put into rehabilitating Green Arrow. Issue 34 gives the conflict between Ollie and Richard Dragon a happy ending, but it also lays bare Lemire and Sorrentino’s strategy for creating a compelling superhero comic. Continue reading
Drew: One of the biggest challenges in analyzing any work of art is understanding the parameters on which it should be judged. There aren’t “right” and “wrong” ways to appreciate a work of art, but it is possible to select aesthetics that are more appropriate than others. That Picasso and Da Vinci or Hemingway and Melville were working in the same medium doesn’t mean that they should (or even could) be assessed using the same metrics. We’re used to those metrics being dictated by social tastes, but there are certain works of art that seem to be defined only by internal parameters — crystalized nuggets of simplicity that belies the true complexity of the piece. My list of examples is short — I honestly can’t think of one beyond Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony — but that makes the company Moon Knight 6 occupies all the more rarified, as the issue refracts and clarifies its respective series. Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire distill their hero down to his absolute essence, only to stretch that essence out to the size of a whole issue. It’s absolutely beautiful. Continue reading
Patrick: I like to think of myself as a pretty mild-mannered, in-control kind of guy. One of the things I pride myself on is my skill for conflict resolution — and as a cornerstone of that, my communication skills. I sincerely believe that just about any conflict can be ameliorated with enough patience, understanding and communication. That being said: I once punched my friend Jeff in the stomach. Straight up stocked him in the gut. I was mad about something — who even cares what — and rather than make him understand that I was upset, I just hit him. I was twelve years old at the time, and I’ve passed so many peaceful years since then, that tend to think of that person that hit Jeff as “not really me.” That was someone else’s behavior. It’s the same thing I think about the version of me that used to drink to the point of blacking out, and vomiting in the bed (only happened once, thank goodness). That wasn’t Patrick, that was drunk-Patrick, which is just a different version of “not really me.” While the first issue of Outcast settled very neatly on a question of faith, the second issue is interested in these ideas of fault and identity. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 19, originally released July 30th, 2014.
Spencer: My best friend is an artist, and he constantly complains that I read my comics too fast, that I don’t pay enough attention to the art. I’ll admit it, he has a point; I’m so eager to read the story that I often devour my comics, and miss things in the art I don’t catch until my second or third time through a book. There was no way I could do that with Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye 19, though. This issue demands that you slow down and pay attention to every detail. It’s a challenging read in many ways, but it’s a challenge that’s absolutely worth attempting. Continue reading