Detective Comics 49

detective comics 49

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Detective Comics 49, originally released February 3rd, 2016.

Michael: Jim Gordon has been Gotham’s Dark Knight since June and with Bruce descending into the Batcave in the pages of Batman, it seems that Gordon’s rooftop days are nearing their end. That kind of bums me out to be honest. While Snyder’s work on Gordon in Batman has been bombastic fun, I’m not sure that he’s had enough time to engage in the wide array of Batman capers. Enter Pete Tomasi’s three-part story arc: “The Bronze Age.” Continue reading

The Vision 4

vision 4

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Vision 4, originally released February 3rd, 2016.

Drew: I recently watched a video titled “Why Donald Trump is a Gift to Democracy,” which effectively argues that the correlation between Trump’s disproportionate coverage and high poll numbers reveals the problems in how a profit-driven news media can be hijacked by anyone desperate for attention. I’m not as optimistic as the video seems to be about our collective will to change this phenomenon, but the more I think about it, the more absurd a profit-driven news agency is — if good reporting and the bottom line don’t match up, a publicly traded company really only has a duty to the latter. It’s ultimately not in service of the public it reports to, but the shareholders. This may seem like an odd introduction to a discussion of a comic about a robot-family’s struggles at fitting in in suburbia, but a profit-driven news media is actually the closest thing I can think of to an artificial intelligence that would harm humans in order to sustain itself. Only, you know, I have a lot more sympathy for the family of robots. Continue reading

Black Magick 4

Alternating Currents: Black Magick 4, Drew and Ryan

Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Black Magick 4, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Drew: I’ve been thinking a lot about genre lately. Specifically, how we might define genre as a concept. I tend to think of genre as a checklist of conventions; guns and horses? That’s a western. Period costumes and overly-earnest impressions? That’s a biopic. But every convention you can think of has numerous exceptions, and writers love deconstructing genres, which means there’s no one trait that would actually be true of an entire genre. Instead, “genre” is more of a cloud of possibilities, and any given story’s placement within that genre is a negotiation of the conventions that fit within that cloud and the subversions of those conventions. Why use those conventions at all? There are a number of reasons, but one of the most practical is that those conventions work as a shorthand — we don’t need the concepts of interrogation rooms or fortresses of solitude explained to us, even though we’ve never experienced them ourselves. This allows writers to skip ahead to the subversions, showing us what’s unique about this particular genre story. We all know what’s unique about Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s Black Magick (it’s right there in the name), but issue 4 is the first to hint at just how different that might make this story. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4

squirrel girl 4

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Spencer: What does it mean to be “unbeatable?” When Squirrel Girl was mainly a joke character, it meant that she could take down any opponent in combat, albeit always off-panel. While Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s take on Doreen still has extraordinary physical prowess, her victories under their pens have instead come from a place of compassion, understanding, and compromise; Squirrel Girl’s “unbeatable” because she always finds a way to appeal to and appease the humanity of any opponent she faces. It makes sense, then, that Doctor Doom is the first enemy to truly flummox Doreen. How is she supposed to defeat someone with no humanity to appeal to? Continue reading

Saga 33

Alternating Currents: Saga 33, Drew and Ryan

Today, Drew and Ryan M. are discussing Saga 33, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Drew: I’m currently taking a class on autobiographical comics, and the discussion thus far has centered around the question of subjectivity. Many of the memoirists we’ve examined thus far have favored the “truth” found in their subjective experience, as opposed to the “historical truth” of a more objective account, but I’ve always found the assumption that history is objective to be problematic. “History is written by the victors,” as the saying goes, revealing not only that history is necessarily biased, but also that history is more the story of wars than life. Indeed, even a historical account of a war has to consider who the story is really about: Generals? Individual soldiers? Civilians? Reporters? That last one may seem out of place, taking a narrow focus on people who neither represent the masses nor the machinations of war, but as the ones literally writing the histories as they happen, reporters are the only ones capable of giving an account that isn’t filtered through the subjective experience of someone else (as, say, a civilian’s story as told by a reporter would be). There are more layers of subjectivity to explore here, but the point is: reporters’ stories are just as important as those they cover, which makes Saga 33‘s turn to Upsher and Doff so welcome. Continue reading

Grayson 16

grayson 16

Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Grayson 16, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Mark: You know when you over indulge in something that you love? When you love Nerds candy so much you buy a movie theatre box-sized pack of them and eat them in bed, only to wake up the next morning with multi-colored sugar nuggets stuck to your chest and a raging sugar headache? Grayson 16 is the comic book equivalent of that. Dick Grayson is so Dick Grayson this issue, it has to be a knowing parody right? Not to say that the sugar wave isn’t a blast while you’re riding it. It’s hard to blame Seeley and King for giving the people what they want. After the end of its first spectacular arc, Grayson has come down to Earth a little bit, working overtime for a few issues to expound an increasingly complex mythology. Grayson 16 is pretty back-to-basics, but turns everything you loved about early Grayson up to insane levels. Continue reading

Old Man Logan 1

old man logan 1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Old Man Logan 1, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Michael: Comic books are full of lofty, almost impossible goals — typically on the part of the villain. We know all of the classics: world domination, citywide destruction, and the death of their most hated hero nemesis. The Joker might win small battles, but ultimately he will never win the war. Does knowing that a character will never completely achieve his or her goals ruin the story for you? Continue reading

East of West 24

east of west 22

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing East of West 24, originally released January 29th, 2015.

Taylor: Anyone who has ever regularly practiced cardio exercise can tell you about the importance of pacing. I myself ride my bike to work whenever possible, and while I’m in the saddle, I definitely fall into my usual rhythm. There’s something about finding the proper pace to your workout, race, or commute that is incredibly important to helping it run smoothly. Pace is similarly important with story telling, the only difference being that instead of a steady pace, you want one that varies and excites you. Comic books are interesting when you consider the pacing of a story. Does each issue need a varying pace or should the series as a whole vary its pace as needed regardless of individual issues. East of West is a series that seems to fall into the latter and while this is cause of equal parts frustration and excitement. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54

tmnt 54

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, originally released January 27th, 2016.

black and white

Spencer: Telling someone they see things in black and white is practically tantamount to calling them childish. The general idea is that as people grow up, the world and the decisions they have to make in it become more ethically gray, and trying to hold onto clear definitions of “good” and “evil” in the light of that is futile. Of course, when confronted with that line of reasoning many respond just as Calvin did in the strip above — they claim that sometimes things really are that simple! In essence, this is the argument that dominates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, where the Mutanimals nearly splinter over the discovery of Old Hob and Hun’s alliance. Continue reading

Captain Marvel 1

captain marvel 1
Today, Ryan D. and Mark are discussing Captain Marvel 1, originally released January 20th, 2016. 

secret wars div

Ryan: For some time now, one of the largest recurring themes when it comes to Ms. or Captain Marvel is the legacy of the character. The character of the Captain has undergone numerous iterations through the years until the mantle came to rest permanently — or, as is often the case in comics, for now — upon the capable shoulders of the weathered and tested Carol Danvers. This issue heralds in the next chapter of the character, offering her  a new platform and new responsibility as the first line of defense for the Earth. While Captain Marvel has, of late, played important roles in large cross-over events and team-ups, this issue is wholly her own, though it also features a swell cast of supporting characters. While Carol is hoping that her new post will offer her a new purpose, can this creative team solidify her status as legend while respecting the tradition that comes with being Captain Marvel? Continue reading