Fables 144

Alternating Currents: Fables 144, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 144, originally released September 17th, 2014.

Han: How we doin’?
Luke: Same as always.
Han: That bad, huh?

Return of the Jedi

Drew: If I had to point to a line that hooked me on Star Wars, it would be this line from Return of the Jedi. Maybe I should back up. I had somehow made it to age 9 without ever seeing a Star Wars movie when my 3rd grade teacher perplexingly allowed us to watch the first half-hour of Jedi in class. Knowing nothing about the movies, I was thoroughly enjoying my introduction to the Star Wars universe when the above exchange blew my mind straight out of my eyeballs. There are other adventures like this one? I honestly don’t think I could have been as hard up for the other movies if I had seen them in order. I suppose that’s my way of saying beginning a story at the end can be a rewarding, if unorthodox approach. It’s a particularly intimidating prospect in a world as steeped in its own mythology as Fables, but I’ll be damned if issue 144 doesn’t give me that same “I’ve got to go back and read them all” feeling. Continue reading

Hawkeye 20

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 20, Suzanne and SpencerToday, Suzanne and Spencer Drew are discussing Hawkeye 20, originally released September 10th, 2014.

Drew: Of all the ways a writer can use to emphasize their storytelling beats, shuffling the chronology of the events always demands my attention. I almost called it “distracting” but I think I mean “demands my attention” — I absolutely appreciate that it’s a handy tool in the savvy writer’s toolkit, but we’re so used to perceiving events one after the other that flipping them around feels noticeably alien. Again, I don’t want to imply that it’s inherently bad — there are lots of compelling reasons to tell a story out-of-order — but that it draws attention to itself in ways that aren’t always accounted for. Fortunately, Matt Fraction has routinely proven himself capable of handling (and justifying) these types of stories, making Hawkeye 20 an excellent example of nonlinear narrative done right. Continue reading

Velvet 7

velvet 7Today, Greg and Drew are discussing Velvet 7, originally released September 10th, 2014.

Greg: When’s the last time you dorked out in public? For me, “dorking out” is a simultaneously freeing yet embarrassing experience. The feeling of visceral pleasure and physical high you get from an unbound joy something gives you, crashing into the realization that the folks you’re dorking out too don’t have much of a frame of context, and can’t join in. I once spent five minutes dorking out over a long-take fight scene in Skyfall to my parents, who in response, coughed awkwardly and said “That sounds nice.” They’re gonna have to look out, though, because Velvet is so staggeringly good and checks every box of stuff I love, that it’s 100% being added to my “dork-out” pile.

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Lazarus 11

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 11, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 11, originally released September 10th, 2014.

Drew: There’s a scene late in Lazarus 11 that finds Malcolm Carlyle dictating a message for Forever to deliver. We’ve seen Forever take on the role of messenger/negotiator before, but what’s remarkable here is how open Malcolm is about his means of manipulation. He’s considered every action and reaction that will happen as Forever carries out his orders, and is able to maintain exacting control in spite of being thousands of miles from the actual negotiations. It’s an unsettling display of raw power, but also opens the possibility that Malcolm is himself being manipulated — it would only take a mind equal to Malcolm’s to have anticipated all of his actions here. With all of this subterfuge, it’s easy to see why Forever might question if she’s getting the whole truth from her father about her parentage. Continue reading

East of West 15

Alternating Currents: East of West 15, Taylor and DrewToday, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 15, originally released September 10th, 2014.

Taylor: Some of the oldest and most enduring philosophical questions ever asked have to do with the nature of reality. Actually, maybe that’s basically a working definition of the subject in general. The question of what is reality is one that spans the world. The Taoist philosophers of Ancient China believe that what we perceive is actually an illusion. Likewise, in the West, the Ancient Greeks believe that reality is but a shadow of some ideal world crafted in our minds. That two such disparate cultures should come to similar conclusions shouldn’t be surprising. After all, it’s long been known that we can’t trust our senses to accurately inform our world view. Given the ubiquity of this idea, it’s not surprising to see it spring up in the latest issue of East of West. The series is nothing if not philosophical and the question of reality seemed like a matter of ‘if’ not ‘when’. While this doesn’t surprise in issue 15, what does is just how destructive this question might prove to the world of the Seven Nations.

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Uncanny X-Men 25

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Uncanny X-Men 25, originally released September 3rd, 2014.

Taylor: While comics readers know it not to be true, there is a stigma that hero worship is something juvenile. Why this stigma persists I can’t say — after all, we have grown men who wear the jerseys of their sports heroes on a weekly basis. Why superhero worship is considered nerdy in comparison to these other idols, I don’t know. Still, it says something about people that we love to have heroes, even after we’ve reached an age where we like to think we don’t need them anymore. But the weird thing about heroes is that they seldom live up to our conception of them. We seem to never outgrow this aspect of hero worship, and as Scott Summers learns in Uncanny X-Men 25, this can be a bitter pill to swallow.

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Original Sin 8

Alternating Currents: Original Sin 8, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Original Sin 8, originally released September 3rd, 2014.

Drew: As the final chapter of a summer crossover event, Original Sin 8 has significantly more baggage than the average comic issue. In addition to wrapping up its own 8-issue maxi-series (9 if you count that zero issue), this issue is essentially charting of the trajectory of the Marvel Universe in the short term, setting up an array of new series and new volumes of old series that seem to fall out of the aftermath of this event. All that is to say that it’s easy for this conversation to turn into a discussion of Original Sin as a whole, or even how we feel about some of the lasting changes this issue presents. There’s certainly value in those conversations (and believe me, I’m going to talk about them a bit), but first, I want to examine whether or not this issue manages to be entertaining in its own right. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 5

silver surfer 5Today, Suzanne and Drew are discussing Silver Surfer 5, originally released August 27, 2014.

Suzanne: What meaning can we find in our collective fascination with dreams, or rather nightmares? From myths about gods like Hypnos and Morpheus to the cult obsession with Sandman, these stories reveal our curiosity with the thinly-veiled world we enter each night with sleep. I catch myself searching for insights about my dreams — what does a dystopian future filled with giant monsters really say about my current frame of mind? Here’s hoping Norrin Radd and Dawn Greenwood break through to their subconscious in Silver Surfer 5. Continue reading

Saga 22

saga 22

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Saga 22, originally released August 27th, 2014.

Drew: The interpersonal relationships within families are insanely complex. They’re necessarily the longest relationships anyone has, meaning each one has years of subtle dynamics informing our behavior. Moreover, the stakes of any conflict within family are significantly higher — it’s one thing to be alienated by a friend, but quite another to be alienated by a parent. With all of these subtle dynamics and amplified emotions, it’s easy to understand why families are so often at the center of great dramas, from King Lear to Breaking Bad. As Saga’s fourth volume passes the halfway mark, it’s decidedly become a family drama (as opposed to the parenting focus of the first volumes), yet writer Brian K Vaughan finds tragedy not in the inflated stakes of family relationships, but in the all-too relatable act of taking family for granted. Continue reading

The Fade Out 1

Alternating Currents: The Fade Out 1, Drew and RyanToday, Drew and guest writer Ryan are discussing The Fade Out 1, originally released August 20th, 2014.

Drew: Without getting too abstract, I’d like to suggest that western art is really about the development of ideas. The beginnings and ends of our books, plays, symphonies, movies, jazz tunes — virtually any art form that can said to have a “beginning” and “end” — are largely prescribed, but everything in between is totally open. For someone who is largely suspicious of rules in art, those middle sections — the rising action, the development, the open solos — are my favorite parts, where the artists are free to express, explore, and fully realize their creative potential. Of course, that also means that I’m often bored by beginnings and endings; especially in genre fiction, where the rules of exposition and resolution are even more specific. What differentiates one noir mystery from another tends to be a little subtler than can usually be communicated in the first issue of a comic, which is why Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips The Fade Out 1 is such a pleasant surprise. The issue doesn’t shy away from its genre trappings — if anything, it leans into it — but the result is something that transcends its boilerplate outline, creating an alluringly familiar late ’40s LA. Continue reading