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

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 7/22/15

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Today, Patrick, Drew, Mark and Michael discuss Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde 1, Weirdworld 2, Old Man Logan 3, E is for Extinction 2, Loki, Agent of Asgard 16 and Marvel Zombies 2.

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Patrick: We can argue about the merits of “Battleworld” as an engine for compelling narratives until we are blue in the collective face. (I assume we keep that face on Reddit, and its has seen some shit.) This week’s crop demonstrates that, no matter what stories are coming out of Marvel these days, the pages themselves are looking absolutely gorgeous. Andrea Sorrentino, Ramon Villalobos, Michael del Mundo, Kev Walker and Lee Garbett all in one week? Plus, relative new-comer Alti Firmansyah rounds out a beautiful line-up. Maybe there’s something about the freedom that Secret Wars offers that attracts this kind of amazing talent.
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Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 7/15/15

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Patrick, Spencer, and Drew discuss Godzilla in Hell 1, Dead Drop 3, Silver Surfer 13, and Astro City 25.

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“It can do two things! Why shouldn’t it?”

Professor Farnsworth, Futurama

Patrick: In the season four episode of Futurama, “Leela’s Homeworld,” the script originally called for two separate sci-fi machines – one to instigate a problem and the other to solve a problem. According to the DVD commentary track, the writers eventually just made the same machine capable of performing two tasks, and put their rationale in the mouth of the grumpiest character in the cast. And they’re totally right: for storytelling purposes, who cares if the magical machines are the same or different. But stories themselves are often strongest when sticking to a single focus. We find ourselves this week with a short round up, one where every issue is single-minded, and as a result, all are wonderfully clear and successful. Continue reading

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

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 7/15/15

secret wars roundup9Today, Spencer, Taylor, Patrick, and Drew discuss Siege 1, Planet Hulk 3, Years of Future Past 3, Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders 1, Inhumans Atillan Rising 3, Secret Wars Battleworld 3, Hail Hydra 1, and Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps 2.

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Spencer: “Each domain is a region unto itself.” Each and every Secret Wars tie-in has begun with these words, and they really are a remarkably accurate mission statement: despite the common thread they all share, most of these mini-series feel like separate concepts far removed from the rest of their brethren. That begins to change with this week’s offerings, however. Several of this week’s issues find their casts questioning Doom and venturing beyond their own domain. Are we about to see some of these characters collide with the main Secret Wars title? Perhaps, but fortunately, these tie-ins still work as fun standalone stories as well. In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds.
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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

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 7/8/15

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Patrick, Spencer, Drew, Ryan, Michael and Shane discuss Saga 30, The Fox 4, Injection 3, Starfire 2, Justice League of America 2, Justice League United 11, Batman 42, Catwoman 42, Gotham Academy 8, Constantine: the Hellblazer 2, and Mad Max Fury Road: Max 1.

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Patrick: Our Weekly Round-Ups are often articles about comics we really feel like hosting entire conversations about. They’re not necessarily lesser comics, but there’s a little bit of a value judgement associated with it, for sure. This week saw an insane surge in quality, with all of these titles pulling out insightful, action-packed installments. There’s so much to say about all these comics, so let’s just get to it, huh? Continue reading

Archie 1

Alternating Currents: Archie 1, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Archie 1, originally released July 9th, 2015.

Drew: Ah, the reboot. Comics have a long history of restarting characters from the beginning (or something resembling it), but new artists reimagining familiar characters can be seen everywhere, from Peter Pan to Macbeth. The recent popularity of rebooting movie franchises, however, has often smacked of a dearth of ideas. Reboots have all of the familiarity of sequels, but without any of the risk of putting characters in new situations. Or, at least, that’s the cynical attitude I tend to bring to reboots. Archie 1 proves to be surprisingly daring, even as it riffs on characters and situations that have been around for decades. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 7/8/15

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Today, Patrick, Spencer, Michael and Drew discuss Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows 2, Spider-Verse 3, Spider-Island 1, Civil War 1, 1872 1, Ghost Racers 2, Runaways 2, Secret Wars 2099 3, and X-Men ’92 Infinite Comic 4.

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Patrick: It’s Spider-Day in Battleworld! Not only do we have three books with “Spider” in the title, Civil War prominently features Peter Parker (and the rest of the Parker clan). It’s amazing how malleable the concept of Spider-Man is, and how it can be at home in all four of these discrete story worlds. The rest of the issues on our Round Up today all approach their unique worlds in different ways – some try to cram in every possible piece of relevant lore, others pic and choose; some want to make a point about the source material, others are only interested in telling fun stories with the concepts. I’m continually amazed that no two series have similar approaches to Secret Wars – not even when they’re all named “Spider.”
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Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 7/1/15

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Spencer, Patrick, Drew, and Michael discuss Darth Vader 7, Groot 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Team-Up 7, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 7, Outcast 10, Jupiter’s Circle 4, Onyx 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 47, Action Comics 42, Bizarro 2, The Woods 14, and The Spire 1.

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Drew: I used to write questions for a trivia competition, and I was absolutely terrified of questions where you had to say what a list of items (or songs, or people) had in common. Not because they were hard to write, but because it was nearly impossible to make only one answer correct. “Things not in my kitchen” or “people who aren’t me” are obviously wrong, but also technically correct. Trivia players would only put down an answer like this when they couldn’t think of the right answer, but it came up often enough to put me off of writing those kinds of questions. All that is to say, I’m sure there’s a common thread more meaningful to this week’s comics than “comics I didn’t write,” but man, I can’t think of that right answer. Can I still get some points, or what? Continue reading