Spencer: Patrick and I recently lamented a certain style of comic, the kind that tries to recap an entire lifetime with voiceover, practically becoming an illustrated Wikipedia article in the process. It seems as if the entire purpose of these comics is simply to relay information without attempting to further characterization or plot, and the longer I read comics the more this kind of story bothers me. This particular style seems to pop up most often when retelling origin stories (just check out our Zero Month coverage for proof), and that made me particularly cautious about picking up Secret Origins 6. Each of the three stories presented in this issue tackles the business of telling an origin story slightly differently, yet two of them still stick pretty close to this format. I suppose that raises the question of who this title is actually for: newbies who may need an illustrated Wikipedia article, or long-time readers who might expect a little more from their stories? Continue reading
Drew: I think the word “love” is overused when it comes to pop-culture. I mean, I like Star Wars as much as the next guy, but it only took a few shitty prequels to reveal just how conditional that fondness was. More importantly, when we claim to “love” every bit of pop ephemera, the word looses it’s meaning — to paraphrase Syndrome when everything is loved, nothing is. As fond as my memories of The Magic School Bus or M*A*S*H might be, I’m going to reserve “love” for the few things that have a deeper, more profound meaning to me. I say this because I want to be perfectly clear what I mean when I express that I love Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Both properties played massive roles in my childhood; I saw the movies (dozens of times each), I watched the shows, I played with the action figures — heck, I even covered the theme songs for both in my band in high school. A crossover event like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters should be a match made in heaven, then, right?
Well, it turns out it may be a bit more complicated than simply smashing them together — especially if you want to do right by the characters and the universes they occupy. Fortunately, IDW has proven time and time again that they are very invested in doing their crossovers right, giving over the majority of this issue to explaining how these characters could be interacting in the first place. The only downside to all that explanation is that we don’t get much of that interaction in this issue, but that doesn’t stop writers Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz from delivering a ton of fun. Continue reading
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, Drew and Spencer discuss Loki: Agent of Asgard 7, New Avengers 25, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 16, Avengers World 14, Original Sin Annual 1, Batman Eternal 28, and Batman/Superman 15.
Drew: It’s no secret around here that I’m a sucker for some good postmodernism (what can I say? I like art about art), which means it should be no surprise that I’m enjoying the heck out of Loki’s latest adventure with a decidedly self-aware Victor Von Doom in Loki: Agent of Asgard 7. Writer Al Ewing has always imbued the series with some charming winks at the audience, but he takes it a step further here, as Loki begins the issue totally frozen in a time-cube — a seeming nod to would-be detractors of all of the recent changes the character has gone through. Of course, much of this issue is given over to rescuing Latveria from “World War Hate,” which gives Ewing some space to preach about how the solution to hate is understanding one another. Loki gets a little snark in, but that message is mostly delivered with a straight face, which robs the series of the sense of humor that usually makes it so fun. It was mostly a fun issue, but switched into a pervasive joylessness as the issue reached its conclusion. Continue reading
Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Trees 6, originally released October 15th, 2014. Ryan: Remember watching Dragon Ball Z when you were younger? Remember how you would be so excited for the final confrontations, but shake your fist of the television screen when an entire episode stretched by and nary a punch was thrown? Well, anime, like manga, like comics, like Dickensian 19th century literature, is serialized. The objective of serialization is to keep readers or viewers invested enough to buy the next installment. Sometimes this can lead to frustrating lulls in action which hide under the guise of building exposition. In many ways, I felt this way about Trees 6. While we receive some rumblings of future events and some fall-out from past occurrences, this issue moves the plot forward the smallest amount possible. Continue reading
Spencer: Lex Luthor has basically been the main character of Justice League ever since Forever Evil ended, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. It’s inevitable that Lex will go back to being a full-time villain at some point (unless writer Geoff Johns manages to pull off the biggest reformation in DC history and make it stick), but I’m not sure how much that should influence my reading of Luthor’s intentions. There are two things I do know for certain, though: 1. Luthor’s presence has finally made the rest of the Justice League the competent, inspirational team we’ve been hoping they’d become since the New 52 began, and 2. even if Luthor’s reformation is somehow 100% legit, he still has plenty of misdeeds in his past to face up to. Continue reading
John Milton, Paradise Lost
Drew: How long do you suppose sexism has existed? The Bible would have us believe it’s basically as long as human sexes have existed — Adam was created first in God’s image, with Eve following up as an afterthought of sorts, made of Adam’s spare parts. Coincidentally, she’s also the one who is tricked (or at least talked into) eating the apple from the tree of knowledge first. Sin may be conceived in the mind of Satan, but it’s brought to humanity in the shape of a woman. I appreciate that this is a bit of a tunnel-vision reading of the creation myth — the Bible is full of men who sin without the aid of women — but the notion that women are lesser beings who tempt men to evil continues to pervade our culture, from how much women are paid at work, to blaming women for “provoking” physical attacks (or threats) against them. Gallons of ink have been spilled over this very subject, but Greg Rucka and Toni Fejzula manage to find a new angle in Veil 5, providing an anti-Eve story that — no surprise — feels decidedly more empowering than the original. Continue reading
The term ‘archetype’ is often misunderstood as meaning a certain definite mythological image or motif…On the contrary, [it is] an inherited tendency of the human mind to form representations of mythological motifs — representations that vary a great deal without losing their basic pattern…
Drew: I’ve spent a lot of time on this site maligning the over-reliance on tropes in comics, but I think I have a clear understanding of why they’re used — sure, we may have seen the loose-canon cop or bumbling working class husband a few too many times, but they’re only used because they’re effective springboards for drama (or comedy, as the case may be). However, I haven’t put very much thought into where the tropes actually come from. The Worf Effect gets its name from Star Trek: The Next Genneration, but it was already a well-established trope by that point — at least as old as Greek myths (where Ares often has his ass handed to him). Again, this makes sense given how effective these tropes can be — an interesting premise/situation/character is bound to be repeated as long as it can bear new narrative fruit. But what if the first attempt at a given premise isn’t particularly successful? As a series built on these very archetypes, Fables has always had an unusual relationship with tropes, which gives issue 145 a unique perspective on that very question. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 39, originally released October 15th, 2014. Taylor: Whenever we think about the 1950’s we inevitably think about the Cold War between Russia and the USA. The Space Race and a setting for alternate histories aside, the Cold War did little for either country. In the USA, fear of communism ran amok to such an extent that senators were able to persecute people on mere suspicion. In the USSR, money was spent so much on military and the like that the basic needs of many citizens were forgotten. In both cases there is a strong lesson to be learned: don’t let fear dominate your decision making. Despite these warnings, people continue to make this same mistake over and over again. In TMNT 38, we see that even the very wise and powerful are susceptible to the pull of fear. The question is, when they succumb to it, just what are the consequences? Continue reading
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 and Drew discuss Justice League United 5, The Amazing Spider-Man 7, Rocket Raccoon 4, Sabrina 1, Hawkeye vs. Deadpool 1, and Superman/Wonder Woman 12.
Spencer: Justice League United is team that’s just chock-full of white blonde people — like, distractingly full of white blonde people. Thankfully, Issue 5 finally debuts Cree superhero Equinox, whose ties to the native tribes of Canada are something rather unique for superhero comics. Admittedly, the issue doesn’t give Miiyahbin’s origin much room to breathe, which means there’s a lot of telling and some rather familiar beats to her story, but it’s the added elements of Cree lore that make Equinox shine. Continue reading
“How did they build those pyramids?” They just threw human death and suffering at them until they were finished. “How did we traverse the nation with a railroad so quickly?” We just threw Chinese people in caves and blew ‘em up and didn’t give a shit what happened to them. There’s no end to what you can do when you don’t give a fuck about particular people. You can do anything. That’s where human greatness comes from: that we’re shitty people and we fuck others over.
Drew: Has the phrase “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” ever been used for anything other than falsely justifying horrific acts? It’s so strongly associated with evil advisors, it’s a wonder that it could ever persuade a unsure advisee, but it also has the unfortunate quality of being true to our experience of the world. Few, it seems, ever reach the top without the boost of standing on someone else’s neck. It’s easy to become bitter about people being used as pawns, but it’s also the stuff of great dramas — to what lengths are people willing to go in order to attain power? Manhattan Projects obviously has more in common with those heightened fictions than reality, but issue 24 never minimizes the monstrosities its protagonists commit in order to hold on to power, focusing on one of the more traumatizing events in US History. Continue reading