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
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
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.
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
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, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Uncanny X-Men 24, Cyclops 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 17, Secret Avengers 6, New Avengers 21, Avengers 33, Avengers World 10, Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man 3, Detective Comics Annual 3, Batman Eternal 17, Justice League 32, and C.O.W.L. 3.
Drew: In case it needs to be said: superhero comics allow for some bizarre situations. Usually, this pertains to the likes of clones and brain-swaps, but Uncanny X-Men 24 actually finds it’s most unusual feature in the fact that Charles Xavier’s murderer has never stood trial. Normally, being set to inherit a massive Westchester estate might be seen as motive in a criminal case, but Scott Summers seems to have found a newfound mutant ability of never being tried for his crime in spite of all of his friends believing his guilt AND knowing where he’s hiding from them. That’s the weird world Brian Michael Bendis has to navigate in order to set up the Original Sin premise that is “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier.” We still haven’t seen an actual reading of the will, but it seems certain we’ll get it in issue 25 (did I mention that this issue was written by Bendis?). Continue reading
Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy is the first movie in the series to turn the franchise focus toward the Cosmic end of the Marvel Universe. As pretty big Guardians fans ourselves, we just had to talk about the movie. Probable spoilers after the break: welcome to the Chat Cave.
Dr. Lee Archer, The Wake 10
Patrick: I let a lot of creative projects marinate in my imagination for long time before I ever express them to anyone. As a result, most of these projects never ever ever see the light of day. Half-formed ideas wither and die in my mind on a daily basis — exciting worlds, interesting characters, heartbreak, adventures, mysteries revealed. I know that ever single idea I’ve ever had would benefit from a second imagination’s scrutiny, so why would I let so many concepts suffocate inside my own skull? Because expression is scary. Admitting that you think an idea you have is cool is impossibly risky: literally no one else has ever weighed in on the idea before you. Actually expressing an original story you want to tell (or an original painting you want to paint or an original song you want to sing), requires the artist to be a narcissist and a champion of the unknown at the same time. That’s an incredibly naked position to be in, and that’s how Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy cast the whole of humanity in the final issue of The Wake. Continue reading
Patrick: Friday night, I was at a bar with some friends and — after the second round — the topic of conversation turned to “panty raids.” None of us had even participated in one nor had any of us been victim of one, but we all had these half-formed ideas from 80s college movies (and anything parodying 80s college movies). We all understood the same broad strokes: a group of men, probably a fraternity, steals underpants from a group of girls, probably a sorority. The purpose of a panty raid was still sort of elusive, and even among our small group, our perceptions of the gender and sexuality politics involved were all over the map. Is it a harmless prank? An anarchic expression of teenage sexuality? A skeezy male sexual power fantasy? That last thought hung with me through the weekend: no matter how panty raids were intended, the end result is at least a little rapey. Even something as stupid and frivolous as a panty raid has overtones of rape. Modern feminism has an awful lot to say about this prevalent rape culture, especially as a particularly glaring example of how far we really are from gender equality. As DC’s de facto symbol of feminism, Wonder Woman was bound to address the issue eventually, and the subtlety and grace of the conclusion to Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s masterpiece was the perfect place for it to happen. Continue reading
Spencer: This new volume of Daredevil has largely revolved around Matt Murdock’s move to San Francisco and how his unfamiliarity with that city has affected his skills as a crime fighter. Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez’s Daredevil 6 finds Matt returning to New York City (seemingly only so he can get mixed-up with Original Sin), but despite being back in his old stomping grounds, things don’t get any easier for Matt. Waid spends this entire issue showing us just how unprepared Matt is now that all his secrets are out in the open; the way Waid piles tragedy atop tragedy atop tragedy is horrifically beautiful. Continue reading