History With Comics: Drew grew up with Superman pajamas. His best days were when he never had to change out of them. He fell in love with Batman the Animated Series when he was 5. He had never read a comic in his life, but started reading Batman trades when he was in high school. He continued to pick up trades and one-offs throughout the 00’s, but never got into the monthly swing. After almost a decade of being an outsider looking in, Drew seized upon DC’s relaunch to start picking up monthlies.
New 52 Favorites: Batman, Wonder Woman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing All-New X-Men 34, originally released December 17th, 2014. Taylor: It’s a thing that happens in most time and dimensional travel stories. The inevitable meeting (or in some cases near meeting) between a character and a different versions of themselves. It’s interesting to think about why this trope even exists. One possible explanation could be that since we enjoy reading about our heroes, it would be even better to have a double dose. However, seeing our beloved characters act in different ways or in different situations also is entertaining. And then there is the thought that we all wish we could meet different versions of ourselves, to see what we would be like if x happened instead of y. Whatever the reason, All-New X-Men 34 once again finds our heroes meeting different versions of themselves, but is there anything new left to say about this situation?Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Zero 13, originally released December 17th, 2014.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
Drew: It’s easy for the neophile to be frustrated with art. As much as our society claims to value innovation, our art tends to rely heavily on the comforts of the known. That’s not to say the majority of art is devoid of surprise, just that the forms that those surprises take are so prescribed as to be relatively predictable. Whether it’s the hero returning home or the melody returning to the home key, our most tried-and-true structures leave only the smaller details to truly distinguish themselves. Zero 13 contains a masterful example of this kind of small surprise, but this issue’s biggest surprise might lie in what it reveals about the larger form of the series. 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, Drew, and Patrick discuss Justice League United 7, Batman Eternal 36, Harley Quinn Holiday Special 1, East of West: The World, Guardians of the Galaxy Annual 1, Spider-Verse Team-Up 2, Rocket Raccoon 6, Uncanny X-Men Annual 1, Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1, and Avengers World 16. Spencer: Jeff Lemire’s Justice League United has always been a rather straightforward title, and that often proves to be both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Issue 7 finds the various League and Legion groups fully assembled and focused on stopping Byth from using Ultra to bring about the end of the universe — there’s a no-nonsense urgency to their meeting that’s refreshing, and Stargirl’s quick smack-down of anyone looking to mercy-kill Ultra (“We do what the Justice League does and find a better way”) is again refreshing both for its bluntness and its unyielding sense of morality. That said, that same straightforwardness robs the story of any real surprises or complexity — for better or for worse, things play out exactly as you’d expect them to. Much of the fun comes from the various interactions between these disparate characters that Lemire packs into practically every panel, but outside of a few established relationships (J’onn and Equinox’s connection to Ultra, Ollie and Buddy’s pseudo-rivalry) none of those moments have any lasting impact on the characters. Ultimately, Justice League United is a book that’s a lot of fun in the moment, but doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression on the reader. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 9, originally released December 10th, 2014. Ryan:Sex Criminals 9 begins with an entwicklungsroman of sorts, chronicling the development of the young woman who grows into Jon’s favorite adult actress, Jazmine St. Cocaine. It begins, like all good stories, with an inciting incident: a playground accident — seeming perpetrated by the subtly blood-speckled see-saw — leaves Rae Anne Toots with nerve damage on her clitoris and thus insensitive to that particular type of sexual stimulation. Despite this injury and the high school promiscuity (her intimation, not mine — judgment-free column here) she partially attributes to it, Ana graduates top of her class with her sights set on university. Unfortunately, her father can/will not help her with the financial strings attached, and she eventually finds that supporting herself by working forty hours plus to afford college is for suckers. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 37, originally released December 10th, 2014. Drew: I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that Barbara Gordon has one of the least memorable origin stories in the Bat-mythos. In fact, without the inciting incident of murdered/criminal parents, or simply figuring out Batman’s identity, it’s arguable that she doesn’t have an origin “story” — she just kind of became Batgirl in the same way someone becomes an adult. That means she doesn’t have the same motivations built into her character that Bruce, Dick, Jason, Tim, Cassandra, Steph, and Damian all have. That’s not to say she’s a lessor character — indeed, she’s been the center of several great stories — just that her “mission” isn’t as strongly defined or as personally motivated as those of her peers. With Batgirl 37, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart turn that lack of definition into a huge asset, making Babs an infinitely more believable 20-something. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 11, originally released December 10th, 2014. Spencer: My biggest pet-peeve with Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern was all the business about Hal Jordan being “the greatest Green Lantern ever.” Maybe it’s just me, but it never felt like Hal earned the title or like Johns was providing much evidence to back up his claim — it always came across like a “he’s the greatest because I say so” moment from Johns. I initially feared a repeat of this situation when, at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 9, writer Dan Slott claimed that “our” Peter Parker from Earth-616 was the most important Spider-Man of them all, but fortunately, this week’s The Amazing Spider-Man 11 convincingly demonstrates why our Peter is worthy of leading the assembled hoards of “Spider-Verse”.Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 41, originally released December 2014. Patrick: I saw The Expendables when it came out in theatres in 2010. I ended up really enjoying the experience, if only because the flick ends up being a comedy of unintended juxtaposition. Stalone and company think they’re making an uber action movie, but the truth is that Jason Statham movie is not the same genre as a Jet Li movie is not the same genre as Sylvester Stalone movie. It’s a mess that so blindly and courageously moves from one “here’s what’s cool about this guy” scene to the next, with no regard for its own identity. There are also a lot of genres buried in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and while issue 41 has a lot of work to do to step up how all of these pieces will come crashing into each other, the creative team leverages the hilarity of the same kind of juxtaposition The Expendables does. Only, y’know, on purpose. 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 Batman Eternal 35, Gotham Academy 3, Grayson 5, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin 1, The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 2, and The Private Eye 9. Spencer: So there’s been a lot of talk about who the “big bad” behind Batman Eternal is, but issue 35 makes me think that perhaps he’s been right under our noses since the very first issue. The one constant throughout this series, the one figure putting in an appearance in every arc, has been Jason Bard, and in this week’s installment we begin to dive into his intensely personal motives for targeting Batman. Indeed, “personal” is the name of the game this issue; Bard’s attacks on Batman continue to get more and more personal as he not only strips Bruce Wayne of his company and assets, but turns a trusted friend against him to boot. Fortunately, Bard’s about to get a taste of his own medicine; Vicki Vale is in Detroit, ready to dig up every last piece of dirt she can find on Bard. I don’t know whether Vicki was only faking her relationship with Bard to get close to him, or if she just had a change of heart after getting to know him better, but either way, it’s a delicious reversal. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Detective Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Mark: Of all the Batman movies, Batman Returns remains my favorite. It’s probably the darkest Batman film yet made (I mean, it opens with parents throwing their baby in the sewer. Opens!), but it also has a sense of humor and style that the oppressively serious Christopher Nolan adaptations lack. One of the things that makes the movie pop is the decision to set the action at Christmastime. Even all lit up for the holidays there’s no place as terrible as Gotham City, and that contrast adds a dark mirth to the proceedings. With the holiday season once again upon us, it’s the perfect time to revisit Gotham at Christmas. After a two month airport diversion, creative team Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are back and Detective Comics 37 jumps us right into the thick of Gotham on Christmas Eve. Guess what? Things are not great. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014.
Men have become the tools of their tools.
Henry David Thoreau
Drew: I think it’s safe to say that technophobia has always been a thing. From fire to electricity, somebody was always more concerned over what we were losing than what we were gaining. Stories of people fearing electrical vapors or locomotives seem quaint to us now, but it wasn’t so long ago that buying things through this new internet thing seemed like an absurdly risky endeavor. In fact, I think consumers were so scared of online shopping that we were kind of oblivious to the impacts it could have in offline shopping. If anyone should have been scared of online shopping, it was brick-and-mortar establishments like Blockbuster and Borders (and, you know, countless small businesses) that couldn’t compete with the convenience and selection. The comics industry is still recovering from its most recent bout of technophobia, having only recently fully embraced same-day digital releases and content designed specifically for screens. Those growing pains are very much at the heart of Swamp Thing 37, which checks in on how the various avatars are reacting to the space technology is carving out for itself. Continue reading →