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
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 Darth Vader 2, Spider-Man 2099 9, The Amazing Spider-Man 15, Deadpool 42, Secret Avengers 13, S.H.I.E.L.D. 3, All New X-Men 38, Effigy 2, The Wicked and the Divine 8, Orphan Black 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals 1, Batman Eternal 47, Secret Origins 10, and The Flash 39.
“I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.”
-“El Condor Pasa,” Simon & Garfunkel
Patrick: Part of being a good soldier is accepting the responsibilities that are thrust upon you without questioning. I was hanging out with our own Shelby Peterson this weekend, and she was talking about the ship that her father served on in the Navy. Evidently, they did all kinds of drills as through they had nuclear weapons on board their aircraft carrier, but none of the sailors ever actually knew whether or not they were armed with nukes or not. That information simply belonged to men at higher pay grades, and it was basically their jobs not to ask questions. In Darth Vader 2, general Tagge makes the assertion over and over again that Vader is nothing more than a tool or a weapon, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Suiciders 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Patrick: I usually resist pulling in creator’s comments about their own material when discussing a comic book — especially a first issue. But I’ve heard Lee Bermejo pitch this series twice now, once at NYCC in 2013 and again at C2E2 in 2014. Both times, he lead with a joke about the premise: “It takes place in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles… which is to say: Los Angeles.” It’s a good line, and far be it for me call someone out for re-using a clever turn of phrase. What interests me about his repeated use of the joke is that there’s really no point in any post-apocalyptic storytelling unless it can tell us about life in the pre-apocalypse. In a manner reflecting his detail-heavy drawing style, Bermejo writes about many specific societal ills that plagues LA, blowing everything out to grotesque proportions. The remarkable thing — and the thing that makes me most uneasy as a reader and resident of the City of Angels — is just how recognizable it all is. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 13, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money…or candy!
George Oscar Bluth, Arrested Development
Drew: While I understand the distinction magicians make between “trick” and “illusion” — the former is about the techniques a magician uses, the latter is about the effect those collected techniques have on the audience — I think we’re perfectly justified in calling them “tricks.” The “illusion” — that a rabbit appears out of thin air, that a lady survives being sawed in half, that a card jumps to the top of the deck — dares us to believe that “magic is real,” but the actual techniques used to pull it off tend to be much more clever, if simpler, explanations. For me, an understanding of those tricks leaves me much more impressed about the illusion — knowing just how subtly they palmed the coin, or how convincing their false shuffle allows me to appreciate the actual craft that goes into what they’re doing. Indeed, any “magic” in the illusion lies in the skills of the magician, making knowing the trick more magical for me. Which I suppose is my way of asking forgiveness in focusing on the “tricks” of Daredevil 13, which pulls off an illusion so compelling, it’s hard to deny its magic. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Batman 39, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Michael: When it comes to Batman, Joker stories are pretty much hit or miss. We’ve seen great successes and failures in film, animation, television (I’m looking at you Gotham), and of course, comic books. He’s an iconic character that has been built up to mythic proportions equal to (or greater) than Batman’s. Counting the Joker’s brief appearance in his Detective Comics run, this is Scott Snyder’s third stab at the Clown Prince of Crime. To make a truly remarkable Joker story, the approach to the Joker and how the story is told have to be changed. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Black Hood 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Drew: Superhero comics are a trope-filled medium. That’s doubly true of origin stories, which need to explain what would drive a normal person to dress up to fight crime. It turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of explanations out there. Was their family murdered in front of them? Were they the victim of some kind of science experiment gone wrong? Have they inherited some kind of mythical power? Every variation has been done, but so few have been done well. Indeed, the drive to get to the actual superheroics tends to leave origins rushed and expository — not the best recipe for a great story. The Black Hood 1 manages to avoid the tropes and the gratuitous exposition — while still taking its lead from regular guy to masked vigilante — trading our expectations in for some good old fashioned mystery. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Taylor: They say we’re living a golden age of television. One has but to flip on the television or log onto Netflix to see that they are probably right. The amount of quality television shows being made today is staggering, and one of the reasons for that is the quality of cast that mans several of the best shows. Many shows now have regular casts which number in the 30s and most of those characters are interesting enough we would enjoy watching a spinoff that just follows their adventures. While this might seem novel to a lot of people, comic book fans know this is no new thing — comics have had large casts of characters for ages now. But, just like TV, comics are really only as good as the characters in them and the mark of a quality comic can easily be measured by the strength of its cast. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a title that enjoys a large cast, and it is one that is so strong, we rarely miss our main characters, even when they take the back burner. 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, Michael, Spencer, Patrick and Drew discuss Justice League 39, Batman and Robin 39, Batman Superman 19, Superman Wonder Woman 16, Batman Eternal 46, Legendary Star-Lord 9, Rocket Raccoon 8, Uncanny X-Men 31, Silk 1, Ms. Marvel 12, Black Widow 15, All New Captain America 4, Avengers World 17, Nova 27, Secret Identities 1, and Bitch Planet 3.
Michael: And so, the latest Justice League arc, “The Amazo Virus”, ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. Wonder Woman, Superman and Luthor are fending for themselves against the infected Justice League. Superman gives Luthor a sample of his blood to help create a cure (self-inflicted heat vision can induce bleeding, I guess?) and Captain Cold saves the day. Apparently Amazo is susceptible to the cold, so Captain Cold subdues him and they throw him into cold storage. As a byproduct of this whole event, dozens of infected humans have kept their newly-found superpowers. Despite Neutron still being alive we are still unfortunately no closer to finding out who put the hit on Lex Luthor. And just when Jessica Cruz is feeling completely sidelined and unimportant, Hal Jordan comes back to steal the spotlight…er…help her. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing The Kitchen 4, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Ryan: Strap in while I set the stage.
The Kitchen takes place in New York City in the late 70’s. Consumer inflation resumed a steady upward spiral from 1972 to a peak of near 12 percent in 1979. Corporate profits crashed by 30 percent as the cost of business soared thanks to massive social movements forcing Nixon and the federal government to enact sixty-two health and safety laws protecting workers and consumers on top of thirty-two other laws protecting the environment and regulating energy use. With interest up and profits low, the economy wallowed in a crisis state until Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve under President Carter, purposefully plunged it even further into peril in 1981 by cutting taxes to the rich, gutting welfare, and attacking labor in what became known as “Raeganomics”. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Fables 149, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Patrick: We tend to look at foreshadowing as somewhat virtuosic — especially in serialized stories. The foreshadowing itself is kind of like a promise to the readers, and the payoff is the storyteller keeping that promise. That’s immensely rewarding, because it sorta proves that the creators were as invested in the ending of the story as the readers. But why does that really matter so much to us? In fact, isn’t it more impressive if ideas are creatively recalled from earlier in the story? Like, what’s the real virtue in planting a seed you’re only going to pay off later when anything could be a seed? Fables 149, takes this “everything is a seed” approach, asking questions about what is planned, why it was planned, and whether it matters. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released February 18th, 2015.
…poetry is a short story missing 99 percent of the words.
Drew: I really wish I had the rest of the above quote, made by Rucka at the New York Comic Con in 2013, but to paraphrase, Rucka was suggesting that an intimate understanding of the form of short stories would prepare writers for every kind of writing except poetry. I’ve always seen a resemblance between Rucka’s taut comic work and great short stories, but what truly struck me about that quote was how it seemed to contradict the oft-quoted axiom that the required efficiency of short stories aligns them more closely with poetry than novels. This seeming contradiction may boil down to the inadequacy of our definition of “poetry”, but I couldn’t help but think of this quote as I read Lazarus 15, one of the most poetic comics I’ve ever read. Continue reading →