The Black Hood 4

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Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Black Hood 4, originally released May 27th, 2015.

Drew: There’s nothing quite like a ticking clock to heighten drama. As much as I love the verisimilitude of more relaxed pacing, I can’t help but get excited when everything has to happen RIGHT NOW. I suppose those timebomb moments reflect their own kind of reality — deadlines can force us to rush through everything from our morning routine to the intro paragraph we need to write about the latest comic from Dark Circle — but knowing that there’s no time for second chances can really make a story gripping. Of course, just about every timebomb, whether it’s the inevitable arrival of a character or a literal timebomb, has been done to death. Or so I thought. Remarkably, Duane Swierczynski finds a totally novel timebomb in The Black Hood 4, giving Greg Hettinger the urgency his mission has been so sorely lacking. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 5/20/15

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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, Drew, Michael and Spencer discuss Daredevil 15.1, Guardians of the Galaxy 27, Star Wars 5, Archie vs. Predator 2, Jem and the Holograms 3, The Kitchen 7, Ufology 2, and Wytches 6.

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Patrick: We’ve been digging deep into the DC and Marvel crossover events lately, and so it’s always a relief when we can spend some time exploring more self-contained stories. But no matter how self-contained a story appears, there’s always a legacy — either literal or adopted — that forces a set of assumptions and expectations on the reader. This round-up includes a Star Wars comic, for crying out loud, so there’s some obvious franchise baggage there, but even as we move into the smaller, creator-owned series, the trappings of the genres (we very neatly have Crime, Sci-Fi and Horror represented there) prove themselves to be just as informative as an entire franchise. Continue reading

Trees 9

Alternating Currents: Trees 9, Ryan and Drew

Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Trees 9, originally released May 20th, 2015.

…Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Ryan: The curtains rise in Trees 9 on three silent pages chronicling the Luciferian Fall of poor, poor Marsh. My favorite character in this series rests, undone by the very thing which drove him to the brink of madness:

Flowers mark his grave

The nefarious flowers bloom in his desiccated corpse as if in an elegy: Here Lie Marsh, Whose Name Was Writ Only in Alien Poppies. Thank you, Jason Howard, for the send-off which Dr. Marsh needed. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 5/20/15

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Today, Drew and Patrick discuss Ultimate End 1, Battleworld 1, Planet Hulk 1, Spider-Verse 1, and Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars 1.
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I have no idea what Secret Wars is going to be.

Retcon Punch, Traditional

Drew: Seriously, though: what is Secret Wars? Is it an excuse to revisit popular stories from Marvel’s history? Is it a means to merge the 616 Universe with the most popular elements of the Ultimate Universe? Is it an open field for creators to try out goofy ideas? Is it a stupid summer crossover event designed to sell comics? Offering the first real taste of what the tie-in issues, this week’s offerings suggest that the answer to all of our questions is “yes.” Continue reading

Convergence Round-Up: Week Seven

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Today, Shane leads a discussion about
Convergence 7, Adventures of Superman 2, Batman & the Outsiders 2, Green Lantern Corps 2, Hawkman 2, Justice League of America 2, Superboy & The Legion 2, Swamp Thing 2, and Wonder Woman 2.

convergence divShane: I’m not saying that it’s easy to write a story, but there’s still a basic structure that, if followed, makes the work a bit simpler. You’re going to set the stage and introduce the characters, before moving on to a rising action to give way to the ultimate conflict. Eventually, you’ll turn everything on its head with the climax of the story and begin to settle various plot points, before eventually drawing up an ending. Convergence is no different, and even though the series has been split into eight main issues, these five have all been strongly represented (so far, at least—we aren’t at the conclusion yet!)—but it’s been equally fascinating to see how each two-issue miniseries uses this story structure, as well. Notably, with this month’s final issues, we’ve seen a lot of titles subvert the classic formula, offering conclusions but still sending their characters onward and back into the main event. It’s been done in some cases better than others (I’m now just as sick of the earthquake as I was Telos’ speech in the first month), but it’s refreshing to see that even if a miniseries is the last time we’ll see a character star, their story has at least the potential to continue. Continue reading

Convergence: The Flash 2

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Convergence: The Flash 2, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence this week, click here.

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Spencer: For the several decades that fell between Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Flash: Rebirth, Barry Allen was DC’s greatest hero. He was also dead, mind you, but that’s the exact reason why Barry became so legendary. The Flash sacrificed his life to save the entire multiverse, and by martyring himself he became this almost mythic figure, inspiring the entire DC universe — fans were even known to call him “Saint Barry.” But when Barry returned to life, he was overwhelmed by the praise. Fame was never something he wanted, and he knew he was far from perfect. Every action he took as the Flash, from stopping a mugger to sacrificing his life to save the universe, was taken with only one thought in mind — helping others. This dichotomy between how others view Barry and how he views himself is one of the central themes of Dan Abnett and Federico Dallocchio’s Convergence: The Flash 2. Continue reading

The Fade Out 6

Alternating Currents: The Fade Out 6, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Fade Out 6, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Fuck you; I gave you a reason to live and you were more than happy to help. You lie to yourself! You don’t want the truth, the truth is a fucking coward. So you make up your own truth.

Teddy, Memento

Drew: The more I think about Memento, the more I love it. It’s easy to see the backwards structure as gimmickry, but I’m absolutely enamored of how it draws us into Leonard Shelby’s subjectivity. And I mean “draws us in” — that the scenes are shown to us in reverse order doesn’t just put us in his shoes, it forces us to trust him in spite of his obvious shortcomings as a narrator. His unreliability is front-and-center from the start, but because we’re lost with him, we have no choice but to trust him. Charlie Parish’s unreliability is decidedly less tangible, but no less central to his story — the whole mystery surrounding Valeria’s death hinges on him not remembering what happened. As The Fade Out ramps into its second arc, his subjectivity becomes an ever more important element of the series. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 5/13/15

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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, Drew, and Spencer discuss East of West 19, C.O.W.L. 10, Southern Cross 3, Astro City 23, ODY-C 5, Chrononauts 3, Howard the Duck 3, Ms. Marvel 15, and Captain Marvel 15

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Drew: There are a ton of (poorly sourced) articles out there claiming poll data that suggests 40% of American adults believe we’re living in the end times. Whether or not that particular statistic is true, it’s no doubt that the end of the world plays a key role in our pop culture. Whether you’re reading The Walking Dead or watching the latest Mad Max movie, the apocalypse is everywhere. That’s particularly true of comics this week. Both of the Big Two universes are fighting for their lives, while the indies on our pull swirl around the notion of the end, whether that’s the world itself, or just our window on it. We’ve exhaustively covered those Big Two events elsewhere, but here’s a look at the smaller apocalypses going around the rest of comicdom. Continue reading

Injection 1

Alternating Currents: Injection 1, Drew and Ryan

Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Injection 1, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Drew: The conventional wisdom on writing is that you must hook your audience from the very first sentence. “Don’t give the reader a chance to put it down,” my old professor used to say. It’s logical advice, but I always chaffed at how prescribed it felt. The complexity of ideas you can convey in a sentence or two is necessarily limited, and it seems silly to deny ourselves access to more complex ideas for fear of a fickle audience. Maybe it’s because my background is in classical music, where the audience is necessarily more captive, but it always seemed a tad alarmist to presume the audience is constantly looking to stop reading. If we allow that hook come later than the first sentence or two, it’s less tied to a single image, idea, or quote — it can become more about characters, atmosphere, even pacing. This is exactly the kind of approach Warren Ellis, Declan Shavley, and Jordie Bellaire take in their new series, drawing us in as much by what they don’t show us as what they do. Continue reading

Secret Wars 2

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Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Secret Wars 2, originally released May 13th, 2015. 

Mark: This summer finds both DC and Marvel presenting readers with big crossover events where their heroes fight for survival, but the approaches couldn’t be more different. For all of the problems DC’s Convergence has (and the list is not brief), one advantage is that DC has a long, storied history of multiverses, continuities, and characters to choose from. It does my nerd heart good to see characters like pre-Flashpoint Superman once again, characters to which I have a lot of attachment. Maybe it’s a cheap thrill, but there’s something to seeing these heroes from different times and universes coming together. Marvel does not have the luxury of history. They’ve always employed a rolling continuity that keeps their characters’ histories current without having to do a hard reboot like the New 52. Outside of Earth-616, the Ultimate universe has been a depressing mess for such a long time that Miles Morales was the only reason to keep it limping along at all. So in order for Marvel to create an interesting clash of heroes, they had to basically build one from the ground up.

Enter Battleworld. I admit to having Jonathan Hickman fatigue after his sometimes messy, always talky Avengers/New Avengers run, and I honestly found Secret Wars 1 to be rather boring, but I appreciated the mash up of sci-fi and fantasy tropes with the Marvel Universe found in Secret Wars 2. Continue reading