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, Drew and Spencer discuss Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 2, Captain Marvel 9, Silver Surfer 7, Nova 23, Justice League United 6, Batman Eternal 32, Outcast 5, Django/Zorro 1, and Hawkeye vs. Deadpool 2 .
Drew: To say that Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier is a dense read is a bit of an understatment. Indeed, we couldn’t even agree on what the events of the first issue were, let alone how we interpret them. Issue 2 manages to up the ante, taking Marco Rudy’s already trippy art on a literal drug trip, and ensconcing the already difficult-to-follow narrative in a series of Loki illusions. The effect is mesmerizingly like watching a movie half-asleep — you catch the rough outline of the plot, but the actual details are utterly lost — but frustrates any sense of narrative flow. I never like to dismiss a work for my own failure to understand it, but I’ll be damned if I got anything out of this issue other than that Bucky’s sights are now set on Mer-z-bow (though I’d love it if somebody would like to explain it in further detail in the comments).Continue reading →
Today, Shane and Drew are discussing Batgirl 36, originally released November 12th, 2014.
Shane: When you’re working with some of fiction’s most iconic characters, there’s a lot of baggage to handle. Even DC’s New 52 initiative, designed to jettison most of that excess material, is several years old at this point: there’s history, and relationships, and these characters have already gone through a number of personal journeys. Continuity can be messy, so a fresh start can be appealing, but how does one attempt that without alienating the previous audience? And even if you manage to successfully jumpstart an ailing franchise with new energy, launching a first issue that exceeds expectations and captures interest, is it always so simple to maintain that momentum?Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing All-New Captain America 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.
Drew: Am I the only one who sees Captain America as an unlikely legacy hero? I understand that the precedent was set back when Bucky first took up the mantle, but Captain America has always struck me as a character more defined by his personality than his power-set. I think that tends to be true of Marvel’s heroes in general — Iron Man is less the adventures of a guy with a metal suit, and more the adventures of Tony Stark, for example — which makes the thought of separating the hero from the alter-ego seem almost impossible. If you take Steve Rogers out of the equation, what is Captain America other than a good fighter with a patriotic outfit? That question seems to be at the center of Rick Remender and Stuart Immonen’s All-New Captain America, and while the first issue only addresses it glancingly, it’s clear they have a compelling answer. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Wytches 2, originally released November 12th, 2014.
Shelby: Speaking broadly to make my point, I’ve found there are two types of people in the world: people who like horror and people who don’t. I (probably unsurprisingly) fall in the former category. I’m a big wuss about scary movies, even though I really appreciate them, and at Six Flags’ Fright Fest this year my friend Selene had to hold my hand when we went through the haunted houses (no joke: I am 30 years old), but I still get and like the thrill of being scared. Horror novels have always been my jam; I started on Goosebumps as a kid, graduated to Fear Street in middle school, and straight on to Stephen King in high school. It’s no surprise, then, that I am loving Scott Snyder’s Wytches. Again, no joke, I am writing this with all the lights off, wrapped in a blanket, listening to an album of horror movie music. After all, pledged is pledged. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batman 36 originally released on November 12, 2014.
Patrick: Joker is one of those characters that resists definition. In fact, we often use that lack of definition as a defining trait. I’m going to do a disservice to whoever made this observation — because I can’t remember where I first encountered it — but the most terrifying thing about Joker is that you never know whether he’s going to murder a child or throw a pie in Batman’s face. Arguably, the only thing that motivates the character is the desire to be a good Batman villain. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have played with this idea before — the Death of the Family even had Joker buying into the importance of their “relationship” — but this latest arc in Batman seems poised to establish Joker as something else entirely. He’s not a instrument of random, but intriguing, chaos, and he’s not in love with Batman. No: he’s Batman’s nemesis, and that means that he’s a sort of anti-detective, setting up mysteries that Batman cannot solve, corrupting superheroes and putting everyone’s lives in danger in the process. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Spider-Verse 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.
Drew: I tend to jump to conclusions about media before I’ve ever consumed it. I know that seems problematic for someone who reviews media, but with so many movies, shows, and comic books out there, it’s impossible to try them all, so I tend to gravitate towards the ones I think I’ll like. Of course, it’s an imperfect system, meaning I sometimes bet on a dud, or miss something truly great, but without any other way to pre-filter content, I continue to defer to my gut. After weeks and weeks of buildup to Spider-Verse, which seemed to pimp the event as a high-stakes affirmation of Spider-Man’s necessity in not just our universe, but ALL universes, my gut was telling me that this event was not for me, but I decided to give it a fair shot. Fortunately, my gut turned out to be wrong, with Spider-Verse 1 serving not as a herald of doom and gloom, but as a celebration of what makes the idea of Spider-Man so fun in the first place. 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 Shane discuss The Woods 7, Batman Eternal 31, Spider-Verse Team-Up 1, The Legendary Star-Lord 5, Swamp Thing 36, and Tooth and Claw 1.
Spencer: The last few issues of James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas’ The Woods have been character studies, combining flashbacks with the kids’ adventures on the distant moon in order to further flesh out its cast, and while this method has had much success, the story was starting to lose some of its forward momentum in the process. Fortunately, issue 7 fixes that by combining another successful character study with some pretty massive revelations, and it may just be the best issue yet. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Grayson 4, originally released November 5th, 2014.
Spencer: I’ve been told that the key difference between introverts and extroverts is that interaction with other people drains introverts’ energy, while it recharges extroverts. I can believe that — I love spending time with friends, but if I’m around people too much it can be mentally exhausting, and I end up retreating to my room to charge my batteries for a few days. As an extrovert, though, Dick Grayson — the newest agent of Spyral — has the opposite problem: he needs people and personal connections to thrive. Dick certainly has the skills necessary to succeed as a spy, but his personality is much less suited to the job. Being alone is not Dick’s forte, and his need to connect could every well end up being his downfall. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Greg are discussing Velvet 8, originally released November 5th, 2014.
Drew: Did you enjoy Skyfall? I enjoyed it well enough, but found myself staunchly defending it — specifically from attacks that suggest that the film ripped off the “villain gets captured as part of the plan” plot points from The Dark Knight and The Avengers. I can’t deny the similarities — it does indeed pose a classic example of what TV Tropes and Idioms identifies as the “Batman Gambit” — but what irked me is how myopic the argument is. The Batman Gambit is much, much older than either The Avengers or The Dark Knight (indeed, the name “Batman Gambit” is based on instances of the device from comics that long predate Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and has been used in everything from Die Hard to Reindeer Games), so to suggest that Skyfall‘s use of the devise is derivative, it must also be true of The Avengers and The Dark Knight. My point is, I’m willing to forgive the use of a trope if it’s done well, and I’d argue that Skyfall does it better than those other two films.* All that is to say that I enjoyed Velvet 8‘s own Batman Gambit for precisely the same reason: it’s really well done. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Rocket Raccoon 5, originally released November 5th, 2014.
Drew: I think reading makes us bad at evaluating comics. Or, rather, the fact that literacy so far outstrips our art literacy that the art can often go unnoticed. I know from my own experience that there’s a tendency for beginning readers to just burn through the dialogue, barely paying any attention to the art. It’s these tendencies that make Stan Lee an inarguable household name, while Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby are only known by comic fans. Indeed, our focus on writing is so ingrained, it often takes a compelling dialogue-free issue (or sequence) to remind us that comics are a visual medium. With Rocket Raccoon 5, Skottie Young and Jake Parker deliver something of a goofy cousin of the silent issue, but one that nevertheless emphasizes just how much storytelling can be done with images alone. Continue reading →