Patrick Ehlers, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Location: Los Angeles
History With Comics: Patrick came late to the comics game. After enjoying adaptations of Batman, Superman and the Justice League, he was finally tricked into picking up a set of graphic novels after seeing Robert Rodriguez’ Sin City. Naturally, this lead to further exploration of Frank Miller’s work, specifically with Batman. But it was not until an unexplainable desire to read Blackest Night that Patrick began purchasing the trades of Geoff Johns’ run Green Lantern. With a convenient new entry point and a handful of friends to follow him into the madness, Patrick began reading monthlies with the New 52’s Justice League #1.
New 52 Favorites: The Flash, Swamp Thing, Batwoman
Other Favorite Comics: Usagi Yojimbo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Saga
Today, Patrick (guest writer) Ryan Mogge are discussing Jem and the Holograms 1, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Patrick: I’ve always been a path-of-least-resistance kind of guy – I’m a people-pleaser, a conflict resolver, a middle child, a Midwestern gentleman. That’s a great personality-type to have with you on a road trip or helping you move or whatever, but I’ve run into some roadblocks as an artist with this sort of vanilla disposition. As a songwriter or an improviser or a writer, I have to let down a lot gates before I can come anywhere near expressing something other than “I don’t want to be no trouble.” Allowing ourselves to feel, and then expressing those feelings publicly, is ugly, self-indulgent, messy, and embarrassing… or at least, that’s the fear that so frequently stands in my way. If only I had an easier time expressing what I really am — whatever that means — I could be a better artist. Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell’s relaunched Jem and the Holograms explores how baggage, both visible and invisible, can be a hindrance to artistic expression. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 5, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Spencer: I like to think that I’m an optimistic person, but if there’s one thing I allow myself to be unabashedly cynical about, it’s politics. Now, I don’t think that everyone involved in politics is up to no good, but for every politician trying to do right by their voters, there’s ten thousand more looking out only for themselves. In The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 5, Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey focus a bit on that dilemma, showing how the political maneuverings of the selfish can drown out those with more noble intentions, even in a world of magic and great champions. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals 2, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Patrick: Himato Yoshi and his four sons were murdered by Oroku Saki and the Foot Clan. Hundreds of years later, and on the other side of the world, they are given a second chance to be a family as a quartet of anthropomorphic turtles and a wizened man-rat. Mutation is the ultimate blessing: it literally allows the Himato family to beat death and live together indefinitely. But they had the fortune to be among the only accidental mutants in the world of TMNT, and are therefore beholden to no agenda, no cause but their own. Under the leadership of Old Hob, the Mutanimals have taken on the identity of avenging victims, and writer Paul Allor explorers how their weaknesses make them strong (and, maybe the other way ’round too). 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 discuss The Kitchen 5, Manhattan Projects: Beyond the Stars 1, Batman Eternal 50, Batgirl Endgame 1, Superman 39, Batman Superman 20, The Amazing Spider-Man 16.1, Black Widow 16, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3, Cyclops 11, and All-New Captain America 5.
Drew: I’ve always thought dividing comics and television into “episodic” and “serialized” categories was kind of overly reductive. Even the most episodic series I can think of had some kind of continuity, and even the most serialized ones need to deliver their stories in satisfying installments. When we zoom out to talk about what the series is — a workplace comedy, a police procedural, a family drama — considerations like the importance of continuity become noise. I think we now have enough information to know what kind of series The Kitchen is, as issue 5 asserts a new normal, even as change appears on the horizon. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Princess Leia 2, originally released March 18th, 2015.
Michael: Having just started its sixth season, Community is a completely different show from what it was in its first three seasons. Series creator Dan Harmon was fired after season 3, but returned for a 5th and now 6th season. The show has wisely tip-toed around most developments from Season 4, which, for it’s Harmon-less-ness, is universally considered to be the worst season of the series. While Harmon has salvaged some ideas from that season, it is probably best to leave Season 4 alone for the most part, not having its particular stink effect the future storylines too heavily. I’d argue that Disney and Marvel should take the same approach to the dreaded Star Wars prequels. I’m not gonna go on a huge diatribe about why the prequels were bad, the internet is full of such litanies. Listen, I get it. I was 10 years old in 1999; The Phantom Menace was my jam and I played ridiculously hard Star Wars games on PS1 like Jedi Power Battles. But let’s call a spade a spade: the prequel trilogy = not so great. So when examining a book like Princess Leia 2, where our heroine visits her birthmother’s home planet of Naboo, it’s hard not to think of less pleasant experiences in a galaxy far, far away.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Zero 15, originally released January 28th, 2015.
Patrick:Last time we talked about Zero, Drew was interested in the discrete loops of experience necessarily unshared by the artist and the audience. This came on the heels of two issues which seemed to actively push the audience away — largely wordless volumes soaked cover-to-cover in intense, non-romantic violence with cryptic references to half-remembered song lyrics — so it was easy, almost necessary, to rely solely on the reader’s perspective of the events in question. With issue 15, Ales Kot and artist Ian Bertram re-introduce the concept of the meta-narrative first explored in issue 10, and along with it, a fictionalized version of Williams S. Burroughs, as the author of this story. The move simultaneously buys into the culture of exploring authorial intention and discounting it all together, as the experiences, reality, dreams and non-reality of creator and creation merge, both on the page and off. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 12, originally released March 18th, 2015.
“It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.”
Rachel Dawes, Batman Begins
Spencer: If there’s one character who’s taken these words to heart even more than Batman, it’s Loki. From its very first issue, Loki: Agent of Asgard has been about Loki attempting to change his destiny by erasing the sins of his past and replacing them with noble missions. If nobody could remember his crimes, then surely that would make him a good person, right? On that same wavelength, King Loki poses a threat because his actions threaten to trap his young counterpart in the role of “villain” for all of eternity. It’s this idea of a narrative defining a character, established over 12 issues, that makes King Loki’s big twist hit so hard: actions mean nothing. Loki is Loki, and nothing can change that. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 44, originally released March 18th, 2015.
Patrick: I think we all make a lot of assumptions about invulnerability. Especially living, as we do, in the 21st century, with so many medical and technological advances, meaningful loss is an uncommon occurrence. That assumption is lie we tell ourselves, but perhaps it’s a necessary lie. If we had to seriously consider our own human fragility before starting our days tomorrow, how many of us could even scrape up the gumption to drive to work? The human body so such a fragile carrier for these personalities which seem so indestructible. The idea that Drew’s personality could be snuffed out by something terrible happening to his body is ludicrous, but it’s also completely true. Tucked into the closing acts of the Attack on the Technodrome, Tom Waltz, Cory Smith, and the creative team on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles explores this vulnerability. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Ryan are discussing Howard the Duck 1, originally released March 9th, 2015.
Patrick: Why do you take a chance on buying a brand new issue of a brand new comic book series the day it comes out? When you think about it, you’re taking a pretty big risk regarding the quality of the thing you’re about to read. I suppose the worst thing that can happen is that you’re out four bucks and about eighteen minutes. But there are so many damn comics, and I know I’m always looking for place to cut my pull. Number ones, though? I roll the dice on those several times a week. But for every number one I do read, there are like 80 I don’t. So what’s the alchemy that made me pick up Howard the Duck 1 over, I don’t know, Spawn Resurrection 1? The character? The publisher? The artist? The writer? That’s a question the issue itself poses: how did you come to Howard the Duck? Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing East of West 18, originally released March 12th, 2015.
Taylor: Somewhere in several reading and writing classrooms, there hangs these words:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Depending on how maudlin the teacher, these may or may not be accompanied by a picture of two paths in a forest, to really drive the point home. Most of us take these words as offering a message of support — your life choices are good and you can sleep comfortably at night knowing you made the right choice. But what if these words held a deeper, darker meaning? East of West 18 asks this question, and in doing so once again calls into question the nature of our own perception of the world. Continue reading →