Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40, originally released November 26th, 2014. Patrick: They started out as a joke — an answer to the dare “what’s the weirdest thing you can draw?” A mutant turtle that’s also a ninja, and what the hell, let’s make him a teenager just to layer on the strangeness. “Mutant” and “teenage” made them marketable, but it’s the absurd combination of “ninja” and “turtle” that always stuck in my brain. It just doesn’t make sense: why would a turtle ever be agile and stealthy? They’re bulky, presumably sorta heavy and shouldn’t even have the fingers necessary to grip a katana. That contradiction ends up imbuing the characters with both weight and speed simultaneously, and one of the great pleasures of IDW’s run on TMNT is watching different artists try to capture the sheer momentum that these four brothers represent. Issue 40 is a tour de forces-at-motion-staying-in-motion for Mateus Santolouco, who delivers page after page of stunningly realized action. It may be a brawl between a dozen mutants, but the physicality is so present and so vibrant, believing the insane action is only natural. 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, Patrick and Drew discuss Teen Titans Earth One V.1, Elektra 8, Deadpool 37, Loki: Agent of Asgard 8, Spider-Woman 1, New Avengers 26, Universe! 1, Bob’s Burgers 4, Superman/Wonder Woman 13, Batman/Superman 16, Batman Eternal 33, Wonder Woman 36, Justice League 36, and Intersect 1
Spencer: To say that I’m a big Teen Titans fan is a severe understatement. It was the animated series that motivated me to start checking out Teen Titans comics, which, in turn, pulled me into reading monthlies via Geoff Johns’ run on the title and its influence on Infinite Crisis. Sadly, though, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a Titans book I could really sink my teeth into, which is why the announcement of Jeff Lemire and Terry and Rachel Dodson’s Teen Titans Earth One graphic novel got me so excited. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time, and fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading
Drew: I love thinking about art. I know that sentiment sometimes seems sterile to folks who prefer to “feel” art, but I’ve really never seen the two as mutually exclusive. Indeed, I think deep thought about why a work of art invokes the feelings that it does makes for a much more rewarding experience, not only for our understanding of the art and ourselves, but for our own emotional satisfaction. For me, analysis doesn’t distance me from the art, it immerses me in it, allowing for countless stories within our favorite works of art. Surprisingly, the biggest resistance I get to this approach is in music, where most people — including musicians — seem to dismiss analysis as a sterilized intellectual endeavor. I personally think this is the result of incomplete familiarity with the tools and techniques of music theory. Even trained musicians tend to think of “theory” as referring to harmonic analysis almost exclusively, which is effectively like saying literary analysis is just the cataloging of assonance. One tool is not enough to effectively analyze any work of art, and flattens all art to existing in a single dimension. Then again, certain works of art lend themselves particularly well to focusing on one — the orchestration of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, for instance — yielding a rich narrative about the work, even if it isn’t the only narrative. I’d argue that Fables has this kind of relationship with allusions — one that is particularly pronounced in issue 146. Continue reading
Taylor: As a comic, Zero has bucked many of the conventions that have come to define our understanding of a comic book series. Whereas most comics enjoy a prolonged run of writer and artist, Zero has one writer with a rotating cast of artists each issue. Instead of following a straightforward plot progression, Zero tells its story with no truly describable pattern, instead exploring mood and ideas before plot. The hero, usually given the most amount of ink in words and artwork, here shares his pages with other characters in an act that shifts the focus of the story away from him and onto the world he calls home. All that being said, it’s easy to see why Zero might be overlooked by some. But for those seeking a unique reading experience, there’s nothing quite like it. Continue reading
Patrick: Let’s talk about Office Space. It’s a modern comedy classic, and while that Superman-3-inspired conflict is introduced far to late to be in any way meaningful, there are so many great gags and characters that buoy the movie. Plus, it introduced so many phrases into the lexicon — how would we even express ourselves in 2014 without “pieces of flare” or “no talent ass-clown?” But I’ve always had one gripe with Office Space: I always hated that Peter’s attitude change stemmed from something as ridiculous as a hypnotherapy mishap. Rather than giving Peter to agency over his own inciting action, the movie absolves him of any responsibility for what follows. Think about how much more meaningful it would be if Peter decided “fuck it, I don’t care any more” on his own. I find myself wishing the same was true of Superior Iron Man, which throws a bunch of interesting ideas at the wall but refused to let Tony Stark actually be responsible for his own actions. Continue reading
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
Spencer: I started reading comics regularly right at the beginning of DC’s Infinite Crisis crossover event back in 2005 or 2006; the story scattered just about every DC character across the universe, and I must’ve spent hours obsessively charting out which heroes were where. This gave me a big soft spot for massive crossover epics, the kind of stories that can really only be done in superhero comics, which have decades of stories across hundreds of titles to mine. When done right these epics are extraordinarily fun, a testament to the grand histories the DC and Marvel universes have built, but when done wrong they can just feel excessive, too caught up in their own impenetrable histories to tell a coherent story. What strikes me the most about The Amazing Spider-Man 9 — the first “official” chapter of Spider-Verse — is how aware of this danger writer Dan Slott seems to be. Spider-Verse is a story built around history and cameos, but Slott seems to be going out of his way to make the story — and the stakes — as clear as possible. So far, so good. Continue reading
Patrick: As I sit down to write this piece, the clock on the wall above my desk reads 11:00pm. It’s the end of a long day that’s been packed with all the various activities with which I busy myself. I worked, I ran, I improvised, I saw a show, I socialized. I talked to my sister on the phone, I explored the new podcasts on the Wolfpop network, I listened to that Nintendo Direct (Mario Kart DLC on November 13!), I even found some time to read a few comics. All of my interests were active all day, occasionally shifting in immediate priority so I could focus on completing one thing. This is the only way I know how to live my life — I don’t have much of a plan for my future, because I cannot predict which of these things is going to be / should be the most important thing to me. My enthusiasms revise themselves as opportunities and proficiencies wax and wane, and I’m constantly in fear that this maleability will rob me of genuine perspective. How can a writer have a voice, or a point of view, if they’re not any one thing consistently? In his spectacular finale to Superman Unchained, Scott Snyder posits that adaptability trumps consistency, and that Superman’s lack of defining ideology is his greatest strength. Neither Superman nor Patrick Ehlers stand for any one thing — and that’s what makes us mighty. 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, Patrick, Drew, Spencer and Shane discuss Sonic BOOM 1, Inhuman 7, Bob’s Burgers 3, Harley Quinn Annual 1, Nova 22, Thunderbolts 33, and Justice League United Annual 1.
Patrick: 90% of what we end up reading in mainstream comics is the expression of a brand. The New 52, Marvel Now — we can call those bold new storytelling initiatives if we want, but they’re driven by a desire to rebrand the material. Even the dreaded “reboot” has more to do with cleaning up a brand than it does cleaning up a character’s continuity. Which brings me to the rather opaque rebranding of Sonic The Hedgehog — it’s going to be permeating video games, movies and TV shows, but it starts in the comics at Sonic BOOM 1. Continue reading
Patrick: Though my love for Green Lantern has dulled some over the years, the central concept behind the character is infinitely compelling to me. All the Green Lanterns use their power rings to will physical objects into existence. Sometimes these constructs are simple blasts of energy, sometimes they’re giant hammers, sometimes they’re cages or slings or flyswatters. Whatever it is, the thing only exists because a human being (…or some kind of alien…) willed it into existence. I find this idea fascinating — all it takes to achieve the impossible is to have the resolve to declare it possible. Realistically, I know that’s not all there is to it: achieving just about anything also takes time and hard work and practice and failure and money — but that all falls as a result of one’s will. Superheroes are a willful lot, but none more defiantly so than Elektra, and issue 7 demonstrates that that’s been her most valuable superpower all along.