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, Drew and Patrick are discussing Saga 22, originally released August 27th, 2014.
Drew: The interpersonal relationships within families are insanely complex. They’re necessarily the longest relationships anyone has, meaning each one has years of subtle dynamics informing our behavior. Moreover, the stakes of any conflict within family are significantly higher — it’s one thing to be alienated by a friend, but quite another to be alienated by a parent. With all of these subtle dynamics and amplified emotions, it’s easy to understand why families are so often at the center of great dramas, from King Lear to Breaking Bad. As Saga’s fourth volume passes the halfway mark, it’s decidedly become a family drama (as opposed to the parenting focus of the first volumes), yet writer Brian K Vaughan finds tragedy not in the inflated stakes of family relationships, but in the all-too relatable act of taking family for granted. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Batman and Robin 34, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Patrick: When The Death of the Family was heading into its final issue, Scott Snyder appeared in a ton of interviews claiming that this conclusion was going to have a lasting effect on Batman and the Batfamily. But after that story line wrapped up, Snyder took his own series into Batman’s past, conveniently avoiding working through much of this fallout. Similarly, Grant Morrison killed Damian in Batman Incorporated, but wrapped up his series only a few issues later. The emotional heavy lifting as fallen to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who have dutifully presented the most erratic, emotional and frustrating Batman possible. Everything that Batman is — the selfless knight of justice, the patriarch of the Batfamily, the infallible detective — has been undermined in the wake of these twin tragedies. Understandably, that pushes Batman away from his readers, and his alienation from the world started to reflect the audiences’ alienation from the character. In issue 34, Tomasi and Gleason have Bruce offer a naked apology to his protégés, but they’re also inviting us to trust Batman again. Fuck yes: I’m ready to forgive. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 7, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Drew: Last month, in our discussion of Daredevil 6, I was struck by the darker, distinctly Miller-esque tone of that issue, wondering “is it a sign of respect to that era of Daredevil history, or an assertion that a return to that style would only bring pain?” I don’t know what would compel me to apply such a simple binary to this series, but true to form, Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez manage to deliver an answer that is somehow both and neither option. Waid’s run has been all about pulling that darkness into the light (with a twist), and this issue distills that theme into a charming bite-sized little adventure. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 37, originally released August 13, 2014. Drew: By the time I was watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it was already airing in syndication 5 days a week. That was awesome for the part of me that wanted to see sweet ninja turtle action on a regular basis, but decidedly less awesome for whatever part of me was supposed to learn patience. I could wait exactly one day between episodes, but no more. Indeed, I didn’t even have patience for scenes on the show that didn’t feature the turtles (to my credit, they almost never ordered pizza at the technodrome), so the finer points of plotting were often lost on me. Intrepid youtubers have aimed to rectify my ignorance, compiling all of Shredder’s scenes with Krang into bite-sized videos, but life has offered a much more fulfilling second chance in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 37, which focuses exclusively on Shredder and Krang’s first (er, second) meeting. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Green Arrow 34, originally released August 6th, 2014.
Spencer: Eighteen months ago, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino began their run on Green Arrow, which had been a meandering, mediocre title ever since the New 52 relaunch. Lemire and Sorrentino arrived with a distinct style and a strong, specific vision, quickly transforming the title into one worth paying attention to. Now — with the exception of next month’s Futures End tie-in — their run has drawn to a close, and more than ever it’s apparent how much effort the creative team has put into rehabilitating Green Arrow. Issue 34 gives the conflict between Ollie and Richard Dragon a happy ending, but it also lays bare Lemire and Sorrentino’s strategy for creating a compelling superhero comic. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Moon Knight 6, originally released August 6th, 2014.
Drew: One of the biggest challenges in analyzing any work of art is understanding the parameters on which it should be judged. There aren’t “right” and “wrong” ways to appreciate a work of art, but it is possible to select aesthetics that are more appropriate than others. That Picasso and Da Vinci or Hemingway and Melville were working in the same medium doesn’t mean that they should (or even could) be assessed using the same metrics. We’re used to those metrics being dictated by social tastes, but there are certain works of art that seem to be defined only by internal parameters — crystalized nuggets of simplicity that belies the true complexity of the piece. My list of examples is short — I honestly can’t think of one beyond Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony — but that makes the company Moon Knight 6 occupies all the more rarified, as the issue refracts and clarifies its respective series. Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire distill their hero down to his absolute essence, only to stretch that essence out to the size of a whole issue. It’s absolutely beautiful. 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 are discussing Uncanny X-Men 24, Cyclops 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 17, Secret Avengers 6, New Avengers 21, Avengers 33, Avengers World 10, Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man 3, Detective Comics Annual 3, Batman Eternal 17, Justice League 32, and C.O.W.L. 3.
Drew: In case it needs to be said: superhero comics allow for some bizarre situations. Usually, this pertains to the likes of clones and brain-swaps, but Uncanny X-Men 24 actually finds it’s most unusual feature in the fact that Charles Xavier’s murderer has never stood trial. Normally, being set to inherit a massive Westchester estate might be seen as motive in a criminal case, but Scott Summers seems to have found a newfound mutant ability of never being tried for his crime in spite of all of his friends believing his guilt AND knowing where he’s hiding from them. That’s the weird world Brian Michael Bendis has to navigate in order to set up the Original Sin premise that is “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier.” We still haven’t seen an actual reading of the will, but it seems certain we’ll get it in issue 25 (did I mention that this issue was written by Bendis?). Continue reading →
Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy is the first movie in the series to turn the franchise focus toward the Cosmic end of the Marvel Universe. As pretty big Guardians fans ourselves, we just had to talk about the movie. Probable spoilers after the break: welcome to the Chat Cave. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing Outcast 2, originally released July 30th, 2014.
Patrick: I like to think of myself as a pretty mild-mannered, in-control kind of guy. One of the things I pride myself on is my skill for conflict resolution — and as a cornerstone of that, my communication skills. I sincerely believe that just about any conflict can be ameliorated with enough patience, understanding and communication. That being said: I once punched my friend Jeff in the stomach. Straight up stocked him in the gut. I was mad about something — who even cares what — and rather than make him understand that I was upset, I just hit him. I was twelve years old at the time, and I’ve passed so many peaceful years since then, that tend to think of that person that hit Jeff as “not really me.” That was someone else’s behavior. It’s the same thing I think about the version of me that used to drink to the point of blacking out, and vomiting in the bed (only happened once, thank goodness). That wasn’t Patrick, that was drunk-Patrick, which is just a different version of “not really me.” While the first issue of Outcast settled very neatly on a question of faith, the second issue is interested in these ideas of fault and identity. Continue reading →