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
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.
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 →
Patrick: Secret Wars isn’t something that’s happening to the Marvel Universe. Secret Wars is the result of specific planning and action from an entire team of editors, publishers, writers and artists. It exists by sheer force of will and accomplishment, about as intentional of a thing as can happen in comics. Loki: Agent of Asgard 14, bearing the “Last Days of” banner, explores the idea of the agency of the storyteller, even if that storyteller happens to be a character from within the story. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick discuss Ultimate End 1, Battleworld 1, Planet Hulk 1, Spider-Verse 1, and Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars 1.
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 →
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.
Shane: 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 →
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.
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 spiteof 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 →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Uncanny X-Men 34, originally released May 20th, 2015.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
Semisonic, “Closing Time”
Taylor: Chances are that if you’ve been in a bar in the past 17 years, you’ve heard these lyrics wafting across a half-filled room. Generally played to indicate that yes, indeed that bar is closing soon, it signals to stragglers of a long night that it’s time to go home. But be not sad, the bittersweet song entreaties its listeners. There is a silver lining to something coming to an end: it signals the beginning of something new, and isn’t that something to be optimistic about? A nice enough thought, but what if the ending of something isn’t all that great and therefore the thought of something beginning again is not cause for celebration, but sadness? A tough question to ask, but Uncanny X-Men 34 has me asking it whether I want to or not. 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, 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
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 BigTwo events elsewhere, but here’s a look at the smaller apocalypses going around the rest of comicdom. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax 2, originally released May 13th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Patrick: There’s a scene in every Star Wars movie where the score drops out entirely and the audio landscape is occupied entirely by sound effects. George Lucas, for relying so heavily on the excitement and gravitas of John Williams’ symphonic scores, understood the power of allowing the action itself to dictate the viewer’s sonic experience. Suddenly, Luke and Vader’s lightsaber duel in Cloud City becomes more intimate and immediate, as the viewer no longer has the dramatic distance afforded us by a full orchestra. A silent medium, comic books have a strange relationship to sound effects: do they imply sound? are they fun panel-dressing? are they a reminder of the medium’s limitations? Tony Bedard and Ron Wagner’s conclusion to the Convergence: Green Lantern Parallax mini-series presents an intense sound effects symphony, only, y’know, completely silent. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer leads a discussion about Convergence 6, Aquaman 2, Batman: Shadow of the Bat 2, Catwoman 2, Green Arrow 2, Justice League International 2, Suicide Squad 2, Supergirl: Matrix 2, and Superman: The Man of Steel 2.
Spencer: Early in Convergence, when first issuing his decree that the various cities fight for their survival, Telos declared that if anybody refused to fight, or tried to team-up and work against him, both their cities would be destroyed. It was a threat he made good on almost immediately by destroying the people of Kandor, and as a plot point, it forced confrontations between the cities that otherwise probably wouldn’t have happened. In this week’s Convergence tie-ins, though, that decree officially becomes moot as team after team decide to quit fighting and instead take Telos on together. Cooperation — or, at least, attempts at cooperation — is the name of the game in Week Six. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silk 4, originally released May 13th, 2015.
“My body can stretch all around this building. It’s natural state is a giant puddle of, well, me. It takes everything I have to hold myself together. So, yes. I’ve had anxiety.”
Reed Richards, Silk 4
Patrick: For obvious reasons, most superhero narratives that deal with mental illness stay pretty close PTSD or anger management problems. While debilitating issues in real life, in the realm of fiction, that all sounds very sexy — these afflictions either steam from or drive a character to action. Usually both. And it doesn’t much matter how negatively a writer tries to paint Bruce Wayne’s grief- and guilt-ridden revenge episodes, the reader always wants to see Batman kicking ass. Punisher may not be able to sleep without a gun under his pillow, but we sorta like that. Silk 4 toys with the idea that mental illness isn’t always so obvious and often isn’t so action-packed. Continue reading →