Patrick: I’d never really considered how strange it is that we refer to the biggest global political players as “super powers.” It’s…weird, right? That’s a phrase taken from our capes and cowls, our frequently immature power fantasies, and applied to governments. It might be comforting to think of the United States as Superman, swooping in to altruistically save the day, but the truth isn’t so clear-cut. How can a government take altruistic action when there is no “self” to sacrifice? One body makes a decision, another carries out the action, and a third has to deal with the consequences. Heroism comes from that internalizing the whole process, from decision-making through the consequences. With Superman Unchained 8, Scott Snyder suggests that Superman can (and should) be that singular entity. Continue reading
Drew: There’s a scene late in Lazarus 11 that finds Malcolm Carlyle dictating a message for Forever to deliver. We’ve seen Forever take on the role of messenger/negotiator before, but what’s remarkable here is how open Malcolm is about his means of manipulation. He’s considered every action and reaction that will happen as Forever carries out his orders, and is able to maintain exacting control in spite of being thousands of miles from the actual negotiations. It’s an unsettling display of raw power, but also opens the possibility that Malcolm is himself being manipulated — it would only take a mind equal to Malcolm’s to have anticipated all of his actions here. With all of this subterfuge, it’s easy to see why Forever might question if she’s getting the whole truth from her father about her parentage. Continue reading
Patrick: Okay, so why “five years later,” huh? What’s the point of all these glances into the theoretic furutre of DC Comics? I know it shouldn’t matter that these stories may prove to be part of a future-narrative that gets wiped out of the canon, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’re reading a bunch of what-if stories. Intriguingly, these glimpses into future have their eyes set on the past; evoking elements of Pre-Flashpoint continuity and reconciling that with what’s been established since September of 2011. The future is a point on a line, plotted using the past and present as reference. It’s a herculean task, but one that writer Charles Soule and artist Jesus Saiz are more than up for, aligning themselves with the intrepid Alec Holland, perhaps unsure that they would make it through to the other side unharmed.
Drew: As the final chapter of a summer crossover event, Original Sin 8 has significantly more baggage than the average comic issue. In addition to wrapping up its own 8-issue maxi-series (9 if you count that zero issue), this issue is essentially charting of the trajectory of the Marvel Universe in the short term, setting up an array of new series and new volumes of old series that seem to fall out of the aftermath of this event. All that is to say that it’s easy for this conversation to turn into a discussion of Original Sin as a whole, or even how we feel about some of the lasting changes this issue presents. There’s certainly value in those conversations (and believe me, I’m going to talk about them a bit), but first, I want to examine whether or not this issue manages to be entertaining in its own right. Continue reading
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
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
Patrick: This is going to be one timid-ass example, but rest assured, the story is so tame because I want to save face here. In high school, I was all about grand romantic gestures — mix tapes, love letters, picnics, whatever: it was all my jam. So, early on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, I picked up my girlfriend from her house and drove us to the shores of Lake Michigan to watch the sunrise. Mind you, it’s April and both the lake and the beach are covered in ice. Already not the smartest idea. But I was on my way to her house, zipping along mostly-deserted roads far too quickly and I got pulled over for speeding. Driving safely just wasn’t a thought in my horny little head at that moment. Luckily, I only got a ticket — no one was hurt or anything like that. But who knows what kind of damage my hormone-addled body could have caused? This is the G-rated version of a story we all have; especially when we’re first discovering it, sex turns us into weirdly irresponsible monsters, monsters that make mistakes. 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