Patrick: Violence. Abuse. Torture. Slavery. I just named, like, the four worst things in the world. They’re all awful on their own, but each act becomes unfathomably detestable the second you add the descriptor “sexual.” Sexual violence is so horrible, we don’t really know how to process it and we sure as shit don’t know how to talk about it. As a result, so much sexual assault gets swept out of our field of vision, even when we know full-well that it’s going on. The numbers vary wildly, but every study on reporting rape statistics suggests that a shocking number of sexual assaults go unreported. Studies also show that sexual assault, especially toward children, can trigger psychosis and schizophrenia later in life. It’s simply too much for brains to handle, which is why we tend to freak out whenever rape shows up in our pop entertainments. Ales Kot and Tonči Zonjić boldly express our inability to process these moments of pure, unadulterated horror in a breathtaking new installment of Zero. (spoilers for Zero 9 after the jump). 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, Drew and Shelby discuss Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego 1, Batman Eternal 15, Robin Rises: Omega 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 36, Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man 2, Elektra 4, Original Sin 6, Uncanny X-Men 23, Ms. Marvel 6, Nova 19, Silver Surfer 4, She-Hulk 6, Rat Queens 7 and The Wicked + The Divine 2.
Spencer: As many of you probably know (due to my extremely in-depth coverage), I recently attended my first Comic-Con. With that experience still fresh in mind, I have to say that Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego 1 feels like an uncannily accurate representation of the Comic-Con experience. I mean, sure, Wizard World is nowhere near as large as SDCC, and I am nowhere near as manic as Harley Quinn (I hope), but I can still relate to Harley’s various quests to meet creators, as well as to the suffocating crowds (which probably necessitated the eight different artists who contributed to this thing). Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Last Fall 1, originally released July 16th, 2014.
Patrick: You know what’s wrong with the narrative in the Star Wars prequels? I mean, beyond “everything” — if you had to pin-point what’s so awful about the story itself, what overarching storytelling philosophy leads that series astray? I’m sure everyone has their own answer to this, but for me, the biggest culprit is Lucas’ refusal to make the interstellar conflict personal. All the motivating factors for going to war are tariffs and alliances — which could be effective if only our characters had some sort of relationship to how futile and trivial their efforts are. That’s a damn shame: there’s a lot of compelling mileage to mine from the futility of war. Tom Waltz and Casey Malone’s The Last Fall is set to explore just that thematic territory.
Last week, we noted that the great Marvel Hype Machine has kicked into full gear where the Guardians of the Galaxy are concerned. Let’s be honest: while there’s a lot of non-specific good will built up towards Marvel Studio Movies, this is a completely untested property. That means fans of the comics are going to have to be amazing ambassadors, and to move these five characters up to the forefront of our minds, Marvel has kicked off three new series: one of which was Rocket Raccoon — a high-profile release by a rock-star creator and featuring the prescribed breakout character from the movie. What about the other two?
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Rocket Raccoon 1, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Scott: I have something of a sidekick complex. As the youngest of three brothers, I typically wound up as the Robin to someone else’s Batman (often literally). As a kid, my favorite athlete was Scottie Pippen, perhaps the most famous ‘sidekick’ in sports history. (I liked his name.) There was one other Scott in my high school class, and he was the prom king, so for the most part I was the other Scott (which probably makes me more of a second-fiddle than a sidekick, but hey, I needed a third example to solidify my argument, so play along). Of course, we’re each the main character of our own life, so being the overly sentimental kid I was, I often wondered how it made the various sidekicks feel to be relegated to a secondary role in everyone else’s eyes. Chewbacca, Mr. Smithers, Gromit — these are great characters, and they deserve their share of the spotlight. The Guardians of the Galaxy are a team, so Rocket Raccoon might not be a sidekick in a strict sense, but he’s never had a strong story of his own to carry in Brian Michael Bendis’ title. Honestly, this story by Skottie Young (I like his name!) probably could have been chopped in to smaller pieces and told as a B-story in Guardians, but I’m all for the little guy getting his shot at the big time. Continue reading
Today, Patrick leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 13, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Patrick: One of the bigger driving forces within Batman Eternal is Carmine Falcone’s desire to rid Gotham of “freaks” like the Penguin and Professor Pyg. In effect, Falcone is trying to drive all the fantastical elements out of Gotham City — whether they’re heroes or villains doesn’t seem to matter much to him. He’s even gone so far as pit the police directly against the Bat Family, furthering the absoluteness of this idea of fantasy vs. reality. But there’s a point that Falcone is missing — or willfully ignoring: everyone engages in a little bit of fantasy to get what they want. What Jim Gordon experienced in the train station – was that fantasy or reality? Covering up a gang war: fantasy or reality? Issue 13 brings that dichotomy into stark relief, showing how embracing fantasy can be equal parts advantageous and horrifying. Continue reading
Tallahassee: My mama always told me someday I’d be good at something. Who’d a guessed that something’d be zombie-killing?
Columbus: Probably nobody.
Patrick: Disaster narratives are always going to be rooted in the hardships of survival. When the aliens invade or the world starts to crumble on its foundations, that’s how we insert ourselves into the story: “how would I survive?” Zombie stories have permeated the zeitgeist so thoroughly that that question has slowly evolved into “how would I thrive?” That’s why Zombieland is so successful – instead of dwelling on the nitty gritty day-to-day of not-dying, the movie speedily gets around to the business of defining and achieving success in this world. Tallahassee isn’t a crass opportunist, he’s a man that understands his skills in the zombie apocalypse, and he’ll use those skills to better his quality of life. Trees, despite its unique premise, is also able to quickly move on to the business of understanding and taking advantage of the disaster. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 16, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Patrick: I very vividly remember being first introduced to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - it was late in the summer of 2003, and I was visiting my buddy Scott at his parents’ house between our Freshman and Sophomore years of college. Scottie had been playing the game on a borrowed console and the whole thing felt like a kind of wish fulfillment: suddenly there was a whole galaxy of Star Wars characters, stories and locations to explore, and all without leaving the confines of a single video game. There’s a promise inherent in KotOR’s premise – the depths of your imagination are already on display here, you only need look hard enough. This immediately becomes overwhelming. Even when alien races and spaceship designs look the way you remember them, you realize that any emotional connection you make with the material must be generated in-game. Without my core band of plucky rebels to get my automatic-love, I was left without a rudder, and instead of sailing the high seas of Star Wars adventures, I was mired in meaningless ephemera. This is often how I feel about the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. I may be able to recognize Broods and Spartax and Skrulls and Grand Inquisitors, but without someone to actually care about at the heart of it? Not a lot to hang a story on. Brian Michael Bendis addresses this issue head-on by spreading the Guardians of the Galaxy out among the cosmos. Suddenly, even the muddiest mythology has emotional resonance.
Patrick: If you go back and read our discussions on Superior Spider-Man, you’ll notice that one thing keeps popping up over and over again: what it means to be a hero. The concept of Otto’s identity, and how it melded with the concept of Spider-Man, was something that we brought up on a bi-monthly basis. I mean, if you look at our very first discussion of the series, Drew starts with the line “What does it mean to be good?” Writer Dan Slott was so good at putting Otto in situations that challenged both his heroism and his villainy, and it changed who Spider-Man is and how Spider-Man operates. With Peter Parker back in the driver’s seat, it’s becoming clear that some of those changes don’t wash away with a quick mind re-swap. Issue 3 finds Spider-Man — and everyone else — dealing with this latest discrepancy, and not everyone’s so happy with the restored status quo. Continue reading