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, Spencer, Patrick and Drew discuss Secret Wars 4, Red Skull 1, A-Force 2, Giant-Sized Little Marvel AvX 2, Ultimate End 3, Years of Future Past 2, and Secret Wars Journal 3.
Spencer: One thing that’s always bothered me about line-wide crossovers is when the tie-ins are forced to incorporate certain elements whether it makes sense or not. I can’t help but think of the earthquake in all 40 of the second issues of Convergence, or that month where every single DC comic released had to feature a fight with an OMAC — besides being creatively stifling, it makes all the books start to feel way too similar. With that in mind, what I’ve appreciated the most about Secret Wars is the sheer variety found in its tie-ins. All these books have in common is that they’re all set on Battleworld — other than that, they’re free to do whatever they please. This week’s offerings feature everything from the inner workings of Doom’s mind and Battleworld’s politics to zany childhood shenanigans — it’s a fun change of pace from the typical crossover, and in fact, the only real disappointments to be found may be the titles that don’t take enough advantage of their setting. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Princess Leia 5, originally released July 1st, 2015.
Patrick: Love it or hate it, I’m a Wisconsin boy – born, raised, and educated. It’s a weird culture to grow up in, but it’s an even weirder culture to have to carry with you for the rest of your life. There are some awesome parts of being from Wisconsin, like an enthusiastic beer culture or an emphasis on education or the outdoors. Plus there’s the general air of friendliness that permeates my every visit to the homestead. But man, oh man, there are also a ton of drawbacks to that cultural identity: a meatheaded obsession with sports (specifically, the Green Bay Packers), unhealthy and frequently disgusting cuisine, and a bunch of casual institutionalized racism. And every person I meet is surprised that I’m not some backwoods, smalltown hick. Worse are the negative characteristics I actually take with me wherever I go, like juvenile appetite for dairy products and that irrepressible accent. Throughout the course of Princess Leia, Mark Waid and Terry and Rachel Dodson have presented us with Leia’s cultural identity, and with the final issue boldly declares that being Alderaanian is a powerful thing. Love it and hate it. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Zero 18, originally released July 1st, 2015.
Drew: I don’t love fetishizing endings. I resent the idea that the final moments of a work of art are somehow more important than all of the other moments that came before. I do, however, appreciate that it’s not until the end of a work that we can properly understand what it is. It’s not that the last piece of the narrative puzzle is necessarily more important than the rest, it just happens to be the last one added, which makes it the one that completes the image. True to that analogy, most endings are increasingly predictable as they approach — by that late in a narrative, we have a sense of likely conclusions. But then there are those narratives that aren’t so easily tied down. Zero started as a relatively straightforward spy series, but became increasingly postmodern, turning itself into a pointed commentary on the artificial division between “life” and “art.” Even with that trajectory in mind, issue 18 offers a conclusion of such bizarre beauty that nobody could have ever predicted. 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, Shane, and Michael discuss Kaptara 3, Southern Cross 4, Sons of the Devil 2, Jem and the Holograms 4, Effigy 6, Gotham by Midnight 6, We Are Robin 1, Flash 41, Superman 41, Howard the Duck 4, and The Black Hood 5.
Spencer: The sheer variety you’ll find among comic books today is just staggering. Just in this week’s offerings alone we’ve got sci-fi, horror and supernatural, gritty crime noir, superheroes, and a talking duck, just to name a few. Moreover, we’ve got new stories being launched, beloved stories wrapping up, stories taking off in surprising new directions, and stories sticking to what they’ve always done best. No matter who you are, I think you’ll find a book you’ll love being discussed in today’s Round-Up. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 16, originally released June 24th, 2015.
Patrick: One of the base assumptions that I usually have to check when discussing a work of genre fiction is the assumption that the villain acts as an analogue to the creative forces behind the story. Heroes — be they superheroes or brave knights or swashbuckling adventurers — seldom get to trade in particularly complex or nuanced ideas. But villains! Villains get to have a much more human relationship to morality, often holding conflicting ideas in their heads. What’s more is that both the villains and the creators have the same job: make the hero suffer. This relationship gets even trickier when the characters are on-loan from elsewhere, as is so often the case with comic books. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have made their mark on Daredevil, but the character does not belong to them in the strictest sense. Issue 16 sees the creators trying to reconcile their relationship to the titular hero, and in so doing, welcome a host of villains into their drama. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick, Spencer and Drew discuss E is for Extinction 1, Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies 1, Infinity Gauntlet 2, Planet Hulk 2, M.O.D.O.K. Assassin 2, X-Men ’92 Infinite Comics 3, Black Widow 18 and Loki: Agent of Asgard 15
Patrick: How do you tell an alternate-reality version of a story? What elements of the original do you need to keep and which do you need to invert? How different is too different? How samey is too samey? Secret Wars is starting to show the full depth of its commitment playing with concepts that we’ve become so comfortable with over the years. Maybe now it’s cool to be a mutant. Maybe now M.O.D.O.K. stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Kissing. More than simple re-imaginings, Secret Wars gets to explore some truly re-invented and re-conceptualized worlds. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Grayson 9, originally released June 24th, 2015.
Michael: I think the majority of comic-book-dom would agree that Dick Grayson is awesome. I mean, I love Dick Grayson but some people loooooooove Dick Grayson. There is something inexplicable about certain corners of fandom and their obsession with the former boy wonder. There is the fact that he is the first (some would argue best) Robin, holding the role for over 40 years. But it’s not just that – Dick Grayson has become something of a sex symbol in the Bat-fan community. Dick Grayson fans are very vocal about this fact, using social media to express their interest to see more “butt shots” of Mr. Grayson to various writers including Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins and current Grayson writer Tom King. There is of course the easy/stupid pun involved in his name – which I will ignore – but fans of all genders and sexualities are all about Dick Grayson. With Grayson – issue 9 especially – Tom King has not been afraid to give the people what they want. 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, Michael, Spencer, and Ryan discuss Doctor Fate 1, Martian Manhunter 1, Robin: Son of Batman 1, Secret Six 3, Prez 1, Archie vs. Predator 3, Mad Max Fury Road Furiosa 1, The Kitchen 8, and Secret Identities 5.
Patrick: DC Comics continues to roll out it’s new universe this week, and that means a lot of new series that look like new series, a lot of new series that look like old series, and a lot of old series that… still look old. It’s a mixed bag that reveals that there may not be any single underlying philosophy to DC’s new approach to publishing. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing The Infinite Loop 3, originally released June 17th, 2015.
Patrick: I like to think that these Alternating Currents are fearless. We make whatever observations we want and to hell with the consequences! Sometimes that means getting pushback from creators that used to retweet our pieces, sometimes it means getting into an argument in the comments section or on twitter. But the audience for one of these pieces is highly self-selected – anyone reading this specific piece (for example) is going to have read all the way through Infinite Loop 3 and wants to read more about it. That’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of people, likely lumped together by a shared set of values, enthusiasms and ways of thinking about and consuming culture. So when I make some dumb statement about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles perfecting action on the static page, I am, almost by definition, preaching to the choir. There’s no grander cultural risk involved – the writer and the reader are trapped in the same loop of perspective. Infinite Loop 3 makes a bold attempt to break itself out of its cultural loops by ratcheting both its science fiction elements and its lesbian erotica elements to insanely high levels, and the result is decidedly fearless. Continue reading →
Today, Drew, Patrick, and Spencer discuss Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars 2, Thors 1, Runaways 1, and Old Man Logan 2.
This is an imaginary story…aren’t they all?
Alan Moore, Superman 423
Drew: Comics continuity is a funny thing. We generally understand characters in their broad strokes, but those broad strokes can change from time to time. Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” was written at one such juncture, saying goodbye to one era of Superman before Crisis on Infinite Earths ushered in a new one. But that goodbye doesn’t have to be permanent; events can be revisited, recontextualized, altered, or even undone. All of those approaches are fair game during Secret Wars, which affords us more time with characters, settings, and situations we might have thought were gone forever. Continue reading →