All-New X-Men 40

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Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing All-New X-Men 40, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Ryan: All-New X-Men 40 set the internet abuzz. People who have never picked up a comic book are posting about it. Reputable media outlets such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and even Buzzfeed wrote responses to the issue, inspiring a great deal of debate on message boards and comment sections, alike. Can you blame them? It is not every day that a seminal comic book character, one who is universally adored, receives a fresh start and is looked at with a contemporary — if not somewhat controversial — perspective. The creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud A. Asrar accomplish exactly this as they reveal that (SPOILER ALERT!)…Random is back, and he brought Boom-Boom, Karma, Masque, Madison Jeffries, and Elixir with him!! Oh, and apparently young Bobby Drake is gay. Continue reading

Convergence Round-Up: Week Three

convergence roundup3Today, Spencer leads a discussion about Convergence 3, Adventure of Superman 1, Batman & the Outsiders 1, Flash 1, Green Lantern Corps 1, Hawkman 1, Justice League of America 1, Superboy & The Legion 1, and Wonder Woman 1.

convergence divSpencer: With over 30 issues of Convergence under our belts, the formula’s become pretty clear — every issue covers the same beats, including the effects of living under a dome for a year and Telos’ infuriating speech when the dome finally drops (although to be honest, I stopped reading the speech sometime in the middle of Week 2). While Week 3 can’t help but to follow these same patterns, it’s also by far the most experimental week of Convergence yet. Several issues focus on stories that could have easily been told with these characters outside of the dome, while others are more interested in exploring the Crisis on Infinite Earths backdrop. Whatever the case, this week’s batch of tie-ins is a refreshing change of pace from a pattern that was already starting to grow old.

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Velvet 10

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Velvet 10, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Patrick: Aren’t spies just the coolest? They’re up there with ninjas as some of the most fascinating types of heroes. Part of what makes them both so damn irresistible is their impossible levels of competency. It’s the same reason we love Sherlock Holmes – we can’t fathom a scenario that he can’t clever his way out of. That makes their day-to-day lives the stuff of fascinating stories, even if we have every confidence going in that they’re going to come out victorious. But then, why’s it so satisfying to watch these infallible heroes scramble? There are few moments as narratively disarming as the odd beats when James Bond or Sherlock Holmes or Ethan Hunt are caught off guard. It’s like a violation, seeing the most capable people out-matched. Velvet 10 shows our already on-the-run hero set even further back, and the scope of the story broadens rapidly, mutating so quickly that we barely have time to understand one development before the next steamrolls everything that came before. It’s dizzying, disorienting, and leaves the breathless reader just as lost as our hero. Continue reading

Convergence: Swamp Thing 1

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 1: Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

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Drew: When Steve Carell left The Office, series writer BJ Novak tweeted a series of Michael Scott story ideas that would never be told. Some of those pitches seemed hilarious, but what actually stuck with me about them is that the opportunity to make them had simply stopped. They couldn’t ever become episodes of The Office because Michael Scott was no longer on the show. That kind of context-specific storytelling is constantly turning over in comics, where the monthly grind of continuity requires that no one situation can last too long. You’ve got a great Superior Spider-Man pitch? You’ve missed the boat. A Dick-as-Batman idea? Not gonna happen. A JSA arc? Too late. Convergence has offered one last hurrah for characters from very specific moments in their history, but that “one last hurrah” has often felt more like a eulogy than a celebration. With Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, Len Wein and Kelley Jones take that sense of mourning a step further, as Pre-Crisis Swamp Thing barely clings to life. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 4/15/15

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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 Ms. Marvel 14, Nova 29, Loki: Agent of Asgard 13, Secret Identities 3, and the Kitchen 6.

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Patrick: Heading in to Secret Wars means counting down to the endings for a lot of characters and series. This week saw us reaching conclusions for Loki and Nova, but the headstrong Kamala Kahn keeps barreling forward with her teenage / superhero drama like she couldn’t even be bothered with something like Secret Wars. It’s an exciting meta statement of purpose for the Ms. Marvel: she’s got her own shit going and, and isn’t about to let a little thing like the end of the world(s) get in the way of that. Continue reading

The Fox 1

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Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing The Fox 1, originally released April 15th, 2015.

So the seasons change
and the storefronts change,
everything else stays the same.
The wind don’t blow
and the grass don’t grow:
you’re never leaving Silver Street.

Ben Folds “Silver Street”

Patrick: There’s a sweet mystique to the idea of the Home Town. For me, Kenosha, Wisconsin, will always be trapped in the 1990s — a place frozen in time. I know that’s not actually the case: the years pass in Wisconsin much as they do everywhere else (if a few degrees cooler), and any qualities of being fixed in time are being selfishly imposed by me. It’s easier if I can image a place that will forever house my childhood enthusiasms and explorations. It’s a shock to my system every time I go home and discover that something has changed. Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid explore these concepts of change and timelessness as Paul Patton Jr. — aka, The Fox — takes a trip down memory lane and finds it blocked by both the passing of time and time’s refusal to pass. Continue reading

Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax 1

green lantern parallax 1 conv

Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax 1, originally released April 15th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Michael: With the leak of the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice this past week, I’ve been thinking about Man of Steel a lot lately. And while I could write a book on why I didn’t like that movie, it really boils down to the fact that I found most of the things that Superman did in Man of Steel to be very out of character for the hero that I know. In the realm of comic books, characters go through many changes — I mean, you’ve gotta keep things interesting. But the changes that work are typically those that essentially feel true to those characters. Tony Bedard has been handing in some very solid Convergence tie-ins so far; they’re not perfect but he really has the core of these characters down, no matter what point in time they’re in. Continue reading

Convergence Round-Up: Week Two

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Today, Shane leads a discussion about Convergence 1, Aquaman 1, Batman: Shadow of the Bat 1, Justice League International 1, Supergirl Matrix 1 and Superman: Man of Steel 1.

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“Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”

-Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation.

Shane: Success comes from committing wholeheartedly to a goal, and that’s true in everything — even comic books. If the first week of Convergence focused on setting up the event with slow-moving exposition, the second week lurches startlingly forward, throwing the story in multiple directions. But even as the main event strives for greatness, its sister titles stumble along, burdened by continuity errors and contradictions between stories, almost as if the writers sped through their research. If Convergence was designed to celebrate specific eras of years past, what does it say that half the books seem to betray that history? And that begs the follow-up question…if the stories are good enough, does it even matter?

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2

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Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2, originally released April 15, 2015.

“[Horror movies] urge us to put away our more civilized and adult penchant for analysis and to become children again, seeing things in pure blacks and whites. It may be that horror movies provide physic relief on this level because this invitation to lapse into simplicity, irrationality and even outright madness is extended so rarely. We are told we may allow our emotions free rein… or no rein at all.”

Stephen King, ‘Why We Crave Horror Movies’

Patrick: I’ve always found it hard to explain the appeal of a scary movie — even to myself. Generally speaking, I don’t consider myself a fan of horror. Why add to the anxiety in my life, right? But I have to admit that most of my most memorable moments watching movies have been forged during flicks that scared the shit out of me. Sixth grade super camp — outdoor screening of The Birds. Eighth grade, all-night movie fest, my first viewing of The Exorcist. My reactions to these movies transcend logic, appealing directly to my baser impulses. But fear is not the only thing human beings feel deep down past their rational cores; sex appeal is equally illogical. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2 plays with the concepts of sex and horror and takes advantage of the reader’s lizard brain reaction to both. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 4/8/15

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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 The Surface 2, ODY-C 4, Descender 2, Darth Vader 4, Spider-Woman 6, and Ant-Man 4.

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Drew: I couldn’t tell you why, but in 5th grade, my teacher had the class watch Phase IV, a ’70s sci-fi film where a team of scientists battles a hive of sentient ants. I’m sure I watched plenty of movies that year that I can’t remember, but something about the images of Phase IV have stuck with me — a testament to director Saul Bass’s background in graphic design. Then again, I think I’m also intrigued at the melding of sci-fi and bugs, these tiny aliens that move unnoticed beneath our feet. That combination — sci-fi and bugs — are exactly what this Round-Up is all about. Continue reading