Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Batman 26, originally released December 11th, 2013
Scott: There’s real risk in presenting a story like Zero Year. Mostly, there’s a risk that there won’t be enough tension to keep the story interesting. One thing that makes a story exciting to read is that we don’t know what will happen to the characters, and there’s always the possibility of tragedy striking a character we love. Those possibilities are limited in Zero Year. Since it takes place in the past, we know a lot of things can’t happen. Bruce can’t die in Zero Year. Neither can Alfred, Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox, or any other character we saw in the first 20 issues of Batman. With that in mind,let’s take this opportunity to thank goodness that Scott Snyder knows how to exploit all of the things this type of story can do. Zero Year shows an evolution — one of strange people becoming the characters we’ve come to know — and it’s full of mystery. Seems like a risk worth taking. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Black Bat 7, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Scott: I like failure. Wait, I should clarify that a little; I like it when superheroes fail. It sucks for them, sure, but at least it’s exciting. When you read a lot of comics, you get used to seeing the heroes being, well, heroic. It’s nice to see one screw the pooch once in a while. So I can’t think of a better place for us to dive into Brian Buccellato’s The Black Bat. You see, The Black Bat just messed up real bad. I’m talking scores-of-people-are-now-dead-because-of-him bad. It’s a tough situation for anyone to rebound from, but if this issue teaches us one thing, it’s that Black Bat bounces back from failure with a vengeance. And if it teaches us a second thing, it’s that Buccellato isn’t afraid to move through plot points quickly. A little too quickly, I’d go so far to say. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Scott are discussing Action Comics 26, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I didn’t exactly have a lot of self confidence. High school was especially rough, as it seemed that everything I did was strange or off-kilter in some way. In other words, I felt like a freak. This feeling got worse before it got better, but damn it, it did get better. Eventually, I came to realize that not only was I strange and off-kilter, but everyone else was too. When I realized that I was on the same playing field as everyone else, things got a whole lot easier. Greg Pak’s Action Comics features a Superman struggling with his own “freakishness,” but he may have just found someone to find consolation in. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Letter 44 2, originally released November 27th, 2013.
Drew: I was never a Boy Scout, but their “be prepared” motto captured my young imagination. Growing up in suburbia, “preparation” was simply carrying enough cash in case my friends wanted to get ice cream, but I liked to carry the concept ad absurdum. Do you have a snake bite kit? Are you conversational in Farsi? Could you beat a polygraph test? I’m decidedly unprepared for most eventualities, but the beauty of the human mind is that we can improvise. Ultimately, it’s not how well we prepare for the expected, but how well we react to the unexpected that allows us to survive. That capacity for improvisation is the crux of Letter 44 2, as both President Blade and the crew of the Clarke try to deal with the unknown. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing The Flash 25, originally released November 27, 2013.
Scott: Have you ever said goodbye to someone outside a restaurant and then proceeded to walk down the street in the same direction as them? It’s weird. That’s what I was expecting out of The Flash 25, since writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are back one last time after penning what felt an awful lot like their farewell issue a month ago. But rather than an awkwardly silent side-by-side walk to adjacently parked cars, this issue feels like a wake-up call. Manapul and Buccellato illustrate (I mean, literally illustrate) the reasons why I’m going to miss them. The issue is merely a tie-in with little significance to Flash as a series, but when these guys are doing the art (as they are for only a portion of this issue), they don’t need much story to turn out something great. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Deadpool Annual 2013, originally released November 27th, 2013.
Homer: Next, I’ll tell you the origin of Maggie’s pacifier.
Marge: What origin? We get ‘em for $1.95 down at the Safeway.
The Simpsons, “Lisa’s Sax”
Patrick: “Whys?” are important. At least, we want them to be. The Simpsons episode “Lisa’s Sax” explores the origins of — you guessed it — Lisa’s saxophone. The story features Bart’s disenchantment with the education system, the Simpsons’ poverty and the cold swirling mystery of raising a child. It’s insightful and heartfelt and honest: we learn about a crucial piece of the show’s mythology and just how much it informs, and is informed by, the series’ cast. It makes the saxophone Important in a way it hadn’t been before. But the episode is tagged with the exchange above, which readily admits that not all origins can be so fulfilling, no matter how integral a piece of mythology is. The Deadpool Annual explores both the origin, and subsequent termination, of Deadpool’s white voice over boxes. Is this a saxophone story or a pacifier story? Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Animal Man 25, originally released November 20th, 2013.
Scott: As a writer, it’s my perpetual fear that whatever idea I’ve just come up with has already been done. Even if I believe an idea to be entirely my own, I’m always a little afraid someone out there will find a similarity to some other work, and I’ll be branded an idea thief. Writers and artists accused of stealing or copying material are ridiculed to no end on internet forums. Think of the hit Dane Cook’s reputation took when he was accused of stealing material from Louis C.K. Of course, it’s entirely possible for two creative people to independently come up with the same thought. That makes it all the harder to judge two concurrent works that share strong similarities. It’s impossible to know which creator had the idea first, and unfair to blame either one for sharing what is, to them, an original concept. Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire is fighting the perception that his story is too similar to semi-sister comic Swamp Thing. Fair or not, an otherwise strong issue of Animal Man suffers from feeling a little too familiar. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Scott are discussing Zero 3, originally released November 20th, 2013.
Taylor: Tell you what, reading a Cormac McCarthy novel is a chore. This is by no means a criticism, merely an observation. I think anyone who has read any book by McCarthy would agree with me – the guy writes some pretty bleak stuff. Despite that, his writing is some of the most important to grace the written page in the past fifty years. He’s a master at his craft and his style and voice are so unique that one could argue they have become iconic. Still, reading the likes of Blood Meridian or The Road is far from a pleasant way to pass the time. These books are beautiful in their own way, but they are equally violent and incredibly depressing. Given this, it seems fitting that the afterward of Zero 3 quotes a passage from Blood Meridian. Like McCarthy’s work, Zero is bloody and disturbing, but also like McCarthy’s work it is thought provoking and occasionally beautiful.
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Superman/Wonder Woman 2, originally released November 13th, 2013
Shelby: I know I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series for quite some time. Since it was not unusual for more than a year to pass between books, when a new volume was released I would frequently re-read a book or two that had come before to remember where the story was. I noticed that each new book would have to devote a solid chunk of pages to re-hashing basic concepts, presumably to familiarize new readers with way this world worked, just in case someone decided to jump right in at book 7, I guess. I’m sure there was an element of reminding the long-time readers as well, but I always skim through those parts with some annoyance. I understand the purpose and the necessity of the quick recap (hell, we do it here), but if I don’t need it I just want to skip it and get to the meat of the story. Charles Soule finds himself with a similar situation on his hands; he’s got to find a way to tie together the disparate worlds of Superman and Wonder Woman, using the existing New 52 framework, while telling his own story of these two characters. A Herculean task, to be sure. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Deadpool 19, originally released November 13th, 2013.
Drew: What do we expect when we read Deadpool? When I picked up my first issue just over a year ago, I was looking for a famously goofy character written by famously funny writers, and thought that issue delivered everything a Deadpool comic should. Then we published our first discussion, and started one of the longest, most in-depth comment threads we’ve ever had, all about how this version of Deadpool is missing the point entirely. It’s a strange contradiction, but comics are full of them. Is Batman a brooding spirit of vengeance or a campy man-about-town? Is Wolverine a violent savage or an impatient schoolmarm? Or, more to the subject at hand, is Wade Wilson an irreverent, fourth-wall-breaking yukster, or a tragic figure of the highest order? With the conclusion of their “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” arc, writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan make the strong case for “both.” Continue reading →