Captain Marvel 2

captain marvel 2Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Captain Marvel 2, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Shelby: Mistaken identities and their resulting confusion have got to be one of the more commonly used plot devices out there. I think just about every play I did in high school drama involved people being mistaken for someone else and a lot of hiding in closets/multiple door antics. It’s commonly used because it’s one small moment that can quickly telescope into an entire story; each person’s unexpected reaction based on the mistake triggers another unexpected reaction, and so on and so forth. It’s so easy when we’re outside observers to see that if everyone would just calm down and think for a second, everything would make sense. As Carol Danvers is about to learn, however, sometimes mistakes happen so fast, you don’t even have a second to spare to think about it. Continue reading

Nightcrawler 1

Alternating Currents, Nightcrawler 1, Scott and SuzanneToday, Scott and Suzanne are discussing Nightcrawler 1, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Scott: He’s back! The recent Amazing X-Men arc found Kurt Wagner, AKA Nightcrawler, being brought back from the dead, an excellent set-up for a new Nightcrawler title. Nightcrawler 1 not only reintroduces Nightcrawler to the land of the living as the star of his own series, it reunites him with ex-X-Men writer Chris Claremont. There’s a lot of catching up to do, and Claremont seems more interested in writing about Nightcrawler the way he remembers him, rather than concentrating on the things that have happened to the character in the interim. Repercussions of Kurt’s death and new life are strangely absent, making for an uneven and perplexing first issue. Continue reading

Action Comics 30

action comics 30
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Action Comics 30, originally released April 2nd, 2014.

Scott: Segues: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. I’ve listened to enough standup comedy to know that I’m a fan of the clean break, the abrupt change of topic. Lengthy transitions are just a waste of time. In longer storytelling formats, such as monthly comic books, there’s more of a virtue in spinning many plates at once. Even though stories are broken into defined arcs, some elements carry over from one arc to the next, making the clean break impossible. It results in issues like Action Comics 30, where writer Greg Pak’s first major arc comes to an end while also introducing important pieces of the story to come. The issue looks fantastic, but the story gets a little messy as it tries to connect the old with the new, making me wonder if Pak might have been better off nixing the segue.

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Detective Comics 30

Alternating Currents, Detective Comics 30, Drew and ScottToday, Drew and Scott are discussing Detective Comics 30, originally released April 2nd, 2014.

Welcome to Gotham City. It has the potential to be great…for the both of us. It’s a new start.

Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato

Drew: Two figures arrive in the big city for the first time. It’s the start of many a classic story of city life — including this issue — but it also accurately describes Manapul and Buccellato’s “move” to Gotham. After a stellar run on The Flash (ha), Manapul and Buccellato have brought their signature meta-commentary to DC’s namesake, opening with the quote above. The line is not necessarily spoken — it could plausibly be said by Elena or Annie Aguila (the two figures we see arriving in Gotham), but is rather explicitly not represented as dialogue, or even internal monologue — there’s no speech balloon, no voiceover box, not even a quotation mark, suggesting that this really is the creators speaking directly to the audience. It’s a bold move, but exactly the kind that gives me confidence that this does indeed have the potential to be great.

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Guardians of the Galaxy 13

guardians of the galaxy 13 JG

Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 13, originally released March 26th, 2014.

jean gray divI’m not sure this was worth it.

Gamora

Scott: It always amuses me when a character voices my same feelings towards an in-story event. It can be so tragically ironic. In this case, Gamora wondering if the Guardians’ involvement in rescuing Jean Grey is worth the heat it’s going to draw from the Shi-ar echoed the feelings I’ve had towards their role in ‘The Trial of Jean Grey’. The finale to this six-part event hits some emotional beats, but like the previous installments, the personal moments tend to revolve around the X-Men, leaving this series’ protagonists feeling left out. Ultimately, it’s an awkward goodbye to a crossover that never quite gelled and, frankly, probably wasn’t worth three issues the Guardians’ time. Oh, and Groot gets weird with some trees.

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The Flash 29

Alternating Currents: Flash 29, Drew and ScottToday, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash 29, originally released March 26th, 2014.

Drew: I have a friend who used to love Law and Order – er, he liked it as much as a person can really like an episodic primetime drama — the point is, he was happy to tune in every week to see how the team handles the new case. That is, until his son pointed out to him how formulaic the show really is — right down to when in the episode they’ll nab the wrong suspect, find that key clue, or offer a plea bargain. It ruined the show for him — knowing what would happen next robbed every development of any drama, so he just stopped watching it. In some way, we all have this same experience with storytelling in general: the more stories we consume, and the more familiar with common formulas we become, the better we are at predicting what happens next. We recognize foreshadowing, we notice if we’re being intentionally misled — we just become harder to fool. Many of us are willing to put that aside to suspend our disbelief that maybe the hero won’t make it out this time, or maybe the lead couple won’t end up together, after all, but sometimes a writer still wants to surprise us. This often requires going into DEEP left field, which can make the resulting developments feel arbitrary, or even nonsensical. Unfortunately, those are the kinds of final act reveals we get in Flash 29.

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Animal Man 29

animal man 29Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Animal Man 29, originally released March 19th, 2014. 

 And the best part of all was that one day… when they were all real old and had lived happily for a long, long time, they would die, too…

Maxine Baker

Scott: This statement, made by a four year old finally processing the meaning of her brother’s death, underlines the tragic nature of the final issue of Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man. It’s both the realization her father, Buddy Baker, needed her to make, and the promise he knows he can’t keep. Not every family gets to live happily ever after, especially not when the patriarch has as many responsibilities as Animal Man. This issue shows Buddy doing whatever he can to make sure everyone around him gets the happiest ending possible, even if it’s not the fairly tale ending they desire. In the face of uncertainty, maybe that’s the best you can do.

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Wonder Woman 29

wonder woman 29Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Wonder Woman 29, originally released March 19th, 2014.

Patrick: Twitch Plays Pokemon allowed thousands of people all over the world to play one game of Pokemon Red together. This means the poor game was getting thousands of simultaneous inputs from players across the globe all with different agendas. Cultures sprang up on Reddit around specific Pokemon (which were all nicknamed hilarious things because actually typing a name in the game resulted in total nonsense) and weird little quirks of playing the game cooperatively (most famously, the Cult of Helix Fossil worked tirelessly to get the character to use a context-specific item in all contexts). Shit got weird, but it was a weirdness of consensus, a horrible democracy that gave shape to what “Twitch Plays Pokemon” means. This is largely true for long-lasting comic book characters as well — they pass through so many hands that the meta story of how they came to be can often eclipse the in-world origins. That’s why all your favorite heroes are irreconcilable messes of conflicting stories and ideas, and mixed together into one semi-coherent identity. Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman looks to change that for the titular heroine, giving her purpose, direction, vision and identity without having to wait for thousands of players to agree on the same input. Continue reading

Superman/Wonder Woman 6

superman wonder woman 6Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Superman/Wonder Woman 6, originally released March 12th, 2014.

Scott: Why are Superman and Wonder Woman together? Anyone remotely tuned in to the DC Universe has wondered this at some point in the past several months. On the surface, it seems perhaps too convenient, or little more than an attention-grabbing ploy. Realistically though, doesn’t the relationship make perfect sense? People date the people they spend the most time with. A 20 year old college student is most likely to date another 20 year old who goes to the same college. So, in a time when Justice League duties seem to be dominating many heroes’ lives, it’s only appropriate that Clark and Diana, the two most similar Justice Leaguers, would get together. The real question is, what does their relationship have to offer us as readers? If Clark and Diana are going to be spending a lot of time together just by the nature of their jobs, does a romantic relationship add anything to the story? With Superman/Wonder Woman 6, Charles Soule sets the record straight — the relationship and, thus, this book, is more than the sum of it’s parts.

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Batman 29

batman 29Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman 29, originally released March 12th, 2014.

Shelby: It can be really hard to admit you’ve been wrong. Especially when you’ve gone out of your way to show everyone how right you are. The only thing to do is own up to your mistake and try to fix it. It’s a painful admission to make, and the bigger the consequences of your mistake, the more painful it is. In his own take on the iconic Batman origin story, Scott Snyder has given us a Bruce Wayne who is young, brash, and very confident. Whether through an inflated sense of self or the independence forced upon him at the death of his parents (probably a bit of both), this Bruce is even more reluctant to accept help from others than we’ve seen before. Finally, as the latest arc of Zero Year wraps up, the pieces begin to fall into place, and Bruce finds himself with some mistakes to own up to and a very hard lesson to learn. Problem is, it looks like it might be too late.
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