Ant-Man 3

ant-man 3

Today, Taylor and Michael are discussing Ant-Man 3, originally released March 9th, 2015.

Taylor: Before I became a teacher, I was working in a job I cared nothing about. While that sounds kind of miserable — which it was at points — I did enjoy that my work was something I could leave at the office. Weekends and evenings were basically all mine during this period and I did whatever I pleased with that time. Now, working at a job I care about, I find the divide between work and my home-life has blurred. Work comes home often now and weekends are spent mostly preparing for the coming week. Basically, my situation was a trade off. Work at a boring job and be free at home. Work at a job that you care about, and never stop working. Ant-Man 3, despite it’s humorous overtones, meditates on this aspect of life in a way that is both insightful and entertaining. Continue reading

East of West 18

east of west 18

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing East of West 18, originally released March 12th, 2015.

Taylor: Somewhere in several reading and writing classrooms, there hangs these words:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Depending on how maudlin the teacher, these may or may not be accompanied by a picture of two paths in a forest, to really drive the point home. Most of us take these words as offering a message of support — your life choices are good and you can sleep comfortably at night knowing you made the right choice. But what if these words held a deeper, darker meaning? East of West 18 asks this question, and in doing so once again calls into question the nature of our own perception of the world.
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All-New Hawkeye 1

all new hawkeye 1

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Spencer: It’s hard to escape the fact that our pasts, and especially our childhoods, play a defining role in our lives. That doesn’t mean that people can’t recover from troubled pasts, but simply that what we experience when we’re young tends to shape our personalities and color our perceptions of the world in significant ways. This is certainly true for Clint Barton, one of the two titular stars of Jeff Lemire, Ramón Pérez and Ian Herring’s All-New Hawkeye 1. Clint’s transformed from a troubled, abused child and thief to one of the world’s mightiest heroes, but there are still plenty of parallels between his past and his present, showing that, as much as things change, they still stay the same. Continue reading

Princess Leia 1

princess leia 1

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Princess Leia 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Taylor: The Empire Strikes Back features a memorable scene where Han and Leia share their first kiss. The scene is a gem, with both of them behaving in such a manner so essential to their characters that they (and the audience) can’t resist each other. Han is charming, smooth talking, and a little sleazy. Leia, on the other hand, is cool, distant, and fiercely independent. Looking at this scene, you can’t help but recognize that this is who Leia is. Even though we know passion burns hotly underneath her cool exterior, she’s never one to give away her true feelings. Princess Leia 1 picks up on these characteristics and fleshes out not only one of cinema’s most famous heroines, but also fleshes out Star Wars at the same time. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43

tmnt 43

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Taylor: They say we’re living a golden age of television. One has but to flip on the television or log onto Netflix to see that they are probably right. The amount of quality television shows being made today is staggering, and one of the reasons for that is the quality of cast that mans several of the best shows. Many shows now have regular casts which number in the 30s and most of those characters are interesting enough we would enjoy watching a spinoff that just follows their adventures. While this might seem novel to a lot of people, comic book fans know this is no new thing — comics have had large casts of characters for ages now. But, just like TV, comics are really only as good as the characters in them and the mark of a quality comic can easily be measured by the strength of its cast. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a title that enjoys a large cast, and it is one that is so strong, we rarely miss our main characters, even when they take the back burner. Continue reading

Loki: Agent of Asgard 11

loki 11

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 11, originally released February 18th, 2015. 

slim-banner

Spencer: When reading a new book, it’s easy to feel like the story is malleable. Sure, we know the ending has already been written, and, in fact, is already printed on the upcoming pages, but until we’ve actually read those pages, there’s always a feeling of freedom, like maybe, if we wish hard enough, we can push the story in the direction we want it to go. Once we’ve finished the book, though, that feeling goes away; the ending was always concrete, but now that we’ve seen it with our own eyes, the idea that maybe we can influence its outcome essentially vanishes. Al Ewing and Lee Garbett make that idea literal in Loki: Agent of Asgard 11. The series has always been about Loki’s attempt to reform, but the arrival of his evil future self — “King Loki” — essentially makes that impossible. If King Loki represents the end of Loki’s story, as plain is if it’s written on the page, then what chance could Loki possibly have to escape that fate? Continue reading

Silver Surfer 9

silver surfer 9

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Silver Surfer 9, originally released February 18th, 2015.

Patrick: As he’s about to take Galactus head on in combat, Silver Surfer recalls the story of David and Goliath. I love David and Goliath, mostly because of how its message has been muddled by the passage and time. We read that story now as a triumph of the little guy against immeasurable odds — which is a fine story to comfort us when we feel like we’re taking on the world. But the real story isn’t quite so comforting: David wasn’t an untrained kid with a slingshot stuffed in the back pocket of his overalls; he was a trained soldier, battle-hardened and armed with his weapon of choice. In slaying Goliath, David isn’t beating the odds, he’s fulfilling his potential. And that’s exactly what this issue of Silver Surfer does too: both in terms of narrative power and the power cosmic, Norin Radd gloriously achieves his potential. Continue reading

Thor 5

Alternating Currents: Thor 5, Michael and Taylor

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Thor 5, originally released February 11th, 2015.

“Do not just be worthy of the hammer. You are not the first to wield it, and no matter your fate, you will not be the last. Be worthy of the name.”

Lady Freyja, Thor 5

Michael: Change is constant in mainstream comics; but equally constant is the reversion of those changes back to the status quo. Bruce Wayne may step down from the role of Batman but he will always return to put the cowl on again. Steve Rogers may get old or die but he will always be back to don the Captain America shield once more. Heroes die, heroes return; the more things change, the more they stay the same. Part of the reason is that figures like Superman, Batman and Spider-Man are cultural icons. Even if Miles Morales is now the Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker will always be the original. More to the point, we as a culture are reluctant to change — and especially venturing outside of our comfort zones. Continue reading

Darth Vader 1

darth vader 1

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Darth Vader 1 originally released February 11th, 2015.

Taylor: When I was in second grade the fire department came to my school to give us a demonstration about what to do in a fire. The coolest part about this, aside from getting out of class, was that they brought a trailer with a fake house that simulated what it would be like to be in a house that was ablaze. During the lecture before we went in, they said we should know never to fear a firefighter in this or any other house. They continued, saying that a lot of kids get scared of fire fighters in full garb because they sound and look like Darth Vader given their oxygen tanks and mask. I distinctly remember this because it made so much sense. Darth Vader was serious business and I could see why kids might be scared of a fire fighter that resembled him. But can you imagine this line working on kids today? With the passage of time (and prequels) the myth of Vader has faded, and so too has his fearsome facade. Issue 1 of Marvel’s Darth Vader has me wondering, will he ever get that fearsomeness back? Continue reading

East of West 17

east of west 17

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing East of West 17, originally released February 4th, 2015.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Star Wars

Drew: Myths are almost all told from a third person omniscient perspective in the past tense; not only do we get a glimpse into the separate actions of both the Tortoise and the Hare, we understand that this race already happened. That second part is natural to storytelling in general — everything from personal anecdotes to the high-flyingest science fiction is told as if the events already happened. Curiously, both tense and narrative mode tend to disappear when working in a visual medium — the illusion that these actions are actually playing out in front of us is strong enough to override any confusion about who is telling this story, and when. To give visual storytelling a mythic quality requires making the past tense nature and omniscient narrator explicit, perhaps with a framing device a la The Princess Bride, or perhaps just with that innocuous introduction I included above. East of West 17 finds writer Jonathan Hickman slipping his narrator in, lending the proceedings the mythic qualities they rightly deserve. Continue reading