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

Star Wars 2

star wars 2

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Star Wars 2, originally released February 4th, 2015.

Taylor: When do you officially become too old to play with action figures? I’ve often wondered this because I suspect I played with my action figures longer than most. Was it too long? I have fond memories of having adventures with my Star Wars toys well into sixth grade. However, when I made the transition to middle school in 7th grade (that’s Kansas for you) I felt I had reached the age where it wasn’t socially acceptable to play with them anymore. This was a sad time for me.What made it painful then, as it does now, is that it signaled a loss of creativity for me. No longer would I be able to create my own Star Wars adventures. I’d have to take them as they were handed to me in video games and books. Marvel’s Star Wars, while still feeding me a Star Wars story, and captures the wild imagination of someone creating their own adventures, and that’s damn fun. Continue reading

Zero 14

zero 14 Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Zero 14, originally released January 28th, 2015. Art and Social Function

Two fundamental discrete cognate loops are shown, which are isolated from each other by the artwork. There is no form of interaction between the two which could generate mutual understanding as would be the case in a successful conversation. In the absence of such a procedure both the audience and the artists become locked in their own perceptual biases.

Stephen Willats, Art and Social Function

Drew: Where does meaning happen? I was brought up on the postmodern ideals outlined in the epigraph, but it seems that a great deal of modern society still clings to romantic notions of artistic intention. We celebrate and scorn artists based on their intentions, forgetting that the value of their art may not have anything to do with the artist. Indeed, we’re so obsessed with intention that we conflate it with meaning, minimizing the audience’s role — a role I might argue is the whole point of art in the first place. It’s because of this climate that I enjoy art that obscures its artist’s intentions. It’s easy to assume the moral is the “point” of one of Aesop’s fables, but it’s decidedly harder to draw such a clean line in something like Zero 14, where ambiguity and sheer density of ideas makes any meaning we can parse decidedly our own. Continue reading

Deadpool 41

deadpool 41

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Deadpool 41, originally released January 28th, 2015.

Taylor: When someone mentions Deadpool to you, what’s the first word that comes to mind? Is it lunatic? Madman? Goof-off? Ask a fan to describe the titular character of the most recent run of Deadpool and you might get some of these same answers, but a few might throw in descriptors such as melancholy, complex, and heartwarming asshole. Wade Wilson is many things, and depending on how you read the series, he could be any of the things listed above. However, even though we’ve known Wade for a long time now, can any of us really say we know him? Taking into consideration that the man hardly knows himself, this question becomes even more confounding. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 42

tmnt 42

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 42, originally released January 21st, 2015.

Taylor: Politics are a funny thing. Essentially, those who enter the forum are knowingly entering a profession where they will lie and be lied to basically every day of their professional lives. I don’t mean this to condemn — political strategy dictates that one must look out for their own interests at all costs, often times even at the expense of any sort of code of honor. In this way politics mirrors the natural world, for in both cases it’s truly a survival of the fittest endeavor. Given its beastly leanings, it therefore should be no surprise to any of us that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would eventually try its hand at a political thriller. Sure, the players in this case are mutants, ninjas, and alien brains, but let there be no mistake: issue 42 is a political thriller of the highest order. Continue reading