A-Force 1

a force 1 sw

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing A-Force 1, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

secret wars div

Michael: Full disclosure: the exact ins and outs of Secret Wars are kind of over my head. I know that it is a better (and actually planned out) version of DC’s Convergence. I also know the basics of the event, which pretty much can be boiled down to the recap page of: “The Multiverse was destroyed! The heroes of Earth-616 and Earth-1610 were powerless to save it! Now, all that remains…is Battleworld!” So I’m going to try to take A-Force objectively, at face value. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 34

uncanny xmen 34

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Uncanny X-Men 34, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Closing time,
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Semisonic, “Closing Time”

Taylor: Chances are that if you’ve been in a bar in the past 17 years, you’ve heard these lyrics wafting across a half-filled room. Generally played to indicate that yes, indeed that bar is closing soon, it signals to stragglers of a long night that it’s time to go home. But be not sad, the bittersweet song entreaties its listeners. There is a silver lining to something coming to an end: it signals the beginning of something new, and isn’t that something to be optimistic about? A nice enough thought, but what if the ending of something isn’t all that great and therefore the thought of something beginning again is not cause for celebration, but sadness? A tough question to ask, but Uncanny X-Men 34 has me asking it whether I want to or not. Continue reading

Darth Vader 5

darth vader 5

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Darth Vader 5, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Michael: Comic book narratives have always been about the change of the status quo. Common examples include the balance between good and evil, the latest hero to don a particular mantle, and in the realm of Star Wars, there’s the frequent rotation of Sith Lords. Darth Vader 5 questions the villain’s relevance in the galaxy that his master is trying to maintain a hold on. Continue reading

Thor 8

thor 8

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Thor 8, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Taylor: Motion is an important thing to people. Most of us don’t like to be stagnant for any set amount of time whether it be an hour, a month, or a year. We visualize our lives as having a narrative that is always moving forward. Likewise, as a society, we like to think that we are also making a steady motion forward. In other words, we like to think of our society as making progress. And while most of the country can get behind progress (just look at how rapidly gay marriage became acceptable) there are always going to be those who oppose it. Thor 8 recognizes this dichotomy and in doing so makes a strong statement about the need for acceptance of progress and just how hard that can be for those who don’t want to see things change. Continue reading

Zero 16

Alternating Currents: Zero 16, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Zero 16, originally released May 6th, 2015.

“You” believed this was “your voice” and “you” were a story “you” were telling to a boy who was “your son” but “who” was telling the story of “you” telling the story to “your son?”

Ales Kot, Zero 16

Drew: In our discussion of Zero 14, I noted that, while the framing device of Zero telling his story to the boy about to shoot him gave us a narrator for our story proper, I had to wonder who was “telling” the story of that framing device. Of course, that was just before writer Ales Kot pulled the camera back even further to reveal another framing device in issue 15. That issue explained that the “higher narrator” is actually William S. Burroughs, introduced as a character in the comic, but still left open the question of who was presenting us with that framing device. That kind of nested reality could go on forever, but this issue actually finds Kot doing something much more clever — dissolving the borders between these framing devices. It’s a fascinating trick that brings us closer to the fiction that is Zero…or is it that it brings Zero closer to reality? Continue reading

Ant-Man 5

ant-man 5

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Ant-Man 5, originally released May 6th, 2015.

Taylor: If you’ve ridden public transportation with any regularity, you are aware that there are some people who clearly don’t follow the unstated rules of the bus or train. Don’t bring cooked food into the vehicle; don’t have loud conversations; don’t listen to music loudly or without headphones; and always do your best to make room for others. Those who fail to follow the rules must suffer the passive aggressive wrath of those around them, yet remarkably, few seem to care. These individuals are either entirely brazen (a definite possibility) or perhaps they just lack a self-awareness that informs them that their actions are burden on others. In Ant-Man 5, we see if Scott Lang is one of these individuals and the result is an issue with unexpected emotional depth. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 45

tmnt 45

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 45, originally released April 29th, 2015.

Taylor: Teaching figurative language to my students is always a fun task. Middle schoolers are some of the weirdest people you’ll ever meet and thereby one shouldn’t be surprised by how weird their similes, metaphors, and alliterations become. They almost seem to have a knack for such connecting ideas that feels completely random. This randomness, however, doesn’t serve them well when they try to figure out the meaning of an idiom, or turn of phrase. For example, they would have no idea how to figure out what the term “one-trick pony” means. It’s not that they’re dumb, they just don’t have the experience and knowledge to draw that sort of conclusion yet. So, if I were to describe to them that TMNT tries to make a one-trick pony perform a second trick and fails, they wouldn’t get it. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4

squirrel girl 4

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Patrick: Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab (of Community fame) have a little pet project in L.A. called Channel 101. It’s a sort of DIY 5-minute-TV show festival/competition that takes place once a month at the Downtown Independent Theatre. It’s pretty cool, and the shows that come out of it can really run the gamut from brilliant to moronic, from sharp and professional to shaggy as hell. It’s an intense artistic environment, and the sense of community surrounding every showing is palpable. I was introduced to Channel 101 by our very own Scott Baumgartner, and the two of us (and my co-editor Drew) attended one of their events in December of 2012. As it was the end of the year, we weren’t going to just another screening but the end-of-year award ceremony called “The Channies.” It was still a fun time, but 90% of what occurred on that stage, and on that screen, played against everyone’s expectations for a Channel 101 event. It worked like gangbusters on the crowd, most of whom had been submitting shows to the competition for years. With the conventions and expectations of a Channel 101 show so well understood, the award show’s producers were able to crank out one well of a subversive experiences — even if it was 70% lost on me and Drew. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4 takes our shared expectations for comic books and flips them all on their head, pitching Squirrel Girl herself as Queen of Subversion. Continue reading

Star Wars 4

star wars 4

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Star Wars 4, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Taylor: There’s a been a lot of Star Wars news lately thanks to the release of the second trailer for the upcoming The Force Awakens. Aiding the hype of this trailer has been a number of costumes and props that recently went on display at the “Star Wars Celebration. Additionally, there’s a new Star Wars Battlefront game that’s about to be released, the first in a number of years, which has gamers truly excited. Lost among all of this fanfare has been the teaser trailer for the spin-off Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Like the Star Wars comic, this movie takes place between famous episodes of the primary trilogies and like the the comics it offers a behind the scenes, gritty look at the rebellion. This aspect, more than anything else, is what makes the comic interesting and what makes issue four of the series so fun to read. Continue reading

Uncanny X-Men 33

uncanny xmen 33

Today, Taylor and Michael are discussing Uncanny X-Men 33, originally released April 15th, 2015.

Taylor: When watching any of the Star Trek series you quickly become aware that every episode centers primarily on one character. Depending on how important the character to the series, they’ll have more episodes than others. For example, Picard generally gets about five to six focus episodes each TNG season while Troy gets two to three. Generally, this means you know if an episode is going to be good or not. Picard episode? Yes! Geordi episode? No. With as cast that numbers somewhere in the thirties (at least) it comes as no surprise that Brian Michael Bendis would try this technique with Uncanny X-Men. This way, every character gets a taste of the limelight and most readers leave satisfied. The question though, is does this doom the series to a Star Trek-like cycle where some issues are great and others are not solely based on stars in them? Continue reading