Convergence: The New Teen Titans 1

teen titans 1 conv Today, Spencer and Shane are discussing Convergence: The New Teen Titans 1, originally released April 22th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Spencer: I think most of us take on certain comfortable roles when we’re among our friends. Sometimes, though, things change, and those roles no longer suit us, but they’re so firmly entrenched among the group dynamic that they can be impossible to escape. Marv Wolfman and Nicola Scott’s Convergence: The New Teen Titans finds this happening to the Teen Titans. After a year spent under the dome, the Titans are attempting to take their relationships to new places, but find themselves caught up in the same old roles and conflicts that have always defined them. Continue reading

Convergence: Swamp Thing 1

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 1: Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

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Drew: When Steve Carell left The Office, series writer BJ Novak tweeted a series of Michael Scott story ideas that would never be told. Some of those pitches seemed hilarious, but what actually stuck with me about them is that the opportunity to make them had simply stopped. They couldn’t ever become episodes of The Office because Michael Scott was no longer on the show. That kind of context-specific storytelling is constantly turning over in comics, where the monthly grind of continuity requires that no one situation can last too long. You’ve got a great Superior Spider-Man pitch? You’ve missed the boat. A Dick-as-Batman idea? Not gonna happen. A JSA arc? Too late. Convergence has offered one last hurrah for characters from very specific moments in their history, but that “one last hurrah” has often felt more like a eulogy than a celebration. With Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, Len Wein and Kelley Jones take that sense of mourning a step further, as Pre-Crisis Swamp Thing barely clings to life. Continue reading

Convergence: Superboy 1

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Today, Spencer and Shane are discussing Convergence: Superboy 1, originally released April 15th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Spencer: If there’s one flaw to this second week of Convergence tie-ins that wasn’t present in the first, it’s the fact that these characters can’t really change or evolve. Since week one took place at the end of the Post-Crisis DC Universe, the creative teams could examine what an “ending” for their protagonists may look like (before cruelly snatching those endings away), but this week’s books have to keep their stars in a sort of suspended animation — unable to evolve or drift too far from their established fate, they’re more than ever defined by their most basic conflicts and character traits. This isn’t always a bad thing (it works out better for Parallax than, say, Azrael), but it is a bit of a tricky hurdle to leap. Do Fabian Nicieza and Karl Moline manage to succeed in crafting a compelling story for Superboy despite the limitations of the format? I’d say yes, but despite this impressive success, they do falter just a bit on some of the smaller details. Continue reading

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle 1

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Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle 1, originally released April 8th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: It’s been about four years since DC’s controversial reboot into the New 52, and now that it’s come to a nominal end, I think it’s fair to say it was a success. Yes, I miss old, family-man Superman (and man was it great to see him again last week) but going back is also an illustration as to why the New 52 was necessary. Having that 30 years of history (counting from Crisis on Infinite Earths) was both a blessing and a curse. These characters were fully formed over decades of discovery. They were adults with families and complicated relationships. They carried the weights of their decisions with them. The problem is that eventually the weight of all that continuity became overwhelming, the stories you’re able to tell are limited by the past. Continue reading

Convergence: The Question 1

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Today, Shane and Michael are discussing Convergence: The Question 1, originally released April 8th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence this week, click here.

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Shane: When you read a comic, you aren’t always going to be aware of what happened behind the scenes. As a child, you don’t think about it at all — sure, maybe you have a loose understanding that somebody wrote and drew the comic, but that’s about it. But as you grow up, you start to pay attention to the creators just as much as the characters — but that means you may now let their lives and personalities dominate your reading experience. Greg Rucka, for instance, recently had a publicized falling-out with DC, over promises made to him that were taken back, leading to him leaving the company after years of being among their top writers. In particular, this left certain characters he’d shepherded a bit lost. Of the many, perhaps most abandoned was Renee Montoya. Rucka helped transition the character from a supporting role in the Batman titles to a star role in Gotham Central, later guiding her journey in 52 to become the new Question. He continued to write the character in various high-profile projects, making her a significant presence at DC comics–but it strikes me as notable that, after Rucka’s departure from the company just prior to Flashpoint, Renee Montoya has been virtually nonexistent in the New 52. Continue reading

Convergence: Speed Force 1

speed force 1 convToday, Spencer and Michael are discussing Convergence: Speed Force 1, originally released April 8th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence this week, click here.

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Spencer: How do you decide what comics you buy? When I first started reading monthly comics (gasp, almost ten years ago!), I chose my books based almost solely on what characters appeared in them — which, at the time, meant I bought a lot of books starring the Teen Titans and the Flash. It took a year or two before I really started recognizing the names and talents of the creative teams, and a few more before word of mouth started turning me onto new series and new horizons. While today I’m more likely to follow creators I know will deliver strong stories, there’s still a part of me willing to take a chance and pick up a comic solely because a favorite character makes an appearance, and that’s precisely what led me to check out Convergence: Speed Force 1, which stars my favorite character in all of comics, Wally West. It turns out that my reasons for liking the issue are just as personal as my reasons for buying it in the first place — it’s not a perfect issue by any means, but man is it good to see Wally again. Continue reading

Convergence 0

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Convergence 0, originally released April 1st, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence.

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Patrick: Did you know that there’s a sort of loose narrative that justifies the Super Smash Bros. games? The good folks at Hal Labs must have wanted some semblance of logic dictating why Pikachu was fighting with Samus Aran and Link, so they landed on the simplest possible explanation: this is a child playing with their toys. No, f’real. That’s why the final boss is a disembodied hand (or pair of hands) — those belong to the kid with all the action figures. There’s no magic, there’s no transdimensional nonsense, there’s only the conceit that a child with boundless imagination can sure make it look like Donkey Kong is pounding Marth into the ground. That’s freeing and fun and makes just as much sense as it needs to before getting to the truly rewarding business of having Solid Snake launch a mortar at Jigglypuff. Convergence, in its introductory issue, appears to be suffering from the exact opposite of this: an overly-explained mechanism backed by a total lack of imagination. Continue reading

Spider-Verse Team Up 3

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Verse Team-Up 3, originally released January 21st, 2015.

Patrick: We’ve gotten to understand the rhythms of Spider-Verse pretty well at this point. Meet some Spiders; have some fun with them; there’s some meta-commentary; maybe someone dies; repeat until you’re no longer having fun. Spider-Verse Team-Up 3 subverts that trend, turning thematic patterns on their head and insisting that Spider-Verse is more nuanced and interesting than it ever let on. But is what we sacrifice in fun worth the extra depth? Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 11

amazing spiderman 11Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 11, originally released December 10th, 2014.
Spencer: My biggest pet-peeve with Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern was all the business about Hal Jordan being “the greatest Green Lantern ever.” Maybe it’s just me, but it never felt like Hal earned the title or like Johns was providing much evidence to back up his claim — it always came across like a “he’s the greatest because I say so” moment from Johns. I initially feared a repeat of this situation when, at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 9, writer Dan Slott claimed that “our” Peter Parker from Earth-616 was the most important Spider-Man of them all, but fortunately, this week’s The Amazing Spider-Man 11 convincingly demonstrates why our Peter is worthy of leading the assembled hoards of “Spider-Verse”. Continue reading

Spider-Verse 1

Alternating Currents: Spider-Verse 1, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Spider-Verse 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.

Drew: I tend to jump to conclusions about media before I’ve ever consumed it. I know that seems problematic for someone who reviews media, but with so many movies, shows, and comic books out there, it’s impossible to try them all, so I tend to gravitate towards the ones I think I’ll like. Of course, it’s an imperfect system, meaning I sometimes bet on a dud, or miss something truly great, but without any other way to pre-filter content, I continue to defer to my gut. After weeks and weeks of buildup to Spider-Verse, which seemed to pimp the event as a high-stakes affirmation of Spider-Man’s necessity in not just our universe, but ALL universes, my gut was telling me that this event was not for me, but I decided to give it a fair shot. Fortunately, my gut turned out to be wrong, with Spider-Verse 1 serving not as a herald of doom and gloom, but as a celebration of what makes the idea of Spider-Man so fun in the first place. Continue reading