Jem and the Holograms 2

jem and the holograms 2

Today, Ryan Mogge and Patrick are discussing Jem and the Holograms 2, originally released April 29th, 2015.

“There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their story”

Traditional

Ryan M: The quote above is one of those pat and reductive Pinterest quotes that is difficult to attribute and employing a double negative, but totally I believe it. Empathy is the primary benefit of story. As a consequence of our consciousness, we live in our own heads, seeing through our experiences. How — without narrative — are we to relate to something as foreign as someone else’s pain? I apologize for being so heady, but these are the things you think about when considering Stormer, keytar player in Jem and the Hologram’s rival band, the Misfits. 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

Jem and the Holograms 1

jem and the holograms 1

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Ryan Mogge are discussing Jem and the Holograms 1, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Patrick: I’ve always been a path-of-least-resistance kind of guy – I’m a people-pleaser, a conflict resolver, a middle child, a Midwestern gentleman. That’s a great personality-type to have with you on a road trip or helping you move or whatever, but I’ve run into some roadblocks as an artist with this sort of vanilla disposition. As a songwriter or an improviser or a writer, I have to let down a lot gates before I can come anywhere near expressing something other than “I don’t want to be no trouble.” Allowing ourselves to feel, and then expressing those feelings publicly, is ugly, self-indulgent, messy, and embarrassing…or at least, that’s the fear that so frequently stands in my way. If only I had an easier time expressing what I really am — whatever that means — I could be a better artist. Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell’s relaunched Jem and the Holograms explores how baggage, both visible and invisible, can be a hindrance to artistic expression. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals 2

tmnt mutanimals 2

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals 2, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Patrick: Himato Yoshi and his four sons were murdered by Oroku Saki and the Foot Clan. Hundreds of years later, and on the other side of the world, they are given a second chance to be a family as a quartet of anthropomorphic turtles and a wizened man-rat. Mutation is the ultimate blessing: it literally allows the Himato family to beat death and live together indefinitely. But they had the fortune to be among the only accidental mutants in the world of TMNT, and are therefore beholden to no agenda, no cause but their own. Under the leadership of Old Hob, the Mutanimals have taken on the identity of avenging victims, and writer Paul Allor explorers how their weaknesses make them strong (and, maybe the other way ’round too). Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 44

tmnt 44

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 44, originally released March 18th, 2015.

Patrick: I think we all make a lot of assumptions about invulnerability. Especially living, as we do, in the 21st century, with so many medical and technological advances, meaningful loss is an uncommon occurrence. That assumption is lie we tell ourselves, but perhaps it’s a necessary lie. If we had to seriously consider our own human fragility before starting our days tomorrow, how many of us could even scrape up the gumption to drive to work? The human body so such a fragile carrier for these personalities which seem so indestructible. The idea that Drew’s personality could be snuffed out by something terrible happening to his body is ludicrous, but it’s also completely true. Tucked into the closing acts of the Attack on the Technodrome, Tom Waltz, Cory Smith, and the creative team on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles explores this vulnerability. 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

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

Best of 2014: Best Series Part 2

Best of 2014: Best TitleWe all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. Indeed, we’re so enamored of serialization that we decided to split our favorite series list into two installments. Here’s part 2 our top 14 series of 2014 (click here for part 1).
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Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1

Alternating Currents: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew are Spencer are discussing Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1, originally released December 31st, 2014.

When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?

Millhouse, The Simpsons “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”

Drew: One of the hardest things to ignore when evaluating a work of art is your own expectations. Whether they’re unreasonably high (guaranteeing disappointment) or unreasonably low (setting the experience up for failure), our expectations only get in the way of what the art actually is. At the same time, genre fiction — and especially established franchises — run on our expectations. Where would James Bond be without his peculiar martini order or idiosyncratic way of introducing himself? These may ultimately be trivial elements of the story (though larger structural elements are not immune to these rigid expectations), but for whatever reason, they’re strangely satisfying to fans. A story that hopes to do something new with established franchises — as Boom! Studios and IDW’s new Star Trek/Planet of the Apes sets out to — has an awkward tightrope to walk, then, beholden to fan expectations that only partially apply. That tension leaves the first issue overburdened with exposition, robbing it of much of the fun promised on the cover. Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Issue

Best of 2014: Best IssueEpisodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 14 issues of 2014.
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