Last week, we noted that the great Marvel Hype Machine has kicked into full gear where the Guardians of the Galaxy are concerned. Let’s be honest: while there’s a lot of non-specific good will built up towards Marvel Studio Movies, this is a completely untested property. That means fans of the comics are going to have to be amazing ambassadors, and to move these five characters up to the forefront of our minds, Marvel has kicked off three new series: one of which was Rocket Raccoon — a high-profile release by a rock-star creator and featuring the prescribed breakout character from the movie. What about the other two?
Mike D’Angelo on Children of Men
Drew: It’s funny to think about now, but I can remember a point in high school when I thought literary analysis was such a huge waste of time. Allusion, foreshadowing, symbolism, and any other literary devices were distractions that cluttered the actual enjoyment of the piece. It was years before I understood how ignorant that attitude was. In fact, it took hearing that same attitude from a peer that shook me into appreciating how much more depth of meaning we have access to thanks to analysis. Can being more aware of analysis pervert how we experience it? Maybe, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. That is, unless you allow your knowledge of analysis turn you into a total snob.
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Rocket Raccoon 1, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Scott: I have something of a sidekick complex. As the youngest of three brothers, I typically wound up as the Robin to someone else’s Batman (often literally). As a kid, my favorite athlete was Scottie Pippen, perhaps the most famous ‘sidekick’ in sports history. (I liked his name.) There was one other Scott in my high school class, and he was the prom king, so for the most part I was the other Scott (which probably makes me more of a second-fiddle than a sidekick, but hey, I needed a third example to solidify my argument, so play along). Of course, we’re each the main character of our own life, so being the overly sentimental kid I was, I often wondered how it made the various sidekicks feel to be relegated to a secondary role in everyone else’s eyes. Chewbacca, Mr. Smithers, Gromit — these are great characters, and they deserve their share of the spotlight. The Guardians of the Galaxy are a team, so Rocket Raccoon might not be a sidekick in a strict sense, but he’s never had a strong story of his own to carry in Brian Michael Bendis’ title. Honestly, this story by Skottie Young (I like his name!) probably could have been chopped in to smaller pieces and told as a B-story in Guardians, but I’m all for the little guy getting his shot at the big time. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Original Sin 5, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Drew: As far as board game adaptations go, Clue actually does a pretty fantastic job of mimicking the experience of playing the game (it’s certainly closer than Battleship, and don’t even get me started on Twister). By the end of the movie, it really could be anyone, and the multiple endings play with that idea brilliantly. Of course, what’s truly clever is the way that those endings play with our expectations of parlor murder mysteries in general. Of course it could be anyone — that’s the whole point. Ultimately, the who, where, and what of the murder doesn’t matter so much as the why and how, which tend to be pulled out at the very last minute, anyway. Original Sin 5 subverts those explanations by showing us why Nick Fury killed all of those monsters and planets, but stopping just short of telling us who killed the Watcher. But hey, maybe it doesn’t matter! Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 16, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Patrick: I very vividly remember being first introduced to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - it was late in the summer of 2003, and I was visiting my buddy Scott at his parents’ house between our Freshman and Sophomore years of college. Scottie had been playing the game on a borrowed console and the whole thing felt like a kind of wish fulfillment: suddenly there was a whole galaxy of Star Wars characters, stories and locations to explore, and all without leaving the confines of a single video game. There’s a promise inherent in KotOR’s premise – the depths of your imagination are already on display here, you only need look hard enough. This immediately becomes overwhelming. Even when alien races and spaceship designs look the way you remember them, you realize that any emotional connection you make with the material must be generated in-game. Without my core band of plucky rebels to get my automatic-love, I was left without a rudder, and instead of sailing the high seas of Star Wars adventures, I was mired in meaningless ephemera. This is often how I feel about the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. I may be able to recognize Broods and Spartax and Skrulls and Grand Inquisitors, but without someone to actually care about at the heart of it? Not a lot to hang a story on. Brian Michael Bendis addresses this issue head-on by spreading the Guardians of the Galaxy out among the cosmos. Suddenly, even the muddiest mythology has emotional resonance.
Patrick: If you go back and read our discussions on Superior Spider-Man, you’ll notice that one thing keeps popping up over and over again: what it means to be a hero. The concept of Otto’s identity, and how it melded with the concept of Spider-Man, was something that we brought up on a bi-monthly basis. I mean, if you look at our very first discussion of the series, Drew starts with the line “What does it mean to be good?” Writer Dan Slott was so good at putting Otto in situations that challenged both his heroism and his villainy, and it changed who Spider-Man is and how Spider-Man operates. With Peter Parker back in the driver’s seat, it’s becoming clear that some of those changes don’t wash away with a quick mind re-swap. Issue 3 finds Spider-Man — and everyone else — dealing with this latest discrepancy, and not everyone’s so happy with the restored status quo. Continue reading
Patrick: I probably bring up the Matrix movies more than I ought to when discussing comics. For all the hullabaloo that surrounded their release, the original Matrix was more of a cultural anomaly, and not the flashpoint for a vibrant new franchise. One of the biggest reasons that first film worked at all is that the Wachowskis melded arresting visuals with some rudimentary philosophy. Like, it’s just intellectual enough to engage the thinky portion of your brain, and then it switches tracks to engage the adrenaline-junky in all of us. The second and third movies got this mixture all wrong, agonizing over bare philosophy for far too long, never dressing it up as anything more abstract. And then there’s the matter of the spectacle, which got a lot less compelling with each new installment. Elektra has also toed this line, exploring how death has shaped the lives of Elektra and Bloody Lips against the backdrop of Michael Del Mundo’s glorious artwork. Issue three escalates both its spectacle and philosophy to dizzying heights, setting the stage for one hell of a heady ending to the opening arc.
Greg: I’m just gonna be blunt and cheesy up-top: the human imagination is a goddamn beautiful thing. It’s a place where everything and nothing exists and doesn’t exist. A breeding ground for active creation and idle daydreaming. It’s arguably the most fun thing about being a human, and by combining heady intellectual concepts of quantum physics with a simple yet emotionally grounded narrative drive (combined with a healthy amount of “call the unusual thing out” humor), Silver Surfer 3 is one of the purest encapsulations of imagination I have seen in recent memory.
Shelby: It’s really hard to write about a new creative team on a title; how do you manage to discuss the book as a stand-alone piece without comparing it to the previous issues? It’s even harder when you liked the title before the change, because now you have to make sure you stay objective. If there are things I dislike about the new team, is it because I genuinely dislike it, or is it just because it’s different from how it used to be? I’m faced with this dilemma now as I consider the first issue of Thunderbolts without Charles Soule at the helm, and some of the decisions Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have made with this book definitely have me scratching my head.
Drew: The realization that there are other people with feelings and motivations separate from our own is a key moment in child brain development. As early (and often) as that lesson comes, we’re still pretty bad at understanding that people have different perspectives. We want different things, value different things, and believe in different methods for how to achieve our goals, yet it’s still hard to understand why someone would disagree with you. It’s obvious they’re wrong! Why can’t they see it? Those differences of perspective tend to correlate to differences of experience — middle aged Russians are likely going to agree with each other more than either would with a teenaged Australian — but it’s the differences within those groups that can lead to the biggest failures of understanding. That’s exactly the kind of failure Matt is confronted with in Daredevil 4, where Kirsten needs to remind him that not everyone is quite as resilient (or noble) as ol’ horn-head. Continue reading