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

Thor 7

thor 7

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Thor 7, originally released April 15th, 2015.

Taylor: Recently I visited a friend who I’ve known for a long time. As we tend to do, we watched bad action movies, with the features this time being Commando and the more recent John Wick. Both movies feature a ridiculously high body count, the cause of which is a thin plot filled in with a lot of action scenes. Generally, audiences tend to love action, but after John Wick killed what was probably his 42nd mobster, I found the action scenes growing stale. And therein lies the rub with an action sequence whether it be on film or in a comic book: too much of a good thing makes it bad. Thor 7 is an issue that is basically all action and despite the dangers of too much action, it’s a great issue. Why you may ask? The answer is the astounding art of Russell Dauterman. Continue reading

All-New Hawkeye 2

Alternating Currents: All-New Hawkeye 2, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 2, originally released April 8th, 2015.

Drew: I’m sure many folks have forgotten Cursed, the one-season NBC sitcom about a man cursed with bad luck in its pilot episode, but I’ll never forget it. Not because it was particularly good — I’ve actually forgotten almost everything about it — but because of its abrupt title change. Suddenly, Cursed, the high-concept sitcom about bad luck had become The Weber Show, a series so generic, its most distinctive characteristic was apparently the presence of former Wings star Steven Weber. That was my first lesson in the dangers of a narrative tying itself to a limiting premise, a problem I’ve found to be relatively ubiquitous in modern culture. All-New Hawkeye is far from the disaster that Cursed was, but as issue 2 strains against the flashback structure that worked so beautifully in issue 1, I find myself wondering if that structure is more of a prison than a springboard. Continue reading

Deadpool 45

deadpool 45

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Deadpool 45, originally released April 8th, 2015.

Taylor: At the risk of sounding trite, a funeral is an event where people come together to celebrate the life of someone who has passed on. Even though most funerals are more somber than celebratory, the very nature of the event is to recognize someone who has died and to give those who remain closure. The much heralded Deadpool 45 is the issue where Deadpool dies and in many ways it acts like a funeral for Deadpool, even before the man himself has died. It offers closure to those who have read the series the past couple years and also reminds us just how much we ware going to miss the Merc With the Mouth, even if we know he won’t be gone for long. Continue reading

Avengers 43

avengers 43

Today, Ryan and Mark are discussing Avengers 43, originally released April 1st, 2015. 

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

William Shakespeare, Henry IV

Ryan: It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and history remembers figures like this with no small sense of disdain. However, what of those leaders who came to reign under the most noble of intentions, who yet were forced to make decisions universally agreed upon as damnable? Jonathan Hickman and Stephano Caselli have taken readers on a convoluted and bumpy road in Avengers, and along the way have raised some sticky questions in regards to morals under duress. In this penultimate issue, we see how the crown of an empire and the Damoclean burden of genius can incite or deter an extinction. Continue reading

Spider-Gwen 3

spider-gwen 3

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Spider-Gwen 3, originally released April 1st, 2015.

Patrick: Last week, Drew and I posited that Amazing Spider-Man 17 was about Peter Parking being a bad grown-up. So much of Peter’s identity is tied up in childish — specifically teenage — tropes, that the character has very little sense of agency. He’s reactive more than active. Peter doesn’t have a plan for when he arrives three hours late to his Aunt Mae’s birthday party because he was out fighting the Green Goblin, he just yammers and stammers until he’s ostracized everyone he loves. ASM 17 saw a push away from that attitude with the help of Peter’s sorta-girl-friend-but-not-really (look, Spider-Man got complicated for a while there), but no matter how many opportunities for growth our Spider-Man has enjoyed over his 50 year history, fresh Spider-Man analogues have to start back at square one. Of course, teenage drama might look a little different with the genders reversed. Spider-Gwen 3 ends up being a frustrating exploration of navigating the tough decisions as a teenage Spider-Woman. Continue reading

Rocket Raccoon 10

rocket raccoon 10

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Rocket Raccoon 10, originally released April 1st, 2015.

Spencer: Every comic character has a certain formula inherent to their stories. That’s not to say that every Batman or Superman story is the same, but think about how often you used to see Batman entangled in a death trap, or nowadays see him facing the destruction of his city, or Superman duking it out with a heavy-hitter over Metropolis. There’s more than enough variations on these stories to stop them from all being rehashes, but my point is that I can often just glance at a plot synopsis and immediately tell, “Oh yeah, that’s a Superman story” or “Oh yeah, that’s a Batman story. ” Skottie Young and Jake Parker’s Rocket Raccoon 10 is one of those issues that fits every requirement for a Rocket Raccoon story to a “t.” It’s very much a “standard” Rocket Raccoon story, but in achieving that status, it’s lost any sort of identity of its own. Instead of standing out, it blends in, to the point where I feel like I’ve read this story before. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 17

amazing spider-man 17

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 17, originally released April 1st, 2015.

O, I am fortune’s fool!

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Drew: Of all the heroes in Marvel’s pantheon, Peter Parker might be the most defined by his passivity. I don’t mean to say that he never takes decisive action, just that it’s almost always reactionary. Heck, he doesn’t even play a key role in his own origin — the spider bites him, then Peter lets the robber get away instead of doing something. This manifests itself in his perpetual bad luck, that is, outside forces that always make his life harder. It makes for great drama, but after a while, it also starts to paint Peter as kind of incompetent. Why is he always stammering for a cover story? Why is he always facing off against the same bad guys? Why is he always running out of web-fluid? The smartest part about The Superior Spider-Man was pointing out these obvious areas for improvement, shaking up the formula of Spider-Man as we know him. It was an exciting development, but Peter’s return to his body was also a return to form, failing to capitalize on many of Otto’s inarguably superior developments. Amazing Spider-Man 17 finds Peter coming up against some of those age-old problems, but this time, Anna Maria doesn’t have the patience to watch him keep bumbling through them. Continue reading

Daredevil 14

daredevil 14

Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Daredevil 14, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Spencer: One advantage visual mediums such as comics, movies and television have over other mediums is the ability to tell two stories at the exact same time. One of my favorite examples comes from Season Four of Mad Men, where Don’s secretary, Miss Blankenship, dies in the office as the partners are having a meeting with a very important client. As the camera focuses on the clients and we hear only their dialogue, in the background the rest of the staff tries to remove Blankenship’s corpse from the office without the clients noticing. It’s a brilliant bit of dark humor, but I’m always impressed by how well the show tells that second story in the background without a single line of dialogue, even as the audience’s attention is divided. Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson manage to pull off similar feats multiple times in a single issue with Daredevil 14 — it’s absolutely dazzling — but also get a lot of mileage out of the stories playing out behind the scenes that nobody notices. Continue reading