Batgirl 38

batgirl 38

Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 38, originally released January 14th, 2015.

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Michael: Sometimes you just get sick of being yourself. What I mean by that is we all have a point where we say “Why me?” “Why do I have to suffer?” “Can’t things just be easy for once?” If life is a story, then we might not always like the role that we’re cast in. Being a “supporting character” gets old; everyone wants to be the star eventually. Batgirl 38 finds the creative team and Barbara herself asking these types of questions of identity. Can’t a Batgirl just fight crime and enjoy herself in the process? Not quite, it would seem. Continue reading

Grayson 6

grayson 6
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Grayson 6, originally released January 14th, 2015.

Your nifty hypnos tech trick may make it so I can’t see Spyral agents’ faces, but I’d know that ass anywhere. Grayson.

Midnighter, Grayson 6

Patrick: Do you have any idea how many times Sherlock Holmes has been adapted? From George C. Scott to Benedict Cumberbatch, from VeggieTales to The Great Mouse Detective, there’s virtually no end to the twists and variations writers, actors and filmmakers can apply to this character. But no matter how the story is dressed up, the personality of Holmes himself always shines through. Dick Grayson, as it turns out, is very much the same way; whatever the genre, whatever the story, whatever the supertechnology trying to disguise him, we’re always going to recognize Grayson. Continue reading

Green Lantern 38

green lantern 38

Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.

Mark: My least favorite part of any story that follows the traditional hero’s journey is when we get to the Reluctant Hero. You know, the part when, after being given an incredible power like, say, a ring that allows you to construct anything with your mind using only willpower, the hero complains about how much responsibility they have and how difficult their life is. It’s like listening to a teenager complain about their feelings: “My life is so bogus. No one understands but me. You guys are so phony!”

Comics can be a lot of things, but I don’t feel like it’s going too far to say that traditional superhero comic books are generally a form of escapism and wish fulfillment. We read these books for the same reason we watch movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark: fundamentally we want to be Indiana Jones. We want to be the Green Lantern. Continue reading

Action Comics 38

Alternating Currents: Action Comics 38, Suzanne and Drew

Today, Suzanne and Drew are discussing Action Comics 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.

Suzanne: Have you ever read a story arc that you didn’t quite connect with? A few years back, I picked up Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night and was disappointed that it didn’t have the emotional punch for me that so many other readers felt. Maybe I was at a disadvantage — I was unfamiliar with the pre-New 52 universe and this was my introduction to many of the characters. Then I read the first few issues of Johns’ Justice League when the members confront the ghosts of their dead loves ones. For example, Thomas and Martha Wayne appeared and told Bruce how disappointed they were in his choices in life. Again, I didn’t have a strong reaction to the story because the stakes didn’t feel as real. Action Comics 38 includes a horror zombie version of Jonathan and Martha Kent. So can Greg Pak revive what has become a (somewhat) tired trope and also bring renewed focus to a series overshadowed by the recent “Superman: Doomed” crossover? Continue reading

Swamp Thing 38

swamp thing 38

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.

Spencer: For lack of a better word, our bodies are sacred. Everything we are is contained inside our body, and while we can do our best to make a mark on the world and be remembered for it, the truth is that once our body is gone, so are we. It’s why invasions of our personal space — whether by an oblivious close-talker or someone with more insidious motives — are so deeply unsettling, and why tattoos have come to be such a powerful form of self-expression. It’s that kind of deep, primal connection that the Machine Queen exploits by attacking Swamp Thing with his own reanimated corpse; when one has transcended humanity in the way Alec Holland has, it’s probably the only way to make him vulnerable again. 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).
Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Series Part 1

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 1 our top 14 series of 2014 (check back here for part 2 tomorrow).
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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Superman 37

superman 37Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Superman 37, originally released December 24th, 2014.

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange.”

Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist

Spencer: Equivalent Exchange isn’t just applicable to alchemy (or anime) — it’s a principle we all follow every day. We exchange our time for money. We exchange money for goods. We can even (metaphorically) give our hearts in hope of gaining affection in return. The point is, nothing comes for nothing, and the more we hope to gain, the more effort we have to put out to obtain it. This is even true of Ulysses’ Great World — it turns out that the price to maintain its “perfection” is five million human lives. Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.’s Superman 37 finds Superman and Ulysses debating the morality of the Great World, and in doing so, they draw some compelling parallels to our own lives. Continue reading

Robin Rises Alpha 1

robin rises 1Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Robin Rises Alpha 1, originally released December 24, 2014.

Patrick: One of my least favorite criticisms of serialized fiction is that a story “didn’t go anywhere.” We have an expectation that the journey we’re on with the characters is somehow part of an investment that pays off in a meaningful way as events progress. We literally use that term “pay off,” as though the entertainment itself in a cost-benefit proposition. I resent the idea that we can’t enjoy a single issue on its own merits, and instead comfort ourselves with the idea that one volume seeded something that will feel significant later. Robin Rises Alpha 1 closes out the Damian’s Resurrection story by finally giving readers a glimpse of what it means to have a superpowered Wayne behind Robin’s mask. It’s an issue frustratingly short on content, repeating themes, scenes and pages from elsewhere in Batman and Robin, all but guaranteeing that the pay-off here is a retread of the past, rather than boldly striking out into the future of the character. Continue reading