Convergence Round-Up: Week Six

convergence roundup 6Today, Spencer leads a discussion about Convergence 6, Aquaman 2, Batman: Shadow of the Bat 2, Catwoman 2, Green Arrow 2, Justice League International 2, Suicide Squad 2, Supergirl: Matrix 2, and Superman: The Man of Steel 2.

convergence divSpencer: Early in Convergence, when first issuing his decree that the various cities fight for their survival, Telos declared that if anybody refused to fight, or tried to team-up and work against him, both their cities would be destroyed. It was a threat he made good on almost immediately by destroying the people of Kandor, and as a plot point, it forced confrontations between the cities that otherwise probably wouldn’t have happened. In this week’s Convergence tie-ins, though, that decree officially becomes moot as team after team decide to quit fighting and instead take Telos on together. Cooperation — or, at least, attempts at cooperation — is the name of the game in Week Six. Continue reading

Silk 4

silk 4

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silk 4, originally released May 13th, 2015.

“My body can stretch all around this building. It’s natural state is a giant puddle of, well, me. It takes everything I have to hold myself together. So, yes. I’ve had anxiety.”

Reed Richards, Silk 4

Patrick: For obvious reasons, most superhero narratives that deal with mental illness stay pretty close PTSD or anger management problems. While debilitating issues in real life, in the realm of fiction, that all sounds very sexy — these afflictions either steam from or drive a character to action. Usually both. And it doesn’t much matter how negatively a writer tries to paint Bruce Wayne’s grief- and guilt-ridden revenge episodes, the reader always wants to see Batman kicking ass. Punisher may not be able to sleep without a gun under his pillow, but we sorta like that. Silk 4 toys with the idea that mental illness isn’t always so obvious and often isn’t so action-packed. Continue reading

Saga 28

Alternating Currents: Saga 28, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Saga 28, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Drew: There are few things more depressing than studying altruism at a biological level. In a world driven by survival, what could possibly compel an individual to risk life and limb (or, more modestly, share food and shelter) with another? For sexually mature individuals, the most obvious answer is reproduction — helping your mate or your offspring survive increases the chance of your genes, and thus, the behavior of protecting your mate and offspring, will be carried on to future generations. But what about other relationships? Well, in 1964, W.D. Hamilton proposed that we help others for basically the same reason we protect our offspring: because we share genes with them. Importantly, we only share genes with those that are actually related to us, and a key part of Hamilton’s formula was the “relatedness coefficient” — essentially, you’re more likely to help your sibling than your cousin because you’re more related to them, or, more precisely, because you’re more likely to share genes with them. Which is to say, we don’t help people at all, we help their genes, and only because their genes are our genes. From that perspective, “altruism” doesn’t exist at all — we’re all just working in service of totally self-interested genes.

Of course, we’re not entirely driven by our genes. If genes give us our hardware, culture gives us our software, allowing us to do all kinds of things our genes wouldn’t dream of, from taking vows of celibacy to covering a live grenade to protect our platoon. Those are some extreme examples, but I think they become more relatable when we think of those acts as protecting family. Sure, a religious congregation or military unit aren’t technically families, but they can act as families for those who need it. It’s exactly these types of makeshift families — and the sacrifices they elicit — that Saga 28 is all about. Continue reading

Thor 8

thor 8

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Thor 8, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Taylor: Motion is an important thing to people. Most of us don’t like to be stagnant for any set amount of time whether it be an hour, a month, or a year. We visualize our lives as having a narrative that is always moving forward. Likewise, as a society, we like to think that we are also making a steady motion forward. In other words, we like to think of our society as making progress. And while most of the country can get behind progress (just look at how rapidly gay marriage became acceptable) there are always going to be those who oppose it. Thor 8 recognizes this dichotomy and in doing so makes a strong statement about the need for acceptance of progress and just how hard that can be for those who don’t want to see things change. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 5/5/15

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Patrick, Drew, and Spencer discuss Afterlife with Archie 8, The Fox 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals 3, Descender 3, Jupiter’s Circle 2, Dead Drop 1, Kanan — The Last Padawan 2, Operation S.I.N. 5, All-New Captain America Special 1, Rocket Raccoon 11, Spider-Gwen 4, Spider-Woman 7 and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 5.

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Drew: Comics are filled with outlandish sci-fi conceits. This week alone finds us talking about zombies, mutants, androids, and a number of humans-with-the-powers-of-animals, but this week also demonstrates why comics are so much more than those conceits. Whether dealing with character insights or more profound statements about humanity in general, this week gave us a lot to think about. Plus, there were zombies, mutants, androids, and a number of humans-with-the-powers-of-animals. Continue reading

Convergence: Superman 2

superman 2 conv

Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week. Continue reading

Convergence: Speed Force 2

speed force 2 convToday, Spencer and Michael are discussing Convergence: Speed Force 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence this week, click here.

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Spencer: What does it mean to be a family? It’s a broad question with probably millions of valid answers, but at their best (and at my most idealistic), I think families exist as a sort of support system. Spouses support each other through thick and thin; parents protect their children and teach them the skills they need to be self-sufficient adults, but also act as a safety net for when they fail; children eventually return the favor and usher their parents through old age. In an ideal family no one member is carrying all the weight — everybody has something to contribute. That’s a lesson the Flash, Wally West, needs to be reminded of in Tony Bedard and Tom Grummett’s Convergence: Speed Force 2, an issue that reestablishes the importance of the familial bonds between Wally and his kids and as well as their roles in the family without Linda. Continue reading

Convergence: The Question 2

Alternating Currents: The Question 2, Michael and Shane

Today, Michael and Shane are discussing Convergence: The Question 2 originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Michael: Gotham is a terrible place and everyone knows it — real and fictional. It’s a city full of human heroes whose days will all come to an end eventually; lending itself to tales about struggling for what’s right no matter what. Despite that, Greg Rucka has put Renee Montoya through high-stakes, supernatural apocalypses before. Convergence: The Question 2 is not an “end of the world” story in that sense, however, but the stakes and the message make it feel just as important. Continue reading

Secret Wars 1

secret wars 1

Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Secret Wars 1, originally released May 6th, 2015. 

“Oh, best war ever…”

-General Nick Fury, Secret Wars 1

Ryan: Secret Wars grabs the baton from Jon Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers beloved/despised/confusing “Time Runs Out” saga chronicling the futile struggle of Earth-616 against the collapse of the multiverse. Hickman dives in by tipping his hat to the concluding plot thread of Doom vs. The Beyonders, the significance of which — aside from helping to shrink the amount of surviving universes down to a baker’s dozen minus a bunch — is still a bit lost on me. The narration of the issue is provided by Reed Richards, and the first installment of this event belongs to him.

Continue reading

Wizard World Philadelphia 2015

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Spencer: Last year’s Wizard World Philadelphia 2014 (which I covered in explicit detail here on the site) was my very first ComicCon, and it was a fantastic experience, so much so that it may be hard for other cons to top it. Also a disadvantage: I was only able to spend one day (Saturday) at this year’s Wizard World Philadelphia, as opposed to four last year. Ultimately the two years ended up being vastly different experiences, even if there were also a surprising amount of similarities. There was one lesson that this year’s con drilled into my brain even more than last’s, though: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. With only one day I could never do everything I did last year, but I think I made the best use of the time I had. It was a pretty terrific day. Continue reading