Greg: There was a constant problem in the percussion section of my high school band. Whenever we had concerts, it meant lugging lots of heavy equipment from our band room to our auditorium; the tympani, in particular, were awkward beasts of burden. Thus, when the concerts ended and us student musicians were worn out and ready to leave, it was too easy to duck out immediately, leaving the percussion in the auditorium without putting it back. This infuriated my band teacher, as he vowed to punish those who left early (in a full tux, no less). My response, as a habitual people-pleaser, was to take on the task myself, tirelessly hauling equipment to and fro, until the status quo was kept normalized. If it was that easy for me to seriously fall in line over something as silly as “moving percussion equipment”, The Woods 3 shows that I would’ve been a person of concern if monsters ever came to town.
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, Patrick leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 13, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Patrick: One of the bigger driving forces within Batman Eternal is Carmine Falcone’s desire to rid Gotham of “freaks” like the Penguin and Professor Pyg. In effect, Falcone is trying to drive all the fantastical elements out of Gotham City — whether they’re heroes or villains doesn’t seem to matter much to him. He’s even gone so far as pit the police directly against the Bat Family, furthering the absoluteness of this idea of fantasy vs. reality. But there’s a point that Falcone is missing — or willfully ignoring: everyone engages in a little bit of fantasy to get what they want. What Jim Gordon experienced in the train station – was that fantasy or reality? Covering up a gang war: fantasy or reality? Issue 13 brings that dichotomy into stark relief, showing how embracing fantasy can be equal parts advantageous and horrifying. 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
Shelby: On the surface, the phrase “fight fire with fire” doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. I mean, what are you going to do, set the fire on fire? That’s not going to get you anywhere. While it’s come to mean “taking extreme measures in the face of extreme threat,” its origin is actually fairly logical. As an early fire-fighting method, people would set small, controlled fires to burn up potential fuel and prevent larger, far more damaging fires from spreading. It’s logical until you consider how easy it is for a controlled fire to turn on you, however. In the end, no matter how you use the phrase, ultimately you’re just going to end up getting burned, a lesson learned by General Lane and Wraith in the latest installment of Superman Unchained.
Reverend Anderson, Outcast 1
Scott: Faith is a complicated word. On it’s own, it’s almost inseparable from religious connotation. But I use the word frequently without giving any thought to God or the doctrines of any church. I ask people to have faith in me. I proclaim my faith in baseball teams and film directors. I advocate being faithful in relationships, and I refer to my morning coffee — and the trip to the bathroom it induces (indeuces?) — as “Old Faithful” (I think because of this). Sometimes there’s weight behind the word, but often there isn’t. It’s a word that probably suffers from overuse. Like Reverend Anderson suggests in this first issue of Outcast, I want to have faith in everything, but maybe that’s foolish. Writer Robert Kirkman is determined to make everyone think about faith, to examine the forces behind what they believe and why they believe it. With the help of artist Paul Azaceta, he’s crafted a compelling start to this story, as thought-provoking as it is creepy. Continue reading
Tallahassee: My mama always told me someday I’d be good at something. Who’d a guessed that something’d be zombie-killing?
Columbus: Probably nobody.
Patrick: Disaster narratives are always going to be rooted in the hardships of survival. When the aliens invade or the world starts to crumble on its foundations, that’s how we insert ourselves into the story: “how would I survive?” Zombie stories have permeated the zeitgeist so thoroughly that that question has slowly evolved into “how would I thrive?” That’s why Zombieland is so successful – instead of dwelling on the nitty gritty day-to-day of not-dying, the movie speedily gets around to the business of defining and achieving success in this world. Tallahassee isn’t a crass opportunist, he’s a man that understands his skills in the zombie apocalypse, and he’ll use those skills to better his quality of life. Trees, despite its unique premise, is also able to quickly move on to the business of understanding and taking advantage of the disaster. Continue reading
Spencer: Speedsters aren’t generally known for their patience. Before the reboot, one of Wally West’s best known qualities was his impatience, and Impulse was the ADHD poster-child; over at Marvel, Quicksilver’s attitude problem canonically comes from the frustration he deals with daily when he’s forced to interact with people who move so much slower than him. My point is, Barry Allen’s methodical, patient lifestyle is the complete antithesis to most speedsters — to use a comparison this issue makes itself, Wally is a basketball fan while Barry’s a baseball fan. The more I read this issue, the more I realize that Barry is the kind of guy who genuinely enjoys slowing down because it means he gets to spend time with the people he loves. It’s what grants him more patience than other speedsters, but it’s also aggravating his greatest flaw; Barry cares so much that he’s trying to be everywhere at once, help everybody at once. It’s an impossible task even for the fastest man alive, and in the process Barry may just be driving away the people who make it worthwhile to slow down in the first place.
Oh, and he may also be tearing apart the space-time continuum. Oops. 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.
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Batman 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Shelby: I prefer playing games where everyone knows the rules. Sure, there are some PC games out there where you’re just dumped in the game universe and have to figure out what to do and how to do it (Myst, I’m looking at you), but that’s different. That’s more me trying to solve a puzzle than not knowing the rules. If I’m going to play a game with other people, I want everyone to know the rules; what’s the fun in beating someone at a game they don’t know how to play? In Zero Year, Scott Snyder has had a very young Batman pitted against the Riddler in a game our hero has consistently lost. Personally, I think there are two big reasons Batman has been losing this fight: he assumes he knows the rules of the game, and he assumes the bad guy will actually abide by them.