Wytches 1

Alternating Currents: Wytches 1, Taylor and DrewToday, Taylor and Drew are discussing Wytches 1, originally released October 8th, 2014.

Taylor: What with all the recent fanfare over vampires and the occasional werewolf, it’s easy to forget they are but a distant second to the most used Halloween costumes. While Frankenstein is always a crowd pleaser, I’m of course referring to witches. Yes, the pointed hatted women riding broomsticks with black cats are perhaps an even more iconic symbol of spookiness than any number of vampire fangs. So why aren’t they as popular as their Vampire counterparts? How come for every one book about witches there are ten about blood-suckers? With these questions in mind I dived into issue Scott Snyder’s new series, Wytches. While I didn’t necessarily have all of my questions answered, I did get enough to pique my interest. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 6

silver surfer 6

Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Silver Surfer 6, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Spencer: You never really know someone until you live with them. I’ve never moved in with or married a significant other, but even just spending a few days rooming with friends on vacation in the past has tended to reveal entirely new sides of our personalities — most often, the annoying sides. That said, if you can work past whatever aggravating habits cohabitation may entail, then you’ll also be treated to all your roommate’s wonderful qualities, and possibly even a whole new perspective on the world. That’s the situation Norrin and Dawn find themselves facing in Silver Surfer 6. Norrin’s ill-prepared for his new companion’s many human frailties, but his annoyance is also blinding him to the many advantages Dawn’s “imperfections” have to offer. Continue reading

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 1

Alternating Currents: Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 1, Ryan and DrewToday, Ryan and Drew are discussing Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 1, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Ryan: I love when comic books try new things. Whether the point is to advance the relatively young medium or simply to offer some variety to a landscape that sometimes feels dominated by the same handful of big names and tried-and-true styles, it excites me to read a daring, non-linear narrative or to see adventurous use of graphic design in a title. I spent the entire summer haranguing a friend to read the copy of Jonathan Hickman’s The Nightly News which I graciously let him borrow. Hickman, responsible for both the writing and art, confessed in the afterword of the trade paperback that he intentionally made the comic difficult for the reader’s eye to follow by cluttering the pages with infographics and non-sequential art. Luckily, this calculated risk works perfectly in the total package. Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier showcases a fun, new direction for the former covert operative/Captain America and art that looks unlike anything I have read lately, but do these strong choices translate into a great read? Continue reading

Gotham Academy 1

gotham acadamy 1Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Gotham Academy 1, originally released October 1st, 2014

Spencer: Back in the 1930s and 40s comic books had a lot of variety — the still-new superhero genre was published alongside horror, romance, western, and detective books, just to name a few. As the decades passed those other genres gradually faded away until superhero books became the predominant genre, and while I absolutely love superhero books with all my heart and soul, we’re no doubt worse off for the lack of diversity. Fortunately, Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl’s Gotham Academy 1 is all about diversity, not only amongst the cast, but simply in the kind of book it is. Gotham Academy is equal parts teenage drama, coming-of-age tale, and supernatural mystery, and we’re certainly better off with it on the shelves. Continue reading

The Fade Out 2

Alternating Currents: The Fade Out 2, Greg and DrewToday, Greg and Drew are discussing The Fade Out 2, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Greg: There are good mysteries, and there are great mysteries. Good mysteries tend to emphasize plot above all else; they’re called “whodunnits” because discovering the identity of the criminal through the minutiae of procedural clues is the utmost goal. If the story isn’t revealing who did it, it’s narrowly focused on the search for it, and nothing else. Great mysteries are concerned with plot, too, but less so than mood, dread, ambiance, and internal conflict. If the story isn’t revealing who did it, that’s okay, because it has many other avenues its interested in. The Fade Out belongs in this latter category, as the world and feeling is so compelling, I don’t think I would mind if they never solve the mystery of starlet Valeria Somers’ death. You could call it a “whydunnit”.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 38

tmnt 38Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 38, originally released October 1st, 2014. Drew: Back when I was a teen, I used to fight with my parents about everything. It’s embarrassing to think about now, but at the time, nothing in the world seemed fair to me. It didn’t matter how petty it was — from mowing the lawn to cleaning up my room — everything was worth the fight, though none of it ultimately mattered that much to anyone involved. The Turtles decidedly do not fall into that pattern — their loyalty to Splinter is admirable, if a bit unusual from a bunch of teenagers — but issue 38 finds them disagreeing about big decisions that effect all of them. It’s a classic turtles story that we’ve seen time and time again with one important change: this time, the dissenting brother isn’t Raph. Continue reading

Wonder Woman 34

wonder woman 34Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 34, originally released October 1st, 2014

“Hey mouse, say cheese.”
<Bart takes a picture of the Itchy robot, scrambling its circuits.>
“With a dry cool wit like that, I could be an action hero.”

Bart Simpson, Itchy & Scratchy Land

Patrick: It’s a good thing all of our action heroes have a team of writers working quietly behind them, because audiences hold this irrational expectation that heroic actions be punctuated by hilarious, insightful, precise quips. This is a trend that I’ve come to hate, largely because those pure little micro-tweets are so seldom earned. How do you put a character through the paces so thoroughly that acerbic wit feels natural tumbling out of their victorious mouths? They’re not poets or comedians or scholars — they’re warriors, but somehow they know to belch out a characteristically perfect “Yippy-kai-yay, motherfucker” or a “Welcome to Earth” or even a “get away from her, you bitch!” Thing is: those three examples all work because we’re there with Bruce Willis, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. It’s not just about having the dry cool wit, but waiting until the audience and the character need the release of such a quip, instead of handing them out willy-nilly. As Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang narrow in on their epic Wonder Woman conclusion, they’re cashing in on all those cheesy action movie beats. And they’ve earned every damn second — the result is unadulterated climax, satisfying on just about every level. Continue reading

Thor 1

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Thor 1, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Taylor: The internet is a powerful beast that once mobilized can bring on a sea-change in our society. Many of the recent and memorable movements in the world have been brought about in large part due to social media and other online resources. The likes of the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring are testaments to the power of the internet and at this point it is clear that any meaningful change in the world might just begin in front of a computer screen. In much the same way, women are using the internet to voice their opposition to the inequalities they face everywhere from the workplace to the glossy pages of comic books. Of the latter, while there is still much reform to be had, there are clear signs that things are getting better. There is perhaps no better example of this than the transformation of Thor into a female character, and as issue 1 of this series shows, perhaps we need ladies in comics more than we could have ever believed. Continue reading

Bob’s Burgers 2

bobs burgers 2Today, Greg and Drew are discussing Bob’s Burgers 2, originally released September 24th, 2014.

Greg: It’s interesting to see how longform installment-based storytelling, like comics or TV, has transitioned from being primarily self-contained stories that one can jump into at anytime to telling one long, overarching story that one must view from beginning to end using individual units simply as content demarcators. Obviously I’m way the heck oversimplifying and generalizing, but comedies in particular have a storytelling hurdle to jump: to keep laughing at characters’ fundamental behaviors, their behaviors must remain fundamentally the same, yet in this new vanguard of serialized storytelling where folks binge lots of content in a row, we kind of demand characters to change. Slightly paradoxical, I am thus unsurprised, if just a tad disappointed, that in its second issue Bob’s Burgers seems to be going purely episodic, settling into a formula that shows just how rigidly defined this title will be. And yet, the issue is just so damn funny that I have trouble complaining too much.

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Batman Eternal 25

batman eternal 25Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing on Batman Eternal 25, originally released September 24th, 2014.

Suzanne: I fondly remember reading Batman: Hush for the first time over five years ago. There is so much to like about that book — Jeph Loeb’s long-form storytelling, Jim Lee’s pencils, and the Batman-Catwoman relationship to name a few. Loeb develops the friendship between Bruce Wayne and Tommy Elliot so convincingly that it adds creative tension to the final reveal. You almost want Hush to be someone else because of the depths of his betrayal to Bruce.

Batman Eternal introduces Hush to the New 52 as the Big Bad behind the crippling of Gotham City starting with the arrest of Jim Gordon. How does this series’ treatment of Hush add relevance to him as a character? After Loeb and Lee’s story arc, some readers felt that Hush was overused and his appearances were mediocre at best. Certain characters benefit from a dormant period and less can be more, such as The Joker. I’m hoping that three years of living in New 52 character purgatory makes this appearance all the more effective. Continue reading