Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 6/17/15

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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, Michael, Spencer, and Ryan discuss Doctor Fate 1, Martian Manhunter 1, Robin: Son of Batman 1, Secret Six 3, Prez 1, Archie vs. Predator 3, Mad Max Fury Road Furiosa 1, The Kitchen 8, and Secret Identities 5.

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Patrick: DC Comics continues to roll out it’s new universe this week, and that means a lot of new series that look like new series, a lot of new series that look like old series, and a lot of old series that… still look old. It’s a mixed bag that reveals that there may not be any single underlying philosophy to DC’s new approach to publishing.  Continue reading

Trees 10

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Today, Patrick and Ryan are discussing Trees 10, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Patrick: There’s a problem with most disaster narratives: there’s seldom an obvious antagonist. For as much as “Man vs. Nature” is one of those fundamental conflicts, it’s just harder for an audience to emotionally commit to a series of atrocities committed by a force or phenomenon with no willpower of its own. Think about every zombie movie you’ve ever seen – who are the real bad guys? The zombies? Nah: people pushed to desperate measures are far more dangerous. Twister, Titanic, Alien – all of these movies feature the deadly forces of nature, but there’s no sense of antagonism until we meet rival storm chasers, or understand how big of a dick Rose’ boyfriend is, or until Bishop reveals Weyland Yutani’s coroprate greed. Trees has done something similar in previous issues – focusing on the cultures of corruption, control, and ambition around the trees, ultimately casting man as his own worst enemy. Issue 10, however, reminds us just how terrifying the trees themselves actually are.

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The Infinite Loop 3

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Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing The Infinite Loop 3, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Patrick: I like to think that these Alternating Currents are fearless. We make whatever observations we want and to hell with the consequences! Sometimes that means getting pushback from creators that used to retweet our pieces, sometimes it means getting into an argument in the comments section or on twitter. But the audience for one of these pieces is highly self-selected – anyone reading this specific piece (for example) is going to have read all the way through Infinite Loop 3 and wants to read more about it. That’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of people, likely lumped together by a shared set of values, enthusiasms and ways of thinking about and consuming culture. So when I make some dumb statement about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles perfecting action on the static page, I am, almost by definition, preaching to the choir. There’s no grander cultural risk involved – the writer and the reader are trapped in the same loop of perspective. Infinite Loop 3 makes a bold attempt to break itself out of its cultural loops by ratcheting both its science fiction elements and its lesbian erotica elements to insanely high levels, and the result is decidedly fearless. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 16

ms marvel 16 swToday, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Ms. Marvel 16, originally released June 17th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

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Spencer: Being a teenager comes with a skewed sense of priorities. Every setback you face feels like the end of the world, even something as simple as failing a test or embarrassing yourself in front of your crush. As the superheroic Ms. Marvel, Kamala Kahn’s problems are often much more severe than the typical teenager’s, but even she sometimes needs a lesson in priorities — it’s just a shame that Kamala’s reminder takes the shape of the literal end of the world. If that sounds depressing, don’t worry — despite the heavier subject matter, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona never let Ms. Marvel 16 feel gloomy or depressing, instead focusing on the same mix of humor, heart, and adventure that’s made this title such a delight from the very start. Continue reading

Lazarus 17

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 17, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Lazarus 17, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Narrative art must be clear, but it must also be mysterious. Something should remain unsaid, something just beyond our understanding, a secret. If it’s only clear, it’s kitsch; if it’s only mysterious (a much easier path), it’s condescending and pretentious and soon monotonous.

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Drew: I’m fascinated by the relationship Lazarus has with clarity. It’s actually one of the most clear comics I’ve ever read — I’ve often remarked upon both Greg Rucka’s deceptively organic exposition and Michael Lark’s ability to keep track of every character in a scene — but it also leaves a great deal unsaid. The most obvious piece is the world-building — our focus has remained relatively tight on a small handful of characters, but every detail implies a much larger, more complex world beyond the edge of the page — but I’m much more interested in the things literally left unsaid; the subtle glances and body language that permeate the artwork, leaving the audience to interpret how characters are feeling. This all but forces us to project our own feelings onto the characters, drawing us further into the narrative. Issue 17 opens with what amounts to reversal of this trick, forcing the characters’ subjectivity onto us, and it is incredibly effective. Continue reading

Black Canary 1

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Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Black Canary 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Mark: It’s well-worn wisdom that you can’t run away from your past. Humans are an accumulation of their past experiences, no matter how much we wish it weren’t so. And if that’s true for real-life humans, you know it’s doubly true for fictional characters. Any character setting out to start a new life will invariably have their past catch up with them.

Now using the alias D.D., Dinah Lance is on the road with the fortuitously named band Black Canary as their lead singer. But whether it’s the sins of the past coming back to haunt her, or if trouble just has a way of finding her, Black Canary can’t seem to make it through a show without D.D. taking out some baddies. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 6/17/15

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Today, Drew, Patrick, and Spencer discuss Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars 2, Thors 1, Runaways 1, and Old Man Logan 2.

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This is an imaginary story…aren’t they all?

Alan Moore, Superman 423

Drew: Comics continuity is a funny thing. We generally understand characters in their broad strokes, but those broad strokes can change from time to time. Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” was written at one such juncture, saying goodbye to one era of Superman before Crisis on Infinite Earths ushered in a new one. But that goodbye doesn’t have to be permanent; events can be revisited, recontextualized, altered, or even undone. All of those approaches are fair game during Secret Wars, which affords us more time with characters, settings, and situations we might have thought were gone forever. Continue reading

Justice League of America 1

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Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League of America 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Michael: I’m having a difficult time managing my expectations with this new direction that DC is putting out. Curiously, I’m being overly optimistic that these new books will be excellent and do away with the New 52ishness of recent memory. Basically, I’m falling for DC’s sales pitch hook, line, and sinker. While Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America 1 has some trappings of the New 52, I think he’s trying to blaze his own trail with DC’s trademark team. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1

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Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Taylor: When you’re in a relationship with someone for a long time, it’s inevitable that you and your partner will eventually get into a tiff. Sometimes this might be precipitated by a single event and sometimes it’s the culmination of a lot of little things that have added up over time. In either case: you’re heading into an awkward situation. You’re upset with your significant other, but given the nature of your relationship you may end up spending time together anyway. Moments like this have a habit of happening in the car — where you have no choice but to stay together and fume. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1 throws us into just such a situation and we’re forced to consider just how good of a couple April and Casey really are. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 6/10/15

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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, Drew, Patrick, Michael and Spencer discuss Catwoman 41, Detective Comics 41, Batman Superman 21, Earth 2: Society 1, Constantine the Hellblazer 1, Starfire 1, The Fox 3, Kanan: The Last Padawan 3, Spider-Gwen 5, Descender 4, and Chrononauts 4.

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Drew: What could be more optimistic than a new beginning? Comics culture has long embraced reboots of all kinds — in-continuity, out-of-continuity, soft, hard — but I think they all stem from the necessity to make stories accessible to new readers. The end of DC’s New 52 may seem like the conclusions of one such attempt, but this week finds DC publishing several first issues, and offering logical jumping-on points for virtually everything else. But DC doesn’t have a monopoly on new beginnings, as the rest of the comics we picked up this week put characters in ever more pressing (and character-defining) situations. Continue reading