Black Magick 4

Alternating Currents: Black Magick 4, Drew and Ryan

Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Black Magick 4, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Drew: I’ve been thinking a lot about genre lately. Specifically, how we might define genre as a concept. I tend to think of genre as a checklist of conventions; guns and horses? That’s a western. Period costumes and overly-earnest impressions? That’s a biopic. But every convention you can think of has numerous exceptions, and writers love deconstructing genres, which means there’s no one trait that would actually be true of an entire genre. Instead, “genre” is more of a cloud of possibilities, and any given story’s placement within that genre is a negotiation of the conventions that fit within that cloud and the subversions of those conventions. Why use those conventions at all? There are a number of reasons, but one of the most practical is that those conventions work as a shorthand — we don’t need the concepts of interrogation rooms or fortresses of solitude explained to us, even though we’ve never experienced them ourselves. This allows writers to skip ahead to the subversions, showing us what’s unique about this particular genre story. We all know what’s unique about Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s Black Magick (it’s right there in the name), but issue 4 is the first to hint at just how different that might make this story. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 1/27/16

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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, we discuss Cry Havoc 1, Faith 1, Jem and the Holograms 11, Jupiter’s Circle Volume 2 3, Outcast 15, Ringside 3, and Spire 6.
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Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/27/16

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, (especially when All of these things are New) but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing Daredevil 3, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 3, Spider-Woman 3, and All-New Inhumans 3.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4

squirrel girl 4

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Spencer: What does it mean to be “unbeatable?” When Squirrel Girl was mainly a joke character, it meant that she could take down any opponent in combat, albeit always off-panel. While Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s take on Doreen still has extraordinary physical prowess, her victories under their pens have instead come from a place of compassion, understanding, and compromise; Squirrel Girl’s “unbeatable” because she always finds a way to appeal to and appease the humanity of any opponent she faces. It makes sense, then, that Doctor Doom is the first enemy to truly flummox Doreen. How is she supposed to defeat someone with no humanity to appeal to? Continue reading

DC Round-Up Comics Released 1/27/16

dc roundup27How many Batman books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Batman and Robin Eternal 17, Black Canary 7, Justice League of America 7, and Superman: Lois and Clark 4.

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Saga 33

Alternating Currents: Saga 33, Drew and Ryan

Today, Drew and Ryan M. are discussing Saga 33, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Drew: I’m currently taking a class on autobiographical comics, and the discussion thus far has centered around the question of subjectivity. Many of the memoirists we’ve examined thus far have favored the “truth” found in their subjective experience, as opposed to the “historical truth” of a more objective account, but I’ve always found the assumption that history is objective to be problematic. “History is written by the victors,” as the saying goes, revealing not only that history is necessarily biased, but also that history is more the story of wars than life. Indeed, even a historical account of a war has to consider who the story is really about: Generals? Individual soldiers? Civilians? Reporters? That last one may seem out of place, taking a narrow focus on people who neither represent the masses nor the machinations of war, but as the ones literally writing the histories as they happen, reporters are the only ones capable of giving an account that isn’t filtered through the subjective experience of someone else (as, say, a civilian’s story as told by a reporter would be). There are more layers of subjectivity to explore here, but the point is: reporters’ stories are just as important as those they cover, which makes Saga 33‘s turn to Upsher and Doff so welcome. Continue reading

Grayson 16

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Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Grayson 16, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Mark: You know when you over indulge in something that you love? When you love Nerds candy so much you buy a movie theatre box-sized pack of them and eat them in bed, only to wake up the next morning with multi-colored sugar nuggets stuck to your chest and a raging sugar headache? Grayson 16 is the comic book equivalent of that. Dick Grayson is so Dick Grayson this issue, it has to be a knowing parody right? Not to say that the sugar wave isn’t a blast while you’re riding it. It’s hard to blame Seeley and King for giving the people what they want. After the end of its first spectacular arc, Grayson has come down to Earth a little bit, working overtime for a few issues to expound an increasingly complex mythology. Grayson 16 is pretty back-to-basics, but turns everything you loved about early Grayson up to insane levels. Continue reading

Old Man Logan 1

old man logan 1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Old Man Logan 1, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Michael: Comic books are full of lofty, almost impossible goals — typically on the part of the villain. We know all of the classics: world domination, citywide destruction, and the death of their most hated hero nemesis. The Joker might win small battles, but ultimately he will never win the war. Does knowing that a character will never completely achieve his or her goals ruin the story for you? Continue reading

East of West 24

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Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing East of West 24, originally released January 29th, 2015.

Taylor: Anyone who has ever regularly practiced cardio exercise can tell you about the importance of pacing. I myself ride my bike to work whenever possible, and while I’m in the saddle, I definitely fall into my usual rhythm. There’s something about finding the proper pace to your workout, race, or commute that is incredibly important to helping it run smoothly. Pace is similarly important with story telling, the only difference being that instead of a steady pace, you want one that varies and excites you. Comic books are interesting when you consider the pacing of a story. Does each issue need a varying pace or should the series as a whole vary its pace as needed regardless of individual issues. East of West is a series that seems to fall into the latter and while this is cause of equal parts frustration and excitement. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, originally released January 27th, 2016.

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Spencer: Telling someone they see things in black and white is practically tantamount to calling them childish. The general idea is that as people grow up, the world and the decisions they have to make in it become more ethically gray, and trying to hold onto clear definitions of “good” and “evil” in the light of that is futile. Of course, when confronted with that line of reasoning many respond just as Calvin did in the strip above — they claim that sometimes things really are that simple! In essence, this is the argument that dominates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, where the Mutanimals nearly splinter over the discovery of Old Hob and Hun’s alliance. Continue reading