Suzanne: What meaning can we find in our collective fascination with dreams, or rather nightmares? From myths about gods like Hypnos and Morpheus to the cult obsession with Sandman, these stories reveal our curiosity with the thinly-veiled world we enter each night with sleep. I catch myself searching for insights about my dreams — what does a dystopian future filled with giant monsters really say about my current frame of mind? Here’s hoping Norrin Radd and Dawn Greenwood break through to their subconscious in Silver Surfer 5. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Saga 22, originally released August 27th, 2014.
Drew: The interpersonal relationships within families are insanely complex. They’re necessarily the longest relationships anyone has, meaning each one has years of subtle dynamics informing our behavior. Moreover, the stakes of any conflict within family are significantly higher — it’s one thing to be alienated by a friend, but quite another to be alienated by a parent. With all of these subtle dynamics and amplified emotions, it’s easy to understand why families are so often at the center of great dramas, from King Lear to Breaking Bad. As Saga’s fourth volume passes the halfway mark, it’s decidedly become a family drama (as opposed to the parenting focus of the first volumes), yet writer Brian K Vaughan finds tragedy not in the inflated stakes of family relationships, but in the all-too relatable act of taking family for granted. Continue reading
Spencer: When Patrick and I would discuss Young Avengers, our articles would often turn into debates about whether the dialogue was “too clever” or not (I’m thinking of this article in particular). I’ve personally always thought that something being “too clever” wasn’t possible — I love distinctive, clever dialogue and prefer that to dialogue that tries to be realistic and instead comes across as bland or boring — but I admit I caught myself thinking “man, this might be too clever for it’s own good” once or twice as I read The Wicked + The Divine 3. Fortunately, I think there’s some sound, character-based reasons for the “cleverness” of the cast (specifically Morrigan and Baphomet) that helps to inform how the title’s pantheon view themselves compared to the world at large — and how the world at large views them. Continue reading
Drew: Without getting too abstract, I’d like to suggest that western art is really about the development of ideas. The beginnings and ends of our books, plays, symphonies, movies, jazz tunes — virtually any art form that can said to have a “beginning” and “end” — are largely prescribed, but everything in between is totally open. For someone who is largely suspicious of rules in art, those middle sections — the rising action, the development, the open solos — are my favorite parts, where the artists are free to express, explore, and fully realize their creative potential. Of course, that also means that I’m often bored by beginnings and endings; especially in genre fiction, where the rules of exposition and resolution are even more specific. What differentiates one noir mystery from another tends to be a little subtler than can usually be communicated in the first issue of a comic, which is why Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips The Fade Out 1 is such a pleasant surprise. The issue doesn’t shy away from its genre trappings — if anything, it leans into it — but the result is something that transcends its boilerplate outline, creating an alluringly familiar late ’40s LA. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Batman and Robin 34, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Patrick: When The Death of the Family was heading into its final issue, Scott Snyder appeared in a ton of interviews claiming that this conclusion was going to have a lasting effect on Batman and the Batfamily. But after that story line wrapped up, Snyder took his own series into Batman’s past, conveniently avoiding working through much of this fallout. Similarly, Grant Morrison killed Damian in Batman Incorporated, but wrapped up his series only a few issues later. The emotional heavy lifting as fallen to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who have dutifully presented the most erratic, emotional and frustrating Batman possible. Everything that Batman is — the selfless knight of justice, the patriarch of the Batfamily, the infallible detective — has been undermined in the wake of these twin tragedies. Understandably, that pushes Batman away from his readers, and his alienation from the world started to reflect the audiences’ alienation from the character. In issue 34, Tomasi and Gleason have Bruce offer a naked apology to his protégés, but they’re also inviting us to trust Batman again. Fuck yes: I’m ready to forgive. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and
Greg Patrick are discussing The Multiversity 1, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Spencer: It may not seem like it at first, but comics are one of the more interactive art forms out there. While movies and TV shows dictate the pace you experience them at, you can move through a comic book at any pace you desire, and even just the act of turning the page involves you in the story; you are advancing the story, and without your actions, the plot cannot move forward. The Multiversity is a Grant Morrison story, so it should be no surprise that it’s meta as piss. The reader’s power over the narrative is just one of many themes Morrison plays with in this title, but it’s certainly one of the most fascinating — and will likely also be one of the most divisive. Continue reading
Hi all, Shelby here. You may have noticed I have not had much of a presence around the site lately (or maybe not, who am I to assume what you notice?). I’ve been going through some difficult stuff in my life lately, including, but not limited to, witnessing a shooting. It’s been rough, and I have to thank my fellow editors Patrick, Drew, and Spencer for stepping up and picking up my slack so I can deal with this. As a result, I’ve been doing a lot of reevaluating of my life, and I’ve decided I need to make some changes.
One of those changes is stepping down from my position as writer and editor here. This was a tough call for me, since I’ve been here since the very, very beginning. I brought my laptop on a trip to visit Patrick and Sarah in LA for the sole purpose of working on the logo on the plane. Two and a half years later, and I’ve published nearly 300 articles, contributed to nearly another 300, and had opportunities to engage with some of my personal heroes and heroines in the comic book industry. My need to pick up weekly books led me to AlleyCat Comics, where I now work, and some of the best people I’ve ever met. I’ve grown immensely as a writer and critical thinker; my responsibilities to you, our motley crew of readers, has helped me to view media around me in a whole new light, and I will always be grateful to Patrick, Drew, and the rest of our amazing writers, guest writers, and commenters for helping me develop that insight.
But do not despair, gentle readers! I’m not totally giving up my responsibilities here; I will stay on as designer, helping the rest of the writers with graphics and images, and generally keeping an eye on the basic look of the site. Don’t be surprised to see me in comments, or even getting pulled into the occasional Alternating Current when I’m needed. I’ll still be around, don’t you worry in the least. Keep reading, writing, and thinking, and I’ll see you when I see you.
Drew: Last month, in our discussion of Daredevil 6, I was struck by the darker, distinctly Miller-esque tone of that issue, wondering “is it a sign of respect to that era of Daredevil history, or an assertion that a return to that style would only bring pain?” I don’t know what would compel me to apply such a simple binary to this series, but true to form, Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez manage to deliver an answer that is somehow both and neither option. Waid’s run has been all about pulling that darkness into the light (with a twist), and this issue distills that theme into a charming bite-sized little adventure. Continue reading
Ignorance is bliss
Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College
Drew: If I ever needed an example of cognitive dissonance, I would simply point to the above statements, acknowledging that the majority of people know that both are true. It makes no sense, but we at once want to know things that will disturb us while wanting to unknow things that enrich our lives. It’s perhaps most true when it comes to analyzing the arts. Some folks prefer to examine their art, while others believe they are happier without that closer look, as though art were some mysterious and secretly unsavory sausage whose origins could only yield misery. It should be obvious that I’m in the first group, which is why a thoughtful, intricate work like Ales Kot and Michael Gaydos’ Zero 10 is so utterly rewarding. Continue reading