Drew: Determining a level of focus is perhaps the most important step in evaluating a work of art. These foci are specific to the style at hand — harmonic analysis is likely going to tell you very little about a rap song, just as an examination of brush strokes wouldn’t add much to a discussion of da Vinci. Intriguingly, these styles often begin to resemble each other as you zoom in and out — abstract paintings may share concepts of form, color, or composition with those of the Rennaisance masters, for example — further increasing the importance focus in an analysis. Geoff Johns has always written “big” — he’s been at the helm (or at least sharing the helm) of some of DC’s most important events over the past decade — and his writing has often chafed at the analyses of his critics. Justice League of America 7 actually avoids many of the pitfalls Johns is often cited for (a lot of stuff actually happens here), but it still has me wondering if we’re simply using the wrong tool for the job of evaluating a giant, Geoff Johns-penned event. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Suicide Squad 23, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Shelby: How do you say good-bye? If you’re a regular person saying good-bye to another regular person, you would probably do it with a wave, or maybe a handshake or a hug. Tonight the 4-year-old daughter of the owners of my LCS said good-bye to me by jumping up and down and shouting; come to think of it, I think Patrick has said good-bye to me the same way. Like I said, these are all perfectly legitimate, regular person ways to bid someone adieu. If you’re comic book writer Ales Kot saying good-bye to Suicide Squad, however, the best way to do it seems to be with sociopath’s musings on the meaning of love, followed by a battalion of missile-wielding drones and some pie. Not a bad way to go.
Patrick: Did any of you guys ever play Warhammer? If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a table top war game where you assemble an army from your race of choice and battle against your friends’ armies. It’s the least pick-up-and-play game you could ever imagine – understanding the basic rules means reading a 100+ page manual, and keeping a cheat sheet with charts and tables with you at all times. And then there’s understanding your own army, for which you need yet other book completely dedicated to that race. Then you need the little metal figures to represent the members of your army (sold separately), and if you’re really hardcore you can paint them. Then you need a surface large enough to play on – one time my friends and I took a door off its hinges and used that when we were denied the dining room table. Ideally, this surface will be populated with trees and terrain and stuff like that. Setting up the Trinity War has felt an awful lot like setting up a Warhammer game. Everyone’s been reading extra books they don’t really want to read just so they can play in the big game. Now the event is actually here and I can’t believe I’m surprised that all the characters feel like pieces in a game. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Suicide Squad 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Drew: Superhero team-ups are weird. Notions like marketability and synergy are taken into account over tactical utility, forcing writers to tie themselves in knots over why the Avengers would want the Hulk anywhere near them, or what value Aquaman adds to a team that already has actual superheroes on it. More importantly, a team-up often involves characters taking on specific roles within the team — which may not always “fit” their characters. Without any huge names on the title, Suicide Squad has a bit more flexibility in making the pieces fit together (and with the entire population of Belle Reve prison up for grabs, plenty of pieces to work with), but writer Ales Kot seems much more interested in how they don’t fit. Continue reading →
Spencer: A team doesn’t become a team just because a group of characters are assembled together. These characters truly become a team when they can put aside their individual goals, combine their distinct talents and work together as a cohesive unit, and doing so usually takes time and practice. Both of Geoff Johns’ Justice League books this week feature groups that are finally learning to be real teams; the real surprise is that the Justice League-proper isn’t one of those groups.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Suicide Squad 21, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Ales Kot completely blew me away with issue 20 of Suicide Squad, giving fans of the original series a taste of what made it so great, while completely reinvigorating the New 52 version of the book. With issue 21, Mr. Kot has blown me away again (along with a few security guards) and has delivered another absolutely thrilling entry. Best of all, Kot manages to continue his course correction of the character Harley Quinn by brilliantly using her to fix yet another troubled character of the New 52: Amanda Waller.
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Justice League of America 4, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Spencer: I’ll be honest: from the very start, Justice League of America has seemed more concerned with putting pieces in place for the upcoming “Trinity War” than it has with telling a compelling story. Unfortunately, for a story so focused on getting its players from Point A to Point B, the way writer Geoff Johns does so strains credibility. He makes several attempts to keep this issue engaging, but its biggest failing is simply that the heroes come across as really, really dumb.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Suicide Squad 20, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Shelby: You all know how much I love a good anti-hero. That character that walks the line between good guy and bad, who’s only looking out for himself and will help you out if your ideals happen to line up with his. He’s got a moral compass, it just doesn’t point north all the time. I love the anti-hero because he is so much more complex than your strictly good/bad guy. Suicide Squad takes the idea of the anti-hero and asks, “what if they were all supervillains forced to be ‘good guys’?” The result is either an interesting look at the dynamics of good and bad or an exercise in masochism, both for the characters and the reader. Honestly, I’m not quite sure which is more accurate.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Justice League of America 3, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Justice League of Americais a series starring the “world’s most dangerous” superheroes. However, since the start of this title, these dangerous heroes have mostly been sitting around, talking to one another. Some, like myself, didn’t mind this all too much, while others didn’t exactly feel the same way. Regardless, the last issue promised us some good old fashioned fisticuffs. This issue delivers on that promise, but it spends the rest of the issue in a virtual standstill as far as the overall plot goes. There have been some developments as far as the team itself is concerned, but is that enough to excuse the lack of significant plot progression? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Justice League of America’s Vibe 1-3, originally released February 20th, March 20th, and April 17th, 2013 respectively.
Patrick: Superheroes are legendary. The greats — like Batman and Superman — are name brands both in their own universes and in our own. One of the recurring themes in the New 52 has been heroes grappling with their own relevance in a world so densely populated by superheroes. Aquaman is a great example of this – the character is the subject of near-constant ridicule, all in an effort to make his struggle to be “cool” explicit. Geoff Johns has turned that character around in the last couple years, and even when the storytelling hasn’t been at its best, the idea of Aquaman as a impotent fish-enthusiast has basically disappeared. Johns lends a little bit of that credibility to the first couple issues of the series devoted to DC’s ultimate underdog: Vibe. Continue reading →