We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. Indeed, we’re so enamored of serialization that we decided to split our favorite series list into two installments. Here’s part 1 our top 14 series of 2014 (check back here for part 2 tomorrow). Continue reading →
Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 14 issues of 2014. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Green Arrow 34, originally released August 6th, 2014.
Spencer: Eighteen months ago, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino began their run on Green Arrow, which had been a meandering, mediocre title ever since the New 52 relaunch. Lemire and Sorrentino arrived with a distinct style and a strong, specific vision, quickly transforming the title into one worth paying attention to. Now — with the exception of next month’s Futures End tie-in — their run has drawn to a close, and more than ever it’s apparent how much effort the creative team has put into rehabilitating Green Arrow. Issue 34 gives the conflict between Ollie and Richard Dragon a happy ending, but it also lays bare Lemire and Sorrentino’s strategy for creating a compelling superhero comic. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 33, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Spencer: Despite being the title character, throughout Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s run on Green Arrow Oliver Queen has largely been a pawn, pushed back and forth by businessmen, various factions of the mysterious Outsiders, and even members of his own family (or sometimes all three!), all trying to use him for their own means. After declaring his independence from the Outsiders, though, Oliver Queen has moved to the front-and-center of his book — as Richard Dragon says, they’re both kings now. There’s still a massive focus on the supporting cast, of course, but now Lemire is using the supporting cast to teach us more about Ollie. I don’t necessarily understand every revelation, but it’s still a refreshing change of pace. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick leads a discussion on The New 52: Futures End 5, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Patrick: In the first and second season finales of LOST, our heroes encounter a gigantic green bird that screeches “HURLEY” as it soars over them. Fans, because they are so damn clever, starting calling this thing the Hurley Bird. The thing was introduced as one of those “maybe we’ll pay this off later” sort of things, but they never really had any idea what they were doing with it. In retrospect, the creature’s second appearance served as an admission of this fact, and a cheeky way to dismiss the entire concept. What happens is that Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley and Michael are making their way across the island, when the Hurley Bird divebombs them (naturally howling “HURLEY” at the top of its bird lungs). Michael tries to shoot it, but Jack never loaded his weapon — that was the point of the scene: now Michael knows the others don’t trust him. But the notable part of the scene is that Hurley asks the audience surrogate question: “Did that bird just say my name?” Sawyer, acting as the voice of the creative team, sarcastically responds “Yeah, right before it crapped gold.” That translates to “who fucking cares?” And you know what? Fair play to LOST — I wouldn’t have wanted to halfheartedly explore some bullshit bird. Futures End 5 has that same dismissive attitude toward all of its real story points, making me believe that the writers care just as much about this bullshit as I do. It’s not a comforting feeling. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Justice League United 1, originally released May 14th, 2014.
Patrick: My gateway to regularly reading comics was Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern from Rebirth to Blackest Night. That’s a lot of outer space nonsense, to be sure, but the series was so caught up with the spirit of invention and exploration that every new revelation was imbued with so much energy that I was never really overwhelmed with how silly it all was. I’m sensing some of that same untethered enthusiasm in Justice League Unlimted 1, but the connection I’m going to draw is far more literal — both feature the background conflict between the planets Rann and Thanagar. The Rann-Thanagar War is one of those dense hives of modern DC mythology, mired in conflicting histories and muddy storytelling. Hell, I’m not even sure Rann and Thanagar are two separate planets since the New 52 started. In this issue, Jeff Lemire tries to give identity to the characters and concepts that are notoriously bad at sticking to any one.
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Green Arrow 31, originally released May 7th, 2014.
All of this is for nothing!
Ollie Queen, Green Arrow 31
Shelby: What is the point of reading stories where our favorite characters suffer through difficult situations? Hopefully, by the end of the story, they will have learned something through their ordeal and grown as a character. But when an arc concludes, the ordeal is all wrapped up, and still we’re left asking, “what was the point?” you know the arrow missed its mark (ha!). Green Arrow 31 finally concludes its Outsiders arc, and I find myself agreeing with Ollie as quoted above on the way things turned out.
Today, Patrick leads a discussion on The New 52: Futures End 1, originally released May 7th, 2014.
Patrick: Guys, I want to start this off by apologizing for the typo in the header: it’s “Futures End” and not “Future’s End.” That’s my bad, not Shelby’s. I want to keep it there for posterity and because it speaks to the general confusion regarding this title. The full name is “The New 52: Futures End.” As a weird consequence of that name, it’s the only series that takes place in the New 52 that doesn’t bear this logo on its cover:
If Batman Eternal is about Batman losing control of Gotham, then certainly Futures End is about the superheroes losing control of the universe. Unfortunately, that also feels an awful lot like the creators losing control of the New 52.
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Justice League United 0, originally released April 23rd, 2014.
Shelby: We’ve seen a few different ways to handle zero issues. Not, “I have no issues, and I don’t know how to handle it,” or “I have issues with the mathematical concept of null value,” but with comic book issues numbered 0. I’m a big fan of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s execution of the zero with Harley Quinn 0, which established the character and setting, but more importantly established the tone of the title. Heck, if you really want to explore the gamut of what a zero issue can do, check out our insanely full coverage of DC’s Zero Month two and a half years ago. A zero issue can be whatever the creative team wants to make of it, and Jeff Lemire and artist Mike McKone seem so eager to start this story they just want to dive right in.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Green Arrow 30, originally released April 2nd, 2014.
Shelby: Because I like to stay on top of pop culture trends, I recently discovered the TV series Legend of the Seeker. It’s a pretty straight-forward magic-based fantasy, based on Terry Goodkind’s series The Sword of Truth. You know, right up my alley. Anyway, there are two groups of magical women in this universe: Confessors and Mord-Sith. The Confessors’ power is based on love and truth; they can see when someone is lying, and as a last resort force them to tell the truth by causing people to fall desperately in love with them. The Mord-Sith, however, get their power from hate; all love, kindness, and compassion is burned out of them from youth until all they know is how to cause pain and hatred. While neither situation is ideal, it’s made clear that the love for a Confessor can elicit positive change in a person, whereas “training” from a Mord-Sith can only breed more hate. So, what do you get when someone is motivated by both love AND hate? By quiet dignity and unbelievable cruelty? Maybe we should ask Green Arrow.