Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 3, originally released May 27th, 2015.
Spencer: Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye got a lot of mileage out of a deceptively simple mission statement: “Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.” What Clint does when not being an Avenger is an insanely broad concept, but in Fraction’s run it quickly narrowed into a focus on how Clint handled loss. When tasked with the duty of following up on a run as iconic as Fraction’s, it’s no surprise that Jeff Lemire flipped everything on its head, changing the mission statement to “This is what [Clint Barton and Kate Bishop] do when they do what they do best.” Lemire’s concept of focusing on Clint as a super-hero is even broader than Fraction’s, and as I’ve pored over the last few issues of All-New Hawkeye, I’ve been waiting for his story to similarly build some kind of deeper overarching theme. This month’s issue in particular is almost screaming that it has some sort of deeper meaning or underlying message, yet I’m struggling to come up with one. I’m starting to think that I’ve been approaching this title all wrong. If this is a book about what Clint and Kate do when they do what they do best, then maybe what’s most important are the actual details of what they’re doing. Fortunately, those details are pretty charming. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 2, originally released April 8th, 2015.
Drew: I’m sure many folks have forgotten Cursed, the one-season NBC sitcom about a man cursed with bad luck in its pilot episode, but I’ll never forget it. Not because it was particularly good — I’ve actually forgotten almost everything about it — but because of its abrupt title change. Suddenly, Cursed, the high-concept sitcom about bad luck had become The Weber Show, a series so generic, its most distinctive characteristic was apparently the presence of former Wings star Steven Weber. That was my first lesson in the dangers of a narrative tying itself to a limiting premise, a problem I’ve found to be relatively ubiquitous in modern culture. All-New Hawkeye is far from the disaster that Cursed was, but as issue 2 strains against the flashback structure that worked so beautifully in issue 1, I find myself wondering if that structure is more of a prison than a springboard. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.
Spencer: It’s hard to escape the fact that our pasts, and especially our childhoods, play a defining role in our lives. That doesn’t mean that people can’t recover from troubled pasts, but simply that what we experience when we’re young tends to shape our personalities and color our perceptions of the world in significant ways. This is certainly true for Clint Barton, one of the two titular stars of Jeff Lemire, Ramón Pérez and Ian Herring’s All-New Hawkeye 1. Clint’s transformed from a troubled, abused child and thief to one of the world’s mightiest heroes, but there are still plenty of parallels between his past and his present, showing that, as much as things change, they still stay the same. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Descender 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.
Spencer: Descender is a title that piqued my interest the moment it was announced. With creators like Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen at the helm it’s easy to see why, but what actually caught my attention was its premise; Descender follows a child robot named Tim-21 as he attempts to survive in a world out to annihilate all artificial life. Just the synopsis alone tugs at my heartstrings, but it’s Nguyen’s adorable design for Tim-21 that seals the emotional deal; I bonded with this kid the moment I laid eyes on him. This holds true for the rest of the issue, as well; Lemire’s introduced some fun concepts and all the trappings of a compelling sci-fi universe, but it’s Nguyen’s unique, stunning art that makes this universe a place worth visiting. Continue reading →
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.