Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing All-Star Western 26, originally released December 31st, 2013.
Drew: I’ve always been suspicious of happy endings. Not that I’m a grump or a pessimist (or, not just because I’m a grump and a pessimist), just that I think the tendency to wrap stories up with a nice bow tends to make them same-y. Knowing everything will work out in the end robs stories of most of their drama, and more importantly, they tend to ring false. Still, there’s something undeniably alluring about a happy ending — a gentle reassurance that the characters will be okay specifically, and that things tend to work out generally. It’s incredibly tricky to acknowledge both aspects of the happy ending, but Alan Moore’s classic “For the Man Who Has Everything” does it beautifully by presenting (and ultimately rejecting) a classic “what if” scenario. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti aim to tap that same magic in All-Star Western 26, but as is the case with most comparisons to Moore, they come up just a little short. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing All-Star Western 24, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Drew: The lone wolf has always been an alluring figure. Every continent has their tales of solitary, wandering soldiers — most often period stories (knights, ronin, cowboys) — but comics have always featured that notion pulled into the modern day. All-Star Western has always been about playing with that line, often in reverse, pushing our expectations of superheroes back to the old west, but the current arc makes that relationship explicit, pulling Hex into the modern day DC Universe. Surprisingly, he fits in quite well. Continue reading →
Scott: Some villainous behavior is justifiable — if you get all sides of the story, you can at least understand why someone would commit such seemingly evil acts. This is a big part of Villains Month, understanding why villains act the way they act. In fact, many of these issues have taken advantage of a little trick: when you tell a story from a character’s perspective, that character immediately becomes more sympathetic to the reader, even if that character is not such a great person. But there are some villains whose actions cannot be justified, who have an inherent evil to their ways that a normal person just can’t understand. Anton Arcane is one of these villains. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Constantine 6, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Patrick: As comic book fans, we’ve grown used to the idea that death is but a temporary obstacle. You can kill anyone you want really – DC’s five biggest (Clark, Bruce, Hal, Barry and Diana) have all been dead atleast once. So we can be forgiven for speculating just how a hero could come back from the dead within minutes of their passing. We totally do that too – don’t believe me? Check out our 90+ comments on Batman Incorporated 9: many of which address the permanence of Damian’s death. We’re jaded assholes, and we know that at the end of the day, this magical storytelling aparratus is a business. I’m happy to report that DC’s resident asshole — Mr. John Constantine — takes much the same attitude, even when it comes to his own untimely end.
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Swamp Thing 23, originally released August 7th, 2013.
Patrick: Alcohol is weird. It’s dulls our senses, it shortens our lives, it gets us into trouble – and yet we engage with it time and time (and time) again. Why? Because it’s fun. Because when we dial back our inhibitions a little bit, we find the casual courage to do something we’ve always wanted to do. All of that freedom is great, until you cross that line. YOU KNOW THE ONE I MEAN. The moment in the evening where you don’t make decisions with your complete mental faculty. I’ve always had people tell me that drinking brings out who someone really is, but that’s faulty. If anything, booze dulls the prowess of the super-ego, allowing the baser urges of ego and id to take priority. But the id isn’t a person’s “true self” – the psyche isn’t a list of three psychic apparatuses, but the relationship between the three. What you are can more accurately be defined by how you deny the more destructive urges deep in your Freudian well. That’s the kind of thematic material Charles Soule mines in his story about a magician, a plant-man and a booze-tree. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Constantine 5, originally released July 24th, 2013.
Shelby: We’ve all heard the cautionary tale of the boy who cried wolf. He was a shepherd, and since watching sheep is a super boring job, he would shout that there was a wolf coming; everyone would run to save the herd, and he’d laugh and laugh because he was kind of a dick like that. After a few rounds of this, when a wolf actually appeared, no one believed the boy when he cried for help, and all the sheep got eaten. Lesson learned: if you’re going to be an ass and lie to people all the time, no one will believe you when you tell the truth. Now, who in the comic book universe do we know who’s a lying ass all the time… Continue reading →
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, Scott and Shelby are discussing Swamp Thing 22, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Scott: There are certain people you just can’t rely on, and you know it. In a sense, it’s better to be aware that someone is a liar, or a flake, or a selfish prick, because then you can’t be caught off guard by it. At the same time, it’s tough, because if you give that person the benefit of the doubt too many times, you make yourself into a fool. This is Alec’s Holland’s relationship with John Constantine- he knows Constantine’s a liar, but still convinces himself that Constantine might be able to help him. It’s also quickly becoming my relationship with Charles Soule, the writer of Swamp Thing. I can’t count on him. Just when I think he’s going to give me some answers, just when I think he’s going to reveal something about this so called “Seeder”, he goes and writes an issue about…John Constantine? It’s so crazy, it actually works really well. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 21, originally released June 26th, 2013.
Taylor: When you’re John Constantine, it’s always good to predict future as best you can. In order to escape the jaws of death time and again, John needs to predict what his enemies will do and how they will do it. Usually the man is pretty good at that sort of stuff and since he is often the focus of Justice League Dark it’s easy to forget that there are other ways of going about things. In fact, in Madame Xanadu the team has a colleague who can literally see the future and who doesn’t need to indulge herself in guesswork of any sort. But how useful is this power? More importantly, how does she choose to use this power and is it responsible? Issue 21 of Justice League Dark delves into these questions while also exploring a character that — up until this point — we have known very little about.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Constantine 4, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Patrick: For all it’s crude early-90s wordplay and carefully constructed explorations of popular culture, the greatest strength of the movie Clerks is Dante’s refrain “I’m not even supposed to be here today.” The indignity of living his life is made all the worse when we realize there’s no escape for the poor guy, even on his day off. It’s like the universe is only happy when Dante’s stuck behind the register at the Quick Stop. Just as the DC Universe is only happy when John Constantine is up to his neck in charms, angry wizards and grifter-assassins. It turns out magic doesn’t take a holiday, even when Johnny needs it so badly. Continue reading →