Best of 2013: Best Artist

2013 best artist

The comics industry might have trained us incorrectly. We’re meant to gobble up as much story as possible, as quickly as possible. That way we buy more comics, and Batman and Spider-Man can continue to punch dudes into perpetuity. But the books we read are far from disposable — they contain some truly astounding artwork from some of the most talented storytellers out there. They’re our directors, our actors, our choreographers, our set and costume designers. These are our top 13 artists of 2013. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28

tmnt 28

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28, originally released November 27th, 2013.

Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?

-Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

Drew: It’s easy to take things for granted. In our never-ending quest for the better, we often overlook the value of what we already have — especially if we’ve always had it. “Youth is wasted on the young,” as they say, which I’ve always taken to mean that you can only truly appreciate a carefree existence once you’ve lived a careful existence. Because kids have never lived in a world where their parents weren’t always there for them, they can’t really understand what it is their parents do for them in the first place. I’ve long felt the same way about Leonardo. He’s the leader because he’s always been the leader — I’ve never really understood what it is he brings to that role on the team (you know, besides having any of the more distinctive quirks of his brothers). City Fall has long featured some exploration of what life without Leo looks like, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28 shows just how well the turtles work without him. Continue reading

Zero 3

zero 3

Today, Taylor and Scott are discussing Zero 3, originally released November 20th, 2013.

Taylor: Tell you what, reading a Cormac McCarthy novel is a chore. This is by no means a criticism, merely an observation. I think anyone who has read any book by McCarthy would agree with me – the guy writes some pretty bleak stuff. Despite that, his writing is some of the most important to grace the written page in the past fifty years. He’s a master at his craft and his style and voice are so unique that one could argue they have become iconic. Still, reading the likes of Blood Meridian or The Road is far from a pleasant way to pass the time. These books are beautiful in their own way, but they are equally violent and incredibly depressing. Given this, it seems fitting that the afterward of Zero 3 quotes a passage from Blood Meridian. Like McCarthy’s work, Zero is bloody and disturbing, but also like McCarthy’s work it is thought provoking and occasionally beautiful.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 27

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 27, originally released October 30th, 2013.

Taylor: In high school I ran track, an activity which was probably the product of your typical adolescent masochistic need to fit in and be cool. Running isn’t a fun sport and for the most part it’s pretty simple. Run faster than the other guy and you win. Despite these simple parameters surrounding track, there is at least a little bit of strategy that can help you win a race, namely: pacing yourself. Begin the mile run with a sprint and you’re bound to lose. Save all your gas for the last lap and you’re equally doomed. Ideally, you run at a pace that feels good and which happens to be faster than those around you. Save some extra juice for the final push near the end of the race and you could find yourself standing in the winners’ circle. Point is, pacing  yourself is important, whether we’re talking running, boozing, or comics. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 27, puts on a clinic on how to pace a story wonderfully and the result is an issue that is enthralling from start to finish.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 26

tmnt 26

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 26, originally released September 25th, 2013.

Patrick: The Foot Clan is already an army – that’s sort of their whole shtick. The Ninja Turtles are another story all together. They’re a family. Their list of allies is pretty long, but, well – not all of those allies are immediately combat-ready. Lucky for them, The Foot seem hellbent on ridding the city of all other distractions before taking down the three remaining Turtles and their Rat father. What they might not be counting on is just how varied and awesome the Turtles’ friends are. Super scientists? CHECK. Badass brawlers? CHECK. Spies all over the city? CHECK. A potential mutant army, armed to the teeth? CHECK and also CHECK. These teams are moments away from squaring off, and our heroes’ bench is starting to look awesome. Continue reading

Justice League 23.3: Dial E

Alternating Currents: Justice League 23.3: Dial E, Taylor and Drew

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Justice League 23.3: Dial E, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of DC’s Villain Month. Click here for our coverage of Villain Month.

villain div

TaylorThe encore of a show is always a little awkward. With most shows you attend nowadays an encore is almost expected. Gone are the days of the earned encore, where and artist actually had to earn the audience’s appreciation and rewarded them with a few extra bits of music.  This has been replaced with instances where artists look a trifle bored with an encore, seemingly wishing that they could just retire to their bus or greenroom. The situation has become so problematic that some artists have gone so far as to state they won’t be doing an encore no matter how much the audience claps or yells. It’s hard to determine precisely what brought us to this point, but the fact remains that the encore has become not the exception, but the expected. Given this state of affairs, I was curious to see how the issue 23.3 of the The Justice League: Dial E (part of the Villains month event) would be treated by writer China Mieville. Would this be an artist merely pandering to the crowd or an artist excited by the chance to once again share his art with his fans? Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25

Today, Taylor and Ethan are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25, originally released August 28th, 2013.

Taylor: What does “epic” mean to you? Does it mean battles involving thousands of combatants? Does it mean something that lasts a long time? Or maybe it just means a truly huge hamburger? Whatever the word “epic” may mean to you personally, it’s almost certain that you’ve been exposed to it with more frequency in recent years. Ever since the Lord of the Rings came out, people have been thirsting for media that is more epic in scope and publishers and producers have been more than happy to supply them with it. After all, more media means more money, so why not provide the masses with their epic fix? But not all franchises really need or deserve the epic treatment, despite what many fans may think. The Hobbit movies, which will have a final run-time equaling its Lord of the Rings predecessor (speaking of movies here), is evidence of this enough. Considering this, we have to wonder if Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with its ambitiously sized cast of characters and numerous storylines, can handle the “epic” mantle. The 25th installment of this title seems to give leverage to one side of this argument so this question is: is TMNT epic or not?

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 24

tmnt 24Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 24, originally released July 31th, 2013.

Patrick: Because I’m a huge nerd, I was recently in a normal-people social situation and someone asked me who my favorite Ninja Turtle was. In typical Ehlers-style, I laid out a multi-tiered answer: “When I was a kid, Donatello was my favorite, because he was quiet and liked science. As a young adult, I liked Raphael the best — so angsty and complicated. But as an adult-adult, Michelangelo is my favorite.” As I get older, Mikey’s enthusiasm and social skills seem like rarer commodities, and I just respect the hell out of the character. But I sorta surprised myself with how much I feel about all of these characters (enough to claim 75% of them as “my favorite”). I always worry about why it is that I like them all so much — but I think it’s just because they’re stories are fucking great. Issue 24 is no exception. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 23

tmnt 23

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 23, originally released June 26th, 2013.

Patrick: One of the most beautiful things about IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is the relationship it has with the franchise’s past. And that’s an insane past. TMNT have been rebooted and re-imagined so many times in their 30-year history, there’s really no such thing as a definitive take on the characters. You’ll never be able to get two TMNT fans to agree on what constitutes canon for them – there are just too many movies, video games, comics, television shows and elaborately staged action-figure set-pieces played out on my bedroom floor. More than Superman, more than Wolverine, who these characters are at their core is left to the individual reader. The second issue of CityFall takes that concept of subjective history and makes it arrestingly explicit as Leonardo is forced to recontextualize the adventures we’ve been reading for the last two years. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 22

tmnt 22Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 22, originally released May 28th, 2013.

Taylor: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a lot of descriptors in their name. While it’s always easy to remember that they are turtles and ninjas, it’s a little harder to remember that they are teenagers. I’m not sure what to attribute this forgetfulness to. Maybe it’s because most superheroes are in their 20s or 30s. Or maybe it’s because it’s hard to guess the age of a half man/half turtle based solely on appearance. I don’t know. Whatever the reason is, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the turtles have to deal with some heavy shit on a regular basis. While your average teen worries about school and sex, the turtles have to worry about ninja battles and saving the earth from an evil, alien brain. It’s not exactly a fair shake and given the circumstances it seems like only a matter of time before those hormones (turtle or otherwise) and inexperience kick in and hurt our half-shelled heroes. Issue 22 of TMNT begins the City Fall event and with it we see our turtles being challenged in new ways and asked to achieve things beyond their years. But are they up to the task?

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