Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 4, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Drew: In my experience, there are two types of characters in action movies: those that act like it’s no big deal that that car just blew up, and those that understand that HOLY SHIT THAT CAR JUST BLEW UP! The former is obviously more badass, and I think captures a kind of aspirational relatability in the audience, even if the latter is ultimately more relatable — who wouldn’t freak out if they were caught in the middle of an action movie? Curiously, the relatability may make the characters in the latter category less realistic, as their presence often draws our attention to the artifice of the genre. It can be tricky to balance these characters (or these traits within characters), but Secret History of the Foot Clan continues to do so with aplomb. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 3, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Taylor: It’s weird to consider the effect that our legacies have on us. Who are family is and was, where we have lived and what we have done all impact us greatly when it comes to crafting our current identity. For some, a legacy is a source of strength and pride, while for others it may be the cause of embarrassment and pain. But speaking in the context of just a single lifetime, a person’s legacy can greatly influence their future actions. For a fun example, let’s take George Lucas. The man who created a classic and beloved franchise was so enamored with his legacy that he refused to listen to others when it came time to create his ill-fated prequels. Perhaps he was enamored with his own legacy as a genius myth-maker or perhaps he simply let pride get in the way. Nonetheless, his past influenced his actions, the resulting in a set of films that many felt betrayed his previous endeavors. It’s interesting to consider the role of legacies at play in the Secret History of the Foot Clan both — narratively and creatively — because they cannot be ignored in either instance. In this case, is the legacy a source of strength or a source of weakness?
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 2, originally released January 23rd, 2013.
Drew: The first issue of this series wowed me with the way its sophisticated exploration of narrative perspective. To me, the notion of a single story pieced together from tidbits contributed by many storytellers represented comics generally, and this iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles specifically. In issue 2, writers Mateus Santolouco and Erik Burnham pull the scope back even further, commenting on previous iterations of the Turtles. As someone who grew up in the ’90s, I couldn’t be more pleased. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 1, originally released January 9th, 2013.
Patrick: The Secret History in question is delivered via a few discrete sources: Dr. Miller (a lecturer at April and Casey’s school), Splinter and Shredder. For obvious reasons, not everyone has all of these pieces of the Foot Clan story, but everyone does seem to want all these pieces. I always like it when our heroes are in search of a truth that I am also interested in — it makes me feel like we’re all on the same side. It’s like a detective story, except instead of trying to solve a murder, we’re working to understand history. Mateus Santolouco portions out the clues and delivers a story rich in culture and mythology, simultaneously important to all corners of the TMNT Universe.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Dial H 6, originally released November 7th, 2012.
Patrick: Fall of 2010, I went to a movie at Chicago’s Music Box theatre with Taylor and Shelby. The movie was Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void. If you haven’t seen Enter the Void, the reason we were attracted to it was because the log-line is aggressively surreal: a single-shot, first-person perspective trip through life and death of an American expatriot in the sleazy underbelly of Tokyo. Sounds promising — and super weird — right? All three of us tolerated the visual and audio assault for the film’s 3-hour run time, but it wasn’t until we stepped out of the theatre and Taylor said “So, that sucked, right?” that I was able to process what the hell just happened. The movie is so relentlessly strange, that I couldn’t even respond to it as I was experiencing it. That’s frequently how I feel about Dial H: especially given the conclusion of the previous story arc – I just couldn’t get a handle on it. But now, China Mieville is kind enough to show us the cold light of day, and seeing them plainly, these characters and this world is boundless and exciting, with a healthy sense of humor about its own absurdities.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Dial H 5, originally released October 3rd, 2012.
Taylor: Here’s the thing: metaphysical thought is messy, very messy. Thinking about where man came from, what he is made of, and where he is going yields no solid answers and often times leaves the thinker more confused than when he or she first began to ponder those ideas in the first place. When you add the outside world (and universe) to this equation things are obviously going to get even muddier. What is this something we see? What is this nothing we don’t see? If there’s nothing, doesn’t that mean there has to be a something to validate the nothing’s nothingness? It’s not easy to discuss these confounding and complex ideas in an artistic way given that you can’t ever really speak about them in a straight forward manner. To do that would feel somewhat dishonest and wouldn’t accurately reflect the feelings that come with this philosophical territory. In Dial-H 5 the reader is presented with some of these questions, but rather than falling back on stale mythologies or old tropes, the issue embraces the chaos of messy questions and does so with stylish story telling and complimentary artwork. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Dial H 4, originally released August 1st, 2012.
Drew: I’m not a fan of origin stories, or really the starts of narratives in general. They often require large exposition dumps to make everyone’s personalities, means, and motivations clear to the audience. One of my favorite ways authors avoid cramming that much exposition into the beginning of a story is to start in medias res. Sure, the whys of the situation aren’t always clear — or even what exactly is going on — but that creates curiosity, a genuine interest in learning more, which almost never happens when we’re just given bare-faced facts with the understanding that this will be important later. Writer China Mieville has taken this tack to the limits of my curiosity in Dial H, delivering three months of questions without any real answers, leaving us floating uncomfortably in a confusing sea of possibilities. With this issue, we finally start getting some answers, helping the events of the previous three fall into place with surprising ease. Continue reading →
Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Dial H 3, originally released July 4th, 2012.
Peter: Dial H is probably the weirdest book that I am currently reading. If you had told me a year ago that I would be reading a book about an overweight, chain smoking 30-year old man that uses a magic rotary dial to turn into obscure heroes, I probably would not have believed you. China Mieville has weaved an interesting world, full of lush characters and voices. The entire premise of this book is very interesting, but at this point, I am still unsure about the longevity of this series.
Today, Shelby and Peter are discussing Dial H 2, originally released June 6th, 2012.
Shelby: I didn’t know anything about Dial H when I started reading it last month. The characters were foreign, the setting new, even the physics of the Dial H universe were wholly unknown. After the first issue, I was excited. Things were mysterious and unique! This is a superhero process I’ve never seen before! I couldn’t wait to know more. Well, China Mieville must have heard me, and decided to cram as much new stuff as possible into the second issue.
Today, Patrick and Peter are discussing Dial H, originally released May 2nd, 2012.
Patrick: The first issue of any series has an awful lot of work to do. When Drew and I started these things, we covered the first 3 issues of a series. This was partially because it was November before we got our asses in gear, but there’s also the legitimate benefit of having something to evaluate. Set-up can be tricky, but most of the New 52 titles circumvented the laborious expository process by relying on known entities: Flash, Batman, Green Lantern, whatever. Even those titles that were super new to me – like Batwoman, Batwing and Captain Atom – still had their roots in time-tested franchises. Dial H has to build its world, its premise and its main character from the ground, up. Continue reading →