Hawkeye 22

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 22, Drew and Courtney

Today, Drew and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 22, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Drew: Endings are hard. Whether they break our hearts or leave us wanting more, even the most satisfying ending must face the bittersweet truth of being the end. “The End” takes on a peculiar meaning in the world of month-to-month comics (especially where the next volume may already be a few issues in), but whatever we’re saying goodbye to — whether its a paradigm or a creative team — can still have an almost hallowed air of significance. This makes talking about comic book endings in a issue-by-issue format particularly difficult, as its tempting to use the final issue as a platform for talking about the series as a whole. I absolutely want to talk about Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run as a whole, but I want to first give issue 22 its due respect as perhaps the perfect distillation of what made his run so remarkable. Continue reading

Hawkeye 21

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 21, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Hawkeye 21, originally released February 4th, 2015.

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…

Justice Potter Stewart

Drew: I’ve never been a fan of classifications in art. I could go on at length about how sub-subgenres eventually become too specific to have any utility, while broader classifications face the opposite problem of being to general, but my real issue is that our definitions fall apart under scrutiny. We tend to accept the kind of “I know it when I see it” definition of basically every category we have, from gender to genre, but most working definitions have to allow for so many exceptions that they lose all meaning. Take “superhero” for example. We all have a lose idea of who a superhero is, what they do, how they act, but to try and pin down the definition reveals that none of those things are fixed. Are they heroic (courageous, noble, selfless)? Many are, sure, but there are plenty of antiheroes muddying up any moral definition. What about superpowers? Again, lots do, but with so many non-powered superheroes, it’s hardly a criteria. The closest I can come up with is based on our relationship to superheroes — namely, that we expect their actions to lead to their success. In that way, I’d like to posit Clint Barton — particularly as depicted in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye — as an antisuperhero. Continue reading

Sex Criminals 10

sex criminals 10

Today, Patrick and Ryan are discussing Sex Criminals 10, originally released January 28th, 2015.

Patrick: I think we’re slowly starting to emerge on the other side of the age of the anti-hero: when your Tony Sopranos and Walter Whites and Don Drapers were the coolest guys on TV. If there’s one thing these guys all have in common — other than your suspicion that you couldn’t be friends with them in real life — it’s that they all know what they want. The means and methods by which they achieve their goals can be questionable, but as long as they continue to express an honest desire, the audience never goes away. It’s strong, and somehow morally correct. Even when their worlds are crashing down around them, we have faith in the anti-hero’s unwavering need to get what they want. So where does that leave us with characters that don’t know or can’t articulate what they want? That’s a relatable trait, probably more relatable than any of us would like to admit. Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Series Part 2

Best of 2014: Best TitleWe 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 2 our top 14 series of 2014 (click here for part 1).
Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Series Part 1

Best of 2014: Best TitleWe 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

Best of 2014: Best Writer

Best of 2014: Best WriterIn such a collaborative medium as comics, it can be difficult to say where a writer’s influence on the story ends, but there’s no question on where it begins: words on the page. Whether they thrill, elate, chill, or deflate, the best writers create characters, settings, and situations we want to return to, again and again. These are our top 14 writers of 2014. Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Issue

Best of 2014: Best IssueEpisodic 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.
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Sex Criminals 9

Alternating Currents: Sex Criminals 9, Ryan and DrewToday, Ryan and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 9, originally released December 10th, 2014.
Ryan: Sex Criminals 9 begins with an entwicklungsroman of sorts, chronicling the development of the young woman who grows into Jon’s favorite adult actress, Jazmine St. Cocaine. It begins, like all good stories, with an inciting incident: a playground accident — seeming perpetrated by the subtly blood-speckled see-saw — leaves Rae Anne Toots with nerve damage on her clitoris and thus insensitive to that particular type of sexual stimulation. Despite this injury and the high school promiscuity (her intimation, not mine — judgment-free column here) she partially attributes to it, Ana graduates top of her class with her sights set on university. Unfortunately, her father can/will not help her with the financial strings attached, and she eventually finds that supporting herself by working forty hours plus to afford college is for suckers. Continue reading

Sex Criminals 8

sex criminals 8Today, Greg and Ryan are discussing Sex Criminals 8, originally released October 8th, 2014.

Greg: Let’s have fun with oversimplifications: Life is messy. To distract us from this messiness, humans create and consume media. Some media is tidy, to help us escape. Some media is messy, to help us examine. The best media, like the latest issue of Sex Criminals, has a balance of both elements. Now, let’s have fun with overcomplications.

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Hawkeye 20

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 20, Suzanne and SpencerToday, Suzanne and Spencer Drew are discussing Hawkeye 20, originally released September 10th, 2014.

Drew: Of all the ways a writer can use to emphasize their storytelling beats, shuffling the chronology of the events always demands my attention. I almost called it “distracting” but I think I mean “demands my attention” — I absolutely appreciate that it’s a handy tool in the savvy writer’s toolkit, but we’re so used to perceiving events one after the other that flipping them around feels noticeably alien. Again, I don’t want to imply that it’s inherently bad — there are lots of compelling reasons to tell a story out-of-order — but that it draws attention to itself in ways that aren’t always accounted for. Fortunately, Matt Fraction has routinely proven himself capable of handling (and justifying) these types of stories, making Hawkeye 20 an excellent example of nonlinear narrative done right. Continue reading