Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing FF 7, originally released May 15th, 2013.
Ethan: Family is the most important thing. The ones closest to us make all the difference, whether that’s helping us reach our goals, being there for us when we’re down, or providing vital sustenance when we kill them and eat them. More on that later. Writer Matt Fraction and artist Michael Allred continue to shepherd FF forward through the latest crisis — the assault by The Wizard — with the all of the quirks and charm we’ve come to expect. Even for an issue that spends more time than usual on its fight scenes, Fraction still finds ample room to pack in both the standard measure of goofball interactions and touching moments.
Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing FF 6, originally released April 24th, 2013.
Shelby: It’s interesting to see the real world creep into comic books. On the one hand, real world elements make comic books more relateable; if we can relate to the events our heroes are facing, it’s easier for us to become immersed in the story. On the other hand, real world events juxtaposed with fantastic (and sometimes dumb) comic book events can be jarring and ultimately make the story unnecessarily nonsensical. Matt Fraction maintains the balance of real world and comic world by making the silly comic book stuff EXTRA silly while at the same time making the characters extra endearing. I don’t understand how or why, but it works. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing FF 5, originally released March 27, 2013.
Drew: Comics have a LOT of history, which is precisely what makes them so intimidating. Marketing ploys like the New 52 and Marvel NOW are designed specifically to minimize the cost of entry — sure, there may be decades of dense continuity to follow, but why bother when you can start with a brand new #1. As someone who was enticed by those ploys, I often have the false sense of security that I understand the universes these stories are told in. Sure, there are references to events and characters I don’t know, but I continue on the faith that, if it’s important, everything will be explained. For the most part that attitude has served me well, but every so often, I’m reminded of just how my ignorance might color my readings. The recent twist ending in Age of Ultron 3 is a great example — everything about the reveal told me that this was a big surprise, but I completely lacked the knowledge to understand what actually happened, forcing me to consult the Marvel Wiki for answers. Of course, the long, convoluted histories that most characters have often make that experience more confusing than helpful, which is exactly the experience I had trying to parse the ending of FF 5. Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Patrick are discussing FF 4, originally released February 27, 2013.
Ethan: Growth is hard. Everyone’s familiar with the usual childhood “growing up” process, with all of its difficult changes, naïve missteps, puppy love, and idealism. Then there’s the second adolescence — of the mind rather than the body — that we deal with as we explore what it means to be an adult. The changes are more situational and relational than hormonal; the missteps become less laughably naïve but often have much larger consequences; idealism fades to pragmatism, and puppy love — well, love doesn’t really change that much. Alongside these more mundane types of development, life occasionally confronts us with something truly awful and growth stops being something we do as a matter of course and starts being something we do just to survive. In the hands of writer Matt Fraction and artist Michael Allred, FF #4 continues to show us a world in which the varieties of growth faced by children, adults, and survivors collide. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and guest-writer Suzanne are discussing Batwoman 17, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Patrick: We’re posting this two days after the Academy Awards, but I’m writing this at 9:25PM, Pacific Standard Time, the Thursday before the ceremony. I’m being so specific because I want to make a prediction: Lincoln will not win Best Picture (editors note: called it!). For everything Lincoln does well, it does not earn the sentiment expressed in its many soaring speeches. Endings are so naturally powerful, and it’s a shame how frequently Spielberg employs John Williams’ moving score and the impassioned performances of some of the best living Hollywood actors to approximate the feeling of catharsis. It’s a shortcut, it’s phony, and it stinks. J.H. Williams III and Hayden Blackman employ no such tricks as they wrap things up in Batwoman 17 and every single moving moment — and there are many — is earned.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing FF 1-3, originally released November 28th, 2012, December 19th, 2012, and January 23rd, 2013.
Shelby: What do you do when things go wrong? When something doesn’t happen the way you’ve planned, how do you react? If you thought ahead and have a back-up plan, there’s nothing to worry about. But what if you are the back-up plan? What if you are the one who has to step up when things fall apart and figure out how to hold everything together? Between FF and Fantastic Four, Matt Fraction shows us both sides of the coin, and it gives him an opportunity to tell a pretty unusual kind of story.
Today, Drew and Courtney are discussing Batwoman 16, originally released January 23rd, 2013.
Drew: The notion that myths gain their power from our belief in them has been a primary focus of Batwoman in the New 52. It’s a theme that has come up explicitly in the text — as Maro conjures the myths that haunt our dreams, and as Kate seeks out the myths that inspire us to greatness — as well as implicitly in our analyses. Indeed, we’ve made the case that comics are modern mythology so often, I’d forgotten what “myth” might mean besides “story.” It’s parsing that very detail that makes Batwoman 16 such a pleasure to read, as J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman remind us of the pleasures of form afforded to modern storytelling. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Courtney are discussing Batwoman 15, originally released December 19th, 2012.
Shelby: Speaking in the broadest of terms, there are a couple ways to define a person: in relation to the other people in their lives, or based solely on who they are as a person. So far in Batwoman, Maggie Sawyer has largely been defined as a character through her relationships, with Kate, with her daughter Jamie, even her relationship with her job and the missing children. This issue, we get a glimpse of just Maggie, and it looks like she’s starting to come apart at the seams. She’s got a job that’s pretty terrible even on the good days, a girlfriend who just isn’t around often enough, and a stubbornly independent streak which prevents her from asking for help. The batshit crazy she’s had to deal with these last 15 issues is catching up to her in a bad way; I have faith in her, but I worry she won’t make it through to the end.
Today, Courtney and Patrick are discussing Batwoman 14, originally released November 21st, 2012.
Courtney: When we left off, Batwoman and Wonder Woman had just sought the assistance of Pegasus, who, confusingly, was not a winged horse, but an exceptionally grizzled, disheveled, and unhappy-looking man of purpleish complexion. In this issue, we start to get a grasp on why. Pegasus is “dying” (or experiencing some not-yet-fully-explained immortal analog for death), and it is not a pleasant picture. Batwoman examines his wounds and mentally outlines a brutal altercation with Falchion, for which Pegasus is distinctly the worse. He explains Falchion’s complicity in Medusa’s sadistic, misanthropic, world-domination plans. He says that if Wonder Woman will cut off his head so that he can die “a warrior’s death,” he will point them in Medusa’s direction. Batwoman is appalled, but Wonder Woman agrees. Unsurprisingly, he sends them back to Gotham. Wonder Woman kills him, then quietly agonizes over the decision. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Courtney are discussing Batwoman 13, originally released October 17th 2012.
Patrick: One summer time during college, I was looking for a job and I stopped by the mall in Appleton, Wisconsin. There was a sign at the info desk in the food court that said “Help Wanted” and then listed all the stores that were hiring. I didn’t know why, but I was really uncomfortable asking for this information – to the point where I almost wasn’t going to do it. But then I swallowed hard and just to myself “okay, I’ll just be funny.” Humor is the one tool I have at my disposal that I can use to address any situation I get myself into. God help me if I ever find myself pitted against the spawn of Chaos – I’d be fucked. Batwoman’s tools, on the other hand, we can have some confidence in those.