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
DC has staked their claim on the month of September. Two years ago saw the relaunch of the entire publishing line, and last year saw special “zero” issues for every series. This year, DC is releasing 52 issues featuring villains, old and new, from the DC Universe. There’s no one-for-one correspondence to existing series, and DC hasn’t been the most forthcoming with information about what exactly they’re putting out. There’s a lot to sort through here and no easy answers for what’s going to be worth our time and money. Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 20, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Drew: Comic books love team-ups, to the point that we rarely question their utility. Whether it’s random circumstance or a specific goal that brings the team together, once the team is formed, we kind of take it for granted that they will stick together. Who cares if Ocean’s 12 requires a ballistics expert (or whatever it is that Brad Pitt’s character does)? The team is the team – don’t question it. Unless, of course, you’re Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes, who devote Justice League Dark 20 to examining the utility of each team-up, from the random cameos to the team’s core members. The result is a fresh, surprisingly compelling argument for the team’s existence. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 19, originally released April 24, 2013.
Taylor: There’s nothing like having a little time to yourself. This proves to be especially true after you’ve completed a large project or gone through an important life event that required a lot of your time or energy. Having just completed a stint as a student teacher, I understand how nice it is to regain a little bit of time for yourself. Suddenly, I have ample time to pursue my own interests, to take care of things I’ve been putting off for too long, and to generally dedicate myself to laziness and slobbery. Comic book writers and artists, along with the characters they give life to, similarly get to enjoy these moments of re-centering when they come to an end of a story arch. Without the obligations of having to progress a plot or defeat absolute evil, comic creators have the chance to spend a little more time on their characters and enjoy their company. Additionally, this is a chance for writers to reassess where they would like the focus of their series to fall and on whom. Justice League Dark, having wrapped up the Timothy Hunter arc, is enjoying one of these precious moments and in issue 19 it’s a pleasure to see what effect that has on the series.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Constantine 2, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Taylor: John Constantine is an addict. If you look at anything that chronicles the life of an addict, you’ll find a chapter or two that speaks of the magnificent high times — even though stark reality later sets in. These high times suggest that addiction is more worthwhile than any reasonable person would believe. With the exception of movies like Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream or shows like A&E’s Intervention, there have been relatively few realistic portrayals of addiction and the effect it has on both its users and those who love them. So it’s odd that a story about magic and the occult would have much insight to offer when it comes to the subject of addiction. Constantine 2 does exactly that while deepening our understanding of what drives the titular hero. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 18, originally released March 27th, 2013.
Taylor: Magic versus Science is an old trope. This theme has presented itself in books uncountable, in roughly half of all the Star Trek TNG episodes ever made, and in 67% of the movies filmed between 1985 and 2011. Hell, this battle is even present in music. If we accept that magic is essentially a stand-in for things of the past while science stands for those of the future it becomes clear how this relation works. Just take a look at any of your friend’s iTunes list and you’ll see a large portion of it is devoted to neo-folk while another large portion is made up of electronic or club music. I suppose it is a testament to mankind’s preoccupation with this theme that it exists in so many aspects of our daily life. However, I’m surprised that as a society we haven’t gotten tired of this conversation. While we all certainly long for the past in some way or another, we also all enjoy innovation and exploration. Perhaps there is some deep explanation for why this subject fascinates us all and perhaps that is the reason why the recent events in Justice League Dark are so entertaining. Or maybe, just maybe, the reason why it’s so compelling in JLD is because the story telling is just so damn good, as exemplified in the most recent issue.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Constantine 1, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Shelby: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has a price, and everyone has to pay it eventually. It might be nice to try to live your life like that isn’t true: to give of yourself freely and expect nothing in return. While I believe the world would be a better place if everyone were less selfish, if we all helped each other out with a no-strings-attached free lunch every now and again, I know that there will always be people who will take advantage of that system. People like John Constantine. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 18, originally released March 13th, 2013.
Patrick: You know how NBC does a week of environmentally themed shows for the week of Earth Day? (Maybe they even call it Earth Week, who knows?) It’s a network-wide mandate and there’s a persistent green peacock in the lower right corner of the screen to remind us of this fact. How individual shows deal with this mandate is sorta flexible — The Office will relegate their green message to the cold open, and 30 Rock will have Al Gore on again. Everybody tows the line because to not do it would be monstrous. You don’t want to be the only sitcom that doesn’t care about global warming, right? Batgirl 18 finds itself in a similar predicament: how to participate in this REQUIEM without derailing the series’ forward momentum. Ray Fawkes eschews convention by trading in themes rather than plot points. The results are mixed. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Patrick: Have you ever been introduced to a group of new people with a specific adjective? Someone says “this is my funny friend Patrick” or “you’ll be working with Patrick, he’s really smart.” Suddenly, it doesn’t matter how you view yourself, it becomes your singular goal to live up to that defining adjective. It’s stressful, but having your friends state their expectations of you right upfront increases that likelihood that you will be the thing they say you are. So what do you say about someone to turn them into your hero?
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 17, originally released February 13th, 2013.
Patrick: Like 20 minutes into the movie Fight Club, Ed Norton’s character meets Brad Pitt’s character for the first time. [I'm about to spoil Fight Club - heads up.] Prior to this point, there’s almost non-stop voice over from Norton’s character, prattling on about life, work, commercialism, phonies, etc. But the second Pitt’s Tyler Durden is introduced, the voice over goes away and the two men have a conversation — the irony, of course, being that they’re the same person, so he’s kinda still talking to himself. But the effect of losing that trusty, comfortable narration is jarring, setting up this scene as a Scene That Matters. Batgirl 17 robs us of a similar comfort as it delves deeper into the broken Gordon family. Continue reading