Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Animal man 20, originally released May 1st, 2013.
Scott: I guess Animal Man readers better have good memories. If you were caught off guard by “Tights: Part Two”, try to recall how you reacted to Part One, way back in Animal Man 6. At that point, the story of Chaz Grant bore little resemblance to the life of Buddy Baker, who had considerable power as Animal Man and good standing as a husband and father. Since then, however, Buddy’s life has fallen to pieces: he’s lost his son, his relationship with his family is in disrepair and he’s been cut off from The Red. Buddy’s life at the start of Animal Man 20 is eerily similar to that of his character in “Tights” midway through the film. The second half of the movie effectively shows us that there might still be hope for Buddy Baker, while even more effectively showing us that there might not.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Scott are discussing Animal man 19, originally released April 3rd, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: In the modern world of superhero comics, it’s become the norm to inject “real world” elements into the story to make the fantastic characters more relatable to readers by bringing them down to earth. Most superheroes have a secret identity or some kind of life outside of the never-ending battle that keeps them grounded, but Buddy Baker has always had an entire family to help keep him in check. As much as he’s been the Animal Man, he’s also been the family man as writers have often chosen to focus not just on Buddy, but his wife and children as well. In the aftermath of Rotworld, Jeff Lemire explores what happens when the fantastic elements of the life of our hero ends up taking away everything else. Continue reading →
Drew: Many fans were dismayed when DC spoiled the end of Batman Incorporated 8, but it really wasn’t just that they had made those spoilers available — it was that they made them unavoidable, popping up when you accessed their website with no way of avoiding the information. Sure, you could argue that the cover to that issue (which had, unfortunately, already been leaked) gave the ending away, but it’s not exactly like comic book covers have to be representing actual events in the issue. Case in point: Batman R.I.P., which — contrary to what the title suggests — [SPOILER] doesn’t feature the death of Batman. In fact, the well-known hyperbolic nature of comic book covers is precisely what made me so skeptical that Animal Man 18 would actually feature “the most TRAGIC DAY in the life of BUDDY BAKER!” (Spoilers after the jump) Continue reading →
Scott: This comic is called Animal Man, but it’s hardly about Buddy Baker at this point. Sure, Animal Man and Swamp Thing are the focal points of the RotWorld crossover event, but their personal objectives and motivations are overshadowed by RotWorld itself. There are so many characters fighting against the rot that it’s tough to consider Animal Man the main character in this issue, and even more difficult to think of his personal motivation — to save Maxine — as the emotional center of the story. Throw in the fact that this issue truly is a crossover with Swamp Thing, and it’s harder yet to think of this as Animal Man’s story. Not that that’s a bad thing. Animal Man is part of an awesome team fighting against the Rot, and the collective inventiveness they display here makes Animal Man 17 a thoroughly fun and often jaw-droppingly cool experience.
Patrick: The End of the World. Pretty bleak subject matter, right? But we can go bleaker. Let’s kill as many superheroes as possible, and then use their grotesquely reanimated corpses to attack our protagonists. Also, no one’s safe, so those protagonists themselves can get picked off at a moment’s notice. Still not grim enough? Then let’s keep flashing back to the putrid death of our hero’s family. These are the principal building blocks of Rotworld. So if I’m using the adjectives “grim,” “grotesque” and “bleak” so much, why is this issue so much fun?
Scott: Perspective is everything in storytelling. Storytellers can have a profound impact on how a story is received based on the information they have access to and how they choose to present that information. Really good storytellers include personal touches that show their passion for the subject, giving emotional weight to the story. I would venture to guess Frankenstein is not this type of storyteller. Frankenstein has fairly simple tastes; he likes killing monsters and not being around people. So how do you elegantly tell a story about a character whose preferred mode of communication is a disinterested grunt? Take the story out of his hands and tell it from a third person point of view, which writer Matt Kindt does to beautiful effect in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 15.
Shelby: Last month, Drew talked about Jeff Lemire thwarting our expectations to surprise us in the best way. This month is no different, as he sprinkles some obvious and not-so-obvious surprises throughout the issue. And really, he’s made it easy for us to be surprised; with Rotworld, Lemire has turned the DCU into a place where literally anything can happen. Kill all the heroes and leave the world a rotting shell? Sure! Turn characters we all know into horrifying monsters who want little more than to tear our protagonist limb from limb? Why not! In a universe where all the rules have been broken, even our wildest guesses fall short of the mark. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 14, originally released November 28th, 2012.
Drew: Chekhov’s gun — the principle that a writer should not introduce a story element in the first act unless it comes into play by the third — is meant to keep stories simple and efficient. Details that don’t matter can clutter a story needlessly, making for a flabby, muddy narrative. On the other hand, when handled obviously, knowing that every element introduced must come into play can ruin an otherwise good surprise. In Justice League Dark 14, we find Jeff Lemire applying Chekhov’s principle to the House of Mysteries, delivering a kind of comedic interlude in the midst of Zatana and Tim Hunter’s disappearance. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E 14, originally released October 10th, 2012. This issue is part of the RotWorld crossover event. Click here for complete RotWorld coverage.
Patrick: 2003 was supposed to be the year that the Matrix series ruled the world. To follow-up their genre defining 1999 masterpiece, the Wachoskis planned an all-out media blitzkrieg. Over the course of six months, they released two enormous science-fiction action movies, a set of animated shorts that tied directly into those movies and a AAA video game whose narrative wove throughout the movies and the shorts. Naturally, the movies were the flagships of this Matrix armada, so when they weren’t very good, the whole fleet sank. But I played the everloving shit out of that Enter the Matrix video game. It worked because Enter the Matrix had to embrace conventions of a video game directly, instead of stylishly dancing around them (as the films did). It might have seemed strange when Morpheus would tell you to collect three keys to access the next level, but there’s something refreshing about that objective-based narrative — especially considering that the terms of victory in the Matrix movies were becoming ever more grim and convoluted. Frankenstein is the Enter the Matrix of Rotworld: what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in clarity of objective.
Drew: Last month, I couldn’t get over how openly writer Jeff Lemire was playing to our expectations in Animal Man. More specifically, he was setting up expectations with the express purpose of implying he was going to meet them at face value — all with an unblinking swagger that was kind of thrilling. Animal Man 14 finds him switching gears to the kinds of thwarted expectations we expect from (good) superhero comics, but that change actually makes the surprises even more surprising. Continue reading →