Backstagers 1

backstagers 1

Today, Patrick and Ryan M. are discussing Backstagers 1, originally released August 17, 2016. 

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Patrick: Earlier this month, The Atlantic published an article by Angelica Jade Bastién titled “Hollywood Has Ruined Method Acting”Bastién’s article responds directly to the marketing hype surrounding Jared Leto’s performance as Joker in Suicide Squad, but the piece is quick to point out that physical hardship is too frequently tied to performances that the culture deems impressive. Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy Award because he put himself through discomfort, pain and real danger in order to achieve his performance in The Revenant. Does that actually mean that his acting was any better? Bastién argues that DiCaprio’s workman-like suffering creates the illusion that he’s doing something more substantial — and pointedly, more masculine — than merely acting. The implication, of course, being that acting is a soft skill, too feminine to be respected without being amplified by eating a buffalo heart or loosing a bunch of weight or something. James Tynion IV and Rian Sygh’s Backstagers 1 sets up a similar paradigm, elevating one art form over another by projecting mythological hardship on top of it. For a series so in-tune with nuances in teenage homosexuality, its disappointing to see such a regressive view of gendered activities and behaviors. Continue reading

Supergirl Rebirth 1

supergirl rebirth 1

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Supergirl Rebirth 1, originally released August 17th, 2016. 

Spencer: Ever since the character was reintroduced after Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC has had a hard time figuring out just what, exactly, to do with Supergirl. Remember the time she was an angel, or a blob of protoplasm, or a Red Lantern, or Darkseid’s minion, or simply an obnoxious brat in a belly shirt? Supergirl Rebirth 1 finds Steve Orlando and Emanuela Lupacchino soft-rebooting Supergirl once again, and while they take some obvious inspiration from her current television series, they thankfully seem to be cherry-picking the show’s best qualities, particularly Supergirl’s ability to empathize with and inspire others. Unlike some of the other directions I mentioned, this take on Supergirl doesn’t feel like a gimmick or a phase, but a genuine attempt to give her a place in the DC Universe all her own, while still honoring the Superman mythos. Only time will tell if this is the take that sticks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Orlando’s Supergirl catch on fast. Continue reading

All-Star Batman 1

all star batman 1

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing All-Star Batman 1, originally released August 3rd, 2016.

Patrick: It’s hard to think of a creator at DC comics that has had a more lasting, meaningful, and marketable impression on a character in the last five years than writer Scott Snyder. His run with Greg Capullo on Batman (coupled with his role running the rooms for both Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal) makes Snyder the mental and emotional authority on Gotham’s Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne may be the “Batman” in the title, but Snyder himself is the “All-Star.” The first issue moves with such breathless confidence, willfully tossing out repulsive imagery, C-tier villains, and disorienting chronology with such abandon, it’s like the blockbuster creative team is daring us to stay away. But for every “22 minutes earlier,” for every appearance of Firefly, for every horrifying account of people subtly slashed to death, All-Star Batman 1 is an amazingly good time. It’s a remarkable change from Batman, which while obviously excellent, often wasn’t “a good time.” But it’s like Batman reiterates a couple times in this issue: “I’m trying something new.” Continue reading

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy 3

lumberjanes gotham academy 3

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy 3, originally released August 10th, 2016. 

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Taylor: It’s the time of year where kids start heading back to school, which means it’s time for me to rise from my summertime hibernation and teach the future leaders of tomorrow. This is always an exciting couple of weeks. It’s when I get to see who has grown over the summer, who’s changed, and basically witness the miracle of organic life. I’m always shocked when a 7th grader shows up and he’s four inches taller from the last time I saw him two months ago. While this is a fun time, it also makes me horribly cognizant of my age. These kids are still growing, while my body has effectively begun its long descent into dust. Born in a different millennium than me, these kids have vastly little worldly experience and I see it as part of my job to pass on what little I know about the world. As Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy 3 agrees, this is an important thing for all elders to do.  Continue reading

Superman 4

superman 4

Today, Mark and Shane are discussing Superman 4, originally released August 3rd, 2016.

Mark: Ever since they started teaming up, Batman has been the yin to Superman’s yang. And after 5 years of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason tackling the Batman/Damian dynamic, it’s an interesting exercise to watch them explore the similar-yet-not-at-all-the-same dynamic of Superman and his son Jon (aka Superboy). Jon is the anti-Damian; reluctant to use his powers, he has no problem keeping his nose clean and following the rules. An eager to learn Jon has provided Superman the perfect opportunity to reiterate his ethos, and by extension allowed Tomasi and Gleason to hammer home their operating thesis: Superman isn’t super because of his powers, he’s super because of the strength of his character. Continue reading

Kill Or Be Killed 1

kill or be killed 1

Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Kill Or Be Killed 1, originally released August 3rd, 2016.

Spencer: Maybe I’m just sheltered, but even at 29 years of age, I have trouble wrapping my head around the concept of people killing other people. I obviously understand that it happens, but there’s a difference between accepting that and actually being able to put yourself in the headspace to understand being capable of such a thing. As much as I may dream of justice in such situations, I’m equally baffled by the people who are actually able to fight for it, be they police or simply someone out for revenge; I can’t even imagine taking a life to save my own, much less purposely killing someone, no matter how evil they are. What pushes somebody to that point, allows them to take such a drastic step? That’s one of the primary questions explored in Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweizer’s newest collaboration, Kill or be Killed, which opens with its protagonist, Dylan, working as a Punisher-esque vigilante, before rewinding the clock to see how he became one in the first place. Continue reading

Nightwing 1

nightwing 1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Nightwing 1, originally released July 27th, 2016.

Michael: I find it kind of odd that as popular and enduring as Dick Grayson is, he’s constantly going through a series of status quo changes: Robin, Nightwing, Batman, Agent 37 and back to Nightwing again. Change is life, both in our three dimensional world and comic books’ two dimensional one. But the ground under Dick Grayson’s feet seems to shift moreso than other characters. Is it because comic-dom loves him so much and wants to keep him fresh? Is it because we don’t really know what we want for him? Nightwing 1 would have us believe that Dick’s always on the move because of his hectic circus upbringing, which is a plausible explanation, but I don’t know if I quite buy it. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 60

tmnt 60

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 60, originally released July 27th, 2016.

Taylor: Recently, the Australian DJ group the Avalanches released their second album 16 years after their seminal debut Since I Left You. That this album, Wildflower, was ever released shocked the band’s fans as many expected a follow up never to come. That Wildflower has been well received by fans and critics alike comes as an even bigger surprise to me. Generally speaking, if it takes 16 years to come up new material, that’s not a good thing. Many are the bands who make one good album and then disappear into mediocrity for all time. What I’m hinting at here is that artistic consistency – well, quality consistency – is hard and it’s difficult to churn it out on a regular basis. In that respect, issue 60 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a marvel because like the 59 issues that proceed it, it’s so remarkably good. Continue reading

Faith 1

faith 1Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Faith 1, originally released July 20th, 2016.

Spencer: Life is difficult, and rarely goes as we plan. In fact, life is so often defined by stubborn difficulties that it can almost be jarring when something actually goes our way. I know there’s been plenty of times in my life where I couldn’t help but be worried that an opportunity was “too good to be true,” and sadly, in a few of those cases that was absolutely correct. Life is even harder for a superhero, as Faith Herbert, the titular star of Faith 1, is finding out first hand. The creative team of Jody Houser, Pere Perez, and Marguerite Sauvage are running Faith through a wringer of superhero-related difficulties, and sadly, it looks like things are only going to get harder for her.  Continue reading

Betty & Veronica 1

betty and veronica 1

Today, Patrick and Ryan M. are discussing Betty & Veronica 1, originally released July 20th, 2016.

“Whoever wins, we lose.”

Tagline, Alien Vs. Predator

Patrick: There’s something comforting about the premise of a horror movie mash-up. Like, what the hell else would you expect when you put Freddie and Jason in the same room? They’re gonna try to kill each other, duh. Same deal with the Alien and the Predator. They fight and die and it’s awesome. Until, inevitably, it isn’t. At some point, the kids are going to team up with Jason or a Predator is going to befriend a scientist or something dumb like that. As long as the monsters are true to themselves, any “Versus” scenario can be a ton of fun. Adam Hughes’ Betty & Veronica is a “Versus” story in everything but name, so any assessment of the first issue comes down to the question: does he stay true to the fundamental nature of his monsters? Depends on what you think that nature is. Continue reading