Marvel’s flagship film franchise landed its second installment this weekend, assembling the Avengers to take on Ultron. Secrets were revealed! Tears were shed! Scenery was chewed! Spoilers for sure after the break: welcome to the Chat Cave. Continue reading
Today, Greg and Spencer are discussing Secret Avengers 10, originally released November 26th, 2014. Greg: I studied a lot of television history in college, and there are many similarities between that medium and comic books. Particularly, there’s a notable trend in both mediums from self-contained, episodic units that could be watched and appreciated with no greater context, to highly serialized, novelistic longform works that have identifiable cause-and-effect and require consumers to know their stuff. TV content creators seem to understand this is a primary method of creating and consuming TV now, with binge-watching services like Netflix and Hulu taking storm, and even half-hour sitcoms serializing like crazy (I would not recommend jumping into New Girl halfway through, for example). Comic book creators, however, still seem to try and cater to both extremes of readership; in the case of Secret Avengers 10, they manage to succeed, but just barely. Continue reading
Today, Greg and Taylor are discussing Daredevil 10, originally released November 19th, 2014.
Greg: Like many folks who work in a creative field, I battle with depression. Now I know that this is a site that critiques comic books, not the critics’ psyches, so I won’t go into agonizing detail, but I will tell you that there are times when you feel like you’re drowning among loved ones, I’m currently feeling a lot better, and that feeling better is something you work on daily. I’ll also tell you the only reason I’m being this forward is because Daredevil 10 touches on depression in such a refreshingly accurate and harrowing way, that I can’t help but feel disappointed when it ultimately devolves into a hastily tidy wrap-up. Continue reading
Drew: Did you enjoy Skyfall? I enjoyed it well enough, but found myself staunchly defending it — specifically from attacks that suggest that the film ripped off the “villain gets captured as part of the plan” plot points from The Dark Knight and The Avengers. I can’t deny the similarities — it does indeed pose a classic example of what TV Tropes and Idioms identifies as the “Batman Gambit” — but what irked me is how myopic the argument is. The Batman Gambit is much, much older than either The Avengers or The Dark Knight (indeed, the name “Batman Gambit” is based on instances of the device from comics that long predate Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and has been used in everything from Die Hard to Reindeer Games), so to suggest that Skyfall‘s use of the devise is derivative, it must also be true of The Avengers and The Dark Knight. My point is, I’m willing to forgive the use of a trope if it’s done well, and I’d argue that Skyfall does it better than those other two films.* All that is to say that I enjoyed Velvet 8‘s own Batman Gambit for precisely the same reason: it’s really well done. Continue reading
Greg: Is it macabre to say I hope I go to an Irish wake one day? Maybe my view is distorted by inaccurate media representations, but they seem vibrant, emotionally charged, full of humor and, well, life. Yet a sense of melancholy reverberates throughout — not unnecessarily maudlin, but genuine and cathartic. Death Of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America hits these disparate Irish wake-ish notes expertly, taking the reader through outstanding jokes and poignant gut-punches, sometimes on the same page. Continue reading
Drew: I think the word “love” is overused when it comes to pop-culture. I mean, I like Star Wars as much as the next guy, but it only took a few shitty prequels to reveal just how conditional that fondness was. More importantly, when we claim to “love” every bit of pop ephemera, the word looses it’s meaning — to paraphrase Syndrome when everything is loved, nothing is. As fond as my memories of The Magic School Bus or M*A*S*H might be, I’m going to reserve “love” for the few things that have a deeper, more profound meaning to me. I say this because I want to be perfectly clear what I mean when I express that I love Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Both properties played massive roles in my childhood; I saw the movies (dozens of times each), I watched the shows, I played with the action figures — heck, I even covered the theme songs for both in my band in high school. A crossover event like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters should be a match made in heaven, then, right?
Well, it turns out it may be a bit more complicated than simply smashing them together — especially if you want to do right by the characters and the universes they occupy. Fortunately, IDW has proven time and time again that they are very invested in doing their crossovers right, giving over the majority of this issue to explaining how these characters could be interacting in the first place. The only downside to all that explanation is that we don’t get much of that interaction in this issue, but that doesn’t stop writers Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz from delivering a ton of fun. Continue reading
John Milton, Paradise Lost
Drew: How long do you suppose sexism has existed? The Bible would have us believe it’s basically as long as human sexes have existed — Adam was created first in God’s image, with Eve following up as an afterthought of sorts, made of Adam’s spare parts. Coincidentally, she’s also the one who is tricked (or at least talked into) eating the apple from the tree of knowledge first. Sin may be conceived in the mind of Satan, but it’s brought to humanity in the shape of a woman. I appreciate that this is a bit of a tunnel-vision reading of the creation myth — the Bible is full of men who sin without the aid of women — but the notion that women are lesser beings who tempt men to evil continues to pervade our culture, from how much women are paid at work, to blaming women for “provoking” physical attacks (or threats) against them. Gallons of ink have been spilled over this very subject, but Greg Rucka and Toni Fejzula manage to find a new angle in Veil 5, providing an anti-Eve story that — no surprise — feels decidedly more empowering than the original. Continue reading
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.
Greg: There are good mysteries, and there are great mysteries. Good mysteries tend to emphasize plot above all else; they’re called “whodunnits” because discovering the identity of the criminal through the minutiae of procedural clues is the utmost goal. If the story isn’t revealing who did it, it’s narrowly focused on the search for it, and nothing else. Great mysteries are concerned with plot, too, but less so than mood, dread, ambiance, and internal conflict. If the story isn’t revealing who did it, that’s okay, because it has many other avenues its interested in. The Fade Out belongs in this latter category, as the world and feeling is so compelling, I don’t think I would mind if they never solve the mystery of starlet Valeria Somers’ death. You could call it a “whydunnit”.
Greg: It’s interesting to see how longform installment-based storytelling, like comics or TV, has transitioned from being primarily self-contained stories that one can jump into at anytime to telling one long, overarching story that one must view from beginning to end using individual units simply as content demarcators. Obviously I’m way the heck oversimplifying and generalizing, but comedies in particular have a storytelling hurdle to jump: to keep laughing at characters’ fundamental behaviors, their behaviors must remain fundamentally the same, yet in this new vanguard of serialized storytelling where folks binge lots of content in a row, we kind of demand characters to change. Slightly paradoxical, I am thus unsurprised, if just a tad disappointed, that in its second issue Bob’s Burgers seems to be going purely episodic, settling into a formula that shows just how rigidly defined this title will be. And yet, the issue is just so damn funny that I have trouble complaining too much.