Today, Drew and Suzanne are discussing Captain Marvel 11, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Drew: It’s no secret that I don’t have a lot of patience for tropes. Predictable situations, reactions, or patterns are crutches for serialized storytellers, which is only made more apparent by those writers who manage to avoid them. Still, I do understand that certain tropes can be comforting — and perhaps even important to the identity of the work of art in question. I’m willing to forgive The Twilight Zone having the most obvious twist endings, because that’s kind of the point. That willingness to forgive certain tropes varies from person to person, as can be seen in the varied reactions to Christmas movies, albums, and episodes. Are they cheap cash-grabs? Charming acknowledgements of the season? Unfortunate acquiescences to the Christo-normativity of America? Christmas stories aren’t my favorite (I swear, if I see another reimagining of A Christmas Carol, I’m going to lose it), but I’ve seen enough pulled off well that I’m willing to at least have an open mind. Unless, of course, I’m consuming that story three weeks after Christmas, in which case, my patience for Christmas tropes dwindles right back down to zero. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Drew are discussing Action Comics 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Suzanne: Have you ever read a story arc that you didn’t quite connect with? A few years back, I picked up Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night and was disappointed that it didn’t have the emotional punch for me that so many other readers felt. Maybe I was at a disadvantage — I was unfamiliar with the pre-New 52 universe and this was my introduction to many of the characters. Then I read the first few issues of Johns’ Justice League when the members confront the ghosts of their dead loves ones. For example, Thomas and Martha Wayne appeared and told Bruce how disappointed they were in his choices in life. Again, I didn’t have a strong reaction to the story because the stakes didn’t feel as real. Action Comics 38 includes a horror zombie version of Jonathan and Martha Kent. So can Greg Pak revive what has become a (somewhat) tired trope and also bring renewed focus to a series overshadowed by the recent “Superman: Doomed” crossover? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Suzanne are discussing She-Hulk 11, originally released December 24th, 2014.
Dramatic Sound Effect, Traditional
Drew: There’s nothing like a good plot twist. I may hem and haw over whether I prefer that a plot be surprising or relatable, but there’s nothing quite as exciting as having the rug yanked out from under us. Still, I find that twists work best when, to paraphrase fellow contributor Greg Smith, they’re both an interesting plot devices and an organic extension of the story. That is to say, while the ending of The Sixth Sense may feel like just a clever, Twilight-Zone-y twist, it actually provides a very logical end-point to Cole’s newfound mission in helping ghosts come to term with their deaths. It’s not yet clear if all of the twists in She-Hulk 11 (and there are many) are quite as character-driven, but writer Charles Soule cleverly packs them into this penultimate issue, leaving plenty of space for more meaningful conclusions next month. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Secret Six 1, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Spencer: It’s no secret: Gail Simone’s first, Pre-New 52 run on Secret Six is still the best work of her career, but that fact has likely created some heightened expectations for this week’s Secret Six relaunch. There’s no escaping the hype completely, but Simone manages to mitigate much of it by showing from the very beginning how different this volume is from what came before. Much like Catman himself, readers are thrown blindly into the middle of a still-unfolding mystery — it’s a thrilling way to kick off a new series, but some frustratingly inconsistent art threatens to derail the entire experience. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Suzanne are discussing Catwoman 36, originally released November 26th, 2014.
Taylor: Among other things, comics are known for their ever-evolving and unpredictable story lines. Despite the flux going on around them, however, the hero of a comic book, for the most part, stays the same. If you put a criminal in front of Batman or any other A-list hero, you have a pretty good idea of how they’re going to react. Catwoman, an A-list hero in her own right, is a little tougher, though. Put a criminal in front of her and you’re never quite sure how she’ll react. Across various titles and years, Catwoman’s motives have remained as finicky as the cats she uses as her namesake. In her new incarnation, many things have changed for Selina, but the thing that remains the same is her unpredictable and ultimately unknowable agenda. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing Black Widow 12, originally released November 19th, 2014.
Suzanne: Have you ever looked at your job description six months into a new job and chuckled to yourself? Rarely do expectations and generally-worded guidelines from corporate align themselves with real-life experiences. How about that summer internship when you felt more like a barista than a business student? Natasha Romanova feels your pain in Black Widow 12, as jobs constantly pull her away from her preferred role as a spy. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing She-Hulk 10, originally released November 12th, 2014.
Spencer: At first glance, there are hardly any similarities between being a writer and being a lawyer, but ultimately, both professions owe a lot to the power of words. Writers use words to bring life to worlds and characters, while lawyers use them to argue and persuade, and sometimes even to tell stories of their own. The case between Jen Walters and Matt Murdock over the fate of Steve Rogers, as presented in Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk 10, is just one of those situations; everything comes down to the two lawyers each telling their own version of the truth and leaving the jury to decide which story they believe. As a look into the criminal justice system, it’s a bit unnerving, but as a showcase of the kind of power storytellers hold, it’s absolutely fascinating. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 2, originally released November 5th, 2014
Suzanne: A few years ago, I lost interest in reading literature about teenagers and coming-of-age stories. Maybe I read books like Catcher In the Rye too many times in high school. Or when I hit my mid-twenties, I could finally get up on my soap box about how youth-obsessed American culture can be without feeling (too) hypocritical.
Then Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers shook up my perspective, proving that the right creative team can sell almost any genre. Since then, books like Batgirl and Gotham Academy are (soon to be) mainstays on my pull list. Relationship drama? Impulsive heroes? Hipster fashion? Check. Check. Check. I’m hoping that Gotham Academy can maintain its unique tone without lapsing into a paint-by-numbers romantic drama.
Today, Mark and Suzanne are discussing Batman Eternal 30, originally released October 29th, 2014.
Mark: In a few weeks, the Batman Eternal creative team will have produced more issues than even the longest running New 52 books. With the task of producing so much content, the challenges of serialization in a weekly title are magnified compared to a monthly title. Plot and action have to be metered out very carefully as to not burn through too much too fast, but at the same time every issue still has to feel like an event as readers have been trained to expect by monthlies. With that in mind, it’s enjoyable for me to watch the writers of Batman Eternal juggle the many, many plot threads they have introduced over 30 issues. I’ve read every issue since the title launched, and every few weeks I have a good “Hey, remember when this thing was about NANOBOTS?!” moment when something introduced months ago and seemingly dropped suddenly comes back to the forefront. The narrative whiplash is part of the fun. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 5, originally released October 22nd, 2014.
Suzanne: Comic book solicitations bring out my cynical side. How can they so casually throw around phrases like “changed forever,” “new status quo” and “earth-shattering events”? Does every sentence need to end with an exclamation point?! I get that their purpose is for marketing and selling comics, really I do. But the end result is that readers expect instant gratification each month. Some of us lose sight of the bigger picture — story arcs need time to build dramatic tension and not every issue will (or should) end in a cliffhanger or a climactic moment. I’d go a step further and argue that smaller moments can be equally important to character and plot development.
The Wicked + The Divine 5 effortlessly combines shocking, “game changing” events with softer character reactions. The first four issues of this series laid the groundwork for this departure. Gillen and McKelvie gave readers hints of what these gods were capable of like Sakhmet’s fierce, primal aggression. But this issue invokes an awe and apprehension in readers that mirrors Laura’s fangirl reaction to The Pantheon. Continue reading →