Karnak 5

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Today, Mark and Taylor are discussing Karnak 5, originally released September 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: Given the opportunity, would you go back in time to correct the mistakes of your past? At first blush, it’s an appealing prospect; we all have moments of regret in our past — a situation we wish we would have handled differently, a choice we want to unmake, words we want to take back. But people are an accumulation of their choices, and taking back one would necessarily lead somewhere new. Whether our changed self would be truly appealing comes down to how happy we are with current selves.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 62

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Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 62, originally released September 21, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: The defining quality of my teenage years was business. And not like, going to an office, wearing a tie and making money, but like busy-ness. I’d be at school from 7:30 to like 3:00, then go to play practice for a couple hours, then play in some ensemble (or practice in the winter) and then I’d do homework in the basement until I feel asleep on AIM. I had written a song about that sensation for my high school ska band (Down In Front, in case you were wondering) called “Someone Else’s Time” so I was at least aware that my schedule was spiraling beyond my control. I’ve been busy since, but I don’t think I’ve ever surrendered my time quite so freely as I did when I was 17. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seem to be suffering from some of the same fractured focus, but it’s remarkable how well storytellers Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, Kevin Eastman and David Wachter compartmentalize each threat tearing at the Turtles. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 9/21/16

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-New Wolverine 12, Civil War II 5, Civil War II Choosing Sides 6, Mighty Thor 11, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat 10, and Power Man and Iron Fist 8. Come back on Tuesday for our discussion of Karnak 5 and on Wednesday for our discussion of The Vision 11As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Archie 12

Alternating Currents: Archie 12, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Archie 12, originally released September 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: In 2011, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted out 22 “story basics” she learned at Pixar. Every one of them is useful (and I encourage any storyteller to check them out, even if I cringe at how Coats’ list of lessons became “rules” as they were compiled by various bloggers), but #19 has always caught my eye because of how fickle audiences can be with coincidences. I suspect Coats is generally right, but I can’t help but think the magnitude of the coincidence is important, as well. Small coincidences that help characters get out of trouble (say, that the villain’s dropped weapon fell near enough to the hero to reverse the fortunes of their battle) would be more palatable than big coincidences that get them into it (say, that the dropped weapon landed on a button that began the self-destruct sequence on the ship just as it was hurtling towards the hero’s hometown). And, of course, these rules only apply when we’re concerned about verisimilitude — nobody ever complains about the outrageous coincidences in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon because those coincidences are precisely what make those cartoons so entertaining.

All of which is to say I think there are a few more variables in play than helpful/unhelpful in determining the success of a coincidence. Moreover, the specific profile of the coincidences in a narrative might help define it’s tone; an action thriller might allow for bigger, more unhelpful coincidences than would be appropriate in a parlor drama, for instance. In this way, a coincidence that strains credulity might not be a problem with the narrative so much as a sign that you’ve misjudged the tone of that narrative — different stories require different levels of credulity. As you may suspect, Archie 12 contains a few big coincidences that threw me for a loop, and while it would be easy to cry foul, the fact is that Archie has always been a bit cartoonier than I’ve been giving it credit for. Continue reading

Superwoman 2

Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Superwoman 2, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M.: If I read a novel in one sitting, I retain next to nothing. The plots, characters, and relationships all start to run together in my mind. I read an entire new adult series about college football players and the girls who love them in the past week and I couldn’t tell you any of the character’s names. I think one was Dallas? Too much story in a finite space leads to nothing making much of an impact. That’s how I feel about Superwoman 2, an issue with so much happening, that nothing has very much meaning. Continue reading

Gotham Academy: Second Semester 1

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Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Gotham Academy: Second Semester 1, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: During the spring of my senior year of college I went nowhere for spring break. I don’t mean this as a metaphor in any way, I didn’t even head home for the week long reprieve from school. While that probably sounds boring, I remember that particular break with fondness. I’ve always been somewhat of an introvert and the time alone was welcome after the constant socializing that is college life. Still, it was weird to see my campus, so usually full of people, empty and devoid of life. Everything seemed at once the same yet different and changed. Remembering this experience, I don’t blame Olive for feeling lonely while spending the holidays alone at Gotham Academy in the first issue of Second Semester. This becomes even more true when I consider just how weird and mysterious Gotham Academy can be, unlike my own university.

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Glitterbomb 1

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Today, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Glitterbomb 1, originally released September 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan D: Being an actor is a very peculiar job. Though it may seem like a pretty sweet gig — getting paid to pretend you are someone else — the difficult part of the profession is seldom the actual acting. Yes, it can be extremely taxing, assuming the quirks and burdens of another person on yourself, on top of your own idiosyncrasies and insecurities, but that’s the easy part. The aspect of acting which differentiates it from other walks of life is that a professional actor, unless they are very successful, spends a very small portion of their life actually doing their trade. If you’re an electrician or an accountant, you do those things throughout your day; however, most of an actor’s life is occupied with the process of finding work to do whilst maintaining one’s skills and often fragile sense of self. The stress can be maddening and hell on one’s ego, so it is a very good thing that actors do not have some sort of internal mechanism for murder.

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Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 9/7/16

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Barrier 2, Jughead 9, The Woods 25, Kill or Be Killed 2, and Star Wars: Poe Dameron 6. Also, come back on Tuesday for our discussion of Alters 1 and on Wednesday for our discussions of Glitterbomb 1 and Paper Girls 9! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Doctor Strange 11

Alternating Currents: Doctor Strange 11, Taylor and Drew

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Doctor Strange 11, originally released September 7th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Taylor: To say that modern movie making has changed the course of comic books would be an understatement. Once wrongfully believed to be the bastion of solely nerds and misfits, the world of comics has now opened up to broader audiences with the wide appeal and easy entry point movies have offer. It’s easy to assume that the scripts for these movies are plundered from the rich depths of over a half a century of serial publication, but that assumption wouldn’t be entirely accurate. As the Civil War movie shows, movies frequently influence their panelled brethren. The Civil War II comic event, while totally independent from the movie, certainly has been influenced by the film, and that comes as no surprise. Marvel has money to make. And though it’s true that the Civil War movie was based on an earlier comic, it’s clear to see that movies, for better or worse, are influencing comics. There is no better example of this than Doctor Strange 11.

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Astonishing Ant-Man 11

Alternating Currents: Astonishing Ant-Man 11, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Astonishing Ant-Man 11, originally released August 31, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: When I was 13 or 14, a group of older kids vandalized our high school. They broke in after hours, threw a bunch of furniture off of the roof, and dug a bad word into the grass of the school courtyard. It got a lot of attention, but the vandals were smart enough not to leave any incriminating evidence. Until, that is, they were caught vandalizing a billboard on the other side of town. Being caught red-handed is generally only a sure indicator of guilt for the crime you’re caught doing, but these idiots also happened to have a video camera with them. Oh, right: in the decades before everyone carried a video recording device in their pocket, these knuckleheads went out of their way to create incriminating evidence, bringing along a camcorder to immortalize their crimes. But, you know, not being made out of videotapes, one tape might cover many nights of escapades. Which is to say, the police caught them with a video confession of sorts for the high school vandalism.

It was a remarkable story at the time, but in the years since, as cameraphones proliferated, stories of idiot criminals (usually teens [but not always]) caught with footage of their own criminal acts became more and more common. Sure as selfies and reality tv made navel gazing a way of life, they also created a new kind of criminal: one with the self-directed airtight case against themselves. That’s almost the situation Scott Lang finds himself in, though in his defense, he didn’t know he was being recorded and broadcast around the country. Still, how do you talk your way out of a conviction when there’s video footage of you planning and committing the crime in question? That remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that Jennifer Walters is the one lawyer who might be able to pull it off. Continue reading