Best of 2015: Best Mini-Series

best mini-series 2015More self-contained than an ongoing series (which may build on decades of backstory), but capable of more depth than a one-off, the mini-series may stand as the truest analog to novels that monthly comics can provide. 2015 was a banner year for mini-series, with both of the big two switching to minis almost entirely during their respective crossover events, and many more stellar minis coming from other publishers. These our our top 10 mini-series of 2015.
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Convergence: Justice Society of America 2

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Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Convergence: Justice Society of America 2, originally released May 27th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: “With great power comes great responsibility” is one of the most iconic phrases in comic book pop culture. Most often associated with Spider-Man, it also seems to be a guiding storytelling principle for a lot of modern comics and (most pointedly) DC’s Batman and Superman films as of late. The idea that being a superhero is a huge burden is an easy storytelling device. It quickly humanizes and “grounds” an otherwise fantastical character. It’s also a plot machination that can drive me crazy. Part of my intolerance is absolutely a sense of envy. How can a character be dissatisfied with life when they have super powers? Super powers! Continue reading

Convergence: The Flash 2

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Convergence: The Flash 2, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence this week, click here.

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Spencer: For the several decades that fell between Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Flash: Rebirth, Barry Allen was DC’s greatest hero. He was also dead, mind you, but that’s the exact reason why Barry became so legendary. The Flash sacrificed his life to save the entire multiverse, and by martyring himself he became this almost mythic figure, inspiring the entire DC universe — fans were even known to call him “Saint Barry.” But when Barry returned to life, he was overwhelmed by the praise. Fame was never something he wanted, and he knew he was far from perfect. Every action he took as the Flash, from stopping a mugger to sacrificing his life to save the universe, was taken with only one thought in mind — helping others. This dichotomy between how others view Barry and how he views himself is one of the central themes of Dan Abnett and Federico Dallocchio’s Convergence: The Flash 2. Continue reading

Convergence: Superboy 2

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Today, Shane and Spencer are discussing Convergence: Superboy 2, originally released May 13th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Shane: Once upon a time, I wanted to be an actor when I grew up. There wasn’t anything in particular driving this dream, I just knew that I wanted to be an actor, and I made that pretty well known to anyone around me. My parents, to their credit, did what they could to further that dream, enrolling me in acting clubs, community plays, and the like. This passion helped define me as a child, expressing itself in a general sense of theatricality that still, in some ways, exists in my personality. In a similar (albeit more extreme) vein, Superboy’s desire to become Superman that defines him, instilled in him from “birth” as his sole purpose in life. A driving force in virtually every Superboy story, it remains prominent in this Convergence miniseries set so early in his life. As he goes up against heroes from the Kingdom Come universe, he battles with all of his power, even against all odds. Continue reading

Convergence: Superman 2

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Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week. Continue reading

Convergence: Speed Force 2

speed force 2 convToday, Spencer and Michael are discussing Convergence: Speed Force 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence this week, click here.

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Spencer: What does it mean to be a family? It’s a broad question with probably millions of valid answers, but at their best (and at my most idealistic), I think families exist as a sort of support system. Spouses support each other through thick and thin; parents protect their children and teach them the skills they need to be self-sufficient adults, but also act as a safety net for when they fail; children eventually return the favor and usher their parents through old age. In an ideal family no one member is carrying all the weight — everybody has something to contribute. That’s a lesson the Flash, Wally West, needs to be reminded of in Tony Bedard and Tom Grummett’s Convergence: Speed Force 2, an issue that reestablishes the importance of the familial bonds between Wally and his kids and as well as their roles in the family without Linda. Continue reading

Convergence: The Question 2

Alternating Currents: The Question 2, Michael and Shane

Today, Michael and Shane are discussing Convergence: The Question 2 originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Michael: Gotham is a terrible place and everyone knows it — real and fictional. It’s a city full of human heroes whose days will all come to an end eventually; lending itself to tales about struggling for what’s right no matter what. Despite that, Greg Rucka has put Renee Montoya through high-stakes, supernatural apocalypses before. Convergence: The Question 2 is not an “end of the world” story in that sense, however, but the stakes and the message make it feel just as important. Continue reading

Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1

Alternating Currents: Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1, Michael and Drew

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1 originally released April 29th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Michael: Week Four of Convergence has included my first exposure to tie-ins that attempt to dedicate equal page time to two of the alternate Earths that will be coming to blows once the dome comes down. Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1 follows two alternate versions of the Justice League: The Crime Syndicate of America from pre-Crisis Earth 3 and Justice Legion Alpha of the 853rd Century. Continue reading

Convergence: The New Teen Titans 1

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Today, Spencer and Shane are discussing Convergence: The New Teen Titans 1, originally released April 22th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Spencer: I think most of us take on certain comfortable roles when we’re among our friends. Sometimes, though, things change, and those roles no longer suit us, but they’re so firmly entrenched among the group dynamic that they can be impossible to escape. Marv Wolfman and Nicola Scott’s Convergence: The New Teen Titans finds this happening to the Teen Titans. After a year spent under the dome, the Titans are attempting to take their relationships to new places, but find themselves caught up in the same old roles and conflicts that have always defined them. Continue reading

Convergence: Swamp Thing 1

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 1: Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

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Drew: When Steve Carell left The Office, series writer BJ Novak tweeted a series of Michael Scott story ideas that would never be told. Some of those pitches seemed hilarious, but what actually stuck with me about them is that the opportunity to make them had simply stopped. They couldn’t ever become episodes of The Office because Michael Scott was no longer on the show. That kind of context-specific storytelling is constantly turning over in comics, where the monthly grind of continuity requires that no one situation can last too long. You’ve got a great Superior Spider-Man pitch? You’ve missed the boat. A Dick-as-Batman idea? Not gonna happen. A JSA arc? Too late. Convergence has offered one last hurrah for characters from very specific moments in their history, but that “one last hurrah” has often felt more like a eulogy than a celebration. With Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, Len Wein and Kelley Jones take that sense of mourning a step further, as Pre-Crisis Swamp Thing barely clings to life. Continue reading