Imposter Syndrome in The Dreaming 1

by Drew Baumgartner

The Dreaming 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The Lord of the Dreaming has abandoned his post, leaving his realm in the hands of his followers and beneficiaries. That’s the premise of The Dreaming, but it’s also a reasonable explanation of “The Sandman Universe” group, where a handful of hand-picked creators have been given the keys to the settings and characters Neil Gaiman created back before Vertigo was even a glimmer in Karen Berger’s eye. I’m fascinated at Gaiman’s mentorship role here, and how Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely have addressed those real-world elements as meta-commentaries in the narrative, but I’ll limit the focus here to how they address the notion of reverence for what has come before. Continue reading

Sandman Universe 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Sandman Universe 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Drew: Of the “graphic novel” canon — that is, comics that non-comics readers have (however begrudgingly) deemed worthy of their time and interest — Sandman is far and away the longest. Persepolis and Maus constitute two volumes apiece, and Watchmen just the one, but Sandman spills into ten (or more, depending on how you count decades-later follow-ups like this one). However we diagnose that oddity — either as an unusually long, but no less novelistic “literary comic,” or as a more humble ongoing that was elevated to the pantheon of comics grownups aren’t afraid to read — I think the explanation is the same: the flexibility of Dream and his kingdom. Everybody dreams, affording Dream excuses to interact with every corner of the world, from kittens to serial killers, from William Shakespeare to the demons of Hell. And because of Dream’s role as a storyteller of sorts, the only guarantee in any issue was that it would contain a story (often wrapped up in a love letter to stories and storytelling). That is very much true of Sandman Universe 1, which spins its story off into four supporting series, but not before pausing to simply luxuriate in their worlds. Continue reading

Motherlands 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Mark: I grew up in a fairly regimented househould. That’s not a complaint, it instilled a lot of (to my mind) positive values in me, but it did definitely affect my worldview. My parents are deeply religious, and accordingly, their religion guides them to seek out things that have redeeming value. Growing up, this translated into strong feelings on what is and is not appropriate. To give you an example of where the line lay: The Simpsons? Not appropriate. When I reached a more rebellious age I began to watch, when I could, things I knew my parents didn’t approve of, but usually with one hand on the channel changer in case they happened to walk into the room. Of course, as I’ve grown older, I’ve determined for myself where the boundaries of good taste are tread, but from birth, a sense of good old fashioned Puritanical Shame has been instilled in me, and occasionally my palms still get a little sweaty when reading a smutty comic, like my parents are going to walk in on me at any moment.

Simon Spurrier and Rachael Stott’s Motherlands 1 is smut — it’s shrill and pornographic and grotesquely violent — but it’s principled smut. Continue reading

Savage Things 1

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Savage Things 1, originally released March 1st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: I live in Chicago, a town that is full of excellent restaurants. If you run a restaurant that doesn’t distinguish itself from the rest, you’re not likely to last long in such a competitive market. In this sense I like my storytelling similar to my restaurants: there’s gotta be something unique and original about it or you’ll probably lose my interest. Unfortunately, Savage Things doesn’t seem to be my kind of restaurant. Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

Best of 2015: Best Issues

best issues 2015
Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2015. Continue reading

The Sandman Overture 6

 

sandman overture 6

Today, Shelby and Michael are discussing the The Sandman Overture 6, originally released September 30th, 2015.

Shelby: I’m a big fan of Rick and Morty, that cartoon on Adult Swim that’s basically Back to the Future on crack. Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t seen season one of Rick and Morty, you’re best off just skipping past the break to the rest of the post. Anyway, there’s an episode where Rick, the mad scientist grandpa, basically ruins the whole world, mutates everyone into a Cronenberg-esque monster. You think he’s going to have a clever idea to save everybody, but instead he finds a version of the world in a parallel dimension where he solved the mutation problem but he and Morty died. Rick and Morty merely take their places, and go on living in this new dimension. It’s a mind-blowing episode, one of those special moments when you realize a show is much more than a show. Now imagine that, but instead of having to find a new universe, Rick had to create a new multiverse completely from scratch, and you’ve got the end of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Overture. Continue reading

Mad Max: Fury Road: Mad Max 2

mad max 2

Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Mad Max: Fury Road: Mad Max 2, originally released August 5th, 2015.

Mark: One of my favorite things about Max Rockatanksy is that despite being crazy he’s an incredibly pure hero. There’s a trend in pop culture that seems to be sunsetting where every hero was an anti-hero. Yes we were rooting for them, but in the context of the real world we wouldn’t have been. But as interesting as anti-heroes can be, it’s hard to beat a straight-up hero. Indiana Jones is a scoundrel, yes, but he only wants to do the right thing. Ethan Hunt is blowing up in movie theaters right now in a fifth Mission: Impossible film. Max is the same way: yes, he has flaws but his motives are incredibly true. There’s something fundamentally appealing about these characters in a way anti-heroes can’t compete. Continue reading

The Sandman Overture 5

Alternating Currents: The Sandman Overture 5, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing the The Sandman Overture 5, originally released May 27th, 2015.

Drew: Neil Gaiman has never been shy about pulling down the curtains that separate fiction from reality. I might call it “breaking the fourth wall,” but it’s less winking at the camera, and more showing us the puppet’s strings to better appreciate the puppet itself. In that vein, it’s never been hard to see Gaiman as Dream, the raven-haired prince of stories, fighting to maintain order over his dominion of characters, settings, and situations. It makes for some fascinating commentary on the creative process, especially when Dream comes up against forces beyond his control, even within his own stories. That’s exactly the name of the game in The Sandman Overture 5, as Gaiman pulls the curtain back on Dream’s mother and brings in some surprises that even Destiny didn’t see coming. Continue reading

Mad Max: Fury Road: Nux and Immortan Joe 1

immortal joe 1

Today, Shelby and  Mark are discussing Mad Max: Fury Road: Nux and Immortan Joe 1, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Shelby: I’ve always liked the Mad Max franchise. I saw Beyond the Thunderdome first, and I remember being startled by the bleakness of the first movie in comparison to that pageantry. When I saw Fury Road, I realized it was a combination of the bleakness of the first movie and the nonsense of the third, and I loved it. When Patrick asked, “If you love it so much, why don’t you…write a post on the forthcoming comic book?” I obviously said yes, especially when I saw the first issue was written about the villain Immortan Joe. Everyone knows I’m a sucker for a complex villain, and I couldn’t wait to see if this monster was ever anything more than that. I reference the movie a lot below, so if you haven’t seen it yet, here there be spoilers.  Continue reading