Paper Girls 3

paper girls 3

Today, Ryan D. and Michael are discussing Paper Girls 3, originally released December 2nd, 2015.

“Don’t trust anybody over 30.”

-Jack Weinberg

Ryan D: The Free Speech Movement, originally born out of the turmoil roiling in the belly of an America committed to both the Vietnam War and the tumultuous Civil Rights Movement, gave youths protesting a mantra regarding who is trustworthy and who is not. The original quote, spoken first in 1964 when an interviewer accused Weinberg and the Movement of being backed by Communists or some other nefarious group, asserts that people over a certain age always have an agenda. Though Paper Girls takes place twenty years after the FSM, this most recent issue’s reveal proves that the saying holds true, even in the far future, or alternate universes, or wherever it is that is invading the Earth in this ripping read. Continue reading

Paper Girls 2

paper girls 2

Today, Drew and Ryan M. are discussing Paper Girls 2, originally released November 4th, 2015.

Drew: How early in a narrative can you usually predict the ending? Usually, when we describe a narrative as “predictable” we mean that derisively, but most stories have prescribed endings — oftentimes, the genre of the story is enough to hint at the ending: how does a romantic comedy end? How about a murder mystery? What about a sports movie? There are obviously countless examples that subvert those expectations, but those play by the same rules — the ending can be flipped, sure, but the potential endings are still reduced down to a small handful of options. Unless, of course, that story “defies genre,” evading any of the pigeonholes that would dictate its ending (or at least evading them long enough for you to get sucked in). That’s exactly the case with Paper Girls 2, where the deepening mystery thwarts any expectations about what might happen next. Continue reading

Pretty Deadly 4

Alternating Currents: Pretty Deadly 4, Drew and Greg

Today, Drew and Greg are discussing Pretty Deadly 4, originally released January 22nd, 2013.

Drew: One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was from our very own Patrick Ehlers: exposition doesn’t feel like exposition if the audience wants that information. He may not have been the first writer to observe that, but I certainly wasn’t the last who needed to hear it. Narratives should draw us in, not simply parade across our consciousness. One of the most direct ways to make the audience curious is to pose a question — it can be as central to the story as wanting to know who killed Laura Palmer, or as inconsequential as wanting to know who’s supposed to call whom Ishmael. Of course, it’s possible to overdo it with the questions — if there are too many the story stops being mysteriously alluring and starts becoming frustratingly confusing. Pretty Deadly has spent a significant time in that latter category, and while issue 4 may not fully succeed in changing that, it certainly takes some steps in the right direction. Continue reading

Pretty Deadly 2

pretty deadly 2

Today, Greg and Shelby are discussing Pretty Deadly 2, originally released November 27, 2013.

Greg: There’s a difference between something feeling “challenging” and “hard”. The way I visualize it – and be forewarned, this is going to be super dumb – a brain approaches a thing that’s “challenging” like a cocky knight approaching a dragon: he knows he will be tested, but he knows he can ultimately triumph based on his skills. Conversely, a brain approaches a thing that’s “hard” like a cocky knight approaching a titanium wall that goes on forever: try as he might, all he’s gonna be able to do is bash his head against the wall.

This issue of Pretty Deadly feels like a titanium wall. One that’s particularly pretty, mind you.

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Pretty Deadly 1

pretty deadly 1

Today, Scott and Greg are discussing Pretty Deadly 1, originally released October 23rd, 2013.

Scott: I tend to categorize the things I read. When you spend a good chunk of your time reviewing media like I do, it’s convenient to have have certain genre-descriptors at the ready. It’s not quite as simple as labeling something a drama, comedy, thriller or horror- most stories are more complex than that- but finding the combination of nouns to aptly describe the subject. Once in a while, however, something comes along that defies categorization entirely. Something that no combination of nouns can do justice. Something like Pretty Deadly. At first glance this comic looks like a Western, but the structure of this first issue says otherwise. I don’t know what to make of it. I can only categorize it as uncategorizable. As a reviewer, it’s a bit frustrating, but as a comic book reader, I love it.
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Batwoman 24

Alternating Currents: Batwoman 24, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 24, originally released October 16th, 2013.

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Drew: When evaluating a work of art, I tend to ignore the artist — I’m far too focused on what the art means to me to care about what it means to anyone else, even if that anyone happens to be the one who made it. I think it helps me stay focused on the work in question — it’s all to easy to excuse bad art from an artist you like, or dismiss good art from an artist you hate — and focus on the meaning of a work of art. Occasionally, though, the artist (or the context into which the art was released) dominate the work’s meaning. Van Gogh paintings are presented as springboards for discussions of madness, and Beethoven symphonies simply cannot be performed without someone mentioning deafness. The real-world drama surrounding the release of Batwoman 24 are not nearly so biological, but in many ways, that only makes the issue a more frustrating read.

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Batwoman 23

Alternating Currents: Batwoman 23, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 23, originally released August 21st, 2013.

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Drew: At the end of Batwoman 22, Kate asks Bones for thirty hours to prepare for her planned takedown of Batman. We all suspected that that request might not be entirely on-the-level, assuming that Kate would use that time to set-up her own counter-plan. Issue 23 reveals that we were only half-right — Kate does use that time more for her own personal ends than for preparing for her mission, but how she uses it is entirely unexpected. Continue reading

Batwoman 22

batwoman 22

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwoman 22, originally released July 17th, 2013.

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Patrick: We spent last month with The Killer Croc — an oddly blunt instrument for symphony as subtle and sophisticated as Batwoman. A few pages in to this issue, and we become aware that our heroes are searching for Bane to ask him for advice on how to capture Batman. I know Bane’s actually done this before, but it is interesting to see the brutish villains popping up in a more cerebral title. And the party doesn’t end there — the ranks of the good guys and the bad are fleshed out with soldiers and psychopaths. How exactly these opposing forced are going to accomplish their goals is another topic of conversation altogether. Continue reading

Batwoman 20

batwoman 20

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batwoman 20, originally released May 15th, 2013.

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Shelby: Trust is always an interesting concept to explore when masked superheroes are involved. The protagonist’s entire experience is based on a lack of trust: they don’t trust their loved ones to with their secret identity, they don’t trust the existing authority to take care of crime. That the distrust is well-founded doesn’t lessen the fact it’s the foundation of a successful masked superhero. But even the most independent superhero has got to have someone in the corner, some support system of people they trust and can rely on. Unfortunately, Kate seems to continuously find herself faced with people telling her, “you will trust me, whether you like it or not!”, essentially rendering the entire concept meaningless.

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Batwoman 19

batwoman 19

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwoman 19, originally released April 17th, 2013.

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Patrick: Early in this issue, DEO Agent Cameron Chase says to her sister: “I think I’m about to do something horrible.” This isn’t an admission of guilt, she isn’t asking for absolution, and she certainly doesn’t want to be talked out of doing this horrible something. But Chase isn’t the only person in this series that’s about to do something horrible. The whole cast of Batwoman imposes personal sacrifices on each other to the benefit of… well, of what exactly? Love? Honor? Duty? The very thing they’re sacrificing?

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