Best of 2014: Best Artist

Best of 2014: Best ArtistWithout artists, all of your favorite characters, scenes, costumes, and locations would just be words on a page. In short, they’re the ones that make comics comics. That’s a lot of responsibility, yet the best artists manage to juggle all of those tasks and inject some meaningful art and style into the proceedings. Whether its a subtle expression or a jaw-dropping action sequence, our favorite artists add the requisite magic to make their worlds and characters real. These are our top 14 artists of 2014.
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All-New X-Men Annual 1

Alternating Currents: All-New X-Men Annual 1, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men Annual 1, originally released December 24th, 2014.

Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

Emma Coates,  “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling”

Drew: This is a pretty well-worn axiom of fiction writing, and while I don’t have any qualms with the assertion that good coincidences are bad, I think it’s important to acknowledge that bad coincidences aren’t necessarily good. We’re all familiar with how deflating a Deus ex Machina resolution can be, but I firmly believe that an arbitrary, unlikely problem — a Diabolus ex Machina, if you will — can be just as bad. Actually, it might be worse; while we might understand a writer painting himself into a corner (thus requiring a miracle to get out of it), there’s no such justification for a coincidence up front. The arbitrary rules of sci-fi technology has always been a pet peeve of mine, but as the laws governing time-travel take center stage in All-New X-Men Annual 1, the conflict became a full-on Diabolus ex Machina, derailing what could have been a thrilling, emotional journey. Continue reading

Green Arrow 34

green arrow 34

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Green Arrow 34, originally released August 6th, 2014.

Spencer: Eighteen months ago, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino began their run on Green Arrow, which had been a meandering, mediocre title ever since the New 52 relaunch. Lemire and Sorrentino arrived with a distinct style and a strong, specific vision, quickly transforming the title into one worth paying attention to. Now — with the exception of next month’s Futures End tie-in — their run has drawn to a close, and more than ever it’s apparent how much effort the creative team has put into rehabilitating Green Arrow. Issue 34 gives the conflict between Ollie and Richard Dragon a happy ending, but it also lays bare Lemire and Sorrentino’s strategy for creating a compelling superhero comic. Continue reading

Green Arrow 33

green arrow 33Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 33, originally released July 2nd, 2014.

Spencer: Despite being the title character, throughout Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s run on Green Arrow Oliver Queen has largely been a pawn, pushed back and forth by businessmen, various factions of the mysterious Outsiders, and even members of his own family (or sometimes all three!), all trying to use him for their own means. After declaring his independence from the Outsiders, though, Oliver Queen has moved to the front-and-center of his book — as Richard Dragon says, they’re both kings now. There’s still a massive focus on the supporting cast, of course, but now Lemire is using the supporting cast to teach us more about Ollie. I don’t necessarily understand every revelation, but it’s still a refreshing change of pace. Continue reading

Green Arrow 31

green arrow 31Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Green Arrow 31, originally released May 7th, 2014.

All of this is for nothing!

Ollie Queen, Green Arrow 31

Shelby: What is the point of reading stories where our favorite characters suffer through difficult situations? Hopefully, by the end of the story, they will have learned something through their ordeal and grown as a character. But when an arc concludes, the ordeal is all wrapped up, and still we’re left asking, “what was the point?” you know the arrow missed its mark (ha!). Green Arrow 31 finally concludes its Outsiders arc, and I find myself agreeing with Ollie as quoted above on the way things turned out.

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Green Arrow 30

 

green arrow 30Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Green Arrow 30, originally released April 2nd, 2014.

Shelby: Because I like to stay on top of pop culture trends, I recently discovered the TV series Legend of the Seeker. It’s a pretty straight-forward magic-based fantasy, based on Terry Goodkind’s series The Sword of Truth. You know, right up my alley. Anyway, there are two groups of magical women in this universe: Confessors and Mord-Sith. The Confessors’ power is based on love and truth; they can see when someone is lying, and as a last resort force them to tell the truth by causing people to fall desperately in love with them. The Mord-Sith, however, get their power from hate; all love, kindness, and compassion is burned out of them from youth until all they know is how to cause pain and hatred. While neither situation is ideal, it’s made clear that the love for a Confessor can elicit positive change in a person, whereas “training” from a Mord-Sith can only breed more hate. So, what do you get when someone is motivated by both love AND hate? By quiet dignity and unbelievable cruelty? Maybe we should ask Green Arrow.

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Green Arrow 28

green arrow 28

Today, Mike and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 28, originally released February 5th, 2014.

Mike: I took the opportunity to reread Jeff Lemire’s run so far on Green Arrow from #17 on and man is this a well-executed series. I remember reading it for the first time and being as uncertain as to what was really going on as Oliver himself was. When The Magus popped up and told Oliver that “you were never supposed to leave the island!” I immediately thought of Lost, for the obvious “island” premise as well as the intriguingly vague cliffhangers the show was known for. An early episode of Lost was called “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” – absent fathers being a recurring theme on the show. It’s also a title which is very appropriate for Green Arrow, a character with his own daddy issues that have now been taken to a different level entirely with the revelation of Robert Queen being alive. Continue reading

Green Arrow 27

green arrow 27

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 27, originally released January 8th, 2014.

Patrick: The mystery is an amazingly compelling form of storytelling. It’s also pretty straightforward: there’s a piece of information we don’t have and the author assures us that the reward of experiencing the story will be having the mystery solved before our very eyes. But there’s one big drawback, principally that the subject of a mystery takes places in the past. Sure, a detective might stop a killer from killing a second time, but they’re working to figure out a thing that already happened. The mysteries of the Green Arrow universe are vast, but even the most stunning revelations play out in the past. That might leave us with an interesting present, but it’s hard not to feel like we’re a little late to the party. Continue reading

Best of 2013: Best Artist

2013 best artist

The comics industry might have trained us incorrectly. We’re meant to gobble up as much story as possible, as quickly as possible. That way we buy more comics, and Batman and Spider-Man can continue to punch dudes into perpetuity. But the books we read are far from disposable — they contain some truly astounding artwork from some of the most talented storytellers out there. They’re our directors, our actors, our choreographers, our set and costume designers. These are our top 13 artists of 2013. Continue reading

Green Arrow 25

green arrow 25Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 25, originally released November 6th, 2013.

Spencer: Much like Wonder Woman or Batwoman, Jeff Lemire’s run on Green Arrow has been steadily building its own mythology that feels completely removed from anything else going on in the DC Universe. Despite that, Lemire’s still managed to make Ollie’s connections to the Justice League of America and Roy Harper work within the context of his larger saga, but he isn’t so fortunate with this month’s Zero Year story. The tie-in feels pointless, and it’s only the new character of John Diggle that anchors things to the book’s ongoing plot at all. Continue reading