Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1

Alternating Currents: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew are Spencer are discussing Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1, originally released December 31st, 2014.

When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?

Millhouse, The Simpsons “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”

Drew: One of the hardest things to ignore when evaluating a work of art is your own expectations. Whether they’re unreasonably high (guaranteeing disappointment) or unreasonably low (setting the experience up for failure), our expectations only get in the way of what the art actually is. At the same time, genre fiction — and especially established franchises — run on our expectations. Where would James Bond be without his peculiar martini order or idiosyncratic way of introducing himself? These may ultimately be trivial elements of the story (though larger structural elements are not immune to these rigid expectations), but for whatever reason, they’re strangely satisfying to fans. A story that hopes to do something new with established franchises — as Boom! Studios and IDW’s new Star Trek/Planet of the Apes sets out to — has an awkward tightrope to walk, then, beholden to fan expectations that only partially apply. That tension leaves the first issue overburdened with exposition, robbing it of much of the fun promised on the cover. Continue reading

Batman 27

batman 27

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batman 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014.

Shelby: We all know why Bruce Wayne became Batman: parents killed, city corrupted, a cowardly and superstitious lot, etc. We get it, we get Batman. But that has never been enough for Scott Snyder. Throughout his run on Batman, Snyder has forced Bruce to recognize his allies, and nearly lose them. In Night of the Owls, the very city of Gotham seemed to turn on Batman, and Death of the Family saw Bruce realize how important the Bat-family is to him just in time to nearly lose it (or actually lose it, the family certainly hasn’t been the same since). While on its surface, Zero Year is another retelling of the Batman origin, Snyder actually gives us a much closer look at Bruce’s motivations, and the beginnings of those relationships he grew to value so dearly.
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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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Batwoman 18

batwoman 18

Today, Jack and (guest writer) Nate are discussing Batwoman 18, originally released March 20th, 2013.

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Jack: It’s hard work to start a sequel off with a credible voice. The expression that most often comes to mind is “Space Mutants IV:  the Trilogy Continues.” This is essentially the beginning of Batwoman’s second major story arc, and I am proud to report that J.H. Williams has risen admirably to the occasion. The grim mystery of Gotham’s missing children solved, this series hits the ground running with a new set of problems for our heroes, or at least a set of unsettling complications of all of their old problems. Continue reading

Batwoman 13

Today, Patrick and Courtney are discussing Batwoman 13, originally released October 17th 2012.

Patrick: One summer time during collegeI was looking for a job and I stopped by the mall in Appleton, Wisconsin. There was a sign at the info desk in the food court that said “Help Wanted” and then listed all the stores that were hiring. I didn’t know why, but I was really uncomfortable asking for this information – to the point where I almost wasn’t going to do it. But then I swallowed hard and just to myself “okay, I’ll just be funny.” Humor is the one tool I have at my disposal that I can use to address any situation I get myself into. God help me if I ever find myself pitted against the spawn of Chaos – I’d be fucked. Batwoman’s tools, on the other hand, we can have some confidence in those.

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Batwoman 12

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batwoman 12, originally released August 15th 2012.

Shelby: Oh, the life of a superhero, balancing personal relationships by day and caped ass-whupin’ by night. I have a hard enough time balancing office drone by day, nerd by night, so I don’t know how Kate Kane manages. She is beginning to fall into the classic (and seemingly inevitable) trap all heroes face: your loved ones assume you are sneaky and selfish, going out every night and keeping secrets, when in fact you are working harder than anyone to keep your loved ones safe. Kate starts on this downward slope as J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman begin a new arc, again with stories nestled within each other. At least this time it looks like everything is happening in the same chronological order.
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