Discussion: Mighty Thor 700

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

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

Taylor: Midway through the extra large, special 700th issue of Mighty Thor, Karnilla, Queen of the Norns, asks which ingredient is the most essential in the makeup of a Thor. It’s a good question, and one that writer Jason Aaron has been exploring ever since he took over the reigns of Thor some 60 issues ago. While Aaron has posed various answers to this question multiple times, he’s never come outright and revealed to readers what exactly makes a Thor Thor. That is, he’s never done that until now. Using the 700th issue as his podium, Aaron waxes poetic on the nature of Thor, presenting us with not so much a new Thor narrative, but a grand tapestry that relishes in pondering what Thor has been, currently is, and what it will always be. Continue reading

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E is for Extinction 4

Alternating Currents: E is for Extinction 4, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing E is for Extinction 4, originally released September 30th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check out our Secret Wars Round-Up!

secret wars div

Drew: Do you ever hate movies for ruining a good premise? Like, not just for failing to live up to the potential they had, but for poisoning that premise for anyone else. You might have an interesting story where plants conspire to wipe out humanity, but the only thing anyone will see when they look at it is The Happening. A similar phenomenon can happen with smaller details, from memorable character names to meet-cutes to death scenes, that, for one reason or another, are so strongly associated with a crummy piece of art that it’s difficult to repeat. X-Men: The Last Stand is one such piece of crummy art, yet E is for Extinction 4 aims to reclaim many of the moments it had soiled. That’s an unexpected windmill to tilt at, but the more surprising fact is that the issue largely succeeds in winning those moments back. Continue reading

Nameless 5

Alternating Currents: Nameless 5, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Nameless 5, originally released September 23rd, 2015.

I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…

Seth Brundle, The Fly

Drew: When I was first searching for that quote, I was convinced it was actually from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Or, at least, I thought there was a line in Metamorphosis questioning whether Gregor Samsa was a man who dreamt he was an insect, or an insect who dreamt he was a man. I suppose it’s fitting that, while trying to find a quote about the elusive line between fantasy and reality, I ended up looking for a quote that didn’t actually exist. Of course, because Metamorphosis is a real text that exists outside of my head, I can verify what quotes it does or does not contain — it’s a reasonably straightforward binary, translation errors notwithstanding. The events of Nameless, on the other hand, are fictional, so there is no “real.” How, then, do we distinguish its dream sequences from the rest? The answer might just be that we can’t, which could be what this series is all about. Continue reading

Nameless 4

nameless 4

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Nameless 4, originally released June 10th, 2015.

So kiss me baby, like a drug, like a respirator
And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut.
Where I get lost in space that goes on forever
And you can make the rest just an afterthought.
I believe it’s you who can make it better.
Though it’s not. No, it’s not. No, it’s not.

Aimee Mann, It’s Not

Patrick: Aimee Mann’s album Lost In Space, is one of my favorite records of all time. It’s got all of the hallmarks Mann’s genius — smart, sensitive lyrics, beautiful melodies, a sophisticated chord palette — but where the album separates itself is in its subtly self-referential nature. The title of the record appears both here (on the last track) and on the album’s title track. Calling the same imagery, of being “lost in space” back at the end of the record, makes the singer sound like she’s so mired in her own frame of reference as to make her actual experience secondary to her ability to express it. Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s fourth issue of Nameless is similarly focused on expressing a character’s ability to express what he’s experienced through his specific cultural and personal lens. And curiously, he make reference to the astronaut’s dream. Continue reading

Nameless 3

Alternating Currents: Nameless 3, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Nameless 3, originally released April 8th, 2015.

It’s like the goddamn “Exorcist” meets “Apollo 13”!

Grant Morrison, Nameless

Drew: One day, I’d like to write an essay defending allusions as the defining artistic device of our time. That’s not to say allusions haven’t been used well throughout history, or that allusions are ubiquitous in all contemporary art, but it’s hard to deny the prevalence of allusions in modern pop-culture, from sampling in hip-hop to the naked homages of Quentin Tarantino. It makes sense; allusions are the natural, artistic extension of the hyperlinks we’ve come to expect throughout our daily reading. In that way, remixes and pastiches are the distillation of our time, simulating the experience of living in an overstimulating world, combining countless inputs into one meta-narrative we might call our lives. Nobody does this kind of remix better than Grant Morrison, whose career is as much defined by his ability to reconcile unwieldy continuity as it is by his affinity for impenetrable density. Nameless 3 showcases both of those sides, meditating on a whole host of sci-fi inspirations before spinning into a wickedly self-aware web of confusion. Continue reading

Nameless 2

Alternating Currents: Nameless 2, Drew and MichaelToday, Drew and Michael are discussing Nameless 2, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL 9000: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that

2001: A Space Odyssey

Drew: Arthur Miller called betrayal “the only truth that sticks,” and it’s hard to deny the visceral power of a betrayal. Betrayals are at the center of every great tragedy, from Euripides to Shakespeare, and are still very much a driver of drama today. In it’s simplest form, a betrayal is simply someone acting differently than we expect, but “acting differently” can have dire consequences in a life-or-death situation. That’s what makes HAL 9000’s turn in 2001 so compelling — a computer with a sense of self-preservation is shocking enough, but because the story is set in outer space, there’s a lot more at stake than when your laptop decides to auto-update. Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless 2 clearly draws a lot of inspiration from that betrayal, as the crew remains unaware of a mutiny brewing back at the base. Continue reading

Nameless 1

nameless 1

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Nameless 1, originally released February 4th, 2015.

Michael: Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, Wife Swap: popular pieces of film, literature and even reality TV. Besides being engaging pieces of fiction (reality TV burn!) they all have an essential plot element that draws us in as an audience: they are all “fish-out-of-water” stories. Marty McFly isn’t familiar with the culture of the ’50s, Dorothy doesn’t understand the strange land of Oz, and one wife doesn’t know how to live in a drastically different home. Since Nameless is a Grant Morrison story, it is over-the-top bonkers and full of heady ideas. At its core though, it is also a story about a fish out of water. Continue reading

Best of 2013: Best Writers

2013 best writer

In such a collaborative medium as comics, it can be difficult to say where a writer’s influence on the story ends, but there’s no question on where it begins: words on the page. Whether they thrill, elate, chill, or deflate, the best writers create characters, settings, and situations we want to return to, again and again. These are our top 13 writers of 2013. Continue reading

Best of 2013: Best Creator Twitter Personality

2013: Best Twitter

Time was, you might only ever get a chance to interact with your favorite comics creators if they happened to be attending a con near you, but technology (for better or for worse) has now put them only a few clicks away. Still, some manage it better than others, and we wanted to take a moment to single out those creators that have gone above and beyond with crafting an inviting, entertaining twitter presence. Here it is, our 13 favorite creator twitter personalities of 2013. Continue reading

Best of 2013: Best Issues

Best of 2013: Best Issue

It’s that time of year again: where we suck up all of our grumblings about art being unquantifiable and compile our best-of lists. Today, we’re looking at our favorite single issues. Love or hate the subjectivity of this list, at the very least, it serves as a great reminder of all of the fantastic comics we’ve read over the past year. We’re sure your list will be different (and welcome your thoughts in the comments), but here are our top 13 issues of 2013. Continue reading