Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Birds of Prey 20-21, originally released May 15th and June 19th, 2013.
Patrick: Fun fact: when Family Matters debuted in 1989, Jaleel White had not been cast on the show. Instead of being the adventures of Steve Urkel and the neighbors he loved to annoy, the show was a simple spin-off of Perfect Strangers – the story of a middle class working family in Chicago. But Steve Urkel made his appearance in the twelfth episode and was so well-received that it changed the DNA of the series forever. For better or for worse Steve Urkel had taken over Family Matters, and suddenly he was the only thing mattered. As Birds of Prey struggles to find it’s own audience and its own direction, it receives an Urkel of its own: The Court of Owls. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Sword of Sorcery 8, originally released May 15th, 2013.
Taylor: It’s hard to believe, but we haven’t been able to buy Surge — that neon green, sugar-saturated soft drink — for thirteen years now. For whatever reason, I remember Surge being incredibly popular with my peers in primary school. The reasons for this really evade me at the moment. It wasn’t all that great or different from other soft drinks and it certainly didn’t offer any benefits aside from its taste. I don’t remember the ad campaign for Surge but I’m guessing that it must have had something to do with everyone’s fondness for the slimy soda. I seem to remember that everyone thought it was so chock-full of sugar it would drive a sane student nuts. If we wanted to stay up late or feel energized my friends and I would gulp down the snot-colored soda and pretend we instantly felt the effects. So that was Surge, and now it is gone. Even though I only liked it as a kid I still have fond memories of that stuff. Similarly, even though Sword of Sorcery is going the way of Surge and leaving shelves indefinitely, I’ll always look back on it with cheerful glee, glad that existed even for a short time.
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Birds of Prey 18-19, originally released March 20th and April 17th, 2013.
Shelby: I have the most trouble writing beginnings and endings. Beginnings are hard because you have to draw the reader in, entice them enough to keep reading. Endings are hard because you have to conclude your message with enough finality that there’s a sense of closure without being too abrupt. My biggest complaint about Duane Swierczynski’s run on Birds of Prey was his endings; story arcs just sort of … stopped. There is little I find more frustrating than a well-written story that doesn’t deliver on the ending, that simply ends. Birds finds itself with a new beginning, though, as Christy Marx wraps up Sword of Sorcery and takes over writing duties here; her strong, female-centric take on Nilaa won me over from day one, and would seem to make her a perfect fit for this superheroine team title. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Sword of Sorcery 7, originally released April 17th, 2013.
Taylor: The last bite from a bag of Doritos is not the best. Having eaten more than my fair share of Doritos, I feel as if I can speak with some authority on this issue. So trust me when I say that Doritos are not good until the last crumbs. A much better bite is that last full chip you get in the bag. You know the one: it’s still a perfect triangle, it’s evenly coated in faux cheese powder, and it delivers the perfect crunch between your teeth. This last full chip is made all the sweeter by knowing it is the last of its kind, never to return until you make the shameful trip to the grocery store for more junk food. And while the crumbs and the half-chips at the bottom of the Doritos bag are tasty, they don’t come near the tasteful bliss that is a full chip, the way the gods intended Doritos to be eaten. In just the same way, the penultimate issue of Sword of Sorcery delivers on all of the hallmarks that make this short lived series so good, giving us an issue that is perhaps the last, best taste of the title. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Sword of Sorcery 6, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Taylor: Throughout Sword of Sorcery’s short run,writer Christy Marx has proven again and again her ability to create compelling characters. Amaya, teen princess of Amethyst, is compelling because she is just do darn believable. Even though she was thrust into an alternate dimension, Amaya still embodies what it means to be a teenager – she has crushes on boys, loves pizza and argues with her mom. Alternatively, Marx fleshes out the antagonists of the series as well. Mordiel, despite all of her frosty bitchiness, is all too human. She questions her actions, appears to love her sister and niece, and feels a sense of unearned entitlement. With such strong and rounded characters as these it’s no wonder that Sword of Sorcery has come to enchant those who have been willing to give it a fair shake. However, with the news of its imminent demise, would the characters — both old and new — remain outstanding? Issue six has us asking this question among many others. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Sword of Sorcery 5, originally released February 20th, 2012.
Drew: Let’s talk motivation. It’s an important thing for characters (both good and evil) to have, but what is it? In the most abstract terms, it’s simply what the character wants, be it an object, a result, or a status (or avoiding any of those things). Morally, we can set up a continuum of motivation from altruism to greed, with most daily motivation falling somewhere in between. Comics, being a medium of contrasts, tend to focus on the extreme ends, with heroes often acting selflessly, with villains serving only their own ends. It’s an arrangement so ubiquitous, it can start to feel trite (which is why writers are so keen on subverting those expectations), but when it’s done well, as it is in Sword of Sorcery 5, it can remind us why we value those traits the way we do.
Today, Taylor and Nate are discussing Sword of Sorcery 4, originally released January 23rd, 2012.
Taylor: Corporations have had it hard lately — at least as far as PR goes. With the rise of the Occupy Movement, people became more sensitive and informed when it comes to the doings of some of the mega-businesses that manage our economic future. Never before in history have these companies been scrutinized with such skepticism on their ability to create a fair and profitable world. The CEOs and chairmen who run these cash cows similarly have a problem when it comes to how they are perceived. When most people envision a CEO they picture a greedy W.A.S.P. sitting atop his sky scraper, caring only about the bottom line. Whether warranted or not, powerful businessmen have been demonized by the public at large and in all likelihood will continue to be as long as they exist. But what if those who run these companies were actually actively involved with the very demons we make them out to be? Sword of Sorcery 4 explores this question and since demons are involved you know an appearance by John Constantine is required.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Sword of Sorcery 3, originally released December 19th, 2012.
Taylor: It’s the end of the year and even though Christmas has yet to happen, we are beginning to see the obligatory end of the year lists that have become a staple of most review sites. On the one hand, I find these lists to be particularly useful and interesting when I’m trying to scout out all of the media I shouldn’t have missed in the past year. On the other hand, these lists can be quite arbitrary when you consider that measuring cultural themes by a mostly pointless time span is not a valid means of assessing something’s cultural capital. Whatever your feelings are on these lists it can’t be denied that they cause us to pause and reconsider a period of time in our lives that is quickly coming to an end. It also causes us to consider where we are going in the future and all that we hope will happen. These themes of change, beginnings and endings pervade the fourth issue of Sword of Sorcery and have us wondering, just what will become of this series in the new year.
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Sword of Sorcery 2, originally released November 21st, 2012.
Shelby: Who doesn’t love political intrigue? I’m not talking about the presidential campaign nonsense we recently had to put up with, I mean the old school machinations that only a royal family could conceive of. When power is passed through bloodlines (literal magical powers divied up among the relatives), manipulating those bloodlines and relations suddenly becomes crucial to keeping a position of authority. Things are about to get complicated, so I’m going to try to map this out as best I can.
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Sword of Sorcery 1, originally released October 17th, 2012.
Shelby: It seems a common element of fantasy is the quest for power. You’ve got multiple countries, or cities, or houses, or whatever, all scrambling for as much power as they can get. In Dune, the power comes from control of the geriatric spice melange. In Game of Thrones, the power is in owning land and controlling trade. Amethyst seems a little different: the power is in your blood, is literally passed from generation to generation. This isn’t a power that can be bartered for, or distributed through a treaty; there appears to be one way to obtain more power in Gemworld, and it is a bloody one.