Today, Patrick leads a discussion on The New 52: Futures End 5, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Patrick: In the first and second season finales of LOST, our heroes encounter a gigantic green bird that screeches “HURLEY” as it soars over them. Fans, because they are so damn clever, starting calling this thing the Hurley Bird. The thing was introduced as one of those “maybe we’ll pay this off later” sort of things, but they never really had any idea what they were doing with it. In retrospect, the creature’s second appearance served as an admission of this fact, and a cheeky way to dismiss the entire concept. What happens is that Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley and Michael are making their way across the island, when the Hurley Bird divebombs them (naturally howling “HURLEY” at the top of its bird lungs). Michael tries to shoot it, but Jack never loaded his weapon — that was the point of the scene: now Michael knows the others don’t trust him. But the notable part of the scene is that Hurley asks the audience surrogate question: “Did that bird just say my name?” Sawyer, acting as the voice of the creative team, sarcastically responds “Yeah, right before it crapped gold.” That translates to “who fucking cares?” And you know what? Fair play to LOST — I wouldn’t have wanted to halfheartedly explore some bullshit bird. Futures End 5 has that same dismissive attitude toward all of its real story points, making me believe that the writers care just as much about this bullshit as I do. It’s not a comforting feeling. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Forever Evil 7, originally released May 21st, 2014.
Spencer: I often find myself thinking of Geoff Johns as “the comic-bookiest writer in all of comics”, in the sense that so much of his work revolves around the history and mythology of the characters he’s writing, and enjoying his work often depends on having a history with the characters yourself. That’s not necessarily good or bad on its own; Johns’ style has its strong points and its weak ones, and while examples of both pop up in Forever Evil 7, it fortunately falls mostly on the “strong” side. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick leads a discussion on The New 52: Futures End 1, originally released May 7th, 2014.
Patrick: Guys, I want to start this off by apologizing for the typo in the header: it’s “Futures End” and not “Future’s End.” That’s my bad, not Shelby’s. I want to keep it there for posterity and because it speaks to the general confusion regarding this title. The full name is “The New 52: Futures End.” As a weird consequence of that name, it’s the only series that takes place in the New 52 that doesn’t bear this logo on its cover:
If Batman Eternal is about Batman losing control of Gotham, then certainly Futures End is about the superheroes losing control of the universe. Unfortunately, that also feels an awful lot like the creators losing control of the New 52.
Spencer: One of my favorite hobbies is explaining comic book storylines to people who don’t read comics (“Hey guys, did you know that the Justice League once fought a giant floating psychic island that shoots dinosaurs?!”). It’s always fun to watch their expressions, but it’s also an interesting reminder that comics, at their core, are goofy as hell. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m glad comics are finally being respected as an art form, and I wouldn’t be writing here if I didn’t love poring through comics and discussing their depths, but sometimes it’s just fun to turn off my brain and embrace the goofiness, and no story’s been better for that lately than Trinity War. It’s so much fun that I don’t even mind that big fat “to be continued” at the end—well, I don’t mind it that much…
Drew: Determining a level of focus is perhaps the most important step in evaluating a work of art. These foci are specific to the style at hand — harmonic analysis is likely going to tell you very little about a rap song, just as an examination of brush strokes wouldn’t add much to a discussion of da Vinci. Intriguingly, these styles often begin to resemble each other as you zoom in and out — abstract paintings may share concepts of form, color, or composition with those of the Rennaisance masters, for example — further increasing the importance focus in an analysis. Geoff Johns has always written “big” — he’s been at the helm (or at least sharing the helm) of some of DC’s most important events over the past decade — and his writing has often chafed at the analyses of his critics. Justice League of America 7 actually avoids many of the pitfalls Johns is often cited for (a lot of stuff actually happens here), but it still has me wondering if we’re simply using the wrong tool for the job of evaluating a giant, Geoff Johns-penned event. Continue reading →
Patrick: Did any of you guys ever play Warhammer? If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a table top war game where you assemble an army from your race of choice and battle against your friends’ armies. It’s the least pick-up-and-play game you could ever imagine – understanding the basic rules means reading a 100+ page manual, and keeping a cheat sheet with charts and tables with you at all times. And then there’s understanding your own army, for which you need yet other book completely dedicated to that race. Then you need the little metal figures to represent the members of your army (sold separately), and if you’re really hardcore you can paint them. Then you need a surface large enough to play on – one time my friends and I took a door off its hinges and used that when we were denied the dining room table. Ideally, this surface will be populated with trees and terrain and stuff like that. Setting up the Trinity War has felt an awful lot like setting up a Warhammer game. Everyone’s been reading extra books they don’t really want to read just so they can play in the big game. Now the event is actually here and I can’t believe I’m surprised that all the characters feel like pieces in a game. Continue reading →
Scott: What is the greatest threat to the Justice League? For a group with the power to make neutralizing powerful villains and preventing catastrophic events seem routine, maybe they should be looking at one another as possible threats. It’s hard for the Justice Leaguers to believe that one of their friends could let power get to his or her head or, worse yet, actively be working against them, but that’s a reality they must face. Justice League 20 explores different types of threats to the Justice League, those present, pending, and merely theoretical. Continue reading →
Scott: Much like nations at political odds, the relationships between superheroes can be delicate. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Justice League 19, which finds our heroes causing a ruckus in the Middle East while also tending to some interpersonal matters. Writer Geoff Johns packs a surprising amount of story into this issue, which continues prior plotlines involving new Justice League inductees and the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman while introducing an intriguing new mystery. It skirts close to melodrama at one point, but the result is a satisfying mix of new questions and answers, a creatively packaged, fast-paced thriller. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Evan are discussing Justice League 18, originally released March 20, 2013.
Patrick: I’m always missing something when I read a DC or Marvel comic. The companies and the characters have been around too long and there’s just too much material for me to be well-versed in all of it. That’s not an apology or an admission of any kind – I think we should all accept that readers have a infinite amount of time and money and memory and interest. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone stares at me, mouth agape and says “Oh my God, I can’t believe you haven’t read blank.” Justice League 18 digs deep into the DC archives but also embraces brand new creation and mixes vigorously. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter what you’ve read before. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and (guest writer) Scott Baumgartner are discussing The Fury of Firestorm 0, originally released September 26th, 2012. The Fury of Firestorm 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: When I was in middle school, we didn’t have book reports. Instead, we were periodically asked to have conversations with parent volunteers about books we just read. You’d get called out into the hall, summarize the plot, and say what you liked and didn’t like about it. These conversations often fell far short of the twenty minutes prescribed by the school, prompting the volunteer to pad it out with some leading questions about still-vague notions of “mood” and “voice.” They were a pleasant alternative to writing the same information, but the conversation that stands out the most in my mind is when I attempted to summarize Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for a parent who had inexplicably never read it. Every detail needed to be explained, so I basically spent the entirety of the twenty minutes vomiting exposition. My goal was to convince this poor volunteer that they had been missing out, but I’m sure my rambling, stream-of-consciousness summary only served to confuse and intimidate. I couldn’t help but think of that volunteer as I read The Fury of Firestorm 0. Continue reading →