Action Comics 1000: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner, Michael DeLaney, Patrick Ehlers, and Spencer Irwin

Action Comics 1000

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

“From the City that Has Everything”

Drew: Superman changed the world. That’s obvious enough in-universe, but it’s just as true of our world. Action Comics 1 created (or at least codified) the superhero genre, a genre that came to define both the 20th and 21st centuries, and is still growing as Action Comics rings in its 1000th issue. It’s a singular achievement, but celebrating it as such might not be in the spirit of Superman, for whom humbleness is as much a part of his character as heroism. He’s not one to take compliments easily, let alone brag, so any efforts to do so on his behalf run the risk of feeling crass. Most of the stories in this issue opted to ignore lionizing Superman outright, aiming instead to illustrate what it is that makes him so laudable, but in the issue’s opening chapter, Dan Jurgens came up with a way to address the issue with Superman himself, providing a commentary on the whole exercise of a huge anniversary issue, and offering a justification that even Superman can get behind. Continue reading

Captain America: Sam Wilson 7

Alternating Currents: Captain America: Sam Wilson 7, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 7, originally released March 30th, 2016.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana

Drew: Perhaps its ironic that I never knew the origin of the oft-paraphrased quote above, but it actually comes from the first volume of Santayana’s The Life of Reason, published in 1905. In its original context, the quote seeks to balance progressivism with retention of the past. Of course, it’s possible to take that too far, and some might argue that superhero comics are too obsessed with their own history to make any meaningful progress. It’s a difficult balance that I certainly don’t envy trying to strike — fans want new stories, even as they want their favorite stories and characters celebrated — but its one that Captain America 7 aims for. Marvel assembles one hell of a creative lineup for this celebration of Captain America’s 75 year history, but circumstances may have put them all in a no-win situation. Continue reading

Star Wars 4

star wars 4

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Star Wars 4, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Taylor: There’s a been a lot of Star Wars news lately thanks to the release of the second trailer for the upcoming The Force Awakens. Aiding the hype of this trailer has been a number of costumes and props that recently went on display at the “Star Wars Celebration. Additionally, there’s a new Star Wars Battlefront game that’s about to be released, the first in a number of years, which has gamers truly excited. Lost among all of this fanfare has been the teaser trailer for the spin-off Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Like the Star Wars comic, this movie takes place between famous episodes of the primary trilogies and like the the comics it offers a behind the scenes, gritty look at the rebellion. This aspect, more than anything else, is what makes the comic interesting and what makes issue four of the series so fun to read. Continue reading

Star Wars 3

Alternating Currents: Star Wars 3, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Star Wars 3, originally released March 11th, 2015.

the treachery of images

Drew: Ah, The Treachery of Images. I remember chuckling mildly at Magritte’s pedanthood when he insisted that it really isn’t a pipe — it’s a picture of a pipe — but I think the painting is actually much more clever than it initially seems. That anyone would be given pause by a painting of a pipe insisting it is not a pipe speaks to some of our most basic assumptions about art. Indeed, that we’re confronted with the fact that a picture of a pipe is not a pipe forces us to question what it means for something to be a pipe. Clearly, it’s not just a matter of looking like a pipe, so some element of pipe-iness is lost in the translation. As Marvel’s new Star Wars series marches on, I find myself wondering if some piece of what makes Star Wars Star Wars isn’t also lost in the translation to comics. Continue reading

Princess Leia 1

princess leia 1

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Princess Leia 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Taylor: The Empire Strikes Back features a memorable scene where Han and Leia share their first kiss. The scene is a gem, with both of them behaving in such a manner so essential to their characters that they (and the audience) can’t resist each other. Han is charming, smooth talking, and a little sleazy. Leia, on the other hand, is cool, distant, and fiercely independent. Looking at this scene, you can’t help but recognize that this is who Leia is. Even though we know passion burns hotly underneath her cool exterior, she’s never one to give away her true feelings. Princess Leia 1 picks up on these characteristics and fleshes out not only one of cinema’s most famous heroines, but also fleshes out Star Wars at the same time. Continue reading

Star Wars 2

star wars 2

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Star Wars 2, originally released February 4th, 2015.

Taylor: When do you officially become too old to play with action figures? I’ve often wondered this because I suspect I played with my action figures longer than most. Was it too long? I have fond memories of having adventures with my Star Wars toys well into sixth grade. However, when I made the transition to middle school in 7th grade (that’s Kansas for you) I felt I had reached the age where it wasn’t socially acceptable to play with them anymore. This was a sad time for me.What made it painful then, as it does now, is that it signaled a loss of creativity for me. No longer would I be able to create my own Star Wars adventures. I’d have to take them as they were handed to me in video games and books. Marvel’s Star Wars, while still feeding me a Star Wars story, and captures the wild imagination of someone creating their own adventures, and that’s damn fun. Continue reading

Star Wars 1

Alternating Currents: Star Wars 1, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Star Wars 1, originally released January 14th, 2015.

Drew: I was eight years old when Michael Crichton’s The Lost World was published. I hadn’t read Jurassic Park (reminder: I was eight), but I LOVED the movie. Nothing, not even my reading level, could stop me from consuming this new tale of genetically resurrected dinos, so I convinced my parents to get me the book on tape. When the film adaptation came out in 1997, it was my first experience seeing a movie based on a text I was already familiar with. There were substantial changes to the plot, but I didn’t care — the draw for me was dinosaurs, and the movie definitely delivered. I was similarly undaunted by the streamlining of the plot in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations — the draw here was a heroes journey set in a lushly detailed fantasy world.

It wasn’t until Zack Snyder’s Watchmen that I was first apprehensive about a film adaptation — the draw for me was no longer the plot or specific characters, but the medium of the story itself. A film couldn’t hope to capture the formal elements specific to comics that makes Watchmen such an achievement. I find myself confronted with these questions as I think about Marvel’s new Star Wars series (my first foray into any non-film explorations of the universe) — what is the draw for Star Wars? Is it the space operatics? The characters? The actors that play them? The thrilling John Williams score? It turns out, my answer may be “all of the above,” but that doesn’t stop this issue from being a largely successful translation of the Star Wars universe onto the page. Continue reading