Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Swamp Thing 23, originally released August 7th, 2013.
Patrick: Alcohol is weird. It’s dulls our senses, it shortens our lives, it gets us into trouble – and yet we engage with it time and time (and time) again. Why? Because it’s fun. Because when we dial back our inhibitions a little bit, we find the casual courage to do something we’ve always wanted to do. All of that freedom is great, until you cross that line. YOU KNOW THE ONE I MEAN. The moment in the evening where you don’t make decisions with your complete mental faculty. I’ve always had people tell me that drinking brings out who someone really is, but that’s faulty. If anything, booze dulls the prowess of the super-ego, allowing the baser urges of ego and id to take priority. But the id isn’t a person’s “true self” – the psyche isn’t a list of three psychic apparatuses, but the relationship between the three. What you are can more accurately be defined by how you deny the more destructive urges deep in your Freudian well. That’s the kind of thematic material Charles Soule mines in his story about a magician, a plant-man and a booze-tree. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Constantine 5, originally released July 24th, 2013.
Shelby: We’ve all heard the cautionary tale of the boy who cried wolf. He was a shepherd, and since watching sheep is a super boring job, he would shout that there was a wolf coming; everyone would run to save the herd, and he’d laugh and laugh because he was kind of a dick like that. After a few rounds of this, when a wolf actually appeared, no one believed the boy when he cried for help, and all the sheep got eaten. Lesson learned: if you’re going to be an ass and lie to people all the time, no one will believe you when you tell the truth. Now, who in the comic book universe do we know who’s a lying ass all the time… 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 →
Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Swamp Thing 22, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Scott: There are certain people you just can’t rely on, and you know it. In a sense, it’s better to be aware that someone is a liar, or a flake, or a selfish prick, because then you can’t be caught off guard by it. At the same time, it’s tough, because if you give that person the benefit of the doubt too many times, you make yourself into a fool. This is Alec’s Holland’s relationship with John Constantine- he knows Constantine’s a liar, but still convinces himself that Constantine might be able to help him. It’s also quickly becoming my relationship with Charles Soule, the writer of Swamp Thing. I can’t count on him. Just when I think he’s going to give me some answers, just when I think he’s going to reveal something about this so called “Seeder”, he goes and writes an issue about…John Constantine? It’s so crazy, it actually works really well. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 21, originally released June 26th, 2013.
Taylor: When you’re John Constantine, it’s always good to predict future as best you can. In order to escape the jaws of death time and again, John needs to predict what his enemies will do and how they will do it. Usually the man is pretty good at that sort of stuff and since he is often the focus of Justice League Dark it’s easy to forget that there are other ways of going about things. In fact, in Madame Xanadu the team has a colleague who can literally see the future and who doesn’t need to indulge herself in guesswork of any sort. But how useful is this power? More importantly, how does she choose to use this power and is it responsible? Issue 21 of Justice League Dark delves into these questions while also exploring a character that — up until this point — we have known very little about.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Constantine 4, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Patrick: For all it’s crude early-90s wordplay and carefully constructed explorations of popular culture, the greatest strength of the movie Clerks is Dante’s refrain “I’m not even supposed to be here today.” The indignity of living his life is made all the worse when we realize there’s no escape for the poor guy, even on his day off. It’s like the universe is only happy when Dante’s stuck behind the register at the Quick Stop. Just as the DC Universe is only happy when John Constantine is up to his neck in charms, angry wizards and grifter-assassins. It turns out magic doesn’t take a holiday, even when Johnny needs it so badly. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 20, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Drew: Comic books love team-ups, to the point that we rarely question their utility. Whether it’s random circumstance or a specific goal that brings the team together, once the team is formed, we kind of take it for granted that they will stick together. Who cares if Ocean’s 12 requires a ballistics expert (or whatever it is that Brad Pitt’s character does)? The team is the team — don’t question it. Unless, of course, you’re Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes, who devote Justice League Dark 20 to examining the utility of each team-up, from the random cameos to the team’s core members. The result is a fresh, surprisingly compelling argument for the team’s existence. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Constantine 3, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Taylor: We all have that friend or know that guy. You know the one, the one who for whatever reason is lucky as all hell. Fate, in its ever fickle nature, has determined that fortune always favors this person whether they are deserving of it or not. While we don’t hate this person necessarily, we do begrudge them. Why should they get all the luck while we seemingly get none? Things become more frustrating when the fortunate person in question seems to do relatively little to achieve their luck. Whether they’re stupid, lazy, mean or any other disparaging adjective you can think of, it just seems like they don’t deserve the fortune that has fallen in their laps. Is John Constantine one of these people? Is he unreasonably lucky or is he actually deserving of his laurels? Is he actually the cause of his success or is something else? In the third issue of Constantine we ponder this question as well as experiencing London in ways few would expect.
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 19, originally released April 24, 2013.
Taylor: There’s nothing like having a little time to yourself. This proves to be especially true after you’ve completed a large project or gone through an important life event that required a lot of your time or energy. Having just completed a stint as a student teacher, I understand how nice it is to regain a little bit of time for yourself. Suddenly, I have ample time to pursue my own interests, to take care of things I’ve been putting off for too long, and to generally dedicate myself to laziness and slobbery. Comic book writers and artists, along with the characters they give life to, similarly get to enjoy these moments of re-centering when they come to an end of a story arch. Without the obligations of having to progress a plot or defeat absolute evil, comic creators have the chance to spend a little more time on their characters and enjoy their company. Additionally, this is a chance for writers to reassess where they would like the focus of their series to fall and on whom. Justice League Dark, having wrapped up the Timothy Hunter arc, is enjoying one of these precious moments and in issue 19 it’s a pleasure to see what effect that has on the series.
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 18, originally released March 27th, 2013.
Taylor: Magic versus Science is an old trope. This theme has presented itself in books uncountable, in roughly half of all the Star Trek TNG episodes ever made, and in 67% of the movies filmed between 1985 and 2011. Hell, this battle is even present in music. If we accept that magic is essentially a stand-in for things of the past while science stands for those of the future it becomes clear how this relation works. Just take a look at any of your friend’s iTunes list and you’ll see a large portion of it is devoted to neo-folk while another large portion is made up of electronic or club music. I suppose it is a testament to mankind’s preoccupation with this theme that it exists in so many aspects of our daily life. However, I’m surprised that as a society we haven’t gotten tired of this conversation. While we all certainly long for the past in some way or another, we also all enjoy innovation and exploration. Perhaps there is some deep explanation for why this subject fascinates us all and perhaps that is the reason why the recent events in Justice League Dark are so entertaining. Or maybe, just maybe, the reason why it’s so compelling in JLD is because the story telling is just so damn good, as exemplified in the most recent issue.