Quantum and Woody 5 is Chaotic-Good

by Drew Baumgartner

Quantum and Woody 5

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

Superhero comics are full of Chaotic Good characters — conscientious free spirits that believe in doing good, but by their own standards. From Batman to Wolverine to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chaotic Good characters fight for their morals, though not necessarily for the law. Neither Quantum nor Woody would fit this category — Quantum is good, but too lawful, while Woody is chaotic, but too morally passive. Together, though, their actions end up taking on a Chaotic Good, picking up Woody’s chaotic nature and Quantum’s desire to do good. Writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Kano attempt something similar with Quantum and Woody 5, delivering an issue that is both chaotic and good. Continue reading

Quantum and Woody 4 Aims for the Audience

by Drew Baumgartner

Quantum and Woody 4

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

We live in a world torn between postmodernism and romanticism. We’re just as likely to encounter arguments based on The Death of the Author as we are those based in auteur theory. That we have different critical lenses at our disposal may not seem all that remarkable, but I’d argue that these two aesthetics have completely different opinions on what art is and how we consume it. Does art facilitate some kind of transfer of ideas between the creator and the audience, or is it simply a mirror that audiences use to reflect themselves? As mutually exclusive as those options appear, Quantum and Woody 4 seems to exist in a space between, riffing on classic tropes and even explicit references while still crafting a character all its own. Continue reading

Quantum and Woody 1 is an Assured First Chapter

by Drew Baumgartner

Quantum And Woody 1

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

…story is an apple and plot is the arrow through the apple.

Chuck Wendig, Damn Fine Story

It can be hard to know what a story is about based on its first chapter. Put in terms of the analogy quoted above, it can be hard to guess the shape of the apple when the arrow has only just started to pierce it. At least, assuming the path of the arrow is linear. If, instead, that first chapter jumps around the edges of a story enough, it might start to imply the shape that narrative will ultimately take. Such is the case with Quantum and Woody 1, which skips between various moments in the lives of its titular duo, but always keeps their relationship at its center. Continue reading

Swamp Thing Annual 2

swamp thing annual

Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Swamp Thing Annual 2, originally released October 30th, 2013.

Scott: One of my favorite pop culture cliches is the hero preparing for the ‘big fight”. You’ve seen the Rocky-inspired montages, with the running up the stairs and the drinking raw eggs and “Eye of the Tiger” blaring. It works every time. In Swamp Thing Annual 2, we get Charles Soule’s version of the pre-fight montage. It fits right into the ongoing storyline, which I love. It’s basically just the next two issues in one, which should come as great news to anyone who was dreading the thought of waiting another month to find out what’s going on with Alec’s impending duel with Seeder. Soule doesn’t exactly have Alec donning a headband and heading to a meat locker, instead focusing on Alec’s mental preparation. With the help of a few wise advisors- one of whom you might be shocked to see- Alec’s pre-fight journey may not have you pumping your fists, but it’s still pretty darn uplifting.
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Swamp Thing 23

swamp thing 23

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

Swamp Thing 22

swamp thing 22

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.
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Swamp Thing 20

swamp thing 20

Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Swamp Thing 20 originally released May 1st, 2013.

Patrick: What’s your greatest fear? It’s something that could happen to you, right? Your worst fear isn’t that you’re living the life you’re living right now. But that’s the case for Alec Holland – everything he had to lose, he lost. Can you imagine what a bummer it’d be to realize your worst fear was that you’d live your life as you had? Christ, that’s depressing. It’s regret at its most primal level, and it’s exactly what we’re dealing with in Swamp Thing 20. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 19

Alternating Current: Swamp Thing 19, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Swamp Thing 19 originally released April 3rd, 2013.

Drew: Taking over a title from a much-loved creative team must be an intimidating task — especially after an epic story arc like Rotworld. First issues necessarily inspire less awe than story conclusions, which means the most salient points of comparison can only be unflattering. Mercifully (or perhaps diabolically), Snyder and Paquette had a bit of a fire-sale with characters, effectively setting the series back to zero in terms of interpersonal relationships. Those changes hinted at a very different status quo for Swamp Thing moving forward, one that new creative team Charles Soule and Kano not only pick up on, but assert with a strong sense of purpose. Continue reading

Best of 2012: Best Titles

best titlesWe generally avoid quantifying our enthusiasm around here — we’ll gladly praise or condemn comics as our tastes dictate, but turning that into a grade or a score makes us uncomfortable. As there are in our pull-list, there are holes in this ‘Best of’ list. Mea culpa. We’ve had some great experiences with comics this year, and these are the series that were consistently fun, thoughtful and beautiful. Too subjective for a year-end list? Ignore the rankings. Any way you slice it, these are fantastic series that deserve the scrutiny we heap on everything. Each is a rewarding read and well worth your attention. Our picks for the top 12 series of 2012:

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Swamp Thing 0

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 0, Drew and PeterToday, Drew and Peter are discussing Swamp Thing 0, originally released September 5, 2012. Swamp Thing 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.

Drew: One of the most interesting things to me about this zero month experiment is the diversity of types of stories we might get to see. Some titles have large, overshadowing histories that have only been teased. Others have managed to make revealing the origin of their hero a key element in the narrative at large. But what do you do if your title has followed the hero since before he was a hero? Scott Snyder has made clear through his previous work on Swamp Thing that he’s not afraid of telling an Alec Holland story (as opposed to a Swamp Thing story), but is that really necessary at this point in the narrative? Snyder manages to answer both questions in surprising ways, turning the focus to Anton Arcane’s history, and how it shockingly ties into Alec’s own past. Continue reading