Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017.Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
As a force for good in the world, there’s a lot missing in the Batman equation. Or, if not missing, at least contradictory. Batman’s search for justice implies a kind of universal balance, one where all bad behavior is punished and all good behavior rewarded, and because money is never an object for Bruce Wayne, this balance is achieved at no real cost to anyone. Batman Creature of the Night 2 explores the inherent imbalance necessary to create Batman in the first place, illustrating the difference between being safe and being fair. Continue reading →
This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Spencer: When I was a kid, if you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have answered “Batman.” Growing up on the Adam West series, I didn’t recognize the tragedy that fuels the character — I only saw the potential for adventure. As someone who was bullied a lot as a kid, I think I was especially attracted to the justice of Batman, the idea that the good guys always won and that the villains always got what was coming to them. For many — both children and adults — comics can serve as an oasis or an escape, but at times they also just serve to highlight, to painfully drive home how unfair the real world actually is. That juxtaposition lies at the heart of Batman: Creature of the Night. Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 14, Cannibal 4, Faith 7 and Jem and the Holograms 22. We’ll be discussing The Wicked + The Divine 25 on Tuesday and Saga 41 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 11, originally released June 22nd, 2016.
Patrick: Writer Kurt Busiek is one of the strongest world-builders working in comics today. Astro City weaves so much lore, both borrowed and invented, into its narratives that the series feels like a meditation on decades of character — and publisher — history. That amount of history (implied or otherwise) is sort of part ‘n’ parcel with the genre; superhero comics are increasingly reliant on a history shared by the readers, the creators, and the characters. There’s a slightly different approach in the fantasy genre, and worlds like Middle Earth and Westeros have evident history, even if it’s impossible for us to seek out back-issues showing it. The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw takes kind of a third track, implying a great history while also relying on the reader’s assumptions about genre and mythology to make us fill in the gaps, slowly and uncertainly, on our own. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 5, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Spencer: I like to think that I’m an optimistic person, but if there’s one thing I allow myself to be unabashedly cynical about, it’s politics. Now, I don’t think that everyone involved in politics is up to no good, but for every politician trying to do right by their voters, there’s ten thousand more looking out only for themselves. In The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 5, Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey focus a bit on that dilemma, showing how the political maneuverings of the selfish can drown out those with more noble intentions, even in a world of magic and great champions. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Shelby are discussing Astro City 9, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Greg: I don’t know where I stand on free will versus fate. Sometimes the idea of everything happening for a reason brings me comfort; sometimes the idea of me being the only author of my universe does. This type of unsettled philosophical flip-flopping (phlip-phlopping?) may suit me in my regular life just fine, but in fiction, we often demand clear lines drawn in the sand. While this latest issue of Astro City may not be this specific (probably wisely), it does delineate what it wants to do stronger than previous Winged Victory issues, to highly effective results.
Today, Greg and Patrick are discussing Astro City 6, originally released November 13th, 2013.
Greg: I’ve always struggled with the idea of enjoying the quiet comfort of what I know versus plowing through the loud struggle of what I don’t. I feel like I vacillate erratically between these two extremes, never quite finding a balance. I’m either saying yes to everything or nothing. I’m either a bounding explorer or a feeble couch potato. The choices that lead to these kinds of feelings fascinate me, and Kurt Busiek’s latest Astro City entry takes a character to this crossroad; his choice is something unexpected. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Greg are discussing Astro City 5, originally released October 9th, 2013.
Spencer: Astro City contains a world of superheroes, supervillains, and their exploits that, if properly explored, could probably fill a line of books as large as DC or Marvel’s. Instead, though, it mainly uses that world as a backdrop to explore the little people, the ordinary citizens whose lives are affected and changed by the actions of Astro City’s super-powered residents. It’s a fascinating and often heartwarming approach that doesn’t really need any justification, but in Issue 5, writer Kurt Busiek provides one anyway through the actions of The Broken Man and his silent war against the Oubor. Turns out the most important character in the world of Astro City may just be the reader—you, me, and everyone else who bought this book. Continue reading →