The Private Eye 7

private eye 7

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Richie Root are discussing The Private Eye 7, originally released June 20th, 2014.

Patrick: If there’s one thing all high concept stories suffer from, it’s a strained Third Act. So much of our fun up to that point has revolved around realizing a unique, compelling world. When it comes right down to executing on all of the promises laid out in the previous chapters, thematic beats have to take a backseat to action beats. Even when a sci-fi story finds a way to make that final moment a clever twist that asks questions which reinforce the central theme (like in Looper or The Matrix or Blade Runner), the meat of the Third Act is frequently less about the important ideas in action and just settles on being “in action.” When that action is executed with the grace and style of Private Eye‘s creative team, well, maybe that ain’t such a bad thing. Continue reading

Punisher 1

Alternating Currents: Punisher 1, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Punisher 1, originally released February 5th, 2014. 

slim-banner

Drew: What defines a character? This is a question at the crux of many narratives, but takes on an added importance in comics, where characters may be written by different writers, and the grind of publishing stories into perpetuity may squeeze characters into ever stranger situations. Is Superman still Superman if he doesn’t wink at the end of his stories? What if he doesn’t wear a cape? What about Batman? Is it still a Batman story if it takes place in Iowa? How many of these details can change before the character is no longer recognizable as the character? Editor Jake Thomas acknowledges this phenomenon directly in the letters page of Punisher 1, where he suggests that Punisher is remarkably capable of being put in different scenarios while staying true to his character. Unfortunately, I see that flexibility as emblematic of Punisher’s lack of distinguishing characteristics, and this issue does little to convince me otherwise. Continue reading

The Private Eye 5

private eye 5

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Private Eye 5, originally released December 21st, 2013.

Drew: There’s a touch of irony that the greatest mystery in a detective story is the detective himself, but mysterious detectives are the best. The questions that surround their existence reflect and emphasize the mysteries they’re hired to solve. If that seems too tidy, bear in mind that the mysterious detective falls out of the format of a detective story: while he is busy grilling everyone else about their pasts, his stays conveniently in the dark. Some stories largely ignore this aspect of their detective, treating them as a force of nature designed to solve cases, but many more have mined rich emotional connections from their heroes’ mysterious pasts. In this way, Private Eye may bear more in common with Blade Runner than just its futuristic LA setting. Continue reading

The Private Eye 4

private eye 4Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Private Eye 4, originally released October 8th, 2013.

…it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Rachel Dawes, Batman Begins

Drew: As a child of the 90s, assured at every moment that it’s what’s inside that counts, the above sentiment confused me when I first heard it. The obvious difference is that, while after-school specials were focused on appearances and prejudice, Batman Begins is trading in ideologies. That is, the best of intentions don’t amount to a whole lot if you don’t act on them. Feeling guilty for being a jerk doesn’t actually excuse jerky behavior. Unfortunately, the practicalities of life force us into hypocrisy, as we cling to moral ideologies that we can’t actually measure up to. Think about how much you read compared to how much you want to read (or worse yet, how much you think you should), or how often you exercise, or call home, or see your friends. We want to be “better,” more ideological people than we are, and only occasionally do we put on a Batsuit to right those wrongs. Private Eye 4 finds DeGuerre reaching one of those ideological breaking points, only his goals aren’t nearly so noble. Continue reading

Hawkeye Annual 1

hawkeye annual 1

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Hawkeye Annual 1, originally released July 24th, 2013.

Patrick: My favorite comedic bit in any issue of any comic I’ve ever read is conversation Clint Barton has with his buddy Grills about his superhero identity. “Hawkguy?” “Hawkeye.” It’s so endearing that most of us just call the character Hawkguy now and smile on the inside. So, when this issue sees a nervous Kate Bishop accidentally introduce herself as “Kate Hawkguy, Bishop,” it’s hard not to draw immediate comparisons to the very mentor she’s trying to distance herself from. Lucky for Kate (and for us), she’s only inherited his most charming character traits. Continue reading

The Private Eye 3

private eye 3

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Private Eye 3, originally released June 28th, 2013.

Technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself.

Vinton G. Cerf
The New York Times

Drew: In 2009, the highest court in France declared access to the internet a basic human right. In 2010, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court issued a similar ruling. Greece even wrote that right into their constitution. I tend to agree more with Vinton Cerf’s op-ed piece (quoted above) than the courts and councils of these countries, but that only dredges up the stickier question of what rights are enabled by the internet? The freedom of speech is an obvious example, but it also obviously existed before the internet. Sure, the internet facilitates the distribution of ideas, but so does being published by Random House, and nobody would claim that publishing contracts are an inalienable right. To me, the internet isn’t nearly as much about the freedom of speech as it is about the freedoms of convenience and anonymity. I would argue that neither of these are rights, per se, but does something need to be a right for someone to feel injustice when it is taken away? More importantly, how might that sense of injustice deform society? This seems to be the question at the heart of Private Eye — and the reason its setting doesn’t simply resemble a pre-internet world. Continue reading

The Private Eye 2

private eye 2

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Ben are discussing The Private Eye 2, originally released May 7th, 2013.

Patrick: I don’t like the board game Clue. However, there are some things that are supremely satisfying about it: that setting is incredible; those characters are iconic; pulling the cards out at the end to see if you had guessed everything correctly – that’s all good. But 98% of that game is simply gathering information, which ends up being far less engaging than if you were actually a detective solving Mr. Body’s murder in a creepy old mansion. If you were actually there, you’d get to know the suspects, form attachments with them, get a feel for the rooms, investigate the weapons. Clue lacks emotional investment – that’s my point. Now that The Private Eye’s central mystery has been established, Brian K. Vaughan eschews the information-gather phase in favor of a deeper look at his characters. Instead of answering questions about what happened, he answers the question of why the P.I. should care. Continue reading

The Private Eye 1

Alternating Currents: The Private Eye, Patrick and Drew

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Private Eye 1, originally released March 20th, 2013.

Patrick: Read The Private Eye. I don’t like starting off our conversation with a demand, but I feel justified in making this one. The story takes place in Los Angeles in the late 21st Century, but it is a decidedly old-fashioned detective story. It’s written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Marcos Martin. You can download the issue at Panel Syndicate for whatever price you think is fair (even if you this $0.00 is fair — the ol’ In Rainbows trick). This is a comic that it is absolutely worth going out of your way to find and to spend money on. But you don’t have to do either. Continue reading