Jessica Jones 1

jessica-jones-1

Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Jessica Jones 1, originally released October 5th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Befitting her job as a private investigator, mystery is a vital element of the Jessica Jones mythos. It’s probably why my favorite episode of the Netflix series is the one that put the ongoing Kilgrave story on hold to solve an unrelated case of the week, and it’s also why the first issue of the new Jessica Jones relaunch works so well — Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos don’t just build a mystery around Jessica’s newest case, they turn her very life into a mystery that the audience, and perhaps even Jessica herself, need to solve. Continue reading

The Black Hood 4

black hood 4

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Black Hood 4, originally released May 27th, 2015.

Drew: There’s nothing quite like a ticking clock to heighten drama. As much as I love the verisimilitude of more relaxed pacing, I can’t help but get excited when everything has to happen RIGHT NOW. I suppose those timebomb moments reflect their own kind of reality — deadlines can force us to rush through everything from our morning routine to the intro paragraph we need to write about the latest comic from Dark Circle — but knowing that there’s no time for second chances can really make a story gripping. Of course, just about every timebomb, whether it’s the inevitable arrival of a character or a literal timebomb, has been done to death. Or so I thought. Remarkably, Duane Swierczynski finds a totally novel timebomb in The Black Hood 4, giving Greg Hettinger the urgency his mission has been so sorely lacking. Continue reading

The Black Hood 2

Alternating Currents: The Black Hood 2, Drew and Mark

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing The Black Hood 2, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Drew: Means, motive, and opportunity. We’re familiar with how these play in a criminal case — a prosecutor must convince the jury of these three elements in order to convict — but I’d argue that they’re just as important in crafting a compelling superhero origin story. “Means” would be the superpowers (or lack thereof): the radioactive spider-bite, the alien DNA, the years of martial arts training; “motive” is their reason for fighting: the death of a loved one, the morals of a father-figure, some huanting mystery from their past; and “opportunity” is the wealth of villains: bankrobbers, intergalactic warlords, or even the corruption of their hometown. As with a criminal case, means and opportunity are pretty open-and-shut — the basic whos and whats of the story — but motive is much more subtle. An audience will dismiss a far-fetched or unbelievable motive just as quickly as a jury will. Of course, that also often makes motive the most elusive of these elements — a feature Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos highlight in The Black Hood 2. Continue reading

The Black Hood 1

Alternating Currents: The Black Hood 1, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Black Hood 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.

Drew: Superhero comics are a trope-filled medium. That’s doubly true of origin stories, which need to explain what would drive a normal person to dress up to fight crime. It turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of explanations out there. Was their family murdered in front of them? Were they the victim of some kind of science experiment gone wrong? Have they inherited some kind of mythical power? Every variation has been done, but so few have been done well. Indeed, the drive to get to the actual superheroics tends to leave origins rushed and expository — not the best recipe for a great story. The Black Hood 1 manages to avoid the tropes and the gratuitous exposition — while still taking its lead from regular guy to masked vigilante — trading our expectations in for some good old fashioned mystery. Continue reading

Zero 10

zero 10
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Zero 10, originally released August 13th, 2014.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

Ignorance is bliss

Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Drew: If I ever needed an example of cognitive dissonance, I would simply point to the above statements, acknowledging that the majority of people know that both are true. It makes no sense, but we at once want to know things that will disturb us while wanting to unknow things that enrich our lives. It’s perhaps most true when it comes to analyzing the arts. Some folks prefer to examine their art, while others believe they are happier without that closer look, as though art were some mysterious and secretly unsavory sausage whose origins could only yield misery. It should be obvious that I’m in the first group, which is why a thoughtful, intricate work like Ales Kot and Michael Gaydos’ Zero 10 is so utterly rewarding. Continue reading