Best of 2017: Best Series

Series

We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2017.  Continue reading

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Lazarus X+66 1: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Desaulniers

Lazarus X+66 1

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

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Drew: This quote often comes up when discussing historical figures, but to my eye, it’s really all about the narratives we build around people. That is, this describes fictional heroes — from “chosen ones” destined for greatness to utterly reluctant nobodies that rise to the occasion — stories so familiar to us, we can’t help but project them on the world around us. But, like, what does it mean to be “born great,” and how do we distinguish that from someone having greatness thrust upon them? Those kinds of distinctions might make sense in stories where deities and magic put concepts like destiny in play, but the real world is much messier than that. Such is the case with Casey Solomon, whose greatness is anticipated by Forever Carlyle. Is her greatness inborn, or is it something she only achieved in order to live up to expectations? Continue reading

Lazarus 26

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 26, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Lazarus 26, originally released March 29th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Goodness gracious, is this series great. I tried approaching this intro about seven different ways, but the only way to really do justice to this issue is to start off by acknowledging just how precise writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark are in what they do. There’s so much going on in this issue that showcases exactly why this series continues to be one of my favorites, but I’m going to focus on the introduction of Vassalovka’s lazarus, the Zmey — an unexpected grenade of a threat that utterly disrupts the slow-burning family drama at the heart of this series. Continue reading

Lazarus 18

lazarus 18Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Lazarus 18, originally released July 29th, 2015.

Spencer: There’s a certain rush that comes with new stories, with watching a whole world full of new characters and relationships being established right before your eyes, but it’s a rush that by definition can’t last forever, and late-series attempts to keep things fresh often misfire. The answer isn’t continually adding new characters and concepts, which can often leave a story feeling bloated and distract from its core themes; the best storytellers know the power that comes from mixing up established relationships, throwing together characters who have never really interacted before, and finding new perspectives to view their cast through. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus is well into its second year and fourth storyline, and it’s exactly these kind of techniques that keeps issue 18 feeling as compelling as ever. Continue reading

Lazarus 17

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 17, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Lazarus 17, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Narrative art must be clear, but it must also be mysterious. Something should remain unsaid, something just beyond our understanding, a secret. If it’s only clear, it’s kitsch; if it’s only mysterious (a much easier path), it’s condescending and pretentious and soon monotonous.

Stephen Sondheim

Drew: I’m fascinated by the relationship Lazarus has with clarity. It’s actually one of the most clear comics I’ve ever read — I’ve often remarked upon both Greg Rucka’s deceptively organic exposition and Michael Lark’s ability to keep track of every character in a scene — but it also leaves a great deal unsaid. The most obvious piece is the world-building — our focus has remained relatively tight on a small handful of characters, but every detail implies a much larger, more complex world beyond the edge of the page — but I’m much more interested in the things literally left unsaid; the subtle glances and body language that permeate the artwork, leaving the audience to interpret how characters are feeling. This all but forces us to project our own feelings onto the characters, drawing us further into the narrative. Issue 17 opens with what amounts to reversal of this trick, forcing the characters’ subjectivity onto us, and it is incredibly effective. Continue reading

Lazarus 16

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 16, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 16, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Drew: My first experience with an epistolary novel was Karen Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy, presented as the diary of the titular character. It seemed like such a novel concept to me (no pun intended), but the epistolary novel actually predates the modern novel by over 100 years. It makes sense that the documentary-style of the epistolary novel as a collection of letters and diary entries might be more approachable than the entirely artificial convention of having a character (or third person narrator) telling the story to us. While Lazarus has often stayed close to Forever’s perspective, it’s never committed to any one narrator, which makes issue 16 all the more unusual, presented largely as the diary entries, transmissions, conversation transcripts, and training materials of Sister Bernard, punctuated with only a few short instances of dialogue. Continue reading

Lazarus 15

Alternating CurrentsL Lazarus 15, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released February 18th, 2015.

…poetry is a short story missing 99 percent of the words.

Greg Rucka

Drew: I really wish I had the rest of the above quote, made by Rucka at the New York Comic Con in 2013, but to paraphrase, Rucka was suggesting that an intimate understanding of the form of short stories would prepare writers for every kind of writing except poetry. I’ve always seen a resemblance between Rucka’s taut comic work and great short stories, but what truly struck me about that quote was how it seemed to contradict the oft-quoted axiom that the required efficiency of short stories aligns them more closely with poetry than novels. This seeming contradiction may boil down to the inadequacy of our definition of “poetry”, but I couldn’t help but think of this quote as I read Lazarus 15, one of the most poetic comics I’ve ever read. Continue reading

Lazarus 14

lazarus 14

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released January 14th, 2015.

Spencer: It takes more than blood to make a family. I have great aunts and uncles I barely know, a few cousins I’ve never even met — they may be my relatives, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re not my family. No, family is forged in many different ways, but almost all of them involve either large quantities of time spent together or a unique shared understanding of life. Forever has never received either of these things from the rest of the Carlyles, which makes it all the more strange that her first real familial connection amongst them is made with Jonah, the brother who tried to kill her. Yet, that’s exactly what happens in Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus 14, and the consequences of their newfound connection looks like it will only make Forever’s life even tougher in the future. Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Series Part 1

Best of 2014: Best TitleWe all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. Indeed, we’re so enamored of serialization that we decided to split our favorite series list into two installments. Here’s part 1 our top 14 series of 2014 (check back here for part 2 tomorrow).
Continue reading

Lazarus 12

lazarus 12Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Lazarus 12, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

‘Inspire a generation’ is our motto. Not necessarily ‘Create a generation’ … which is what they sometimes get up to in the Olympic village.

London Mayor Boris Johnson on the  2012 Olympics

Drew: The bacchanalian nature of the Olympic village is well-documented, with anecdotes about the athletes’ exploits reaching near-legendary status, but even without all of the stories, the orgiastic qualities of the village should come as no surprise — what else would you expect of an international group of twenty-somethings in peak physical condition with little else to do? Throw in the fact that any given day, somebody is celebrating the most important win of their lives, and you have an obvious recipe for partying. Curiously, this is exactly the situation the Lazari find themselves in in Lazarus 12. With their families preoccupied with the formalities and strategies of the conclave, the Lazari are left with little to do other than admire each other’s super-human bodies. The result is a decidedly lighter — and alluring — respite amidst all of the tension of the conclave. Continue reading