Dark Nights: Metal 2 Learns to Stop Worrying and Love the Weird

by Michael DeLaney

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

Over the past 50 years, relaunches like The New 52 have favored comic book “realism” — whatever that may be. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve found that comic books are at their best when they embrace the silly, high-concept ideas that ran without question for the first 50 odd years of comic book history. Dark Nights: Metal 2 is the type of book that blends the modern “realism” with the whacky fearlessness of the books of old. Continue reading

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Superman Annual 1

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Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Michael: I harp on Annuals a lot because in short, they’re weird. Typically they exist outside of the main ongoing story and sometimes are not even written or drawn by the title’s current creative team. Rebirth is not immune to the pitfalls of Annuals, as Drew and I pointed out in our discussion of Batman Annual 1. The consistently strong Superman title, however, follows through with Superman Annual 1. Pete Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Jorge Jimenez provide us with a story that compliments the main narrative and encapsulates the same joy that has made Superman one of the stand-out Rebirth titles. Continue reading

Convergence: Swamp Thing 1

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 1: Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

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Drew: When Steve Carell left The Office, series writer BJ Novak tweeted a series of Michael Scott story ideas that would never be told. Some of those pitches seemed hilarious, but what actually stuck with me about them is that the opportunity to make them had simply stopped. They couldn’t ever become episodes of The Office because Michael Scott was no longer on the show. That kind of context-specific storytelling is constantly turning over in comics, where the monthly grind of continuity requires that no one situation can last too long. You’ve got a great Superior Spider-Man pitch? You’ve missed the boat. A Dick-as-Batman idea? Not gonna happen. A JSA arc? Too late. Convergence has offered one last hurrah for characters from very specific moments in their history, but that “one last hurrah” has often felt more like a eulogy than a celebration. With Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, Len Wein and Kelley Jones take that sense of mourning a step further, as Pre-Crisis Swamp Thing barely clings to life. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 40

swamp thing 40

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 40, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Drew: I’ve always been frustrated by endings. Not necessarily because I want the story to continue, and not even because they’re done poorly (though they often are), but because the notion of “ending” draws attention to the limits of the narrative precisely when we want to savor every moment of the story itself. “Life goes on,” so the saying goes, but stories don’t — at least, not on the page. It’s a testament to this awkwardness that even William Shakespeare felt the need to lampshade it, defiantly pointing at the limits of the narrative itself in the hopes of elevating it beyond them. Charles Soule does something very similar in his Swamp Thing 40, turning this final issue into a postmodern commentary on endings in general. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 39

swamp thing 39

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing 39, originally released February 4th, 2015.

“My lack of vision was unsurprising, in a way. If you’ve lived within a system long enough, it’s hard to imagine existing without it.”

Lady Weeds / The Machine Queen, Swamp Thing 39

Patrick: Comics, and superhero comics in particular, are a recursive, thematically redundant medium. Archie’s always going to date two ladies, Batman’s always going to miss his parents, Spider-Man is always going to crack wise. But if the X-Men are always going to be an analogue for any group with outsider status, why do we even bother to pick up the new issues? Is there something comfortable in reiterating on the same themes over and over again? Swamp Thing 39 features just about every single Swamp Thing-ism you can name — grotesque body horror, warring elementals, physically repulsive affection, John Constantine — but still seems to slyly suggest that there’s an alternative to all of it. Charles Soule has played the part of Swamp Thing writer so faithfully for so long, but if he’s any bit as anarchic as Lady Weeds — a character of his creation — we might be in store for an unpredictable ending to his final Swamp Thing story. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 38

swamp thing 38

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.

Spencer: For lack of a better word, our bodies are sacred. Everything we are is contained inside our body, and while we can do our best to make a mark on the world and be remembered for it, the truth is that once our body is gone, so are we. It’s why invasions of our personal space — whether by an oblivious close-talker or someone with more insidious motives — are so deeply unsettling, and why tattoos have come to be such a powerful form of self-expression. It’s that kind of deep, primal connection that the Machine Queen exploits by attacking Swamp Thing with his own reanimated corpse; when one has transcended humanity in the way Alec Holland has, it’s probably the only way to make him vulnerable again. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 37

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 37, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014.

Men have become the tools of their tools.

Henry David Thoreau

Drew: I think it’s safe to say that technophobia has always been a thing. From fire to electricity, somebody was always more concerned over what we were losing than what we were gaining. Stories of people fearing electrical vapors or locomotives seem quaint to us now, but it wasn’t so long ago that buying things through this new internet thing seemed like an absurdly risky endeavor. In fact, I think consumers were so scared of online shopping that we were kind of oblivious to the impacts it could have in offline shopping. If anyone should have been scared of online shopping, it was brick-and-mortar establishments like Blockbuster and Borders (and, you know, countless small businesses) that couldn’t compete with the convenience and selection. The comics industry is still recovering from its most recent bout of technophobia, having only recently fully embraced same-day digital releases and content designed specifically for screens. Those growing pains are very much at the heart of Swamp Thing 37, which checks in on how the various avatars are reacting to the space technology is carving out for itself. Continue reading

Swamp Thing Annual 3

swamp thing annual 3Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing Annual 3, originally released October 29th, 2014.

Spencer: As a very young child, I loved watching Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with my mom every week. It wasn’t the first superhero show I fell in love with, but it was the first show I loved that got cancelled. I can still vividly remember sitting on the floor at my grandfather’s house bawling inconsolably the night the final episode aired. As an adult I’ve better come to appreciate that everything ends, but while many endings are absolutely triumphant (see: Trillium), there’s still always a feeling of melancholy that accompanies watching something I love come to an end. Charles Soule clearly can relate: Swamp Thing Annual 3 is all about the fact that all stories must come to an end, and how difficult those endings can be for those that have to experience them. In the process, Soule also explores the great power stories have in our lives, be it the power to comfort and inspire or the power to deceive and sow fear.

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Swamp Thing 1: Futures End

futures end swamp thing 1Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing Swamp Thing 1: Futures End originally released September 3, 2014.

Patrick: Okay, so why “five years later,” huh? What’s the point of all these glances into the theoretic furutre of DC Comics? I know it shouldn’t matter that these stories may prove to be part of a future-narrative that gets wiped out of the canon, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’re reading a bunch of what-if stories. Intriguingly, these glimpses into future have their eyes set on the past; evoking elements of Pre-Flashpoint continuity and reconciling that with what’s been established since September of 2011. The future is a point on a line, plotted using the past and present as reference. It’s a herculean task, but one that writer Charles Soule and artist Jesus Saiz are more than up for, aligning themselves with the intrepid Alec Holland, perhaps unsure that they would make it through to the other side unharmed.

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Swamp Thing 32

swamp thing 32

Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Swamp Thing 32, originally released June 4th, 2014. 

slim-bannerScott: We all want to feel like we’re in control. It’s a big part of growing up. We move out, get our own place, buy a car, pay bills, decide what we eat and when we sleep. But we can only control things to a certain extent. As resolute as we may want to be, we still can’t really know what to do the first time we carve a turkey, or get in a car accident, or find out we’re pregnant. In our rush to take control of our lives, we fail to realize just how much we don’t know, and in doing so we become a huge liability to ourselves. Fortunately, life is pretty forgiving, allowing us to acquire wisdom through a system of trial and error. Like the rest of us, Alec Holland has a lot to learn, in his case about being the Avatar of the Green. Swamp Thing 32 finds him fighting for control against an obstacle he brought on himself but never saw coming.

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