Superman Annual 1

superman-annual-1

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

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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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Animal Man 27

Alternating Currents: Animal Man 27, Drew and Scott

Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Animal Man 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014. 

But as a Go game progresses, the possibilities become smaller and smaller. The board does take on order. Soon, all moves are predictable.

Maximillian Cohen, Pi

Drew: Do you ever find yourself wondering exactly how apt an analogy is? Or that it might be more apt than we realize. One of my favorite moments from Darren Aronofsky’s Pi finds Sol positing that the unlimited possibilities of a game of Go reflects the chaos of life, and Max not quite refuting his point with the quote above. Maybe life simply becomes more predictable as we move through it. That’s certainly true of narratives — what starts as a completely open field often falls into a well-worn pattern as it winds to a close. Take Animal Man: as a series, it has been as original and unpredictable as they come, but as Jeff Lemire sets up his endgame in issue 27, some of the beats feel a bit more familiar. In fact, this issue seems to employ just about every tension-goosing tool in the box, building to what promises to be a pretty spectacular two-part finale.  Continue reading

Swamp Thing 27

swamp thing 27

Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Swamp Thing 27, originally released January 8th, 2014.

Shelby: In Robert Jordan’s series Wheel of Time, children often play a game called Snakes and Foxes. The player has to get their game piece from the center of the board to the edge, and back to the center without getting “killed” by a snake or a fox. They are represented by separate pieces that the player has to roll for and move at the same time he moves his own. It’s only played by children because once they get to a certain age, they realize the game is structured such that the only way to win is to cheat; if you follow the rules of the game, there’s no way to defeat the snakes and the foxes. In Swamp Thing 27, Alec finds himself in a similar pickle; he played the Parliament’s game by their rules, and he lost. Instead of quitting the game because it’s pointless, though, he decides it’s time to cheat.

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Animal Man 26

animal man 26

Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Animal Man 26, originally released December 18th, 2013. 

Scott: If you could board a space shuttle and take off on a one-way trip towards the other end of the universe, would you do it? Could you leave behind the life you know forever in exchange for a unique human experience, a first look at the beauty and wonder of the cosmos? It’s a question many people would at least consider. Now, instead, imagine you woke up tomorrow and you were already on that ship, zipping past the asteroid belt, never to return home. Would you feel the same way about the experience if you didn’t get to make the choice? Would it be easier or harder to accept that your life would never be the same? Buddy Baker now finds himself in a situation where his life will soon be completely and eternally changed, and by no choice of his own (it also happens to an outer-space-related change). It’s a crazy curveball from writer Jeff Lemire.
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