Mother Panic 1

Alternating Currents: Mother Panic 1, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Mother Panic 1, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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Drew: A quarter century after the runaway successes of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, deconstruction remains a thriving mode of superhero storytelling. It makes sense that, in a world that is constantly retelling the same stories in films, television shows, video games, and the comics themselves, there’s little need to reiterate the beats we already know, so Batman’s origin, for example, can be cut down to a few iconic images, and the rest of the narrative can be given over to highlighting themes and ideas baked into that origin. That is, the narrative can be less about the story (since we all know it), and more about the telling. Of course, that approach tends to be reserved for characters whose origins have become common knowledge — heavy-hitters like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man — but what if that approach was applied to a totally new character? What if their origin was taken as a given, so the emphasis was more on texture than the specific beats of the story? You might end up with something like Mother Panic 1, an issue that blends a familiar presumption of familiarity with a truly unfamiliar character. The effect is disorienting — frustratingly so at times — but nonetheless alluring. Continue reading

Superman: American Alien 7

superman amer alien 7

Today, Ryan D. and Michael are discussing Superman: American Alien 7, originally released May 18th, 2016.

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the face.

-Mike Tyson

Ryan D: Superman is known for having epic, city-leveling battles. That’s just status quo. But imagine one of these super-superpowered brawls with a Clark Kent who can bleed, one who still feels emotionally and physically vulnerable despite his abilities? Even better: while we’ve seen this Superman deal with mindless monsters and scheming billionaire magnates, imagine his first encounter with a being of deep moral apathy, with whom the Man of Steel may have more in common with than he does with the people of Earth. Max Landis and Jock tell an ambitious story in the ultimate issue of American Alien, concluding my favorite run with the character since Morrison’s All-Star Superman. Continue reading

Superman: American Alien 2

american alien 2

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Superman: American Alien 2, originally released December 16th, 2015.

Spencer: As a rule, Superman is the last character I want to see explored in a “realistic” fashion. Superman is at his best when he’s larger than life, inspiring others by word and deed, making us believe a man can fly, not when getting bogged down by explanations of how he can fly or arguments about his inherent goodness being unrealistic. That said, there’s an exception to every rule, and I think Superman: American Alien is my exception to this rule. It helps, though, that in his exploration of a how a more down-to-Earth Clark Kent grows up to be Superman, writer Max Landis discovers that normalcy and Clark Kent just don’t mix — he transcends the reality of Smallville itself. Continue reading