Spencer: The point of most blockbuster summer event crossovers is to throw as many characters together as a publisher can and coast off the spectacle, using tie-ins to boost sales and often refocusing their line of books in the aftermath. When these events are done right they can be loads of fun, but it’s hard to deny that there’s something kinda mercenary about the whole process. Is it possible for an event comic to have a soul? I’d certainly say so, and I’d imagine Brian Michael Bendis would agree with me. The problem with Civil War II, then, is that Bendis’ attempts to split the book evenly between spectacle and deeper themes results in both elements playing out unsatisfactorily. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Infinite Loop 6, originally released September 30th, 2015.
“They’ll put a gun into your hand and call you weak until you’re violent
Don’t believe it
They’re hateful because they’re empty
We’ve got a chance to break the cycle
We could be the heroes that we always said we’d be.”
“I Wanted So Badly To Be Brave,” The Wonder Years
Spencer: The first time I listened to that song I cried, and while it still gets me more than a bit emotional, it also lights a fire within me. Yeah I wanna break the cycle — of course I wanna be a hero! Sign me up! It’s a call to action, and an incredibly effective one; so is The Infinite Loop. While Pierrick Colinet and Elsa Charretier’s mini-series is ostensibly a sci-fi action/romance story — and a rather fine one at that — at its core it exists to preach a message, spark a movement, incite readers to action. If there exists a more thorough call to action than The Infinite Loop 6, I don’t think I want to see it. Continue reading
Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing Material 2, originally released June 24th, 2015.
Ryan: Have you ever sat down and read the entirety of James Joyce’s notoriously difficult Ulysses? As a pretentious, young undergraduate studying English, I snickered into my coffee when a friend asked me whether I would attempt to tackle the classically obtuse text with a reader’s companion or not. Having recently curbstomped arm-loads of 18th Century British Lit. and avant-garde contemporary poetry, I thought, “How hard could it be? It’s only words. Making them make sense is what I do.” Ulysses quickly humbled me with the wall of metaphors, symbols, ambiguities, and overtones which allow it to remain one of the most critically-scrutinized novels of all time. While nowhere near the same “run away from the book right now” level as the aforementioned modernist masterpiece, Ales Kot and Will Tempest’s Material 2 struck me in a similar way – one which a comic book has never inspired in me. With the feeling that everything I read seemed fresh, dense, and that I barely scratched the surface on the first go-through, I recommended the two issues of the series thus far to a friend whose opinion I trust greatly, who simply thought that Material “had its head up its own ass.” So, which one of us is right? Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing The Infinite Loop 3, originally released June 17th, 2015.
Patrick: I like to think that these Alternating Currents are fearless. We make whatever observations we want and to hell with the consequences! Sometimes that means getting pushback from creators that used to retweet our pieces, sometimes it means getting into an argument in the comments section or on twitter. But the audience for one of these pieces is highly self-selected – anyone reading this specific piece (for example) is going to have read all the way through Infinite Loop 3 and wants to read more about it. That’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of people, likely lumped together by a shared set of values, enthusiasms and ways of thinking about and consuming culture. So when I make some dumb statement about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles perfecting action on the static page, I am, almost by definition, preaching to the choir. There’s no grander cultural risk involved – the writer and the reader are trapped in the same loop of perspective. Infinite Loop 3 makes a bold attempt to break itself out of its cultural loops by ratcheting both its science fiction elements and its lesbian erotica elements to insanely high levels, and the result is decidedly fearless. Continue reading
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 38, originally released February 4th, 2015.
Mark: Well, it’s finally happening. DC announced late last week that starting in June, following the events of the Convergence event, The New 52 will no longer exist. Having run for almost 4 years, it’s not hard to understand why as The New 52 branding was getting a little long in the tooth. What does this mean for our favorite characters? Apparently not much, as no continuity reboot is planned. I mention this because when I first read Superman 38 before the post-Convergence announcements last week, I assumed that the two major revelations in this issue were being unloaded now so they could easily be walked back in only a few months. Continue reading
“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange.”
Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist
Spencer: Equivalent Exchange isn’t just applicable to alchemy (or anime) — it’s a principle we all follow every day. We exchange our time for money. We exchange money for goods. We can even (metaphorically) give our hearts in hope of gaining affection in return. The point is, nothing comes for nothing, and the more we hope to gain, the more effort we have to put out to obtain it. This is even true of Ulysses’ Great World — it turns out that the price to maintain its “perfection” is five million human lives. Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.’s Superman 37 finds Superman and Ulysses debating the morality of the Great World, and in doing so, they draw some compelling parallels to our own lives. Continue reading
Drew: When I was five years old, I told my then four-year-old cousin that he was adopted. Nobody had told me that he was, and certainly nobody told me that I wasn’t supposed to tell him, but he was immediately distraught, running to his mother to assure him I was lying. A young kid’s relationship to his parents is his whole world, and the thought that there might be something unusual about it is understandably upsetting. Totally unintentionally, I put my aunt in an incredibly awkward position, forcing her to confront a truth outside of her terms, when her son was already distressed by the idea. Complicating the issue was that his brother is not adopted, which only creates more potential for feelings of alienation. Superman has long been the poster child for adoption, but what if his adopted home had its own “last son” that seemed to be every bit as “super” as he is? Might Clark grow a chip on his shoulder about being “the adopted one”? These are exactly the questions Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. set up in Superman 32, stopping just shy of showing us the answers. Continue reading