In this episode, Anna, Michael and Andrew return from pandemic hiatus to discuss two stories about heroes and the bodies that define them....or perhaps don't. We're reading Box Brown's "Andre the Giant" against Osamu Tezuka's "Dororo," discussing ableism in comics, embodied identity, and the grim terrors of the Sengoku period of Japan weighed against the glory days of WWE (then WWF) wrestling.
For this episode, the panel compares the 1980s classic series "Justice League International" by Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis to the 2013 "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" series by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber. Topics of discussion include the comedic potential of the superhero genre, the complex nature of group dynamics, and the relative punch-ableness of Guy Gardner vs Fred Myers. Additionally, Anna provides an academic review of "The Superhero Film Parody and Hegemonic Masculinity" by Jeffrey A Brown.
In this episode, the panel looks at a pair of recent reboots of iconic intellectual properties, Mark Russell and Steve Pugh's "Flintstones" and Tom Scioli's "Transformers vs GI Joe." We discuss reboot culture, visceral escapism, farcical social commentary, and a vacuum cleaner who can crush your soul with its unflinching optimism toward its armadillo friend who is also a bowling ball. Michael will also be providing a review of "Show Sold Separately" by Jonathan Grey.
For this episode, the panel compares Adrian Tomine's "Summer Blonde & Other Stories" to Daniel Clowes' "Ghost World," leading to an in-depth discussion of the 1990s alternative comics scene, the portrayal of isolated youth, and the trope of self-flagellating, sex-obsessed male protagonists. Andrew provides a review of Charles Hatfield's "Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature."
This month's episode compares Darwyn Cooke's "New Frontier" to Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's "Marvels." Topics of discussion include trading on nostalgia, comics revisionism on a publishing house scale, and more discussion of phallic imagery than you'd think these two comics could possibly warrant. Anna will also present a review of Peter Coogan's "Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre."
This month is comparative ornithology with a close luck at Steve Gerber's iconic "Howard the Duck" comics alongside Don Rosa's "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck." Topics of discussion will include the figure of the duck as a vehicle for absurdist metaphor, the subversion of the American dream, and the questionable erasure of historic comics production practices. Michael will also provide a review of Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart's marxist critique of American cultural imperialism, titled "How to Read Donald Duck."
In this episode, we explore Chris Claremont's favorite Chris Claremont story in "X-men: Asgardian Wars," alongside the latest X-men sensation, Jonathan Hickman's "House of X/Powers of X." Topics of discussion will include X-men as a metaphorical vehicle, Hickmanisms, iconic visual styles, and the fact that Anna knows "Excalibur" issues better than Andrew does. We'll also feature a review of Joseph Darowski's "X-men and the Mutant Metaphor."
This month's episode compares Dan Slott's beloved run on She-Hulk to Mariko Tamaki's more contentious run with the same character. Topics of discussion include character development vs character consistency, the complex sexualization of Jennifer Walters and the degree to which that defines the character, and an intern with a cinder block for a head who is still objectively awesome. Anna will also be providing a review of "Wonder Women: Feminisms and Superheroes" by the late Lillian S. Robinson.
In this horrifying Halloween haunt of an episode, the panel discusses the classic EC horror comics property "Vault of Horror" alongside the contemporary horror text "Through the Woods" by Emily Carroll. We'll also feature an academic review of Qiana Whitted's "EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest." Topics of the day include the unique rhetoric of horror in comics, the historic significance of horror to the evolution of comics, and the intersections of misogyny and violence in the horror genre.
This month's episode looks at the so-called "comics canon," iconic works from years passed that helped create the comics-as-literature movement and that are now considered sacred. We compare Art Spiegleman's "Maus" to Chris Ware's "Jimmy Corrigan" with an academic review of Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics." In each instance we cast a fresh set of scholarly eyes on works that are often considered untouchable. How well do they hold up, however? How well have they aged? Perhaps most importantly, what is their legacy? Welcome to Comics 101.