Batman, X-Men Red, and the superpower of empathy in Tom Taylor’s comics

At the end of 2018, it’s easy to feel like the people in power just don’t care. Refugees are turned away from sanctuary with tear gas; rights of marginalized communities are systematically stripped away; political corruption runs rampant; mass shootings are an everyday occurrence; and little is being done to stop the…

Christmas carols might actually be good, says NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour

“Accepting that death itself is natural, but the death anxiety and terror of modern culture are not.” The Order Of The Good Death, formed in 2011, aims to re-engage the public with the reality of their own mortality, decomposition and all, so as to live a more “death positive” life. If that sounds like a grim…

Motherlands relies on female fury to ground a wild, fantastic bounty hunt

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In time for the holidays and the prospect of facing your own family drama comes Motherlands (Vertigo), a comic centering on fraught familial relationships, to put it mildly. The story revolves around Tabitha Tubach, a “retriever” licensed to pursue criminals across multiple universes, and she does so without the…

The A.V. Club’s 10 favorite books of 2018

Death, art, cults, zombies—the year in literature was as eclectic as it was excellent. There were crimes in need of solving, an infamous witch telling her tale, and a woman who just wants to sleep for a year. Characters have sex, they fall in love, and a bunch of folks get their heads chopped off (the undead meet just…

The Sicario Effect scrutinizes an Escobar cartel assassin for signs of any remorse

Imagine Jake Paul murdering your parents. That’s a serviceable analogy for describing Jhon Jairo Velásquez, alias Popeye, a former cartel assassin turned Colombian social media star. Popeye killed 300 people by his count while working for Pablo Escobar, but since 2014 he’s been a free man, released back into society…

The McElroy brothers condemn themselves to a lifetime of mediocrity in Til Death Do Us Blart

Finally, a literary podcast that dares to broadcast what some book club members only do in private: not read most of the book. Instead, it engages Amazon ebooks at the critical junctures of the opening and finish, and at the 25-, 50-, and 75-percent marks. The rest is filled in by the playful imaginations of two…

Bitter Root puts a monstrous face on bigotry and a beautiful new spin on the Harlem Renaissance

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The biggest initial draw of Bitter Root #1 (Image) is the creative team. David F. Walker and Sanford Greene worked together on the much-loved and far too short-lived Power Man and Iron Fist book for just 15 issues, and the announcement of Bitter Root at last year’s Image Expo was met with a lot of enthusiasm from…

The Bitchuation Room is your newest destination for righteous anger, political and otherwise

It doesn’t matter how many times the stories are debunked every year; over-protective parents insist on checking their children’s Halloween candy for razor blades, syringes, and the occasional cyanide pill. What is it about this urban legend that has made it so persistent? The newest episode of American Hysteria…

The legacies of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby square off in DC’s Mister Miracle #12

It’s time to change what “matters” in superhero comics. For too long, readers have flocked to books that are hyped up by their importance to a larger superhero universe, stories that promise to have long-reaching ramifications that change the future of these fictional worlds. These events are often empty calories,…

Sharon Jones deserves a better biography than the soulless Long Slow Train

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“What is soul?” George Clinton asks in the song of the same name, the final track on Funkadelic’s eponymous 1970 debut album. “I don’t know,” his bandmates shout-answer through plumes of extraterrestrial pot smoke. “Soul,” Clinton responds, “is a ham hock in your cornflakes.” “Soul,” he adds in the next verse, “is the…

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