Greg: I went and saw a movie last week against my better judgment. That movie was the clunkily titled Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, a comic-book adaptation and sequel to the excellent 2005 adaptation of Miller’s hard-boiled neo-noir stories. My roommate, who shares my love of this first one, warned me it was terrible. Rotten Tomatoes warned me it was terrible. I didn’t listen. I went and saw it, and boy, terrible doesn’t scratch the surface. It’s a miserable piece of garbage. I could spend hours rage-explaining (ragesplaining?) what is so fundamentally wrong with this dreck, but one criticism stands head and shoulders above the rest: The stylistic tics and techniques are arbitrary, meaningless, and add nothing to the story. Conversely, any play with form in Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s outstandingly excellent Daredevil 8 are part and parcel of an intense, dark, and captivating story.
Spencer: Last year I had the privilege of spending a day working as a roadie for my favorite band, Saves the Day. I was extremely fortunate that the guys in Saves lived up to my expectations; they’re probably the nicest, most genuine guys I know and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable, but even so, spending time backstage with them and their crew felt like entering a strange new world, with culture and customs all their own. I couldn’t help but think about this while reading Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine 4, as Laura gets to spend time in the private world of her idols. But while I had the best day of my life, Laura seems to walk away from the experience in much deeper trouble than when she started. Continue reading
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Drew: I kind of resent that works of art need titles. I appreciate the necessity of distinguishing one book from another, but titles seem to always inelegantly summarize or gracelessly fix some piece of authorial intent I’d rather not be privy to. I’m the least offended by more utilitarian titles, (coincidentally) like Romeo and Juliet, which doesn’t assert anything beyond the play’s focus on those two characters. With Trees, writer Warren Ellis certainly captured that utilitarian spirit by simply naming the thing that makes his science fictional world unique, but then he goes and re-muddies the waters by ending each issue with a pull quote. He removes them from any context, stripping them of any attribution or even punctuation — as if to hint at some kind of greater truth in his characters’ words — but that repetition alone is enough to lend those words an unwieldy significance that asserts someone’s subjectivity. As issue 5 takes an even closer over-the-shoulder view of many of the characters, the nature of that subjectivity becomes a central concern. Continue reading
Return of the Jedi
Drew: If I had to point to a line that hooked me on Star Wars, it would be this line from Return of the Jedi. Maybe I should back up. I had somehow made it to age 9 without ever seeing a Star Wars movie when my 3rd grade teacher perplexingly allowed us to watch the first half-hour of Jedi in class. Knowing nothing about the movies, I was thoroughly enjoying my introduction to the Star Wars universe when the above exchange blew my mind straight out of my eyeballs. There are other adventures like this one? I honestly don’t think I could have been as hard up for the other movies if I had seen them in order. I suppose that’s my way of saying beginning a story at the end can be a rewarding, if unorthodox approach. It’s a particularly intimidating prospect in a world as steeped in its own mythology as Fables, but I’ll be damned if issue 144 doesn’t give me that same “I’ve got to go back and read them all” feeling. Continue reading
Drew: Of all the ways a writer can use to emphasize their storytelling beats, shuffling the chronology of the events always demands my attention. I almost called it “distracting” but I think I mean “demands my attention” — I absolutely appreciate that it’s a handy tool in the savvy writer’s toolkit, but we’re so used to perceiving events one after the other that flipping them around feels noticeably alien. Again, I don’t want to imply that it’s inherently bad — there are lots of compelling reasons to tell a story out-of-order — but that it draws attention to itself in ways that aren’t always accounted for. Fortunately, Matt Fraction has routinely proven himself capable of handling (and justifying) these types of stories, making Hawkeye 20 an excellent example of nonlinear narrative done right. Continue reading
Patrick: I’d never really considered how strange it is that we refer to the biggest global political players as “super powers.” It’s…weird, right? That’s a phrase taken from our capes and cowls, our frequently immature power fantasies, and applied to governments. It might be comforting to think of the United States as Superman, swooping in to altruistically save the day, but the truth isn’t so clear-cut. How can a government take altruistic action when there is no “self” to sacrifice? One body makes a decision, another carries out the action, and a third has to deal with the consequences. Heroism comes from that internalizing the whole process, from decision-making through the consequences. With Superman Unchained 8, Scott Snyder suggests that Superman can (and should) be that singular entity. Continue reading
Greg: When’s the last time you dorked out in public? For me, “dorking out” is a simultaneously freeing yet embarrassing experience. The feeling of visceral pleasure and physical high you get from an unbound joy something gives you, crashing into the realization that the folks you’re dorking out too don’t have much of a frame of context, and can’t join in. I once spent five minutes dorking out over a long-take fight scene in Skyfall to my parents, who in response, coughed awkwardly and said “That sounds nice.” They’re gonna have to look out, though, because Velvet is so staggeringly good and checks every box of stuff I love, that it’s 100% being added to my “dork-out” pile.
Drew: There’s a scene late in Lazarus 11 that finds Malcolm Carlyle dictating a message for Forever to deliver. We’ve seen Forever take on the role of messenger/negotiator before, but what’s remarkable here is how open Malcolm is about his means of manipulation. He’s considered every action and reaction that will happen as Forever carries out his orders, and is able to maintain exacting control in spite of being thousands of miles from the actual negotiations. It’s an unsettling display of raw power, but also opens the possibility that Malcolm is himself being manipulated — it would only take a mind equal to Malcolm’s to have anticipated all of his actions here. With all of this subterfuge, it’s easy to see why Forever might question if she’s getting the whole truth from her father about her parentage. Continue reading
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.