Memories in the Moment in Archie 22

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Most of Archie 22 takes place in a moment after Betty’s heart stops beating and before the doctors can get it going again. During that second, writer Mark Waid and artist Pete Woods explore what Betty means to several of the people in her life in short memories. Each story is tinged with the pain of the potential loss. Each relationship depicted has its own meaning. The order of stories offers increasingly complex relationships. Waid and Woods show what Betty’s situation triggers for her mother, her friend, her principal, and her ex-boyfriend/best friend/boy next door. Continue reading

Legitimizing The Emerald Archer in Green Arrow 27

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Green Arrow’s recent “Hard-Traveling Hero” arc is basically an excuse to have Oliver Queen do a tour of the DCU — and I have absolutely no problem with that. After their team-up last issue, The Flash passes the Green Arrow-shaped torch to Wonder Woman. Continue reading

Complicating the Schematic in The Wild Storm 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Wild Storm 6

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If there’s an aesthetic that could define all of comics — perhaps we’d call it a medium-defining aesthetic — it’s that of simplification and omission. Those acts are simply built into creating comics, where characters, settings, objects and ideas have to be depicted in two dimensions. That is, even the most detailed, photo-realistic style is a simplified representation of the 3-dimensional space it aims to represent. But the rigors of a monthly deadline put even that level of simplification out of reach, leading many to an even more simplified line-art approach. And then, of course, there are storytelling choices, as only a finite number of panels can fit in a given comic — some moments must be omitted. The choices of which moments to include is really what the art of comics storytelling is, whether it’s this character’s face versus another’s hands, or picking up on these conversation a beat or two later, or even omitting a scene altogether. That aesthetic often comes together in a way that prioritizes clarity, simplifying designs and actions and omitting needless details to make sure every beat is understood by the audience. In this way, we might understand a given comic to function as a kind of schematic — a simplified version of the world it depicts. This is certainly true of The Wild Storm, which is brimming with truly schematic, almost clinically clear sequences, though it puts them to use in ways that are far more complicated than they may initially seem. Continue reading

A Generation Defined in Generation Gone 1

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Aleš Kot and André Lima Araújo’s Generation Gone is arrestingly open about its central theme: the existential peril of disaffected youth. Hell, the name of the series gives it away. Kot is seemingly not content with even that level of obviousness, as he starts to reveal the stunted social lives of his main characters right on the cover of the issue, before we know who they are or even what they look like. Comics are a visual medium, and 999 times out of a thousand, the first thing we know about a character is what they look like. These kids are hackers — their skills, personalities, values and identities most likely forged online where text invariably acts as the vanguard for a digital persona. We’re meeting these people the same way you would in a forum: expressing something deeply vulnerable and hurtful, with no faces to associate with their comments. Continue reading

Astonishing X-Men 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson & Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Taylor: About a month ago, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA  championship with ease. So easy was their win, in fact, that many pundits are calling them a super team that practically has the next several championships already won. It’s tempting to think that building such a dominant team is the result of careful planning and deep pockets. In actuality, what brought so many talented players together was a series of fluke accidents and coincidental timing that amount to little more than dumb luck. In much the same way, another super team is also being built, albeit this one on the pages of Astonishing X-Men. That might sound like a haphazard way to build a team — maybe it is — but it’s also a refreshing take on the typical team-up concept.  Continue reading

Women Become Commodities in Bitch Planet Triple Feature 2

by Spencer Irwin

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

One of the primary causes of the discrimination and harassment women face is the attitude that women are objects. Many men only see women as a commodity, as something that cleans their house and makes their food and gives them children, as something to ogle, as a source of pleasure and nothing else. It’s an indescribably harmful concept, and one society enforces in practically uncountable ways. The patriarchal dystopia of Bitch Planet, of course, takes this concept to the extreme, quite literally turning its women into commodities to be bought, sold, and used however men please. Continue reading

Making the Set Up a Joy in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 22

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When you need to get a group of characters to a strange location in order for a story to begin, the first act can be a slog. A savvy reader knows that all is not likely what it seems. Therefore, when a character gets a letter from an uncle they never met or when our heroes win a vague contest which offers a trip to a mysterious place as a prize, it can feel like a stall before the real story begins. Ryan North and Erica Henderson are able to avoid those pitfalls in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 22 by capitalizing on humanity’s love for dinosaurs. Continue reading

Becoming a Hero in Gotham Academy: Second Semester 11

by Drew Baumgartner

Gotham Academy Second Semester 11

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I think it’s safe to say Maps Mizoguchi is the breakout character of Gotham Academy. Her enthusiasm for adventuring is infectious, and often positions her as a kind of audience surrogate. Plus, she runs circles around the rest of the Detective Club in terms of actual detective skills. In many ways, she’s the Hermione Granger of Gotham Academy, skilled beyond her classmates in just about every way that matters. But she’s not quite Hermione Granger. Importantly, while she may outpace her friends on the detective front, her relative youth means that she’s not quite as emotionally mature. It’s a detail that hasn’t come into play much thus far, but issue 11 reveals that it might just be Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl’s smartest piece of groundwork. Continue reading

Kill Or Be Killed 10: Discussion

By Ryan Desaulniers and Drew Baumgartner

Kill or Be Killed 10

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ryan D: Maybe you were one of those people, like I was, who trudged through all six seasons of the TV series LOST, debating what was really going on underneath the framework narrative, listening to countless fan theories and devising your own. Perhaps the most popular of these theories was that the characters in the show were all in Purgatory, which show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse refuted until they were blue in the face. The tricky thing about fan theories, though, is that when the finale of the series did include a narrative reveal revolving around a state of limbo, many audience members felt disappointed and off-put. They had assumed and hoped that the creators would have devised a finish more surprising than what every Joe and Jill had guessed back in season one, and that the clues given to support this ending were feints and decoys, not the actual resolution. In a similar way, the creative team of Kill or Be Killed, in its tenth issue, confronts the fan theory which has been on everyone’s mind since the first issue: the demonic force which serves as a catalyst for Dylan’s violent turn might by a by-product of a mental condition. While some readers might be anxious about exploring the most obvious of possible explanations of Dylan’s actions, the deftness of writer Ed Brubaker and his visual team of Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser keeps this pseudo-reveal exciting and the narrative fascinating. Continue reading

Killing Has Consequences in Deadpool 33

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli continue to propel Wade Wilson’s emotional journey forward in the face of all of the changes that Secret Empire has wrought. Deadpool 33 is bookended with Wade Wilson dealing with aspects of his Hydra-ruled life, but the substance of the issue comes in the form of a flashback. Continue reading