Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Obi-Wan and Anakin 1, Jem and the Holograms 10, Black Magick 3 and East of West 23.
Obi-Wan and Anakin 1
Patrick: Oh that’s right: I don’t really love the prequels. Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto have a little bit of an up-hill battle on their hands, setting their series between the two worst films the franchise (Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, if there’s any question). At least, they’ve got an up-hill battle for me – reportedly, the generation that grew up watching the prequels evidently love them. Now, never mind that that messes with my own perception of objectivity in criticism, it’s a very real phenomenon, this establishes a tension between what reaction references to the prequel trilogy are meant to elicit: joy or indifference. Soule smartly places that same tension in the issue itself. Anakin, who was just an impressionable kid during the events of Phantom Menace has grown up fantasizing about his master’s Duel of the Fates with Darth Maul – even going so far as to reenact it in his training. It goes without saying: Anakin is a fan. But he and Obi-Wan find themselves on a planet who’s population seemingly has no idea what Jedi even are, rendering their clout totally ineffective. They are not fans.
The problem with this metaphor is that it only holds up during the flashback to Anakin’s training, which feels largely superfluous in an issue which would feel singularly atmospheric and cool without it. Checchetto’s renderings of Carnelion IV are astoundingly detailed, and between the landscape, the weather and the airships, it feels like nothing we’ve ever seen in Star Wars before.
It’s imaginative and compelling in just the right way. If this is what Soule and Checchetto are insisting that Star Wars should be, I’m tempted to agree with them.
Jem and the Holograms 10
Ryan M.: Jem and the Holograms has been building up several conflicts over the past several issues. The last issue ended with a cliffhanger with Pizzazz in an intense car accident. So, I was a little disappointed that this issue distanced itself from the action by making it from Rio’s point of view. Jerrica’s boring journalist boyfriend puts a damper on all of the action, by offering the audience a buffer between the drama at Pizzazz’s bedside and with the Holograms finding out about the upcoming tour. I feel kinda bad calling him boring, but in this issue, he doesn’t do anything to change my mind on that score. So, instead of being invested in Rio’s story, I got caught up on two confusing panels.
Two moments in this story that made me stop reading, flip back through to see if I could explain it, and then confirm my confusion. The first is when Rio interviews the Holograms (including Jem) and Jerrica watches from the doorway. How in the hell does that work? Jem is Jerrica. They are the same body. Maybe it’s Synergy taking Jerrica’s form or projecting a hologram (lower case)? But the art doesn’t telegraph that at all. In fact, Rio is facing away from her, so she doesn’t need to be there.
I know this is a bit of a nitpick, but it really bugged me. If this is going to be explained later, I retract any annoyance. I just wish there had been some indication either in the script or the art that made it clear. Maybe it is because Rio is telling to story and he imagines that Jerrica is there? If so, I wish that Kelly Thompson had played with that more, rather than presenting an aberration.
The other moment is the last panel of the issue. It’s the Misfits around Pizzazz’s hospital bed with an adorable cat.
The cat just appears- in a hospital! Maybe Jetta smuggled her in her coat, you say. On a previous page, Jetta’s coat billows behind her as she runs to the hospital, so I don’t think that’s it. I first read this issue before falling asleep and I thought maybe Rio morphed into a cat to make the Misfits happy. When I start adding magical elements to the narrative, that’s when I know that I am not fully invested into a story. Maybe future issues will place this one in a context where all of this makes sense. But right now, I am just looking forward to the series returning to its usual Rio-light format
Black Magick 3
Ryan D: The first issue of black magic had me excited. Very excited. It is not everyday you read an issue that you immediately need to show to someone who does not read comics to demonstrate what cool things the medium is up to at the moment. The decadent art, sexy premise, and the inherent promise that comes with a Rucka title swept me right in. While issue 2 was by no means bad, it showcased a more deliberate, slow burning look at our protagonist’s detective side, firming up her relationship with her partner, and giving us some glimpses into Rowan Black’s personal life. Issue 3, however, brings back the presence and the promise of the mystical while setting up for some big things to come.
The narrative is well-researched and well-written, and Nicola Scott shows some brilliant spacing and texturing throughout the book. Scott draws our protagonist like each panel is a love letter, replete with detail and saturated with tone. Give this series a look for- at the very least- one of the most interesting looking titles on the shelf nowadays. Oh, and brush up on your German; they don’t translate the German for you. It’s cool.
East of West 23
Taylor: This week George R.R. Martin announced that he is once again delaying the release of his latest Game of Thrones title. Naturally those who are fans of the series are disappointed and even angry to learn that they will have to wait even longer to find out what happens to their favorite and hated characters. When I heard the news I was bemused. I’ve long ago lost interest in the GoT for the very reason many seem to love it – that being that it never seems to end. While I’ve been a staunch fan of East of West I find that issue 23 has me fearing the series might take the same path. Just like GoT, this issue sees more political double cross, adding to the every thickening web of lies and deceit that blanket Jonathan Hickman’s world.
The political intrigue this issue focuses on involves John Henry of the Kingdom. Against his father, the King’s, wishes he is giving money to the Union. His reason for doing so isn’t expressly revealed but I know for sure that, if successful, he’ll be more than just King of the Kingdom.
While some may have been shocked by John’s defection, I can’t say I was. Deceit and lies are part of the East of West world and by now I’m use to seeing this kind of treachery. While a certain amount of political machinations are entertaining, even gripping, I’ve found too much makes a story begin to fall flat. This issue marks the beginning of my wariness for this developments and I’ll read with bated expectations to see if back-stabbing and shock are used being used to further a narrative or simply extend it.
I’m not sure if this feeling is in any way connected to the character of John. I’ve always been a fan of John because is effortlessly cool and disconnected. I guess seeing him lust for power dispels the hold he has on me, even if just a little bit, and makes me doubt the direction his character is taking. The revelation that John was also teenage chums with Wolf oddly nonplussed me. Should I be surprised by this? My guess is yes but I have a hard time mustering enthusiasm for this friendship as it can only lead to further double cross. East of West has always banked on being stark, but when that starkness borders on the Eddard kind, I find I grow nervous.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?