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 Jupiter’s Circle Volume 2 4 and Limbo 5.
Jupiter’s Circle Volume 2 4
Drew: What is it that made Mad Men‘s warts-and-all depiction of the ’60s so revelatory? I’m inclined to believe that the attention to period details wasn’t enough to make it that depiction so lauded, but the context it was released into. It was only after decades of saccharine nostalgia pieces that utilized the same tired cliches when representing the ’60s (Woodstock! Hippies! Vietnam!) that a frank depiction of reality felt fresh. In spite of (or perhaps because of) that commitment to reality, Mad Men occasionally featured moments remarkably similar to those hackneyed nostalgia pieces — not because Mad Men was getting them wrong, but because those other stories actually got them right. Jupiter’s Circle has long been the Mad Men to the trope-heavy nostalgia pieces that are superhero comics, but this month’s instalment finds it embracing most of those tropes.
Doctor Hobbes has continued his plan to de-power all of the superheroes, condemning them all to “an anti-matter universe.” When Skyfox learns about all of this, he rushes in to save the day, maybe turning his friends-turned-enemies back into friends. Aside from a casual (though non-explicit) discussion of Blue Bolt’s sex life, and Skyfox’s political machinations, there’s little to distinguish this issue from a classic superhero story. Indeed, the details of Doctor Hobbes’ plan seems designed to evoke the same kind of nostalgia films and television films set in the ’60s often trade in. This could point at subversion as the new normal in comics, but I’m inclined to think that these tropes represent what classic superhero stories got right — airbrushing out the sex and the politics might have been wrong (though the Comics Code Authority may have tied publishers’ hands on those fronts), but there was nothing wrong with the zany sci-fi adventures.
Of course, it’s the subtext that makes this series a richer experience than those classic stories, and while the action here would be perfectly at home in a silver-age Justice League comic, the fallout will be anything but.
Is this Brainwave admitting that Skyfox’s accusations were true? I’d be happy enough with another goofy throwback, but with this story set to boil over, I can’t wait to see where this goes next month.
Spencer: I believe most people like to think that they have some level of control over their lives, that they could change their lives for the better if they really tried their hardest. Even fatalists and those who believe in destiny probably like to think that the universe has big things in store for them, or at least that real thought and care has been put into divining their future. Limbo 5, though, reveals that not only are Clay and Sandy’s lives controlled by the Loa, but that these deities have very little concern for the fate of mere mortals.
Caspar Wijngaard and Dan Watters have crafted an ideal penultimate issue with Limbo 5 — it provides answers to nearly all of the series’ pressing mythology questions yet leaves its heroes at their lowest point going into the finale. It turns out that Clay was once a man who committed great atrocities, and his new life is the result of a bet between two voodoo gods — Lord Saturday and his wife, Maman Bridgette — that even the slightest whisper will nudge him back to his old ways. In a way this is a test to see if Clay can really take control of his own life, but it’s flawed from the start; not only has he always been a plaything of the Loa, but Saturday intends to cheat in order to win the bet.
Sandy learns all this by venturing through the land of the dead to see Lord Saturday, and discovers her own lack of agency in the process. Her entire life may possibly be a projection of Clay’s, her dead ancestors think nothing of trying to take her body for their own ends, and Saturday ends up doing exactly that himself as he ventures to the mortal realm.
So if (and that’s a big if) Clay can come out on top in issue 6, he’ll not only be proving that mankind is capable of change, but that they’re capable of forging their own destiny separate from what the gods have planned for them. That’s a big deal in the world of Limbo, not only because these voodoo deities so easily outclass mortals (and not only because this would likely really piss them off), but because Clay especially has had terribly bad luck against pretty much every magical being he’s faced up until now. Can Clay turn his luck around? I guess we’ll find out next month; it should be a truly wild ride.