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 Lumberjanes Gotham Academy 2, Weavers 3, and The Wicked + The Divine 21.
Lumberjanes Gotham Academy 2
Taylor: Anytime I read a story involving people who are younger than me, I forget that they’re not my age. I suppose it is a natural human tendency to project ourselves onto the stories we read, but forgetting that a character is different from you runs the risk of not reading a story correctly. In the second issue of the crossover between Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy, the creators make sure there’s no way I misattribute the age of the ‘Janes or the Academy goers. Nicely, this happens to also fit in with the theme of time displacement in the issue as well.
As the Janes and the Gothamites scramble to come up with a plan to rescue Olive and Rosie, much is done to bring attention to their age. Sounding like an old man complaining about “kids these days,” the issue makes fun of the Gothamites in particular for not knowing anything about the pre-digital age. In particular, much fun is made at their being unable to comprehend how people looked up information before Wikipedia existed.
By no means is this a novel joke, but it’s funny all the same given how true this situation. In my classroom I have a set of dictionaries which my students groan about anytime I ask them to lookup the spelling of a word rather than letting spell check fix it. Maybe that just makes me old, but at least this issue of Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy makes me feel alright about that because I’m not alone.
And while I like that this joke reassures me about the shortcomings of the The Youth these days, I’m curious to see how long this joke can be stretched out. The mysterious cabin Olive and Rosie find themselves in is locked into the year 1986. This setting is ripe for the young generation of the ‘Janes and Gothamites to plunder for laughs, just as Rosie and Olive have already done, and I wonder how long the authors will milk this conceit. Assuming the amount stays tasteful, as in this issue, I think the next should continue to build on these first two, strong issues.
Patrick: There are a ton of layers of deception going on in any given scene from the third issue of Weavers. The whole series is basically a barrage of psych-outs, misdirects and half-explained alliances and motivations – hell, I’m not sure I totally understand the Weavers’ spider powers yet. Writer Simon Spurrier is always careful to couch any explanation or exposition in an actual character’s voice, which means there’s a lot of hemming and hawing (often in the form of smaller, grayer text) clouding the actual meaning of their words. Series illustrator Dylan Burnett, colorist Triona Farrell, and letterer Jim Campbell all contribute to this sense of confusion throughout the course of the issue, in spectacularly dizzying ways. There’s a transition from Sid’s nightmare to him springing awake in bed where Farrell employs the exact same red color palette in and outside of the dream, blurring the line between dream and reality. For Burnett’s part, he will often swing the camera incredibly low or high, which achieves the double-effect of making the series feel more cinematic while also disorienting the reader in space. I love the way he does this during Sid’s confrontation with Terry – the camera stays high and wide, making sure to catch the city at its rainiest and most distant.
But the true moments of brilliance come when both Spurrier and his art team decide to be crystal clear for a couple panels. This panel, during the horrifying Silence interrogation, is a great example.
Check it out – Burnett is giving us a clean proscenium perspective and eliminating any detail that’s not actively contributing to the head Weaver’s threat to torture Sid. He’s matching Spurrier’s script which is also laying that threat bare. And look how Farrell’s colors slyly imply the difference between Sid and the rest of the Weavers by making him blue and everyone else red. Burnett employs the same technique a couple pages later when Pneema reels after throwing herself at Sid.
I’m a sucker for this kind of persistent staging anyway, but within the context of a visually disorienting issue, these moments of clarity are the point. Sure, they’re vicious magical spider-gangsters, but the story is about Sid navigating these relationships.
The Wicked + The Divine 21
Spencer: Watching Ananke’s motives come more and more into focus with each issue of The Wicked + The Divine has been fascinating. When discussing issue 19, I mentioned how it seems like Ananke believes her actions to be 100% justified, no matter what the truth is, but I’m starting to doubt even that.
Even Ananke admits that she may have lost her mind — she just doesn’t care. That may apply in more ways than one: even Ananke’s excuse of “this pantheon is a disaster” is sounding increasingly like an “old man yells at cloud” kind of situation. You know who this line of reasoning reminds me of? The Fantheon speaker who claimed that Laura’s generation didn’t “deserve” a Pantheon way back in issue 6. Both are using the supposed “faults” of the current generation in order to justify their own biases. In Ananke’s case, I think her own desire for ultimate power may also be a factor. Probably a major, major factor.
Of course, this moment is just one tiny scene, but amazingly enough, almost every character in the issue manages to get a moment that’s just as insightful. Woden grows a conscience, but not a spine. Dionysus reveals both his pacifism and his prowess, while, in contrast, Persephone hints that she’s out for blood. Baal begins to question Ananke’s propaganda, and Amaterasu reveals how much she really fears her own strength. In terms of characterization, writer Kieron Gillen has put out an issue that’s remarkably balanced and insightful.
Just as impressively, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson more than match that with their grand, candy-colored action scenes. As astounding as the massive set-pieces are, though, I’m equally enamored by the small moments.
This is such a smart scene. The break in the panels indicates the passage of time, letting the readers know that the moment with Beth and her interns is happening after Ananke’s completely left the room, but McKelvie leaving the “camera” static reinforces the fact that Beth and her crew were there throughout this entire scene. McKelvie and Wilson bring that deft touch to every page of this book, and it never stops astonishing me.
Yeah, The Wicked + The Divine combines smarts and spectacle, and is a better book for it. Most superhero team books could learn a thing or two from this one.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?