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 Star Wars: Poe Dameron 5, Lumberjanes 29, and The Wicked + The Divine 22. Also, we will be discussing The Backstagers 1 on Wednesday, so come back for that!
Star Wars: Poe Dameron 5
Ryan D: It’s a race! This issue of Poe Dameron starts to capitalize on the pretty incredible Star Wars story being set up over the series: Poe and his squadron of rag-tags (the formula works, so why not use it?) must compete against the Holmes-ian First Order know-it-all, Agent Terex, to release a Hutt from a high-security prison while the inmates run amok. It’s the best premise for a prison arc since “Devil in Cell Block D” or Hellblazer’s “Hard Time,” and it seems as if it will deliver on its promises. Writer Charles Soule, who I think is very consistent in his ability to build and deconstruct puzzles for the reader (as seen in his run with Thunderbolts), helps bring this about primarily by his characterization of Terex. This is a baddie who I find myself rooting for — or, at the very least, interested in seeing what he’ll do next. Poe, on the other hand, has had only a few chances to prove his roguish charm in these issues, but it seems that his shining moments are saved for the arc climaxes, as Dameron, as a character, is currently very reactionary to the plot instead of driving it.
Poe’s passive role in this issue highlights what may be a bit of a polarizing section of this issue: the special-ops droid mission.
I confess to be a little skeptical of the use of these droids in this deus ex machina fashion. The Star Wars nerd in me has always chafed as R2-D2 and other droids have garnered more and more functions over the course of the films and comics until they are the veritable Swiss Army knives that we see now. These are astromech droids with very specific programming: to aid personal starfighters plot courses across the galaxy and interface with the ships in ways which the human pilot can not. I understand that this story takes place in the future of the universe, but part of me really can not get behind these machines going commando in the manner they do. That might just be my personal stuff, but I do hope that Poe gets to be a bit more proactive in the upcoming issues — mostly because I like the titular character and how Soule and artist Phil Noto have been portraying him thus far. That small gripe aside, Poe Dameron is proving to be a fun story even without the franchise behind it, and I am looking forward to seeing, in this high-stakes race, who actually crosses the finish line.
Taylor: In the endless summer that is the world Lumberjanes, adventures come and adventures go. It is an ebb flow as regular as the tides. As soon as one daring outing is finished, another begins. New dangers and faced and amazing wonders are discovered. The life the ‘Janes lead is one of constant struggle and danger, for as soon as they “defeat” a giant bird they now have to face none other than the Medusa herself.
In any other series outside of this and perhaps Wonder Woman, this would seem like a gimmick. Why Lumberjanes can get away with something so pulpy is an interesting case. I’ve already talked at length about how the exuberance with which the series is written lets it get away with plots that wouldn’t work anywhere else. While that reasoning certainly applies here, I think there is something else which makes the Medusa plot work. From its inception, one thing that has been constant in Lumberjanes is that the girls are basically Amazons. They’re tough, independent, and overall go-getters. Keeping that in mind, it’s only natural that Diane, and her story which is basically a Greek myth, would mesh well with the overall feel of the series.
There’s shocking similarities between ancient Greek myth and the adventures the ‘Janes have. They involve danger, giant monsters, and traitorous supernatural beings. That myth and Lumberjanes are now colliding seems natural, and frankly, I couldn’t be any more excited. After all, the ‘Janes are on a heroic journey and the introduction of a Greek monster is a nice meta-comment on where they are in their journeys. These journeys are as much about becoming a hero as they are becoming an adult. The discussion in this issue about how loving a person’s family may be is touching, and hearkens to the ‘Janes not only questing to defeat evil monsters, but to also understand themselves.
The Wicked + The Divine 22
Spencer: Just so y’all know where I stand: Ananke clearly needed to be stopped, and probably even deserved her fate. But who’s gonna do her job now that she’s dead? With no authority figure, the young gods of the Pantheon are left to further discover their abilities and forge their own place in the world all on their own. In theory, that could be a wondrous, joyous thing, yet, when Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson hint at the possibilities Ananke’s death presents, they’re framed as ominously as possible.
Persephone’s soaked in Ananke’s blood — her severed limb still hanging from Persephone’s vines — and is bathed in shadows cast by the haunting red light of Ananke’s slaughter device; there’s no way the Pantheon doing “whatever [they] want” is meant to be a good thing. There’s quite a few reasons for that, especially with the likes of Sakhmet and Woden amongst their number, but the most pressing danger might just be Persephone herself. Up to her dying breath, Ananke claimed that Persephone was “The Great Destroyer,” and even Cassandra seems to be considering the possibility.
It harkens back to the conflict we highlighted in the first few installments of this arc: for all her evil, Ananke might actually have a point, and for all her just, righteous fury, there’s still a lot we don’t know about Laura’s transformation into Persephone. Even as they bring the conflict between these two deities to a close, Gillen and McKelvie don’t really clear things up. Is Persephone’s murder a sign that she’s, consciously or not, ready to destroy, or a cry for justice from a grieving sister? (The reveal of Laura’s previously unseen sister, Jenny, is an interesting wrinkle to any arguments, if for no other reason than it reminds us that Laura might just be an unreliable narrator).
Whatever blame may fall on Persephone for any future tragedies, though, it’s fair to say that Ananke will still take the lion’s share. Any point she had about the Great Destroyer, any good intentions she may have held, are completely overshadowed by her pure hatred for her charges.
Trying to destroy a force that may destroy the world is heroic; attempting to murder the entire Pantheon under the guise of an altruistic crusade simply because you’ve grown to detest them is far, far less so. It got me thinking: the Pantheon’s early expiration date may be a curse, but so was Ananke’s immortality. Her death may just be the best possible outcome for all involved, with the possible exception of Laura’s soul, of course.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?