Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 12/7/16

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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 The Woods 28, Glitterbomb 4, The Wicked + The Divine 24, and Faith 6. Today we also discussed Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 1, so check that out, and we’ll be discussing Motor Crush 1 on Tuesday and Cannibal 3 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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The Woods 28

woods-28Ryan M.: Character is tested when expectations are upended. You never know the strength of your convictions or ethics until they are tested. Everyone in The Woods 28 went through an initial trauma and are now functioning in a new paradigm, but still James Tynion IV tests them further, giving the reader insight into who these people are.

Hiram is such a clearly drawn character in the opening scene. Immediately, the scene shows Hiram’s stubbornness and how it’s alienated him from his remaining family. The art reinforces this kind of interpretation. Most of the scene gives us a medium shot of Hiram’s expression, but when the lawyer says that Hiram is risking access to his remaining children, artist Michael Dialynas depicts him from a distance, giving Hiram privacy to process that idea. Tynion uses the juxtaposition of this phone call and Hiram’s attitude with the photographer to show Hiram’s mask of self-importance. The mask slips when the photographer presses him about his daughter. Again, Dialynas protects Hiram’s vulnerability by providing some distance from the reader. This time, in the form of the camera’s lens.

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This moment also plays a role as foreshadowing the appearance of Sanami in Bay Point at the end of the issue. Tynion gives the reader a test of Sanami’s convictions as well. Not only does she initiate the conversation with Karen as to who will put down their former classmate, but she faces Isaac when the time comes even though she is clearly out-matched. It’s not clear whether she survived the attack, but she risked her life to do what she believed had to be done. In a less overt way, Tynion gave Ben his own small test of character. Ben’s feelings for Isaac are clear and Dialynas makes sure it hurts as we see Ben deal with Isaac’s transformation. That’s what makes Ben’s lack of hesitation to commit to fighting what’s left of a man he once loved proof that he is the good person Isaac calls him earlier in the issue. The issue ends in a very interesting place, but it’s the way that the characters are developed that whet the appetite for what comes next.

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Glitterbomb 4

glitterbomb-4Patrick: This weekend, a friend of mine started asking rhetorical questions about celebrities that have been accused of doing terrible things. “Do you think Michael Jackson is innocent?” “If someone had literally no context would you recommend the Cosby Show to to them?” That second question was especially hard because the show was so important, both for comedy and for its portrayal of a black family on television. Plus, as another friends pointed out, it’s not like Bill Cosby was the only person who worked on that show – hundreds of people poured their genius into it. However, it doesn’t take a lot of extrapolating to conclude that the people that propped up Cosby’s successes were at best complicit, and at worst enabling, of him drugging and raping countless women. The economy of the Cosby Show was built on sexual assault, and like any economy, it was fiercely protective of itself, no matter the cost. Jim Zub and Djibril Morristte-Phan’s Glitterbomb takes a similarly macro look at the abuse Farrah experienced on the set of Space Farriers and hold everyone accountable.

What Zub and Morrisette-Phan accomplish here is nothing short of incredible. As far as I’m concerned, “spirit of vengeance” is the hardest possible character to write, partially because revenge is a concept that I personally find repugnant. I don’t know what drives us to think it will ever be emotionally satisfying, as it never is, and logically speaking… well, we’ve got a glut of aphorisms that can all be summed up with another: two wrongs don’t make a right. Glitterbomb 4 makes the cultural case against the industry that perpetuates sexual assault, and while I can’t say the ending feels good, it is incredibly useful.

Zub and Morrisette-Phan are playing with moments from the past and present, and it’s illuminating how they select and deploy those moments. The issue opens with a multiple-page flashback setting up the first time Cliff approached Farrah – Star Farrier’s original sin, as it were. Zub keeps us locked in this awful scene for three full pages, and Morrisette-Phan emphasizes this continuity of time and space with some creative paneling.cliff-and-farrahMorrisette-Phan doesn’t do this sort of camera-continuity between panels anywhere else in the issue, which goes a long way to communicate just how stuck in this moment Farrah is. We’ll cut back to the past later in the issue, but it’s only ever for a panel at a time, revealing the multitude of times people excused or encouraged Cliff’s behavior. That’s a powerful page, showing the opulence of the present juxtaposed with the ugliness of the past. But it’s perfectly set against a page of that ugliness continued to the present, as Farrah’s demon feeds of the anger and anxiety of people currently being marginalized and abused by the industry.

So when Farrah finally transforms on stage and makes an example of Cliff’s entire support structure, it’s an unsettlingly satisfying scene of carnage. There’s a “To Be Continued…” at the end of this issue, along with a tease that there’s still something lurking in the ocean, but Farrah’s journey feels so devastatingly complete to me. I like this moment, not truly understanding Farrah’s transformation, and before having to deal with what this does to Marty and Kaydie. Where ever Zub and Morrisette-Phan take it, I have absolute faith in this creative team to be unflinchingly honest. Don’t let up, guys, this is important stuff.

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The Wicked + The Divine 24

the-wicked-the-divine-24Drew: Stories are motivated by goals. Whether it’s “defeat the Wicked Witch” or “destroy the One Ring” or even “find Nemo,” most stories lay out clear goals for their protagonists. And when those goals are reached, the story is either over, or the goal is replaced with another (case in point: “defeat the Wicked Witch” replaced “see the Wizard of Oz”). As in real life, switching between goals may come at the expense of some momentum — it’s hard not to feel a little aimless after achieving a goal you’d been working towards for so long. That’s exactly the state Persephone finds herself in at the start of The Wicked + The Divine 24; aimless to the point of self-destruction.

In this case, the self-destruction takes the form of what Cassandra dubs “general hedonism.” It takes Persephone from Amaterasu’s lips to Sakhmet’s bed (or, more precisely, Baal’s bed, though apparently without his knowledge or participation). Of course, as with most self-destruction, there’s some collateral damage. Baal doesn’t appear in the issue (aside from the video Woden uses to attempt to buy his own safety), but Minerva stages an intervention of sorts to try to protect him from Persephone’s selfishness. Indeed, her observations are so prescient and concise that Persephone can’t help but hear them, in spite of herself.

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Unfortunately, those words resonate just enough to make Persephone defensive, sending her on an even more self-destructive path that might just out her as a murderer. I won’t presume to guess where this story is going from here — it really could go anywhere — but I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if it circled back to some of the themes of justice and autonomy that circled around Luci’s arrest/trial. Wherever Persephone’s actions in this issue lead her, it’s clear that it’s probably not going to be easy on Baal (who will also be implicated by Woden’s video).

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Faith 6

faith-6Spencer: It can be hard to prioritize sometimes, can’t it? Sometimes what we want to do isn’t what we need to do, and quite often our emotions can distract us from what’s really important. Throughout Jody Houser, Meghan Hetrick, and Marguerite Sauvage’s Faith 6, Faith is continually forced to reevaluate her priorities. With her powers drained and some of her personal triggers being set-off by her mission, it takes quite a bit of effort for Faith to stay focused on what matters most: saving Dark Star’s victims.

Distractions and complications hit Faith from all sides: there’s Faith’s dampened abilities, the Psiot-hating Project Rising Spirit’s involvement with Dark Star, and even the somewhat self-involved stage mother of Dark Star’s first victim, actress Zoe Hines. There’s a rather cathartic moment early in the issue when Faith tells off Zoe’s mother for being more worried about her daughter’s career than her life, but it’s a moment Faith later regrets.

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Zoe’s mother is flawed, but she’s not a monster. Project Rising Spirit is dangerous, but they’re not the most pertinent threat at the moment. Faith has let them distract her from her top priority of protecting the innocent, but she quickly realizes her mistake, and spends the rest of the issue prioritizing the safety of Zoe and Dark Star’s other victims over all other objectives. That’s ultimately what saves the day: by paying attention to Zoe’s interests, treating her with respect, and appealing to her humanity, Faith is able to free Zoe without throwing a single punch. It’s almost a shame that this came about because of Faith’s weakened abilities: it would have been the best course of action even if she was at full strength.

Ultimately, Project Rising Spirit walks away from a situation they started scot free, but a frustrating as that is, Faith doesn’t let it stop her from recognizing her victory.

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Not even a superhero can do everything, and sometimes even the best possible outcome won’t solve every problem. If you focus on helping those who need it the most, though, you’ll be able to walk away from any situation with no regrets.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

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One comment on “Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 12/7/16

  1. It’s a little bit weird not to be writing about WicDiv or the Woods this month, but it’s also really nice to get to see the rest of the staff’s take on these books.

    The Woods: I’m pretty sure Sanami is alive, just because Sanami returning to Earth alive and IMMEDIATELY being forced to deal with her father and Karen and Adrian’s mothers and the press all the while knowing that Karen and the rest of her friends are still in mortal danger is just SO JUICY. I hope this is the Sanami spotlight I’ve been hoping for for ages.

    Glitterbomb: Man, what a heartcrusher of an issue. When the series comes back, I almost think it CAN’T follow up anything related to Farrah — it’s almost going to have to be someone else getting infected, dealing with a totally different toxic relationship, in a different way but with just as much unflinching grit.

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