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 Captain Kid 4, Shipwreck 3, Green Valley 4 and Outcast 24. We discussed Star Wars Poe Dameron 10 today and will be discussing Moonshine 4 on Tuesday and Jughead 12 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Captain Kid 4
Drew: I was a big fan of Community, which meant coping with a lot of uncertainty about the future of the show. That uncertainty didn’t usually manifest in the midst of a season, but could always be felt at the season finale, which often had to double as a series finale (for fear that the series wouldn’t be picked up for another season). That means I’m quite familiar with the components of a conclusion that doesn’t quite feel conclusive — it’s not necessarily rushed or premature, but without the specific conflicts that could be concluded being built up as the ones that need to be concluded, it’s hard to make those conclusions feel satisfying. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the feeling I got reading Captain Kid 4, the penultimate issue of this series.
Nothing here feels like it had quite enough time to develop. The politics of the evil corporate leaders never gets the teeth it seemed designed for, Chris’ relationship with his dad is never explored in enough depth for us to be fully invested in it, and, most tellingly, we never spend enough time with this issue’s turncoat, Teddy, for his allegiance to have any meaning to us. Throw in the fact that series artist Wilfredo Torres was absent for this issue, and you get the distinct impression of a series that’s ending long before anyone intended. That’s not to say fill-in artist Brent Peeples does a bad job — indeed, under the inks of Eric Gapstur, the art takes on a moodiness that’s a perfect match for this darker issue — but it’s hard to reconcile the need for a fill-in artist on a five-issue mini. Which I suppose only matters inasmuch as it confirms the obvious; that this series is wrapping up much quicker than was planned when those first few issues were produced. It could be that this sudden growing pain will make for a much more enjoyable final issue, but I can’t help but wonder about the series that this could have been.
Ryan D: Reading Shipwreck makes me think of one of my favorite poetrs: Robert Bly. Bly wrote, as early as 1958, about how the American poetry scene should not be reliant upon the safety of traditional, English styles, like the head-lead rigidity of the iambic poem; instead, he urged voices to find the passionate fluidity being established by Spanish and German poets like Neruda and Rilke. In the same way that Bly took the narrative, linear poetic tradition and made American poetry more imagistic and subconscious, Warren Ellis and Phil Hester try something different than the norm in Shipwreck, and this something reads as rather poetical.
Each issue thus far revolves around some heavy visual metaphor and image which plays as both world-building in the narrative sense of the comic, but also does what imagery does best: offers a vehicle or space for something to resonate within the reader, “being the natural speech of the imagination” (Bly). Last issue featured the “sky burial”, which chilled me to the bone. In Shipwreck 3, the cairn- a man-made pile of rocks which is replete with historical and cultural significance- plays as central of a role to the issue as the lead character, so much so that Ellis dedicated two pages explicitly to delineating the roles cairns have played through the ages.
Learning things from an Ellis comic is nothing new to me; he’s a well-informed and well-read writer who often brings in the esoteric or obscure to inform his titles, Injection being a prime example of that. I love this pedagogical style, though it may be somewhat odd for new readers of his to notice that the third entry in this off-beat series centers around a few small steps forward in the lead’s journey, four pages of Wikipedia-esque facts, and some much-needed expository flashbacks. But I don’t mind that at all when there’s so much work being done here by the script, the pencils, and inks to hit me in the psyche along with the brain.
Green Valley 4
Spencer: While there’s still a major twist and a rousing action scene in Green Valley 4 (and considering the identity of the “wizard,” the reveal of what the “dragons” are is perfect — it makes complete sense, yet also comes as a huge surprise, and provides a brilliant visual), Max Landis and Giuseppe Camuncoli devote most of this issue to character work, detailing how the Knights of Kelodia deal with Indrid’s death, and how they’ll proceed from here. While still a skilled warrior, Gulliver’s insecurities are beginning to show — his game has never lived up to his talk, and it’s making him a bit neurotic. Ralphus, meanwhile, is trying to keep the group together (and sooth Bertwald), but having a bit of trouble in that area.
Bertwald gets the most focus, though. As Ralphus’ speech above indicates, he’s a bit of a contradiction: a disciplined warrior who understands that what they’re doing needs to be done, and that Indrid chose his own path, even if it lead to his death, but also a bleeding heart who blames himself and Ralphus for Indrid’s fate, and for what he assumes will be their own deaths as well. He seems to value life more than honor, which I would consider to be a noble trait, but it’s also one that’s actually kept him from living over the past year. I hope that, eventually, the lives he’s saving by undertaking this mission help him to come around to how important the Knights’ work is, and how noble — if still terribly sad — sacrifice can be as well. He’s a complicated man, but it doesn’t mean he needs to be distraught forever.
Patrick: When Outcast started in the summer of 2015, it ended with a letter from Robert Kirkman explaining that he found demonic possession to be one of the scariest supernatural occurrences because it really happens. At the time, I scoffed at the letter, and I still think Kirkman was being both hyperbolic and kind of a sucker when recounting (and apparently believing) all these tales of demonic possession. But the conflict of this series has been quickly shifting from God vs. Devil to Good vs. Evil, and now, even more subtly, to Us vs. Them. Issue 24 disabuses the reader of the notion that Kyle and Reverend Anderson actually represent goodness as they take on the same tactics as their opponents — kidnapping, torture, disfigurement, murder — in the name of furthering their agenda. This is the real terrifying phenomenon: people turning on each other, and betraying their base decency because they believe their side is right and the other side is wrong.
The key to all of this is the interrogation / torture scene in the barn. Kyle, Giles and the Rev are clearly in over their heads, and don’t have a handle on what they can actually accomplish with Sidney in captivity. For his part, Sidney takes advantage of his lack-of-advantage, and tells them that there is no devil and there is no God, and whatever divisions there are between people in this town are divisions perpetrated by the likes of Reverend Anderson. Sidney had offered Kyle the chance to work together in the previous issue, but Kyle cited is own kidnapping and torture for evidence of why he’d never work with Sidney. It only took a matter of hours for the tables to be reversed. The scariest part about all of this is that Anderson gets that same kind of idiotic fervor for “his side” and carves “my mark” into Sidney’s chest.
It’s not “God’s mark,” and — as Sidney had mentioned earlier — this isn’t a very Christian thing to do. It’s hard to say who are the good guys and who are the bad guys now. Our choices now are “Outcasts” and “Merged” – one of those sounds inclusive and welcoming, and the other one represents our heroes. That’s the real scary shit.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?