Last week, we started a conversation about Curse Words 1. The issue hadn’t been released at the time and there’s an awesome twist at the end that we knew we had to discuss somewhere. If you haven’t read the issue yet, maybe check out that spoiler-free discussion, and then come back here for our conversation about That Big Twist. You’ll know it when you see it. Obviously, SPOILERS follow.
Patrick: So, okay, like 95% of this story is pretty well-examined territory in fantasy and science fiction right? An outsider from another world visits our own and falls in love with the places and the people and decides to make a home of Earth. Or protects it or whatever. Where Charles Soule and Ryan Browne’s first issue delightfully subverts that narrative by demonstrating that, while New York city has charmed Wizord, it hasn’t exactly made him a better person. For real, spoilers ahead.
After deciding to take residence in NYC, Wizord’s master sends another magic user after him to wipe him out — and presumably finish the planet off once and for all. Browne gives us a knock-down drag-out fight between these two wizards, throwing lighting punches and kicking each other across town, all against the by-then-familiar backdrop of those double-chevrons Drew identified in our first piece. This should all feel like the climax of the issue, but I’ll admit to being a little let down as I started reading it. The charm of the series necessarily melts away as Wizord is no longer discovering the joys of a hot dog street vendor. Instead, this epic duel finds its way to a Mets game and instead of being heroic, Wizord’s victory is horrifying.
And in front of a packed house at Citi Field. That alone would be enough to make you question the “the world made him good!” trajectory — like, that’s a pretty gruesome way to settle and argument. The baseball fans agree, as they look on aghast. Wizord’s solution? Magically shrinking everyone and pocketing them. That’s right — the issue ends with a little bulge in Wizord’s jeans that represents AN ENTIRE STADIUM FULL OF PEOPLE. And yes, that visual is just as hilarious as it sounds.
So, y’know, maybe he’s not such a changed man after all. Drew, He’s also attracted the attention of his fellow evil wizards, but they’re much more convinced than I am that he’s turned a corner. What do you make of those other wizards? Notable among their number is Ruby Stitch, who we get through some exposition had a relationship with Wizord. (But also, if we flip back through the issue, we see that she visited him on Earth and maybe had a nice time, too!)
What do you think is going on there?
Drew: I think that’s Wizord’s imagination running away with him. That isn’t a memory, but a stray thought that enters his mind while he’s in the middle of casting the world-ending spell he was sent here to cast. As he stands in his tower, starting his incantation, he sees a happy couple relaxing in the park, and imagines that some of that happiness could be his, if only he’d let it. That’s the moment that he decides to stay, so he re-corks his potion and disregards Margaret’s warnings about Sizzajee causing trouble.
Which also introduces the other paneling flourish Browne relies on throughout this issue — the flame-wreathed panels that we slowly learn are Sizzajee’s perspective through a kind of magical CCTV.
Anyway, I think that moment is key, because it gives us a good hint of Wizord’s real motivations: self-interest. He sees Earth as a place where he can be free from his master, and decides to stay for that reason. Whatever he does after that is in pursuit of that goal. Which is to say: he wasn’t helping people out of the kindness of his heart, but because he wanted to make some paper (or sapphires, as the case may be). That makes his choice to cover up his fight with Cornwall a bit less baffling — a bunch of bad press would threaten his business (and his freedom, I guess), and since he’s only motivated by protecting his own interests, has no problem condemning a stadium full of people to life in his pants pocket (no matter how tight those pants may be).
Which actually may bring me back to the three rules Wizord hammers home: No Cures, No Wars, No Love. If he’s not motivated by morals (at least as we understand them), we might have to understand this as a marketing move as well. Perhaps he’s worried about losing clients if he starts curing diseases or starting wars, or perhaps he’s just worried about moral blowback for tampering with people’s lives. I’m not sure we know him well enough to parse the logic of his rules just yet, but I’m all but certain there’s more to it than meets the eye.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?