Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Curse Words 2, originally released February 23rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan M: Is morality a choice? A person’s ideas of right and wrong come from a combination of outside forces and inner drives. The outside forces are more easy to trace. An examination of societal and family norms can lead to a fairly good prediction of an individual’s understanding of morality. There is more to it than that, right? I want to believe that there are things that cross the boundaries of moral relativism and are inherently on one side or another. In Curse Words 2, Charles Soule and Ryan Browne explore morality through the lens of Wizord as he attempts to clean up his mess.
The issue begins directly where the last one left off. Wizord has frozen and shrunk a stadium full of people after they witnessed his defeat of a wizard sent from Hole World. Wizord has also captured millions of people watching the event on television. In order to send all of them to a paradise, Wizord exchanges a large sapphire with an elderly dictator. Meanwhile, in Hole World, Ruby Stitch is gearing up to battle Wizord by empowering herself with a gem of her own. At the end of the issue, Wizord has successfully transported the witnesses, but he is immediately left powerless when Sizzajee cuts his power supply. Wizord’s mini quest is made compelling by his running dialogue with Margaret in which he attempts to justify his actions along moral lines.
Margaret the Koala functions as Wizord’s Jiminy Cricket and each of their interactions is shaded by her frustration at his short comings. In the first scene of the book, she chides him.
While Wizord attempts to explain his choices, Margaret tries to provoke some kind of empathy for the frozen people. Soule and Browne chose a child from the baseball stadium to represent the crowd. His scared face is fresh in the reader’s mind as Wizord callously discussion his impulsive choice. Margaret is not pacified. Browne renders her skeptical expression in the bottom panel above. There is a sense that Wizord is feeling some level of shame, as his eyes are downcast and he stammers in his explanation of the events. The desire to make his choice sound above-board rings hollow and that’s before we find out that he is keeping millions of people frozen in a ziploc bag in his pocket. It’s clear that Wizord’s view of man is not as equal or even worthy of consideration as a peer. Initially, it was the freedom of the world that attracted Wizord, but he is willing to sacrifice their freedom as soon as it may inconvenience him.
Once they meet Mr. Bharathakulasuriya and the negotiation for the sapphire begins, Margaret again asserts a bit of a moral argument into Wizord’s plan. This time, Margaret is much more explicitly teaching him.
She doesn’t mince words as she explains the “two wrongs don’t make a right” theory that most humans are taught in grade school. Browne expresses Bharathakulasuriya’s blood-thirsty cruelty efficiently, with his cold stare flanked by murderous images. The blue flames are an especially interesting element of the design as they make him seem like the devil incarnate. Unlike Margaret’s last attempt at getting through to Wizord, he takes in her admonishment and chooses to listen to her. Soule is giving us growth here, even if Wizord’s more humane option results in a bloodbath of twenty Bharathakulasuriyas.
Wizord completes his plan to send all of the witnesses of his battle to a paradise of sunshine and happiness, but his reasoning adds more complexity to his morality. This time, Margaret stays silent as he goes through a host of justifications before admitting that his choice to freeze the stadium was not about avoiding distractions, or to ultimately protect the world, instead its about Wizord keeping up an image of a hero.
Wizord is probably at his most honest in this moment. There is a vulnerability in his belief that the only thing keeping him from embracing the destruction of his old life is that people believe he can be more. It’s not a strong basis for choosing between right and wrong, but it indicates that even though he was raised by Sizzajee, there is something in him that wants to rise above that darkness. By shirking his duties, Wizord has already passively saved the world. If he wants to build on any of that toward some kind of hero persona, he is going to have to listen to Margaret.
Taylor, what did you think of the issue? I didn’t really get into the action on Hole World. How do you think the dynamics shown there reflect the code of that world? Also, what are your thoughts about the way magic is depicted in the issue, both on Hole World and Earth? The severing of the sapphire intestine thing was a bit visceral, no?
Taylor: It’s visceral yes, but more than that I would argue that it’s just damn weird in the best way possible. This scene, and others, in the issue successfully build upon the world that Soule tantalized us with in the first installment of the series, only here he goes deeper. I’m infinitely intrigued about the Hole World and this stems from the fact that it makes absolutely no sense to me right now.
This scene where Sizzajee severs Wizord’s magic power is perhaps the best example of the intriguing world Soule and Browne are building. In what appears to be a self harming move, Sizzajee literally cuts his magical ties with Wizord in a way that suggests the two are connected by more than just a lord and master relationship.
It’s a bizarre image made all the more strange when you examine the details. First. whatever is is that Sizzajee is cutting look like intestines or at the very least something organic. It’s too soon to tell if these things are literally connected to Sizzajee, but the colors that make up his body would seem to suggest as much. If that’s the case, then magic has some weird connection to biology in the Hole World. However, there also appears to be elements of technology sprinkled into the mix which suggests a perhaps not totally organic use of magic here.
So I may have misspoke earlier when I said the scene doesn’t make any sense. Rather, this scene presents us with a lot of interesting ideas and clues about the Hole World without actually telling us anything at all. That’s a brilliant move and the result is that I only want to know and read more about this extraordinary place.
And oh, how extraordinary it is! Elsewhere in the issue Soule and Browne take us to Ruby Stitch’s hangout.
First things first. Ruby can transform into a bird and is apparently the leader of a group of man-bird creatures. Second, these man-bird creatures love to party and are ready to do so at a moment’s notice. So many questions spring to mind when looking at this scene and it’s a delight to see how weird and joyful Hole World is turning out to be. Given that Sizzajee is the big bad in this series, one could easily imagine his realm to be dark and depressing, but it’s not. Instead it’s bright and sunny, full of nature, and where people are excited and happy to party. These bird creatures, and the place they live, hint at a universe that is so much deeper than we are seeing in these first two issues and that’s exciting. With such depth, Soule and Browne could easily return to Hole World again and again without it ever becoming boring.
That the Hole World isn’t some hellscape raises questions about the morality of Sizzajee, his mission, and his relationship to the characters we’ve been introduced to so far in this series. In the opening scene of this issue, Sizzajee calls Ruby and Botchko his children as he slightly scolds them for arguing.
Now are these two really his children or is he just assuming a playful tone here? It’s hard to say, especially when it’s hinted that these two, along with Wizord and the departed Cornwall, are physically and magically tied to Sizzajee somehow. In any case, the way he talks to these people, whether they be children or servants, shows a character who cares for, and maybe even loves the people he works with. That makes it hard to hate Sizzajee. Further, he says our world must burn, doesn’t say why, but affirms it’s not about settling old scores. Now, while I’m partial to planet Earth, who’s to say that Earth hasn’t done something morally reprehensible that requires it to be destroyed? Sure, it’s a severe consequence for anything, but this issue has me wondering about given just how damn likable Hole World and its inhabitants are.
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