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 29, Woods 30, Paper Girls 12, and Faith 9. Also, we discussed Once and Future Queen 1 on Thursday, and we’ll discuss Extremity 1 on Tuesday and Savage Things 1 and Royal City 1 on Wednesday, so check back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Star Wars 29
Mark: After discovering the mysterious Force Rock Candy Mountain is alive, Yoda and his sidekick Garro spend nine days in quiet meditation communing with the creature to try and understand it. This completely tracks as something a Jedi should do, but it’s something we rarely see. In the Star Wars universe, Jedi Knights are talked about (and talk about themselves) like monks; they’re supposed to be highly disciplined, learned, and only taking action after careful consideration of their choices. But in the films, especially in the prequels, we never see this religious devotion in action. Jason Aaron and Salvador Larroca’s Star Wars 29 shows us that oft-neglected side of the Jedi Order.
Of course, Force powers come into play a few pages later, but we never get to see the conclusion of that battle because Luke can’t be bothered to finish reading the story in Obi-Wan’s journal. I am not kidding you.
The convoluted, kind of stupid framing device that allowed for this Yoda side story in the first place comes to its inevitably silly conclusion.
The Woods 30
Ryan M: I’m not sure I understand any of what is happening in The Woods 30. To be more precise, I don’t know what anything that happens means. That said, James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas are playing fair. They aren’t injecting unnecessary ambiguity to the moments of the issue, save a couple of characters reacting to something off-panel. It’s a testament to the work that Tynion IV has done with this series that even though I have little idea where these moments fit into the ongoing arc, I still have faith that all of this is headed toward a place where these moments will retroactively fit.
There is a lot to praise in this issue, especially the moments dealing with Taisho. Take the opening scene with him standing nude in a pool of green, marveling at New York City’s layout and potential. Dialynas suffuses each panel with varied amounts of green. Taisho cuts a menacing figure with his opaque glasses and unnatural grin. The murder of the guards is so matter-of-fact that the rest of issue is filled with tension. When Karen enters Taisho’s quarters, we know that she is walking into danger and Tynion IV ratchets up the anxiety by presenting Calder.
She knows not to trust it, but Karen gives herself a moment of delusion before he disappears on the wind. Taisho puts Karen into personal emotional distress before their conversation. He is a first rate villain, even if I couldn’t tell you what his plan may be.
Paper Girls 12
Patrick: There are a lot of “I know what that is” moments in Paper Girls. Just last month, Spencer and I were drawing all sorts of conclusions from the cave girl’s circuit diagram tattoos and KJ’s loaded-ass dreams. Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang seem to absolutely relish using symbols and images we recognize and respond to, only overwhelm and override our expectations. Paper Girls 12 does this once more, smothering the pages with familiar — if non sequitur — symbols, before extending that misunderstanding to Mac.
Erin and Tiffany start off the misunderstandapalooza by making a series of references to both fiction and religion. Tiffany refers to Erin’s collar as a “babel fish,” a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that Vaughan is so careful not to let slip by the audience that the girls name the source of the reference. You can’t read this exchange any other way — Tiffany and Erin understand this strange object in their lives by comparing it to a specific work of fiction, bringing along all of the assumption that fiction brings with it. Luckily those assumptions are a) correct and b) harmless. Where they might be getting into more trouble is comparing their new friend’s plight to that of Mary and the baby Jesus. Tiff builds the case point by point: pregnant girl, following a star, gifts from three wise men. It’s sorta shaky metaphorical ground, and you can tell that Tiffany is already projecting extra meaning on to their meeting. Her assumptions are a) incorrect and b) harmless…. so far. The cave woman (who I wish had a name, btw) is quick to challenge the assumption that the three men are “wise.” she describes them as “savage murderers,” so it seems like Tiff’s assumptions are on the fast track to being harmful as well.
Of course, Chiang gets in on the disinformation game as well. Our time traveler, Dr. Qanta Braunstien, surprisingly encounters three savage cavemen, each bearing the markings of common buttons on consumer electronics — power, record and play.
What does that mean? Dr. Braunstien doesn’t get a chance to make that assumption, so the audience is forced todo it on our own. Further to that, we’re forced to make the assumption that these are the not-so-wise men that Cave Girl was talking about a few pages back. We also get a little bit of information from Dr. Braunstien’s OS, that suggests she’s 13,761 years displaced from the year she came from. That puts Dr. B’s year of origin at 2055, an even 75 years after the events of Paper Girls 1. What’s that mean?
We can make all the assumptions we want, but those assumptions always seem to bite us in the ass in the end. The final pages show Mac assuming that KJ is bleeding because she was injured during their river rapids escape, only to reveal that KJ is having her period. Judging by Mac’s “congratulations?”, we’re meant to believe this is her first. That may end up being the key to all of this: blood looks like one thing at first — a wound — but just past the first assumption is a lot more powerful reality. What are the rest of this series’ easily understandable symbols obscuring?
Spencer: It’s not easy being a supporting character to a superhero. Sure, there’s always the possibility of fame, glamor, and adventure (all of which Faith/Summer’s co-workers fantasize about at one point or another throughout this month’s issue), but you’re far more likely to be attacked and threatened on a consistent basis, and your whole life eventually begins to revolve around the hero’s drama. That’s something Mimi, Jay, and Paige have all come to discover after months of working with Faith, but they continue to enjoy working with her and supporting her anyway.
Faith 9 finds Jody Hauser, Kate Niemczyk, and Marguerite Sauvage exploring a day in the life of “Summer Smith” through the eyes of her co-workers, all of whom spend much of their day trying to hide her secret identity from the new intern, Anna Jenkins. This gives each of them plenty of opportunity to contemplate what they’d like out of their association with Faith, and while all have lofty fantasies, their protection of her ultimately comes down to the fact that they simply enjoy working with her and appreciate what she does, both in and especially out of the office. Mimi appreciates the optimism she brings to a mostly cynical job and Paige enjoys the opportunity to play protector, but it’s Jay’s thoughts I especially appreciated.
On an abstract level, Jay may have issues with superheroes (or at least Zipline supporting one), but coming to know Faith Herbert as a person has meant acknowledging her humanity and understanding that there’s a person beneath the mask. Faith’s always been a hero meant to inspire readers, but it’s nice to see how she inspires her fans and friends in-universe too, and as the need for empathy that Jay displays becomes more and more important by the day, I appreciate stories highlighting it more than ever.
I also love how Faith 9 plays around with traditional superhero tropes (despite all her co-worker’s distractions, it only takes Anna four and a half hours to discover Faith’s identity, but Faith ends up using a really clever, straight out of a Silver Age Superman trick to put the cat back in the bag), but the one moment that didn’t work for me was Anna pulling a gun on Faith — I don’t totally get why she did it. She’s a reporter trying to get a scoop on Faith’s identity, not a villain trying to kill her — why didn’t she just leave once she got the information she needed? Maybe she was trying to force “Summer” to out herself for final proof of her theory, but did she really think pulling a gun on a superhero was going to end well for herself? It’s not very bright, especially for an otherwise perceptive character, but fortunately, it’s only a very minor misstep in an otherwise typically fun and charming installment of Faith.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?