Catwoman 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: I’ve only recently become familiar with Joëlle Jones, but it was immediately apparent from her work that she not only cares about fashion, but that she has a real talent for bringing it out on the page. It should be no surprise, then, that fashion — at least in a sense — seems to be one of the underlying themes of Jones’ Catwoman 1. I don’t necessarily mean fashion as in runways and models, although Jones’ take on Selina Kyle could certainly put Tyra Banks to shame — I mean fashion as in the idea of clothing, costumes, and disguises, what they mean to the public, and what they mean to the individuals wearing them. Continue reading

James Bond The Body 6: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner & Mark Mitchell

James Bond The Body 6

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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You are driving a bus with 12 passengers on it. At the first stop, half of the passengers get off and nine more get on. At the second stop, a third of the passengers get off and two more get on. At the third stop, one quarter of the passengers get off and seven more get on. What color are the bus driver’s eyes?

Traditional

Drew: Misdirection is a simple consequence of our limited attention. We can only focus on so many details at once, so if we’re misled about which of those details are important, we can easily miss what’s actually important. This old brain teaser illustrates the point perfectly, introducing the fact that we are driving the bus as an inconsequential detail before distracting us with a bunch of numerical information that seems like it is probably the point of the puzzle. Only, the solution to the puzzle requires that we divided our focus in the opposite way, remembering the one detail that seemed irrelevant to what we assumed was a math problem. James Bond: The Body 6 does something similar, laying out a detailed explanation of the case Bond spent the previous five issues skirting the edges of while the actual action plays out in the background. It’s a clever trick, disguising action as exposition, allowing Aleš Kot and Luca Casalanguida to play out their final reveal and villain showdown simultaneously, skipping the falling action right to the moment Bond can reflect on his role in everything. Continue reading

Echos of Grief Reverberate in Isola 3

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

We don’t know exactly what transpired between Rook and Queen Olwyn that led them to their current paths, but Isola 3 continues to deepen their connection even as the two are further separated by physical distance. Continue reading

Blackwood 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Mark: It’s pretty insane that we choose which college we’re going to attend based on almost zero context. Sure, you can take a campus tour, read about the experiences of alumni, and maybe even shadow a current student for a day or two, but in the end choosing a college — any college — is an immense leap of faith. This seems to be doubly true of attending Blackwood College, the eponymous school of the occult in Evan Dorkin and Veronica Fish’s Blackwood 1, as none of the students we meet in this premiere issue seem to have much understanding of what they’ve signed up for. Continue reading

Doctor Aphra 20: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Darth Vader: You are overly fond of talking.
Doctor Aphra: I’m nervous.

-Darth Vader 3

Patrick: Chelli Lona Aphra is a motormouth. She’ll unleash a torrent of words when she’s confident, when she’s nervous, when she’s got something to hide, and when she’s got something to say. It makes it tough to get a read on her, but after 20 issues of her own series and a bunch of appearances in Darth Vader, the reader has the benefit of familiarity. By this point in our journey with her, we sorta know Doctor Aphra. The Imperial chumps trying to probe her for information, on the other hand, don’t stand a chance of untangling the truth. Writer Si Spurrier leverages dramatic irony, both in the form of the reader’s past experiences with Aphra and by contrasting his words with Kev Walker’s art, to dig deeper into the character of Doctor Aphra. Continue reading

Delayed Gratification in Avengers 2

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Avengers 2 finds writer Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness still trying to explain just what their Avengers book is going to be. Like the premiere issue, Avengers 2 is incredibly chatty, stuffed to the gills with narration, banter, quips, and inner-monologue that try to help explain the presence (and absence) of various Avengers. There’s a delayed gratification aspect at play, and seeing the entire team finally all together (whenever that happens) will no doubt be cathartic, but spending so much ink explaining why this team-up book doesn’t yet have a team is a sometimes frustrating choice. Continue reading

Heroes We Can All Relate To in Green Lanterns 47

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I really misjudged Green Lanterns 45. In my write up of that issue I figured Tim Seeley’s story to be primarily interested in teasing out the mystery surrounding the indentity of the murderers who killed Jessica Cruz’s friends, but in truth, the larger “Ghosts of the Past” arc has much more on its mind.

Continue reading

Plot, Without Thematics to Match, in New Super-Man and the Justice League of China 23

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It’s taken me twenty-three issues, but I am finally coming to terms with the kind of book New Super-Man is, versus the book I want it to be. What it is is a plot-driven book that smooths over its rough patches with sheer momentum and the clever mash-up of Chinese folklore with DC mythos. What it is not is interested in meditating on the themes it employs to drive its plot. Continue reading

Death or Glory 1: Discussion

By Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: A few weeks ago I covered Isola 1, a comic I praised for its subtlety and its trust and respect for its readers’ intelligence; there was very little hand-holding, exposition, or lore, and the issue was all the stronger for it. Rick Remender and Bengal are attempting something similar in the debut of their new Image series, Death or Glory, but it unfortunately doesn’t work quite as well. By the end of the issue — and especially on a second read — the story and structure, the characters and their relationships, they all snap together in a satisfying way, but I spent much of my first read puzzled; moreover, there’s still a few elements that don’t mesh even on that second time around. Continue reading

Conscience as a Bug and as a Feature in Coda 1

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s little point in being nice to people unless the act of being kind itself brings you happiness. Rude people are not unhappy — not categorically, anyway — because they don’t care that they’re rude, and there’s an undeniable freedom in not caring. Having a conscience is arguably a bug as well as a feature, since it’s easier to achieve your goals if you don’t care about the people you hurt in your pursuit of them.

In Simon Spurrier and Matias Bergara’s Coda 1, former bard Hum is determined to rescue his wife from a clan of savage orc-like creatures at the cost of everything and everyone else; as the issue closes he’s willing to potentially sacrifice the population of an entire city if it gets him one step closer to her. But it’s clear that Hum’s selfishness can’t last, and Coda is poised to be a series about one man in a terrible situation learning to put others above himself. Continue reading