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

Elusive and Scattered Narratives in Mata Hari 3

by Mark Mitchell

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

Mata Hari continues to be an interesting but ultimately elusive book in its third of five installments. Margaretha Zelle’s life is clearly worthy of examination, but the book itself is hamstrung by the extremely limiting nature of this mini-series’ run. Continue reading

The Worst Hunting Trip in the World in Green Lanterns 45

By Mark Mitchell

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

With Green Lanterns 45, Tim Seeley and Ronan Cliquet begin to dive into Jessica Cruz’s past with the goal of explaining why The Ring of Volthoom was drawn to her trauma in the first place — the worst hunting trip in the world. Continue reading

Star Wars: Poe Dameron 26: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Mark Mitchell

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: Marvel’s Star Wars line of comics were launched on the idea that what happens between the movies behind the scenes are stories worth telling. Surprisingly, many of these stories have been deep, creative chapters in the lives of the characters we know and love, building upon their respective character philosophies. Not every aspect of these characters’ lives shares that amount of depth or insight, however. We spend a lot of our lives sitting around, not doing anything consequential. Unfortunately, the same is true for the heroes of Star Wars: Poe Dameron 26. Continue reading

Don’t Trust Authority in New Super-Man and the Justice League of China 22

by Mark Mitchell

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

Ahn Kwang-Jo, aka the Aqua-Man of North Korea, aka Dragonson, is so conditioned by his life under the authoritarian regime of North Korea to accept the word of authority figures as truth that when the old sea dragon bones responsible for his powers commands him to generate a flood large enough to kill millions of his countrymen, Kwang-Jo feels compelled to obey. He’s briefly conflicted, but his resistance is met with anger by his “true father”, and Kwang-Jo quickly acquiesces.

Continue reading

Exiles 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Ryan Desaulniers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Mark: The best teams are made up of strong, diverse personalities that bring out the best in each other. This is especially true in fiction. The individual members don’t need to always get along, conflict drives any story, but a certain baseline level of respect is necessary. One of the most impressive feats of team building in recent history has to be 2012’s The Avengers. Looking back with full knowledge of the incredible success Marvel Films has achieved almost unblemished since Iron Man ten years ago, it’s easy to take for granted the fact that The Avengers worked at all, but at the time it was incredibly risky. Going back and watching The Avengers now, the first two-thirds of the movie drag quite a bit as writer and director Joss Whedon works to establish the team dynamics, but that groundwork was necessary not just for the first movie, but for the Marvel Films team-ups to come. Again, we take for granted now that all of these characters can seamlessly interact with each other, but that’s only because the hard work was done by that essential first Avengers film. In Exiles 1, Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodriguez, and Alvaro Lopez begin the work of building their own superhero team, and, like The Avengers, their patience in this premier issue sets them up for long term success. Continue reading

Batman 44: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Taylor Anderson

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

Mark: Comic book characters locked into perpetual monthly stories can never really change; someone like Batman is an archtype unto himself, and if you mess with that alchemy too much, you threaten to change what Batman is. I used to think of this limitation as a bug in serialized comic storytelling, that the lack of permanent change in a character somehow devalued the overall impact any specific authorial choices could have, but I’m beginning to see it as a huge advantage. Continue reading

Sticking Close to the Source Material in Labyrinth Coronation 2

By Mark Mitchell

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

In this site’s Best Writers of 2017 list, we praised Simon Spurrier as one of the best — if not the best — world-builders in comics today. So it’s not that Labyrinth Chronicles 2 is bad or boring or otherwise deficient, it’s just that it feels like a waste of Spurrier’s considerable talents. At this point, the world of Labyrinth Chronicles is defined by the movie on which it’s based, and even though there is some opportunity for invention (The Owl King and Sir Skubbin are original creations), Spurrier seems boxed in by the creative choices of a film made over 30 years ago. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 6: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell 

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

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Spencer: Now that the series has come to an end, I can safely say that I have very mixed feelings about Dark Nights: Metal as a whole. So much of this event has been about embracing gonzo, bonkers, throwback action, but much of that fun is buried under attempts to overexplain every aspect of the (often impossible to follow) plot. The stakes of the event never fully sank in for me, as aside from artist Greg Capullo’s hellish landscapes, most of the nightmarish aspects of the Dark Multiverse were buried away in tie-in issues, while the main series focused on fun, but straightforward action beats. That said, there were a few areas where this series shined, and Dark Nights: Metal 6 exemplifies them all. It’s a strong metaphor for embracing hope and community over nihilism and isolation, a powerful reminder of stories’ ability to inspire, and an ode to the past (and future) of the DC Universe. Continue reading