Failure Defeated by Pure Action in Daredevil 601

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Daredevil is a punching bag. I know all superheroes suffer — conflict is the engine of story, and masked dudes with superpowers have to really be put through the ringer for a desensitized audience to feel anything. But Matt Murdock is a special case: his default state seems to be “just got beat up.” I mean, look at the cover to this issue. No one’s going to ask “oh no, is Matt gonna be okay?” Yeah, sure — he’ll be fine. He always bleeds from the face when he’s working on a plan. So part of what makes Daredevil 601 feel so unsettling is how smoothly everything goes for the Mayor Without Fear. Continue reading

Advertisements

Action Comics 1000: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner, Michael DeLaney, Patrick Ehlers, and Spencer Irwin

Action Comics 1000

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

“From the City that Has Everything”

Drew: Superman changed the world. That’s obvious enough in-universe, but it’s just as true of our world. Action Comics 1 created (or at least codified) the superhero genre, a genre that came to define both the 20th and 21st centuries, and is still growing as Action Comics rings in its 1000th issue. It’s a singular achievement, but celebrating it as such might not be in the spirit of Superman, for whom humbleness is as much a part of his character as heroism. He’s not one to take compliments easily, let alone brag, so any efforts to do so on his behalf run the risk of feeling crass. Most of the stories in this issue opted to ignore lionizing Superman outright, aiming instead to illustrate what it is that makes him so laudable, but in the issue’s opening chapter, Dan Jurgens came up with a way to address the issue with Superman himself, providing a commentary on the whole exercise of a huge anniversary issue, and offering a justification that even Superman can get behind. Continue reading

Axes of Horror in Infidel 2

by Patrick Ehlers

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

slim-banner

Infidel is tough for me to write about because it is so damn real and so damn scary. To look at how Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell are successful is to look deep into what scares me about the world. We’re talking about highly entrenched societal ills like racism, xenophobia, terrorism, murder. Infidel delivers on what’s scary about all of those enormous concepts, but perhaps more importantly gives similar horrific weight to the mundane inconveniences and atrocities of modern life and connects them to the aforementioned huge horrors. Do you feel safe, a few steps removed from accidentally throwing a loved one down the stairs? Well, joke’s on you: the spectre of Infidel is as close to you as a package of strawberries rotting on your kitchen counter. Continue reading

Moonshine 9: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

Hence, the enlightened ruler is heedful, the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.

-Sun-Tzu, The Art of War

Patrick: Risk is terrifying. It’s so often the barrier to achieving anything worth achieving. And there’s a safety, a presumption of success by default, that comes from risking nothing. Sun-Tzu preaches measured responses and caution in all action. That same caution is as big a benefit for the characters of Brian Azzarello and Eduaro Risso’s Moonshine 9. Continue reading

Don’t Trust Dead Hand 1

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Detective Kujan: Who the hell is Keyser Sösz?

Verbal: Ohhh, fuck!

The Usual Suspects

The quality of any mystery or narrative twist is going to depend entirely on how much the reader trusts the reality they are presented with. Brian Singer uses a charismatic storyteller and the fog of ancient crime myths in The Usual Suspects. The ending is a twist that works, but only because the audience has been lied to from the beginning. Kyle Higgins and Stephen Mooney take a different approach to mystery in Dead Hand 1, telling the audience everything and letting an abundance of information shroud the actual mystery. Continue reading

Expressive Lettering Fills in the Gaps in Despicable Deadpool 298

by Patrick Ehlers

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

slim-banner

“All that people care about is the look. There’s figures on this: 70% of what people react to is the look, 20% is how you sound, and only 10% is what you say.”

-Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill

Here’s something that’s true about comics: it’s a medium full of speaking characters that we will never actually hear speaking. By Izzard’s math, that means there’s a full fifth of a character’s essence we’re never really going to get through images and words on the page. As Deadpool pulls out all the stops to finally achieve suicide-by-mercenary, so too does the creative team pull out all the stops to express the height of his desperation. All the usual gears are spinning perfectly: Gerry Duggan’s writing is as simultaneously tight and chaotic as ever, and Mike Hawthorne’s impeccable layouts convey an almost grueling understanding of the setting of this issue-long brawl. But I want to focus on that elusive final 20% — “how you sound” — with Joe Sabino’s excellent lettering in this issue. Continue reading

Pacing as Character in All-New Wolverine 33

By Patrick Ehlers

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

I love the idea of popping into a character’s far-flung future. It’s a way of taking a character’s essence and teasing out the results of a life lived in that essence — the ultimate if-then statement. If you’re a violent loner, then you end up alone and wracked with guilt. It’s all effect, and the cause is understood to be part of the character’s DNA. All-New Wolverine 33 kicks off the “Old Woman Laura” story, and writer Tom Taylor and artist Ramon Rosanas show the result of Laura’s legacy of positivity and leadership. Even in a world that was rocked by Doom World Wars, there’s still joy, prosperity, sorority and productivity in Laura’s future. Continue reading

Virginity and Values in Betrothed 2

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Last month, Mark likened Betrothed to a manga series, citing a number aesthetic and thematic similarities. That observation is astute, but perhaps incomplete. Writer Sean Lewis and artist Steve Uy aren’t just playing the greatest hits of the manga medium, they’ve got the sheet music for The Hero’s Journey on the stand in front of them, and are dutifully playing every note Maestro Campbell wrote. The second step on this journey is the Refusal of the Call to Adventure, so that is precisely what Kieron and Tamara do in the second issue of Betrothed. Continue reading

Daredevil 600: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Patrick: Where does power come from? I’ve been seriously grappling with this one since Trump was elected to the White House, but this question obviously extends waaaay beyond that fucking monster. Does power ultimately come from money? From social connections? From one’s willingness to sacrifice their friendships? From violence? From non-violence? As the battle between Wilson Fisk and Daredevil reaches a fever pitch, questions of where either of them gets their power are posed right alongside the question of where Daredevil 600 gets its power. This is a six-hundredth issue, after all — so what makes this one special? Continue reading

Analog 1: Discussion

By Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

Patrick: I listen to a lot of Slate’s Trumpcast. Y’know, because the president has me in a nearly constant state of low-key panic, and I feel utterly powerless to stop our democracy from crumbling, so like, might as well listen to a podcast about it. One of the things that comes up on the show pretty often is the idea that we need to let go of the idea that there is one smoking gun that will implicate the administration and the president himself in collusion with the Russian government. There is no evidence so ironclad that it would force impeachment. Further, impeachment and removal from office would not address the systemic problems with corruption, bigotry, and foreign interference. There’s no “one solution” because there is no “one problem.” Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan’s Analog 1 takes a very specific speculative high-concept pitch, and gradually reminds the reader of everything else that is intriguing and terrifying about their world — there is no “one problem.” Continue reading