Doctor Strange 385: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Michael DeLaney

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

Patrick: Where does trust come from, narratively speaking? It’s almost a process of subtraction: audiences trust what they are presented with until they are given a reason not to. We’ll be dubious of anything a villain says because they demonstrate themselves to be dishonest, or greedy, or whatever it is that triggers our own feeling of moral superiority. Heroes are, of course, the opposite: we will trust them, even give them the benefit of the doubt when they make bad calls. Ultimately, we’re acting on our faith in narrative structure and we trust our hero to be in the right by the end of the story. Doctor Strange 385 twists our assumptions about right and wrong, about heroism and villainy without ever truly violating our expectations for Stephen Strange or Loki. Continue reading

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An Unwelcoming Welcome in Curse Words 11

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Curse Words 11 ends with a welcome letter from writer Charles Soule. Is the end of the issue maybe kind of a weird place to welcome his readers? Well, that’s the trick — it’s not particularly welcoming, and neither is the rest of the issue. You’ve got a weird issue of a weird series in your hands, and if the rapid expansion of cast and the mythology is making your head spin, then you’re feeling exactly what Soule and artist Ryan Browne want to you feel. This is Curse Words in all of its cold, unwelcoming glory: which of course means that it’s impossibly fun. Continue reading

Star Wars: Poe Dameron 24: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers 

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

Taylor: Star Wars fans of a certain age remember a time when new Star Wars movies weren’t something to be expected like the changing of the seasons. For these fans, the original trilogy was sacred canon, spawning innumerable subtexts which, because there were no movies to look forward to, were anticipated greatly. In particular, the X-Wing series stands out as being a fun permutation of the early Star Wars novels because it supplied fans with the flair of space battles and the familiarity of well-loved, if obscure, characters like Wedge Antilles. More than anything, though, these novels were fun because they were a journey into the unknown where anything could happen. That’s not the case with Poe Dameron, since we all know how the comic ends. The limitations this places on the series is apparent, and no more so than in issue 24. Continue reading

Snow as Setting and Tone in Black Bolt 10

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Not only is it cliche to say that setting of a story becomes its own character, it’s also inaccurate. I don’t care how much you think New York City is a character in [whatever movie you’re talking about], characters have wants, desires, arcs — characters can change and be changed by the story. A location cannot. A good setting can be incredibly additive, coloring in emotional information and setting an appropriate tone, but, y’know — isn’t a character. In Black Bolt 10, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Christian Ward use the ancient Inhuman city of Orollan, nestled away in Greenland, to emphasize the cold lonely journey Black Bolt has been on since issue 1. Continue reading

Apologies in Batman 40

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Batman: This is new, but I’m trying.
Catwoman: Yes, well, try harder.

Batman 40

How do we admit our failings? The #MeToo movement is bringing a lot of stories of abuse to light, which means there have also been scores of written apologies. Some don’t use the word “sorry,” some make excuses, some try to deflect with their own surprise admissions. No matter how carefully crafted these statements are, they are all bound to fuck up and fall short. Words do no erase actions. Batman 40 sees creator and creation in similar roles, trying to explain they way they botched handling Wonder Woman. It’s messy, it’s riddled with mistakes, and it’s a genuine expression of how it feels to put your foot in your mouth. Continue reading

Obliterated Boundaries in Vs 1

By Patrick Ehlers

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

While the concept of war is terrifying on its own, the actual reality of it is alien to a lot of us. Myself included, and I have a brother, a sister, and a brother-in-law that have served in the US Army and seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. What it really means to be “at war” is far enough divorced from my day-to-day life, that I can comfortably sort it into an experience that someone else has. Vs takes the “otherness” of war and smashes it into the everyday, making the reader question the separation between entertainment, spectacle, and violence. Continue reading

Days of Hate 1: Discussion

by Ryan Desaulniers and Patrick Ehlers

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

Fom ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Ryan D:  The Capulets and Montagues. The Hatfields and the McCoys. The Shiite and the Sunni. These famous rivalries span generations, with their common point being that the reason which the fighting began has long since ceased to matter. The conflict now revolves around the most recent slight or atrocity perpetrated by the other side. In the aptly named Days of Hate, writer Ales Kot and artist Danijel Zezelj bring us a speculative world where our current political divide is seen played out to one natural conclusion in which the catalyst has been lost in four long years of partisan turmoil and war. Continue reading

All-New Wolverine 30: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers 

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

Michael: Tom Taylor continues to write one of the best Wolverine books that is actually pretty un-Wolverine-ish. Wolveriney? Wolverinian? What I mean to say is that for a character who is best known for being a bloodthirsty stab machine, this Wolverine is almost the opposite. To be clear, Logan was/is much more than a barbaric beast. But in Laura Kinney, Tom Taylor has crafted a Wolverine who is wise, humble and (mostly) peaceful. Like Logan, Laura is full of guilt over the violent life that she was born into. But in All-New Wolverine 30, Laura takes that guilt and transforms it into repentance. Continue reading

The Futility of Definition in Inhumans: Judgment Day 1

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Reading any on-going comic is an exercise in accessing memory. If a writer, or an editor, is feeling particularly generous, there might be a note on the page to jog that memory a bit. Can’t remember what’s up with Karnak? Don’t worry, an editorial note has that addressed. Can’t remember what Swain’s power is? A narration box has your back with a one-word explanation: “Empath.” But these characters are too complex for that, right? Al Ewing’s Inhumans: Judgment Day 1 explores the limits of definition as it applies to a cast of characters that is both constantly changing, and constantly changing back. Continue reading

Abbott 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Mark Mitchell

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

Patrick: I love the moment in every episode of X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer where whatever otherworldly threat our heroes are facing reveals itself to be alarmingly similar to some current societal ill. Sometimes it comes late to the story, and it’s not until two episodes into a three-episode arc that you realize these demons are riffing on toxic masculinity. I suppose that’s been the M.O. for science- and genre-fiction forever: lure the reader in with the hook and then gradually reel them in to the message. Writer Saladin Ahmed and illustrator Sami Kivelä work that formula in reverse in Abbott 1. The setting, a racially divided Detroit in 1972, and the supernatural mystery are slowly collapsed into one cohesive experience. Continue reading