Philosophy and Politics Laid Bare in Ms. Marvel 20

by Ryan Mogge

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

Every character has a set of principles by which they live their lives. These can be made clear in daily actions or revealed in moments of crisis. Sometimes, a writer can just have the character lay it out. In Ms. Marvel 20, G. Willow Wilson give several of her characters a chance to share their philosophies directly, making it more a story of ideas than super-heroes.

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Memories in the Moment in Archie 22

by Ryan Mogge

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

Most of Archie 22 takes place in a moment after Betty’s heart stops beating and before the doctors can get it going again. During that second, writer Mark Waid and artist Pete Woods explore what Betty means to several of the people in her life in short memories. Each story is tinged with the pain of the potential loss. Each relationship depicted has its own meaning. The order of stories offers increasingly complex relationships. Waid and Woods show what Betty’s situation triggers for her mother, her friend, her principal, and her ex-boyfriend/best friend/boy next door. Continue reading

Making the Set Up a Joy in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 22

by Ryan Mogge

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

When you need to get a group of characters to a strange location in order for a story to begin, the first act can be a slog. A savvy reader knows that all is not likely what it seems. Therefore, when a character gets a letter from an uncle they never met or when our heroes win a vague contest which offers a trip to a mysterious place as a prize, it can feel like a stall before the real story begins. Ryan North and Erica Henderson are able to avoid those pitfalls in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 22 by capitalizing on humanity’s love for dinosaurs. Continue reading

Jen is no Columbo in Hulk 8

by Ryan Mogge

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

Most detective stories make sure you know just as much as the detectives. You discover clues along with them, and are with them as they figure out what it all means. Then, there is the Columbo-style of storytelling. That’s when the audience knows the “solution” to the mystery from the beginning. The pleasure of these stories is watching the detective start from zero and deduce motive, means, opportunity and identity of the criminal. In Hulk 8, Mariko Tamaki starts the reader with all of the information, but Jen’s investigation ends up feeling lifeless as a result.

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Gags as Story Engine in Spider-Man Master Plan 1

by Ryan Mogge

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

Long before Betty was in a coma, Archie one page gags filled my favorite digests. The form is simple: a few panels establishing the premise, a few panels executing the idea and then a twist usually capped with a pun. While Spider-Man: Master Plan 1 is certainly more fluid than a series of one pagers, it has the same rhythm throughout. Continue reading

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 7: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Patrick Ehlers

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

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Ryan M: Writing in the point of view of a sociopath creates a set of problems. They will never have the kind of human connection or emotional growth that ground most stories. It’s why most serial killer stories are from the perspective of the detective on the case. It’s easy to alienate the audience when you allow a sociopath to tell the story. When these characters express an earnest truth about themselves, rather than make them more sympathetic, it emphasizes what’s “wrong” with them. Often, weaving in an undercurrent of irony or dark humor can make the character easier to take. Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho breaks up graphic tales of murder with pop music critiques. A tale of horror must offer the reader a break from the evil or suffer a tediousness that lessens the impact of the darkest moments. In Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 7, Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack use humor to give release as Edward Spellman tells his life story.

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Crisis Reveals Character in Jughead 16

by Ryan Mogge

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

When things are at their most dire, it can be surprising who will step up. Crisis allows people to drop their posturing and bluster and actively work on a shared goal. In Jughead 16, Ian Flynn, Mark Waid and Derek Charm show a new side of Reggie Mantle by putting Jughead in crisis. Continue reading

Jean Grey 3: Discussion

By Ryan Desaulniers and Ryan Mogge

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

Ryan D: When one writes about comic books, due to the popular types of stories being told, the critical eye encounters Joseph Campbell’s template for “the hero’s journey.” This monomyth pervades the pages of superhero titles, and seems even more prevalent in solo runs of characters due to the ease of accessibility inherent to that narrative. In Jean Grey, however, Dennis Hopeless and his creative team use a different kind of literary precedent — that of the Bildungsroman –– to tell the story of the young Jean as she gears up to meet the looming threat of the Phoenix. The Bildungsroman is a novel of formation or education with the psychological and moral development of the protagonist as the crux of the narrative, along the lines of Ponyboy in The Outsiders or Marji in PersopolisJean Grey 3 continues that trend of Jean moving painfully towards development and maturity as she learns a lesson in the company of “Marvel’s First Mutant,” Namor. Continue reading

Definition by Contrast in Saga 44

by Ryan Mogge

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

When you are a kid, your family creates your idea of normal. It’s only when you go to a friend’s house and things are done just a little differently, that you can really define what makes your family unique. In Saga 44, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan reinforce what we know about Marko, Alana, and Hazel by giving us a fun-house mirror version of their family.

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Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Ryan M.: How much background do you need to enjoy a single issue of an on-going serial? There is an argument that the answer is none. Most of us start out by just diving in, checking things out and then heading to Wikipedia or a very knowledgeable friend to help fill in the cracks. The serialized narrative is a moving train, you catch it when you can, and see what it has to offer. This can be one of the format’s strengths, giving the reader a feeling of discovery by entering a rich established world. You may have questions that aren’t answered or relationship dynamics you can’t understand, but you are seeing into a fictional world that is fully realized. It’s one of the reasons that origin stories can feel plodding. They are explaining why things are rather than showing what they become. In Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider Man 1, Chip Zdarsky balances out that sense of history by giving the story a day-in-the-life feel with a few big turns that make it clear that a bigger story is evolving. Continue reading