Jagged Panelling Cues Evil in Curse Words 8

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Charles Soule and Ryan Browne haven’t been shy about Wizord’s twisted morality. The very first issue of Curse Words tells the tale of an interdimensional wizard sent to destroy the Earth, but who is charmed by New York City. Lest we think Wizord a pure soul, we’re quickly reminded of his origins when he shrinks a packed baseball stadium and exiles hundreds of thousands of people to a hell dimension, just to sweep his misdeeds under the rug. That’s a weirdly easy thing to forget — out of sight, out of mind, right? Wizord’s a monster, and while Soule’s script may insist on making him relatable, Browne’s paneling has an agenda of its own. Those cool chevron panels don’t just say “Wizord,” they say “evil.” Continue reading

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A Study in War Preparations in Outcast 30

by Drew Baumgartner

Outcast 30

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

It’s easy to feel optimistic at the start of Outcast 30 — Simon and Kyle have just discovered a new Outcast, Daphne, and they all seem stronger than ever. Or, they will be, but right now they’re exhausted after clearing out a huge safehouse for the merge (or the possessed — we need something to call these antagonists). There’s a bit of tension as Kyle has to convince his family to take in a complete stranger, but even the resolution of that is played for maximum hopefulness, as both Simon and Amber comment on how much stronger they feel in Daphne’s presence. It’s almost enough to feel like they might be in a position of strength — especially after the way last month’s issue ended. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 31: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Wicked + The Divine 31

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

In order to increase the likelihood that students will call for medical assistance in an alcohol-related emergency, some colleges and universities have instituted “Good Samaritan” or medical amnesty policies that eliminate or reduce judicial consequences for students involved in alcohol-related medical emergencies. Other schools may reject this type of strategy based on arguments such as the need to “avoid sending the wrong message” about the seriousness of underage drinking.

Doborah K. Lewis & Timothy C. Marchell,
Safety first: a medical amnesty approach
to alcohol poisoning at a U.S. university”

Drew: I first encountered the notion of a medical amnesty policy in college, though I can’t say I gave it much thought at the time. Indeed, it wasn’t until I was in a position to be worried about dangerously drunk/overdosing students not coming forward (I worked for several years at a summer camp for high-school students) that I started to appreciate how boneheaded the “avoid sending the wrong message” camp truly is. Mostly, it just forgets that the rules against drinking and alcohol use are there for the safety of the students in the first place, somehow valuing the sanctimonious tut-tutting of saying “you shouldn’t drink” over, you know, saving the life of a kid who broke the rules. It’s such an obviously flawed attitude, I was honestly taken aback when I saw reports that some sheriff in Florida was explicitly not offering amnesty to folks with warrants seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma. Or, more specifically, he was insisting on conducting unconstitutional ID checks in order to deter anyone with a warrant from seeking the refuge of a hurricane shelter, endangering their lives because he somehow values laws — the things society makes in order to protect people — more than actually protecting people.

Before I get too off topic, my point is that we’re often too preoccupied with the letter of the law to really parse its spirit. Certain things may be illegal because they’re dangerous, but if coming forward about illegal activity makes things objectively less dangerous, we should encourage that behavior. The article I quoted at the top of this piece offers objective data in support of that idea after studying a medical amnesty policy at Cornell, but I think it’s crucial to note that this type of thinking doesn’t just operate at the institutional level. Even in our daily lives we often react badly to honesty simply because we dislike the truths being revealed, but like the researchers at Cornell, we must recognize how that attitude only makes the situation worse. I found myself thinking about this phenomenon a great deal as I read The Wicked + The Divine 31, as issues of amnesty (and lack thereof) cropped up throughout the issue. Continue reading

The Inevitable Feels Vital in Saga 46

by Ryan Mogge

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

The most successful plot turns are ones that feel surprising but, in retrospect, inevitable. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples end Saga 46 with Petrichor and Robot in a passionate embrace. If this had happened on page one, perhaps the reader would have been thrown, but when the dust settles, it’s clear that this is where we were heading all along. Vaughan and Staples have fully established the depths of both Petrichor and Robot’s loneliness. Even their cliched verbal sparring into macking was telegraphed by the fact that they’ve both been reading romance novels, where kissing without first trading barbs is a rarity. Continue reading

Rowan’s Defenses May be Lacking in Black Magick 7

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Magick 7

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

We don’t often talk about procedurals in terms of “putting the pieces in place” — there’s too much directionality to all of the clue finding for the endgame to feel anything other than inevitable. Of course, for all of the procedural elements in Black Magick, it isn’t strictly a procedural. This issue is full of procedural scenes — all showing some degree of cause and effect — from Rowan’s “investigation” into Bruce Dunridge to her (and Alex’s separate) spellcasting, to Stepan Hahn’s own detective work. He’s the noose we’re consciously aware of (especially as the end of the issue puts him on a collision course with Ro), but it’s the procedures we don’t quite see the fallout of that intrigue me most. Continue reading

Lazarus X+66 2 Presents a Cyborg as a Rorschach Test

by Drew Baumgartner

Lazarus X+66 2

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

People see what they want to see. It’s a fact that’s fundamental to our perception of the world, but also the thing that prevents us from agreeing on anything. Rorschach tests represent the most fundamental expression of this notion, asking subjects to project their own meaning onto meaningless inkblots, but it’s something we see every day, from our simplest hopes and fears to the way we evaluate political candidates. That’s not to say there aren’t objective truths, just that, individually, we’re terrible at recognizing (and respecting) them, so their existence is almost incidental to our attitudes about the world. This is enervating enough when discussing climate change or which way toilet paper rolls should be oriented, but becomes all the more heartbreaking when the debate questions your very humanity, as it does for Joacquim Morray in Lazarus X+66 2. Continue reading

Descender 23: Discussion

by Ryan Desaulniers and Spencer Irwin

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

Ryan D: After last issue‘s cliffhanger, the audience wondered whether or not the self-serving Quon would risk his neck by leaving the relative safety of the ship into the deep waters in which Captain Telsa currently languished, lifelessly. Well, he did, and the sequence of Quon retrieving Telsa looks beautiful. Continue reading

Accepting or Rejecting our Personal Identities in Godshaper 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

Our race, sexuality, or gender are usually major parts of our personal identities, but because of the prejudiced society we live in, they can also end up as impediments in life if we’re non-white, queer, or non-cis/non-male — essentially, if we don’t meet the status quo. In Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface’s Godshaper, being a shaper has always worked as a metaphor for all these “other” identities, which makes Ennay’s reaction to an offer of a god of his own — which would free him from the stigma of being a shaper — all the more interesting. Continue reading

A Toxic Relationship Smorgasbord in The Wicked + The Divine 30

by Spencer Irwin

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

My best friend has a particularly notorious habit of falling for the absolute worst women. The poorer of a match they are for him, the more he’s attracted to them. He’s shrugged off our warnings with “well, you can’t help who you’re attracted to,” to which I would inevitably respond “Just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean you need to always go for them!” It’s a statement that wouldn’t stop going through my head as I read Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine 30, an issue chock full of dysfunctional, toxic relationships and characters who know how screwed up their love lives are, yet leap head-first into them anyway, as if they never had a choice. Continue reading

When the Threats Get Personal, So Does The Violence in Kill Or Be Killed 11

By Ryan Desaulniers

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

There are different levels of violence in murder, right? I mean, there’s a different intensity to pressing a button and a bomb dropping on a target versus bayonetting someone in the ribs. The first allows one to remain detached, while the other forces the attacker to be up close and personal. While the result is effectively the same — the death of another human being — the latter’s level of “personal” really makes a difference. In Kill or be Killed, we’ve seen Dylan murder, but it’s been clumsy, almost accidental, in spite his intentions; however, we see in issue eleven a new level to Dylan’s commitment to violence, one which honestly took me aback. Continue reading