The Burden of “Figuring It Out” in Mister Miracle 4

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s really nothing quite like seeing a good close-up magician. As a jaded mega-skeptic, I always convince myself that if I focus hard enough, I can spot the trick. I’m not even sure that I want that–I love being fooled by illusions–but I always try. It feels like a survival tactic: if I can identify the trick, I can rest assured that the universe functions more or less the way I believe it does. If I can’t spot the trick? Well, then how can I ever be guaranteed of what is and is not real? Mister Miracle 4 zeroes in on this idea of focusing harder on what we believe to be a trick. And the truly disquieting thing is, no matter how hard we look, we can’t figure out what’s really happening. Continue reading

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Secret Weapons 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

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“There. There it is: too much iron in your blood…”

Magneto, X2

Patrick: Magneto controls magnetic fields. It’s an objectively cool super power, impossibly useful in every situation (and particularly useful against any otherwise unkillable enemy). In X2, Magneto uses this power rip microscopic particles of iron out of his prison guard’s bloodstream. He manipulates the magnetic fields around the resultant bloody cloud until he’s in control of free-flying bullets and hovering platforms. It’s an absurd demonstration of Magneto’s powers. There’s a lot to criticize in the logic of that scene, but it’s hard to fault the giddy enthusiasm. Writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín show a similar enthusiasm for their characters’ powers. The difference is that they start from a ridiculous premise and work their way to exciting applications.

That’d be reason enough to love the conclusion of Secret Weapons, but Heisserer, Allén and Martín hold the comic book medium in the same high esteem as the goofy powers their characters posses. Just as Avi, Nikki and Owen apply their simple skills in ingenious ways, so too does the creative team master the page with mindblowingly intuitive art. Continue reading

Hacking a Path to Character in Secret Weapons 3

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Short form and episodic storytelling often relies on character tropes – this is doubly true in genre stories, where the character types are so well established. Eric Heisserer, in an incredibly tight three issues (of four total), refuses such predictability, finding exciting, engaging and innovative ways to insist on the very real nature of his characters. Heisserer seemingly has shortcuts into the human psyche, hacking his way in through seldom-used sociological and emotional channels. The whole series premise is about not taking even the dumbest superpowers for granted, but this issue starts to turn to a much more simple mantra: don’t take these people for granted. Continue reading

Secret Weapons 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!

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Patrick: Thwip! Bamf! Snikt! You know those sound effects: respectively, they mean a) Spider-Man shooting some web fluid, b) Nightcrawler teleporting away, and c) Wolverine deploying his claws. It is perhaps illustrative of the predictability of their superpowers that there are immutable sound effects that accompany them. You know exactly what it sounds like when Wolvie pops his claws, but you also know exactly what he can do with them. These powers are used in unsurprising ways to save the day, but what happens when the superheroes have powers that aren’t so easy to understand? Well, then you’ve got the residents of The Willow and the cast of Secret Weapons. Continue reading