I’ve made it quite clear, at least I tried to, that this is going to be a dark book. This is the darkest corner of the Sandman Universe — at least that’s being explored right now. Which, you know, by the nature of the character, by the book, I think it should be. It’s definitely a statement of intent.
And the book is definitely dark. Lucifer‘s assertion that all “attempts at rising are hopeless” comes on the first page, before the issue plunges us into the present day of a status quo Lucifer clearly wishes to rise out of. A character learning to embrace hope would normally be an upbeat moral, but it takes on a twisted meaning here — whatever it is that could force Lucifer into retreat must be truly harrowing. And this is the story of what that experience was. Continue reading →
This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Doctor Strange is not an honest dude. Whatever other virtues he possesses, Stephen will keep a secret, or distort the truth, without hesitation. Some lies are lies of opportunity: the lie gets him something. But then there’s the much more human lie, the kind that reveals what’s really wrong by highlighting an obvious omission. Issue 389 of Doctor Strange is all about tap dancing about the one hardship Strange refused to address directly: his loneliness. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
In a religion built on redemption and forgiveness, one man had to sacrifice himself for everyone…and it wasn’t Jesus.
This text appears in the back of this issue, serving as a kind of tagline for the series. This might put it a bit too bluntly (I can almost hear the record scratch on that ellipsis), but the notion that Judas is the true victim of the story of his betrayal is an intriguing one. After all, if Jesus needed to suffer and die in order to redeem humanity, then he must have needed a betrayer — Judas is essential to our salvation. Moreover, while Jesus’s suffering was great, it was temporary, and was ultimately followed by eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. That seems a heck of a lot better than eternal damnation. That bitterness creeps in at the edges of Jeff Loveness and Jakub Rebelka’s Judas 1, but it’s really a manifestation of something much more profound: doubt. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Godzilla in Hell 5, originally released November 18th, 2015.
Spencer: Godzilla in Hell is one of the most unusual series I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite a while. There’s little in terms of backstory or continuity between issues, and almost no dialogue or copy of any kind, making each issue a spotlight for the artist and their take on Godzilla’s afterlife. About the only thing tying each story together is the idea that, even in Hell, Godzilla is nigh unstoppable, tearing through every challenge Hell can throw his way through sheer stubborn force of will alone. It only makes sense, then, that Godzilla in Hell‘s conclusion would turn even this trope on its head, creating a scenario where Godzilla’s only chance at victory is to surrender. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing American Vampire: Second Cycle 2, originally released May 21st, 2014.
Shelby: Appropriately enough, I watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula last night. In the movie, Vlad the Impaler becomes a vampire after desecrating a chapel, denouncing God, and drinking the blood that pours from a cross he himself stabbed. That’s why crosses make them recoil and pieces of the Sacrament burn; their powers are derived from the Devil. Despite this connection, American Vampire: Second Cycle finds our blood-thirsty protagonist being hunted by the Devil himself. If you know the world Scott Snyder created with his first cycle of American Vampire, though, it’s not all that surprising. The American vampires have had a rebellious, outlaw streak in them ever since the first one came around.
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 31, originally released May 21st, 2014.
“What kind of madness?”
“Men sometimes generate a good kind…you’ll see.”
Aleka and Zola, Wonder Woman 31
Scott: Zola issues this reassurance to the Amazons, whose world is about to be turned upside down by the arrival of men on Paradise Island. It’s interesting that Zola feels this way; most of the trouble in her life has been caused by men. She was impregnated by Zeus (who’s still missing, by the way), held captive by Hades, and had her baby nearly killed by Apollo. She could easily have turned against men, but she’s wise enough to realize these are anomalies, and far more men have helped her along the way. Men, like many other groups, often get a bad rap because of the actions of a select few. As Wonder Woman 31 shows, sometimes those actions are unspeakably horrific, but prejudice will do nothing to overcome them. The good, both men and women, must unite to defeat the evil.
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Thunderbolts 22, originally released February 26th, 2014.
Shelby: Kids love “…and they lived happily ever after.” It’s an uncomplicated and rewarding end to a story; the good guys are rewarded, the bad guys punished, the boy gets the girl, and the plucky sidekicks probably got some action as well. It’s not until you get older that the everything-worked-in-the-end approach grows stale. It’s too neat and clean; we want our stories to reflect the complexities of every day life, not tie everything up in a nicely resolved bow. Personally, I find a too-happy ending where everything works out to be insincere and frankly a little boring. It might be surprising, then, that I love Charles Soule’s latest issue of Thunderbolts. Leave it to Soule to deliver an end to the recent Thunderbolts arc that gives the “good” guys exactly what they want and leaves the bad (by comparison) guy with a mess to deal with, without once appearing insincere.
Today, Shelby and Tristan are discussing Demon Knights 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Demon Knights 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Shelby: One of the many things I was confused by in Stormwatch 0 was seeing that the team used to be called Demon Knights. “Wait just a minute!” I cried out indignantly. “Demon Knights is already a title, are you telling me the same team has two different names AND each one gets its own title?” The answer is: I don’t really know. This issue mainly deals with Etrigan, the demon of Demon Knights, and Jason Blood, and doesn’t really address the team as a whole. And you know what? I think that’s okay.
Today, Drew and (special guest writer) Siri Hellerman are discussing Wonder Woman 10, originally released June 20th, 2012.
Drew: Fantasy is always going to have an exposition problem. It’s hard enough establishing who everyone is and what their motivations are elegantly without having to explain the rules of various magics or the politics between various races. This is especially true of myths, where the stories are often distilled down to their essence, such that any details (which could otherwise be written off as just adding color) bears obvious narrative significance, as if Chekov himself were pointing them out for you. Brian Azzarello manages to side-step this issue both by relying on pre-esstablished myths (voiding any need for exposition), and by mirthfully keeping us in the dark regarding much of those telling details. Continue reading →