Mister Miracle 7: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Drew Baumgartner 

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

Michael: A “realistic approach” to comic book superheroes is sometimes successful (often with Batman comics). But most of the time, when you bind the mythic origins of superheroes to real world science and logic, you lose something from the original incarnation. However there’s a difference between a realistic approach and a serious approach to superheroes, like Tom King’s exploration of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World in Mister Miracle 7. This isn’t to say that King’s script is grim and humorless, but that he takes all aspects of Scott Free’s otherworldly life at face value, no matter how “silly” or “outrageous” they might sound in the context of the real world. Continue reading

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Bug! The Adventures of Forager 6: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

“Come now — what’s more believable? A teddy bear that talks? A ghost girl who doesn’t? Spontaneous resurrections? Infinite Realities? Or the simple fact that you’re dead?”

-Chagra, Bug! The Adventures of Forager 6

Patrick: Longtime readers of this site will know that I’ve got a limited amount of patience for stories that refuse to ground themselves. Often, this is literal — my favorite Green Lantern stories are those that tie back to Coast City, or Earth, or even just Hal Jordan. My attachment to the characters wane when they start to slip through time, space or even layers of reality. As such, I’ve always had something of a hard time with Fourth World stories and the whole cast of New Genesis characters. They’re fucking weirdos, in weird situations, somehow both a part of and separate from the multiverse. Lee, Michael and Laura Allred have been telling a story that leans into my biggest fears about Kirby’s opus, but wraps it all up by insisting on the purity of the simplest explanation: what you see is what you get. And they make “what you see” something truly worth the readers’ time.

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It’s Kirby vs. Lee in Mister Miracle 5

by Drew Baumgartner

Mister Miracle 5

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

Charlie: I’ve written myself into my screenplay.

Donald: That’s kind of weird, huh?

Adaptation

To call Adaptation “kind of weird” would be putting it mildly — ostensibly about Charlie Kaufman’s attempt to adapt Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, the movie is ultimately about itself, but becomes this weird fictionalized version of itself, as Kaufman invents a twin brother to introduce hackneyed thriller elements to the film’s closing acts. It’s much, much weirder than someone simply writing themself into their own screenplay. Heck, the actual script is credited to both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, and both were nominated for an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay even though Donald is a fictional character (or, arguably, a manifestation of Charlie’s most commercial writing instincts). But I think Mister Miracle 5 might just top it for meta weirdness, serving as a kind of final word on comics’ own Charlie and Donald Kaufman — Jack Kirby and Funky Flashman. Continue reading

Bug! the Adventures of Forager 5: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

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

Michael: Comic book superheroes and their exploits are now more mainstream than ever. We take Kryptonian sun gods, spider-proportionally-strong teenagers, and wise-cracking space raccoons at face value — most likely because they’re presented to us as “real” on the big screen. In the face of this mainstream, watered down mass appeal, I find it important to recognize and celebrate the stories that embrace their truly bizarre and outrageous origins. Case in point: Bug! The Adventures of Forager 5. Continue reading

Mister Miracle 3: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Michael DeLaney

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

Mark: How I feel about Mister Miracle 3 will ultimately depend on how the remaining 9 issues pan out, and if Tom King and Mitch Gerads are able to stick their landing. In isolation, I’m grossed out by King invoking the Holocaust and the genocide of more than 6 millions Jews in Nazi Germany not once, but twice, in this issue. The Holocaust is one of the modern era’s most visceral examples of mankind’s cruelty towards mankind, and as such it has become shorthand in media for “A Very Bad Thing.” Comparing fictional events to the Holocaust is cheap and easy, and doing so runs the risk of devaluing the real-life horrors experienced by real people and perpetrated by their fellow men.

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Reverence Meets Irreverence in Bug! The Adventures of Forager 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Bug! The Adventures of Forager 4

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

Dense mythologies are both the greatest strength and weakness of modern comics. We could spend ages parsing out how the major companies have approached those mythologies in recent years, but all of those broader approaches are largely irrelevant when talking about Bug! The Adventures of Forager, which continues to march to the beat of its own drum. It’s attitude is deeply reverent of Jack Kirby’s contributions to the DC mythos, systematically touching on each forgotten storyline from his time there, while somehow also taking a completely irreverent “don’t sweat the small stuff” approach to the material. Completist Kirby fans will recognize every situation Forager encounters, but newcomers (like me) are left largely in the shoes of Forager, who mostly sees all of this stuff as kooky weirdness. It’s a balance that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does, somehow knitting all of this kooky weirdness into the dense mythology it always was. Continue reading

Mister Miracle 1: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers


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

Michael: Jack Kirby’s Fourth World tales were weird, wild, and ultimately short-lived. In spite of this they have left a lasting impression on the DCU, inspiring later generations of writers to try to emulate the spirit of Kirby’s original saga. Jim Starlin, Grant Morrison and more recently Robert Venditti have shown us their take on The New Gods and now Tom King and Mitch Gerards add to the mythos in Mister Miracle 1. Continue reading

Allusions Become the Text in Bug! The Adventures of Forager 3

by Drew Baumgartner

Bug! The Adventures of Forager 3

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

That this series riffs on the entirely of Jack Kirby’s DC work isn’t just a given — it’s a primary draw. And there’s plenty of work to touch upon. While this series is tangentially related to Kirby’s well-known Fourth World mythology, much of the focus has been on Kirby’s lesser-known DC creations. But what fascinates me about this issue isn’t just the presence of deep-cut characters like Atlas (and his vendetta against Hyssa the Lizard King), but that it does so while also making allusions to non-comics works. The effect is a densely literate work, as crystalline as the shards of “possible outcomes” that feature so prominently in this issue. Continue reading

Remixing Jack Kirby in Bug! The Adventures of Forager 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Bug! The Adventures of Forager 2

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

How do we characterize a remix? As a self-aware riff on whatever work is being remixed, it feels somewhat postmodern, but in my mind, remixes don’t necessarily share the skepticism and ironic distance we associate with postmodernism. Indeed, many remixes might be better understood as reverent tributes to their source material, taking what I’d argue is a decidedly romantic approach: offering an unabridged window into how the remixer sees a given work of art (or entire oeuvre). I was first struck by this idea when listening to The Beatles’ Love, which feels very much like bouncing around inside a Beatles fan’s head, but it came back in a big way as I read Bug! The Adventures of Forager 2, an issue that takes the same approach to comics mythology (both DC’s and others). Continue reading

Bug! The Adventures of Forager 1

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Bug! The Adventures of Forager 1, originally released May 10, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: One of the inherent problems with superhero stories is that the characters are often immediately knowable. That guy in the bat costume? He’s Batman, dead parents, war on crime, world’s greatest detective. You know him. You know his secret identity, his home, his son, his butler, his past, his present, his future. That makes Batman familiar, comfortable. In Bug! The Adventures of Forager 1, Lee and Michael Allred make an argument for the power of not knowing, striking out boldly with a story that is as enigmatic as their main character. The thing is, they deploy just enough alluring clues and leading hints to get readers guessing, leveraging what we think we know against what we’re still ignorant of. It’s a trip. Continue reading