Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Descender 15, originally released September 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: The third arc of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender is called “Singularities,” and it’s an appropriate title. The progression of the narrative has slowed to a crawl as, instead, each issue gets drawn into the orbit of a single character, exploring the way the ten years since the Harvesters’ attack have shaped them into the person they are today. Issue 15 focuses on Effie (a.k.a. Queen Between), the ex-wife of Tim-21’s former owner, Andy Tavers. Not only do Lemire and Nguyen deftly flesh out the past of a character who, up until now, had been a bit player, but they pack a heartbreakingly comprehensive look at a ten-year-long relationship into a scant 23 pages. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Moon Knight 6, originally released September 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: Unreliable narrators abound in postmodern fiction. Often, their unreliability reveals something important about the narrator — their fears, their ego, their obliviousness — but sometimes, it reveals more about their situation. Perhaps they’re dreaming, or on drugs, or experiencing a psychotic break — whatever the case, we understand that the events of the story may not be exactly what they seem, but precisely what that means about the narrator isn’t necessarily clear. It’s a device that runs the risk of turning into an unfollowable mishmash, but when done well — as it is in Moon Knight 6 — it can reveal surprising connections as disparate elements resonate with some shared (but perhaps unknown) meaning. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Moon Knight 4, originally released July 6, 2016
Spencer: In a solo superhero title, it’s usually a given that the book will focus on the title character. They generally drive the action, and thanks to internal monologues, we often know what they’re thinking as well. In many ways, the audience views the story through that title character’s point of view, but in Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight, that statement is far more literal — we see the world just as Moon Knight himself sees it, and like our Mr. Knight, we have no way of telling what’s real and what isn’t, nor any way to control how we perceive this world. Just as the creative team dictates the reader’s experience, the people around Marc Spektor seem to have complete control of the world he inhabits, and that goes for friend and foe alike. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Moon Knight 1, originally released April 13th, 2016.
Michael: Superheroes do so love wallowing in self-doubt and self-reflection. Along with trading blows with supervillains and helping the helpless, self-reflection is one of the great pastimes of the American superhero. “Am I strong enough?” “Am I supposed to be this?” “Can I overcome this?” and so on, and so on. In Moon Knight 1 our hero is questioning himself (or selves) on a completely different level. The main question our hero asks is “Have I ever actually been Moon Knight? Or did I make that up?” Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released March 23rd, 2015.
Taylor: Growing up, we have total faith in our parents. Not only do they know everything, but most of the time they are viewed as paragons of virtue, morality, and justice. Basically, to the small child, parents are knowable because they represent the perfect person. As we get older, however, we learn that our parents aren’t always these things. This leads us to wonder what else we don’t know about mothers and fathers and ultimately, one day, we have the realization we don’t know exactly who they are because we no longer hold them in such high esteem. It’s a tough lesson to learn, made all the more so when you learn your parent might be a criminal. All-New Hawkeye 5 explores the issue of figuring out who parents are and in doing so also makes a statement finding your own identity. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Descender 10, originally released February 10th, 2016.
Drew: While I can appreciate its visual wizardry, I’ve always been baffled at the morality of The Matrix. Never mind the half-baked philosophy of “there is no spoon” or the stoner profundity of wondering whether reality really is an illusion, it’s the vilification of the robots that really confuses me. Objectively, the humans are the bad guys, the fickle creators who try to destroy the sentient life they’ve created. The robots, on the other hand, keep the humans alive and comfortable, albeit in an oddly complex simulation. For all of the explicit Christ imagery surrounding Neo, he represents the robots’ Antichrist, a being sent by the creator(s) to end life as they know it. Can we blame the robots for wanting to avoid that?
Descender‘s inversion of the morality of The Matrix hooked me from the start. Instead of relying on our knee-jerk identification with the human characters, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have intentionally played against our expectations. Tim-21’s humanity is the core of this series (even as they highlight how odd it is), while the humans are often depicted as racist, unscrupulous, or hapless beings driven by fear and distrust. This challenges our notions of humanity and morality in ways that The Matrix never bothers to. Of course, Lemire and Nguyen’s desire to thwart our expectations finds them reversing The Matrix yet again, as Tim-21 is revealed to be the robots’ own version of The One. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Old Man Logan 1, originally released January 27th, 2016.
Michael: Comic books are full of lofty, almost impossible goals — typically on the part of the villain. We know all of the classics: world domination, citywide destruction, and the death of their most hated hero nemesis. The Joker might win small battles, but ultimately he will never win the war. Does knowing that a character will never completely achieve his or her goals ruin the story for you? Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Descender 9, originally released January 13th, 2016.
Spencer: Despite all the differences between the numerous species of aliens that exist within the world of Descender, they’re united by one fact: they’re not robots. The war between robots and non-robots has been the conflict at the core of Descender since its genesis, but there’s one character who doesn’t clearly fall on either side of that conflict: Tim-21. As far back as the first issue we’ve noticed how Tim-21 was designed to appear as human as possible, but in Descender 9 Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen finally dig into how Tim-21’s alliances with both sides of the conflict make him feel. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Spencer are discussing Descender 8, originally released December 16th, 2015.
Ryan D: While comics began to thrive on the genres of fantasy and horror for numerous reasons such as accessibility, affordability, and an allowance for the niche and pulp, I would hazard that there are so many big, bold new universes being constructed in comics right now because the medium itself lends itself to the creation of new worlds. Comics take the visual aspect of realized fantastical realms of television or film and couple that with the liberty of imagination bestowed by novels. In eight issues, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have built a far-reaching and seamless science fiction universe in a state of flux, carefully showing only what the reader needs to see, allowing for plenty of wiggle room and personal imaginative exploration. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released September 16th , 2015.
Taylor: Often times I wonder what my life would be like had I made an important choice, differently. When I try to make this abstract thought game more concrete, I think about the decision I made of where to go to college. My life would be incomparably changed if I had attended a different university. Different friends, maybe a different major, and most likely living in a different city for the past eight years of my life. Hawkeye 5 at first has us thinking big choices never affect the totality of our lives, but as events unfold, it becomes clear a single choice can affect your life greatly.