This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!
The bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it.
Captain Benjamin Willard, Apocalypse Now
War is a messy business. Aside from the needless death it causes, war destroys communities and families, wrecks economies, and has a way of dragging people and countries down into its bloody maw. Those who try to keep their hands clean often find, despite their best efforts, that war has a particular talent for drawing the unwilling into its embrace as well. Xiaolian Mao has tried, for 34 issues, to keep her hands out of not just war, but the apocalypse, but with attempts on her life and a final attack against her people, she finds that even she can’t avoid her part in ending the world. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
If you know Jonathan Hickman’s past work, you know he can get…complicated. Reading The Black Monday Murders 1-5 to catch up for last month’s full conversation proved a deep dive into an intricate world full of ancient conspiracy theories, old money, the occult, convoluted machinations, epistolary inserts, and shadow-soaked boardroom conversations. This issue returns to show some of the fallout of the recent occurrences and again displays Hickman and artist Tomm Coker’s tightrope walk approach to action, exposition, and reaction. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 33, originally released May 24th, 2017. As always this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: I recently finished watching the second season of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, and can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Why exactly I like the show could be an essay unto itself, but suffice it to say that Dev, Ansari’s character, is so damn likable it makes it hard to dislike the show by extension. The reason I bring this up is to illustrate how important likable and relatable characters are to any story. Master of None is by no means perfect, but the characters are so lovable that they more than make up for any of the show’s shortcomings. East of West, by comparison, has a dearth of likable and relatable characters despite its large cast, and this often is too the detriment of the series. Issue 33, however, bucks this trend, and in so doing makes the apocalypse more engaging than it’s been in a long while.
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing The Black Monday Murders 5, originally released April 26th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: Whether it was identifying the types of places our predators preferred to hunt or what kinds of mushrooms made us sick, pattern recognition was essential to the survival of early humans. As with any tool, though, our reliance on pattern recognition distorts our view of the world, leading us to find patterns where none exist — as they say, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That quality can be manipulated, on the one hand by those who seek to benefit from our gullibility, and on the other by artists who strive to highlight the beauty in the chaos. I found myself thinking about both groups as I read The Black Monday Murders 5, an issue full of intricately patterned beauty and intricately patterned lies. Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Star Wars: Poe Dameron 12, East of West 32, Kill or Be Killed 7, and Sex Criminals 17. Also, we discussed Archie 18 on Monday, and we’ll be discussing American Gods: Shadows 1 on Tuesday, and Injection 11 on Wednesday so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Ryan D. are discussing East of West 31, originally released February 8th, 2017. As always this article contains SPOILERS.
Patrick: In our write-up ofEast of West 16, over two years ago, Drew made the observation that this series “is no fun, but it might be important.” I have long considered “no fun” to be one of the more damning criticisms of this series. For all of its interesting, impactful ideas and harsh truths about human nature and the corrupting influences of power, greed and faith, East of West seldom has an enjoyable narrative to buoy its grim headiness. I now believe this to be the point. With pages and pages of static boardroom scenes, we are meant to feel the excruciatingly dull banality of evil. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Nick Dragotta only allow their creation to be truly exciting when the good guys actively resist the powers oppressing them. Continue reading →
Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2016.Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Aloha, Hawaiian Dick 2, East of West 26 and Tokyo Ghost 7. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing East of West 24, originally released January 29th, 2015.
Taylor: Anyone who has ever regularly practiced cardio exercise can tell you about the importance of pacing. I myself ride my bike to work whenever possible, and while I’m in the saddle, I definitely fall into my usual rhythm. There’s something about finding the proper pace to your workout, race, or commute that is incredibly important to helping it run smoothly. Pace is similarly important with story telling, the only difference being that instead of a steady pace, you want one that varies and excites you. Comic books are interesting when you consider the pacing of a story. Does each issue need a varying pace or should the series as a whole vary its pace as needed regardless of individual issues. East of West is a series that seems to fall into the latter and while this is cause of equal parts frustration and excitement. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Secret Wars , originally released January 13th, 2016.
“Great societies are crumbling around us. And the old men who run them are out of ideas. So all eyes turn to you — our children — to build us something better […] We must do more, go farther… to somewhere no human has ever been. Your prize, Makers… are the stars themselves.”
T’Challa, Secret Wars 9
Patrick: The entirety of Jonathan Hickman’s incursion epic has hinged on this concept of master morality — that the decisions of the powerful necessarily cannot make sense to those less powerful. Individuals’ lives and rights are trampled for a concept as nebulous as “the greater” good, and it’s not really up to the subservient class to judge that trampling. With Secret Wars, the class of person making such impossible decisions is God — a literal, physically present, hands-on creator God — in the form of Doctor Doom. His decisions are immeasurably complicated, but they are also the decisions made by Hickman himself, and the conclusion to this mini-series, this event, and Hickman’s entire run at Marvel comics, links Godliness with creativity, and ultimately places the decisions and the morality behind those decisions in the hands of the storytellers.