The Fix 10: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

The Fix 10

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

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You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

Drew: If that quote doesn’t feel like it fits this issue, it’s because it doesn’t. Where The Dark Knight explores the ideas of good, evil, and the moral relativism that exists in between, The Fix is gleefully amoral, concerned less with good and bad as it is with whatever its protagonists can get away with. Which is to say, a quote about heroes and villains doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the world of The Fix. But I wonder if we strip away the morality from that quote, if we might get something a bit more universal (if still deeply pessimistic): you either die happy, or you live long enough to see yourself become miserable. The ordering of those outcomes betrays a cynical worldview that The Dark Knight (or at least Harvey Dent) shares with The Fix, one that presumes things are inclined to get worse. Of course, while The Dark Knight spun that cynicism into tragedy, The Fix funnels it into dark humor, making any successes Roy or Mac may enjoy are but haughty spirits before the inevitable fall. Continue reading

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A Heartbreaking Loss of Innocence in Ms. Marvel 22

by Drew Baumgartner

Ms. Marvel 22

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

The song I’d like to do for you is a song that I had the pleasure of doing when I was 15 years old…it’s a song that will last, unfortunately, for a long, long time. And when I say “unfortunately,” I’m talking about the fact that it will always be relevant to something that is going on in this world of ours.

Stevie Wonder, introducing “Blowin’ in the Wind”

Love, loss, betrayal, greed. There are a number of timeless themes we might trace back to the earliest stories we can find. But there are other themes, just as timeless, that have not always been featured in our stories in this same way — themes kept so out-of-sight that some people refuse to acknowledge that they exist at all. Of course, for the people actually affected by those timeless truth of oppression, it is simply a part of life. If we are any more aware of those themes in this day and age, it is only through listening to the people who actually experience them. As ever, G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel presents a frank account of what life is like for a young muslim woman in America, bringing hard truths to those of us who might not see them, otherwise. Continue reading

The Fix 9

Alternating Currents: The Fix 9, Drew and Ryan

Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing The Fix 9, originally released May 10th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Previously…

Television, traditional

Drew: In this age of heavily serialized television, the humble pre-cold-open-recap has become a matter of course. It can be darn useful for keeping threads straight, especially as they may feature elements introduced months or even years ago. Of course, that very feature — the inclusion of some long-forgotten detail — can often betray the events of the episode, broadcasting exactly what threads will be addressed. It’s a catch-22 that may be even more pronounced in comics, where a monthly release schedule can equate to more forgotten details between instalments, leading some series to offer virtually comprehensive recaps on their title pages. With The Fix, Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber have developed an in-narrative recap style that manages to avoid the dangers of giving the game away by simply limiting it to the perspective of their characters. Continue reading

The Fix 7

Alternating Currents: The Fix 7, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Fix 7, originally released December 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

I originally pitched [Breaking Bad] to the studio with one line. I told them: “This is a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr. Chips into Scarface.”

Vince Gilligan

Drew: Vince Gilligan’s elevator pitch for Breaking Bad might be one of the most well-known loglines in modern television — my dad knows it, if that’s any indication. I suspect people are attracted to the simplicity of Gilligan’s analogies; he calls on two films to paint before and after portraits of Walter White. For me, though, the very fact that he used two film characters to chart the endpoints of Walter’s evolution speaks to the differences between television and film — or, rather, the specific narrative capabilities of serialized stories. Where Walter White’s character is fundamentally one in transition between two points, film characters like Mr. Chips and Scarface are better understood as points.

To me, this is simply down to the matter of time. We don’t have enough time with film characters to form strong enough senses of who they are for all but the most obvious changes to even register. Any subtler changes might just be seen as inconsistency while we’re still forming our first impressions. In serialized narratives, though, we have much more time to develop a clear sense of who a character is — what they want, what they fear, what they will or won’t do — so can appreciate smaller, subtler changes. In a series like Breaking Bad, those changes slowly accumulate, building to drastic transformations that somehow never feel drastic at the moment. In a series like The Fix, those changes can provide a much more nuanced portrait when a character is pushed to the limit. Continue reading

The Fix 5

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Fix 5, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: The stars of The Fix are not good people; Roy, especially, has been portrayed as completely immoral and self-serving. There’s one more aspect of his personality, though, that we shouldn’t forget, one which Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber thoroughly remind us of in The Fix 5: he’s pretty bad at being a criminal, too. Roy’s ability to break the law and get away with it has more to do with the corrupt institution he serves than his own skills, meaning he’ll squander any chance he has to progress as a criminal. For the citizens of The Fix‘s L.A., that’s probably a very good thing. Continue reading

The Fix 2

Today, Ryan and Shelby are discussing The Fix 2, originally released May 11th, 2016.

Ryan: The best art is immersive. After an afternoon with a book or a brief television binge, it can take a little while for my brain to climb back out of that fictional world. That’s why I knew what butterbeer tasted like before Universal studios invented a recipe or why I can’t be trusted to drive home from a Fast & Furious movie. By engaging more than a single sense, stories can offer a gateway rather than a mere window into a world. Writer Nick Spencer and Artist Steve Leiber offer that gateway in The Fix 2, by using their medium to engage more than just visually. Continue reading

The Fix 1

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Fix 1, originally released April 5th, 2016.

Spencer: As someone who’s always flitted around the outskirts of his local punk community, I can’t say that I’ve ever had a great deal of trust for authority figures. Still, in the past few years I’ve seen what little faith I had whittled down to almost nothing. Between the constant pushing of discriminatory laws, the circus that is the current election cycle, and the repeated, horrific abuses of power when it comes to the police (especially in regards to racially motivated crimes), it seems clear that those in power are mainly concerned with nothing but their own well being. Steve Lieber and Nick Spencer’s new series, The Fix, taps into these very concerns by claiming that most efficient way to be a criminal is simply to become one of the supposed “good guys.” Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 2

ms marvel 2Today, (guest writer) Suzanne and Spencer are discussing Ms. Marvel 2, originally released March 19th, 2014. 

slim-banner“If everyone were cast in the same mold, there would be no such thing as beauty.”

Charles Darwin

Suzanne: For all of the rhetoric about body image and positivity, it’s easy to forget how confusing and filled with insecurity the teenage years can be. I can remember those years of acne breakouts, bad haircuts and trying to fit in with the “cool kids” at school. Being a teenager is hard enough when you look, talk and dress exactly like everyone else. Did you wear the same North Face jacket or UGG shoes as five of your friends? Did you want to be ten pounds thinner because all of your friends were slim and “beautiful”? Now imagine being from a different ethnicity, culture or religion than most of your peers and struggling with your identity. It’s easy to see how insecurity can morph into internalized racism or self-hate. Skin-lightening creams are a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide and sold over 200 tons in India alone last year. So how does the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, respond to the pressure of society’s expectations? Continue reading