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 →
This article containersSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Drew: To say that Dan Slott, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred delight in the formal aspects of comics would be a profound understatement. The most indicative example must be issue 11 of the previous volume, which featured a kind of Möbius strip that readers had to consciously break out of. It’s the kind of innovation that might feel gimmicky to the passerby, but on closer inspection is so closely tied to the content of the story, it’s almost impossible to imagine it being handled any other way. In that case, Norrin and Dawn were stuck in a time loop, so the closed loop of the layout was essential to making that point literal. This issue finds Dawn stuck in time in a very different way, and the creative team manages to find a different technique to capture her stasis. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 9, originally released March 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: In this day and age, episodic storytelling isn’t particularly well-respected — particularly when the episodes might follow some kind of prescribed formula — but I think there’s a lot more value in formula than we tend to give credit. For one, long-gestating stories or deep character growth might not be the point of every story; sometimes you just want to see what new shenanigans Lucille Ball gets up to this week. But I think the bigger virtue of those episodic formulas is that they reflect the cycles in our everyday lives. Sure, audiences may not arrest a new criminal or annoy their spouse or teach an important life lesson to their kids every week, but the patterns are familiar enough (and cyclical enough) to reflect their lived experiences. I don’t mean to suggest that serialized stories can’t achieve this (honestly, I can’t think of a single example that doesn’t sit somewhere in between the abstract extremes of “episodic” and “serialized”), just that there are virtues to episodic storytelling that are often overlooked. Case in point: the formula of Silver Surfer 9 is undoubtedly familiar to longtime readers of this series, but with the formula as charming as it is, it’s hard to see that as a downside. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Silver Surfer 3, originally released April 13, 2016.
Patrick: Silver Surfer has a puzzling relationship with the concept of “history.” I suppose we should expect no less from a character that can get caught in infinite time loops and regularly has a role in actively remaking reality. But he’s also just a strange character to consider from a meta-fictional standpoint: a villain-turned-hero whose whole shtick reads like a crummy Beach Boys B-side. There’s a weird mix of highfalutin science fiction mumbo-jumbo and campy comic book irreverence built into the character’s DNA. Was he the herald of planet-devouring mega-monster? Sure, but his last name is also Radd. Dan Slott and Michael Allred use the occasion of Silver Surfer’s 50th anniversary to celebrate the character’s duality and challenge the comic book industry’s penchant for rebooting their worlds and characters. Continue reading →
Today, Shane Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 15, originally released November 25th, 2015.
Patrick: Why do reboots matter so much to us? The characters we’re reading about aren’t — in the strictest sense — real. The only thing that’s ever real about them are our feelings toward them. And those feelings never need to go away, even as the very qualities that made us fall in love with characters in the first place are retconned out of existence. Silver Surfer 15 tackles this notion literally, as Dawn has to chose between an idealized world based on all the wonderful things she remembers and a scary new world with limitless possibilities for change. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 14, originally released September 2nd, 2015.
Spencer: It took me a while to realize this, but one of the major reasons why I’ve always loved superheroes so much is because they represent a world where people can stand up to injustice, inequality, and bullies, and make a tangible difference for the better. That’s something I long for, and I’ll admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d do to reshape society if I had god-like powers. But what looks good in a fantasy — or even on the comics page — doesn’t always go as planned in real life. That’s exactly what Norrin and Dawn discover in Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 14, where their attempts to rebuild the universe to their own specifications instead of exactly as it once was could result in major repercussions. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 12, originally released June 10th, 2015.
Spencer: “Consent” is a word I didn’t hear much as a teenager, unless it involved waivers or some other sort of legal document. While I was (thankfully) taught from a young age never to make somebody do something that would make them uncomfortable, the concept never had a name, and that’s a shame, because there are very few ventures where waiting to get consent before proceeding is ever a bad idea — especially when it comes to sex and relationships. Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 12 emphasizes the importance of consent by featuring an entire planet that, despite having the best of intentions, needs to learn a serious lesson on the subject. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 11, originally released April 29th, 2015.
Drew: I both love and hate that Birdman was shot the way it was. I love that it uses the single-shot effect to such awe-inspiring ends, but hate that it feels so gimmicky. I want to be clear there: it’s not that I think it is gimmicky, just that it feels gimmicky. The conversation is so often about how Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki achieved those effects (or even just that they achieved them at all), that reason why they did it often goes unaddressed. That this kind of formal affectation might have an unnoticed thematic justification speaks to the low regard we have for form — we only notice it when its weird, and then only to comment on how weird it is. That low regard makes formal outliers all the more daring — will they be known for their reasoned narrative choices, or will they be dismissed as a vehicle for the most unusual of those choices? With Silver Surfer 11, Dan Slott and Michael Allred attempt an even more convoluted formal trick, but its rewards are well worth the challenges it poses to the reader. Continue reading →