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

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Silver Surfer 14: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Drew Baumgartner

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

Spencer: When it comes to weaving together long-term plots and storylines spanning years and years, Dan Slott might just be the best there is right now — if not in all of comics, then almost certainly in mainstream superhero books. Silver Surfer 14 is Slott (and Michael and Laura Allred) firing on all cylinders, bringing two volumes’ worth of stories to an immensely satisfying ending. It not only resolves and honors everything that’s come before, but continues to put all the qualities that have made Silver Surfer such a quality read on full display: wonder, adventure, joy, love, and pure emotion — oh, and some metatextual fun, too. Continue reading

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

Accepting Happiness in Silver Surfer 13

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Sometimes I think I ask too much of comic books. I always want them to be grand statements about morality or the price of heroism or contain some other largely unknowable truth about the world. Silver Surfer is one of those series that sets this expectation for me, and the creative team of Dan Slott, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred obviously have a lot to say about life, love, and adventure. The penultimate issue of this series slows that all down by speeding up time, allowing the reader to bask in the simple sweetness of a life lived together. It is a rarity among comics — something nice just for the purpose of experiencing something nice. 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

Silver Sufer 12: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Silver Surfer 12

This article containers SPOILERS. 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

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

Silver Surfer 9

Alternating Currents: Silver Surfer 9, Drew and Spencer

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

Silver Surfer 3

silver surfer 3

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