Taking Control of Your Own Story in The Wicked + The Divine 39

by Spencer Irwin

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

See, I refuse to think of rock and roll as my career
Tell me all my opportunities, ask me if I care
The rock star lifestyle ain’t for me
I quit
Got somewhere else I’d rather be
So I quit
I quit, I quit

“I Quit” — Descendents

Fame isn’t for everyone; hell, fame isn’t for most people. But fame is also a trap, and something that takes a lot of work and luck to achieve, so I admire the hell out of anyone who’s willing to give it up, whether it be to broaden into less lucrative aspects of their medium or to get out of show business altogether. It takes a lot of clarity and guts to make that decision, and in The Wicked + The Divine 39, Laura Wilson — no longer Persephone — has both in droves. Continue reading

Time Travel is a Threat, Not a Savior in Paper Girls 24

By Spencer Irwin

Paper Girls 24

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

The cast of Paper Girls continually look to time travel for salvation, as a cure-all to whatever ails them. The problem is that time travel caused almost all of their problems in the first place, and only threatens to cause more in the future. Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson make this clearer than ever in Paper Girls 24, an issue that paints time travel as something that’s actively destructive and malicious. Continue reading

Intimacy, Friendship, and Romance in Runaways 12

By Spencer Irwin

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

Runaways 12 focuses in on two different pairings, which both eventually blossom into romance. In both cases, though, those romances are born of a deep friendship, of a deep intimacy which has been developed throughout several volumes of adventures together. Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson spend most of this issue digging deep into their intimacy in all its forms, be it emotional intimacy or physical. Continue reading

The “How” of the Reveal in The Wicked + The Divine 38

by Spencer Irwin

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

One of the things I appreciate the most about Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s collaborations is the way they handle big twists and reveals. Gillen and McKelvie rarely trade in big showy twists (and when they do — such as in the “I Am Ananke” moment — they tend to raise more questions than they answer); instead, major pieces of information are revealed with such subtlety that one could almost miss them, and usually have plenty of evidence pointing their way long before the theories are finally confirmed, rewarding loyal, eagle-eyed readers. The Wicked + The Divine 38 clarifies several major pieces of information this way, furthering the plot, deepening its characters, and taking advantage of this arc’s unique structure in the process. Continue reading

Appearance Affects Identity in Runaways 11

By Spencer Irwin

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

Our appearance and how we present ourselves to the world are vital parts of our personal identities, especially as teenagers. The way we look can be used to rebel or conform, to highlight and emphasize our strengths or conceal our flaws and insecurities. Sometimes our appearance perfectly reflects who we want to be, while at other times it just reminds us of everything we hate about ourselves. Our appearance can even have an affect on others, for better or for worse. All of these various facets of appearance and identity play vital, central roles in Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s Runaways 11. Continue reading

The Virtues and Dangers of Information in Paper Girls 22

By Spencer Irwin

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

Like with most of Brian K. Vaughan’s books, one of Paper Girls’ best qualities is its letter column. Issue 22’s column ends on one of the more interesting letters the series has received; Vaughan’s avatar, Dash-Dash Dot, rightly calls out the writer for his regressive politics and use of cringeworthy expressions like “beta male,” but as much as I hate to admit it, I also found the writer echoing some criticisms I myself have stated on occasion, particularly his assertion that “twenty issues in, and [the Paper Girls] (and the reader) still don’t know what is happening, or why, or what to do about it.”

I haven’t been shy in calling Paper Girls out on its nearly impenetrable lore and over-arcing plot myself — thankfully, the characters, art, and the individual stories of each arc are strong enough to make Paper Girls a must-read comic despite those larger flaws. But this most recent arc has made it more clear than ever that Vaughan — and Paper Girls itself — has a complicated relationship with information, and that no matter how frustratingly paced its doling out of information may sometimes be, it’s a deliberate, meaningful choice. Continue reading

There’s No Escaping History in The Wicked + The Divine 37

by Spencer Irwin

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

History is an intrinsic facet of The Wicked + The Divine in multiple ways. Its story — and deities — have existed for the majority of recorded human history, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have gone to great lengths to accurately reflect that throughout the series. History is also a far more personal thing in WicDiv, though. There’s not a single character who can escape the pull of their own personal history, be it the baggage of Ananke/Minerva’s own six thousand year long existence, or the brief-yet-intense history behind the Morrigan and Baphomet/Marian and Cameron’s complex, tragic romance. Both tales reach inevitable — yet very different — climaxes in WicDiv 37. Continue reading

Paper Girls 21: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge & Spencer Irwin

Paper Girls 21

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

slim-banner

Ryan M: One of the best things about living in 2018 is the decentralization of knowledge. With the internet, you are a few queries away from knowing just about anything. There are, of course, the downsides, like I now have the power to use WedMD to diagnose myself with chronic illnesses or see evidence of the good time my friends were having last night while I watched 100% Hotter and diagnosed myself with chronic illnesses. Despite those minor dangers, though, there is so much to appreciate about how much we can know in moments. The titular Paper Girls come from a world where news and information travels manually, literally carried to your door in a finite form. Throughout the series, they have been at an information disadvantage, constantly trying to play catch up to understand what’s happening. For the first time, in Paper Girls 21, the advancements of the future may be a savior. Continue reading

Breaking the Cycle in The Wicked + The Divine 36

by Spencer Irwin

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

It’s happening now. It’s happening again.

The Wicked + The Divine

Endless cycles are a motif that runs deep throughout The Wicked + The Divine, from the unending dysfunction and madness of the Pantheon, to the circle that makes up their logo and meeting table, to the very nature of their perpetual rise and fall, a neverending cycle of death and rebirth. In fact — if anything she’s said can ever be believed — one of Ananke’s greatest fears seemed to be the idea that this cycle could somehow be broken.

These are both ideas that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, and Clayton Cowles dig into in The Wicked + The Divine 36, an issue that spends a shocking amount of space detailing yet another endless cycle, and the rest of the issue breaking an entirely different one. Continue reading

A Roadmap for Jane’s Future in The Mighty Thor: At The Gates of Valhalla 1

by Spencer Irwin

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

The Mighty Thor: At The Gates of Valhalla isn’t what most readers probably thought it would be. Despite the timing of its release, it’s explicitly not an issue meant to transition from The Mighty Thor to the upcoming Thor — outside the cover, Thor Odinson doesn’t even put in an appearance — and despite the title, it spends no time in (or near) Valhalla, Jane’s Thor likewise doesn’t appear, and Jane herself has relatively little screen time. Instead, this special serves as a road map for the future of the Thor mythos, and especially for Jane’s place within it.  Continue reading