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!

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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

Mighty Thor 706: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Mighty Thor 706

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

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

Genesis 2:2

Drew: Can gods be heroes? I might posit that immortality voids the noble qualities like courage and sacrifice that define heroism. To me, anyway, gods and heroes are mutually exclusive groups, which might well be the reason we created the concept of demigods — Hercules slaying the Nemean Lion is less impressive if he has infinite time and power at his disposal, and Jesus dying on the cross is literally meaningless if he can’t die. In this way, we understand that Jane Foster’s nobility comes not from her godliness, but from her humanity — from the sacrifice she can only make because she isn’t a god. But still, she was a god, at least briefly, which maybe entitles her to a bit of rest after all of that sacrifice. Continue reading

Hope Springs Eternal in Captain America 700

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 700

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

Superheroes don’t get endings. They might die, sure, but are inevitably resurrected months, years, or decades down the line. And they’re brought back for the same reason superheroes don’t get endings: there’s always another story to tell (and another dollar to be made telling it). Fans may sometimes get jaded about this — especially when a hero is killed off for the umpteenth time — but that lack of closure keeps superheroes in a holding pattern in the middle of the hero’s journey. They may have momentary successes, sure, but they never get to kick up their heels at the end of a career well-served. You know, unless you can find some kind of alternate universe/timeline workaround that allows your hero some sense of closure while still allowing him to carry on the fight tomorrow. That’s exactly the kind of workaround Mark Waid and Chris Samnee cook up in Captain America 700, giving Steve the kind of heroic end he can only have if there’s some kind of trick. Continue reading

Secrets as a Weapon in The Wicked + The Divine 35

by Spencer Irwin

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

It should be no surprise that almost every character in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine are hiding major secrets, nor that, as the series enters its final year, more and more of those secrets are coming to light. What might be a bit surprising, though, is how well the cast leverages these secrets — both their own and others’ — in order to get what they want. Secrets can be a liability, but in the world of WicDiv, they’re just as often an asset, a weapon just waiting to be fired. Continue reading

Mighty Thor 705: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Mogge

Mighty Thor 705

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

Spencer: Jane Foster is willing to do what must be done, no matter how hard or dangerous, no matter what the consequences might be, even when nobody else can or will. It’s what makes her a hero, what makes her worthy; it’s also what brings about her downfall. The Mighty Thor 705 is the swan song our beloved Jane deserves, a beautiful, action-packed, heartbreaking issue that highlights everything that made Jane’s Thor an inspiration, everything that made her important both in-universe and out. Continue reading

Growth, Chemistry, History, and Change in Runaways 7

By Spencer Irwin

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

The density of prose, as well as the ample opportunities for dialogue and conversations, make novels a format that excels in rich, deep characterization; there’s just more room and opportunity to get into a character’s head than in most other mediums. It’s no surprise, then, that writer and novelist Rainbow Rowell would excel in this regard, but it is a pleasant surprise that she’s been able to translate those skills so perfectly to her comic book work on Runaways. This is a title where every character feels real and three dimensional, more than just archetypes or action stars but like actual kids with actual concerns, desires, deep-seated fears, and the ability to grow and change. Most importantly, Rowell makes us feel the effects of their history, of everything they’ve gone through since first being created 15 years ago. Continue reading