Lucifer 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Lucifer 1

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

…it’s attempts at rising are hopeless. As all attempts are.

Lucifer, Lucifer 1

Drew: When I spoke with Lucifer writer Dan Watters about the teaser pages for this series that appeared in Sandman Universe 1, he was unequivocal about the symbolic meaning of the death of a character named Hope:

I’ve made it quite clear, at least I tried to, that this is going to be a dark book. This is the darkest corner of the Sandman Universe — at least that’s being explored right now. Which, you know, by the nature of the character, by the book, I think it should be. It’s definitely a statement of intent.

And the book is definitely dark. Lucifer‘s assertion that all “attempts at rising are hopeless” comes on the first page, before the issue plunges us into the present day of a status quo Lucifer clearly wishes to rise out of. A character learning to embrace hope would normally be an upbeat moral, but it takes on a twisted meaning here — whatever it is that could force Lucifer into retreat must be truly harrowing. And this is the story of what that experience was. Continue reading

Batman 50: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Batman 50

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

Drew: Bruce Wayne understands that his responsibilities as Batman demands sacrifice. He devotes his time, body, and earthly resources to his mission to fight crime, and generally takes that mission very seriously. All of which can look like he’s sacrificed his own happiness in order to be Batman. Or, more precisely, that his happiness is a necessary sacrifice for his existence. Batman’s drive, the argument goes, comes from his grief, anger, and sadness, so anything that blunts or dilutes those feelings weaken his mission. It’s a position DC Editorial staked out back in 2013, when Dan DiDio explained why Batwoman’s marriage could never happen, but it’s not necessarily a philosophy writer Tom King ascribes to. Indeed, King has argued that Batman’s happiness is a valuable source of drama, stating “There’s no conflict in having Batman be sad. There’s conflict in having Batman be happy.” That may mean King sees Batman’s happiness as only a temporary condition, but it’s obviously not out of the question. The point is, it’s a hotly debated topic, and one that King cleverly allows to play out in the pages of Batman 50. Continue reading

Malice in Civility in Mister Miracle 9

By Patrick Ehlers

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

War is hell. It is economically, physically, and psychologically catastrophic for both those waging war and anyone unfortunate enough to be in war’s orbit. But ending a war? Ending a war requires one of two things: one side to be completely destroyed, or an agreement to be reached between the warring parties. Most wars end the second way. Which is borderline unfathomable, right? Imagine sitting down to negotiate with someone who has been systematically, enthusiastically, killing your friends and family every day for months or years. Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle 9 wrestles with the dissonance of trying to make peace out of war. Continue reading

Recurrent Lyrics and Actions Empower Scott in Mister Miracle 8

By Patrick Ehlers

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

A lot of Mister Miracle stands on the foundation of process and repetition. The nine-panel grid is established early and repeated on every page. All nine panels will be committed to a single action. Then the next nine panels are committed to a different action. This repetition leads to the feeling of being trapped, both for Scott Free and for the reader. But issue 8 finds writer Tom King introducing a sort of rosetta stone for how to find joy and contentment in the inescapable repetition. “Hush, Little Baby.” Continue reading

Mister Miracle 7: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Drew Baumgartner 

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

Michael: A “realistic approach” to comic book superheroes is sometimes successful (often with Batman comics). But most of the time, when you bind the mythic origins of superheroes to real world science and logic, you lose something from the original incarnation. However there’s a difference between a realistic approach and a serious approach to superheroes, like Tom King’s exploration of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World in Mister Miracle 7. This isn’t to say that King’s script is grim and humorless, but that he takes all aspects of Scott Free’s otherworldly life at face value, no matter how “silly” or “outrageous” they might sound in the context of the real world. Continue reading

Mister Miracle 6: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

Patrick: I had a little bit of a rebellious streak in high school. No, no — not actually in school, but during my confirmation classes. See, I was a good kid, studied hard and had a lot of extracurricular activities, but I couldn’t help but be a smart-ass where it came to my religious education. It’s easy to recognize this as some pretty impotent angst in retrospect: I was only resisting a belief structure which relinquished control over me as soon as I decided there was no God. One of my shit-eatingest points of rebellion was my constant assertion that Jesus didn’t really pay the price of death the way we understand it. Even granting the reality wherein he was crucified and suffered horribly for a couple days, he got to come back afterward. It’s not the act of dying, but the cold state of “not living” that should be the sacrifice. I don’t want to speak for Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ respective rebellious streaks, but it seems like Mister Miracle 6 agrees with at least part of 16-year old Patrick. Risking or sacrificing one’s life is only valuable is the the life itself is something you have to do without.  Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Series

Series

We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2017.  Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Artists

Artists

Without artists, all of your favorite characters, scenes, costumes, and locations would just be words on a page. In short, they’re the ones that make comics comics. That’s a lot of responsibility, yet the best artists manage to juggle all of those tasks and inject some meaningful art and style into the proceedings. Whether its a subtle expression or a jaw-dropping action sequence, our favorite artists add the requisite magic to make their worlds and characters real. These are our top 10 artists of 2017. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Issues

Best Issues of 2017

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017. Continue reading

It’s Kirby vs. Lee in Mister Miracle 5

by Drew Baumgartner

Mister Miracle 5

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

Charlie: I’ve written myself into my screenplay.

Donald: That’s kind of weird, huh?

Adaptation

To call Adaptation “kind of weird” would be putting it mildly — ostensibly about Charlie Kaufman’s attempt to adapt Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, the movie is ultimately about itself, but becomes this weird fictionalized version of itself, as Kaufman invents a twin brother to introduce hackneyed thriller elements to the film’s closing acts. It’s much, much weirder than someone simply writing themself into their own screenplay. Heck, the actual script is credited to both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, and both were nominated for an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay even though Donald is a fictional character (or, arguably, a manifestation of Charlie’s most commercial writing instincts). But I think Mister Miracle 5 might just top it for meta weirdness, serving as a kind of final word on comics’ own Charlie and Donald Kaufman — Jack Kirby and Funky Flashman. Continue reading