Order in the Slow Chaos of Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story 0

by Patrick Ehlers

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

January’s Secret Weapons 0 was all about Nikki’s growth from high school senior to effective super heroine. It’s a straight line of dissolving relationships and withering opportunities, a chain of events where one cause naturally leads to the next effect. That’s moving, effective storytelling. But that’s not always reflective of life, is it? Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story 0 takes a similar concept and muddles it up, making Owen’s saga less like a line and more like a web of trivial connections. Writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín lean on the oddly symmetric structures present in a series of seemingly unrelated stories, and though they arrive at a slight conclusion, it is all the more meaningful for being fully earned. Continue reading

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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

Secret Weapons 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

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“There. There it is: too much iron in your blood…”

Magneto, X2

Patrick: Magneto controls magnetic fields. It’s an objectively cool super power, impossibly useful in every situation (and particularly useful against any otherwise unkillable enemy). In X2, Magneto uses this power rip microscopic particles of iron out of his prison guard’s bloodstream. He manipulates the magnetic fields around the resultant bloody cloud until he’s in control of free-flying bullets and hovering platforms. It’s an absurd demonstration of Magneto’s powers. There’s a lot to criticize in the logic of that scene, but it’s hard to fault the giddy enthusiasm. Writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín show a similar enthusiasm for their characters’ powers. The difference is that they start from a ridiculous premise and work their way to exciting applications.

That’d be reason enough to love the conclusion of Secret Weapons, but Heisserer, Allén and Martín hold the comic book medium in the same high esteem as the goofy powers their characters posses. Just as Avi, Nikki and Owen apply their simple skills in ingenious ways, so too does the creative team master the page with mindblowingly intuitive art. Continue reading

Hacking a Path to Character in Secret Weapons 3

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Short form and episodic storytelling often relies on character tropes – this is doubly true in genre stories, where the character types are so well established. Eric Heisserer, in an incredibly tight three issues (of four total), refuses such predictability, finding exciting, engaging and innovative ways to insist on the very real nature of his characters. Heisserer seemingly has shortcuts into the human psyche, hacking his way in through seldom-used sociological and emotional channels. The whole series premise is about not taking even the dumbest superpowers for granted, but this issue starts to turn to a much more simple mantra: don’t take these people for granted. Continue reading

Secret Weapons 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

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Patrick: Thwip! Bamf! Snikt! You know those sound effects: respectively, they mean a) Spider-Man shooting some web fluid, b) Nightcrawler teleporting away, and c) Wolverine deploying his claws. It is perhaps illustrative of the predictability of their superpowers that there are immutable sound effects that accompany them. You know exactly what it sounds like when Wolvie pops his claws, but you also know exactly what he can do with them. These powers are used in unsurprising ways to save the day, but what happens when the superheroes have powers that aren’t so easy to understand? Well, then you’ve got the residents of The Willow and the cast of Secret Weapons. Continue reading