This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Spencer: A few weeks ago I covered Isola 1, a comic I praised for its subtlety and its trust and respect for its readers’ intelligence; there was very little hand-holding, exposition, or lore, and the issue was all the stronger for it. Rick Remender and Bengal are attempting something similar in the debut of their new Image series, Death or Glory, but it unfortunately doesn’t work quite as well. By the end of the issue — and especially on a second read — the story and structure, the characters and their relationships, they all snap together in a satisfying way, but I spent much of my first read puzzled; moreover, there’s still a few elements that don’t mesh even on that second time around. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Tokyo Ghost 6, originally released April 20th, 2016.
Shelby: I used to listen to the news on NPR every morning, but I’ve stopped for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is that it’s simply too depressing; so many shitty people being shitty to each other, it’s too much to take. And I’m not even talking about the election coverage, which I am completely sick and tired of, despite the fact we’re still only in the primaries. Not only am I tired of all the bad news about bad people doing bad things, I have very little trust in the news that I hear. Every news story has me wondering who paid for their version of the truth to be broadcast, who is trying the hardest to trick me into being on their side. I can understand why the people of New Los Angeles would rather plug into mindless entertainment than put up with sorting through the spin and PR to find the truth. And that’s exactly what Rick Remender and the rest of the creative team on Tokyo Ghost want me to understand: they want us to understand how easy it can be to become the willingly ignorant, and the cost of breaking free. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Tokyo Ghost 5, originally released January 20th, 2016.
Shelby: A difficult personal story: about a year and a half ago, I witnessed a murder/suicide in my office. It shattered my world as I knew it. Everything is different now for me; my social anxiety is through the roof, I can’t really deal with parties or crowds anymore. I worry constantly about my interactions with other people: am I behaving correctly? Have I said/been offensive? I should probably apologize, I clearly did something wrong. I get depressed a lot, I find it can be difficult to get excited about things, even things I love and find exciting. The world as I understood it was taken away that day, by one person’s decision. I think that might be why I love Debbie in Tokyo Ghost so very much; I understand her fight to get back the world she lost when Teddy became Led Dent. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t go back. Sometimes, as Led is about to discover, the end is the end. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Tokyo Ghost 3, originally released November 18th, 2015.
Drew: There’s something violating about an “averted happy ending” — endings that dangle a “happily ever after” in front of the audience before cruelly snatching it away. Vertigo is probably the most well-known example of this, but there are countless others. It’s an effective choice — we’re conditioned to expect happy endings, so denying us that happy ending at the last moment is always surprising — but it’s often brutal on the audience, who just wants resolution for the characters. It would be misguided to suggest that Tokyo Ghost 3 presents an averted happy ending — the central conflict has barely begun, let alone concluded — but I couldn’t help but feel just as violated by the loss of that “happily ever after.” Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Tokyo Ghost 2, originally released October 21st, 2015.
Shelby: We got Internet at my house when I was in high school. I had experienced it before then, of course, but I was old enough to remember that moment my farm in rural northern Wisconsin was plugged in and online. Those of us in our late 20s/early 30s are probably the last generation to remember life before the internet, when life and plans had to be scheduled ahead of time instead of on the fly, when the thought of connecting to someone a world away was unheard of, when there was just some information you didn’t have constant access to. As someone who feels too old be a Millenial and too young to be a Gen-Xer (or whatever came before the current generation), I feel of two minds about our near constant plugged in state, but Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth sure don’t. The future they’ve envisioned in Tokyo Ghost is a world where the worst parts of the Internet have taken over, and it is somehow grimmer and more fascinating than you’d imagine. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing All-New Captain America 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.
Drew: Am I the only one who sees Captain America as an unlikely legacy hero? I understand that the precedent was set back when Bucky first took up the mantle, but Captain America has always struck me as a character more defined by his personality than his power-set. I think that tends to be true of Marvel’s heroes in general — Iron Man is less the adventures of a guy with a metal suit, and more the adventures of Tony Stark, for example — which makes the thought of separating the hero from the alter-ego seem almost impossible. If you take Steve Rogers out of the equation, what is Captain America other than a good fighter with a patriotic outfit? That question seems to be at the center of Rick Remender and Stuart Immonen’s All-New Captain America, and while the first issue only addresses it glancingly, it’s clear they have a compelling answer. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 4, originally released May 28th, 2014.
Drew: In a time when serialized storytelling is very much in vogue, it’s easy to forget that some characters are designed for a specific narrative. That is, the situations that they endure during the story so define them that they can’t really exist outside of it. Would we even recognize Hamlet if he wasn’t having an existential crisis? The only way to reuse a character like that is to put them in essentially the same situation again, which obviously yields diminishing returns, and might just undermine the power of the original. Unfortunately, as Winter Soldier: The Bitter March ramps up to its conclusion, it’s clear that Bucky Barnes may only have one important story to tell. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 3, originally released April 16th, 2014.
Spencer: Considering its Cold War setting, it’s no surprise that Rick Remender and Roland Boschi’s Winter Soldier: The Bitter March has been a story filled with pawns and masterminds, a story populated almost entirely by people who are being used and the people who are doing the using. What’s interesting about issue 3 is the way the players begin to transcend those labels. What happens when pawns tire of being pawns? And what role does Ran Shen play in all of this?
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Winter Soldier: The Bitter March 2, originally released March 19th, 2014.
Patrick: Enigmatic super-soldier spies are tough to characterize. How can you reveal someone’s true nature when they’ve been trained to be a tool of their government, forsaking all personal interests? Rick Remender’s new Winter Soldier mini-series attempts to paint a picture of a man by presenting his surroundings in as much detail as possible. Even when we get a flashback to Bucky’s more formative years, it’s his mentor’s perspective we see stated directly, and not Bucky’s. It’s addition by subtraction, and the sum is a tantalizing character sketch, made all the more compelling by a faithfully realized period thriller.
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Captain America 7, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Patrick: This whole arc in Captain America has been centered on one very bizarre story: Steve Rogers, trapped in Dimension Z, tries to make a life for himself with his adopted son, Ian. This is a comic book, so we didn’t spend much time watching Rogers change diapers or deciding what religion to raise his child or anything like that – most of those development moments were waved away with an issue-opening title card that read “Eleven Years Later,” way back in issue 4.We’re left to imagine that emotional groundwork, and hopefully our imaginations are pretty good, because Steve Rogers’ long odds (which grow longer by the issue) will net a pretty poor payoff if we can’t find a reason to care about Cap’s relationship with this kid. Continue reading →