Today, Ryan D. and Drew are discussing Injection 11, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan D: Returning after the Viv-centric Van Der Zee mystery arc, the inciting incident in Injection 11 — the discovery of a ring of stones in Cornwall featuring a flensed corpse at the center — is one of the seven unusual world events which Viv learned of at the end of issue ten, all of which sport the Injection’s dirty, complicated fingerprints. The last arc culminated with a large, almost full-cast denouement, and writer Warren Ellis focuses the start of this tale with the spotlight on the Irish lass and tech genius Brigid Roth. While I miss the rest of the team already — we’ve only seen Maria Kilbride via video chat and heard passing reference to Cunning Man/Breaker of Britain, Robert Morel — I think that the isolation of this chapter might play as a valuable counterpoint to the last’s ensemble sleuthiness. Continue reading →
How many Batman books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-Star Batman 8, Batman 19, Batwoman 1, Superman 19, Trinity 7 and Wild Storm 2. Also, we’ll be discussing Green Lanterns 19 on Mondayand Green Arrow 19 on Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing The Wild Storm 1, originally released February 15th, 2017.
When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.
Ryan D:Transformation stands as a long-enduring fascination for us, as humans. Sometimes, this includes our history with shapeshifting, which goes back to the oldest discovered forms of shamanism, or enduring texts like The Epic of Gilgamesh or The Iliad. The lore of werewolves alone originated way back to 22 A.D. Transformation seems to be ingrained in our collective unconscious, with the superhero genre and comic books to be a very receptive medium for the trope. What surprises me, however, is when the transformation hurts. I remember playing The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and seeing Link put on a transformative mask for the first time, and then being aghast as the little hero screamed in pain as he changed into a Deku Scrub. Another example: the scene in An American Werewolf in London when the protagonist howls in agony as he becomes lupine. The Wild Storm 1 brings to the pages many transformations for its characters, but is also a transformation unto itself — of an imprint and universe left in chrysalis form for six years and being born again. How well, then, have Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt coped with the growing pains with this first issue? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Karnak 6, originally released February 1st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: I’ve cited tvtropes.org so often on this site that doing so might reasonably constitute its own trope. Indeed, I tend to use that site in the same way that writers use tropes: as a shorthand to lay the groundwork for more complex and original ideas. It’s not that tropes are bad, necessarily, but they certainly represent some amount of artifice in the story — recognizing those tropes necessarily pushes us out of the narrative. In the world of comics, tropes are almost obligatory, as characters and situations have to be introduced in 20-page installments. Those elements can be complicated later, but tropes become the basic currency for the broad strokes. This may seem like an odd way to open a discussion of Karnak 6, which is remarkably inoffensive on the tropes front, but I’d like to suggest that writer Warren Ellis has adopted an entirely different, less artificial currency to round out this six-issue arc: Karnak’s own cognitive biases. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Taylor are discussing Karnak 5, originally released September 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Mark: Given the opportunity, would you go back in time to correct the mistakes of your past? At first blush, it’s an appealing prospect; we all have moments of regret in our past — a situation we wish we would have handled differently, a choice we want to unmake, words we want to take back. But people are an accumulation of their choices, and taking back one would necessarily lead somewhere new. Whether our changed self would be truly appealing comes down to how happy we are with current selves.
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Karnak 3, originally released April 20th, 2016.
Drew: When we talk about superhero weaknesses, we tend to focus on the physiological ones — the ones that exist within the narrative. That’s because we’ve all agreed to ignore the more obvious logical weaknesses any superhero story has. Punching will never be the best solution to systemic corruption in Gotham (especially when you can personally finance political campaigns of local, state, and federal officials), and “heat vision and a mirror” doesn’t actually explain how Superman shaves his indestructible beard. These are the weaknesses we choose to ignore to maintain our suspension of disbelief — that is, until some smartass chooses not to ignore them, usually by assuming they’re just smarter than everyone else. I call them “weaknesses,” not because they can be exploited by readers who are as simple and obvious as the weaknesses themselves, but because such exploitation is generally off-limits for the characters themselves. How Superman shaves is a question that can’t be satisfactorily answered, so it’s best to avoid the subject altogether. With Karnak 3, Warren Ellis aims to do the opposite, charging headlong into the very weaknesses Karnak would have identified from the start. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Drew are discussing Injection 7, originally released February 10th, 2016.
Ryan D: The iconic novel Moby-Dick is peculiar in two specific ways. Firstly, for such an important example of turn-of-the-century literature which spawned many films based off of it and sits as a part of our literary lexicon, a surprising amount of people have not read it, which I attribute to its length (927 pages in the first edition, 635 in the US release) and the abundance of dry non-narrative chapters dedicated to things like an exhaustive cataloging of ships. Secondly, and more relevant to this review, is the idea that though the presence of the eponymous white whale is felt constantly, it does not actually appear until the last three chapters. I would hazard that the influence of this affects much of our modern media, happily adopted by horror films, especially; we never get a full view of the shark in Jaws until the climax, and the same can be said about the organism from Alien. This same feeling of looming danger and presence pervades Injection 7, and this feeling of tension makes this arc wonderful to read. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Karnak 1, originally released October 21st, 2015.
Taylor: We live in a highly litigious society. If you make a claim about something — anything — you better be able to prove it. While there’s no one point in history that can be marked as the beginning of this litigiousness, the nadir point just might be that fateful morning in 1992 when a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee was spilled on the lap of an elderly woman. While it might seem obvious to most people that coffee is hot and should be handled with care, the fact that the cup didn’t say so opened up an avenue to lawsuits. Since then, many of us have bemoaned the state of our society, where a person can sue for the smallest of reasons. If you’re like me, then Karnak, both the man and the comic, is a breath of fresh, if not stiff, air. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Drew are discussing Injection 5, originally released September 9th, 2015.
Ryan: Who is the main character in this comic? At first glance, I fancied Maria Kilbride to be our lead. Her character arc seems to be one of the most vivid; every issues’ flashback scenes show her as the bright-eyed genius responsible for tying together the Cultural Cross-Contamination Unit, full of piss and vision. Seeing how cheerful she was in this issue when Brigid suggested they all get matching tattoos stands in stark contrast to the gaunt, hollowed lone-wolf who tackles a Cornish spriggan infestation head-on. Though her foe here be mystical, Kilbride is haunted more closely by the Injection, which finally reveals itself plainly. The fingerprints of the Injection are stamped on every curious happenstance which has taken place over the past five issues, making a compelling case to call this creation the main character. Its character journey has taken place predominately off-page, with the bulk of its exposition in the dialogue of its “parents”, the remnants of the CCCU. It now rears its invisible head to Maria, and in doing so shows that it is responsible for the previously anonymous, seemingly omnipotent yellow narrative text littering each issue. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Trees 12, originally released August 19th, 2015.
noun noun: hero; plural noun: heroes
a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
the chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.
Drew: I think I’ve always thought of those two definitions as functionally identical — we acknowledge heroes in real life for the same qualities we admire them in fiction — but a closer look reveals a rather profound difference in how much agency is required to satisfy these two definitions. That is, the first definition is about deeds performed by the would-be hero, whereas the second definition is more about the heroes place in the narrative; no agency is actually required. It’s no surprise to me that the morally grey characters of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Trees don’t satisfy the “noble qualities” clause of the first definition, but I was a bit more surprised to discover how passive they all have been. The biggest turning points in this series find the characters completely passive, from Professor Bongiorno’s acceptance of his own murder to Marsh’s decision to not sound the alarm about the Svalbard poppies. Issue 12 still features plenty of characters boxed in by their circumstances, but also gives Creasy the opportunity to actually do something. Continue reading →