Complicating the Schematic in The Wild Storm 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Wild Storm 6

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

If there’s an aesthetic that could define all of comics — perhaps we’d call it a medium-defining aesthetic — it’s that of simplification and omission. Those acts are simply built into creating comics, where characters, settings, objects and ideas have to be depicted in two dimensions. That is, even the most detailed, photo-realistic style is a simplified representation of the 3-dimensional space it aims to represent. But the rigors of a monthly deadline put even that level of simplification out of reach, leading many to an even more simplified line-art approach. And then, of course, there are storytelling choices, as only a finite number of panels can fit in a given comic — some moments must be omitted. The choices of which moments to include is really what the art of comics storytelling is, whether it’s this character’s face versus another’s hands, or picking up on these conversation a beat or two later, or even omitting a scene altogether. That aesthetic often comes together in a way that prioritizes clarity, simplifying designs and actions and omitting needless details to make sure every beat is understood by the audience. In this way, we might understand a given comic to function as a kind of schematic — a simplified version of the world it depicts. This is certainly true of The Wild Storm, which is brimming with truly schematic, almost clinically clear sequences, though it puts them to use in ways that are far more complicated than they may initially seem. Continue reading

Wants, Needs, and Given Circumstances in The Wild Storm 5

by Ryan Desaulniers

Wild Storm 5

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

In a world as complicated as this one, replete with conspiracies between corporations, technology theft, aliens living among us puny humans, and a gigantic cast of characters, it helps to find ways to keep things simple. In The Wild Storm 5, writer Warren Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt introduce many new, somewhat confusing elements to the narrative, but underscore these revelations with a firm grounding in characters’ wants and needs. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 6/7/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Cannibal 6, Extremity 4, Injection 13, and Outcast 28. Also, we discussed Faith 12 on Thursday and will be discussing Star Wars: Darth Vader 1 and Paper Girls 15 on Tuesday, so check back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading

The Wild Storm 4

Alternating Currents: The Wild Storm 4, Ryan and Drew

Today, Ryan D. and Drew are discussing The Wild Storm 4, originally released May 17th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

What a day. What a motherfuckin’ day.

Alonso Harris, Training Day

Ryan D: I recently re-watched Training Day and damn, what a good film. While there are plenty of things which stand out in the film, one of its best features is that all of the events of the movie take place in one day. By the end of the running time, the audience really gets a sense of exhaustion which matches that of the characters because so darn much is crammed into a day. Similarly, in The Wild Storm 4, I realized by the end of the issue that all the events in the series thus far have taken place in the course of one day. After a very action-filled issue 3, I enjoyed the change of pace as the events of the day start to sink in. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 5/3/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Extremity 3, Faith 11, Outcast 27, Shipwreck 4, and Star Wars: Poe Dameron 14. Also, we discussed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 69 on Friday, and will be discussing Pestilence 1 on Wednesday, so come back for that! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 4/19/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Star Wars Poe Dameron 13, Black 5, Curse Words 4, Descender 21, and Injection 12. Also, we’re discussing World Reader 1 and Archie 19 on Tuesday and Sex Criminals 18 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading

Injection 11

Alternating Currents: Injection 11, Ryan D. and Drew

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

DC Round-Up: Comics Released 3/15/17


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 Monday and Green Arrow 19 on Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4 Continue reading

The Wild Storm 1

wild-storm-1

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.

Dean Jackson

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

Karnak 6

karnak-6

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