The Dangers of the Unknown in Curse Words 12

By Spencer Irwin

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

What is magic? In many ways it’s the unknown — mere mortals attempting to wield power beyond their comprehension, attempting to control and contain vast, foreign energy. At the end of Charles Soule and Ryan Browne’s Curse Words 12 Margaret puts her total faith in magic, despite not knowing what effects it may have on her. Why? Because when you define something with infinite possibilities as “magic” that definition makes it trustworthy? Because she trusts the source of this particular magic (Wizord and Ruby Stitch?)? That idea of who and what you can trust, and what you know and what you don’t, is one that runs throughout this entire issue. Turns out not everyone trusts the unknown quite as much as Margaret does. Continue reading

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An Unwelcoming Welcome in Curse Words 11

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Curse Words 11 ends with a welcome letter from writer Charles Soule. Is the end of the issue maybe kind of a weird place to welcome his readers? Well, that’s the trick — it’s not particularly welcoming, and neither is the rest of the issue. You’ve got a weird issue of a weird series in your hands, and if the rapid expansion of cast and the mythology is making your head spin, then you’re feeling exactly what Soule and artist Ryan Browne want to you feel. This is Curse Words in all of its cold, unwelcoming glory: which of course means that it’s impossibly fun. Continue reading

Curse Words Holiday Special 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin

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

“No hugging, no learning.”

-Larry David

Patrick: It’s maybe not fair to say that Seinfeld was a show about nothing. The show was about cynicism, it was about flawed people trapped in their familiar patterns, it was about manners and modern etiquette. But it was mostly a vehicle for observational jokes about the weird ways human beings behave. So while there are virtually no sincere lessons learned in the whole series, the show illustrates an awful lot about human nature. The only way it ever drills down into that fundamental human truth is by straying aggressively true to itself — no hugging, no learning. The same is true of Charles Soule and Ryan Browne’s Curse Words, which gets to the heart of a nearly impenetrable relationship by being just as gross, just as crazy, and just as heartless as it possibly can be in Curse Words Holiday Special 1. Continue reading

A Surprise Backstory Reveals the Depth of Curse Words 10

by Drew Baumgartner

Curse Words 10

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

What is Curse Words to you? As a series that wears its sense of humor on its sleeve, it’s easy to pigeonhole it as an irreverent romp, complete with magical beards and a talking animal sidekick. “Pigeonhole” makes it sound like a negative, so I want to make it clear that 1) goofy, fun stories are worthy of our collective attention, and 2) Curse Words worked beautifully as a goofy, fun story. But I suppose we always knew there was something lurking beneath that slick facade, whether it was some piece of Wizord’s backstory or the suspicious nature of his new magic-stealing powers. With this issue, Charles Soule and Ryan Browne take that several steps further, establishing some devastating emotional stakes that are so surprising, they can’t help but force us to question everything about this series. Continue reading

Pride Goeth in Curse Words 9

by Ryan Mogge

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

Hubris is like the ultimate pair of shades. You think you look pretty fricking cool but meanwhile you are not quite seeing what’s in front of you. In Curse Words 9, both Wizord and Botchko are too self-absorbed to see the trouble looming. Charles Soule and Ryan Browne play straight with the audience, creating a layer of dramatic irony that makes the attitudes of Wizard and Botchko easier to endure.

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Jagged Panelling Cues Evil in Curse Words 8

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Charles Soule and Ryan Browne haven’t been shy about Wizord’s twisted morality. The very first issue of Curse Words tells the tale of an interdimensional wizard sent to destroy the Earth, but who is charmed by New York City. Lest we think Wizord a pure soul, we’re quickly reminded of his origins when he shrinks a packed baseball stadium and exiles hundreds of thousands of people to a hell dimension, just to sweep his misdeeds under the rug. That’s a weirdly easy thing to forget — out of sight, out of mind, right? Wizord’s a monster, and while Soule’s script may insist on making him relatable, Browne’s paneling has an agenda of its own. Those cool chevron panels don’t just say “Wizord,” they say “evil.” Continue reading

The Banality of Magic in Curse Words 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Curse Words 6

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

There are countless diagnoses for the success of Harry Potter, but I have to think at least part of the appeal is that the stories embraced both the pleasant and unpleasant extremes of fictional magic. On the one hand, there are enchanting magical novelties — everything from candies to sports to boarding schools — and on the other, there are evil characters that practice corrupted magic in order to kill their adversaries and gain power. While plenty of fiction has embraced one or the other of those extremes in their depiction of magic, few took on the whole spectrum, treating the world of magic as if it were every bit as messy and nuanced as the real world. Curse Words has gladly taken up that cause, and indeed takes it several steps further, exchanging Harry’s naive wonderment for more mundane complacency, emphasizing how commonplace and banal magical acts are in Hole World. Continue reading

Curse Words 2

Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Curse Words 2, originally released February 23rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M: Is morality a choice? A person’s ideas of right and wrong come from a combination of outside forces and inner drives. The outside forces are more easy to trace. An examination of societal and family norms can lead to a fairly good prediction of an individual’s understanding of morality. There is more to it than that, right? I want to believe that there are things that cross the boundaries of moral relativism and are inherently on one side or another. In Curse Words 2, Charles Soule and Ryan Browne explore morality through the lens of Wizord as he attempts to clean up his mess.

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(p)review: Curse Words 1 – SPOILERS

curse-words-1-preview-spoilerLast week, we started a conversation about Curse Words 1. The issue hadn’t been released at the time and there’s an awesome twist at the end that we knew we had to discuss somewhere. If you haven’t read the issue yet, maybe check out that spoiler-free discussion, and then come back here for our conversation about That Big Twist. You’ll know it when you see it. Obviously, SPOILERS follow.

Patrick: So, okay, like 95% of this story is pretty well-examined territory in fantasy and science fiction right? An outsider from another world visits our own and falls in love with the places and the people and decides to make a home of Earth. Or protects it or whatever. Where Charles Soule and Ryan Browne’s first issue delightfully subverts that narrative by demonstrating that, while New York city has charmed Wizord, it hasn’t exactly made him a better person. For real, spoilers ahead.

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(p)review: Curse Words 1

curse-words-1b

(p)reviews are a bit different from our usual coverage, as they discuss comics that haven’t come out yet. As such, we’ll avoid our usual spoilers — think of it as part preview, part review. Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Curse Words 1, which will be released Wednesday, January 18th, 2017. If you’re looking for a Spoiler-y discussion, click here.

I’m outta balloons. Is a baggie all right?

-Lance, Pulp Fiction

Drew: Rules are fundamental to our understanding of any narrative. For most, the only “rules” we need to understand are those of the world we live in — physics, social norms, human nature — but other narratives take us out of this comfort zone. Pulp Fiction may seem like an odd choice to illustrate this point, but when I first saw the movie in high school, the world of recreational opiates was foreign enough to me that someone had to contextualize the line I included above, which explains why Mia Wallace later confuses heroin for cocaine. That heroin was normally packaged in balloons was an important rule, but not in the moment the concept is introduced — a kind of Chekhov’s baggie of heroin, if you will. As a story featuring magic, Curse Words promises to take us even further from the rules we know, but just like that line from Pulp Fiction, its first issue seems to lay some key groundwork for the rules that will govern the series. Continue reading