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Hot take: this film is polar-izing.

I enjoyed just about everything in this movie from start to finish. The thing that gives me pause in my reaction is that some media outlets whose taste I rarely share loved this movie, while some whose taste I definitely do share kind of slammed it.  Have I been blinded by the offbeat premise, the wonderfully realized sets and art direction, and the sweet action set pieces (snipers shooting at each other from different train cars, the axe vs. fire axe fight sequence, ¨they have no bullets!¨)?  Is this a Pacific Rim scenario — a slightly-above average genre piece that gets labeled a masterpiece because it’s not as bad as the popcorn fodder we’ve been surrounded by for weeks?

There seems to be a strain of thought regarding this kind of film that goes something like this: the political metaphors are presented on the surface and are not subtle, and therefore as a piece of political commentary the text is co-opted and not valuable. This is a view that is most commonly espoused by Slate, the home of online smarm and smugness, but it crops up everywhere. Basically, it boils down to: I think someone who is less smart than me would also understand what this movie/book/comic is getting at, therefore I have nothing to gain from it and it sucks.

Pretty shitty way to be, imo. Here is a list of significant 20th century works of political allegory that are not subtle:

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Dr. Strangelove, dir. Stanley Kubrick
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

You may not be a fan of all of those.  I don’t much care for either the style or the content of Ayn Rand, for example, but it’s hard to deny that she’s had a huge impact on political thought, working largely in the medium of the allegorical novel.

So why should a film like Snowpiercer, which deals with the dramatic stratification of society and the self-reinforcing nature of class and caste systems, be dismissed as trite?  Is it not true that one percent of the people control 90% of the wealth, land, and goods?  Is it not true that when a new person rises to power, they are more likely to perpetuate the old system than make radical changes?  Is it not true that the everything the ruling class tells us is a lie and if we could see the truth we would throw off our shackles and revolt this very minute?

I think the real reason some people, especially here in the US, don’t like Snowpiercer is that they can’t relate to the protagonists.  Because the protagonists are the real global poor who face real struggles for survival.  And you, and me, and everyone you know in Chicago or Brooklyn or Silver Lake or wherever?  We’re the ones in the middle of the train who are just following orders, keeping those below us repressed and those above us well fed.

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There’s some pretty big news in the comics world this week and in case you haven’t heard about it, I just want you to mentally steel yourself before you read the next sentence:

(this is where you do your mental-steeling)

Some fictional characters are being altered in ways that are neither novel nor (likely) permanent, for the sake of telling stories that will be slightly different rather than exactly the same way they have been for thirty, forty, or fifty years.

Specifically: starting in October, Thor, a fictional celestial being who can fly through outerspace at physics-defying speed, control all weather phenomena, and has a telepathic relationship with a morally-judgemental hammer, will be portrayed on the page as…a female version of same.  Also, Captain America, a one hundred year old man with the ability to make a metal disc the size of a manhole cover bounce an unlimited number of times before returning to its original starting position at its starting velocity, will be replaced by the man who has been his assistant and sidekick since 1969.  This comes after Captain America was replaced by his previous sidekick, also nearly one hundred years old, who spent the years between 1945 and 2005 as a cryogenically preserved superweapon with a robot arm who served the USSR — a storyline which, by the way, everyone loved.   Only, this new guy Sam Wilson, he’s (wait for it) not a white guy with blonde hair.

Needless to say, there has been backlash.  Thanks to The Internet, any time any event of any type occurs, there are people who will make very horrible sexist, racist, and otherwise -ist comments about it.  This time around, I was heartened to see that the backlash-to-the-backlash, people coming to the defense of Marvel’s decision to include more women and persons of color in its core titles (albeit as fictional characters, not as real life employed creators because that would have actual consequences in the actual world) was so much louder than the initial backlash that the initial backlash essentially disappeared.  Which I guess means there are more people out there in the world who are sane and level-headed than there are total bigots who can’t fully distinguish comics from reality.  And that’s a good thing.

Super Special Bonus Feature: When Reboots DO Go Wrong

So Thor’s going to be a woman and Çap’s going to be the Falcon and that’s fine.  But there have definitely been a few times that Marvel and DC have gone too far in their attempts to update classic characters.  Here are five of them:

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Feral Wolverine

1995: Also known as Pirate Wolverine, this is what happened after Magneto ripped all of the adamantium out of Wolverine’s body (which was pretty awesome).  For reasons that were totally unclear, this caused Wolverine to start smelling worse, walk around with a horrible ape-like posture, speak in barely legible chicken scratch, and wear a tattered zorro mask.  Most worryingly, it almost made Logan’s nose appear to disappear completely into his face, not unlike that of an adorable pug.

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Guy Gardner: Terminator, Mixologist, Pro-Wrestler?

1994: Guy Gardner, whose bowl haircut was the funniest thing about the very funny Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International, became much less funny (at least less intentionally funny) when he lost his Lantern ring and had to look abroad for a new superpower.  He found it when he drank from a chalice full of Warrior Water (not kidding) which gave him the ability to shapeshift his body parts into any type of weapon, T2 style (not kidding), because of previously-unmentioned alien DNA that was implanted in his ancient ancestors (not kidding), which inspired him to not only return to crimefighting but to open a Planet Hollywood-esque superhero theme bar* (nope, not kidding) called….Warriors (STILL NOT KIDDING BUT MAYBE ACTUALLY DYING BECAUSE MY BRAIN JUST EXPLODED ALL OVER THIS WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE). 

Any resemblance between Guy Gardner Warrior and Wrestlemania Vi-era Ultimate Warrior is, I assume, purely coincidental

Any resemblance between Guy Gardner Warrior and Wrestlemania Vi-era Ultimate Warrior is, I assume, purely coincidental

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Espectacular is right, my friend

Espectacular is right, my friend

Superman: Reign of the SuperMullets

1993: Much ballyhooed to this day, the reports of Superman’s death were, to borrow a turn of phrase, “greatly exaggerated.”  After being savagely beaten for seven whole issues by Doomsday, Superman didn’t die so much as go into a Kryptonian Kush Coma, emerging just a few short issues later as the same ‘ol Man of Steel.  Albeit with one very significant difference:  a beautifully flowing Kentucky Waterfall, all business up front with a rockin’ party bus ’round back, a mane like a Triple Crown winning champion….that is to say, a thick’n’hearty jet black man mullet.  Frankly, I’m surprised it took Clark Kent so long to update his ‘do.  After all, look what it did for these icons of style:

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 Ronnie James Dio Comedian Joe Piscopo

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Old vs. Nu Harley Quinn illustration via Comics Alliance

Old vs. Nu Harley Quinn illustration via Comics Alliance

New 52/Arkham Asylum Harley Quinn

1998: I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about the sadomasichistic-nymphomaniac-undead-juggalo-schoolgirl look that Harley Quinn has been wearing lately just seems off.

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Superman 2: Electric Boogaloo

I basically don’t think people should care what happens to comic book characters.  I mean, if you really don’t like the new direction they’re taking with Thor, there are more than 500 issues of the previous version of Thor already so you can just read those (watch out, though, he also turns into a frog and a horse-lookin’ alien a few times).  But don’t mess with Superman.  Superman is a really, really boring superhero, but he’s kind of great as a mythological figure representing the age of American prosperity and the pursuit of truth, justice, and the ability to wear your underwear on the outside if you want.  Go ahead and give him a stupid mullet, a canine sidekick, a love affair with Wonder Woman, a kind of different origin story, or a movie in which he plays the role of Goku in Dragonball Z: The Frieza Saga.  But don’t turn him into a bolt of blue lightning.  Because that, that my friend, is Fucking Stupid.

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*I would rank Warriors  somewhere between Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon and Cyberdelia on the list of Fictional Bars You Must Drink at Before You Die:

warrior!

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I struggle with the apocalypse.

I can’t wait for it to get started, for one thing.  Floating cities.  Thunderdomes.  Roving bands of cannibals.  Time enough at last.  Mutants.  A lot of people say that they were born too late, that they were meant to live in Victorian England or ’60s Paris.  I was born to early.  I was meant to live through the End of Times.

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I still think we might get there, sooner than a lot of people suspect, but that doesn’t solve my most immediate problem:  how do I make the Apocalypse into my Apocalypse?

See, I’ve been writing this story.  In my head for years, and with actual words on screen for…years.  It’s a novel, maybe, called For A Dying Planet.  Or The Herald.  Or something better, I hope.  And it’s pretty post-apocalyptic.  Awesome, because that’s one of my favorite settings.  Not so awesome, because the post-apocalypse (or dystopian civilization that rise from the ashes) is definitely the most popular setting for science fiction stories these days.

How am I going to come up with a take on it that hasn’t been done and done to death?

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I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  Godlike artificial intelligence (which has been done).  Terrifying genetic experiments (done).  Borderline unlivable alien planets (done, done, done).  Youthful female protagonist (so done, but probably still not done enough).  A post-Rapture Catholic Church that’s barely recognizable yet still stubbornly the same (yes, done.  In other news, done.)  So yeah, a lot of ideas that maybe aren’t brand spanking new.

But what is new anyway?  It’s the Hip-Hop era, ya’ll, also known as Postmodernism (Modernism, we hardly knew ye), and there’s nothing original under the sun.  So say we all.  Now that the internet exists, creativity means sifting through the rubble, shaking off the dust, and reassembling the pieces into something shockingly new.  Basically, I’m hoping to create the upside-down urinal of post-collapse space opera science fiction novels.  That’s cool, right?

Yeah, that’s what I tell myself when I rock myself to sleep at night wondering if I’ve ever had an original thought in my whole life.

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The unnamed protagonist of Ben Passmore’s Daygloayhole (issue 1, issue 2) is much more mellow about the whole affair.  A spiritual nephew of The Dude, our hero eases into the end of the world like an old man into a hot bath.  His apocalypse is full of tropes and cliches, to be sure, but they’re dismissed with a shrug.  What else would you expect from a culture that gave us so many American Idol ripoffs and NKOTB clones?  Even the apocalypse is another consumer good dreamed up by eggheads at Proctor & Gamble.

Diametrically opposed to this world view is No Limitz, an oogle for whom the new world is the ultimate punk rock challenge to be conquered, one giant cybernetic death worm at a time.

Even though the setting of this comic is deliberately unoriginal in many ways, the characters are refreshingly new.  And that was the biggest lesson I took away from Passmore’s book: the most lavish and mind-bending settings are deathly boring without interesting fully-realized characters to inhabit them.  By the same token, even a setting that has been used a thousand times can come wildly alive when a character reacts to it in interesting ways.

That’s why I’m going to stop worrying so much about whether the technology, settings, and even plot mechanics of my novel have been used before ad nauseum, and just focus on getting deeper inside the brains of my characters.  Because there’s no chance that my take on a desert planet in a state of decay will surprise and astonish anyone, there’s a good chance that exploring the choices and emotions of a realistic character in that environment will surprise even me.

****

Special thanks to Ben Passmore for sending me the links to his comic and giving me a few minutes of his time at CAKE this year.  You should go buy some comics from Mr. Passmore’s store, or check him out at the upcoming RIPExpo in Providence, Rhode Island.

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If you ever find yourself on the south side of Chicago with an hour or two to kill, skip the MSI and check out the Oriental Institute, aka Indiana Jones’ day job. It’s full of artifacts from Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Persian history. Particularly impressive is the room devoted to Persepolis, the capital city built by the Achaemenid King Daryush and his son Xerxes in the 4th and 5th century B.C. The temples, treasuries, and palaces of Persepolis were built on a raised stone platform, such that the entire city was raised above the earth, a testimony to the power of human ingenuity and technology. Though the city was sacked by Alexander the Great in the 3rd Century B.C.E. and then gradually abandoned, the magnificent grey limestone terrace and many limestone and marble columns and statues remained virtually intact into the 21st century, far outlasting the culture that originally constructed them. As we were leaving this gallery, I noted to my companion “say what you will about monarchy, the concentration of 99% of a civilization’s resources under one person’s control sure leads to some amazing architecture.”

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In The Boy in Question by Michael DeForge (Space Face Books, 2014) two soldiers stumble upon a third person in a strange, undulating landscape. They radio their base for help and are told to sit tight. They do so. The sit tight for thousands of years. Their children and grandchilden and great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren sit tight. Novel forms of agriculture are developed. They build a massive interconnected city that is raised above the ground.  A Persepolis. The radio to base becomes the center of a cult of esoteric worship, along with the original mysterious corpse. Help from the base never arrives. But in the meantime, civilization was created.

—–

DeForge recently tweeted

This seems like a reaction against critics, myself included, who may have tried to use DeForge’s comics to decode aspects of his personal life.  That type of criticism runs counter to all the best practices of the twenty-first century critic.  But it’s also the easiest form of criticism and the prevailing one in today’s media climate.  We no longer seem to care that much about art, and are much more concerned about artists.  This is not a trend that has been created solely by lazy critics, however.  Artists feed into it.  Artists who spend more time self-promoting on social media than creating principal materials encourage us to view them as quasi-celebrities and brands first, and the art takes a back burner.  In comics, especially indie comics, the problem is exacerbated by the diary/journal nature of so many self-published comics and comic tumblrs.

DeForge’s body of work has largely been a reaction against all of that.  The questions that he tackles are metaphysical even as the subject matter in his books is often shockingly corporeal.  This approach reminds me of another wave-making cartoonist of late, Julia Gfrörer, who has been on a campaign to bring seriousness back to independent comics:

The internet is a fun place to do whatever you want and it’s true that there are no rules for making comics or writing about them.  But I do feel, and I think Gfrörer and DeForge may share this sentiment*, that there aren’t enough people legitimately trying to push the artform forward now.  After a decade full of nip-slips, listicles, Ryan Gosling memes, anal sex jokes, Jimmy Fallon, and reality television, isn’t it time that we stop being “Cutesy,” not just about feminism but kind of about everything?  Comics critics may be among the worst offenders; as Tom Spurgeon has been pointing out lately, no one ever offers any real criticism of comics these days:

Comics critics are scared to make waves by calling out bad art or retrograde storytelling.  The only time indie cartoonists get criticized is if they say something offensive on twitter or fail to deliver a Kickstarter on time.  It’s the very definition of preciousness.  It’s time to look, LOOK, at that pile of metaphors over there.  It’s time to stop waiting for the approval of our gods and build our own Persepolis.

*Which basically makes me guilty once again of the same kind of “putting words in authors mouths” thinking that my deconstructionist college professors would spit in my eye for

 

 

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I recently picked up a massive pile of trade paperbacks from a friend selling his comics to fund a move to Europe.  Among the books I was most excited to acquire were a random assortment of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo.

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Usagi Yojimbo Book One: Ronin collects the earliest adventures of the “rabbit bodyguard” from Albedo and Critter magazine.

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Most of the stories are fables and parables.  The style is not far off from Lone Wolf and Cub, or Kurosawa’s samurai westerns like Yojimbo.  Every story features an opportunity for the title character to show off his unmatched prowess as a swordsman.  What makes Sakai’s take on this classic concept unique is the combination of Disney-esque anthropomorphic animals, slapstick visual comedy, and hardboiled martial arts action.  This tasty hot pot of influences is most apparent in the massive fight scenes in which realistic violence and cartoon violence sit side by side.

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Sakai also combines his fluid, almost minimal cartoon figures with lush backgrounds – landscapes and architecture that look like they were lifted straight out of ukiyo-e.  This echoes the look of another self-published adventure series starring and anthropomorphic animal in a semi-historical setting: Dave Sim’s Cerberus, with its backgrounds by the imitable Gerhard.  It also has a lot in common with the best of ’80s action manga masters, like Katsuhiro Otomo.  Usagi Yojimbo was essential in building the bridge between manga and American indie comics that creators like Paul Pope, Brandom Graham, and Bryan Lee O’Malley tread so comfortably today.

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It’s safe to say Usagi has a signature sound effect.

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Book Two: Samurai features a much longer story that reveals the detail’s of Miyamoto Usagi’s origin, from apprentice to samurai to ronin.  It establishes many of the characters that recur throughout the series, such as Usagi’s long-lost love Mariko, his childhood rival Kenichi, and his best frenemy, the rhinoceros Gennosuke.  After the first volume, when Usagi seems utterly unstoppable as a fighter, this volume serves the important role of humanizing (or rabbitzing?) the character, showing what he went through to develop his skills, and what kinds of things can still hurt him.

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Book Eight: Shades of Death features a crossover with Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Usagi had previously appeared in a couple TMNT comics, teaming up with Leonardo.  He also later appeared in two episodes of the original TMNT Saturday Morning Cartoon, and was immortalized as a TMNT action figure in 1989.  In this story, all four turtles are transported to Usagi’s world to help combat a marauding ninja clan.  My favorite part of this was Donatello wondering out loud how at the biology of Usagi’s feudal Japan.  “Do you guys even have tails?” he asks, while pondering how so many different species of anthropomorphic animal could co-evolve.  Just a little metafictional exobiology for ya there.  No charge.

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Shades of Death also features some of Sakai’s best wordless storytelling.  Sakai’s drawings of his main character actually get simpler as the series goes on — for example, Usagi’s eyes, which are large disc-like manga eyes early on, are later rendered just as single dots.  Yet the character also becomes more expressive.  Using few a lines and simple proportions, Sakai is a master of communicating a story through little more than body language, expression, and a few cartoonish sound effects.  Not unlike the masterful Merry Melodies cartoons that these strips so often resemble.

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Summer Vacation

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Hello to all five of my loyal readers. Disastercouch is taking a hiatus and should return in two weeks with plenty of content. I’m juggling some IRL job stuff, friends visiting from out of town, and wedding planning, and just need a little break from blogging (not that I was blogging enough to begin with).  Luckily when you’re your own boss in a job you don’t get paid for, you can take time off whenever you feel like it.  While you breathlessly await the return of My Week in Comics, Heavy Metal Survey, and totally non-timely takes on all things nerdpop, why not take a look at some classic disastercouch posts:

Space Marines: An Incomplete History
Berserker: Frank Miller, Kung Fu, and The Wolverine
Top Ten Made Up Religions for Geeks
A Complete Guide to Every Pop Culture Reference in Marble Season
Cocaine-Fueled Excess of the ’90s
Two Sox and an XBox: How I Became an OKC Thunder Fan

Something old, something new, something by Shaky Kane, and something true.

Another well known Mirror Master

Another well-known Mirror Master masters the cover of the Mirror

The Flash (volume 2) #212 by Geoff Johns and Steven Cummings with Wayne Faucher and James Sinclair.  DC (Warner Bros.), 2005.

This might be the most Geoff John-sy Geoff Johns comic ever, which might make it the most 2000s DC Comic ever — it’s even more 2000s than Identity Crisis, and that shit is about as 2000s as Ashanti featuring Ja Rule.  If there were a superhero comic book writer hall of fame and each writer in it could only put one issue in to represent their entire body of work, this would be Geoff Johns’ issue, I’m almost sure of it.  This or Blackest Night #1, when Black Hand kills his whole family and then commits suicide.  But I’m splitting hairs.  What makes 2005′s The Flash #212  Johnsian-est of the Johnsian?  It’s a Flash comic, first of all.  More importantly it’s a Flash comic that focuses on one of the Flash’s classic Rogues.  It tells a darker and more convoluted version of a character’s origin story, almost a secret origin, if you will.  And it makes you queasy for no good reason.

This is what happens in this comic. This is Mirror Master (2) Evan McCulloch’s origin story:  He grew up in an orphanage where a tween serial rapist named Georgie dragged a different kid down to the river for a little rape session every single night.  But Mirror Master wasn’t about to be the next victim of child-on-child rape, so he just hits Georgie with a rock and then drowns him, after which he flees the orphanage to become Scotland’s greatest hit man.  After a successful mission one day, he realizes that he’s just shot and killed his own estranged father.  This leads him to go looking for his birth mother, who he finds out has killed herself after her husband’s assassination.  Then, McCulloch is captured by the American Government, who aren’t trying to stop him, they just want to put his cold-blooded assassination skills to good use by making him the new Mirror Master and using him as a covert weapon.  He immediately turns on them and pursues a life of crime, joining up with the other Rogues like Trickster and Weather Wizard.  The last several panels and the final splash page show Mirror Master doing a ton of cocaine off, get this, a mirror.

That is problematic.  I don’t even know where to begin.  The child rape thing?  I was already shouting “this is neither the time nor the place Mr. Johns” before I got to the very weird moment when Mirror Master simply kills his attacker.   This is presented as what a sane, strong and self-confident person would do.  Am I crazy to think that is some majorly fucked up victim blaming?  “If you’re about to get raped, just kill your attacker.  There’s no way I would ever let myself get raped.  No way.  Would definitely just commit full murder before I let that happen to my butthole.”  Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but why even include an element like that in a comic like this?  It’s the essence of Geoff Johns: whimsical childlike nostalgia for Silver Age caped heroes meets Dateline.  Do I think it’s possible to tell emotionally mature stories in superhero comics?  Yes.  Do I think the way to do that is by juxtaposing a really, really silly character like Mirror Master with a totally absurd and pretty offensive sex crimes scenario?  Definitely not.  That is not “mature” comics storytelling.  That’s more like the one person who always takes the joke a step too far and ruins it.

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And that’s just the one thing!  The unknowingly killing his own father bit, that’s classic, that is so how causality works in Johns’ world.  Basically, in the DC multiverse, Earth-One and Earth-Two, where most of Johns’ favorite characters reside, differ from our own Earth (Earth-Prime) primarily in that the relative strength of Irony and Coincidence are cranked way the fuck up.  To eleven and beyond.  That’s why in an infinite universe people that have serious personal grudges with each other are always ending up on the same far flung planet and suddenly need to work together.  And it’s why it makes perfect sense that orphan Evan McCulloch would end up basically turning himself into a supervillain by accidentally killing both of his own parents.  It’s definitely why the Mirror Master loves looking into the mirror while he does coke off a mirror.

Kind of the worst comic ever, which is totally why it goes in the Geoff “Love Him or Hate Him? Why Choose!” Johns time-capsule.

Laika the space dog encounters new forms of life beyond the Oort Cloud. Image via Major Spoilers.

Laika the space dog encounters new forms of life beyond the Oort Cloud. Image via Major Spoilers.

Manhattan Projects #21 by Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Browne with Jordie Bellaire.  Image, 2014.

Does anyone remember Bruce Coville?  Bruce Coville wrote about 3/5 of the books filed under Science Fiction in my elementary school library’s card catalog, including the My Teacher is an Alien series, the unrelated  (what?) I Was a Sixth Grade Alien series, and the even-more unrelated (WHAT?) Aliens Ate my Homework series.  In my favorite of all his books, My Teacher Glows in the Dark, a tween boy takes a trip on a fantastical starship along with an alien (and former middle school teacher) named Broxholm.  The ship is full of a menagerie of goofy aliens, from sentient vegetables to sentient crystals and everything in between.  Whenever I see a well done alien menagerie, I think of this book.  This comic made me think of that book hard.

Image via Broken Frontiers.

Image via Broken Frontiers.

That’s Becuase You’re a Robot by David Quantick and Shaky Kane.  Image, 2014.

This is a good alternative to seeing 22 Jump Street.  It is pretty much the same plot except one of the buddy cops is a robot, and it only takes about fifteen minutes instead of a miserable hour-and-a-half.  Does not contain Channing Tatum.  Does contain leprechaun street fight.

Image via Nerdophiles.

Image via Nerdophiles.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.  Image, 2014.

After modernism, myths remain.

Everything Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have created together has sought to explore how folklore and mythology are expressed in a modern society.  Phonogram mixes the post-pop-brit-punk world of fannish devotion, total obsession, and obscurantocracy with magic, wicca and alchemy.  Young Avengers explores the personal myth-making of millenial social media culture alongside our contemporary equivalent of the Greek pantheon — costumed superheroes.

And their latest creator-owned series, The Wicked + The Divine, introduces a world in which the biggest teen pop sensations of all are reincarnated Gods from myriad religions: the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu is a fair-haired siren with multicolored eye shadow; Egyptian warrior goddess Sekhmet is a leather-clad rocker who bears a suspicious resemblance to Rihanna and behaves like a feral cat; and good ‘ol Lucifer has a bit of an Annie Lennox meets Gwen Stefani thing going on, as well as penchant for detonating people’s brains with the snap of a finger.

Gillen doesn’t shy away from the superficial similarities to Phonogram and there’s a two page letter in the back detailing the similarities and the differences between the projects.  I don’t fault the team at all for returning to the same sort of well over and over, and I won’t do so until the well runs dry.  This issue hints that they’ve barely tapped the acquifer.

 

 

 

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