Recent Dorkiness


New week! New funnybooks! New blatherings! Let's go there now, shall we? The Wicked and the Divine 1, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie The thing I like best about the work of Gillen and McKelvie is the way it pushes the envelope of mainstream funnybook storytelling, while never being anything less than 100% accessible for a general audience. That was true of Phonogram (especially the brilliant second volume, Singles Club), and it was even true of Young Avengers (maybe the only “teen hero” comic ever that actually captured what it feels like to be part of a youth movement). Both those books told their stories in sometimes wildly inventive ways, while never losing sight of an audience of readers who don't have a lifetime of funnybook reading under their belts. And it looks like The Wicked and the Divine is set to follow suit:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

That's just the cover, of course, but I like its willingness to play with text and image. It promises something with a grand design sense, and the insides of the book deliver. There's a circle diagram thing that echoes the work of Jonathan Hickman (a rare example of this team copying rather than innovating), some stuff with numbers, and a nice pop-art style use of Benday dots when something happens that steps outside of reality, and into the realm of funnybook super powers. (No, I'm not going to tell you what that thing is! The book just came out yesterday, and-- What? Oh, come on! You can't possibly-- Oh, alright fine. You don't have to get abusive about it. A guy's head explodes, okay? A guy's head explodes in a riot of garish color and funnybook dots. There! Are you satisfied now? Geez...) They don't go overboard with the technical pyrotechnics here, though, and that's probably wise. This first issue's got a lot of heavy lifting to do in regards to the story, and so too much play with the storytelling tools might confuse matters. What? What's the book about? Oh. Well, it's set in a world that's pretty much our world, except that, once a century, 12 gods are incarnated in human form. They inspire and guide and offer ecstatic religious experiences...
embiggen the ecstasy

embiggen the ecstasy!

...and then, two years later, they die. But in the meantime (in their current 21st-Century incarnations, anyway), they live like pop stars, with all the money and fame and groupies that entails. This first issue is told from the perspective of one of those groupies, a young woman named Laura, who seems all about Amaterasu at the beginning, but who gets awfully chummy with Lucifer later in the issue. Laura's a great “point-of-view” character. Or at least, I guess she is. I normally hate point-of-view characters with a passion undying. But Laura's okay, so I figure she must be great. She feels real, anyway, like nearly all Gillen/McKelvie characters, and that's enough to carry her. And that's all I'm giving you on this book. It's a fine start to an intriguing premise, with mystery and comedy and an honest to god cliffhanger ending that makes me wanna come back for more. They say this one's a proper on-going series, in fact, so I've got the feeling that I'll be coming back for a LOT more as the months wear on. Grade: A-

Sex Criminals 6, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

So with this issue, I realize that Sex Criminals is really, to some extent, a metaphor for love.

(I realize this because Jon all but tells me that in his narration. But, still. REVELATION!)

So if the first five issues were all about the mad, crazy, pulsating rush of New Love, then the story starting with this issue seems to be all about coming down from that, realizing that, holy shit, you love someone, and figuring out how to work that into your daily routine. For Jon, that means dealing with his shit: he's a little bit crazy, and and he needs to get right for Suzie. That means going back on his meds, and offers the opportunity for some entertaining discussion of the pros and cons of anti-depressants. On the one hand, they leave Jon feeling like this:

embiggen the no-dick!

embiggen the no-dick!

But on the other, they keep him from descending into situations like this:

(He does not, at this point, have the CancerAIDS.)

(He does not, at this point, have the CancerAIDS.)

As with everything else this book has dealt with from day one, it's funny and touching and real, but with just enough sardonic wit to keep the whole thing from reading like a fucking Afterschool Special. So, high marks.

Oh, yeah. There's also some more stuff with the Sex Police, and Kegel-Face, and all that. Just in case you worried that the book was going to stop being about people with magic orgasms just because Our Heroes were settling down into a normal relationship...

Grade: A   Thor, God of Thunder 22 & 23, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic God, this book is dumb. God, this book is awesome. God. God-DAMN, even. (If you'll pardon the blasphemy.) I was gonna say more, but... really... This is a book that gives you troll-punching, environmentalism, pointlessly evil corporations... and ALL-BLACK the NECRO-THOR!
embiggen the awesomeness!

embiggen the awesomeness!

And that pretty much says it all. Grade: B+   Fatale 23, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Only one more issue to go, and my favorite Brubaker/Phillips collaboration to date will be over. I'll miss it like hell. But in the meantime...
click to embiggen

click to embiggen

As the cover sort of implies, this issue, Fatale goes COSMIC. And it does so through an issue-long psychic sex act that would put Carlos Castaneda to shame. It's an act of astonishing intimacy, Josephine using her deliciously ill-defined abilities to not just show Nicolas who she is, but to allow him to experience her life first-hand. He literally becomes her at various key points in her life, points that we previously haven't seen: the moment she became what she is, and her disastrous attempt to raise a son. That second one's a real missing puzzle piece slotting into place. It explains a lot about the life we've seen her living as we've touched base with her over the decades, a life of seclusion that I had just chalked up to her not wanting to deal with the unwanted attentions of men. But, oooh man. It's so much more than that. The first one's the really exciting one for me, though, touching as it does on the high weirdness at the series' core. And, since the image of that I wanna share with you is a bit NSFW (and SPOILERY besides)... I think I'll just tuck it safely away after the jump...

click to embiggen the horror and the beauty!

click to embiggen the horror and the beauty!

So, yeah. Holy crap. That’s one of the better visual portrayals of an encounter with Lovecraftian Outer Entities I’ve ever seen (and as my other blog might hint, I’ve seen quite a few). The thing that works best for it, I think, is its mystery. It keeps the Outer Horrors at a distance, while still rendering them horrible. Maybe more horrible, even, because it implies more than it shows. And what it implies is a roiling, chaotic mass of eyeballs and tentacle-tongues concealed inside a space-mouth filled with jagged yellow teeth. Gah! That’s far better than the rubbery monster bullshit you usually get when someone tries to illustrate this sort of thing. Actually showing the madness-inducing Unknowable, after all, is a sucker’s game. If the human mind can’t comprehend a thing, any drawing of it is bound to be a disappointment. Far better this sort of glimpse through the veil, which shows you just enough for you to imagine more.

So! Nicely-done, gentlemen! A major character reveal, AND Lovecraft Done Right! All in the same issue! Any fan of the weird could not ask for more.

Grade: A-

About Mark Brett (556 Articles)
Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at

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