So we’ve been a bit distracted here on the nerd farm of late. And while our attention’s been elsewhere, a month’s worth of funnybooks has piled up. A month’s worth of funnybooks that seem very concerned with the past…
The Wicked + The Divine 43
by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
This issue, WicDiv gives up maybe its ultimate secret: the origin of the God-Cycle, and possibly the way to break it. I like how Gillen and McKelvie have couched this. Godhood isn’t an inherent part of human existence. It’s a story, an idea expressed in song. And a shortcut to power for those with the talent to express it.
We still don’t know why some people have that talent, mind you, or the ultimate source of the power they have access to. And I kind of hope we don’t find out. Some things should remain mysteries. Plus, if we find out too much about how all this works, the book just becomes X-Men. And lord knows we don’t need more of that.
I’m also curious about what happens to humanity if the god-cycle is broken. It’s long been established that the gods inspire and define the times that follow them. Without that inspiration, what happens to human society? Do we need that spark to progress? Will we meander and lose focus? Or will we just slow down? Progress as we will at a pace that allows us to really appreciate it?
I don’t know that these are questions we’ll get the answer to here. I don’t know that the god-cycle will be broken. The cliffhanger (which I will not spoil) would certainly seem to suggest that it might not. But I do wonder. And it’s that wondering that makes me like this book as much as I do. It sparks thought, and that is something I treasure.
A Walk Through Hell 9
by Garth Ennis and Goran Sudzuka
This book’s always been haunted by the past. The current story of the warehouse that’s a gateway to Hell has slowly been given depth through flashbacks to the events and decisions that lead our cast there.
It’s Driscoll’s turn this issue, and we discover that she already knew about last issue’s revelation of the high-powered cover-up that was protecting the child-killer Carnahan. Not from the beginning. But after he slipped through their fingers, she started digging and found out more than she’d bargained for. Her former boss and mentor was implicated in the conspiracy of silence, and out of respect for him, she kept quiet.
But she didn’t give up on taking Carnahan down. And this is where it gets ugly. Driscoll knew that Agent Shaw (essentially our main character in all this) had been violently traumatized by the Carnahan case. And after reviewing the evidence, she could also see that Carnahan had made things personal between himself and Shaw. Driscoll knew that Shaw wouldn’t be able to let it go. She knew that Shaw would eventually take the law into her own hands, and kill Carnahan. So she just let it happen.
Now, she probably also knew that Shaw was good enough not to get caught. Which she didn’t. But she was still willing to sacrifice Shaw’s… what? Innocence? Sanity? …to get the job done. And that was easier to her than releasing the file, even though that file would also take down the men responsible for protecting him up in the first place.
Ugly. And, even after everything we’ve seen in this series, kind of upsetting. Driscoll had seemed… better than that. So it’s a distressing revelation.
So distressing, in fact, that I fell for a huge piece of misdirection from Garth Ennis. Because alongside these revelations, Driscoll wakes up in the Hell Warehouse and discovers that the whole thing’s been a hoax. All the freaky shit we’ve seen in previous issues is apparently the result of special effects, bolstered by hallucinogenic drugs. It doesn’t seem possible at first, but crestfallen as I am at Driscoll’s deception, I start falling for it…
…only for her to wake up again, still trapped in Hell.
What a great mind-fuck.
What a great comic.
by David and Maria Lapham
This little side-trip for the Laphams draws to a messy close this issue, as we learn the final truth of Ricky and the Lodger’s past. The cover should give you a hint as to where it goes, but I’ll also say this: that deadly passion is not the biggest surprise of the issue. I won’t spoil anything here, but holy frijoles. This is one of those endings that makes me want to go back and re-read the series as a whole. Knowing what I know now, I think that might be a rewarding experience.
East of West 42
by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta
Continuing our theme of shocking revelations from the past… This issue, we see the final showdown between Death and the other three Horsemen, and a couple of pieces fall into place that I previously hadn’t known were missing. Suddenly, War’s motivations are a lot more clear, and we learn something about Death that has consequences I don’t entirely understand. Considering how swiftly this book is racing toward its finale, I hadn’t expected to find too many surprises left in it, but this issue surprised me.
It’s a great action issue, too, with Nick Dragotta pulling off some great manga-style visuals worthy of a fight between the living embodiments of human fear.
Craziness. But also the best issue this book’s seen in quite some time.
by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Criminal is a book that’s always haunted by its past. But I’m slowly starting to realize that this current volume is going to be circling around the story that started the series off: the last days of Teeg Lawless. We’ve only seen the first part of that story so far, and the other two stories Brubaker and Phillips have told aren’t directly connected to it. But that story echoes forward into both of them, affecting the later events as surely as if there was a straight line between them.
That’s especially true this time out, as we get a single-issue tale of Teeg’s son Ricky, who also turns out bad, and who, as this issue begins, hasn’t slept in five days. That’s a bad idea for a professional criminal, especially a professional criminal who’s working through the sleep dep. Ricky’s starting to have hallucinations, and they’re making him a little crazy. Which is understandable, considering…
Gah! At first, I thought that might have just been a crazy dream-image of Teeg. But later on, we get this:
So, yeah. I’m thinking that Teeg story is NOT going to have a happy ending. I’m also thinking that it’s going to continue rippling out, shaping the lives of those it touches for years to come.
Not a bad way to build a series.
Gideon Falls 12
by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino
I’m torn on the current direction of this book. On the one hand, Lemire and Sorrentino are maintaining the horror of the Black Barn…
…even as they explore its hidden depths. But on the other hand, I’m not sure how much I like the exploration itself. It’s centered, like everything else we’re discussing this week, on the past. Specifically, it’s telling the story of the first series of murders that took place, back in 1886. This issue, we follow Father Burke (Gideon Falls’ priest at the time), as he travels into the barn and through the multiple realities it exists in. Artist Andrea Sorrentino delivers some stunning visuals along the way, but when we get to “Steampunk” Gideon Falls…
…I cease to be a fan of the idea. Dudes with mechanical arms don’t mesh well with the rural/urban horror this book used to hook me in.
It doesn’t kill the series for me, mind you. The horror elements are still quite compelling, and I do want to see where Lemire goes from here. But I’m reminded of how his Black Hammer has become too meta-fictional for its own good, and I fear a similar decline here. Time, as always, will tell. But for now I’ll still give it…
And that’s all for this week. We’ve still got half the stack to go, though, so we may play a little more catch-up next time. Unless, of course, something AMAZING comes out this week…