It’s a fine line that which divides nature and a zone of comfort; so fine it’s sometimes too easy to confuse one with the other, or think them to be interchangeable terms. But the differences are there, however subtle. For one, a zone of comfort is often a treacherous foe against personal growth. It may even render you numb before coming adversities and leave you unprepared to resist them. Am I being obnoxiously specific yet? Well I can take it up a notch. A zone of comfort can also blind you, delude you into mistaking someone’s nature. Make you see a foe as a friend when the tide is calm.
But when the tide grows restless, leaving that zone of comfort is quite the rude awakening. Hope you like those, lovelies.
“Not when we were so close…”
The “Jetsam Holiday” arc has been a lovely time so far, comparatively speaking. For every dark development unfolding within or without Hazel’s immediate (and extended) family, there has been lots of sunshine and fucking. And of course, there has been plenty of wholesome entertainment for the whole family to enjoy also. If the image of Hazel waging sea war against Petrichor and Ghüs while atop Sir Robot’s shoulders isn’t heartwarming, her wishing Sir Robot didn’t have to leave absolutely is. And furthermore, Sir Robot even reciprocates it.
Old foes may turn dear friends in time – just like my dad used to say… not really, but let’s pretend he did.
In the meantime, Marko and Upsher have a thoughtful conversation while frying fishies. Beyond the perennial dynamic of the journey, one of Saga‘s thematic signatures is the encounter between worldviews. Sometimes this occurs through future Hazel’s introspection, and sometimes through calm moments like this. By learning of how Upsher and Doff learned about the fugitives and their daughter, Marko finally realises something we’d long known by now. There is no action that goes without consequence in this galaxy. Whether it’s some nameless mook who becomes a villain’s motive for revenge, or a grunt left behind who’s see too much.
Their conversation migrates then to the topic of accountability when it comes to one of the most traditional roles in war: killing. Having been a soldier, Marko has obviously taken on a very active role. But Upsher isn’t entirely clean either, despite never taking a life himself. Being a journalist, his business is all about information, but its reception always risks a response, which sometimes involves violence. This is, Marko argues, the reason he will be sticking to writing fiction. Nevertheless, Upsher’s response is a banquet for thought, and I’ll quote:
“Putting new ideas into another person’s head is an agggressive act, and aggressive acts have consequences. Face it, you can be a writer or a pacifist, but you can’t be both.” The written word, to communicate or to inspire, is necessarily a political act. We’ll take this morsel with us home to mull it over, as something else comes up, demanding all heads and hands. Alana enters the scene with the news: Squire is missing. The young Robot has followed through with his plan to leave.
Cut to Ianthe, wandering the wilderness of Jetsam, and adding a touch of danger to Squire’s stunt. Her concern over The Will, now free, angry and deadly, reaches a high point upon seeing a note pinned against a tree with a knife. Menacing even when written in cursive. The note proper says they’re even; him having killed her fiancé, and she having skinned his dog. I’d hardly call it even myself – Ianthe is still in debt, but I digress. We’d be delusional to think this warning would dissuade Ianthe – too proud a villain to heed common sense.
Meanwhile, the grownups at the beach camp find Squire’s farewell note, charmingly written in crayon. His message and how he addresses himself as Princeling make his intentions clear. Sir Robot’s son intends to return to the Robot Kingdom; maybe his ways of chivalry had an unexpected, unintended side effect on the kid. Overtaken by shame, Sir Robot insists on handling this himself, then declaring this to be his fault. He then reveals the ugly incident of hurting Squire last issue, earning Alana’s anger and Hazel’s disbelief. Before Alana can unleash a (well-deserved) fist upon Sir Robot’s face, Marko walks in full-clad in armour, bearing… mushrooms.
Ah, but these mushrooms are special mushrooms. They don’t grace soups with supreme delight or allow you to summon Frank Zappa in Bloodborne (which I’ve been playing a lot of lately). These mushrooms function as flares bright enough to see in daylight or when penetrating deep in the forest. Hazel demands to come with, but her mum won’t allow it for good reason. Upsher offers to stay with Hazel, as he’s also confident his partner Doff has already found Squire.
If only he knew…
The pinky oath between Alana and Hazel marks the beginning of the search.
The scene then changes to Squire/Princeling’s point of view. He has definitely taken a shine to Hazel’s Ponk Konk, who now accompanies him as a friend to “talk with”. And it’s just as well: Squire is terrified. He roams what appears to be an abandoned amusement park, which is a creepy setting in any galaxy. According to a conversation he overheard between the grownups, the magical ingredients for the “body swap” are transported through pipes that run through these unsettling parts. Therefore, his course to take appears obvious, quite unlike the strange creatures following his movements, concealed in the overgrowth.
The worm-like creatures lunge forward, ensnaring Squire to be devoured by a nightmarish mouth spreading wide across the grass. Amidst the horror of the moment, he drops Ponk Konk, possibly into the maws of this hideous creature. Someone makes the save in the nick of time with a few well-aimed shots, however. Thankful, Squire hugs his unlikely saviour: Ianthe. Could it be he has managed to survive one beast only to end up in the maws of another?
Elsewhere, Sir Robot spots a strange jellyfish-like ship while searching for his son. The Will gets the drop on the former Prince, skewering his arm-cannon with his spear. Sir Robot doesn’t quite recognise his attacker, but The Will him well enough; not as the disgraced noble, but as the killer of his former love, Spider woman extraordinaire, The Stalk. A vengeful intent is clearly approaching. And though Sir Robot frets over being interrupted from his search and disarmed, he keeps his cool to talk with the reinstated Freelancer.
The Will is back on the job to catch the fugitives, but not before killing Sir Robot. Knowing that an ordinary, desperate plea won’t do the job, Sir Robot presents another possibility as a bargaining chip to secure his and his son’s safety: to surrender Hazel to The Will.
Seems old foes turn into friends dear when the tide is calm… otherwise, they’re only placated foes, only for so long. Treacherous asshole.
Saga Issue #52 Credits
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
All images are courtesy of Image Comics
Fireside Fandomentals Discusses Comicsgate
The Wicked + The Divine: An Old Spanner in the Works
As we run out of issues to review, the big picture in WicDiv starts becoming clearer. It usually works that way with stories that work on basis of enigma. This tends to be rather bittersweet, and that’s just when the writers do it competently. So far, addressing Kieron Gillen’s writing as merely ‘competent’ is an understatement that could earn you a slap and a curse on your family. (Yeah, I introduced my beloved, though slightly wacky ex, into WicDiv — with lovely results). The only thing that could ruin the flow would be an ass-pull.
Anyway, this week we shall see the truth revealing a wee bit brighter to our enthralled, divinely besotted eyes. Will we see blood? Wil we see tears? Both, maybe? Spoilers ahead, loves.
“Of course they can’t resist it.”
We begin today with a little audience taking place in Devonshite, England in 1944, between poet Robert Graves and a lovely Miss Anna White – the same woman featured in this issue’s cover. Following a generous helping of whiskey, Anna White goes into detail about the Gods, especifically those famous foundational three, the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The writing to her lines is quite peculiar. Her words to Mr. Graves are fairly clear and revealing, but to us knowledgeable readers, they’re rather ambiguous and even kind of misleading. She identifies herself as the giver of godhood and inspirer of iconography, but she vaguely distances herself from too direct a role by speaking of the three women as her Sister’s Gods.
By her admitted aversion to the dark and our experience, we know that Anna White is Ananke. (I mean, the name and facial structure are kind of a giveaway) Or rather, Minerva on her way to becoming Ananke. Regardless, who we see here is essentially our Ananke when younger. It’s sometimes difficult or even off-putting to see our loathed villains exhibit a lighter facet to their characters. But I do quite enjoy whiskey-drinking Ananke, and I’d like to see more of her, please.
Anyway, this is the ‘fateful’ night that would inspire Robert Graves’ essay The White Goddess, published four years later. The event was referenced in an early issue. Several years later, during a colloquium in 1957, Robert Graves speaks of The White Goddess, falsely attributing his ‘enlightenment’ to a spontaneous obsession while also downplaying Ananke’s role, landing her in a mere, ethereal role of muse. Naturally, Anna White, who attended the event is not pleased about his betrayal for the sake of academic cred. She may be the baddie here, but I sympathise. Forgot that.
Fast forward to 2013. A child appears amidst a field of flowers in England. She resembles the same child who ‘lived’ through ninety years of darkness after a botched ritual back in Egypt, as seen in the previous issue. This appears to be our Minerva, who is well in collusion with Ananke even before her flashy ‘ascension’, after which she was adopted by her parents, and we just about know the rest on that. We also get a look into some behind-the-scenes scheming to tie loose ends. Therefore, we could never trust Minerva, not even from the beginning. Minnie and Annie, they were pulling the strings all along the way.
Another fast forward to the present day, we get another unpleasant alliance between the other baddies to the story. Woden meets up with Cass’s old crew, a bunch of nobodies whose names I already forgot, who use the magic of editing to further discredit Urdr. That’s right, there was tampering to paint her Cassandran Truths. Woden, joined by Minerva, go have a chat with the imprisoned Norns. Minerva plays the scared bargaining chip role to encourage Urdr’s cooperation. Woden requires her to divine the location of the remaining Gods. Loud swearing ensues — isn’t Cass just the best?
A bit later, Woden and Minerva “find” the Heads. Luci, Inanna, and Tara, still alive, with carvings on their faces and sewn lips. There’s also Sakhmet’s dead head. Creepy shit, that is, but Minerva’s evil grin takes the prize on that scale. Her expression hints that she wants Woden to try and touch any of that “gunk stuff”. Doing so would probably help her agenda… but are we not curious to see what indeed would happen? And if we wanted a suitable guinea pig for it, who better than asshole spurious God Woden?
Down in Highbury and Islington, Baphomet — who now decides to go by his original name, Nergal — mourns over The Morrigan’s body. Persephone urges Nergal to carry her body along if he must; they have to get moving further into the Underground. Despite the bitter, abusive tone of their relationship, Nergal’s grief strikes true. Even his motions seem to run on pure automatic response, as noted by Persephone’s inner monologue. Eventually, they reach depths Persy has never seen before: the humble abode of Nergal and The Morrigan. Well, if an underground cathedral can be called ‘humble’.
To their surprise, Marian’s body starts levitating, Next to her, we see her personae of Babd and Gentle Annie. Something is about to occur, and Nergal advises Persephone to leave, for her own sake. Before she complies, though, she reveals to him that she’s pregnant. Nergal’s response is committing enough. Whether as friend or as other half to this circumstance, he will do all he can. But at this moment, his decision takes priority: he will finish this temple to his dead girlfriend…whatever that actually means. Laura’s inner monologue, and her emotional response by extension, is vague.
Later, Minerva visits Baal in the burned ruins of Valhalla. The latter summoned a load of rain to put out the fire. It’s a dreary scene, much like the overall landscape of events. Judging by their dialogue, Baal thinks Minerva is innocent. Well, he was away for plenty of the events to this arc. In this obliviousness, he confesses that he could not bring himself to kill Laura, and that she’s pregnant. Now, this second thing is absolute news to Minerva. And judging by her freaked out expression (priceless), this is a big NO NO.
Back in the Underground, Persephone has a lonesome moment of reflection. She thinks on the things that have happened, all originated from their foolish desire to become Gods, despite knowing they were doomed. It’s a painful reflection, tragic even, since they chose to hold on to this poisoned chalice. And her expressions throughout flawlessly reflect her heartache. Laura’s cellphone is done for, so she wanders around the dark, arriving at her and Sakhmet’s old abode, where she finds a still functioning phone.
She sends Cass a text. It’s a well-wishing as well as a warning about Baal and Woden, the latter of whom reads the text out loud to Cass, since she’s his prisoner. The sum of it all sounds like a farewell, really. Suddenly, an alarmed Minerva runs in, urging Urdr to divine where Persephone is. At first, Urdr refuses to help Woden find Persephone. She won’t do it, not even when Woden puts a gun to her head – turn the gun to the other Norns, though… and Cass complies. The three Norns work their magic to look for Persephone, but despite their efforts, all they see is Persephone gone.
It’s not that she’s in the Underground and reception is rubbish down there. No. Persephone does not exist.
The Wicked + The Divine Issue #38 Credits
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art / Cover: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
Images courtesy of Image Comics
Extermination Sets Up The Best Mutant Event In Recent Memory
For over a year now the Mutant universe within Marvel has been going strong. It’s mostly separated from the going ons in the rest of the Marvel Universe, which, based on individual perspective, can be either a blessing or a hindrance. Either way, X fans have rejoiced in the multitude of titles out there catered to anything or anyone they’d want to read about. With over ten different series and mini series currently on shelves, there’s something for everyone…I feel like I’ve mentioned this somewhere before. Yet, all good things come to an end as we’re often told. In the next month, we will be seeing the end of the two series that launched this event: X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold.
However, their ends will not go quietly, as they are also released with a greatly hyped event: Extermination. Like many Mutant events, the stakes are always high and stories are also just as fantastic. With instant classics like House of M, Messiah Complex, Age of Apocalypse, and The Dark Phoenix, it’s only natural that we expect the best. Two issues in, Extermination certainly does not disappoint whatsoever. Beware, spoilers for Extermination #1  are ahead.
All Roads Lead to Extermination
Like the old Roman adage, the saying is true here. As with most of Marvel’s long standing series, the culmination of events leads up to something major. In this case, Blue and Gold have been hinting at this for quite sometime. The reemergence of Rachel Grey’s marks let us all know something was coming. Though I don’t read any of the side series, I’m sure all of them have at some point played a part in what’s to come with this mini series, especially considering everyone has come out for the party. In the second issue, we see a gathering of nearly everyone in the wake of Cable’s death: all of the main series colored teams, Domino, and the former X-Force.
Notably absent were all the villains who managed to get away time and time again in their respective main series. The young X-men have certainly not seen the last of Miss Sinister, Bastion, or their currently enraged mentor, Magneto. I digress, but if his current insanity makes it into this event I will literally explode from the fan service display…but back to the point. Neither have we seen an end to Cassandra Nova. What remains true is not all is what it seems in this comic, and I’m both excited and frightened to see what’s to come.
There’s Already a Body Count…
The first issue made an impression by hitting hard, and there’s no easy way to say it. Bloodstorm, a vampire version of Ororo Monroe, became a fan favorite when she was brought over from another Universe to join up with the young X-Men. While the early fight and severe heart rip revealed one of two major enemies in this event, we paid for it in tears. Not only had Scott told his feelings to Bloodstorm but he learned they were also requited. For me, this had two emotional impacts. For one, it showed that Scott was not going to allow himself to be a prisoner to fate. This was seen in their own series as well; the whole Scott and Jean romance was something of the past and showed that not only the characters, but also the writers were willing to usher in a new start. Even if it was at the cost of an amazing character.
The attack on Scott and Bloodstorm was orchestrated by Ahab from Rachel Grey’s time, and he was really only after Scott. Of course the implications here are clear, time travel is involved, which means there’s something in the future coming that the bad guys don’t like. Yet, it can’t really be all that simple can it? Ahab is shown to not be the only time traveling villain in this book, nor the only one after the Young X-Men.
The first issue begins with a cloaked figure in some distant future among rubble and dead X-Men. He mentions that an old bastard screwed it up. By the end of the first issue this mysterious cloaked figure actually manages to kill the almighty Cable and take the younger Bobby Drake, and is revealed to be a much younger Cable. Later in the second issue, he manages to strike again, this time incapacitating young Hank and disappearing away with Angel. His actions are clear but his motives are still quite unknown. He wants the young X-Men, but for what reason is still a mystery. In the final panels we see him with Bobby, Angel, and what looks like a bone saw, which can mean nothing good.
The rest of the mutants can’t catch a break either. After Angel is taken, the mansion is attacked not long after by Ahab and his hounds. The fight is action-packed but short and one sided as we almost see Rachel Grey herself fall. It is also revealed that Old Man Logan is a hound now? I didn’t really understand that part very well. Has Ahab found a way to brainwash people quickly? Has Logan been like this the whole time? I guess we’ll have to wait for issue three for that.
Extermination has not attempted to give us answers unless they’re the ones that are straight-forward, so essentially the who and and not the why. We all know that Ahab is bad news and the fact that he’s got Old Man Logan in his ranks now only increases his threat. But why now? Why appear in the midst of this chaos? It’s the same questions with young Cable. It’s obvious that older Cable screwed something up, but what was it? Why is he after the young X-Men? Is it because they’re not in their right time?
The questions are endless and I, for one, can’t wait to see them answered.