DC’S LATEST WATCHMEN CAMEO ISN’T A CHARACTER: THE HUGE SIGNIFICANCE OF NINE SIMPLE PANELS
Every comics page is a succession of frozen instants, but they could be seconds or minutes apart. The density of a nine-panel grid allows for a consistent rhythm. The smallest movement, of Batman turning over the smiley badge in his hand, can be broken into parts, each like a frame of celluloid.
In Watchmen, this effect was equated with the ticking of a clock. In Batman #21, there is a literal timer in the corner of each panel, counting down one second at a time. This tick-tock rhythm is the heartbeat of Watchmen’s universe, as recognizable as the “Be My Baby” drum beat.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE COMES TO BURY THE FANTASTIC FOUR, NOT RESURRECT THEM (Review)
Following on from the surprise ending of Marvel Legacy #1 a few months back (and the recent Disney-Fox deal which could bring the Fantastic Four film rights back to the Marvel fold), it’s no surprise that fans are looking to Two-In-One to resurrect the team. Especially given the FF-style ‘2’ logo on the cover, and the fact that this issue is billed as the first part of “Fate of Four.”
But Two-In-One, at least in this first issue, is not that story. It’s a comic about grieving.
Most of the first issue is given over to showing us how the two characters are dealing with their grief. True to the four-element conception of the characters, The Thing is working through it in grounded, practical ways — keeping it close to himself, continuing with his regular routine, and reflecting quietly — while the Human Torch’s pain burns as brightly as Frank Martin’s coloring of his fire powers.
THE ISSUE: ‘GENERATION HOPE’ AND THE PAIN OF BEING DIFFERENT
The big advantage of the mutant metaphor is that it creates a little distance from real-world events. While it’s unacceptable to force queer readers to comb through subtext for representation in comics, when you’re handling painful topics like this, it acts as a protective layer. It’s hard to imagine a way this story could be told without the metaphorical filter that wouldn’t feel disrespectful to the real victims.
“Better” keeps that layer as thin as possible, though, by rooting its presentation firmly and clearly in the real world. This is the magic of what McKelvie and Gillen do when they work together. They’re both great at finding small real-life touchpoints, whether a location or a pop song, that make everything around them feel credible.
THE X-MEN’S 40-YEAR HISTORY HAS JUST BEEN COMPRESSED INTO ONE EASY-TO-READ STORY
X-Men: Grand Design might act as a useful primer for new readers, but it aims to be more than a mere recap. It’s an attempt to fit all of this complex and often contradictory history of the X-Men into a roughly coherent narrative.
With 280 issues to cover over the course of this the series, it might come as a surprise that Grand Design’s first issue ends at the point where 1961’s The X-Men #1 begins. Author Ed Piskor is attempting to make sense of the history of mutants before the X-Men arrive on the scene, including all the events that have been retroactively inserted into that period by later comics.
MORALLY AMBIGUOUS DAYS OF HATE #1 PERFECTLY FITS 2018 (Review)
This is technically a sci-fi story, in the same way that The Handmaid’s Tale is, but its dystopia is considerably less pronounced than that book’s. Days of Hate‘s future doesn’t feel so much like it’s branching out of one divergent moment, as it does an inevitable result.
It’s not subtle about any of this. The very first image we see is a swastika, spraypainted at the site of an atrocity. The title page quotes Steve Bannon. The issue itself is named “America First,” which is both a slogan used in 2017 by Donald Trump and the name of an anti-Semitic pressure group that opposed the US declaring war on Nazi Germany.
DAREDEVIL’S CORRIDOR FIGHT: A BREAKDOWN OF THE SMACKDOWN
Daredevil starts out moving like a superhero, quick and acrobatic, but the fight gets slower and slower as it grinds on. He leans on nearby walls for support, catches his breath while he waits for the next bad guy to rush him. It’s not a fighting style I’ve ever seen in an action movie. Cox fights with the moves of a backstreet brawler or, even more aptly, like he’s in the final round of a boxing match.
The way Cox takes a punch expresses the character’s relationship with his dad better than any of the preceding flashbacks. We’ve seen Battlin’ Jack Murdock telling his son about a style of boxing he apparently borrowed from Homer Simpson. The idea that “knocked down, but never knocked out” is more of a philosophy than a sporting tactic for the Murdocks gets hammered home repeatedly in the dialogue, but this is the first time we actually get to see it.