Tag Archives: kieron gillen

Around the Tubes

wd151It’s a new week and we’re counting down the days until Deadpool hits the big screen. The reviews have been all over the place, and we’ll have ours later this week (we’re not cool enough to see it early I guess).

Until then, here’s some comic news from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

The Outhousers – Sitcom Shocker: Big Bang Theory’s Saga Joke is No Laughing Matter – Shocker. Unfunny and insulting show, still not funny and still insulting.

The ComiChron – Walking Dead #150, Star Wars trades lead traditionally light January comics sales volume – For those who enjoy sales stats.

Comics Alliance – ‘Mad Max’ Director George Miller Explains Why His ‘Justice League’ Movie Fell Apart – Would have loved to have seen this.

Geeks Out – Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen On Music, Their Creative Process, And Playing Favorites – A fun read.

Kirby Without Words – X-Men #3 (Pages 21 & 22) – Some old school comics.

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide

PhonogramIG-06_coverYou can’t talk about Phonogram (or The Wicked + The Divine) without talking about David Bowie. He died the day the final issue of Phonogram shipped with a cover eerily similar to a scene from his final music video*. In death Bowie gave us a final gift— his remarkable new album Blackstar. And with it an affirmation that you can be relevant to the end. A fantastic final statement. It would have given Emily Aster some hope about changing as she gets older. It also makes for one hell of a boss battle in issue 6.

Bowie has always been the best at moving through to new selves. His former selves don’t haunt him. They certainly don’t make him slit his arms with a mirror. He’s not Emily Aster. But like Bowie she comes into the series, sheds a self, builds a new one, grows through it and emerges to seek out what’s next.

The final issues of Phonogram ever are both about people moving on or growing. Example 1: David Kohl learns a thing or two about friendship. No seriously, that’s his story arc. Immediately preceding her attempted suicide Emily’s old self, Claire had isolated herself by breaking up the coven. She destroyed their music scene and when Kohl tries to get its former members together to do a ritual to save her (and use up the last of his power) they’ve all moved on. To conventional adulthood. Or they’ve been burned.

By talking with his mentor Lady Vox (who’s about to “shit out a kid like it’s a cannonball” speaking of growing and changing) he realizes this is Emily’s life crisis and he can’t fight it. She needs to figure out how to move forward in her life.

Kohl then performs an act of generosity that makes up for some of his past assholic behavior. Kohl gives his wheel-man/wing-man Kid With Knife a gift he deserves and needs: he phonomances him off to Times Square . He may even have used his last bit of magic to do so. It’s a mature and loving thing. Maybe it makes up for all the times he’s made KWK drive his ass across town. Like Kohl, I don’t drive and I get by a lot on my ability to persuade. So I appreciate him taking ownership of his behavior. It’s also a literal demonstration of magical power in a story where much of it can be read as strictly metaphor. The final B side makes it clear: Kohl really sent KWK to NYC.

One of the great things about the back-up story in issue 4 was how Gillen says that at one time he was his friend Johnny Panic’s Kid With Knife, a.k.a. his sidekick. For most of the series Kohl has been a protagonist with KWK his dull sidekick. Sometimes you’re the protagonist and sometimes it’s not your story. Gillen gives Kohl a wonderful complete story arc here because in The Immaterial Girl the star is really Emily.

Sure, David Kohl may have killed a god in volume 1: Rue Britannia. But in volume 3 Emily Aster kills the King of Pop. Or his death set her free. One way or another.

phonogram emily hand mirror bloodWhen Emily was a girl the King Beyond the Screen, a Michael Jackson made of TV static beckoned her and offered her the deal. She signs over her depressive self in exchange for the power of image.

Jackson, like Bowie was always changing— physically even. Both were masters of image. Emily’s image has been killing her literally.

This chapter is named “See Emily Play” (a Pink Floyd song that Bowie covered). Syd Barret’s lyrics go “Emily tries but misunderstands. She often inclined to borrow somebody’s dreams till tomorrow.” Emily has been trying to play by the rules of the magic video world she’s trapped in but she misunderstands. Inspired by the Lady Gaga within, Emily reveals the King to simply be an aspect of herself wearing Michael Jackson’s Bad garb. The King/Queen of Pop insists that Emily needs her or else she’ll be entirely empty. In a visual technicolor crescendo of blood splatter that artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matt Wilson completely ace, she takes a wrench to the effigy powerfully stating “you can fill empty things.”

phonogram emily smash

In another striking set of panels she dissolves her old depressive self and penetrates the retina of her eye, “the ultimate screen” emerging back into her body on the other side. Throughout the whole arc artist McKelvie has done amazing things using mirrors as portals and playing with screens and windows and faces reflected in windows with raindrops. It’s all very metaphysical. The scene also reminds me of Ann Margaret pushing Roger Daltrey through the mirror in Tommy, Ken Russell’s movie version of The Who’s musical.

She wakes up in a bath of her own blood and to a text message from Kohl saying Michael Jackson has died. That Gillen got the calendars to work for this is very impressive! The sequence counts off the various ways Michael Jackson’s death impacts people, from Black Laura’s relief that it wasn’t her idol Kate Jackson (from the Long Blonds), to the great Poly Styrene’s last song “Ghoulish”, the video for which consisted of Michael Jackson impersonators and called out the media’s description of the late MJ as “ghoulish” (again, a statement on aging). The next panel is a random guy playing Dirty Diana on an acoustic guitar thinking he’s cheeky and a phonomancer “too old to feel so angry, wishes him immolated” (yeah me too). Gillen even writes himself, his actual self, not Kohl, spotting an MJ impersonator on the tube and being wildly disconcerted by it.  But it’s mostly everyone dancing “as close to forever as any of us will ever get.”

Phonogram Very DramaticKohl has been offered a job by “The Adversary” and states that whether he takes it or not it’s proof that he’s irrelevant. Because that means he’s mainstream enough to be marketable. Marketable at what we don’t know– is it music writing? Or is it maybe writing comics (since this comic has frequently been a magical realist auto-biography). Her final conversation with Kohl really got to me. It reminds me of all the people I used to know in the scenes I’ve been in and whom I’ve lost track of. The whole issue has me in a sad nostalgic puddle.

Emily walks away in the rain, alone. For pages. Kohl can go back to his girlfriend-soon-to-be wife. Emily could be on her way to a healthier place but for now she is on her own. She is utterly at sea and is even soaking wet to prove it. Her hair is kinking up in the rain like MJ’s. Her red shirt is a mundane echo of the red Michael Jackson jacket she wore as Queen Behind the Screen. But her shirt is so conventional she could wear it to a job interview <shudder>.

She tosses her cigarette into a puddle and in the next panel we see Black Laura, lighting up her own. A tiny torch has been passed (albeit toxic). We get a final moment with Lloyd and Laura (god I love them!) and Shambles (sure, he can come too) as they prepare to launch their own DJ night and start their own coven. Shambles even calls Lloyd “Logos” (a small victory for his nom du magic). They quote a contemporary song. Good for them. They talk about the important Work they have to do. Kohl may be moving on to a job job but the next generation of phonomancer leadership is just coming into itself and this is their important work– “the sooner we start the sooner we save the world”.

Bowie’s album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars ends with Ziggy’s Rock and Roll Suicide. The rock Jesus from space tells us he’s washed up and feeling old and so, Bowie the artist offs his current avatar in a grand finale chanson.

But as the song ends the singer (I’d argue Bowie at that point and not his character Ziggy) implores the listeners:

Oh no love! you’re not alone

No matter what or who you’ve been

No matter when or where you’ve seen

All the knives seem to lacerate your brain

I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain

You’re not alone

Just turn on with me and you’re not alone

Let’s turn on with me and you’re not alone

Let’s turn on and be not alone (wonderful)

Emily Aster has smashed her old selves. Claire has had the rock and roll suicide she always wanted but a new Emily lives on. “I’m still Emily Aster. I’m just not Emily Aster…  I’ve tried everything else. I may as well try changing.”

For us readers and listeners that story is over. The creators told the story of their youth the way they wanted to and so it offed itself so we can grow and change and move to the next thing which is the creative team’s new series, The Wicked + The Divine. May Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have 100 years until their Blackstar. I love this comic so so much.

Thoughts on the Final B-Sides:

Shiney Black Taxi Cab (pencils Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt on layouts/inks/letters) features particularly phonogram-y art. Kohl gets a cab to take him on a drive while the radio pulls up whatever random dreck the radio pulls up. He’s using it as a divination tool. It seems a bit like a mediated version of what the Situationists call Dérive: “unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, on which the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct the travellers, with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience.”

It’s also like writer/speaker/activist Deanna Zandt’s annual Magic 8 Ball Music Ritual where you open up your music player, hit shuffle and draw conclusions. Try it. Mine just said Dance Apocalyptic which fits because Janelle Monae’s voice sounds like young Michael Jackson’s on this track.

Modern Love (art by Tom Humberstone)

The last bit of Phonogram EVAR and it’s a Bowie song of course. It’s also another ultra autobio story and it’s so good it could literally stand alone as a comic. Kieron and Kid With Guns are out for Kieron’s stag night and realize they’re the first people in the club because that’s what happens when you’re old. When the music takes over it’s a shared moment. Kieron shows us the story of his life in clubs. Of finding the place that had the music that he needed and “It was like discovering Narnia with hotter people and better music.” This was my life too.

Kieron literally grows up across the 4 panels from a long haired kid, to somewhat shorter haired teen spotting Britannia, his goddess (read volume 1), up to the present where he is remembering what it’s like to be clubbing again. There is one last piece of magic: he asks the record to always remind him and “it obliges”. Because that what music does.

*The totally arresting cover image of issue 6 is actually a reference to Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush video Don’t Give Up (don’t feel bad, I didn’t know that one either). The reassuring title should make us feel better. Personally I’ll always associate the cover with Blackstar even though it was drawn months before the album was released. Synchronicity.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: This goes to 11. Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review,  but I buy it anyway so I can evangelize to the masses

Review: Star Wars: Darth Vader #15

Darth Vader #15The conclusion to the six part Star Wars comic event, Vader Down! Luke Skywalker- captured by the Empire! Darth Vader- beset by enemies on all sides!

Star Wars: Darth Vader #15 is the fitting conclusion of the impressive first event for Marvel‘s new line of Star Wars comics Vader Down. The issue nicely wraps up a lot of the various things going on in the series, though feels a bit hollow in how it ends and wraps up.

In the end, the series doesn’t actually result in a lot of growth or major ramifications for the main characters. That’s a constraint of who’s involved. Major events, such as death, are left for newly introduced characters or nameless fodder. It’s not like Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, or Darth can be killed or harmed in a major way. That’s a long term issue for the entire line, but is present here, where things just sort of… end. This hurdle may have to be addressed in the future to keep the stakes high and the pulp like fun going. The creative team does do a fantastic job even with their hands tied.

Writer Kieron Gillen knows how to deliver amazing moments, and it feels like throughout his run he’s had his finger on the button with at least one per issue that’s so over the top fun it makes you feel like a kid again.

The art by Salvador Larroca is beautiful as always with fantastic renditions of the characters and some visually amazing moments, especially when they involve Vader. There’s some panels I want as a poster they’re so good, and the art emphasizes those big moments Gillen sets up.

This issue has some awesome moments. There’s two pages in particular that reiterate how much of a bad-ass Darth Vader is, which seems to be the point of the series. A fitting ending, though it doesn’t look like a lot has changed from it.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Salvador Larroca
Story: 8.1 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Star Wars: Darth Vader #13

star wars darth vader #13 coverThe first crossover of Star Wars’s new Marvel age continues here! It’s Vader vs. All the Rebels…it’s not a fair fight!

Star Wars: Vader Down #1 kicked off Marvel’s first Star Wars crossover. I’ve generally enjoyed the various Marvel series, this special issue really upped the action and again proved that Darth Vader is the baddest person in the galaxy.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #13 is the second part to the six part event, with writer Kieron Gillen picking up the action from the first issue, and continuing to show why you shouldn’t mess with Vader. The Rebels have set a massive amount of troops and ships to bring Vader in after his crashing on a Rebel controlled planet. But, it’s not enough, and Gillen shows why no matter what they sent might never have been enough.

What’s also solid is the continuation of the storyline featuring Dr. Aphra that has been going on for some time in the Vader centered comics. Skywalker has also crashed on the planet and Aphra decides it’s in her best interest to capture him. It’s all rather interesting and intriguing to see where it goes and how it all ties in to the Star Wars films.

The action is amped up, and there’s one particular act by Vader the cements his being a badass. Gillen just ups it in that department.

He’s helped by Salvador Larroca whose artwork is just beautiful to look at. The story and art are perfectly matched, and all of the various Star Wars series art is impressive really. I think what’s particularly of note is the fact you’re somehow able to figure out Vader’s emotions without seeing his face (or hearing his voice). That’s pretty impressive.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, this comic event is a must get.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Salvador Larroca
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4

PhonogramIG_04-1_362_557_s_c1I was so blown away and overwhelmed by another outstanding issue that I made a fan mix. I’m ecstatic for the return of Laura Heaven Black and Lloyd Mr Logos, two of the best characters from The Singles Club— the second volume of Phonogram. This issue’s dynamic fight scenes (the most fighty- fight scenes of any Phonogram comic) and power ranking graphics heavily reference Scott Pilgrim. Now, I’m only familiar with the Scott Pilgrim movie and haven’t read the graphic novel but I got along swimmingly reading this. However, I cannot imagine what it would be like to read this comic if you haven’t read Phonogram: The Singles Club. Drop everything. Go read it. Laura and Lloyd are two of the best characters in that collection and I am so thankful we got to revisit them here.

We get to know Lloyd even better through this issue. Lloyd with his Mod revival suit and “how the fuck do I deal with having kinky hair when the subcultures I identify with are all about straight hair?!” hair. I know. It’s really fucking hard. His combination of obsessive music research and conceptual creativity butts up against his self-loathing, turning him in to a wonderful, miserable monster that I’m 95% sure I’d get along with because we like enough of the same bands.

So while I’m not so quietly working away on my next great Phonogram magnum opus (you’ve read my first one, right) I couldn’t let this issue pass without some mention of my love.
I made a fan mix for Lloyd on Spotify

I don’t have as much of a handle on what music Laura likes other then The Long Blondes first album. I don’t really speak 90s-00s Brit-Pop. I do speak Mod, Mod Revival and associated genres. So here’s a thing I made for Lloyd who truly loves and understands Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Unfortunately, the utterly essential “How Does it Feel To Feel” by 60s mod gods The Creation is not on Spotify. But it is what Lloyd would be hearing while Laura dances. Patti Smith’s “Ask the Angels” takes its place in the playlist for channeling the right feeling but with a totally different sound.

So there you have it.
I worked hard on this fan mix. Listen to it. It is my review.

Oh and the first back-up story “I Hate Myself” with art by Julia Scheele is the best back-up yet and a mini-masterpiece.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review, and a copy was purchased (because it’s that good).

The Wicked + The Divine #16 review: “I Was a Teenage Wear-Wolf”

WicDiv cover16Every aspect of this series is rich and deliberate. Now, I was a goth teen in the mid to late 90s. I took 20 skill points in Knowledge: Goth. I’m listening to Christian Death’s 1985 album “Ashes” as I write this. So at last, I feel prepared to write a review of this series that I enjoy so much, which up until now, I had been intimidated to cover. Once you begin to pick apart the layers, you can’t stop examining them.

The Wicked + The Divine #16 artfully presents Morrigan and Baphomet’s origin stories as Marian and Cameron. They go from roleplaying as masters of darkness in a live action roleplaying version of Vampire the Masquerade, to actually becoming them as a real war/death goddess and her consort. Being young involves a lot of role playing, sometimes in literal ways— like LARPing and painting miniatures. But it also involves trying out roles of who you want to be. Marian and Cameron’s pantheon powers mean that their role playing became real and that their teenage identity will be their final identity.

Their lives are now a retort of “No Mom, I won’t grow out of it!” and growing out of anything is not even a choice anymore.

The first panel we see of Baphomet and Morrigan in this series was at the end of issue 2. The godsmacking image of Baphomet holding up Morrigan’s seemingly decapitated head. Knowing their history as role players together, this first appearance becomes no surprise at all. Of course they are role playing to scare the straights — because they have always been role playing and trying to scare the straights.

In Vampire the Masquerade the vampires’ efforts to hide their true nature and infiltrate in mortal society is referred to as “The Masquerade”. So technically speaking, both the game players and the characters that they play are performing in the Masquerade.

In this issue Cameron/Baphomet frequently refers to “The Game”. He says Marian was always the best at it. Cameron always overplays his hand— trying to paint his miniature in an advanced method even though he was a beginner. Trying the so-called Prometheus Gambit. But Marian was the best at roleplaying games when human, and is best at giving the underground what they want now that she’s a goddess.

Morrigan’s stylized dialog has always worked far better then it should. She even monologues to the reader in the final scene’s hamburger reveal. In the end, Baphomet is ground up hamburger “Bapho-Meat”. Perhaps a symbol of things to come.

Technology is comparatively quiet in this issue. Odd for a comic which regularly uses cellphones and social media as storytelling devices. I think tech is less apparent here because this issue is self-admittedly so closely tied to writer, Kieron Gillen’s own teen goth years. When we were teens there were no cellphones.

The only thing that indicates the events in this issue occurred recently are the trendy man-bun on Marian’s passed-out friend and the singular cellphone call that marks the death of Cameron’s parents (ok, and his choice of ringtone). Ok, ok, and the pile of Phonogram comics from the early 00s in his room. But otherwise, everyone’s gothic outfits pre-deification, would have blended in at any point in goth history from the 80s till today. Having the right clothes from your musical subculture was HUGE in the 20th century (how you dress doesn’t seem to have to match the music you listen to these days) so it’s edifying to see the artists get that right.

This issue confirmed a popular theory– one I figured out on my own damnit: that Baphomet isn’t really an equal member of the Pantheon. Because he was chosen by Morrigan and not discovered by Ananke he is probably best described as a demigod, or even just a Sacral King.

FullSizeRenderHis name was the giveaway– Baphomet isn’t the name of a deity anyone worshipped historically. The name “Baphomet” was a Western corruption of the name of the Prophet Muhammad. When the Knights Templar returned from the Middle East, Philip IV of France accused them of worshipping an “evil eastern deity”. The Medieval French Crown got the name and the notion wrong (probably because they were busy being bigoted and also stealing their stuff) and accusations of the Knights worshipping Allah emerged through the other end of a medieval game of telephone as accusations of them worshipping “Mahomet” “Baphomet”.

And then no one cared for a while and then Alistaire Crowley and later Anton Levay made blasphemy hip and next thing you know everyone is listening to Black Sabbath (which is metal, not goth and my inner teenager really needs you to know that. Goth came later.)*

Having our suspicions confirmed about Baphomet being Morrigan’s creation feels right. That is where the narrative weight has been heading and contrary to popular belief Gillen doesn’t evoke shock for its own sake. Having a fan theory turn out to be true is good storytelling here.

For now, we get to savor our moment of rightness. This all too real flashback to Marian and Cameron before they become Morrigan and Baphomet was exactly what I craved. Many grownups, like myself, reading this comic will find mirrors of our youth in various guises. It feels good to have the comic get mine right.

At the end of the flashback sequence, Morrigan’s shadow looms into Cameron’s window when she arrives to offer him a deal— some of her power in exchange for him dying in two years. Her feathers have never been more wing-like then in those panels. She is a black winged fallen angel inviting him to fall with her. His choice to accept the deal is clear now that we know he was still in morning from his parents’ death when this happened. Yes, he was always goth. But yes, he was also going through a trauma.

I had my pick of covers (thanks Forbidden Planet) for this issue and I chose the one by guest artist, Leila Del Duca. I chose her version because of how Morrigan holds Baphomet’s head and looks into the readers’ eyes. It’s the perfect cover for this issue. Del Duca’s art is so good throughout the book, every character has their own face, their own nose. She handles the transitions between Morrigan’s three personae with fearful symmetry.

Minerva’s relationship with self appointed big brother Baal continues to be charming. This is the first time we really get to see her smarts as she figures out a key clue everyone had missed. I’ve been wanting to see more from her and I have a feeling that she’ll be our next detective.

The final page of this issue is from series co-creator, artist Jaimie McKelvie. It is a demonstration that the rumors about Morrigan’s powers are true: if you try to take a photo of her you just see an image of your own death. So at least someone’s powers are what they say they are.

I’ve wondered before if the series’ iconic title pages has been lying to us. It situated Baphomet as a pantheon member and he isn’t quite. We never saw Laura’s Persephone graphic in there (I’m not convinced that Laura was actually a god, so this omission could work in either direction). So what else have we been mislead to believe in?

Footnote: * My history is fast and loose but you get the idea. Go listen to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Podcast if you want to learn more about The Knights Templar.



Reading Kieron’s writers notes reminded me that I forgot to talk about the significance of Morrigan’s use of the title “King-for-a-Year”. If I know my English mythology from watching 70’s pagan-daytime-horror-folkmusic-cult-movie-masterpiece The Wicker Man a lot (and I do, and I have not read The Golden Bough) a King-for-a-day is a fool who is treated as a king for a day, then used as a ritual sacrifice. So yeah. Foreshadowing.

Writer: Kieron Gillen Art: Leila Del Duca, Jamie McKelvie
Colors: Mat Lopes, Matt Wilson, Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Story 9.5 Art 9.5 Overall 9.75 Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review, but Elana buys it anyway. It’s that good.

Star Wars: Vader Down #1 – Your First Look at the Epic Crossover!

Two of the biggest comics in the world collide this November as Star Wars and Darth Vader cross over for the first time! And it all starts right here! Today, Marvel has released a first look at Star Wars: Vader Down #1 – the kickoff to the blockbuster six-part crossover. Chartbusting writers Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen join forces with fan-favorite artists Mike Deodato and Salvador Larroca to combine both titles in the mighty Marvel manner!

Vader’s TIE Fighter has been shot down. Seeing this as their one, best chance to take him down once and for all, the Rebellion is ready to throw everything they have at him. Alone, outnumbered and outgunned, Darth Vader must now face the entire might of the Rebel Fleet. But the Rebels are about to learn the true unrestrained power of the Dark Side of the Force.

To defeat their greatest enemy, the Rebel Alliance will risk it all. Yet with it all on the line, could this risky gambit cripple their forces in the fight against the Empire? Find out at this can’t miss crossover event begins on November 18th in the oversized Star Wars: Vader Down #1 and continues in the pages of Star Wars and Darth Vader!

Written by JASON AARON
Variant Cover by JOELLE JONES (SEP150829)
Connecting Variant A by CLAY MANN (SEP150828)
FOC – 10/26/15, On-Sale – 11/18/15


DARTH VADER #13 (SEP150830)
Part 2 of VADER DOWN
Connecting Variant B by CLAY MANN (SEP150831)
FOC – 11/02/15, On-Sale – 11/25/15


STAR WARS #13 (SEP150832)
Part 3 of VADER DOWN
Written by JASON AARON
Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (SEP150834)
Connecting Variant C by CLAY MANN (SEP150833)
FOC – 11/09/15, On-Sale – 12/02/15


On Phonogram and Breaking Up with Bands


We need to talk about how Emily/Claire handles her depression in Phongram: The Immaterial Girl. It is central to the whole story. Her first solution was to revel in it– black is what she wears on the outside because black is how she feels on the inside (that joke is in the actual comic, right?)  She even had a dependence on self-harm. Her later solution was to excise depression from her body– by making the deal with The King Behind the Screen to take away the vulnerable, sad part of her personality. That choice has come back to haunt her. Ok, worse, it’s come back to destroy her.

In issue 3 she uses her grimoire/fanzine to travel back in time to confront Emily and Claire debate each otherher pre-teen self. There, we finally get the debate between both halves of the character’s personality over which has the best interest of her early pubescent self at heart. Each of her halves ask her pre-teen self: would you rather have success or integrity? Brilliance or Decadence? Decadence or Tasteful Decadence? What does barely pubescent Claire decide? She blows the question out of the door. She will be something better.
On the one hand depression absolutely gets in the way of living your life the way you’d like to. It’s not glamorous. On the other hand, completely compartmentalizing yourself is generally not regarded as a healthy approach. But on the third hand– and this is my favorite hand– do we even really believe in an “authentic self” anymore? If there is no authentic self then why not get rid of the parts of yourself that aren’t serving you well.

Perhaps, Emily’s real problem is that she’s decided to be mean. Perhaps compartmentalizing her depression away isn’t actually the problem at all.

You could argue that if she doesn’t love herself (herself which includes her depression) how could she love anyone else. But who’s to say that darkness is the important part of her personality? Aren’t her wit and her enthusiasms a more important part of her personality? She can be witty and have impeccable taste in indie music while still being a good friend. She just chooses not to and that’s the problem.

But as I said in my last review, I can’t talk about Phonogram without talking about my personal relationship to music because that’s what the comic is about.

Anyway, this scene above, of Emily/Claire ending her friendship with Indie Dave, and The Immaterial Girl #3 in general, reminds me of when I stopped listening to Leonard Cohen going in to my senior year of college. His music made me sad. I had too many sad associations with his songs. I also stopped listening to The Smiths not long after that. Before that The Smiths had been VERY important to me.

The first time I played The Smiths again in years and years was when I was first started dating my husband. We spent an inordinate amount of time teaching each other our music. Still do. I hadn’t played The Smiths in a lifetime but it was my responsibility to his cultural education in the ways of goth and indie that he get to hear them. So I put on the tape (yes, tape) and I sang along. And to quote Lou Reed “it was aaaalright.”

Today, on those rare occasions when I’m not pushing for full cock-rock-bombast I’ll sing a few songs by The Smiths songs at karaoke. I’m really good at them and it doesn’t make me sad anymore. It makes other people happy because I’m A. good and B. they remember being a teenager. But I still don’t listen to Leonard Cohen. In both cases I made the right choice. It didn’t require any surgery though. Just pruning my music collection. And spending less time with depressing people and more time with people that make me happy.

Anyway I’ll be back with a new essay about Phonogram probably right around when it concludes. Here’s my earlier piece covering issue 1 and 2 with nods to the earlier series. I promise that essay is waaay less introspective and way more informative.

PS: I’m that jerk who doesn’t like Total Eclipse of the Heart. Except when it’s a joke in The Mighty Boosh. I love that bit. But I won’t begrudge you playing it. I know that I’m the one that’s wrong.

(Oh, hey, it’s Spiral from X-Men! Because I made jokes about having three hands! Also Spiral is the best!)

Also, I was googling for a definition of “Authentic Self” to link to for those unfamiliar with psychology. Don’t google it. The internet is dark and full of new wave horrors. Just visit Spiral’s Body Shoppe. What could possssibly go wrong?


The Wicked + The Divine will feature variant cover by Leila del Duca

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine #16 will feature a variant cover by Shutter artist Leila del Duca. This dark, haunting cover will be available to order with Diamond Code SEP150550.

The Wicked + The Divine #16 takes a gothic turn with The Morrigan at center stage. The issue also features backup stories by series artist McKelvie and colorist Matt Wilson.

The Wicked + The Divine #16 will hit shelves on 11/11 and can be ordered with Diamond Code SEP150549. Keep an eye out for the special Leila del Duca variant (Diamond Code SEP150550) which will be available on the same day. Final order cutoff deadline for retailers is Monday, 10/19.

Wicked Leila del Duca

Review: Siege #3

Siege3The last 2 issues have led to this….the Ultron Perfection has come to tear down the Shield, the wall that protects Battleworld from the zombies and robots that want to lay waste to the planet.  And leading the charge against Abigail Brand is her old colleague, now part of the Perfection himself…Nick the Fury.

We open to a chaotic scene as the forces of the Shield rush headlong into battle to protect the wall from Ultron’s forces, and The Fury leading the attack.  The Endless Summers are having little effect against the horde, and Abigail pulls them back as Kang tells her that he is not able to access the timestream to help in the battle.  Abigail goes back to the robots she is holding prisoner, who warned of the coming battle, to see if they have any information to help in the battle.  It is revealed that the ‘prisoners’ actually enjoy being together in their cell, as they are in love and get to spend every day together.  Abigail is happy for them, but points out they are now going to die together, when the robots reveal they have a hidden ability…they are able to talk to robots; technohacking they call it.  They are willing to risk their lives to save the peace they have found together.

Nick the Fury is easily taking down the meager forces of the Shield, Ms. America and Katherine Bishop giving all they can, but to little effect.  One of the robots arrives on the scene, and “tells” The Fury to aim his gun at his head and shoot…which he does, seemingly taking him down.  Much to everyone’s disappointment, The Fury gets up and destroys the robot.  The second one goes out, now prepared for a suicide run after losing their love, and instructs The Fury to hold Kangs hand, who appears behind him and pulls the Fury into the timestream.  While there, Kang directs the Fury to hit the chronomines that are set up throughout the timestream, making it extremely difficult to navigate time travel.  Given this chance, Abigail does her best to rally the troops she has left…when suddenly help arrives in the form of Magik and her lover, Leah of Hel, riding the back of a giant Colossus and leading a demon horde into battle against the Perfection.  This quickly turns the tide and the invading forces are defeated.  Abigail welcomes Magik and Leah back to the Shield, but the two of them inform her they only returned to help her out…and leave once again, back to their place in the badlands.  Kang emerges from the timestream, with a now destroyed Nick the Fury…and both receive applause from a newly arrived guest….Thanos.  He tells them he has arrived to talk, and surrenders.

This was a really fun issue, finally seeing the battle that has been threatened to come since issue 1.  Everything happens fast, and the battle scenes are really great to see (especially the splash page of a pride of “kitties” attacking, along with a giant Lockheed).  What I really enjoyed the most about this issue was seeing this group of characters come together and work as a team.  Kang, who has hinted at having his own agenda, steps up and is integral to the defeat of The Fury; the robots, now revealing their true intentions, sacrificing their love to see it possible to continue; and the Endless Summers are treated more then just cannon fodder, but as valued members of the Shield.  Kieron Gillen has definitely kept the momentum of this book going, bringing us a great story of battle and, for the day at least, a victory.  He’s shown that these characters really are more then prisoners assigned to protect the Shield, but a team that have come to rely on each other.  Filipe Andrade’s art is still on point in this book, conveying the franticness of the battle and the elation of the victory.  Also, the double page spreads of the battle really bring the heat of battle to life, thanks to Julian Totino Tedesco, Juan Jose Ryp, Andy Troy, Michael Wm. Kaluta and Rachelle Rosenberg.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Secret Wars tie in, and this issue did not disappoint. This is still very much an Abigail Brand book, but I really liked seeing more of the other characters and how they all came together to defend the Shield.  And now that Thanos has arrived, as foretold from the beginning, I can’t wait to see what this means for Abigail and the wall.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Filipe Andrade
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy

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