Tag Archives: kieron gillen

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #20

TheWickedAndTheDivine_20-1This particular issue of the ‘Rising Action’ arc of The Wicked + The Divine isn’t very heavy on the action, but I haven’t been this upset over an issue of straight talking since Woden revealed how evil he is in #14.

Persephone meets Cassandra in the garden where the life of Laura ended and reveals to her why she’s alive in the first place. Because there is no one else she trusts with the knowledge, and there is no one else who remembers her as Laura. Not just Laura who witnessed the death of Lucifer, but Laura the fangirl. The evolution of the relationship of Cassandra and Laura over the course of the series from “I don’t like [her]. But I do trust her” to now where Persephone allows Cassandra to feel her first miracle has been a slow and quiet one, but beautiful to witness all the same.

Through Persephone, Cassandra is shown the truth of the events the night Laura was “killed” as well as the true nature of Baphomet. Without spoiling the reveal of how Baphomet ascended, there’s something to be said about how this series deals with chosen names versus given names. Persephone has actively rejected being called Laura, while Cassandra still uses the name she gave herself pre-Godhood and Baphomet has two given names he’s rejected because he’s a nerd.

The subtitle of this issue is “The Mess We’re In.” While that is accurate, another subtitle could have easily been “Baphomet is not the lying jackass you thought he was.” Granted, he’s still a jackass, but the issue reveals the backstory behind every action of his that’s happened since issue 11. Of course, try telling that to the rest of the gods. Mark my words, Cassandra is going to live up to her name if she ends up trying to tell the truth to the rest of the Pantheon.

Most of this issue takes place in flashback, which once again allows colorist Matthew Wilson to shine. In vibrant pinks and blues, the story of Persephone in Hell is done in a way that reminds of that discordant feeling of looking at something meant to be viewed by red and blue 3D glasses. Even in the underground where everything is supposed to be darkness, this color scheme shifts perfectly along with it. It gives such a perfect sense of view and unreality that the usual color palette wouldn’t have since this is all from Persephone’s perspective. Along with that, there’s the subtle way Jamie McKelvie changes Persephone’s outfit with each frame of her in the Underground that might take a second read to catch.

By the end of the issue, Persephone issues her ultimatum to Cass and the Norns: join them in Valhalla to save Minerva or don’t, because they’ve already started either way. It’s hard to say right now if it’s on purpose, but Kieron Gillen very much gave Persephone the “35 minutes ago” moment of the series here.

While not high on the action, The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a gorgeously colored issue that spills plot revelations that mean huge things for the rest of the story. The question now is will those plot revelations be believed going into the final battle of this arc? Hard to say, but it there is now an extra sense of dread in the air now that Persephone has spilled the secrets to another living soul. Of course, she does this to a woman named Cassandra. For all I know, we’re all doomed by the hubris of Gods.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #19

WicDiv19hotWicDiv #19 reads like the first skirmish in an epic war, but it’s an amusing skirmish indeed as writer Kieron Gillen provides a little more insight into the characters of Minerva and especially Dionysus, who gets his first substantial panel time since WicDiv #8. (What with him being a 24/7/365 dance floor.) His worshipers/ravers are so connected to him that even when he takes a five minute break for a soda and fries, they got wild so it’s safe to say that he’s a little irritated when Baphomet draws him into a battle between the Sky gods and Underground ones. Gillen writes him as peaceful in the mode of the late Inanna while artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson show that he is less than apt in the art of combat thanks to this pacifist nature.

WicDiv #19 doesn’t end on any “WTF” cliffhangers like #17 or #18, but it’s nice to see the sides set in the battle between the two factions of the Pantheon with Ananke turning into a full bore, unapologetic, and unsympathetic monster when Minerva’s special owl catches a recording of her talking about sacrificing Minerva to prevent the “great darkness”, or the end of the Pantheon cycles that was hinted at back in Ananke’s solo issue. Supposedly, Persephone is connected to the great darkness as the “destroyer figure”, but the jury is still out on this fact as Persephone is more force of nature than teen fangirl with superpowers as she silently brings green tendrils from the Earth to knock off

The action is really the best part of WicDiv #19 as well as McKelvie’s mindboggling ability to switch from Morrigan to Badb and even Gentle Annie (Who gets an incredibly pleasing character voice from Gillen.) through gestures and body language. Gentle Annie comes off as a laidback and maybe a little stoned with relaxed posture while Badb is all rage and expletives. Wilson’s colors play a big part in her transformation from subtle shifts in shadows to bigger switches from light grey to crimson as Gentle Annie immediately turns into Badb. McKelvie and Wilson let her go full death/war goddess in the issue’s best composition, which is a full page spread of her transforming into a horrific crow that even takes Baphomet by surprise. (Also, with his wild lightsaber, er, flaming sword arcs and general evil douchelord behavior, Baph and Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens would totally be frenemies.) This follows a full page splash of Baal generally crashing the party and being a badass with his beard and lightning with Wilson’s purples continuing to show that the only reason he gives a shit about this Pantheon civil war is because Baphomet killed Inanna. (Except Baphomet is saying Ananke did it. It will be interesting to see his justification for lying like this probably because Ananke is the terrible mother figure he wished he didn’t have.)

BadbUnleashed

Morrigan and Baal are the powerhouses of their respective factions whereas Sakhmet is more fluid leaping from panel to panel and talking trash while doing it. The characterization doesn’t stop during the fight sequences, but these physical battles actually enhance them with Amaterasu not taking any action against the Underground deities (Who she somewhat considers friends, especially Persephone.) and just zipping in like Superman to get Minerva to “safety”. She is the opposite of the destructive Morrigan and has the precision of one of Cyclops’ optic blast (Because Gillen used to write Uncanny X-Men.) as McKelvie cuts to her always on-point eye makeup, and she grabs Minerva without harming a soul. Wilson uses a solar yellow to show her purity and kindness. It’s pretty sad to see her in the service of a murderer and possible future child killer.

AmaterasuSuperman

WicDiv #19 deepens the evil of Ananke and the characters of Minerva and Dionysus while having some pyrotechnics-filled god battles from artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson. Writer Kieron Gillen also starts to hint at Persephone not being the heroic, divine upgrade of Laura that fans expected as both the sky and underground Pantheon are cast in a net of lies, strained relationships, and volatile personalities. Morrigan and Baal are definitely the proverbial water and oil mixture (Or Yeezy/Nightwish mashup I never knew I wanted.) after this issue despite not interacting too much before.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Image Comics Announces Creators for Creators

Creators for CreatorsAt Image ComicsImage Expo it wasn’t just new products that were announced, they also announced a new non-profit, Creators for Creators. The goal of the organization is to “encourage, support, and promote original works through grants and education.”

The program will be a combination of financial backing and mentorship. The plan is to give $30,000 to a single cartoonist or a wrister/artist duo to support their creation of original work of between sixty-four and one hundred pages over a single year. A committee will decide the recipient.

The mentorship mentioned will be beyond creation and will cover all aspects of the comic-creating experience to help create a firm foundation when it comes to the creative, business, legal, and financial aspects of the business.

Recipients will retain rights to their works and will not just be supported by Image, but also Iron Circus Comics. The long term goal is to also make the website a resource to educate creators.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and you have until May 1, 2016 to apply. You can learn more here.

The Creators for Creators grant was founded by Charlie Adlard, Jordie Bellaire, David Brothers, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Nick Dragotta, Leila del Duca, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Jonathan Hickman, Joe Keatinge, Robert Kirkman, Jamie McKelvie, Rick Remender, Declan Shalvey, Fiona Staples, Eric Stephenson, C. Spike Trotman, and Brian K. Vaughan.

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #18

WicDiv18WicDiv #18 signals the beginning of the comic’s imperial phase with the triumphant return of artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson as they and writer Kieron Gillen drop the introspective character studies of the previous arc for some well-earned action sequences and magical musical explosions. It’s like when your favorite band stopped playing small clubs and intimate venues and started playing arena rock. But damn good arena rock, like Queen or Rush in the late 70s and early 80s, the Smashing Pumpkins on their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album, or Muse in this millennium. (Before they started putting songs on Twilight soundtracks.)

But beneath the most creative use of divine powers since the death of Luci, WicDiv #18 is a comic about transformation. Somehow, Laura has survived being “killed” by Ananke after being transformed into the 13th Pantheon member, Persephone, and she is back with a vengeance playing gigs with black, oozing tendrils in the background as McKelvie and Wilson recreate the rhythmic dance floor layout in WicDiv #8 but paint it black this time. And her little bit of attitude that was kind of adorable in the previous issues has been exchanged for pure coolness as she performs feats that and is in pure sarcasm mode. The squeeing fangirl has become a goddess.

PersephoneSlay

However, through Ananke’s tense attitude and constant freaking out, Gillen reveals that Persephone is something called the “Destroyer” and sets the stage for a war between the underworld gods and sky gods. Think Civil War without the heavy handed political allegories and with more stylish outfits. (I hate to use this word, but Persephone is definitely on fleek when she faces off against Ananke, Woden, and Sakhmet.) The direction of the plot has gone from passive aggressive sniping and covert actions to all out war between hot headed young gods while their handler continues to manipulate them.

However, the big action beats on WicDiv #18 really hit home thanks to the more character focused direction of the previous arc as small moments, like Baphomet losing his parents in WicDiv #16 or Baal beating up Morrigan in WicDiv #12, have solid payoffs. For example, Morrigan reminds Baphomet of his own orphan status, and leads him to saving Minerva’s parents even if they don’t show up on panel. And Baal and Baphomet are really in a kind of “Bad Blood” situation as they face off physically twice in the course of this issue’s melee with some flame sword and fierce headbutting action. (Wilson really juices up the pastels when Baal headbutts Baphomet in a kind of testosterone fueled homage to Baal’s dead lover Inanna, which is the reason why he hates Baph so much.)

BaalHeadbuttBaph

Everyone is really angry in WicDiv #18 as McKelvie and Wilson turn up the bombast as divine energy and speed lines are flying everywhere. But it’s not mindless Hollywood destruction porn as the team puts the Pantheon members in clever or interesting situations, and Gillen is always ready with a timely quip written in each character’s distinct voice from Baphomet’s douchiness to Morrigan’s pretention and Badb’s plain rawness. Woden’s outburst of “Laura Fucking Wilson” when Persephone does some Earth-bending meets The Matrix with a side of Green Lantern stuff is the funniest moment of the issue. (And of course, Ananke gives him a chiding.) McKelvie takes familiar visual elements of Laura like her beaten up smartphone and again transforms them into weapons of war against Ananke and her supporters. And her “S’okay” expression from when she gave Baal the brush returns after she uses her Persephone abilities to create some kind of a portal from Valhalla to the Underworld, which has been impossible up to this point. Gillen and McKelvie consign decompression to the flames of Tartarus, and Persephone play an immediate, game changing role in the series’ plot while also starting to flesh out the differences between her and Laura.

After opening with a gorgeous full page spread of Persephone in all her glory and creating a parallel between Persephone losing her parents and Minerva still wanting to keep hers, WicDiv #18 dives right into the set pieces as the characters that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson have been building off get to blow off some steam in an epic way. McKelvie truly makes Persephone the star of the show design-wise while making her simultaneously non-chalant and pissed off at Ananke, and Wilson’s color work for her is intoxicating with blacks for the underworld and pinks and greens for spring when she is using her abilities in Valhalla. WicDiv #18 is electrifying reading, and its more quiet final page really messes with the character dynamics and sets up a war, both physical and emotional. No one is going to be okay by time this arc wraps up.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.5  Art: 10 Overall: 9.8  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Fans will worship The Wicked + The Divine, Book One

The Wicked + The Divine, Book OneThe New York Times bestselling hit series The Wicked + The Divine by writer Kieron Gillen, artist Jamie McKelvie, and colorist Matthew Wilson will be collected into a stunning deluxe hardcover edition, with must-have bonus material and extensive commentary, available this April.

The Wicked + The Divine is the Eisner-nominated, critically-acclaimed modern fantasy where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods.

The Wicked + The Divine Deluxe Hardcover (ISBN: 978-1-63215-728-7) collects the first two story arcs of the series—issues #1-11, plus commentary and bonus content—and hits comic book stores on Wednesday, April 6th and bookstores on Tuesday, April 12th. It will be available for $44.99.

Listen to Kieron Gillen Chat with Graphic Policy Radio on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher

This Monday saw the return of comic writer Kieron Gillen to Graphic Policy Radio.

Kieron Gillen first came to attention in his 2006 collaboration with Jamie McKelvie, Phonogram. Jamie and he have yet to escape each other, and have somehow roped the otherwise innocent Matt Wilson into this unfortunate pop-comics Katamari. Their most successful work is their 2014 ongoing series, The Wicked + The Divine. Kieron’s other books for Image include Three and the forthcoming The Ludocrats. His other books include many titles published by Marvel (featuring characters you’ve probably heard of) and Avatar (featuring characters you probably haven’t.) He lives in London.

This Monday he talked his career, music, and more!

Some Kieron highlights:

  1. “if you are writing about pop stars you are writing about race”
  2. “canon is stupefying”
  3.  Wondering if he ruined a 14 year old’s life by getting her into The Manic Street Preachers
  4. Teen voices on tumblr absolutely impact how he writes his teen characters
  5. Young Avengers was the Avengers if there’d been no Kirby

Also find out about the 1830 Wicked + Divine pantheon and a comic described as Pokemon meets Mad Max in the style of the Fast and Furious.

Warning: There are Wicked + Divine spoilers at the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Kieron Gillen Chats with Graphic Policy Radio at a Special Time Monday

PhonogramIG-06_coverThis Monday sees the return of comic writer Kieron Gillen to Graphic Policy Radio.

The episode airs at a special time, 6pm ET.

Kieron Gillen first came to attention in his 2006 collaboration with Jamie McKelvie, Phonogram. Jamie and he have yet to escape each other, and have somehow roped the otherwise innocent Matt Wilson into this unfortunate pop-comics Katamari. Their most successful work is their 2014 ongoing series, The Wicked + The Divine. Kieron’s other books for Image include Three and the forthcoming The Ludocrats. His other books include many titles published by Marvel (featuring characters you’ve probably heard of) and Avatar (featuring characters you probably haven’t.) He lives in London.

This Monday he talks his career, music, and more!

Tweet us your questions @graphicpolicy.

Listen to the episode this Monday.

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

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