“Nice use of Thompson!”: Gravity Falls 2.09, “The Love God”

UntitledPoor, poor “The Love God”. Following up from three incredibly strong episodes, and directly following “Blendin’s Game”- possibly the most emotionally involving episode the show has ever had- it genuinely suffers in comparison. That’s not to say it’s a bad episode; at this point, I think Gravity Falls is basically unable to have an episode that’s actually bad. In fact, “The Love God” is probably the funniest episode this show has had in some time, running almost completely on jokes. But it unfortunately doesn’t shape up to the high quality the show’s built up as of late, and it’s hard not to see its flaws as especially glaring because of it.

In that sense, this episode is very difficult to talk about. After all, Gravity Falls does need these lighter episodes, sometimes. Without them, the show would become a very different beast, one that’s perhaps a bit too serious, even a bit too serialized. Yes, its ever-present mythos is a large part of what makes the show so unique, and what’s made it so well-loved, but a large part of its appeal is how much of it is hidden from us. So, while these plot-based episodes are usually the series’s best, we need these smaller, sillier episodes. They’re what makes the good of Gravity Falls so good, and they help build the more minor parts of its world, which make the usage of those built elements so much more fulfilling when we deal with them within the plot.

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Invictus Maneo: Person of Interest 4.09, “The Devil You Know”

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(Spoilers!) 

In Person of Interest’s previous season, when Reese cornered HR boss Alonzo Quinn, Quinn told him that the reason HR was so successful was because of loyalty: “that’s how we built the whole damn thing.” Reese would promptly threaten Quinn to the point where Quinn would spill every little detail of his organization’s operations, and that was the end of HR. Even with one of its villainous groups, the show was making a point: everything runs on relationships, even the dirtiest of businesses. The title of “The Devil You Know” is most obviously a reference to the fact that this week the team is protecting Carl Elias, one of its arch-nemesis, but on a deeper level, it’s about the devils we all know. It’s about Elias’s relationship with his henchman Anthony, who turns out to be more than a henchman; it’s about Root and Shaw, and the trust they’ve built over the last few months; and it’s about Link and Dominic, the “young lion[s]” of New York’s criminal underground. We all know devils, and sometimes those devils are the people we love the most in the world- or the people we don’t.

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“Where is she?!!”, Act Two: Morning Glories, Issue 42

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(Spoilers!) 

In many ways, Morning Glories #42 functions a bit like a reward. For anyone who’s read the book thus far, it’s often been a bit hard to juggle every single plotline, especially when the decision is made to usually focus on one per issue. That’s not a bad choice, far from it; in fact, the book’s high quality of storytelling would probably suffer otherwise. But it may be hard for someone reading the book month-by-month to handle, especially if they read it casually. That’s where this issue shines: it not only touches on most of the book’s biggest stories (even if briefly), but it throws it a multitude of references to earlier parts of the series, creating what one could call an extended “thank you for reading, here’s lots of nice things”.

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And Once Again, We Return To This: The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1 (Issues 1-5)

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“oh dang i left my keys in there”

Rejoice, my fellow Gillen/McKelvie fans! The Wicked + The Divine‘s first trade comes out today, bringing the first five issues together in easy-to-read paperback format. To celebrate, I’m going to write something a bit different today. I read through the first five issues and put together some speculations and observations in bulleted format, and I’d like to share them with you all. Pull out your floppies or your shiny new collected edition, and read along! We’ll see what we can find in what is obviously a very layered and thought-out piece of picture-based sequential storytelling.

And, of course, spoilers. We’re going to be talking about stuff that happens in #5 while we read #1 kind of spoilers, I mean, and trust me, if you haven’t read #5 yet, you do not want to be spoiled for it.

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“Don’t you want to learn some Soos Secrets?”: Gravity Falls 2.08, “Blendin’s Game”

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There are a lot of jokes in “Blendin’s Game” whose brilliance can’t really be explained without sounding bizarre. Look, I can’t tell you why I find it hilarious that the people of 207̃012 preface everything with “time” and/or “future”, despite it being their present; they just do, and it’s great (“Ow, my time knee! Oh time dangit!”). The entire concept of Time Baby just sounds kind of wild, but it’s also great. You just have to see it in action. That’s actually true of the more serious aspects of this episode, too, which sound a bit cliche on paper. There are lots of stories about the kid with the missing father, or the character who mysteriously hates a certain day every year, or where the characters travel to the past and run into past versions of the people they know. “Blendin’s Game” doesn’t feel like a unique episode because anything about it is necessarily new. It feels that way because those emotional beats are well-told, well-executed and come to a lovely conclusion.

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Let A Little Darkness In: Gotham Academy, Issue 2

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I don’t know a lot about DC Comics. If something wasn’t in Young Justice- a show I adored dearly- I don’t know about it. Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about Marvel either; I read a good bunch of Marvel books, but if something isn’t in them, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I may be a big sucker for canon, hence my adoration of long-running independent books, but I can’t deny that the Big Two are both hard franchises to dive into. Thus, one of the great pleasures of reading Gotham Academy so far has been that I don’t need to have a long history with DC to understand everything that’s introduced. These characters aren’t appearing in a bunch of different books at once, or are burdened with extensive histories before this. They’re a bunch of kids growing up in Gotham, and they have their own problems. That may be why I find Gotham Academy such a fun read: it’s almost like opening up a whole new world, and watching it unfold slowly before your eyes.

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“Say anything!”: The Woods, Issue 7

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(Spoilers!)

People who aren’t familiar with them tend to simplify LGBTQ+ issues pretty often. Marriage equality is great, sure, but I think every person who isn’t straight knows there’s much more to their rights than just that, and more to their stories- more than I could ever possibly discuss here. The Woods is one of the few books that I feel captures those feelings accurately, both because of artist Michael Dialynas’s ability to draw teenagers that look and act like actual teenagers, and from writer James Tynion IV’s own experiences being bisexual himself (his writing about it is well worth reading). Ben and Isaac’s relationship has been perhaps the single most refreshing part of a book that has always stood unique in its portrayal of adolescents, if only for the rarity of seeing queer kids crushing on each other in comics still, and this issue puts it front and center. Like the other flashback issues in this arc, this issue goes back to last year’s school play, one of the apparently many nights in which Ben planned to confess his attraction. It didn’t go well, and things aren’t going well on the unnamed alien moon the rest of the book takes place on, either.

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