I’ve been a little worried about Gotham Academy. Not that it’s bad- it’s quite fun, and it’s got some of the best art in any book out right now- but there’s been something to be desired in its last few issues. Many of its revelations have come off soft, and it tends to avoid following up on some of its biggest moments. Luckily, this month’s issue avoided all of those pitfalls, and is its strongest installment since its debut.
We’ve seen “1-2-3-4” a figurative million times in WicDiv before; I’m sure hundreds of readers have had the beat of their favorite song irreversibly changed by its new association with exploding heads. We’ve seen those numbers in reference to the Pantheon’s godly feats often enough that it’s easy to forget their musical origins, but this month’s issue loosens up a bit, bringing it into the forefront. It’s an experimental issue that takes a concept- split up what would normally be a set of eight panel pages by making every other panel a number, representing the beat of a song- and makes it something massive, bombastic, and loud, primarily thanks to the coloring of Matthew Wilson.
Gravity Falls has been great about giving us unique takes on preteen problems, which makes it all the more interesting that it’s never done a storyline with parents extensively present. Part of that comes from the genre; Dipper and Mabel, in classic fictional protagonist form, have no parental guidance, primarily because Stan really should not be caring for children. But even the children already living in the titular town of Gravity Falls don’t seem to have lives especially entwined with their parents. As it turns out, Pacifica Northwest is the exception, and her relationship with her mother and father is at the forefront of “Northwest Mansion Noir.”
We’ve all had some sort of trashed dream over the years, but some of our failures hit worse than others. For Euless Boss, football was more than just the sport he played, the sport he watched, or the sport he practiced day and night; it was also supposed to be his ticket out of Craw County, Alabama, to a better life. This month’s Southern Bastards is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, implying some sort of success for him over the course of its first half and then quickly trashing his hopes by the end.
I hear Morning Glories described more often than not as one of those stories where “all answers just lead to more questions.” I can’t say that isn’t true, but I don’t think it’s the best way to describe the way it treats its mysteries. Despite how complicated it seems, Morning Glories answers questions all the time- it just likes to answer smaller questions much more than it likes to answer bigger ones. This month’s installment is obsessed in this regard. It’s full to the brim with answers, referring from everything to what’s behind that strange company Wow-Mo to who that old dude with the fedora was when Ike had a breakdown nearly twenty issues ago. No, it’s not the answer to who the Headmaster is or what exactly Morning Glory Academy is, but the book knows that well. After all, the concept of finding answers is just as prevalent in this issue, and in the minds of Morning Glories’s cast, as the answers are in this issue itself.
It’s so easy to forget how sweeping the scope of Saga is sometimes. The story Vaughn and Staples have been giving us has been relentlessly intimate in its portrayal of every character we’ve met, from Marko and Alana to Prince Robot, to the point where even a story that focuses on people that have everything from horns to leaves to sealskin has seemed like a personal, human drama. As Saga returns from another hiatus, we see it’s made clear that all that was part of the point. For all its giant turtle monsters, Saga is meant to be a tale we as humans can all relate to. Still, it doesn’t sacrifice that epic sweep either, making the world ahead seem vast enough that they don’t even mind spoiling it.