An Education: Saga, Issue Thirty

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SAGA #30 IMAGE COMICS
ARTIST: FIONA STAPLES WRITER: BRIAN K. VAUGHAN
LETTERER/DESIGNER: FONOGRAFIKS

(SPOILERS!) 

Not many books make it to thirty issues, independent or otherwise, and the ones who do can hardly ever expect the continuing success that Saga has. Over the weekend it won Best Continuing Series and Best Penciller/Inker (for Fiona Staples) at the Eisners, at a point in its run where many books are near-forgotten. With that said, it’s interesting to see how Saga #30 both completely changes the book’s game while returning other things to their roots.

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Requiem: Gotham Academy, Issue Eight

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GOTHAM ACADEMY #8 DC COMICS
ARTIST: KARL KERSCHL WRITERS: BECKY CLOONAN & BRENDEN FLETCHER
COLORISTS: SERGE LAPOINTE AND MICHELLE ASSARASAKORN LETTERER: STEVE WANDS

Tone is a hard thing to nail. It’s one of the most necessary parts of good fiction: if you can’t make a sad scene feel sad or a happy scene feel happy, then nobody will be able to get invested in what you’re creating. In many forms of fiction, nailing that tone is also a team effort. Bad acting can ruin what’s supposed to be the biggest moment in a film, for example. That’s how Gotham Academy #8’s greatest flaw kicks in. In the aftermath of Sybil Silverlock’s death, Karl Kerschl and colorists Serge LaPointe and Michelle Assarasakorn provide us a dreary, somber setting fitting for the funeral that occurs wherein. But that setting contradicts the lighter, more romance-focused story, which misuses the grieving Olive and makes the issue seem clunky and misguided.

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Left Behind: The Wicked + The Divine, Issue Twelve

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THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #12 IMAGE COMICS
ARTIST: KATE BROWN WRITER: KIERON GILLEN
BONUS ART: JAMIE MCKELVIE & MATTHEW WILSON LETTERER: CLAYTON COWLES
DESIGNER: HANNAH DONOVAN EDITOR: CHRISSY WILLIAMS

(Spoilers!)

It’s an odd time for The Wicked + The DivineThe end of its first year wasn’t just the end of a year of issues- it was truly the end of the book as the readers knew it, as it suddenly killed off its narrator and another main character and permanently altered the expectations of its readers. To have usual artists Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson take a break now may seem odd, but as it turns out, it’s an excellent choice going into the book’s third arc, Commercial Suicide. Not only does it reflect the book’s shift in perspective to a different cast of characters, but it’s also a reflection of how the book has expanded its scope. In fact, this month, the focus isn’t even on the death of Laura- it’s on the aftermath of Inanna’s death, through the eyes of both the people who cared for them personally and the people who just want to soak up the gossipy aftermath.

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Exactly Where You Want To Be: The Woods, Issue Fourteen

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THE WOODS #14 BOOM! STUDIOS
ARTIST: MICHAEL DIALYNAS WRITER: JAMES TYNION IV
COLORIST: JOSAN GONZALEZ LETTERER: ED DUKESHIRE

Last month in The Woods, Maria described how the students of Bay Point have shifted their focus from “survival” to “living”. While elements of standard teen stories have always had a presence in the book, they always took a bit of a back seat to the more pertinent problems of being chased by aliens or discovering otherworldly civilizations. While there’s a new threat on the horizon, most of our cast are blissfully unaware of that fact, and that leaves them to explore two classic teen concepts: “relationships are hard!” and “drugs are bad!” Luckily, we’ve gotten to know and love these characters enough by now for this to still be rather engaging.

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A Series of Unimportant Moments: Southern Bastards, Issue Nine

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SOUTHERN BASTARDS #9 IMAGE COMICS
ARTIST: JASON LATOUR WRITER: JASON AARON
LETTERER: JARED K. FLETCHER

Southern Bastards certainly knows how to do a slow build. Both of its finished arcs have developed a pattern of slowly increasing tension until it bursts completely, and both endings have changed the course of the book. The death of Coach Big may not seem like that much of a mystery, but for Coach Boss, why Big would kill himself is something he can’t comprehend, and that means poor Sheriff Hardy has to solve a crime that isn’t really a crime at all. Southern Bastards #9 focuses on his life in the wake of both Earl and Big’s deaths, and more than ever proves how trapped some of the people in Craw County are.

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Setting A Tone: Saga, Issue Twenty-Nine

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SAGA #29 IMAGE COMICS
ARTIST: FIONA STAPLES WRITER: BRIAN K. VAUGHAN
LETTERER/DESIGNER: FONOGRAFIKS

(SPOILERS!) 

It’s obvious that Saga wants to be a book everyone can relate to- it touches on every theme imaginable, from love to life to death. The only aspect of it that may seem foreign to some of its luckier readers is warfare and the destruction that lies wherein, and while occasionally the book simmers down enough to let the reader relax, Saga #29 reminds us of the importance of that concept with one of its highest body counts yet.

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Quoth The Raven: Gotham Academy, Issue Seven

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GOTHAM ACADEMY #7 DC COMICS
ARTIST: MINGJUE HELEN CHEN WRITER: BECKY CLOONAN & BRENDEN FLETCHER
LETTERER: STEVE WANDS

What do you think about stand-alone episodes? Okay, what do you think about filler episodes? There’s a different feeling to each of those terms: that the former contains some sort of “special”, “unique” air, while the latter pertains to something inherently worthless. At their core, though, they mean the same thing: an episode of a series that does so little for the main plot, at least at the point it is released, that it could easily be skipped. Gotham Academy #7 is the first issue of the book that could count as being in that category, and while that works to its detriment in many ways, it’s still got plenty of fun going for it.

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