A Year in the Big City: Astro City #19

Shelfdust

We live in the age of the pop culture revival, and the arrival of the eternal film and movie franchises, all born or borrowing from the model of superhero comics storytelling. Astro City, one of the most storied and beloved superhero comics of all time, went through a revival of its own in 2013, and that it came back as strong as ever was a miracle in and of itself. Over the course of a year, Charlotte Finn will be examining this miracle – all 52 issues – as she spends A Year in the Big City. This feature was originally published on her site, and Charlotte has kindly allowed it to be republished on Shelfdust.

Why doesn’t Batman have a Green Lantern ring?

It’s an oldie but a goodie; if Batman is who he is because of sheer naked willpower, he should have one of those sitting on…

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Seven Critics of Victory: Sara Century on Mister Miracle #1

Shelfdust

The Seven Soldiers of Victory were all mired in DC history, but perhaps none so much as Zatanna, Klarion, and our subject today, Mister Miracle. Though it doesn’t explain what became of the original Mister Miracle, Scott Free, issue one kicks off with a bang as we see Shilo Norman The New Mister Miracle! using his prowess as an escape artist to free himself from being sucked into a black hole. This is both super exciting and also a pretty standard Grant Morrison introduction to a character.

Introduced in 1971, the New Gods weren’t an initial success and indeed they only lasted a few years. Characters like Mister Miracle and Big Barda might not have been appreciated in their day, but they’ve gone on to be hugely influential on modern writers and have been revamped many times over now. The twin planets of New Genesis and Apokolips and the denizens…

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A Year in the Big City: Astro City #17

Shelfdust

We live in the age of the pop culture revival, and the arrival of the eternal film and movie franchises, all born or borrowing from the model of superhero comics storytelling. Astro City, one of the most storied and beloved superhero comics of all time, went through a revival of its own in 2013, and that it came back as strong as ever was a miracle in and of itself. Over the course of a year, Charlotte Finn will be examining this miracle – all 52 issues – as she spends A Year in the Big City. This feature was originally published on her site, and Charlotte has kindly allowed it to be republished on Shelfdust.

One thing about comics I should love, but don’t have a lot of affection for, is the notion of a universe you enter when you shrink down real small.

The basic idea is…

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“What Power Triumphs Over Sheer Absurdity?” Captain Carrot in The Multiversity #2

Shelfdust

The Multiversity was Grant Morrison’s attempt to show how heroism tries to strive through against every corrupting force which pushes down upon it: the publishers; the readers; the retailers; the need for commercialism ahead of fantasy and justice. It’s not a standard villain who stands and cackles malevolently over our fallen heroes: we are the villains, and everything we do helps further corrupt the perfect ideal which superheroes are meant to represent.

The series repeatedly shows how different influences twist superhero universes and characters in ways which are worrying, dirty, unappealing and generic. The scariest forces present are “The Gentry”, who represent various comics publishers and their need to gentrify the concept of creativity: one of them is a lopsided house of ideas, filled with spying eyes (Marvel); another is an all-consuming Bat (DC Comics). In the first issue of the series as a whole, The Multiversity begins by…

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A Year in the Big City: Astro City #15

Shelfdust

We live in the age of the pop culture revival, and the arrival of the eternal film and movie franchises, all born or borrowing from the model of superhero comics storytelling. Astro City, one of the most storied and beloved superhero comics of all time, went through a revival of its own in 2013, and that it came back as strong as ever was a miracle in and of itself. Over the course of a year, Charlotte Finn will be examining this miracle – all 52 issues – as she spends A Year in the Big City. This feature was originally published on her site, and Charlotte has kindly allowed it to be republished on Shelfdust.

At the start of this story, Ellie is sent off to jail, where the consensus on her culpability in committing crimes is a big ol’ ¯_(ツ)_/¯. She continues to struggle with repressed memories…

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Seven Critics of Victory: Zatanna #3

Shelfdust

By Andrea Ayres

I’ve spent most of my life wishing I was someone else. Zatanna #3 is about the intoxicating temptation of rebirth. The promise of a blank slate requires the erasure of our history, of our pain, regret, and mistakes. The great temptation of Zatanna #3 is to believe that rebirth is more powerful than reinvention. 

Tempting.

It’s tempting to believe we need regret, pain, shame or guilt in order to be good people. Much of our society functions this way. You could have that bad food but don’t you want to be good? These beliefs are built on a foundation of social and familial constructions. They are not steeped in the present. Guilt without change turns into shame and regret. This causes us to only ever look behind us, not ahead. In issue #3, Misty and Zatanna begin to emerge from the fog of their past, literally…

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The Reapers: Revisiting Pretty Deadly #5 with Samantha Puc

Shelfdust

By Samantha Puc

Is purpose defined by character? For Sissy, who takes up Death’s mantle in Pretty Deadly #5, the answer is yes — but also no. The duality of her nature makes her the ideal gardener and, by extension, the ideal caretaker for the soul of the world; she is born of violence and blood, but raised with love and laughter, and she fears becoming a monster even though she already is one. She is literally born to replace the heartbroken, bitter, malicious Death — whose entitlement makes him arrogant, which ultimately makes him evil.

Nothing about Sissy’s arrival in the world goes as planned; that much is obvious. However, by the time she reaches Death’s domain, all the pieces seem to have fallen into place, making her ascendance inevitable. Coyote, Ginny, Fox, Big Alice, Molly, the Shield Made and Beauty all play a part in Sissy taking up…

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A Year in the Big City: Astro City #14

Shelfdust

We live in the age of the pop culture revival, and the arrival of the eternal film and movie franchises, all born or borrowing from the model of superhero comics storytelling. Astro City, one of the most storied and beloved superhero comics of all time, went through a revival of its own in 2013, and that it came back as strong as ever was a miracle in and of itself. Over the course of a year, Charlotte Finn will be examining this miracle – all 52 issues – as she spends A Year in the Big City. This feature was originally published on her site, and Charlotte has kindly allowed it to be republished on Shelfdust.

You know what’s great? Robots. Robots are great.

Obviously, you want your heroes to beat a baddie, with an action-packed climax that shows how powerful they really are. But you also don’t want…

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A Year in the Big City: Astro City #10

Shelfdust

We live in the age of the pop culture revival, and the arrival of the eternal film and movie franchises, all born or borrowing from the model of superhero comics storytelling. Astro City, one of the most storied and beloved superhero comics of all time, went through a revival of its own in 2013, and that it came back as strong as ever was a miracle in and of itself. Over the course of a year, Charlotte Finn will be examining this miracle – all 52 issues – as she spends A Year in the Big City. This feature was originally published on her site, and Charlotte has kindly allowed it to be republished on Shelfdust.

The thing about bigotry is how insidious it is.

It can sneak in anywhere, from directions you’re not expecting, and once you’ve trained your eye to recognize it you can’t unsee it. You…

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The Reapers: Revisiting Pretty Deadly #1 with Nola Pfau

Shelfdust

By Nola Pfau

What does it mean to tell a story? To craft a fable or to create a myth? I’ve had a lot of discussions lately around this as it pertains to comics; why we do what we do when we set out to make them. I’ve also had a lot of discussions about death, so I guess life was preparing me for this one.

I don’t…feel prepared, though, you know? It took me weeks to figure out how to write about Pretty Deadly, and about a half dozen failed drafts. Pretty Deadly #1 is a dense comic, a story-within-a-story-within-a-story, and it’s hard to crack, so to speak, because you have to address that in the discussion. It’s the story of a man and a girl, and it’s also a story of creating a myth.

It’s also hard to crack because not very much happens in…

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