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Sex Criminals #19
This series isn’t supposed to be sad, man; but this one gets pretty low.
Jon and Suzie’s relationship is on the rocks, and their encounter with the sex shrocks guy is cut terribly short. On the upside, Alix realizes that she might be on the wrong side of things, and Jon’s therapist (who I forget the name of, and can’t find immediately on google) and Dr. Kincaid seem to really be hitting it off on their first date.
The issue opens strong with the introduction of the Wide Wiener truck (don’t worry – it sells hot dogs) and its associated jingle; but it’s a self-contained joke that doesn’t really grow much after the cold open. More of this book is Suzie being justifiably upset with Jon, and Jon pitying himself because he screwed up. It’s human, but it honestly isn’t that much fun to read – even when Jon’s inner monologue includes a Hulked-out President Taft.
The short date scene is the most enjoyable and inventive part of the issue, with Jon’s therapist getting the chance to explore his own emotions vis-a-vie his attraction towards Dr. Kincaid. And explore he does, with a monologue requiring so much real-estate devoted to word-balloons that Chip illustrates it literally pushing out the art, creating a raucous in the restaurant the two characters are eating in by shoving waiters back into kitchens and other diners out of windows. It’s not that I’m against drama, but this book shines so much more brightly when it’s funny.
Kill or Be Killed #9
Dylan finds himself in a trap when a Russian Mafia hitman tracks him through his drug dealer; but Dylan only knows it’s a trap in hindsight; and ends up walking right into it.
This is a more self-contained issue of the series so far, structuring itself as a crime-recreation or procedural more than part of a larger serial: Here’s what’s about to happen, here’s what led up to it, here’s what happened, and here’s what happened after; and it’s all solidly executed and very exciting to see unfold. The “what happens” ends up being a close-quarters shoot-out with a hitman, with the “after” involving two bullet-riddled bodies in a van speeding through New York. Instead of a straight info-dump, the set-up is much more interested in world building. There’s really no need for us to know how the hitman tracked Dylan down, but Dylan telling us feels like he’s giving us more pieces to a puzzle that he then helps put together. It’s all part of the journey.
Because Dylan narrates in retrospect, Brubaker allows to play with the timeline of events, giving us information Dylan would have no way of knowing in the moment and creating a more fleshed out story for us. Dylan’s narration reads less like an inner-monologue in this issue, and more like an athlete’s post-game play-by-play. We can sympathize with the drama happening in-the-moment, and have confidence that – despite the odds – Dylan will somehow worm his way out of this one.
Following Alana’s miscarriage, the gang heads to Abortion Town on a frontier style planet, only to find out that Alana is too far along for them to perform the procedure on her. Meanwhile, Hazel asks some uncomfortable questions of Petrichor in order to try to deal with her own feelings of outsiderness; and then everybody gets attacked by poop-monsters.
The first issue of this new arc of Saga is a great jumping-on point at only 25 cents, and it even contains a very short summary of the story so far for any new readers. It’s also a great distillation of everything readers have come to enjoy from the series: a bombastic opening page that welcomes readers to Abortion Town, addressing heavy subjects like abortion, miscarriage and transsexual identity without getting too ponderous as to not allow some well-placed jokes to break the tension, and an endearing sincerity and love for its characters. That this is an issue that starts with a miscarriage and ends on poop-monsters without inducing some major mood whiplash is a perfect summation of the magic of Saga.
Uber: Invasion #6
This issue introduces us to the Pacific theater, and the Japanese Uber Battleship Yamato, who single-handedly razes San Francisco. In response, Americans send two Battleships of their own west to fight Yamato, and another to Germany to try and take out one of their Battleships. And in Southern France, General Patton gets antsy at the base of the Alps.
“Fun” isn’t the right word, but Gillen is definitely having a lot of something flipping the iconography of WWII on its head. Instead of the nuclear bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, San Francisco is obliterated by a single super-powered kamikaze.
And yet, despite their great losses, the story is still framed as America’s war to lose. They’re getting attacked on all sides; but the US is still playing with more pieces than their enemies combined, and just has to figure out the smartest way to move them. Of course, the strategizing of the generals is greatly contrasted by the lived experience of the soldiers, who have to mercy kill their own and knowingly accept missions that will more than likely end with them being the next mercy kill.
Fortunately, the issue ends on a more comic note with the introduction of Patton, whose larger-than-life personality mainlines some good ol’ American can-do attitude to the war yet to come.