Without meaning to, my readings for the week ended up in some really dark realms thanks to Stray Bullets and an old Swamp Thing trade a friend recently lent me. Thankfully, Bee and PuppyCat was there with sight gags and cute storylines to lighten things up when the darkness of humanity threatened to overwhelm me.
I find Bee and PuppyCat’s structure very interesting, but I’m curious whether something great can come from an extended comic narrative. Most stories seem to follow no set chronology, and unlike the show, Bee and PuppyCat remain the only characters for much of the comic. Instead, each vignette revolves around one comic situation and ends as soon as the creators arrive at the punchline like a burp melody in one case. It’s admirable in it’s single-mindedness, and I love the range of visual styles from T. Zysk’s soft pink palette in ‘A Coffee Problem’ to Flynn Nicholls expressive doodles in ‘The Claw Game.’
Like any collection of shorts, there were some definite standouts this issue. The aforementioned ‘The Coffee Problem’ does a great job of capturing the cycle of caffeine dependence in a comical way. Like many of the stories, what makes it work are PuppyCat’s reactions to Bee’s well-intentioned decisions, PuppyCat’s cosmic wisdom ensuring it knows what’s up. The page of PuppyCat finding Bee within a disposable cup labyrinth was unsettling, but once Bee shares what she’s done in her sleep-deprived state things resume cute homeostasis (Read the complete review here).
Stray Bullets: Killers #8
This is the second week in a row where I unknowingly picked up the last in a series arc. I’ve been wanting to catch up on Stray Bullets for a while now for no other reason than because of all the critical acclaim it’s been receiving, and my love of bandwagoning. Usually, I’m not very interested in crime stories in any medium due to their over reliance on genre tropes and plot twists. However, Lapham avoids those easy trappings by keeping the story tightly focused on the characters and tracking their emotional arcs.
Lapham somehow manages to convey all the information necessary to understand the story even for those like myself who haven’t read a single previous issue. Eli and Virginia are a teenage couple who recently got into an argument following their run-in in Baltimore that results in several deaths. Shaken by Virginia’s criminal affiliation, Eli lashed out at Virginia and this issue starts off with their relationship in limbo.
Add to that, Eli’s slimy cousin Adam comes knocking at Eli’s door to ask a favor he can’t refuse as well as the threat of retaliation from the gang Virginia’s friends assaulted, and this issue may seem to have taken on too much. However, it all flows organically from the characters so that no decision appears motivated by the need to get to the great action sequence at the climax (Read the complete review here).
I’m really tempted to go full-on hate for this one and give it Dustin’s WTF score. However, after reading the issue for a second time I don’t even think I can muster the energy required for any intense ill feelings. In fact, at the end ofDeath of Wolverine #4 I felt mostly indifference, with a tinge of confusion thanks to a final page that had me momentarily wonder whether Comixology had cut off the last few pages. I then saw ‘End’ at the bottom of the page with an adamantium-covered Wolverine as the sun rises off-panel, and uttered a silent ‘huh.’
It’s hard to believe that of all the possible ways Wolverine could have gone out, Soule and his editors decided that this was the best there was. After three issues where we saw some of Logan’s major villains come and go, he goes out on account of operating on pure instinct and then not having the forethought to get out of the way of an adamantium bath. Granted, he did it to spare three people from being fused with the super-strong metal, but it all felt so forced. We didn’t at all know who those people were, and other than some gory panels that showed the beginnings of the adamantium-bonding process, there was a definite lack of sympathy on my end (Read the complete group review here).