The PQ Archive: ‘WicDiv’ #17 Is A Sexy And Sad Ending To The Latest Arc

Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.

Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…


Screen-Shot-2015-12-15-at-10.21.51-PMWritten by Kieron Gillen
Art by Brandon Graham (Backup art by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson)
Letters by Brandon Graham (Backup letters by Clayton Cowles)
Published by Image Comics

If it wasn’t obvious before, the “Commercial Suicide” arc of WicDiv is about the personal tragedies of the Pantheon members. If the first half was about misogyny, it seems like the second half is about the personal choices of women. This becomes fairly obvious in the final issue of the arc, which is about Sakhmet. 

From the opening page of a child named Ruth in the British Museum crying while looking at a statue of the goddess Sakhmet, claiming that the goddess doesn’t have feelings because she’s made of stone, we immediately know just what the Sakhmet of the Pantheon is about. For the third issue in a row, the question of do the Pantheon know which member they’re going to be based on their life choices comes into play. If it’s not obvious now, it certainly is when Ananke asks a homeless Ruth a few years later if she would rather be a dog or a cat.

Outside of those flashbacks and the casual bomb drop that is the backup story, the issue plays out mostly as a day in the life of Sakhmet, who is one of the gods we haven’t really seen much of so far. Waking up at 11:30 in the morning surrounded by naked and sleeping revelers, she is watched over by the Valkyrie Eir, who informs her that Baal wants her at noon. Baal is not amused by Sakhmet’s laziness as he trains for the “armageddon” that Ananke warned them about. With a swift motion, she proves that she doesn’t need to train and decides to sleep until she’s ready to perform that night.

In an arc filled with interesting and varied artists, Multiple Warheads creator and Island editor Brandon Graham might be the most interesting choice since his style is so vastly different compared to the other artists, filled with soft lines and colors. At first glance, it may seem kind of juvenile, but there’s such an easy and fluid sexuality to his work that it’s hard to imagine anyone else drawing this issue. From the languid way Sakhmet declares “Wake me up when it’s time to be perfect” to her red hot performance filled with the specters of cats, Graham’s Sakhmet oozes sexiness with the ever so subtle hint of sadness at every turn.

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Like the other gods, that sadness is one that she’s not very open about. The reader is only given hints of her life, with her declaring that she is “no one’s misery porn,” which seems to make a more subtle statement of the treatment of women and tragedy in pop culture than what  WicDiv#13 was going for. In that way, Sakhmet seems to the other side of the coin from Tara. She rather enjoys her godhood and embracing her status as a symbol of sex and death, but only because its better than the alternative. As Ruth, she is nothing. As Sakhmet, she can choose to feel nothing.

Of course, as she eats a man assumed to be her father alive, you have to wonder how much there is truth to that nothing feeling. Perhaps Woden with his encouragement of her drinking to keep her from being more dangerous to others and herself when sober causes the side effect of not feeling a damn thing. Sakhmet may look like Rihanna, but the moment where Woden hands her the bottle and the brown liquor on her chin washes against the red blood has echoes of ‘Chandelier’ by Sia, a song that was initially meant for someone like Rihanna or Beyoncé. Though, ‘Free The Animal’ may be a more apt choice for Sakhmet.

The main story of the issue closes with a drunk Sakhmet serving as a sentry for Morrigan. Besides her body language as she passes out surrounded by cats, Graham also knocks it out of the park on lettering, with a fancier script emphasizing her drunk and slurring state of speech. It’s weirdly charming in a very sad, drink to numb the emotional pain way. Graham’s take on the Morrigan is also gorgeous and it’s a tragedy we don’t get to see more of her as she reveals she just might have a way out of Woden’s cage.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be the end of a WicDiv arc if it didn’t end on a massive cliffhanger courtesy of Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson. This one is so casual that an entire fandom may just lose their minds over seven words on a notepad.

As the end to the “Commercial Suicide” arc, WicDiv #17 is like the goddess it is focused on. Sexy, languid, and tragic, Gillen and Graham deliver a story about Sakhmet that is just as layered as she is, showing that there is more to her than just being a cat goddess. Now the question remains is can we wait until April to find out what happens next?


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The PQ Archive: ‘Power Up!’ #6 Brings The Colorful Magical Girl Series To A Close

Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.

Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…


Screen-Shot-2015-12-14-at-10.03.40-PMWritten by Kate Leth
Illustrated by Matt Cummings
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom! Studios

Well, all good and fun things must end. Power Up! #6 is the last issue of the series, with no announcement of a sequel or ongoing status currently. How does it stack up as a finale though?

The issue picks up directly where #5 left off with Nox and her crew discussing with Kevin and Amie how they could possibly talk to Silas. This gives the reader a better chance to know Rowan, who is very lovely and point blank in a very alien way.

Sandy is trying to get a hold of her family, which leads into the big climatic fight scene of the series, with Nox’s group and the Canadian Power Quartet going against a giant armored snake who was the right hand of The Gryphon from back in issue 3. Once again, Cummings’ strength for fight scenes comes into play as the eight of them fight against him in an explosive and climatic scene. Even with the rushed pacing, between the character moments and the art, the climax of this story is probably the best fight scene in the book. As it should be. Not to mention that the way it ends could induce goosebumps.

After that, the book has a very anime ending. Rowan and Nox stay on Earth to help the quartet between training and figuring out just how to talk to Silas and unlock all his knowledge in the first place. This is where the final issue plays to Leth’s strengths, giving the characters a happy and warm ending as they progress on with their lives and new powers, revealing just who our secret narrator of the book was all along. There are hints of a deeper continuing story, which is a bit frustrating knowing that this will probably be the last time we see these characters. For now, our heroes are working together and starting with a new lease on life. With snappy clothes as designed by Cummings, of course. Even with hints of a new story, the last few pages tie everything together to deliver a solid and sweet finale befitting this comic.

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Power Up! had its flaws, mostly with the odd pacing that would have some issues drag on, but others feeling rushed. However, the world created by Leth and Cummings was rich and warm, with a premise borrowed from years of magical girl anime being filled with lovely characters of varying ages and walks of life. It was fun, sweet, and gorgeous to boot. Even with its problems in this issue and beyond, Power Up! is and was a lovely and homey magical series that shows just what makes the genre and the creators special.


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The PQ Archive: ‘Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl’ #5 Brings The Series Closer To Inevitable Conclusions

Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.

Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…


Screen-Shot-2015-12-16-at-3.03.01-AMWritten by Kieron Gillen

Art by Jamie McKelvie (with backup art by Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt)
Colors by Matthew Wilson
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics

Well, it’s getting down to the wire for Emily Aster as Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl returns from its precious little intermission. This issue decides to take focus on David Kohl one last time and much like the previous issue, it becomes him learning how to grow up. Guess it’s a lesson applicable to any age.

The issue opens with a hungover David Kohl receiving a call from Indie Dave informing him that Emily Aster, who sold her relationship with Indie Dave in the deal, went over to his place and offered him sex. If nothing else informed David of the fact Emily is now Claire, that was finally it.

The rest of the issue plays out like the closest thing Phonogram will ever be to a road trip comic as David and Kid-With-Knife go all around Britain to try and convince members of the coven to help perform a ritual to save Emily. 

This whole bit of the comic felt very final, as if it will be the last time the reader ever gets to spend time with David. At current time, it’s highly likely that it is. As David goes from member to member of the Coven, including the newly pregnant Lady Vox and Seth with his bush disco (not a euphemism), he comes to the slow realization that he’s really the only person left in the Coven without something more important to him, and that maybe his own plans kept him from being a better friend to people. There’s an especially poignant scene with Seth Bingo as they talk about plans and outcomes for the both of them that is probably one of the most gorgeous scenes in Phonogram in writing, drawing, and colors as David and Seth talk in the rain. Seth is even almost tolerable in the scene. Almost.

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In the end, David tells Claire that it all comes down to her to become herself again since the power he has left from Britannia could do nothing for her. The two part ways, lamenting on what could never be, and the ever selfish David Kohl decides to use the last of his power to do something nice for the one person who has always been there for him. All to the soundtrack of ‘Empire State of Mind’ by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, because what is Phonogram if it’s not set to music in the really important parts? As far as character finales go, it’s the best you could hope for with a character like David Kohl. That maybe, just maybe, he learns not to be such a jerk and to find what’s the most important in life besides pop music and ritual.

As for Emily though, her story isn’t done yet. As Claire prepares to kill herself with one last smash of a mirror, the last fragment of Emily languishes in a “safehaus” that is a send up to Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’ video. A figure that looks much like Gaga herself asks Emily why her contract to make her “a sparkler” didn’t make her happy.

The use of the ‘Paparazzi’ video in the comic itself instead of the ‘Money for Nothing’ video on the cover is something of a swerve, but after multiple reads, the uses of both make a ton of sense. Despite the groundbreaking video, ‘Money For Nothing’ was a song that was actually very derisive of music video culture and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler was very anti-video. The cover has David and KWK as the salesmen, focusing in on their importance to the plot of this issue and perhaps David’s own focus away from image of music to meaning of music.

‘Paparazzi,’ however, was easily a seminal moment in Lady Gaga’s career. With a high concept video that featured a storyline of a high fashioned Gaga that kills her boyfriend in revenge for nearly killing her, ‘Paparazzi’ was one of the many songs obsessed with image and and the idea of fame off of her debut album The Fame. It would also become a trademark for Gaga, who would go onto release several more high concept videos all the way through to the video for ‘G.U.Y.’ from 2013’s Artpop. For a character such as Emily, who sold the side of herself that took the meaning in music for the side of herself that took the image that accompanies music, ‘Paparazzi’ might be one of those instances where she could see herself in the music and image, despite the dead bodies and Lady Gaga wailing for the paparazzi to love her as she “bled out” during her 2009 Video Music Awards performance.

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Still, Emily doesn’t have time to contemplate this too much before the thugs from the ‘Take On Me’ video finally catch up to her. The hero from that video, battered and bruised, tries to save her again, but Emily decides to stop running and fight back as the penultimate issue comes to an end.

With David taking his bow and using the last of his power from Britannia, Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #5 feels like more of an ending than anything else we’ve seen from the Phonogram series. As Emily and David’s story shifts more into the “present” of 2009-2010, we see the closest they might actually get to growing up. For David, it’s learning how to be a decent human being. For Emily, it’s accepting her death. Morbid as it can be, Team Phonogram creates a story in this issue that gives the characters room to do that without sacrificing who they are at their cores. With the groundwork laid and with Emily running out of time, the finale looks to be a heart-racer and a heart-wrencher.


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The PQ Archive: ‘Neverboy’ Is Quite Literally Full Of Imagination

Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.

Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…


Screen-Shot-2015-12-10-at-5.41.23-PMWritten by Shaun Simon
Art by Tyler Jenkins
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters by Nate Piekos
Published by Dark Horse Comics

Remember your imaginary friend from childhood? How did you leave them? Did you grow older and forget about them? Decide that imaginary friends were for babies? Did they find ways into your works?

Now what do you think would have happened to them if you had died?

That’s approximately where the story of Neverboy begins.

Neverboy is the story of an imaginary friend of the same name who was created by a boy named Sam. After Sam’s death, Neverboy creates a life for himself by creating a family and taking drugs to keep himself in reality. Naturally, this annoys the Ministry of Imagination, but it gets much worse when he meets a down on his luck artist named Julian Drag who’s looking for nothing but inspiration.

Neverboy is the first series fully written by Shaun Simon, who had previously co-wrote The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys with Gerard Way. His style of writing is similar to Way’s in many regards, especially with the way that the two do manage to ground the weird in a relatable reality. Neverboy is an especially relatable and lovable protagonist, who is just looking to be a supportive husband and father while grappling with his own vices. In some ways, he recalls back to many of the one off protagonists Neil Gaiman would write into his Sandman stories. This struggling man with one foot in the unreal and another in the real. Neverboy and his struggles are easily one of the best parts of Neverboy, especially when played against Julian Drag as he goes down the route of greed and obsession as the story goes on.

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However, sometimes the writing feels a bit clunky. Lots of plot elements are introduced suddenly without proper explanations and parts of the story can feel downright choppy and rushed. Even the character of Vanessa never feels properly explained with what she does for the Ministry of Imagination, which is a shame since she’s one of the only major female characters in the entire book. This story is one of those that feels like it could have benefitted from a few more issues to lay out the world properly. It’s a shame too because the concepts introduced are fairly cool, like the Odyssey Diner and the entirety of Imagination being in peril by Neverboy’s mistakes, but they just aren’t given enough time to breathe.

Whatever faults lie in the writing though, they are made up for in the art. Peter Panzerfaust artist Tyler Jenkins creates the world of Neverboy in an angular and frenzied style that plays up that balance between reality and imagination perfectly. Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors though are what really strike that line though, always knowing when it’s appropriate to turn the volume up and down as the series walks through the real and unreal constantly.

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While Neverboy does have its struggles with story, the atmosphere created by Simon, Jenkins and Fitzpatrick is an easy one to get lost in. Between the gorgeous art and the heartbreaking story of Neverboy himself, Neverboy is a fun and quick mini that’s worth the time to open up your imagination.


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The PQ Archive: ‘Rocket Girl’ #7 Is A Ride Worth The Wait

Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.

Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…


Screen-Shot-2015-12-02-at-9.33.57-PMWritten by Brandon Montclare

Art by Amy Reeder

Published by Image Comics

Oh Rocket Girl, how we have missed you between issues.

Leaving up where issue 6 left off, Dayoung is confronting Annie about where she placed the jetpack, further continuing their argument from the last issue about who actually knows best for Dayoung. This leads to a rather humorous sequence as the titular Rocket Girl dressed in a Les Mis shirt forces a woman ten years older than her to show her where her jetpack is while looking like more of an adult than Annie does.

Which is ironic, because this is the first issue we actually see Dayoung act like an actual teenager in that she completely has a huffy angst attack over how her guardian is treating her. Granted, this angry teenager also happens to be a cop from the future with a jetpack, so it goes how you’d expect.

As usual, Reeder’s art is intricately gorgeous and is well worth the wait between issues. She also has such a strength with expression and posture, which really comes into play this issue as we see Dayoung and Annie run the gamut of negative emotions over the space of five pages.

Montclare is also working extra hard in this issue, further getting into the mystery of Quintum Mechanics, which Dayoung observes as taking on “a life of its own” after two explosions. However, that’s not the main focus as Dayoung finally loses her temper at her 20-something guardian and runs off to save the day and kick some ass. Teenage stubbornness and angst is something that doesn’t get a chance to come up a whole lot in comics, but Montclare nails it perfectly here. Even with her jetpack and being displaced from her timeline, Dayoung’s refusal to listen to Annie and prove that she’s right is so incredibly realistic. Maybe some of it is hubris, but Dayoung is a teenager with a lot of issues to deal with at the end of the day.

In “the past” of 2013, Gomez and Leshawn pay a visit to Dayoung’s former partner Tasha Tallchief. If the “80s vision of the future” that Reeder mentions in the back matter wasn’t obvious before, it certainly is now with the way the characters are dressed in these scene, with all bright colors and puffy textures. Tasha’s design in this scene is especially appealing, with her long clear housecoat seeming to be an extension of her emotional state as her former coworkers bring her in the loop of what has happened to Dayoung and why they need her help. Also worth noting is that this “80s vision of the future” is way more diverse than most 80s media, especially with the reveal that Tasha herself is half-Native American.

Back in “the present,” the issue culminates in a giant fight scene as Dayoung responds to a report of a riot at Radio City Music Hall. It’s an extremely well-detailed and exciting fight scene that can be appreciated even more after reading Reeder’s piece on how she went about creating it, using photo and angle references from an actual tour she took of Radio City Music Hall. It also includes the sound effect “ROC-KTTTE!” when Dayoung kicks one of the perps in the face, which might just be the greatest pun based sound effect of all time in comics.

The issue ends with the usual Rocket Girl split, with Gomez, Lashawn and Tasha going to investigate Quintum in the “past” and Dayoung being lauded as a hero by Ed Koch and Donald Trump in the “present.” Yes, you read that right. The presence of these two figures certainly helps ground the series in historical reality, but it’s almost disorienting to see Trump in that kind of position considering how he’d probably be referring to Dayoung in hate speech in our current 2015 if she existed then. Perhaps that dissonance is intended, or maybe Montclare and Reeder wanted to have a fictional version of Trump admit that a young Korean-American woman is better than him. Either way, it makes for an interesting conclusion to the issue.

Rocket Girl #7 is a fun and frenetic issue that reminds the reader of who Dayoung actually is: a stubborn teenager with a strong sense of right and wrong that happens to have a jetpack to fight crimes with. Montclare and Reeder work in tandem wonderfully to get this point across with perfectly teen angsty dialogue and gorgeous art to go with it. It should be interesting to see where the story goes next, with headstrong Dayoung deciding to take matters into her own hands and her compatriots in “the past” trying to get to the bottom of what she might have caused.


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The PQ Archive: ‘Power Up’ #5 Is The Background We’ve Been Waiting For

Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.

Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…


Screen-Shot-2015-11-25-at-12.19.51-AMWritten by Kate Leth
Art by Matt Cummings
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom! Studios

It’s that time! We finally get some back story on why our intrepid heroes became… well… intrepid heroes.

A large majority of the penultimate issue of Power Up! doesn’t take place on Earth, but rather on a distant planet we’ve never seen before. Don’t worry though, because each page is still grounded in a panel showing Amie, Kevin, and Sandy playing ping pong. It’s a really cute device that ends up playing well to the shifting of time over the course of the issue. Not to mention it has Sandy and her husband reconciling. Awww…

The main story of the issue cuts to two weeks prior as a group of aliens waits around an orb known as The Heart, waiting for something to happen. As it turns out, the powers that the various monsters of the week claim that the group of heroes stole was a part of a prophecy that ties back to the opening narration of the first issue, with a couple of differences to emphasize that the math was off.

The first of these aliens is Nox, a woman who has obsessed over this prophecy since she was young. According to the prophecy, three worthy warriors would be granted powers after The Heart was empowered during the death of a star and a birth of a new one. Nox then gathers three aliens, a large red powerhouse named Prue, a ghostly woman named Una, and a quiet figure called Rowan. They have trained for years to assume the roles of The Strength, The Spirit, and and The Sight, with the eyes of dozens of worlds upon them…

…and then nothing happens.

This issue crams a lot of information in that it can sometimes feel overwhelming, but both Leth and Cummings do a good job at finding a good balance with it. For Cummings, he once again gets to show off his strengths in world and character design, creating dynamic looking characters that run the gamut in body diversity and show that Nox may have taken the prophecy of the powers granted to these warriors a bit too literally. 

As for Leth, her power of creating character friendships prevails once again. Despite literally just meeting this quartet in this issue, we get a good sense of who they are and the kind of friendships they have with each other. This isn’t just a team of hired guns, but a group of old friends who have come to love and respect each other over the years. They’ve only just now showed up, but it’s hard not to love them already.

Of course, Nox being the huge nerd that she is, she is happy to be proven wrong when she realizes what the Heart truly is, which makes her even more endearing.

Also, the overarching narration is brilliantly done and may be some of the best that Leth has written so far. It’s poignant and beautiful while still feeding into the humor of the book.

Still, there’s one issue left and there’s at least one mystery to solve: how do you communicate with a gold fish to get answers about the life, the universe, and everything?

While this issue does put out a lot of information, Power Up! #5 avoids being an exposition dump. Cummings’ art is on point as usual, outdoing himself on the character design of these intergalactic warriors, and Leth makes you feel like you’ve known them forever, despite only being introduced this issue. What it may lack in action scenes, it makes up for in great tandem work to give great character moments and the backstory everyone has been waiting for. Well, most of it. There’s still one issue left, you know…


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The PQ Archive: ‘Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl’ #4 Is A Precious Little Comic

Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.

Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…


tumblr_inline_ntah03DVtJ1r77eon_540Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie (with backup stories by Julia Scheele and Luis Sopelana)
Colors by Matthew Wilson
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics

In an ongoing story about music and image, it feels only appropriate that the intermission in the story directly borrows from a comic about bands, growing up, and superpowered fights that are not out of the ordinary. 

If you can guess from the cover and the title “(Let’s Make This) Precious Little Life,” the fourth issue of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl is one big Scott Pilgrim send up.

And it works.

The issue is focused around Lloyd (aka Mr. Logos) and Laura (aka Laura Black fka Laura Heaven), two of the central characters in the previous Phonogram arc “The Singles Club”It has been a year and some change since the night that arc took place, where Laura left Logos hanging in a cab after he spilled to her his great master plan. He hasn’t really forgiven her as shown by the fact that he comes to her house and tells her that the new Long Blondes album leaked just to see her reaction when she inevitably hates it.

The way this issue replicates the Scott Pilgrim series created by Bryan Lee O’Malley while still being Phonogramis nothing short of brilliant. Not just in the choice to go black and white, but in the way the backgrounds and landscapes are structured. The usual realistic approach McKelvie takes for backgrounds is substituted for a more angular stylistic design that feels more like O’Malley’s Toronto than McKelvie’s Bristol. Even in the way the characters move and react to one another is O’Malley influenced, and the best example of this is the background showing Logos and Laura’s heartbeat spiking as the Silent Girl requests an audience with them in the most Silent Girl way ever. It’s not all just Scott Pilgrim references though. There’s one brilliant scene where we see that Logos plays the moment in the cab over and over again using McKelvie’s old line work from that issue and leading to a moment  from The Singles Club where Logos interacts with the panel edges like Seth and the Silent Girl do to break out of his infinite sadness.

The MVPs of this issue though are definitely Clayton Cowles and Matthew Wilson though. Cowles had his work cut out for him in this issue, having to replicate another comics lettering tics exactly and he sticks the landing. From the first page that nearly perfectly replicates the first page of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life to all the black text boxes that explain who the characters are to even all the chapter layouts and transitional panels full of text, Cowles goes above and beyond to make this issue feel like a long lost chapter of Scott Pilgrim.

Wilson’s colors are superb as usual, but it’s the way they let him play with the colors that feels less like the comic book Scott Pilgrim and more like Edgar Wright’s 2010 film adaptation. Wright, in interviews, described the film with the structure of a musical, but instead of musical numbers, the characters would break out into fights instead. This is probably why the two of the biggest influences on the film were Brian De Palma’s 1974 musical drama The Phantom of the Paradise and Stephen Chow’s 2004 action comedy Kung Fu Hustle.

While a comic obviously can’t have musical numbers in the traditional sense of the term, this is a comic where the feeling of music is a big factor, especially in this arc where the association of music and image is the central force and theme of the plot. So while most of this issue is in black and white, major scenes where the ritual of music is involved are colored bleeding in slow at first and then going full blast. This is where Wilson’s sense of color and magic really shines, especially in the scene of Laura’s transformation into Black Laura, and when Laura and Logos get to DJ indie night at Never On A Sunday themselves. When studying the intertextuality between Phonogram and The Wicked + The Divine, these scenes are sure to come up, but they also nail the electric atmosphere of the fight scenes in Scott Pilgrim.

Of course, being a Scott Pilgrim tribute, it wouldn’t be complete without one big overdramatic fight scene. And when you have two young adults who hate each other as much as Logos and Laura do, the overdrama gets cranked up so hard that it feels like the scene punches out of Scott Pilgrim land and into the world of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s The Umbrella Academy. Seriously. The world even explodes. Of course, it’s all metaphor. In a regular Phonogram issue, this would feel out of place. Like Gillen may have misplaced a scene for a future issue of WicDiv. This isn’t a regular issue of Phonogram though.

The metaphor is really what Team Phonogram nails about the Scott Pilgrim series though. O’Malley used the video game and manga references to tell a story about a twenty-something slacker learning to stop being an asshole and get his life together. It’s hard to imagine how this type of story could have been done in typical Phonogram style, but by turning the world of Phonogram into one big Scott Pilgrim reference, Gillen and McKelvie tell the story of how Logos and Laura have to learn to get it together and cooperate with each other, especially in the face of Claire disbanding the coven in London and it feels like it’s them versus the world. Nay… the universe.

If the final scene is any indicator, there might be some hope for those two kids.

While it may initially appear irrelevant to the rest of the plot, Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4 may be one of Gillen, McKelvie, Cowles, and Wilson’s finest hours as a creative team. By using the tropes and tics of a popular and defining work, they manage to tell a story that both plays with the central theme of the arc and the central theme of the work referenced in astoundingly creative ways. It’s fun, electric, and even just a bit precious.


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