4 min read

Epic Poems

The essential poetry of comics.
Regrets, I've had a few.

Well, it's another late night, though not as late as last time. The timelines for that little ramble were almost certainly completely wrong, as any comics historian could tell you, but that was then and this is now. And what's out now?



Cover to STORM AND THE BROTHERHOOD #3, by Leinil Yu.
The age of long-winded titles draws to a close.

We end our trilogy of Storm stories in the far-flung year 3023, or 1000 years A.S. - After Sinister - with a look at the All-New, All-Different Planet Arakko and what Storm's legend has created. How can Storm exist 1000 years from now if she's so unafraid of a life that ends? Thereby hangs an epic tale of hope against hope, ultimate betrayal, and a last stand against the end of everything, all told in the epic verse of the late Lodus Logos and all expertly delineated by the awesome Alessandro Vitti. The Sins Of Sinister Saga doesn't conclude here, but after the cosmos-shaking events of this issue, the end can't be long in coming...

The cover for WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY'RE DEAD VOL.3, by Simone Di Meo.
The soul of a new machine.

I've got conflicting reports about this one - some sources say it's in shops tomorrow, some say next week - but be on the lookout for WE ONLT FIND THEM WHEN THEY'RE DEAD VOL. 3: THE SOUL, collecting issues #11-#15, the third and last chapter of the series, in which Jason Hauer gets older. Georges Malik is born again, and the influence of the Dead Gods on the interstellar colonies of future man reaches its arguable zenith. Oh - and we learn who and what the Gods are. All this and the incredible art of the one and only Simone Di Meo! If it's not there tomorrow, ask them to set one aside for seven days time.

No time to lose! On we go to...


And here's our panel for today:

Horton prepares to leave the room, telling the journalists "If you'll follow me, I'll show you why, even I fear the monstrosity, which I've created!!"
We're almost there.

The speech bubble cutting off the top of the doorframe doesn't do wonders for the perspective here - this reminds me a little of old point-and-click adventure games, where the sprites would change size as they wandered in and out of the pre-painted settings, occasionally looking slightly too large or small for the scene. Adding to the eerie feeling, the door into darkness seems to have swung open of its own accord, without Phineas Horton touching it.

So far, so Golden Age - this was a genre learning itself as it went along, devoted to thrill-power over strict rules of perspective, and it definitely wasn't meant to be consumed one panel at a time. (This is your reminder that we're not even halfway through page one of this story.) What grabs me most in this panel - aside from Pink Jacket being once again turned away from the viewer, his face never seen, suggesting a thing of unknowable horror - is Horton's speech balloon.  "If you'll follow me, I'll show you why, even I fear the monstrosity, which I've created!!"

Point one - Horton's created a monstrosity which even he fears. How many times must we be reminded that Superman this ain't? More importantly, what level of fiend is going to greet us in the next panel?

Point two - check those commas, breaking up the sentence to form what can only be described as poetry.

If you'll follow me

I'll show you why

Even I fear the monstrosity

Which I've created

It even rhymes! "Follow me/monstrosity" is the big rhyme that jumps out, but then you have the little "show you why/even I" couplet. At one point I knew the names for rhyme schemes like that - I did a degree in English Literature, but that's all either been subsumed into the basic craft skills needed to write comics or it's faded away into the general churn of unused knowledge floating around my skull. If there's a larger point to make here, it's that poetry and comics go hand in hand - in fact, comics are a form of poetry, an arrangement of narrative beats to fit into a space according to certain patterns. When we speak of the nine-panel grid, the standard five-panel page of US comics, the splash page start or finish, the forbidding 16-grid of Dark Knight Returns - what are we talking of but visual stanzas, verses, arrangements as regimented as the sonnet? It's no wonder so many great poets make great comic writers. Right now, in 1939, the page layout is chaotic, the rhythms unrehearsed, the sets and angles warping and shifting - but it's coming together. It's all coming together.

Next time, we meet the monstrosity himself.


A sequence from THE BERG, showing some bubbling pink sewer discharge spitting out a tooth.
The filth and the fury.


Look, it's a Kickstarter! This one's already fully funded, but it's by people I know and like a lot so I'm plugging it here anyway. So what is... THE BERG? Well, the link will tell you - it's a beautifully drawn and smartly written horror one-shot which judging by the preview reminds me strongly of classic goop n' guts movies like The Blob and The Stuff, but there also seems to be a lot more going on under the hood and under the muck. I don't know what further stretch goals the creators plan, but backers are already in a position to get some cool process stuff. Give it a look-see.


Another week has gone by, but this is still where to find me. Love and strength to all those who need it - and I'll play us out with STARDUST and "MUSIC SOUNDS BETTER WITH YOU".

Love might bring us back together.