Comics Alternative Episode 131: Reviews of Nemo: River of Ghosts, Rebels #1, and No Mercy #1

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Finding Nemo

This week Derek and Andy discuss three recent titles, each of which is part of a larger series. First, they review the third in Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Nemo trilogy, Nemo: River of Ghosts (Top Shelf). The guys begin their discussion by looking at the series as a whole — even placing the Nemo3trilogy within the larger context of Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen universe — and then exploring the accessibility of the text as a singular narrative. River of Ghosts certainly needs to stand alongside the first two Nemo volumes, Heart of Ice and The Roses of Berlin, but the intertextual demands imbedded in the story (and in the Nemo trilogy as a whole) are far fewer than they are in the League books. Indeed, the three-part story of Janni Dakkar, beginning in 1925 (in Heart of Ice) and wrapping up in 1987, where River of Ghosts concludes, reads more as an adventure tale to be enjoyed than as a literary text to be deciphered. Yet, the Nemo trilogy is still part of Moore’s larger narrative tapestry, and its picaresque quality adds even further dimension to the already substantive League universe. Next, the Two Guys turn to the latest series from Brian Wood, Rebels (Dark Horse). In this inaugural issue, with art by Andrea Mutti, we get a good dose of historical fiction — the New Hampshire Grants become pivotal, and Ethan Allen even makes an appearance — but in many ways it’s familiar territory to Wood.Rebels2 This first narrative arc’s subtitle, “A Well-Regulated Militia,” as well as the introductory premise embedded on the first page, suggest that this series may be similar to Wood’s long-running DMZ in political and cultural tone. Although that one of his favorite series from the past decade, Derek hopes that the allegorical messaging found in DMZ doesn’t become too heavy in Rebels. And Andy observes that perhaps the series will stick more closely to the kind of historically based fiction we find in Northlanders. Yet, despite a little confusion generated by the issue’s central confrontation, a class between colonials and redcoats at the village courthouse, the guys found Rebels #1 a solid read and anticipate the series to come. Andy and Derek wrap up this week’s show with a review of No Mercy #1 (Image), the new series from Alex de Campi and Carla Speed McNeil. What begins as a potentially light or trendy look at youth culture turns darker and more complex as the story develops. As de Campi makes clear in her comments at the end of this first issue, the lives and interactions of young adults are rich enough with drama without the usual genre-bendings or twists found in many contemporary narratives. There are no vampires, no otherworldly visitations, no anthropomorphic engagements. In No Mercy, we can expect to get real people from real contexts, and the story will be driven by their all-too-real desires and limitations. And in this first issue, we see de Campi and McNeil play out this premise to an uncertain, and unexpected, crescendo.



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About Derek Royal

The Comics Alternative is a weekly podcast focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There’s nothing wrong with the superhero genre…we just want to do something different.) New shows become available every Wednesday…much like the comic books you get. Episodes feature reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, spotlights on various creators and their oeuvre, roundtable discussions with prominent critics and scholars in the field, and interviews with the artists and writers who make all of this possible. Along the way, Andy and Derek will talk about the various books that they are reading; the many pop cultural references that, for better or worse, inform their lives; and the unpredictable (and inexplicable) weirdness that seems to creep into each episode. In essence,The Comics Alternative podcast is brilliantly simple: Two guys with PhDs talking about comics.

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