Herman Melville’s 1851 classic and epic novel, Moby Dick, painstakingly details the whaling industry alongside the sea travels of an ill-fated crew. The white whale is a formidable source of intrigue and motivation whose sheer existence incites a dangerous journey into the deep. Even if you have not trucked your way through the massive novel, you know that Moby Dick is a destructive force whose massive size illustrates how small man is and how hard it is to combat an animal who rules the sea. Moby Dick: Back from the Deep’s creator and writer Matt Schorr uses Melville’s tale and its legacy as inspiration for another intense adventure, where the white whale rules the sea, and no one is safe.
“Fundamental Comics,” a monthly editorial series that introduces readers to comics, graphic novels, and manga that have been impactful to the sequential art medium and the comic book industry on a foundational level. Each month, a new essay will examine a familiar or less-known title through an in-depth analysis, exploring the history of the title, significant themes, and context for the title’s popularity since it was first released.
This issue takes a unique path, in that it primarily covers a new segment of “Coming to America.” Shadow makes a brief appearance, as he returns to Lakeside, but then his storyline is temporarily stalled. We are then catapulted back in time to witness the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade and the relationship between slaves and African gods.
I was already engrossed before even getting to page 1. When the title appears - its funky lettering reminiscent of the '60s - the ocular shape of the letters makes me feel as though Eric is looking at me, while I also look at him. It’s like I’ve gained access to this world on the other end of a telescope. As a whole, Eric takes us on a journey through time and different realities. Tom Manning’s masterpiece is a portal to a familiar '60s rock landscape but also a strange world with some bizarre characters. The fun part is not knowing what’s real and what isn’t. Is Eric’s reality a result of his drug usage, or is he really traveling to alternate dimensions? What’s the deal with the TV? Why does Eric seem to be treated like a god? It’s all unclear, but so intriguing. There’s violence, there’s mystery, and there’s rock and roll.
My Ainsel #4 is another foray into the deep, dark depths of both America and human nature. I feel as though each month, American Gods takes us into a Gothic dungeon for story time. The stories are typically meant to educate, illuminate, or ruminate on some larger issue, but they do not contain the typical moral lessons you’d find in fairy tales or myths. This is a Gaiman world, and in a Gaiman world, we must expect to be shocked, disturbed, and confused. Lessons may not be obvious or necessarily seem relevant, but they are all part of the anthology of Gaiman’s mythology.
Wednesday is back! And, no surprise, he’s been concocting some battle plans. It’s refreshing to have his magic and superior knowledge of things back, as well. I love the sequence when he explains to Shadow all of the charms that he knows. These panels show the extent of his power—which seems to be rather far-reaching. Wednesday has powers that affect both humans and other magical beings, and many of his powers can protect people, which does not seem in line with his character. I had always viewed Wednesday as being more self-serving, but his true agenda continues to be a mystery. Perhaps there is a more philanthropic motivation—either that or he just has the ability to help people but may not often choose to exercise these powers.
In the second installment of American Gods: My Ainsel, Shadow takes a break from actively traveling through America. The modern epic myth seems less magical and, instead, like a day in real world, small-town America. But this issue still has a dreary atmosphere to it, where the climate continues to deteriorate as it leads us to some upcoming battle, a battle that could possibly be between man and god, weather and land, or life and death—or perhaps some contest between any of those.
A few months back, my son started watching Sesame Street, and I was excited for him to learn from all of the great Muppet characters. But I wasn’t expecting to gain a new appreciation for the show. Unbeknownst to me, Sesame Street has a history of tapping into popular culture. From Monsterpiece Theater to Crumby Pictures, Sesame Street has created many great parodies of TV shows, films, and plays. The parodies are deliciously fun for adults and often educational for children. In 2014, San Diego Comic-Con even hosted a panel with the show’s performers and executive producer discussing 45 years of spoofs. So, I decided to find the best examples of spoofs that pay homage to geek culture. Below are 13 geeky and awesome examples.
My Ainsel #1 marks the beginning of the second arc in the American Gods series adapted from Neil Gaiman’s classic novel. We jump right in to Shadow and Wednesday continuing their travels across America. In this issue, they begin in a snow-covered Wisconsin. The pace of the main action in this issue moves rather slowly, but that gives us time to appreciate all of the other stories that contribute to our understanding of this world.
The cartoon world’s greatest detectives team up in this fun, action-packed adventure. Batman recruits Mystery Incorporated to come to Gotham City and join the Mystery Analysts of Gotham—a small organization of DC heroes (including Martian Manhunter, Detective Chimp, the Question, and Plastic Man). In a perfect blending of two worlds, the Scooby Gang adds some colorful fun to the group. It’s really enjoyable to see the playful dynamics between the assortment of heroes. While Batman is all business, Aquaman, Shaggy, and Scooby provide light humor. This makes the mystery solving even more entertaining for all ages.