DC Comics is trying something new. In the wake of their Rebirth initiative, the publisher has rapidly expanded its content to include diverse new imprints such as
Young Animal, Wildstorm, Wonder Comics, Black Label, Ink, and Zoom. As their lineup expands, it can be hard to figure out what to pick up each week. That’s what our team is here to help with, every Wednesday, with the DC Round-Up!
THIS WEEK: The Oracle of Garbage activates her inner trash fire in Goddess Mode #2
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Writer: Zoë Quinn
Artist: Robbi Rodriguesz
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Simon Bowland
“I’m Cassandra Price. Oracle of Garbage.”
Really, can you ask for a better line in comics?
In Goddess Mode #2, the latest installment of DC Vertigo’s foray into the cyberpunk and magical girl genres, things really get kicking. The first issue was mostly establishing the rules of the real world lead character Cassandra Price lives in. In this issue, we learn all about Azoth, the digital world that lies beneath yet runs most of peoples’ lives in Goddess Mode. More specifically, we learn that Azoth is messed up and full of Daemons that want to pull people out of reality and eat them. It’s an energetic day-glo thrill ride of a book and I’m so psyched to see it on the shelf.
There’s a lot to love about Magical Girl stories– from lessons about female friendship to the often extravagant costumes– but I’m a basic boy, so what I adore most are the powers and how they relate to the characters whom have been granted them. In Goddess Mode #2, we’re properly introduced to the Tall Poppies, a group of women who were previously kidnapped by Daemons but managed to survive– and in doing so were granted the power to fight off future attacks. The Poppy we get to spend the most time with is Mary Levy, the Oracle of Interpretation. She has the ability to predict actions and intent in Azoth– an ability which also manifests in the real world as a form of “super-empathy.” It’s an apt ability for her character, whom immediately takes a resistant and befuddled Cassandra under her wing after the latter’s initial pull into Azoth at the end of the previous issue. Her selflessness and kindness towards Cassandra provide the spine for this issue of the story and give the proceedings a sense of warmth that pushes Cassandra– and us, the reader– to follow her down the gorgeous yet malicious rabbit hole that is their world.
And indeed, as much as Cassandra resists it throughout this issue, this is her life now. Now and forever, as she’s told. Once someone is attacked by a Daemon, even if they survive and in doing so become an Oracle, they’re “marked” for attack after attack after attack. It’s an apt metaphor for life as a public figure in the digital age. If you speak out just once, you’re marked for life. At any hour of any day, from anywhere around the world, someone can just come into your Twitter mentions or email inbox and spam you with sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise vile vitriol designed to target you for simply existing. You might, and will, even get threats of violence or worse. The toxicity can seem unyielding and all-consuming. But at its core, Goddess Mode seems to offer a way to cope. Which is to say, we can make it together. In perhaps the most powerful sequence of this issue, Mary offers a bit of wisdom juxtaposed against scenes of her meeting the other members of the Tall Poppies in Azoth for the first time: “If no one’s going to save us, then we can save each other. If they want to be relentless, we can be dauntless. If they want to make us monsters, we can be heroes.” It’s poetic and empowering. It’s heartfelt and inspiring.
And indeed, reading Goddess Mode #2, I felt pretty awestruck the entire time. On its face, the book is pretty dense– the panel layouts are relatively tight and the pages are heavily laden with dialogue. At the same time, however, I never felt like there was too little art or that the words on the page were unnecessary. On the contrary, my favorite parts of this issue weren’t the brief bits of action, but the dialogue between our leads. Even the members of the Poppies that we get to spend less time with, like Farrah St. Germaine and Tatyanna Cole, feel like lived-in characters with unique cadences and differing perspectives on the world. Artist Robbi Rodriguez and colorist Rico Renzi take pains to further emphasize this, breathing huge amounts of life into these characters simply through their poses and character designs. Even letterer Simon Bowland gets a chance to shine thanks to all the design work that the digital communications in Goddess Mode necessitates.
In short, there is nothing like Goddess Mode on the shelf right now. It’s a brash book with a strong visual language and a story with a powerful and empowering core idea. And it’s still ramping up! I mean, what else can I say?
Goddess Mode kicks ass.
- The Batman Who Laughs #2 continues the over-the-top zaniness we’ve come to expect from this era of Snyder’s run with the Dark Knight. It’s a fun continuation of the multi-dimensional romp that started with this Dark Universe version of Batman during the events of Metal. However, what really got me going here was the surprise re-introduction of a story element from Black Mirror, the famed Scott Snyder/Jock Batman collaboration that made their creative pairing legendary. I’ve been hoping for a followup for ages and am so psyched that it’s finally happening.
- Superman #7 finally gives us some answers regarding the aging-up of Jon Kent. Apparently he was stuck in a black hole?! Christopher Nolan must be smiling right now. It’s a decent issue, although it shorthands a lot of Jon’s journey even though what has been his last seven years is ostensibly the issue’s focus– but I don’t mind, honestly. The stakes this issue sets up for the arc to come, set in the present day, are interesting and I’m very excited to see what this new version of Jon can do.
Alex is the New Media Editor of the Comics Beat. He is also a freelance comics editor with previous credits at First Second, Top Cow, and Papercutz. He primarily covers DC Comics and Magic: the Gathering.