Last night, I did something I haven’t done in ages: I read a bunch of this week’s new comics.

Over the last two years I’ve gotten behind on just about every comic book I read, and the further behind I get, the harder it is for me to catch up. (Making things worse: I stopped organizing comics as I got them, so I had to find a solid run in order to catch up on it.) After a couple of colds kept me on the couch earlier this year, I started finally making some headway, and I’ve reached the point where I’m current on six — count them: six ongoing comics:

Saga: The sci-fi drama about family is also the book I’ve kept up with the best, despite the fact that I absolutely must wait until the inquisitive six-and-a-half year old is in bed before I open the book. I did fall four months behind at one point, after Isabel’s disappearance. I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up for a while. I didn’t want to know who was next.

Astro City: This one was “easy” to fall behind on because it’s isolated from other series and the stories tend to be short by modern standards. This also made it really easy to catch up on ~15 issues because I could read one or two at a time and still get a full story. The sequels to classics were fun, and I’m fascinated by what’s been revealed about the Broken Man.

Flash: This book really goes by fast. Seriously, with double-shipping, I keep picking up an issue and discovering that I’m already two or three behind.

Titans: I missed an issue of the crossover earlier this year, and my local shop sold out of it, and I finally decided to just buy the missing issue digitally and plow through. I really want to like this book more than I do, but I’m beginning to think it may be time to drop it after the current story ends. (It’s still better than the DEO kids era)

Jessica Jones: I was a fan of Alias back in the day, and while this is a little more plugged into the mainstream Marvel Universe than I remember that book being, it’s still got the same snarky sensibility. Just reading her complaining to Maria Hill about LMDs was hilarious.

Lady Mechanika: The first series of this steampunk adventure was delayed so long I decided to wait until it was done before reading any further. And then the gap hit. I felt so bad at last year’s Long Beach Comic Con when I talked to the writer and had to admit to her that I hadn’t read it in over a year. I finally caught up, so if I run into her or the artist this year, I can actually talk about the comic! My favorite has been “Tablet of Destinies,” both in terms of story and for the way it reframed alchemy as the misunderstood remnants of ancient nuclear physics.

I’m still behind on I Hate Fairyland and Saucer State (and Shutter, but that’s finished), but I’m at the point where I’m able to re-evaluate my pull list and take another stab at paring down my collection. Which has led to some interesting decisions (but that’s for another post).

I also finally got around to: Continue reading

With Jessica Jones and Star Wars: The Force Awakens both out, it’s hard not to compare Kilgrave’s power to Jedis’ ability to influence minds. But while we admire “You don’t need to see our identification” and laugh at “Republic credits will be fine,” Kilgrave is terrifying.

It’s not just that Jedi are compassionate and Kilgrave is a total sociopath with no regard for human life who would casually make someone kill or maim themselves just because he was having a bad day. Darth Vader is just as ruthless, but doesn’t bother with the technique (in the films, at least).

It’s that the “Jedi mind trick” is explicitly shown to be limited. It’s used rarely, and only for specific commands. The first time we see it used in A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi describes it as “influence” rather than control and specifically says it only works on “the weak-minded.” Willpower is sufficient to guard against it. In Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hutt even laughs it off when Luke tries to use it on him. The only time we see any sort of long-term suggestion it’s to “go home and rethink your life.” Presumably the dealer in Attack of the Clones will be in full command of his own faculties by then, having simply been prompted to start the soul-searching.

Kilgrave, however? His commands are absolute. No matter how hard you prepare mentally, no matter how strong your will, no matter whether your actions would go against your principles, or hurt you, or hurt someone else — even someone you care about — you do it. Immediately. None of the usual trying to stop your hand from moving that you see in a lot of movies where a mind-controlling character shows up. No apparent strain on his part to keep controlling you. Implanted commands can last for hours, and he can renew his control over and over as long as he wants to.

That’s scary enough right there. Putting that level of power in the hands (well, voice) of someone who sees other people as merely tools and playthings, and whose only behavioral boundaries consist in covering his own tracks? That’s nightmare-level stuff.

Think about it this way: Emperor Palpatine spent decades manipulating key people across a galaxy into putting him in a position of absolute control over thousands of worlds. Put him in a room with Kilgrave and he wouldn’t stand a chance.

Somehow I’ve managed to end up watching mostly shows based on comic books this year. And amazingly, there are enough of them out there that I have to pick and choose. It seems I’m able to keep up with about 3 shows on a weekly basis, and still fit in family, work and other hobbies.

The Flash: I’m still amazed that 1. there’s a Flash TV show, 2. it’s good, and 3. it’s successful enough that it’s actually been renewed. This is the one show I make an effort to watch the night it airs, and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I’ve enjoyed the comic book in the last few years.

iZombie: The other show I’ve managed to stay current with. I’ve found that as fun as the case of the week is, it’s the continuing subplots that keep me coming back: the search for a cure, the back and forth with Blaine and the zombie population of Seattle, Major’s living hell, etc.

Supergirl: This has turned out to be a lot of fun, though I’m not *ahem* super-invested in it yet.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Uneven. I’m finding the Inhumans storyline tedious, but then I’ve never liked that sort of story much. Simmons’ adventures on the other side of the obelisk, though….I’m really intrigued by that. (Note: I’m behind a couple of weeks, so I haven’t had a chance to watch “4,722 Hours” yet.) Update: “4,722 Hours” was absolutely fascinating. The Hydra/Inhumans stuff is really turning into a slog.

I am really looking forward to Jessica Jones. I was a fan of the original Alias comics, and this group did an amazing job with Daredevil. Update: It’s fantastic. Even better than Daredevil. But it’s intense enough that I only want to watch one episode at a time, when I can follow it with something lighter.

The Librarians: Fun popcorn adventure with a literary bent to it. Not sure I’m totally sold on Prospero and Moriarity as the villains, but if they follow last year’s pattern, they’ll mix things up.

Heroes Reborn: It was a lot better than I expected, but not enough to keep me.

Meanwhile, I’ve given up on “Once Upon a Time” completely. It just slowly turned into a parody of itself. “Castle” was still fun last I caught it, but too far down the priority list to keep up with it.

Now that I’ve got the complete Alias comic book in TPB form, I’m selling the individual issues on eBay. In getting that set up, I was reminded of an interesting piece of symmetry between Alias and another Bendis series, Powers.

Both feature ex-heroes who now work as “normal” detectives. Christian Walker is a homicide cop, and Jessica Jones is a private investigator. Early on we learn that Walker’s hero identity was Diamond. When we finally get the details of Jessica’s back story, it turns out she went by the name Jewel.

The similarities pretty much end there, though. Despite the names and circumstances, the characters, stories, and overall feel of the two books are quite different. Alias is “comic book noir,” and Powers is a cop show in a city overrun with super-powers. Alias tends to be far more character-driven. Jessica gets into trouble during investigations, but it’s her and the people she’s looking for who are most affected. Powers works on a bigger scale, looking at superheroes as celebrities, and when things go wrong, they affect everyone.

(I’ve got a dozen or so issues of Powers up for auction as well — for the same reason!)