History With Comics: While the X-Men will always hold a special place in her heart, Shelby’s first love was Batman. Between Michael Keaton and Kevin Conroy, she fell hard. Like many, her first graphic novel was The Watchmen in college, followed by a handful of the Batman must-reads. Fast forward to last year: Shelby discovered the awesomeness of the DC universe through Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern Rebirth and Blackest Night. She once again fell in love with a comic book character, but this time it was Neil Gaiman’s Morpheus from his Sandman series, and now all her thoughts are translated into 8 or 9 panels per page with the occasional 2-page spread.
New 52 Favorites: Batgirl, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batman
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Catwoman 35, originally released October 22nd, 2014.
Such hath been our sinceritie in these tymes, not to give any comfort to the hurt of the King or his countries; and now, if these reports which we heare should be true, we might think ourselves evil recompensed, and should be provoked for our defense to use such means as otherwise of ourselves we did never allow or like.
Queen Elizabeth I, 1570
Shelby: Sadly, we are already knee deep in speculation over who will run for president in 2016. As much as I hate the way politics is far more about campaigns than actually accomplishing anything, I have to admit a certain curiosity over Hillary Clinton; will she try to run again? Is it possible I’ll soon see the first female leader of this country? What sort of unique challenges will she have to face, whether based on Ms. Clinton’s previous political history, or her gender alone (be it Clinton or not)? Based on the numerous references to Queen Elizabeth I in Catwoman 35, I suspect new writer Genevieve Valentine has a lot of similar questions in mind.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batman 33, originally released July 23rd, 2014.
Drew: The Riddler may not have seemed like the most intuitive choice for a retelling of Batman’s origin — he’s in no man’s land, much more specific threat than those posed by organized crime in Year One, but he’s also not Batman’s biggest villain. Of course, that ignores the specific nature of this origin story, one that openly acknowledges how well-known the story is — or at least how well we think we know the story. That is, in order to not be a total retread, it requires the type of surprise ending we typically associate with riddles. It’s the kind of ending that recontextualizes the three-part story we’ve been reading as one emotional arc with a focus on something we may not have been expecting: Bruce’s relationship to Alfred. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Saga 21, originally released July 23rd, 2014.
Shelby: it’s hard to watch something you love fall apart. Even if that something is a work of fiction, it can still break your heart just as fast (if not faster) than real life. I get very invested in the media I consume; anyone who’s watched a movie with me can attest to the fact I am frequently, literally on the edge of my seat at the climax of the movie. That’s how I find myself as we build toward the end of each arc in Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga: on the edge of my seat.
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Spencer, Patrick, Drew and Shelby discuss Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego 1, Batman Eternal 15, Robin Rises: Omega 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 36, Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man 2, Elektra 4, Original Sin 6, Uncanny X-Men 23, Ms. Marvel 6, Nova 19, Silver Surfer 4, She-Hulk 6, Rat Queens 7 and The Wicked + The Divine 2.
Spencer: As many of you probably know (due to my extremelyin-depthcoverage), I recently attended my first Comic-Con. With that experience still fresh in mind, I have to say that Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego 1feels like an uncannily accurate representation of the Comic-Con experience. I mean, sure, Wizard World is nowhere near as large as SDCC, and I am nowhere near as manic as Harley Quinn (I hope), but I can still relate to Harley’s various quests to meet creators, as well as to the suffocating crowds (which probably necessitated the eight different artists who contributed to this thing). Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing East of West 13, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Shelby: It’s no secret ’round these parts how much I dislike the trope of “Two Heroes Meet For The First Time And Punch Each Other.” It’s such a transparent trick to introduce conflict to an issue, and is so often completely avoidable. I just feel like shaking these characters sometimes, and telling them if they just took two seconds to talk it out, the fake conflict would be gone and we could get back to the story. It’s rare for that sort of conflict to play out in a way that makes sense in the context of the issue; so rare, in fact, that when Jonathan Hickman uses it in the latest issue of East of West I didn’t even realize it.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Moon Knight 5, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
For most people, the shot’s stunning aspects will go unnoticed. And for the rest of us — at least for me, at any rate — they’re a distraction.
Mike D’Angelo on Children of Men
Drew: It’s funny to think about now, but I can remember a point in high school when I thought literary analysis was such a huge waste of time. Allusion, foreshadowing, symbolism, and any other literary devices were distractions that cluttered the actual enjoyment of the piece. It was years before I understood how ignorant that attitude was. In fact, it took hearing that same attitude from a peer that shook me into appreciating how much more depth of meaning we have access to thanks to analysis. Can being more aware of analysis pervert how we experience it? Maybe, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. That is, unless you allow your knowledge of analysis turn you into a total snob.
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 33, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Spencer: Despite being the title character, throughout Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s run on Green Arrow Oliver Queen has largely been a pawn, pushed back and forth by businessmen, various factions of the mysterious Outsiders, and even members of his own family (or sometimes all three!), all trying to use him for their own means. After declaring his independence from the Outsiders, though, Oliver Queen has moved to the front-and-center of his book — as Richard Dragon says, they’re both kings now. There’s still a massive focus on the supporting cast, of course, but now Lemire is using the supporting cast to teach us more about Ollie. I don’t necessarily understand every revelation, but it’s still a refreshing change of pace. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Superman Unchained 7, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Shelby: On the surface, the phrase “fight fire with fire” doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. I mean, what are you going to do, set the fire on fire? That’s not going to get you anywhere. While it’s come to mean “taking extreme measures in the face of extreme threat,” its origin is actually fairly logical. As an early fire-fighting method, people would set small, controlled fires to burn up potential fuel and prevent larger, far more damaging fires from spreading. It’s logical until you consider how easy it is for a controlled fire to turn on you, however. In the end, no matter how you use the phrase, ultimately you’re just going to end up getting burned, a lesson learned by General Lane and Wraith in the latest installment of Superman Unchained.
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 16, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Patrick: I very vividly remember being first introduced to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – it was late in the summer of 2003, and I was visiting my buddy Scott at his parents’ house between our Freshman and Sophomore years of college. Scottie had been playing the game on a borrowed console and the whole thing felt like a kind of wish fulfillment: suddenly there was a whole galaxy of Star Wars characters, stories and locations to explore, and all without leaving the confines of a single video game. There’s a promise inherent in KotOR’s premise – the depths of your imagination are already on display here, you only need look hard enough. This immediately becomes overwhelming. Even when alien races and spaceship designs look the way you remember them, you realize that any emotional connection you make with the material must be generated in-game. Without my core band of plucky rebels to get my automatic-love, I was left without a rudder, and instead of sailing the high seas of Star Wars adventures, I was mired in meaningless ephemera. This is often how I feel about the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. I may be able to recognize Broods and Spartax and Skrulls and Grand Inquisitors, but without someone to actually care about at the heart of it? Not a lot to hang a story on. Brian Michael Bendis addresses this issue head-on by spreading the Guardians of the Galaxy out among the cosmos. Suddenly, even the muddiest mythology has emotional resonance.
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Batman 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Shelby: I prefer playing games where everyone knows the rules. Sure, there are some PC games out there where you’re just dumped in the game universe and have to figure out what to do and how to do it (Myst, I’m looking at you), but that’s different. That’s more me trying to solve a puzzle than not knowing the rules. If I’m going to play a game with other people, I want everyone to know the rules; what’s the fun in beating someone at a game they don’t know how to play? In Zero Year, Scott Snyder has had a very young Batman pitted against the Riddler in a game our hero has consistently lost. Personally, I think there are two big reasons Batman has been losing this fight: he assumes he knows the rules of the game, and he assumes the bad guy will actually abide by them.