Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Gotham Academy 5, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Spencer: It’s not easy figuring out how and when to reveal key plot points and answer pressing questions when constructing a narrative. Some stories get so caught up hyping big mysteries that the solutions can’t live up to the audience’s expectations — others lose their inertia by revealing all too early. Thus far, I’ve been quite impressed by how Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher have handled their mysteries in Gotham Academy. Issue 5 is full of big reveals, balanced expertly by Cloonan and Fletcher, which fill in many of the blanks about Olive’s lost summer and Tristan’s identity. This new information expands the world of Gotham Academy and helps flesh out the cast, both individually and as a unit, while avoiding the pitfalls I listed at the outset of this article. Plus, it’s loads of fun. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Batman 39, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Michael: When it comes to Batman, Joker stories are pretty much hit or miss. We’ve seen great successes and failures in film, animation, television (I’m looking at you Gotham), and of course, comic books. He’s an iconic character that has been built up to mythic proportions equal to (or greater) than Batman’s. Counting the Joker’s brief appearance in his Detective Comics run, this is Scott Snyder’s third stab at the Clown Prince of Crime. To make a truly remarkable Joker story, the approach to the Joker and how the story is told have to be changed. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 39, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Michael: In most pieces of pop culture, the protagonist is the point of entry for the audience into the fictional world that we are experiencing. You’ll often see events or circumstances that the protagonist themselves isn’t immediately aware of, but for the most part you are riding shotgun with the main character. In comic books, that means you follow the story with the benefit of the main character’s narration/inner monologue. The tricky thing is that your hero may not always be a reliable narrator. Even if they aren’t intentionally misleading you, they are probably not giving you the full story. Such is the case of a one Barbara Gordon, the titular Batgirl. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing The Multiversity: Mastermen 1, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Mark: As far as I know, Grant Morrison has no plans to retire from comics anytime soon, but it’s hard for me to not view The Multiversity as the culmination of Morrison’s work at DC. Maybe comic books in general. It’s an opportunity to play in all of the sandboxes he’s ever wanted to play in. If The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1 was Morrison doing Watchmen, The Multiversity: Mastermen 1 reads like Morrison’s take on Mark Millar’s famous Superman: Red Son. Where that book imagined a universe in which Kal-El’s escape ship crashes in the USSR instead of America’s heartland, Mastermen takes place on Earth-10 where events unfold much like on our Earth until an alien spacecraft lands in Nazi Germany in 1939. Inside that spacecraft is a small child who grows to become Overman, a Superman analog and the key to the Nazi’s world domination. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Secret Six 2, originally released February 11th, 2015.
Drew: At what point is it fair to form an opinion about a work of art? The conventional wisdom warns us not to judge a book by its cover, but at what point is it fair to judge? I’ve been told that the first chapter is enough, but I’ve seen others advocate for just the first page. I tend to be a bit more charitable than most — I’ve never walked out of a movie, but then again, I would probably not see a sequel of a movie I didn’t like. So, how do comics fit in to that? Is the first issue the first page of a story? The first chapter? The first movie? Single issues rarely give a complete story (at least nowadays), but also offer a convenient point to stop and reflect. After two issues, we may not have a great idea of what Secret Six will actually be like, but maybe we have enough to form an opinion about it. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, originally released February 11th, 2015.
Spencer: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti had a rough road ahead of them when tasked with refashioning Harley Quinn into the star of her own comic book. A villain protagonist must walk a fine line, being sympathetic enough to earn the audience’s affection while still villainous enough to avoid losing the spark that drew readers to them in the first place. Conner and Palmiotti’s approach to Harley Quinn has often involved pitting their villain protagonist against people even worse than she is, having her stand up for animal rights, and giving her a sort-of family in the form of her tenants; judging from sales numbers, it’s been a successful tactic, but has Harley become a better person in the process? Despite being a holiday special, that’s the question at the heart of Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, and it’s a surprisingly rich question to ask, even if the answer is a bit unclear, and the question often muddied and buried within the oversized issue’s many tangents and asides. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 38, originally released February 4th, 2015.
Mark: Well, it’s finally happening. DC announced late last week that starting in June, following the events of the Convergence event, The New 52 will no longer exist. Having run for almost 4 years, it’s not hard to understand why as The New 52 branding was getting a little long in the tooth. What does this mean for our favorite characters? Apparently not much, as no continuity reboot is planned. I mention this because when I first read Superman 38 before the post-Convergence announcements last week, I assumed that the two major revelations in this issue were being unloaded now so they could easily be walked back in only a few months. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing 39, originally released February 4th, 2015.
“My lack of vision was unsurprising, in a way. If you’ve lived within a system long enough, it’s hard to imagine existing without it.”
Lady Weeds / The Machine Queen, Swamp Thing 39
Patrick: Comics, and superhero comics in particular, are a recursive, thematically redundant medium. Archie’s always going to date two ladies, Batman’s always going to miss his parents, Spider-Man is always going to crack wise. But if the X-Men are always going to be an analogue for any group with outsider status, why do we even bother to pick up the new issues? Is there something comfortable in reiterating on the same themes over and over again? Swamp Thing 39 features just about every single Swamp Thing-ism you can name — grotesque body horror, warring elementals, physically repulsive affection, John Constantine — but still seems to slyly suggest that there’s an alternative to all of it. Charles Soule has played the part of Swamp Thing writer so faithfully for so long, but if he’s any bit as anarchic as Lady Weeds — a character of his creation — we might be in store for an unpredictable ending to his final Swamp Thing story. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Gotham Academy 4, originally released January 28th, 2015.
Spencer: Every property handles the supernatural a little differently. Some reject supernatural elements entirely while others use them as their primary concept; shows like Scooby Doo or Doctor Who regularly tease the supernatural before inevitably revealing them to be hoaxes or extraterrestrial in nature, while at DC Comics the supernatural is a well-known, accepted part of the universe, but one that rarely takes center stage. This is particularly true in Gotham City, so I always kinda assumed that the supernatural elements in Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl’s Gotham Academy would turn out to be hoaxes; two different reveals in issue four prove me right, but what I appreciate about these reveals is how they both help to expand and develop the world of Gotham Academy in drastically different, but equally effective ways. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing The Multiversity Guidebook, originally released January 28th, 2015.
Michael: Currently I’m re-watching Animaniacs, a children’s show which often wore the disguise of an educational tool pretending to be a cartoon. Sure, the characters are goofy and zany, but they still teach you the names of all of the countries of the world in a catchy tune. With that in mind, The Multiversity Guidebook is a story disguised as a “history book.” There’s a lot of information thrown at you about the multiple earths of the DC Universe, but it is clearly the connective tissue of every chapter of The Multiversity thus far. It’s the history of the same story: The DC Universe story. Continue reading →