Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Reid are discussing Justice League 42, originally released July 15th, 2015.
Patrick: Justice League 42 is all about gods – who are gods, who are not gods, who can defy gods, who can become gods, whose godliness can be taken away. But that’s the real difference between a ‘god’ and a ‘superhero?’ Is it physical abilities? Do our gods need to be able to destroy worlds? Do we need our gods to present pure morality? Do we just need to feel that our gods are in control and have a plan? Or maybe gods just need to come from an established pantheon? Whatever other qualities you want to ascribe to gods, I think the most important idea is that they matter in a way that mere humans don’t. Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s “Darkseid War” zeroes in a conflict so big and so “important” that we need to check in on the godliness of every hero and every villain. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Batman/Superman 22, originally released July 8th, 2015.
Michael: Any given issue of Batman/Superman is a coin toss. The relatively young incarnation of this relatively old idea is more of a companion piece to writer Greg Pak’s other Superman series, Action Comics. It’s an exploration of different avenues for Superman while being grounded by Batman as the constant. What happens when both the constant and the variable of this story-telling formula are changed? Is it the same book?
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Detective Comics 42, originally released July 1st, 2015.
Patrick: Creators on long-running comics are always trying to shake up the status quo. That can be exciting for fans, who love (or love to hate) seeing their favorite properties monkeyed with. And eventually, there’s always the added reward of the return of the original status quo — the status quo ante — which reinstates all our old standards. I try not to be a cynical reader, but sometimes I can’t escape the idea that characters are changed more or less arbitrarily in order to generate conversation and enthusiasm about a series. It’s not like this is bad — change means growth, and I’d love for superhero comics to embrace more growth — but the tendency to revert to a status quo ante makes any attempt at growth feel impotent. Bruce Wayne is dead. Sure. New status quo. He’ll be back. Status quo ante. But what about everyone caught in Batman’s periphery? They have to change too, but there’s nothing forcing them to change back. Detective Comics 42 hovers around this periphery, challenging and pushing characters that may actually be capable of growth. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Batgirl 41, originally released June 24th, 2015.
Spencer: One of the defining moments of my childhood was watching the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Over the Edge” in its initial broadcast. For any of you who aren’t familiar with the episode, it the one that ends its first act with Batgirl falling from a building to her death, proceeds to Jim Gordon, who feels betrayed that Batman never told him that Batgirl was his daughter Barbara, raiding the Batcave and capturing Alfred, and only gets more insane (and more violent — I never saw the episode reran) from there. The sheer spectacle of the episode captured my young heart, but it also garnered its fair share of detractors for its ending: the whole story was a nightmare of Barbara’s after being gassed by the Scarecrow.
The “it’s all a dream” ending never bothered me because, as exhilarating as the action was, the true heart of the story was Barbara’s fear of what would happen if she never told her father she was Batgirl. The conflict over Babs’ identity and Jim’s reaction to it is one I’ve seen rehashed in the comics numerous times since, but with diminishing returns. With Jim Gordon now taking the mantle of Batman, it seems inevitable that Batgirl 41 would again focus on this aspect of Jim and Barbara’s relationship, but I feel like I’ve seen this story a few too many times at this point. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League of America 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.
Michael: I’m having a difficult time managing my expectations with this new direction that DC is putting out. Curiously, I’m being overly optimistic that these new books will be excellent and do away with the New 52ishness of recent memory. Basically, I’m falling for DC’s sales pitch hook, line, and sinker. While Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America 1 has some trappings of the New 52, I think he’s trying to blaze his own trail with DC’s trademark team. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Batman 41, originally released June 10th, 2015.
Michael: Batman as an idea has taken many different meanings in the character’s 75 year history: the ultimate mortal, Bat-god and arguably comics’ gritty landscape architect, to name a few. Above all else we have come to learn that being Batman is a sacrifice; you have to commit yourself to the cape and cowl, body and soul. We’ve seen how this sacrifice has affected many facets of Bruce Wayne’s life as well as the other heroes who have taken up the mantle of the bat. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo place Jim Gordon in that honored position and explore what exactly that sacrifice means for the former police commissioner. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 7, originally released June 10th, 2015.
Aren’t you two just the most precious, holding hands like that?!
Drew: There are few experiences in life more alien than navigating your first crush. Fairytales and Disney movies insure that we’re all familiar with the idea of romance long before we ever feel those feelings ourselves, which makes them all the more bizarre when they start happening. With so much of childhood filled with understanding our emotions, it’s almost cruel that we’re thrown a totally new one just as we enter the most awkward stage of our lives. Indeed, that we don’t know how to process those feelings is exactly we tend to be so bad about acting on them, pulling pigtails or standing sheepishly at the middle school dance. It takes a while for kids to gain the confidence to push past that awkward confusion. Unless, of course, you’re Maps Mizoguchi, in which case a magic quill will take care of that for you. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Justice League 41, originally released June 3rd, 2015.
Michael: My biggest gripe with super hero movies or comic book reboots is that their world isn’t fully-formed; typically we have to wait an hour into the movie before the hero does the hero-ing we came to see. Origins, exposition and plot machinations take up an overwhelming amount of time and space in these situations. “Darkseid War” might be my favorite Justice League story yet because it doesn’t take that commonplace route. While Justice League41 does have a lot of exposition, we are entering into the fully-formed world of the New Gods of Apokolips. This isn’t the origin story of Mister Miracle; he’s BEEN Mister Miracle for a while now. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Convergence: Justice Society of America 2, originally released May 27th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Mark: “With great power comes great responsibility” is one of the most iconic phrases in comic book pop culture. Most often associated with Spider-Man, it also seems to be a guiding storytelling principle for a lot of modern comics and (most pointedly) DC’s Batman and Superman films as of late. The idea that being a superhero is a huge burden is an easy storytelling device. It quickly humanizes and “grounds” an otherwise fantastical character. It’s also a plot machination that can drive me crazy. Part of my intolerance is absolutely a sense of envy. How can a character be dissatisfied with life when they have super powers? Super powers! Continue reading →
Today, Michael leads a discussion about Convergence 8, Action Comics 2, Blue Beetle 2, Booster Gold 2, Crime Syndicate 2, Detective Comics 2, Infinity Inc. 2, Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters 2 and World’s Finest 2.
Michael: When’s the last time you read a true finale from Marvel or DC? I’m talking final word, last story, completion of a hero’s journey, close-the-book-on-it ending. I could probably only count a handful of those types of finales in the past couple of years; maybe. Like any analysis of the Big Two, it can be seen in two ways: cynically or inspiringly. Cynically, there will never be a “final story.” The Coca-Cola and Pepsi of comic books always leave a door open for potential future stories because they want your money. Inspiringly, we are witnessing the sagas of modern mythology: endless heroic epics. These stories will never come to a true end because their legend continues and the heroes never say die. It can be impossibly cheesy, but the end caption “Never the end” always clutches at my heart strings. After eight weeks, 41 books and 89 issues Convergence has finally met its end. I think there is a strong argument for the inspiring read of “Never the End” present in most of these finales. Conversely, Convergence been criticized as a sales stunt, so the more cynical finale read is just as viable. Two months later what have we learned? For one, nostalgia can be expensive. Continue reading →