Batman and Robin 37

batman and robin 37Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 37, originally released December 17th, 2014.

…for us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. For our sake, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered, died and was buried. On the third day He rose again, in fulfillment of the scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

-The Nicene Creed

Patrick: Growing up in the Catholic church, I always had a little bit of a problem with this part of the Nicene Creed. On the one hand, it’s very clear: Jesus sacrificed everything — including his life — in order to save the whole world from sin. But on the other hand, death didn’t share any of the long-lasting consequences it does for anyone else. Jesus died, but then he returned, three days later. What’s more is that he transcends his human flesh and embraces his fully divine nature by hanging out with God in heaven. While the drama of death and resurrection is enough to stir a body to faith, it betrays a fundamental truth about death. What’s hard about death isn’t that someone dies, it’s that they stay dead. And yet, this narrative — of death and rebirth — is so powerful it’s one of the stops on Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. Batman and Robin has allowed Bruce Wayne to deal with Damian’s death in grounded, real ways for almost two years, but now that “resurrection” is in play, subtlety goes right out the window. This is Damian, the bat-Christ-figure to beat the band, and he only marches back on the field to fireworks. Continue reading

Batgirl 37

Alternating Currents: Batgirl 37, Suzanne and PatrickToday, Suzanne Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 37, originally released December 10th, 2014.
slim-bannerDrew: I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that Barbara Gordon has one of the least memorable origin stories in the Bat-mythos. In fact, without the inciting incident of murdered/criminal parents, or simply figuring out Batman’s identity, it’s arguable that she doesn’t have an origin “story” — she just kind of became Batgirl in the same way someone becomes an adult. That means she doesn’t have the same motivations built into her character that Bruce, Dick, Jason, Tim, Cassandra, Steph, and Damian all have. That’s not to say she’s a lessor character — indeed, she’s been the center of several great stories — just that her “mission” isn’t as strongly defined or as personally motivated as those of her peers. With Batgirl 37, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart turn that lack of definition into a huge asset, making Babs an infinitely more believable 20-something. Continue reading

Secret Six 1

secret six 1Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Secret Six 1, originally released December 3rd, 2014.
Spencer: It’s no secret: Gail Simone’s first, Pre-New 52 run on Secret Six is still the best work of her career, but that fact has likely created some heightened expectations for this week’s Secret Six relaunch. There’s no escaping the hype completely, but Simone manages to mitigate much of it by showing from the very beginning how different this volume is from what came before. Much like Catman himself, readers are thrown blindly into the middle of a still-unfolding mystery — it’s a thrilling way to kick off a new series, but some frustratingly inconsistent art threatens to derail the entire experience. Continue reading

Detective Comics 37

Alternating Currents: Detective Comics 37, Mark and DrewToday, Mark and Drew are discussing Detective Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014.
Mark: Of all the Batman movies, Batman Returns remains my favorite. It’s probably the darkest Batman film yet made (I mean, it opens with parents throwing their baby in the sewer. Opens!), but it also has a sense of humor and style that the oppressively serious Christopher Nolan adaptations lack. One of the things that makes the movie pop is the decision to set the action at Christmastime. Even all lit up for the holidays there’s no place as terrible as Gotham City, and that contrast adds a dark mirth to the proceedings. With the holiday season once again upon us, it’s the perfect time to revisit Gotham at Christmas. After a two month airport diversion, creative team Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are back and Detective Comics 37 jumps us right into the thick of Gotham on Christmas Eve. Guess what? Things are not great. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 37

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 37, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014.

Men have become the tools of their tools.

Henry David Thoreau

Drew: I think it’s safe to say that technophobia has always been a thing. From fire to electricity, somebody was always more concerned over what we were losing than what we were gaining. Stories of people fearing electrical vapors or locomotives seem quaint to us now, but it wasn’t so long ago that buying things through this new internet thing seemed like an absurdly risky endeavor. In fact, I think consumers were so scared of online shopping that we were kind of oblivious to the impacts it could have in offline shopping. If anyone should have been scared of online shopping, it was brick-and-mortar establishments like Blockbuster and Borders (and, you know, countless small businesses) that couldn’t compete with the convenience and selection. The comics industry is still recovering from its most recent bout of technophobia, having only recently fully embraced same-day digital releases and content designed specifically for screens. Those growing pains are very much at the heart of Swamp Thing 37, which checks in on how the various avatars are reacting to the space technology is carving out for itself. Continue reading

Action Comics 37

action comics 37Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Action Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014. 
Patrick: The opening to Jaws is just about perfect. A beautiful young woman indulges herself in a (probably drunken) morning swim. It’d be an idyllic scene but for the foreboding sense that this moment is somehow too precious for a movie with a giant shark on the poster. When the inevitable shark attack happens, the audience is briskly snapped away from the pleasant scene and tossed back and forth like the film’s first victim. The violence is jarring, not because it’s particularly graphic or believable (there’s no reason a shark would drag someone around the surface of the water for so long), but because we’re able to feel the loss of the pleasantly banal moment that came before. Action Comics 37 plays a similar trick, insisting on a Smallville that’s apparently very serene, until that very serenity ends up be just as creepy as any external threat Superman can face. Continue reading

Catwoman 36

Today, Taylor and Suzanne are discussing Catwoman 36, originally released November 26th, 2014.

Taylor: Among other things, comics are known for their ever-evolving and unpredictable story lines. Despite the flux going on around them, however, the hero of a comic book, for the most part, stays the same. If you put a criminal in front of Batman or any other A-list hero, you have a pretty good idea of how they’re going to react. Catwoman, an A-list hero in her own right, is a little tougher, though. Put a criminal in front of her and you’re never quite sure how she’ll react. Across various titles and years, Catwoman’s motives have remained as finicky as the cats she uses as her namesake. In her new incarnation, many things have changed for Selina, but the thing that remains the same is her unpredictable and ultimately unknowable agenda. Continue reading

The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1

pax americana 1Today, Mark and Ryan are discussing The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1, originally released November 19th, 2014.

Mark: Alan Moore’s Watchmen is regularly heralded as the finest work ever produced in the medium of comics, but it wasn’t born in a vacuum. Moore’s original pitch was to use heroes from DC Comics’ then recent acquisition of certain Charlton Comics characters like Peacemaker, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question. In the end DC had other plans for their new IP, but Moore used those heroes as the frameworks for his invented characters. Now, almost 20 years later, the all-star team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly flip Moore’s original vision on its head in The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1. On Earth-4, Peacemaker is our The Comedian, The Question takes on characteristics of Rorschach, Captain Atom those of Doctor Manhattan, and Blue Beetle reflects Nite Owl. If Watchmen is a snake eating it’s own tail, Pax Americana is the tail biting back just a bit. Continue reading

The Flash 36

Alternating Currents: The Flash 36, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Flash 36, originally released November 26th, 2014.

Drew: There’s a lot of weirdness we accept in our comics — radioactive spider-bites, a dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys, even dudes who dress up like birds to support the dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys — but we tend to think of the morality as fairly straightforward. Oftentimes it is — Superman fights for good, Dr. Doom fights for bad — but the weirdness can also raise some bizarre moral questions. Is time-travel inherently immoral? Exactly how icky is the prospect of a body-snatched romantic relationship? Somehow, writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen manage to find the overlap between these inherently comic-booky ideas in The Flash 36. Continue reading

Batgirl 36

Alternating Currents: Batgirl 36, Shane and DrewToday, Shane and Drew are discussing Batgirl 36, originally released November 12th, 2014. 

slim-bannerShane: When you’re working with some of fiction’s most iconic characters, there’s a lot of baggage to handle. Even DC’s New 52 initiative, designed to jettison most of that excess material, is several years old at this point: there’s history, and relationships, and these characters have already gone through a number of personal journeys. Continuity can be messy, so a fresh start can be appealing, but how does one attempt that without alienating the previous audience? And even if you manage to successfully jumpstart an ailing franchise with new energy, launching a first issue that exceeds expectations and captures interest, is it always so simple to maintain that momentum? Continue reading