Today, Spencer and Scott are discussing Batman 20, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Spencer: As a kid, Clayface was always one of my favorite Batman villains. Some of that has to do with the fact that he starred in one of the first cartoons that ever made me cry (Batman: The Animated Series’ excellent final season episode “Growing Pains”), but mostly it was just my young self finding this giant shapeshifting puddle of mud that could sprout blades out of his chest to be totally wicked awesome. I won’t even try to hide it, I still find those facets of the character just as fun as an adult, but I’ve come to realize that, beyond the standard shapeshifter tricks, there isn’t much to Clayface’s personality; usually he’s just treated as a device to serve some other villain’s master plan. Scott Snyder manages to wring a surprising amount of personality out of Clayface, but if the walking mud puddle isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry: there’s plenty of other stuff going on too.
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Batman 19, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Scott: Who says Batman has to be complicated? Anyone who has read Scott Snyder’s series for the last year and a half has gotten used to arcs that take many months to unravel. First, it was Night of the Owls, then Death of the Family. Even the random peppering of Harper Row storylines feel like part of a grander scheme. Well, another multi-issue epic is on the way, in the form of Zero Year, but first Snyder has made room for a rather straightforward two-parter. The immediacy of the payoffs in Batman 19 comes almost as a shock, as Snyder reminds us how much fun it can be to watch Batman solve a mystery that feels only a couple steps -- as opposed to issues — ahead of the reader.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Scott are discussing Batman 18, originally released March 13th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: The death of a loved one is something that is incredible hard to face. It’s also got to be something incredibly hard to write about, especially when you have to do so in a superhero comic where action and adventure is normally the name of the game. With the recent death of Robin The Boy Wonder, the Bat-writers have been tasked to deal with his death in their own way. Scott Snyder manages not only to continue the story of his new character Harper Row, but seamlessly and organically ties her story into the death of young Damian Wayne.
Drew: They say a man is known by the company he keeps. For Batman, we might think of the bat-family — Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and the various Robins and Batgirl(s) — but we also think of his rogues gallery. Indeed, Batman has long been defined by the villains that he fights, but I’ve always thought of that as “Batman,” the idea, not Batman, the character. Indeed, the fact that Bruce is perpetually locked in battles with his nemeses has always seemed more a curiosity of circumstance than of design — Batman doesn’t kill, and they keep breaking out. Batman 17 puts that assumption under the microscope, asking just what his perpetual battle with Joker might say about Bruce. Obviously, SPOILERS after the jump.Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batman 16 originally released January 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: One of the most thrilling things about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was the surprisingly strong case it made for Joker’s way of thinking. Obviously, we aren’t meant to agree with his murderous methods, but any time he’s given a chance to explain his worldview, he actually makes a pretty compelling argument. The effect was a surprisingly nuanced take on the nature of freedom, drawing our attention to just how untenable Batman’s outlook is, as well. Scott Snyder manages a similar trick in Batman 16, making Joker’s argument alluring, even as his methods are utterly horrifying. Continue reading →
We generally avoid quantifying our enthusiasm around here — we’ll gladly praise or condemn comics as our tastes dictate, but turning that into a grade or a score makes us uncomfortable. As there are in our pull-list, there are holes in this ‘Best of’ list. Mea culpa. We’ve had some great experiences with comics this year, and these are the series that were consistently fun, thoughtful and beautiful. Too subjective for a year-end list? Ignore the rankings. Any way you slice it, these are fantastic series that deserve the scrutiny we heap on everything. Each is a rewarding read and well worth your attention. Our picks for the top 12 series of 2012:
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 15 originally released December 12th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: Scott Snyder has stated that his first three pitches for Batman (The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, and the next arc) form a kind of triptych examining different aspects of Batman. The Court of Owls put Bruce’s relationship with Gotham under the microscope, revealing a great deal about both. Joker’s relationship with Batman is equally indelible (and worthy of scrutiny), but Snyder has dug much deeper with Death of the Family, taking on a much more fundamental — but often unexamined — characteristic of Batman: his leadership. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman 14 originally released November 14th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: Batman and the Joker are timeless. That is, they shift and adjust to the times. It gives them longevity, but it also makes pinning down the true nature of their conflict difficult. The Joker has been everything from a harmless prankster to a genociding psychopath, and Batman can range from avenging creature of the night to kid-friendly crime-stopper, so the fundamental nature of their relationship must lie deeper than superficial proclamations about color scheme, or even “seriousness.” The Dark Knight tilted at the deeper levels, but left them as overtones to the physical conflict. In Batman 14, Scott Snyder takes that subtext and makes it the text, delivering a surprising rumination on the nature of both detective stories and humor in general. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 13 originally released October 10th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: Bruce Wayne knows those closest to him can be taken away. It’s an idea that was violently embedded in his mind as a child, and has driven every waking moment of his life since. A person driven to such lengths obviously values the closeness of others, yet it’s one of the bitterest ironies of Batman that his goal of stopping violence actually puts the people around him in greater danger. Bruce has been reminded of this all too often, as Jason was killed and Barbara paralyzed, but he can’t help but rely on others; as Batman Incorporated recently pointed out, Alfred was there from the start. That reliance is often one of Bruce’s greatest assets — he could not have defeated the Court of Owls without them — but it’s also one of his greatest liabilities. Fortunately, very few criminals have the express goal of harming Batman emotionally, but of course, the Joker isn’t just any criminal. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batman 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Batman 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: If I may, I’d like to offer a bit of my own zero issue: One year ago, I had never purchased a monthly comic. Comics culture struck me as insular and impenetrable, and I saw fans as hyper-vigilant of petty continuity issues. Today, I’m a regular Wednesday warrior, and — more surprisingly — have become a nascent continuity-phile. That tendency has reared its head most fiercely in our coverage of the Before Watchmen prequel series, where I’ve argued that strict observance of continuity is an important means to observe the source material. It’s an opinion that has lead to a few clashes with Shelby, who would much rather enjoy a comic than obsess over details — an opinion I can totally respect, and am striving towards. What better test, then, when another creative team I respect immensely revisits beloved, seminal works?