Patrick: Joker is one of those characters that resists definition. In fact, we often use that lack of definition as a defining trait. I’m going to do a disservice to whoever made this observation — because I can’t remember where I first encountered it — but the most terrifying thing about Joker is that you never know whether he’s going to murder a child or throw a pie in Batman’s face. Arguably, the only thing that motivates the character is the desire to be a good Batman villain. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have played with this idea before — the Death of the Family even had Joker buying into the importance of their “relationship” — but this latest arc in Batman seems poised to establish Joker as something else entirely. He’s not a instrument of random, but intriguing, chaos, and he’s not in love with Batman. No: he’s Batman’s nemesis, and that means that he’s a sort of anti-detective, setting up mysteries that Batman cannot solve, corrupting superheroes and putting everyone’s lives in danger in the process. Continue reading
Drew: I tend to jump to conclusions about media before I’ve ever consumed it. I know that seems problematic for someone who reviews media, but with so many movies, shows, and comic books out there, it’s impossible to try them all, so I tend to gravitate towards the ones I think I’ll like. Of course, it’s an imperfect system, meaning I sometimes bet on a dud, or miss something truly great, but without any other way to pre-filter content, I continue to defer to my gut. After weeks and weeks of buildup to Spider-Verse, which seemed to pimp the event as a high-stakes affirmation of Spider-Man’s necessity in not just our universe, but ALL universes, my gut was telling me that this event was not for me, but I decided to give it a fair shot. Fortunately, my gut turned out to be wrong, with Spider-Verse 1 serving not as a herald of doom and gloom, but as a celebration of what makes the idea of Spider-Man so fun in the first place. Continue reading
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, Drew, and Shane discuss The Woods 7, Batman Eternal 31, Spider-Verse Team-Up 1, The Legendary Star-Lord 5, Swamp Thing 36, and Tooth and Claw 1.
Spencer: The last few issues of James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas’ The Woods have been character studies, combining flashbacks with the kids’ adventures on the distant moon in order to further flesh out its cast, and while this method has had much success, the story was starting to lose some of its forward momentum in the process. Fortunately, issue 7 fixes that by combining another successful character study with some pretty massive revelations, and it may just be the best issue yet. Continue reading
Spencer: I’ve been told that the key difference between introverts and extroverts is that interaction with other people drains introverts’ energy, while it recharges extroverts. I can believe that — I love spending time with friends, but if I’m around people too much it can be mentally exhausting, and I end up retreating to my room to charge my batteries for a few days. As an extrovert, though, Dick Grayson — the newest agent of Spyral — has the opposite problem: he needs people and personal connections to thrive. Dick certainly has the skills necessary to succeed as a spy, but his personality is much less suited to the job. Being alone is not Dick’s forte, and his need to connect could every well end up being his downfall. Continue reading
Mark: It took me a long while to decide what it was I really wanted to do in life. About two years ago I packed up everything that would fit in my car and moved to Los Angeles without a job and without knowing anyone. Ever since then, like Sonic the Hedgehog, I’ve felt the need to go fast. In some ways I feel far behind my peers, and I try to work double to make up for lost time. The sad reality, of course, is that you can’t make up time.
Detective Comics 36 wraps up a two-part story, Terminal, by the guest creative team of writer Benjamin Percy and penciler John Paul Leon. The set up is a familiar mystery thriller trope: a passenger jet lands at Gotham International Airport and careens into the terminal, crew unresponsive. When Batman and the airport’s Chief of Police board the plane, they find everyone onboard is dead and their flesh decayed. What could have killed them? Continue reading
Drew: Did you enjoy Skyfall? I enjoyed it well enough, but found myself staunchly defending it — specifically from attacks that suggest that the film ripped off the “villain gets captured as part of the plan” plot points from The Dark Knight and The Avengers. I can’t deny the similarities — it does indeed pose a classic example of what TV Tropes and Idioms identifies as the “Batman Gambit” — but what irked me is how myopic the argument is. The Batman Gambit is much, much older than either The Avengers or The Dark Knight (indeed, the name “Batman Gambit” is based on instances of the device from comics that long predate Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and has been used in everything from Die Hard to Reindeer Games), so to suggest that Skyfall‘s use of the devise is derivative, it must also be true of The Avengers and The Dark Knight. My point is, I’m willing to forgive the use of a trope if it’s done well, and I’d argue that Skyfall does it better than those other two films.* All that is to say that I enjoyed Velvet 8‘s own Batman Gambit for precisely the same reason: it’s really well done. Continue reading
Suzanne: A few years ago, I lost interest in reading literature about teenagers and coming-of-age stories. Maybe I read books like Catcher In the Rye too many times in high school. Or when I hit my mid-twenties, I could finally get up on my soap box about how youth-obsessed American culture can be without feeling (too) hypocritical.
Then Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers shook up my perspective, proving that the right creative team can sell almost any genre. Since then, books like Batgirl and Gotham Academy are (soon to be) mainstays on my pull list. Relationship drama? Impulsive heroes? Hipster fashion? Check. Check. Check. I’m hoping that Gotham Academy can maintain its unique tone without lapsing into a paint-by-numbers romantic drama.
Spencer: I started reading comics regularly right at the beginning of DC’s Infinite Crisis crossover event back in 2005 or 2006; the story scattered just about every DC character across the universe, and I must’ve spent hours obsessively charting out which heroes were where. This gave me a big soft spot for massive crossover epics, the kind of stories that can really only be done in superhero comics, which have decades of stories across hundreds of titles to mine. When done right these epics are extraordinarily fun, a testament to the grand histories the DC and Marvel universes have built, but when done wrong they can just feel excessive, too caught up in their own impenetrable histories to tell a coherent story. What strikes me the most about The Amazing Spider-Man 9 — the first “official” chapter of Spider-Verse — is how aware of this danger writer Dan Slott seems to be. Spider-Verse is a story built around history and cameos, but Slott seems to be going out of his way to make the story — and the stakes — as clear as possible. So far, so good. Continue reading
Today, Shane and Taylor are discussing Action Comics 36, originally released November 5th, 2014.
Shane: Horror in comics has recently hit a major revitalization. Heralded by the meteoric success of The Walking Dead, we’ve seen such titles as American Vampire, Uzumaki and Locke & Key emerge to terrify the market. Even mainstream superhero books like Animal Man and X-Men have made real attempts to embrace the horror genre, but, honestly, answer me a question: If you had to pick an iconic superhero, one of the real icons, to have a major horror arc…would Superman be your first choice? No. Not at all. Batman, sure — he fits right into the dark world. Even Wonder Woman, with her mythological connections, could gravitate towards a number of unsettling stories. But Superman, the paragon of hope? Not a chance. Continue reading
Drew: I think reading makes us bad at evaluating comics. Or, rather, the fact that literacy so far outstrips our art literacy that the art can often go unnoticed. I know from my own experience that there’s a tendency for beginning readers to just burn through the dialogue, barely paying any attention to the art. It’s these tendencies that make Stan Lee an inarguable household name, while Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby are only known by comic fans. Indeed, our focus on writing is so ingrained, it often takes a compelling dialogue-free issue (or sequence) to remind us that comics are a visual medium. With Rocket Raccoon 5, Skottie Young and Jake Parker deliver something of a goofy cousin of the silent issue, but one that nevertheless emphasizes just how much storytelling can be done with images alone. Continue reading