Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Batman and Robin 38, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Mark: One of the complaints leveled at comic books is that nothing ever sticks. A character dies, only to be brought back at the next best opportunity. Damian was dead, but now he’s back. Reborn Damian has super powers, but it’s probably only a matter of time before he’s de-powered. Does the inevitability detract from what’s happening now? As a reader, that’s not something that’s ever bothered me. My only expectation/hope when reading a series is that individual arcs will be satisfying. Comic books are mini-rebooting between arcs all the time. If a good arc is followed by a bad arc, it doesn’t diminish what came before.
Batman has had a lot of surrogate children over the years (it seems like recently we’re having a Robin graduation every year or so), but there’s obviously something unique about his relationship with Damian. It’s been a long journey to Damian’s resurrection, and finally seeing the Dynamic Duo back in action is a lot of fun. Still in the end, as much as this is sold as a new beginning, this issue is more of a concluding chapter to the Robin Rises saga. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Justice League 35, originally released October 15, 2014.
Spencer: Lex Luthor has basically been the main character of Justice League ever since Forever Evil ended, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. It’s inevitable that Lex will go back to being a full-time villain at some point (unless writer Geoff Johns manages to pull off the biggest reformation in DC history and make it stick), but I’m not sure how much that should influence my reading of Luthor’s intentions. There are two things I do know for certain, though: 1. Luthor’s presence has finally made the rest of the Justice League the competent, inspirational team we’ve been hoping they’d become since the New 52 began, and 2. even if Luthor’s reformation is somehow 100% legit, he still has plenty of misdeeds in his past to face up to. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Taylor are discussing Batman 35 originally released on October 8, 2014.
Suzanne: As a reader, I’m constantly shifting my understanding of “realism” in comics. I try to be mindful of my relationship with suspension of disbelief, although the line between credible and ridiculous is a subjective thing. Some people look for flaws and inconsistencies in storytelling while others are just looking to be entertained. Superboy Prime’s punch through reality not withstanding, I usually am able to fully transport myself into the world of fantasy. This isn’t necessarily easy in a universe where a man can harness a ring of willpower and befriend a talking alien chipmunk in the same panel. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Batman and Robin 34, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Patrick: When The Death of the Family was heading into its final issue, Scott Snyder appeared in a ton of interviews claiming that this conclusion was going to have a lasting effect on Batman and the Batfamily. But after that story line wrapped up, Snyder took his own series into Batman’s past, conveniently avoiding working through much of this fallout. Similarly, Grant Morrison killed Damian in Batman Incorporated, but wrapped up his series only a few issues later. The emotional heavy lifting as fallen to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who have dutifully presented the most erratic, emotional and frustrating Batman possible. Everything that Batman is — the selfless knight of justice, the patriarch of the Batfamily, the infallible detective — has been undermined in the wake of these twin tragedies. Understandably, that pushes Batman away from his readers, and his alienation from the world started to reflect the audiences’ alienation from the character. In issue 34, Tomasi and Gleason have Bruce offer a naked apology to his protégés, but they’re also inviting us to trust Batman again. Fuck yes: I’m ready to forgive. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Swamp Thing 32, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Scott: We all want to feel like we’re in control. It’s a big part of growing up. We move out, get our own place, buy a car, pay bills, decide what we eat and when we sleep. But we can only control things to a certain extent. As resolute as we may want to be, we still can’t really know what to do the first time we carve a turkey, or get in a car accident, or find out we’re pregnant. In our rush to take control of our lives, we fail to realize just how much we don’t know, and in doing so we become a huge liability to ourselves. Fortunately, life is pretty forgiving, allowing us to acquire wisdom through a system of trial and error. Like the rest of us, Alec Holland has a lot to learn, in his case about being the Avatar of the Green. Swamp Thing 32 finds him fighting for control against an obstacle he brought on himself but never saw coming.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Aquaman 24, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Families can be tough to deal with. Sometimes, you want nothing more than to make sure that everyone is happy, even if that means doing what is expected of you. Other times, maybe even most of the time, you just want to head for the hills and do your own thing. Aquaman has it infinitely worse because he has a royal family to deal with. For years, Aquaman was planted firmly in the hills doing his own thing until he made the choice to become the king of Atlantis. It’s a bit of a bummer though, because Aquaman 24 reveals that he was never meant to be king in the first place and that he might just be the villain of this piece…or at least the descendant of one. Continue reading →
Spencer: One of my favorite hobbies is explaining comic book storylines to people who don’t read comics (“Hey guys, did you know that the Justice League once fought a giant floating psychic island that shoots dinosaurs?!”). It’s always fun to watch their expressions, but it’s also an interesting reminder that comics, at their core, are goofy as hell. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m glad comics are finally being respected as an art form, and I wouldn’t be writing here if I didn’t love poring through comics and discussing their depths, but sometimes it’s just fun to turn off my brain and embrace the goofiness, and no story’s been better for that lately than Trinity War. It’s so much fun that I don’t even mind that big fat “to be continued” at the end—well, I don’t mind it that much…
Drew: Determining a level of focus is perhaps the most important step in evaluating a work of art. These foci are specific to the style at hand — harmonic analysis is likely going to tell you very little about a rap song, just as an examination of brush strokes wouldn’t add much to a discussion of da Vinci. Intriguingly, these styles often begin to resemble each other as you zoom in and out — abstract paintings may share concepts of form, color, or composition with those of the Rennaisance masters, for example — further increasing the importance focus in an analysis. Geoff Johns has always written “big” — he’s been at the helm (or at least sharing the helm) of some of DC’s most important events over the past decade — and his writing has often chafed at the analyses of his critics. Justice League of America 7 actually avoids many of the pitfalls Johns is often cited for (a lot of stuff actually happens here), but it still has me wondering if we’re simply using the wrong tool for the job of evaluating a giant, Geoff Johns-penned event. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Aquaman 20, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Shelby: An interlude is a mini bit of music, inserted in the middle of a larger musical composition. Like an intermission, except you don’t get to go to the lobby to stretch your legs and stand in the bathroom line for 15 minutes. If we’re talking a theatrical interlude, it’s a little play squished between acts of a bigger play; why we wouldn’t just keep watching the regular play, I couldn’t tell you. I may not see the necessity of an interlude as a member of the audience, but sometimes the entertainers just need a 15 minute breather, and I guess providing some sort of filler entertainment is considerate. But if you’re going to stop the action for something completely different that isn’t especially good, don’t be surprised if I walk out before the second act. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Brandon are discussing Aquaman 19, originally released May 1st, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: The game of Tetris is one of the most popular videogames of all time. To this day, people still enjoy that particular puzzle game, making sure that the many pieces fit together just right to get the best score. Similarly (just go with me on this), there’s been quite a few moving pieces in Aquaman during the fallout of Throne of Atlantis. Geoff Johns has been busy pushing his story elements and its characters forward, and I’m (mostly) interested in where this story is going. However, while there are certainly pieces of this puzzle I’m fascinated by, this issue may suffer from paying too much attention to getting all pieces to fit in the right place, and not enough to the titular hero. Continue reading →