Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1

Alternating Currents: Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1, Michael and Drew

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1 originally released April 29th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

convergence div

Michael: Week Four of Convergence has included my first exposure to tie-ins that attempt to dedicate equal page time to two of the alternate Earths that will be coming to blows once the dome comes down. Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1 follows two alternate versions of the Justice League: The Crime Syndicate of America from pre-Crisis Earth 3 and Justice Legion Alpha of the 853rd Century. Continue reading

Free Comic Book Day 2015 Round Up

fcbd roundup

Patrick: There’s one question that keeps rolling through my head in reading FCBD issues: who is this for? For retailers, the purpose of the event is self-evident. Stores get throw fun little parties and get some extra bodies in through those doors. And comic fans get to have their own little celebrations as well. But when I’m back in my apartment and it’s just me and books, I can’t help but wonder about everyone’s experience with their new free comics. Did the twelve year-old with Batman on his shirt get a kick of Divergence 1 because it was the “robo-Batman one?” (Those are the comic store employee’s words, not the kid’s). Were any new life-time fans born today? Or were some potential fans alienated? And what about those of us with extensive pulls? Did we get something out of this? Who are these comics for? Continue reading

Batman 40

batman 40

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Batman 40, originally released April 29th, 2015.

Spencer: Batman 40 is a dense issue. I’ve lingered over this issue in a way I haven’t lingered over a comic in quite a while. Every page is rich with meaning, both in the writing and the art, and it would take far more space than Patrick and I have allotted here to fully unpack it. Let me assure you all, though, that doing so is more than worth the time and effort. Batman 40 is a masterpiece that can be enjoyed on numerous levels, and I think it’s an issue we’re going to be dissecting for a long time to come. So let’s get to it. Continue reading

Gotham Academy Endgame 1

Alternating Currents: Gotham Academy Endgame 1, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy Endgame 1, originally released April 1st, 2015.

Drew: Ah, the framing story. What else provides such instant meta-text? It’s what turns The Princess Bride into a story about bedtime stories, or Don Quixote into a story about adventure stories. Of course, it also adds a layer of distance, reminding us that we’re consuming a story, just in case we might have forgotten. At its most cynical, that distance can provide plausible deniability of the events of the story (like so many hand-waving sitcom episodes based on A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life), but at its most sincere, it allows a single narrative to celebrate the act of storytelling. In the case of Gotham Academy Endgame 1, it also allows for stories that otherwise wouldn’t fit in the narrative, revealing the depth and breadth to the world of the series while also showcasing some fantastic talent. Continue reading

Batman and Robin Annual 3

Alternating Currents: Batman and Robin Annual 3, Michael and Shane

Today, Michael and Shane are discussing Batman and Robin Annual 3, originally released April 1, 2015.

Michael: Convergence has already begun, whose end will signify the sort-of-new direction for DC’s entire line. While Batman and Robin 40 was Patrick Gleason’s final issue on the series, Batman and Robin Annual 3 marks the quiet death of the Batman and Robin series that Gleason and Pete Tomasi re-launched back in 2011. So prepare yourselves for Batman and Robin IN SPAAAAAAACE!

Batman and Robin Annual 03-008 Continue reading

Batman Eternal 52

batman eternal 52Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman Eternal 52, originally released April 1, 2015.

People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.

Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins

Spencer: Throughout all of the many different storylines in Batman Eternal, one theme has steadily built under the title’s surface: the idea of Batman’s legacy. While it was never something addressed all that directly (at least until R’as al Ghul flat out asked “Is Batman eternal?” a few weeks ago), the creative bullpen has steadily been building up Batman’s team of allies and investigating just what effect Batman’s presence has had on Gotham City. With this massive weekly series finally coming to an end, Batman Eternal 52 aims to show exactly the power of that symbol on Batman’s chest, and it does so in spectacular fashion, pulling together nearly all the threads that have been cast throughout the last 52 issues into one show-stopping finale. Continue reading

Batman and Robin 40

batman and robin 40

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 40, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Drew: Bruce Wayne’s back was broken. Otto Octavius took over Peter Parker’s body. Superman had a mullet. Steve Rogers was dead. We often talk derisively of these kinds of easily-reversed changes in superhero comics because they seem gimmicky and cheap — what better way to boost sales than to trumpet the death of Superman? — but I’d actually argue that these stories offer a clever way of exploring what makes these heroes great. Moreover, they remind us not to take what we like about these characters for granted. Fewer characters have been put through quite so many changes recently as Damian Wayne, who has both died and gained superpowers, so while Batman and Robin 40 ends with him back in his non-dead, non-superpowered state, it’s actually kind of refreshing. Continue reading

Detective Comics Endgame 1

Alternating Currents: Detective Comics Endgame, Michael and Drew

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Detective Comics Endgame 1, originally released March 11th, 2015.

Michael: If there is one thing that the big two comics publishers suffer from it’s the excessive reliance on crossovers. DC especially has pimped out every major Batman storyline that Scott Snyder has produced thus far, hijacking the narratives of books like Batgirl and the like to show the goings on of Owls/Jokers/Zero Years from the other Bat-perspectives. It seems that DC has gotten hip to their overreliance on these types of stories, and instead gives us a series of one-shots that tie into the events of Batman’s current “Endgame” arc. So, does Detective Comics Endgame 1 add much to Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul’s Detective Comics and/or Scott Snyder’s “Endgame?” Not so much. Continue reading

Grayson 8

Alternating Currents: Grayson 8, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Grayson 8, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Drew: I like to read into titles. We tend to boil down the difference between Superman and Action Comics to the creative teams involved, but I think the focus of every story is informed by its title. Luke Skywalker may feature prominently in Star Wars, but not in quite the same way he would if the movies were titled Luke Skywalker. In that same vein, when a story’s title is the protagonist’s name, we understand that story to necessarily be about that character. Oliver Twist may deal with poverty and exploitation, but the story is ultimately about a single orphan. In the month-to-month grind of comics, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Spider-Man is actually about Spider-Man (and not the criminal-of-the-month), but the best writers manage to keep the focus on the heroes, even as they’re put up against an endless lineup of threats. Tom King and Tim Seeley have never lost sight of Dick as the center of Grayson, but issue 8 reasserts that focus so strongly, we never feel lost — even as they yank the rug out from under us. Continue reading

Detective Comics 40

detective comics 40

Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Detective Comics 40, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Mark: On a week to week basis, comic books are junk food. Most everything that comes out is disposable, easily forgotten. While occasional stories and arcs will make a mark, for the most part Batman’s latest encounter with a violent psychopath quickly becomes only of interest to the most diehard continuity enthusiast. These are the same stories that DC has been telling for basically 30 years, and they work. They’re engaging. They sell a dwindling number of books. Detective Comics 40 ends an arc built around hatred, revenge, and the murder of children. It’s another take on the classic Batman formula: a new threat emerges in Gotham, Batman tries to control the threat, Batman loses control and order in Gotham is threatened, Batman confronts the source of the threat, almost loses, but through strength and determination, Batman defeats the threat. Mad libs “threat” for the name of any member of his rogue gallery, and you’ve got yourself a Batman story. Continue reading