Today, Andy and Spencer are discussing Justice League 44, originally released September 30th, 2015.
Andy: Justice League stories usually come in one of two shapes: seismic clashes between legions of good and evil that change the universe forever, or workplace procedurals driven by quirky-character team ups. Justice League 44 sits firmly in the first category, as Darkseid and Darkseid-wannabe Anti-Monitor punch each other to decide the true big baddie of the DC universe. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Batman Annual 4 originally released September 30th, 2015.
Ryan: Batman has been happening for quite some time, both in the real world and in the oft rebooted DC Universe. Fans of the series remember his numerous encounters with his rogues gallery throughout the years, as villains escape time after time from the doldrums of Arkham Asylum to once again terrorize the city of Gotham. The formula for Batman may even be seen as a little tiresome: villain arrives, terrorizes Batman, Batman wins, villain returns again, eventually — maybe teaming with another foe, something messed up happens to Bruce Wayne’s personal life, his family rescues him, rinse, repeat. So what is it that draws us back into Batman narratives when the conceit can seem formulaic? Much of its appeal, I would argue, comes from the long-standing history which the reader shares with the character, one which can make jumping into a title so compounded with spin-offs and mini-series and event tie-ins intimidating for some. Batman Annual 4 offers an easy jumping-in point as Bruce Wayne undergoes yet another identity crisis, catching a casual or first-time reader up while showing the audience why a protagonist mired in the past can be so fascinating.
Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Grayson 12, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
Mark: Grayson 12 is billed as Dick’s return to Gotham after quitting Spyral, and it is, but it’s also a continuation of the Grayson spy game. Dick truly intends to leave his life as international sex spy behind, but his hand is forced when the mysterious Agent Zero attacks him at Wayne Manor. Unless he returns to Spyral, she threatens, they’ll reveal to the world that Bruce Wayne is Batman. It’s a threat that’s been made in Bat Family comics forever, but it actually has greater weight here as Bruce is currently in no position to defend himself. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman 43, originally released August 12th, 2015.
It seems like so many of these interpretations [of Batman] are somebody’s favorite. And the truth be told is that they all feel like it’s the same character. Regardless of how different they might be or how separate they might feel, they all feel like they’re Batman. They all feel true to the core conceit of what that character is.
Drew: As diverse as Batman stories can be, they’ve always shared some core tenants of who the character is and what he stands for. Or, maybe we need to be more specific — there have been a few different Batmen over the years, with some variation in guiding principles (and origin stories), but Bruce Wayne has always stood for the same things. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on this series has been a slow indictment of each of those guiding principles, from Batman’s relationship to Gotham to exactly where he falls on the “superstitious and cowardly” spectrum, but this issue takes away something even more central to Bruce than all of these things combined: his drive as a detective. Indeed, that seems to be the linchpin that makes Bruce Batman — without it, he’s almost unrecognizable. Continue reading →
Retcon Punch is on Summer Hours, which means we’re going to be writing fewer in-depth pieces for the month of August. But we’re addicts at this point, so we need a place for our thoughts on all those comics we can’t stop reading. Today, we’re discussing Midnighter 3, Detective Comics 43, Batman Beyond 3 and Green Lantern 43.
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League: Gods and Monsters Batman 1, originally released July 22th, 2015.
Michael: There are a couple of questions we face when we read an “Elseworlds” tale in regards to the main continuity. What’s the point of any of this? Why does any of this matter? We are presented with alternate versions of the heroes that we know and love and wonder, “what the hell does this have to do with anything?” The worst case scenario is that we follow the exploits of a character that has a familiar name, but is absolutely nothing like what we know, and just different for difference’s sake. The best case scenario is that the character — while different from what we know – resonates with us to a certain truth at their core. Justice League: Gods and Monsters Batman1 stars a different Dark Knight that circles a lot of familiar Batman tent poles. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Reid are discussing Justice League 42, originally released July 15th, 2015.
Patrick: Justice League 42 is all about gods – who are gods, who are not gods, who can defy gods, who can become gods, whose godliness can be taken away. But that’s the real difference between a ‘god’ and a ‘superhero?’ Is it physical abilities? Do our gods need to be able to destroy worlds? Do we need our gods to present pure morality? Do we just need to feel that our gods are in control and have a plan? Or maybe gods just need to come from an established pantheon? Whatever other qualities you want to ascribe to gods, I think the most important idea is that they matter in a way that mere humans don’t. Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s “Darkseid War” zeroes in a conflict so big and so “important” that we need to check in on the godliness of every hero and every villain. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Earth 2 Society 2, originally released July 8th, 2015.
Patrick: For the vast majority of DC’s line, Convergence didn’t really effect that much. And honestly, how could we possibly expect that convoluted mythology pile-up to effect anything even remotely grounded in reality? I don’t think this is a bad thing: I love having stories I can take seriously and follow ravenously from week-to-week and month-to-month, but I also enjoyed the two-month goof-off session that Convergence afforded us. Because the wackiness of that event was always going to be self contained, we got crazy major character deaths and radical shifts in status quo and all kinds of world-ending stuff you’d never be able to get away with “in continuity.” Of course, that story was part of DC’s continuity: specifically the Earth-2 part. Earth 2 Society 2 deals with those insanely elevated stakes gleefully, hilariously putting the FATE OF THE PLANET in danger. Again. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Batman/Superman 22, originally released July 8th, 2015.
Michael: Any given issue of Batman/Superman is a coin toss. The relatively young incarnation of this relatively old idea is more of a companion piece to writer Greg Pak’s other Superman series, Action Comics. It’s an exploration of different avenues for Superman while being grounded by Batman as the constant. What happens when both the constant and the variable of this story-telling formula are changed? Is it the same book?
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Detective Comics 42, originally released July 1st, 2015.
Patrick: Creators on long-running comics are always trying to shake up the status quo. That can be exciting for fans, who love (or love to hate) seeing their favorite properties monkeyed with. And eventually, there’s always the added reward of the return of the original status quo — the status quo ante — which reinstates all our old standards. I try not to be a cynical reader, but sometimes I can’t escape the idea that characters are changed more or less arbitrarily in order to generate conversation and enthusiasm about a series. It’s not like this is bad — change means growth, and I’d love for superhero comics to embrace more growth — but the tendency to revert to a status quo ante makes any attempt at growth feel impotent. Bruce Wayne is dead. Sure. New status quo. He’ll be back. Status quo ante. But what about everyone caught in Batman’s periphery? They have to change too, but there’s nothing forcing them to change back. Detective Comics 42 hovers around this periphery, challenging and pushing characters that may actually be capable of growth. Continue reading →