Batgirl 41

batgirl 41

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Batgirl 41, originally released June 24th, 2015.

Spencer: One of the defining moments of my childhood was watching the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Over the Edge” in its initial broadcast. For any of you who aren’t familiar with the episode, it the one that ends its first act with Batgirl falling from a building to her death, proceeds to Jim Gordon, who feels betrayed that Batman never told him that Batgirl was his daughter Barbara, raiding the Batcave and capturing Alfred, and only gets more insane (and more violent — I never saw the episode reran) from there. The sheer spectacle of the episode captured my young heart, but it also garnered its fair share of detractors for its ending: the whole story was a nightmare of Barbara’s after being gassed by the Scarecrow.

The “it’s all a dream” ending never bothered me because, as exhilarating as the action was, the true heart of the story was Barbara’s fear of what would happen if she never told her father she was Batgirl. The conflict over Babs’ identity and Jim’s reaction to it is one I’ve seen rehashed in the comics numerous times since, but with diminishing returns. With Jim Gordon now taking the mantle of Batman, it seems inevitable that Batgirl 41 would again focus on this aspect of Jim and Barbara’s relationship, but I feel like I’ve seen this story a few too many times at this point. Continue reading

Justice League of America 1

jla 1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League of America 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Michael: I’m having a difficult time managing my expectations with this new direction that DC is putting out. Curiously, I’m being overly optimistic that these new books will be excellent and do away with the New 52ishness of recent memory. Basically, I’m falling for DC’s sales pitch hook, line, and sinker. While Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America 1 has some trappings of the New 52, I think he’s trying to blaze his own trail with DC’s trademark team. Continue reading

Batman 41

batman 41

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Batman 41, originally released June 10th, 2015.

Michael: Batman as an idea has taken many different meanings in the character’s 75 year history: the ultimate mortal, Bat-god and arguably comics’ gritty landscape architect, to name a few. Above all else we have come to learn that being Batman is a sacrifice; you have to commit yourself to the cape and cowl, body and soul. We’ve seen how this sacrifice has affected many facets of Bruce Wayne’s life as well as the other heroes who have taken up the mantle of the bat. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo place Jim Gordon in that honored position and explore what exactly that sacrifice means for the former police commissioner. Continue reading

Justice League 41

justice league 41

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Justice League 41, originally released June 3rd, 2015.

Michael: My biggest gripe with super hero movies or comic book reboots is that their world isn’t fully-formed; typically we have to wait an hour into the movie before the hero does the hero-ing we came to see. Origins, exposition and plot machinations take up an overwhelming amount of time and space in these situations. “Darkseid War” might be my favorite Justice League story yet because it doesn’t take that commonplace route. While Justice League 41 does have a lot of exposition, we are entering into the fully-formed world of the New Gods of Apokolips. This isn’t the origin story of Mister Miracle; he’s BEEN Mister Miracle for a while now. Continue reading

Convergence Round-Up: Week Eight

convergence roundup 8

Today, Michael leads a discussion about Convergence 8, Action Comics 2, Blue Beetle 2, Booster Gold 2, Crime Syndicate 2, Detective Comics 2, Infinity Inc. 2, Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters 2 and World’s Finest 2.

convergence divMichael: When’s the last time you read a true finale from Marvel or DC? I’m talking final word, last story, completion of a hero’s journey, close-the-book-on-it ending. I could probably only count a handful of those types of finales in the past couple of years; maybe. Like any analysis of the Big Two, it can be seen in two ways: cynically or inspiringly. Cynically, there will never be a “final story.” The Coca-Cola and Pepsi of comic books always leave a door open for potential future stories because they want your money. Inspiringly, we are witnessing the sagas of modern mythology: endless heroic epics. These stories will never come to a true end because their legend continues and the heroes never say die. It can be impossibly cheesy, but the end caption “Never the end” always clutches at my heart strings. After eight weeks, 41 books and 89 issues Convergence has finally met its end. I think there is a strong argument for the inspiring read of “Never the End” present in most of these finales. Conversely, Convergence been criticized as a sales stunt, so the more cynical finale read is just as viable. Two months later what have we learned? For one, nostalgia can be expensive. Continue reading

Convergence: Superman 2

superman 2 conv

Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week. Continue reading

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.

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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