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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Gotham Academy 5, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Spencer: It’s not easy figuring out how and when to reveal key plot points and answer pressing questions when constructing a narrative. Some stories get so caught up hyping big mysteries that the solutions can’t live up to the audience’s expectations — others lose their inertia by revealing all too early. Thus far, I’ve been quite impressed by how Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher have handled their mysteries in Gotham Academy. Issue 5 is full of big reveals, balanced expertly by Cloonan and Fletcher, which fill in many of the blanks about Olive’s lost summer and Tristan’s identity. This new information expands the world of Gotham Academy and helps flesh out the cast, both individually and as a unit, while avoiding the pitfalls I listed at the outset of this article. Plus, it’s loads of fun. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Batman 39, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Michael: When it comes to Batman, Joker stories are pretty much hit or miss. We’ve seen great successes and failures in film, animation, television (I’m looking at you Gotham), and of course, comic books. He’s an iconic character that has been built up to mythic proportions equal to (or greater) than Batman’s. Counting the Joker’s brief appearance in his Detective Comics run, this is Scott Snyder’s third stab at the Clown Prince of Crime. To make a truly remarkable Joker story, the approach to the Joker and how the story is told have to be changed. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, originally released February 11th, 2015.
Spencer: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti had a rough road ahead of them when tasked with refashioning Harley Quinn into the star of her own comic book. A villain protagonist must walk a fine line, being sympathetic enough to earn the audience’s affection while still villainous enough to avoid losing the spark that drew readers to them in the first place. Conner and Palmiotti’s approach to Harley Quinn has often involved pitting their villain protagonist against people even worse than she is, having her stand up for animal rights, and giving her a sort-of family in the form of her tenants; judging from sales numbers, it’s been a successful tactic, but has Harley become a better person in the process? Despite being a holiday special, that’s the question at the heart of Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, and it’s a surprisingly rich question to ask, even if the answer is a bit unclear, and the question often muddied and buried within the oversized issue’s many tangents and asides. Continue reading →
February 14th is about three things: socks with hearts on them, discount chocolates on the 15th, and corny Valentines cards for your friends. We can’t really share the first two with you, our loyal readers, but boy can we share the third! A couple years ago we made a bunch of corny Valentine’s Day cards, and we had so much fun we did it again last year. Because we’re once, twice, three times a lady, we’ve done it again and made a new batch of Valentines for you all. Feel free to print and pass them out to the nerds you love the most, just keep our name on them, huh? More after the break.
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 38, originally released February 4th, 2015.
Mark: Well, it’s finally happening. DC announced late last week that starting in June, following the events of the Convergence event, The New 52 will no longer exist. Having run for almost 4 years, it’s not hard to understand why as The New 52 branding was getting a little long in the tooth. What does this mean for our favorite characters? Apparently not much, as no continuity reboot is planned. I mention this because when I first read Superman 38 before the post-Convergence announcements last week, I assumed that the two major revelations in this issue were being unloaded now so they could easily be walked back in only a few months. Continue reading →
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 →