Patrick: Joker is one of those characters that resists definition. In fact, we often use that lack of definition as a defining trait. I’m going to do a disservice to whoever made this observation — because I can’t remember where I first encountered it — but the most terrifying thing about Joker is that you never know whether he’s going to murder a child or throw a pie in Batman’s face. Arguably, the only thing that motivates the character is the desire to be a good Batman villain. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have played with this idea before — the Death of the Family even had Joker buying into the importance of their “relationship” — but this latest arc in Batman seems poised to establish Joker as something else entirely. He’s not a instrument of random, but intriguing, chaos, and he’s not in love with Batman. No: he’s Batman’s nemesis, and that means that he’s a sort of anti-detective, setting up mysteries that Batman cannot solve, corrupting superheroes and putting everyone’s lives in danger in the process. Continue reading
Spencer: I’ve been told that the key difference between introverts and extroverts is that interaction with other people drains introverts’ energy, while it recharges extroverts. I can believe that — I love spending time with friends, but if I’m around people too much it can be mentally exhausting, and I end up retreating to my room to charge my batteries for a few days. As an extrovert, though, Dick Grayson — the newest agent of Spyral — has the opposite problem: he needs people and personal connections to thrive. Dick certainly has the skills necessary to succeed as a spy, but his personality is much less suited to the job. Being alone is not Dick’s forte, and his need to connect could every well end up being his downfall. Continue reading
Mark: It took me a long while to decide what it was I really wanted to do in life. About two years ago I packed up everything that would fit in my car and moved to Los Angeles without a job and without knowing anyone. Ever since then, like Sonic the Hedgehog, I’ve felt the need to go fast. In some ways I feel far behind my peers, and I try to work double to make up for lost time. The sad reality, of course, is that you can’t make up time.
Detective Comics 36 wraps up a two-part story, Terminal, by the guest creative team of writer Benjamin Percy and penciler John Paul Leon. The set up is a familiar mystery thriller trope: a passenger jet lands at Gotham International Airport and careens into the terminal, crew unresponsive. When Batman and the airport’s Chief of Police board the plane, they find everyone onboard is dead and their flesh decayed. What could have killed them? Continue reading
Patrick: As I sit down to write this piece, the clock on the wall above my desk reads 11:00pm. It’s the end of a long day that’s been packed with all the various activities with which I busy myself. I worked, I ran, I improvised, I saw a show, I socialized. I talked to my sister on the phone, I explored the new podcasts on the Wolfpop network, I listened to that Nintendo Direct (Mario Kart DLC on November 13!), I even found some time to read a few comics. All of my interests were active all day, occasionally shifting in immediate priority so I could focus on completing one thing. This is the only way I know how to live my life – I don’t have much of a plan for my future, because I cannot predict which of these things is going to be / should be the most important thing to me. My enthusiasms revise themselves as opportunities and proficiencies wax and wane, and I’m constantly in fear that this maleability will rob me of genuine perspective. How can a writer have a voice, or a point of view, if they’re not any one thing consistently? In his spectacular finale to Superman Unchained, Scott Snyder posits that adaptability trumps consistency, and that Superman’s lack of defining ideology is his greatest strength. Neither Superman nor Patrick Ehlers stand for any one thing — and that’s what makes us mighty. Continue reading
Mark: As DC’s unquestionable cash cow, there is never a dearth of new Batman-related titles and spinoffs in the works. Within the past month DC has launched two new Batman-adjacent titles, first the youth-oriented Gotham Academy and now Arkham Manor. Continue reading
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
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
Patrick: Comic books aren’t exactly a safe space for women. Like any medium with a long enough memory, comics carry some pretty ugly baggage when it comes to the depiction and treatment of female characters. It seems things are even rougher for residents of Gotham City, arguably the quintessential “comic book city” — not only are the police corruption and organized crime families stuck in the 1930s, but an awful lot of those gender politics linger there too. You needn’t look any further than the most recent Catwoman series to know what I’m talking about. A lot of the same specifics that plagued that series are present in Batman Eternal 27 — themes of sexual slavery, Selina’s dangerous naivety, gratuitous ass shots, even a cameo from Mr. Bone — but the issue manages to present these problems as a contrast to the world Batman Eternal seems hellbent on cultivating. Is the BE team’s Gotham a better place for female characters? Continue reading
Spencer: Back in the 1930s and 40s comic books had a lot of variety — the still-new superhero genre was published alongside horror, romance, western, and detective books, just to name a few. As the decades passed those other genres gradually faded away until superhero books became the predominant genre, and while I absolutely love superhero books with all my heart and soul, we’re no doubt worse off for the lack of diversity. Fortunately, Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl’s Gotham Academy 1 is all about diversity, not only amongst the cast, but simply in the kind of book it is. Gotham Academy is equal parts teenage drama, coming-of-age tale, and supernatural mystery, and we’re certainly better off with it on the shelves. Continue reading
Suzanne: I fondly remember reading Batman: Hush for the first time over five years ago. There is so much to like about that book — Jeph Loeb’s long-form storytelling, Jim Lee’s pencils, and the Batman-Catwoman relationship to name a few. Loeb develops the friendship between Bruce Wayne and Tommy Elliot so convincingly that it adds creative tension to the final reveal. You almost want Hush to be someone else because of the depths of his betrayal to Bruce.
Batman Eternal introduces Hush to the New 52 as the Big Bad behind the crippling of Gotham City starting with the arrest of Jim Gordon. How does this series’ treatment of Hush add relevance to him as a character? After Loeb and Lee’s story arc, some readers felt that Hush was overused and his appearances were mediocre at best. Certain characters benefit from a dormant period and less can be more, such as The Joker. I’m hoping that three years of living in New 52 character purgatory makes this appearance all the more effective. Continue reading