Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Batman 21, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Spencer: Two gunshots ring out in a dark alley. A string of pearls falls to the ground. Sound familiar? It should — Batman’s origin story is one of the best-known and most beloved in comic book history. It’s been told and retold countless times, and while many of these stories are flat-out classics – Year One, Batman Begins, Mask of the Phantasm – one still wonders: Is another Batman origin story really necessary? Can Batman’s origin still be retold in a fresh way that doesn’t rehash or invalidate those earlier stories? The jury’s still out on the first question, but in Batman 21, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo prove that they’re capable of telling a Batman origin story the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Detective Comics 21, originally released June 5th, 2013.
Patrick: Ah, yes: Detective Comics. I believe we’ve dropped this title twice, a dubious honor it shares with Batwing. We keep coming back to the old girl because we’re tempted by a new creative team or a character that we like. I mean, it’s already Batman, so it’s got a better than average chance at entertaining me from the get-go. However, after checking in with it this month, I’m reminded of the list of reasons we put this title down in the first place. It’s not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, but it lacks so much of the DNA of a Batman story that it starts to feel like something else entirely. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Dial H 13, originally released June 5th, 2013.
Patrick: The Retcon Punchers tend to get flowery in our language when we describe Dial H - we’ve called it “aggressively weird” and ” gleefully surreal.” When the pages are stuffed with goofy characters like Captain Lachrymose and Bumpler Carla, it’s hard to escape the fact that the weirdness of the title is kind of the point. In issue 13, China Mieville digs into the background of Open-Window Man — a character we had previously only known as a compatriot of Boy Chimney’s — and discovers a moving truth about superheroes, comic books and the value of repetitive storytelling. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and guest writer Tyler are discussing Batman Incorporated 11, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Drew: I love one-offs. I don’t know if it’s the satisfaction of a self-contained narrative, or just their relative rarity in modern comics, but I’m always excited to jump into a single-serving adventure. Unless, of course, it falls in the middle of the closing arc of an Epic I’ve been reading for years. I don’t want to hold the placement of this issue against it — especially since it likely afforded the creative team time to craft an incredible close to this arc — so I’ll do my best to put my expectations aside, but it’s a strange uphill battle that very few issues in comicdom are subject to. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Scott are discussing Batman 20, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Spencer: As a kid, Clayface was always one of my favorite Batman villains. Some of that has to do with the fact that he starred in one of the first cartoons that ever made me cry (Batman: The Animated Series’ excellent final season episode “Growing Pains”), but mostly it was just my young self finding this giant shapeshifting puddle of mud that could sprout blades out of his chest to be totally wicked awesome. I won’t even try to hide it, I still find those facets of the character just as fun as an adult, but I’ve come to realize that, beyond the standard shapeshifter tricks, there isn’t much to Clayface’s personality; usually he’s just treated as a device to serve some other villain’s master plan. Scott Snyder manages to wring a surprising amount of personality out of Clayface, but if the walking mud puddle isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry: there’s plenty of other stuff going on too.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 10, originally released April 25th, 2013.
Drew: One of the defining characteristics of Batman is his relative plausibility. Fictional technology aside, he’s basically an extremely wealthy, extremely determined individual — no alien DNA, no radioactive animal bites, no magic. Writers will vary in just how plausible they want their version of Batman to be, but most respect that believability as one of the character’s biggest draws. Every so often, writers will break that rule — Jason will be resurrected via magic, or Bruce might call in a favor from Superman — to show you just how big the stakes are. In this issue, the situation is so dire, Bruce turns to not one, but several such outlandish solutions, tapping into every corner of Batman-exess he can. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Batman 19, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Scott: Who says Batman has to be complicated? Anyone who has read Scott Snyder’s series for the last year and a half has gotten used to arcs that take many months to unravel. First, it was Night of the Owls, then Death of the Family. Even the random peppering of Harper Row storylines feel like part of a grander scheme. Well, another multi-issue epic is on the way, in the form of Zero Year, but first Snyder has made room for a rather straightforward two-parter. The immediacy of the payoffs in Batman 19 comes almost as a shock, as Snyder reminds us how much fun it can be to watch Batman solve a mystery that feels only a couple steps -- as opposed to issues — ahead of the reader.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 9, originally released March 27th, 2013.
Drew: In Batman Incorporated 0, Grant Morrison asserted that “the first truth of Batman” was that he was never alone, and backs it up with the fact that Alfred was there from the start. But is that the first truth of Batman? If Batman was born that night in his father’s study, he was surely conceived 18 years earlier as Thomas an Martha died, making loss the first truth of Batman. With that loss comes the loneliness that Morrison’s “first truth” was reacting to. Sure, Bruce sought comfort in his friends and wards, but every moment of his life was shaped by the crushing loneliness he felt watching his parents die. The death of Damian reemphasizes that point, distancing Bruce even from Alfred, who — as Morrison asserted — was always there. The result is a uniquely lonely Batman, spinning another take on the character into the tapestry of Morrison’s epic. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman and Robin 18, originally released March 13th 2013.
Drew: I could have told you that summarizing and analyzing a dialogue-free comic would be hard — pictures are worth a thousand words, but the words in comics direct our attention, and provide context for those images. Strictly speaking, sequential art doesn’t require words, but they’re so common (especially in superhero comics) that to eschew them altogether feels downright radical. This isn’t meant as a value judgement — I’ve read many great dialogue-free comics — just to say that it’s a little outside my wheelhouse. By all rights Batman and Robin 18 should be hard to talk about because of it’s lack of dialogue, but instead, it’s hard to talk about because it’s so fucking sad. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Scott are discussing Batman 18, originally released March 13th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: The death of a loved one is something that is incredible hard to face. It’s also got to be something incredibly hard to write about, especially when you have to do so in a superhero comic where action and adventure is normally the name of the game. With the recent death of Robin The Boy Wonder, the Bat-writers have been tasked to deal with his death in their own way. Scott Snyder manages not only to continue the story of his new character Harper Row, but seamlessly and organically ties her story into the death of young Damian Wayne.