Patrick: I love Batman, but I’ve been exposed to so many books and games and movies and TV shows (plus one Stunt Show Spectacular at Six Flags), that very little in a Batman story can genuinely surprise me. The writing team on Batman Eternal acknowledges this familiarity, simultaneously leveraging those emotional beats for everything they’re worth, and suggesting that there are still some surprises out there. Continue reading
Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Drew: Two figures arrive in the big city for the first time. It’s the start of many a classic story of city life — including this issue — but it also accurately describes Manapul and Buccellato’s “move” to Gotham. After a stellar run on The Flash (ha), Manapul and Buccellato have brought their signature meta-commentary to DC’s namesake, opening with the quote above. The line is not necessarily spoken — it could plausibly be said by Elena or Annie Aguila (the two figures we see arriving in Gotham), but is rather explicitly not represented as dialogue, or even internal monologue — there’s no speech balloon, no voiceover box, not even a quotation mark, suggesting that this really is the creators speaking directly to the audience. It’s a bold move, but exactly the kind that gives me confidence that this does indeed have the potential to be great.
Shelby: Comic books have to be one of the most restrictive forms of media out there. As a writer, you’re stuck dealing with characters with 70-odd years of history hanging around their necks like a lodestone. Deviate too much, and millions of voices cry out in anger before you find yourself suddenly silenced (creatively speaking). But if you don’t deviate enough, you find yourself with a story that is at best seen as a cliché and at worse doesn’t make any sense because there’s no way to make sense of that much backstory. I have a lot of respect for the writers who walk that line, and walk it well; I don’t envy them the choices they have to make. While I have lauded Scott Snyder in the past for his treatment of Batman’s origin story in Year Zero, his take on the Man of Steel falls a little too close to territory we’ve tread before for me to really enjoy it.
Shelby: It can be really hard to admit you’ve been wrong. Especially when you’ve gone out of your way to show everyone how right you are. The only thing to do is own up to your mistake and try to fix it. It’s a painful admission to make, and the bigger the consequences of your mistake, the more painful it is. In his own take on the iconic Batman origin story, Scott Snyder has given us a Bruce Wayne who is young, brash, and very confident. Whether through an inflated sense of self or the independence forced upon him at the death of his parents (probably a bit of both), this Bruce is even more reluctant to accept help from others than we’ve seen before. Finally, as the latest arc of Zero Year wraps up, the pieces begin to fall into place, and Bruce finds himself with some mistakes to own up to and a very hard lesson to learn. Problem is, it looks like it might be too late.
Today, Spencer and Mikyzptlk are discussing Detective Comics 28, originally released February 5th, 2014. This issue is part of the Gothtopia event. We talked with John Layman about Gothtopia, you can find that interview here.
Spencer: Back in the summer of 2010 I was obsessed with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics, and eagerly awaited the release of their movie adaptation. I spent the weeks leading up to it reading and rereading the comics and preparing myself for the awesomeness I knew the movie would surely be. After I actually saw the movie, though, I was oddly disappointed by the many changes made between it and the comics. It took me quite a while to reconcile the two versions, but once I did, I ended up seeing it twice more in theaters and it quickly became my favorite movie. I had a similar experience reading Detective Comics 28 this week. After last month’s introduction to the “Gothtopia” storyline I was expecting a lot out of this issue—specifically, more exploration of this new Gotham utopia—but the story ended up veering in another direction entirely. I was disappointed at first, but fortunately, the story I got instead ended up being pretty enjoyable in its own right. Continue reading
Today, Greg and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batman and Robin Annual 2, originally released January 29th 2014.
Greg: My friends often make fun of me for liking everything, and they have a good point. If one of them asks me for a movie recommendation, I’ll give twenty, and get at least one “I heard that was terrible” in response. If someone rags on the recently cancelled and critically reviled Sean Saves The World, I’ll pipe in and counter that it was actually one of the best new comedies of the season, prematurely put down. The new Paramore album? On repeat, in my car stereo, no apologies. Sometimes I’ve been criticized as not having enough cultural taste or filtration. My counterargument is that the consumption of media and storytelling fundamentally stems from love and positivity. It behooves a consumer to like things, because of the positive feelings you get. So, whenever I do genuinely, fully, through-and-through dislike something, not only do I mean it, but it pains me to say it out loud. It blots out my blinding sun of naive media love. I’ll put it frankly, no matter how much it hurts me to say: Batman and Robin deserve better than this issue.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batman 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014.
Shelby: We all know why Bruce Wayne became Batman: parents killed, city corrupted, a cowardly and superstitious lot, etc. We get it, we get Batman. But that has never been enough for Scott Snyder. Throughout his run on Batman, Snyder has forced Bruce to recognize his allies, and nearly lose them. In Night of the Owls, the very city of Gotham seemed to turn on Batman, and Death of the Family saw Bruce realize how important the Bat-family is to him just in time to nearly lose it (or actually lose it, the family certainly hasn’t been the same since). While on its surface, Zero Year is another retelling of the Batman origin, Snyder actually gives us a much closer look at Bruce’s motivations, and the beginnings of those relationships he grew to value so dearly.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Detective Comics 27, originally released January 8th, 2014.
Mikyzptlk: Detective Comics 27 is an anniversary issue not only because it’s the second “Detective Comics 27” in DC’s publishing history, but also because it’s Batman’s 75th anniversary (or close to it, anyway). With that, DC has brought on an impressive array of writers and artists (Brad Meltzer! Neal Adams!) in order to celebrate the Bat’s 75th birthday. The result is as intriguing as it is entertaining and heartwarming. Continue reading
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Batman 26, originally released December 11th, 2013
Scott: There’s real risk in presenting a story like Zero Year. Mostly, there’s a risk that there won’t be enough tension to keep the story interesting. One thing that makes a story exciting to read is that we don’t know what will happen to the characters, and there’s always the possibility of tragedy striking a character we love. Those possibilities are limited in Zero Year. Since it takes place in the past, we know a lot of things can’t happen. Bruce can’t die in Zero Year. Neither can Alfred, Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox, or any other character we saw in the first 20 issues of Batman. With that in mind, let’s take this opportunity to thank goodness that Scott Snyder knows how to exploit all of the things this type of story can do. Zero Year shows an evolution — one of strange people becoming the characters we’ve come to know — and it’s full of mystery. Seems like a risk worth taking.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Batman 25, originally released November 13th, 2013
Mikyzptlk: From the moment that Zero Year was first announced, it has been shrouded in mystery. What exactly was the “Zero Year” and how would it change the origin of Batman that we’ve been familiar with for so long? We are now five issues into the story, and while some of the mysteries are becoming clear, there seems to be tons of new ones cropping up left and right. Issue 25 of Batman is no exception. At the same time, we are introduced to a brand new/really old Batman villain that may just be revealing more about our hero than he is about himself at this point. Continue reading