Mikyzptlk: Origin stories. We are getting a lot of origin stories from DC Comics these days. I suppose it’s only natural given the relative newness of the New 52. It’s been a few years now, but there are still a lot of lingering questions and a lot more room to reinterpret certain origins. Still, I’ve been suffering from “origin-itis” lately, especially with Villain’s Month throwing a ton of new origins our way. While Peter Tomasi didn’t use the Two-Face Villain’s Month special to explore the origin of the villain, he’s certainly using this current arc to do so. So, how does he do? Well, Tomasi brilliantly circumvents my origin-overload by tying Harvey’s past directly into his present. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Drew: I’m not sure I’ve ever “gotten” Ra’s al Ghul. Sure, as the immortal leader of a criminal empire, he’s a great villain, but I never fully understood why he’s a Batman villain. The best Batman rogues highlight some important element of Bruce Wayne: Joker’s gleeful chaos reflects Batman’s brooding order, for example. Without a gimmicky hook, I was always left thinking that Ra’s was meant to highlight Bruce’s mortality, which is kind of a defining characteristic, but one that is brought up every time he’s put in moral peril, so not really specific to Ra’s. With Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, writer James Tynion IV finds that parallel in the way both men wield myths to make them stronger, turning in a character-defining secret origin that actually builds on the character’s history, rather than simply rehashing it. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batman and Nightwing 22, originally released August 21st, 2013.
Shelby: Grief is hard. Even the most well-adjusted, grounded person will struggle with it, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that Bruce Wayne is pretty far from well-adjusted. His grief over his parents’ deaths so many years ago still propels him forward, so it’s no surprise he’s been having difficulty letting go of Damian. It’s not until he lets himself see the grief in those around him that he really begins to move towards acceptance.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 13, originally released July 31st, 2013.
It never ends. It probably never will.
Drew: What does it mean to end a run writing Batman? How do you “end” a story featuring a character that has been published in perpetuity for over 70 years with no signs of slowing down? Sure, Grant Morrison “killed” Bruce Wayne, but that was back at the close of his epic’s second act. No, the ending here had to be something much grander, something much truer to the unrelenting nature of Batman. The sheer scope of Morrison’s epic is deserving of the same pomp and circumstance of “the definitive end” of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern, but Morrison manages to approach that same grandiosity with modest deference, keeping in mind that, while the he may be done, Batman will keep on going. That simple nod turns his elaborate love letter to Batman’s past into an equally impassioned love letter to Batman’s future, and gracefully shifts Morrison from center stage to the audience. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batman and Catwoman 22, originally released July 17th, 2013.
Spencer: I’m probably in the minority among the Retcon Punch writers, but I’m actually a huge fan of Catwoman. When written properly she’s an unpredictable, fun character, but I’m particularly fond of her team-ups with Batman. Catwoman’s been a lot of things to Batman in the past: a villain, a temptation, an ally, and even a love interest, and each version brings out a new aspect of Batman’s personality. When you throw these two characters together you can never be quite sure how they’ll react, and their team-up in Batman and Catwoman 22 doesn’t disappoint; Selina even manages to make Batman smile.
Drew: Gail Simone gets Barbara Gordon. I mean that both in that Simone understands Babs’ motivations and has a clear sense of her voice AND that she understands what makes her an interesting character. Early issues of Batgirl featured a fresh balance of uncertainty both under the cape (pertaining to PTSD and survivor’s guilt) and out of it (pertaining to the more pedestrian trappings of being an unemployed twenty-something looking for an apartment). More recent developments in this title (and Batman) have piled on a few more issues, from questioning the trust of Bruce Wayne to guilt over killing her own brother, which threatened to crowd out those elements I loved so much. Issue 22 finds both Simone and Babs taking a step back, separating the bat from the girl, and refocusing the story on Babs. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 12, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Drew: I don’t know when exactly I learned the phrase “grand finale,” but for much of my childhood, I only associated it with Fourth of July fireworks shows. I don’t know if it was just youthful impatience, or just excitement over getting to use those special words, but that was the only part of the show I ever cared about — who wants to see brilliant explosions paced out slowly when they can all go off in rapid succession? To some degree, I think there’s still an expectation for finales to be grand — remember everyone’s reaction to The Sopranos finale? — even if that ignores that narratives aren’t the same thing as fireworks shows. A satisfying conclusion to a narrative features consequents to the antecedents set up throughout the story, effectively closing all of the open parentheses. That job is already tough (think of how many otherwise decent stories have been totally ruined by a botched ending), but becomes exponentially tougher as the antecedents and open parens pile up over the years — especially when Grant Morrison is writing. His Batman Epic has been truly epic — it features both a global scope and a historical perspective, and has introduced countless characters, relationships, and histories — all of which require additional consideration as the story winds to its close. This entire final chapter of Batman Incorporated has been about starting that process, but issue 12 suggests that Morrison might actually intend to close ALL of his open parentheses AND give us the grand finale our inner child has been begging for for the past seven years. Continue reading
Today, Drew and guest writer Gino Killiko are discussing Batman and Batgirl 21, originally released June 19th, 2013.
Drew: I have to admit, as a stage of grief, bargaining never made all that much sense to me — especially not as the third stage. I can accept that somebody might make an impassioned plea to whatever powers exist at the time of a loved one’s death, but I’m just not sure who people are bargaining with long after a loved one has died. It turns out, that is because the whole Kübler-Ross model that the “five stages of grief” are based on is actually adapted from the stages associated with an impending death, which kind of supports the notion that bargaining after the fact doesn’t necessarily make any sense. That might explain why Batman and Batgirl 21, which is meant to focus on the third stage of grief, doesn’t quite work. Continue reading
Today, Drew and guest writer Michael D. are discussing Batman and Red Hood 20, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Drew: Bruce Wayne has never been particularly good at processing grief. He’s still driven by the death of his parents — actively and daily. In the wake of Damian’s death, Peter Tomasi has set out to follow Bruce through the five stages of grief, but has Bruce ever gone through all five stages? This month’s stage — anger — reveals a very familiar Batman, suggesting that he may have stalled out there 20+ years ago. Of course, both this issue (like last month’s) finds Bruce bargaining something fierce, so perhaps there’s hope he can progress, after all. Continue reading