Patrick: Okay, so why “five years later,” huh? What’s the point of all these glances into the theoretic furutre of DC Comics? I know it shouldn’t matter that these stories may prove to be part of a future-narrative that gets wiped out of the canon, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’re reading a bunch of what-if stories. Intriguingly, these glimpses into future have their eyes set on the past; evoking elements of Pre-Flashpoint continuity and reconciling that with what’s been established since September of 2011. The future is a point on a line, plotted using the past and present as reference. It’s a herculean task, but one that writer Charles Soule and artist Jesus Saiz are more than up for, aligning themselves with the intrepid Alec Holland, perhaps unsure that they would make it through to the other side unharmed.
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Batman and Robin 34, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Patrick: When The Death of the Family was heading into its final issue, Scott Snyder appeared in a ton of interviews claiming that this conclusion was going to have a lasting effect on Batman and the Batfamily. But after that story line wrapped up, Snyder took his own series into Batman’s past, conveniently avoiding working through much of this fallout. Similarly, Grant Morrison killed Damian in Batman Incorporated, but wrapped up his series only a few issues later. The emotional heavy lifting as fallen to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who have dutifully presented the most erratic, emotional and frustrating Batman possible. Everything that Batman is — the selfless knight of justice, the patriarch of the Batfamily, the infallible detective — has been undermined in the wake of these twin tragedies. Understandably, that pushes Batman away from his readers, and his alienation from the world started to reflect the audiences’ alienation from the character. In issue 34, Tomasi and Gleason have Bruce offer a naked apology to his protégés, but they’re also inviting us to trust Batman again. Fuck yes: I’m ready to forgive. Continue reading
Drew: When I was five years old, I told my then four-year-old cousin that he was adopted. Nobody had told me that he was, and certainly nobody told me that I wasn’t supposed to tell him, but he was immediately distraught, running to his mother to assure him I was lying. A young kid’s relationship to his parents is his whole world, and the thought that there might be something unusual about it is understandably upsetting. Totally unintentionally, I put my aunt in an incredibly awkward position, forcing her to confront a truth outside of her terms, when her son was already distressed by the idea. Complicating the issue was that his brother is not adopted, which only creates more potential for feelings of alienation. Superman has long been the poster child for adoption, but what if his adopted home had its own “last son” that seemed to be every bit as “super” as he is? Might Clark grow a chip on his shoulder about being “the adopted one”? These are exactly the questions Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. set up in Superman 32, stopping just shy of showing us the answers. Continue reading
Spencer: I often find myself thinking of Geoff Johns as “the comic-bookiest writer in all of comics”, in the sense that so much of his work revolves around the history and mythology of the characters he’s writing, and enjoying his work often depends on having a history with the characters yourself. That’s not necessarily good or bad on its own; Johns’ style has its strong points and its weak ones, and while examples of both pop up in Forever Evil 7, it fortunately falls mostly on the “strong” side. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Justice League 29, originally released April 16th, 2014.
Patrick: Here’s a little bit of a confession: I don’t know why we make fun of people who use Internet Explorer. I think most of us use Chrome or Safari to navigate the internet, and I know a lot of smart, young, web-savvy types that will also use Firefox in a pinch. But IE? You might as well be my grandmother at that point. The browser is so closely associated with disinterested or novice internet use that it’s sorta become shorthand for “the person using this product doesn’t know anything about technology.” I’m sure that’s unfair, and I’d be willing to wager that most of the bugs and clumsy UIs that drove us all away from IE in the first place have been worked out and it’s a totally serviceable browser. Still though. Fucking n00bs, right? As Geoff Johns decides that technology vs. humanity has always been a theme of Forever Evil, the solutions feel less logical and reasoned and more magical. If the story is trying to convince me that it’s in anyway tech savvy, Justice League 29 is not putting forth the most compelling argument. Continue reading
Spencer: One of the biggest issues I’ve had with Forever Evil has been trying to figure out just how, exactly, its interpretation of Earth-3 works. Before the reboot Earth-3 was a world of opposites, where all evil characters were good guys and all the good guys were villains, and villains always won, but ever since the Crime Syndicate forced their way onto our world at the end of “Trinity War” writer Geoff Johns has largely shown Earth-3 as a world where everybody is evil, which I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around up to this point. Johns and David Finch’s Forever Evil 6 has finally helped put things in perspective for me, though, by unmasking the Syndicate’s prisoner and showing us exactly what a hero looks like on Earth-3. Continue reading
Patrick: Did y’all see Crazy Heart? Part of that movie hinges on the fact that Jeff Bridges’ character quietly and gradually writes a song so good that he can retire on it. I love imagining the moment in the script where the screenwriter must have written: “Then he writes the best song ever” and then goes back to describing a bar bathroom or something. Luckily, the people tasked with actually demonstrating this skill were up to the task. Geoff Johns has a habit of writing himself into similar corners, but always leaves it to himself to bail himself out. The result is an oddly self-contradictory narrative, one that comes so very close to acknowledging its own absurdity before doubling down on it.
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Justice League 24, a Forever Evil tie-in, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Taylor: What makes someone evil? The term is thrown around a lot in the media and it’s gotten to the point where it seems its meaning has become lost, just as we lose our sense of what good beer tastes like after a few or five drinks. We call certain dictators evil and the same goes for terrorists. In the stories we tell one another we talk about super villains and often these individuals are motivated by hate or revenge or the lust for power. We call these people evil and in both cases this is rightly so. But of course, considering someone evil is all a matter of perspective. One man’s terrorist is another man’s martyr; one’s hero is another’s villain. But suppose for a second we existed in a universe where this yin-yang balance didn’t exist. What would it be like? Justice League 24, a tie-in with Forever Evil, attempts to give us this answer and in doing so shows us some really deplorable characters.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Aquaman 24, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Families can be tough to deal with. Sometimes, you want nothing more than to make sure that everyone is happy, even if that means doing what is expected of you. Other times, maybe even most of the time, you just want to head for the hills and do your own thing. Aquaman has it infinitely worse because he has a royal family to deal with. For years, Aquaman was planted firmly in the hills doing his own thing until he made the choice to become the king of Atlantis. It’s a bit of a bummer though, because Aquaman 24 reveals that he was never meant to be king in the first place and that he might just be the villain of this piece…or at least the descendant of one. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Justice League of America 7.4: Black Adam, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Oh, you mean…Black Debbie
Whoa whoa whoa whoa, why is she “Black” Debbie?
No, not in a BAAAD way. It’s just to tell them apart because she’s…black!
Stormy and Sparks, “No Names (Black Debbie)”
Drew: A child, orphaned by crime, vows to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. The last survivor of a race of superpowered aliens is raised in small town Kansas. A regular guy is given super-speed when he is struck by lightening and doused with chemicals. Our favorite superheroes have simple, iconic origins, which make them easy to introduce in film or television, and easy to reintroduce when relaunching an entire comics line. That simplicity is a big selling point for a lot of these characters, but what of those whose history is a bit more complicated? Black Adam has always been a dark reflection of Shazam, but exactly how dark has varied widely over the years, and has offered a great deal more interest than its simple villain-turned-antihero scaffold might suggest. Unfortunately, the New 52 steamrolled all of that history, turning Black Adam back into a straightforward villain. With Justice League of America 7.4: Black Adam, writers Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates work to re-complicate Adam’s story — making him more than just “Black Shazam” — but may go for too much, too soon. Continue reading