Drew: What do we expect of this series? Grand world-building? Serviceable (if maybe uninspired) Batman stories? When we discussed the first issue, I argued that the way this series addresses our expectations — the way it fulfills some but defies others — may be its most distinctive characteristic. Indeed, issue 2 is so drastically different in form and focus, it’s easy to see defiance of expectations as this series’ unifying trait.
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
Today, Shelby and guest writer Lindsey are discussing Batman 23.2: The Riddler, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Shelby: The Riddler and the Joker. Two clowns, of a sort, with very different reputations. To the Joker, the world is a gag, a cheap joke that doesn’t make sense. That’s why he’s so scary; you literally have no idea what he’ll do next. The Riddler has always been different to me. Riddles are silly, true, but they’re clever. There’s a perverted sense of logic to them. That’s how I’ve always thought of Edward Nygma: clever, but ultimately rather silly and harmless. Ray Fawkes and Scott Snyder show us a different, more dangerous Riddler, and I am liking what I see.
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Trinity of Sin: Pandora 3 originally released August 21, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.
Taylor: One of my favorite scenes in any Quentin Tarantino movie, of which there are many, is the training sequence when Beatrix Kiddo is under the tutelage of Pai Mei. At first, the wizened martial arts master is reluctant to teach a white America woman, but eventually Beatrix’s tenacious character convinces him of her dedication to her chosen craft (killing). It’s a goofy scene that’s intentionally over-the-top in its reference to kung-fu films of old, but that’s part of the pleasure. Adding to my enjoyment of the scene is the fact that this particular segment of Kill Bill references a key archetype of storytelling: the hero’s training. In virtually every story ever written, the hero, at some point, must confront the fact that their best just isn’t good enough. Sometimes this leads to personal growth and sometimes it leads to a training montage. Whichever the choice, it’s hard to find a story where this doesn’t happen. Keeping that in mind, we shouldn’t be surprised that the myth of Pandora is being given the same treatment. However, which road will the writers take? Personal growth, training, or a mixture of the two?
Today, Taylor and Mikyzptlk are discussing Trinity of Sin: Pandora 2 originally released July 31st, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.
Taylor: We like to think of our world as being made up of opposites. There is always a yin to a yang, there is always a cat to a dog. It’s a convenient way of looking at the world and it helps us make sense of a lot of what we see in our everyday lives. But as we grow older we come to realize that maybe the world isn’t so black and white. Maybe there isn’t an absolute good and maybe there isn’t an absolute evil. Despite this, we tend to think of comic book characters as falling in either the spectrum of evil or good. However, when Superman, supposedly a hero of pure heart, opened Pandora’s Box we realized that not even the best of our heroes is totally without a certain darkness in his heart. But if we flip the tables, is it possible we’ll find a super villain who is totally evil of heart? Pandora wants to find out and in the second issue of her stand alone series, we see that the Trinity War is becoming even more complicated than we thought.
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Constantine 5, originally released July 24th, 2013.
Shelby: We’ve all heard the cautionary tale of the boy who cried wolf. He was a shepherd, and since watching sheep is a super boring job, he would shout that there was a wolf coming; everyone would run to save the herd, and he’d laugh and laugh because he was kind of a dick like that. After a few rounds of this, when a wolf actually appeared, no one believed the boy when he cried for help, and all the sheep got eaten. Lesson learned: if you’re going to be an ass and lie to people all the time, no one will believe you when you tell the truth. Now, who in the comic book universe do we know who’s a lying ass all the time…
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Trinity of Sin: Pandora 1 originally released July 3rd, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.
Patrick: After reading through the first issue of Trinity of Sin: Pandora, I went back and reread Ray Fawkes’ masterpiece - One Soul. The book is beautiful: it’s a sprawling, 200 page meditation on birth, sex, death, life, love, disappointment, god, war – all as told through the eyes of 18 people throughout history that never meet, never interact. None of these characters are named, but they always occupy the same single panel in each spread. When they die, their panel just goes black, and remains that way for the rest of the book. By all accounts, One Soul is a slog. It’s hard to parse out the meaning in 18 different rambling monologues, and every time you do zero in on a character, Fawkes takes them away in a tragedy of circumstance. It’s disorienting and it’s heartbreaking. The middle of this issue shares a lot of these qualities as Pandora hopelessly wanders the Earth for centuries, experiencing unspecified loss over and over again. This directionless wandering is bookended by dense DC mythology, emphasizing the long, meandering, often pointless nature of these big superhero universes. But just because they’re long, just because their meandering, just because they are often pointless, doesn’t mean they’re not also beautiful.
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 21, originally released June 26th, 2013.
Taylor: When you’re John Constantine, it’s always good to predict future as best you can. In order to escape the jaws of death time and again, John needs to predict what his enemies will do and how they will do it. Usually the man is pretty good at that sort of stuff and since he is often the focus of Justice League Dark it’s easy to forget that there are other ways of going about things. In fact, in Madame Xanadu the team has a colleague who can literally see the future and who doesn’t need to indulge herself in guesswork of any sort. But how useful is this power? More importantly, how does she choose to use this power and is it responsible? Issue 21 of Justice League Dark delves into these questions while also exploring a character that — up until this point — we have known very little about.
Patrick: For all it’s crude early-90s wordplay and carefully constructed explorations of popular culture, the greatest strength of the movie Clerks is Dante’s refrain “I’m not even supposed to be here today.” The indignity of living his life is made all the worse when we realize there’s no escape for the poor guy, even on his day off. It’s like the universe is only happy when Dante’s stuck behind the register at the Quick Stop. Just as the DC Universe is only happy when John Constantine is up to his neck in charms, angry wizards and grifter-assassins. It turns out magic doesn’t take a holiday, even when Johnny needs it so badly. Continue reading
DC has staked their claim on the month of September. Two years ago saw the relaunch of the entire publishing line, and last year saw special “zero” issues for every series. This year, DC is releasing 52 issues featuring villains, old and new, from the DC Universe. There’s no one-for-one correspondence to existing series, and DC hasn’t been the most forthcoming with information about what exactly they’re putting out. There’s a lot to sort through here and no easy answers for what’s going to be worth our time and money. Welcome to the Chat Cave.