Batgirl 35

Alternating Currents: Batgirl 35, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 35, originally released October 8th, 2014. 

slim-bannerDrew: Referring to the setting of a story as a character has always irked me. Never mind that it’s a total cliche, but it’s almost invariably applied as a shorthand for a sense of place we all recognize that the story relies on as a crutch. In that way, I suppose settings are used as characters, but they’re stock characters, no more remarkable than, say, “high school jock” or “loose cannon cop.” The genericness of locations-as-characters only becomes more exaggerated in the fictional cities of comics, which have seen just as many interpretations over the years as the heroes that occupy them. When Gotham has been interpreted as everything from gothic to neo-gothic to art deco to just straight-up modern, and from post-apocalyptic to post-corruption, it’s impossible to generate any sense of setting without elaborating on this particular interpretation of the city. Fortunately, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher do just that as they take the helm of Batgirl, lending specificity to their Gotham by, of all things, co-opting the stock character of Brooklyn.

Babs is moving to the “hip” part of Gotham to be closer to her studies. The change ends up being a bit more than she bargained for, as a fire at Black Canary’s safehouse robs Babs of all of her crime-fighting equipment. I’ll stop right here to highlight what a clever move this is on Stewart and Fletcher’s part. Taking a series in a new direction can always be a little awkward, especially when taking over for as big of a name as Gail Simone. This issue manages a clean break without disregarding Simone’s work (incineration of everything notwithstanding), setting up a run that is unburdened by, but still respectful, of the past.

The fire is doubly clever for the way it de-powers Babs. Conversations about over-powered superheroes tend to focus on heavy-hitters like Superman or The Flash, but I actually think it makes sense to knock the bat family down a few pegs. Batgirl, at least in the New 52, has never been as tech-dependent as some of her counterparts, but taking her back to zero establishes her as a decidedly street-level hero, which obviously starts with her brand-new, cobbled-together-from-some-vintage-shops-and-yellow-fabric-paint costume.

Batgirl 2.0She’s also fighting decidedly more street-level baddies. While the issue’s antagonist ends up being a supervillain of sorts, he pops up on her radar for the decidedly earth-bound offenses of stealing electronics and leaking private information. His computer-augmented brain is actually a pretty clever match for Batgirl’s greatest asset: her photographic memory. It’s easy for that particular skill to be overlooked in favor of more dynamic action, but artist Babs Tarr (based on breakdowns by Stewart) is able to bring it to vivd life in some Sherlock-inspired sequences.

Memory Party!Of course, for all of that highlighting of her skill-set, this is a decidedly unfamiliar Barbara Gordon. Acts like drinking too much at a party and making out with a random guy feel decidedly unlike previous button-down interpretations of the character. That sounds like a condemnation, but I actually like it quite a bit — it makes Babs feel a bit more relatable and allows her to better fit with her setting.

As I suggested in the introduction, I think Stewart and Fletcher’s decision to set this series in Burnside — Gotham’s obvious Brooklyn analogue — is brilliant. I have no particular fondness for stories set in Brooklyn (seriously, don’t get me started on Girls), but I think the specificity does this issue a great deal of good. Having a better sense of setting gives us a feel for what this party is like (as if all of the haircuts and tattoos couldn’t have told us), or even the feel of the coffeeshop Babs visits at the start of the issue. The Brooklyn-like setting also makes this series’ debt to Hawkeye a little more explicit — it’s a street-level approach to a character newly focused on her community that just happens to be set across the river from the super-powered action of that universe’s major metropolis. Again, I’m not complaining — I love Hawkeye, and think DC would do well to replicate the tone in more titles.

The other key element of this issue, perhaps also cribbed from Hawkeye, is it’s self-contained story. This issue is downright full of event, throwing Babs several small conflicts before she finally gathers enough info to face off against the big bad. In spite of all of the plotting, there’s actually several moments of emotional honesty, both between Babs and Dinah and Babs and her new roommate, Frankie. Part of how this issue pulls it off is a remarkably high panel count — seriously, there’s not a splash page in the whole issue — but I think a bigger part is how much time it spends with Babs out-of-costume. Having her work the case in her civvies gives her a chance to bounce off her supporting cast in a way that doesn’t make as much sense if she was Batgirled-out, giving the issue more opportunity for actual character moments. This obviously works best when she has a personal investment in the case, but Stewart and Fletcher have already teased a similarly Babs-focused case for next month, so I’m not worried.

Spencer, I was looking forward to this issue, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it quite this much. Are you happy with the new setting? The more street-level action? The emphasis on Barbara Gordon over Batgirl? All of this works for me like gangbusters. You’re a Hawkeye fan, too, so I’m curious if you found this right up your alley, or if you maybe saw it as a little derivative.

slim-bannerSpencer: Actually, Drew, I didn’t even notice the similarities to Hawkeye until you pointed them out. Of course, now I can’t unsee them, but no, I don’t find Batgirl derivative; it doesn’t copy the plot or characters of Hawkeye, only some of the storytelling techniques, and I’m never going to complain about excellent storytelling.

One of the best storytelling tools in Stewart and Tarr’s arsenal — as you touched upon, Drew — is the amount of panels they can fit onto a page. I hate to keep bringing up Hawkeye, but Stewart and Tarr are on par with the fabulous David Aja in not only panel-count, but in how much detail they can fit into each panel without it feeling cluttered. It’s not only gorgeous, but also informative, as the detail helps to flesh out Burnside and the rest of Barbara’s new stomping grounds.

Anyway, there’s absolutely no way I can deny that this is an excellent issue — and the more I read it, the more I like it — but at the same time, I still had a few minor problems with it. Drew, you mentioned that this was a clean break from Simone’s run, and in some ways this is true (and I agree with you that destroying Babs’ van is an incredibly clever way to bring her down to true street-level), but I actually wish it had been a bit more of a clean break, because Stewart and Fletcher reference elements of her run just often enough to remind me of how they don’t match up.

For example, Simone’s run ended with Babs and Alysia essentially deciding to cut their losses, move away, and start over together, while issue 35 begins with Babs moving out and leaving Alysia behind and Alysia being bummed about it; I’m glad Alysia is still in the cast, but the jarring transition from Babs and her starting over together to Alysia being left behind makes the first few pages of this issue come across as a little cruel. Actually, Barbara’s interactions with Dinah are also kinda cruel, albeit in an unintentional way:

Dinah 1

Dinah 2Admittedly this is only a first issue and just her introduction to the cast, but so far Black Canary feels misused. Potentially I love the idea of Dinah being a part of Batgirl’s supporting cast — especially with no title to call her own at the moment — but so far she’s just been grumpy, put-upon, and sidelined, a far cry from the competent, take-charge woman we all know her as. I hope she gets more to do in the future.

There’s one last element of the issue I want to address, and that’s its use of modern technology, especially apps. In many ways I think it’s one of the issue’s greatest successes. The characters in Batgirl use technology the same way most of us use it (especially us younger people): casually, yet almost constantly. The majority of Babs’ detective-work is done via social networking, representing some of their many upsides, but Riot Black also represents their many dangers; he’s clearly the kind of vile internet douchebag we all rally against (he even sends Alysia a dick-pic when she attacks his organization), but his shtick is all based around the very real, very scary threat of our online privacy being violated. From Target losing credit card numbers to hackers releasing private photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities, issues of privacy are all over the news, and it makes Riot Black quite a timely villain.

That said, I also think all this focus on technology could end up working against Batgirl as well. Babs taking down Black with Snapchat and a QR code strikes me as cute and clever, but its just a hair’s breadth from being silly; meanwhile, Black Book’s persona is absolutely ridiculous.

#shutupHow do you talk in hashtags anyway? Black personifies all the worst parts of internet culture — later on this same page he even calls Batgirl “bae” — and while I suppose his over-the-top nature could be the whole point of his character (he does seem to represent society’s fears about the internet, after all), it’s still a little rough to get through.

To be honest, I’m just worried about how this is all going to age. Obviously the internet isn’t going away anytime soon and neither are people’s fears about privacy, but Instagram and Tinder and Snapchat and all the other specific apps referenced in this issue could become outdated tomorrow. Are we going to look back at this issue in ten years and groan at the references? Are we going to look back on that QR code the way we look back on Superman’s mullet today? I guess the question we have to ask is if it’s better for a story to be timely or timeless; the creative team has obviously chosen the former and so far it’s working for Batgirl. I guess only time will tell if it’s the right choice.

Despite all my criticism, I did generally like this issue, and I think Barbara’s new direction has a lot of potential, especially once Stewart and Fletcher have time to do more with Dinah and other under-explored aspects. This isn’t exactly the Barbara Gordon I’m used to, but between their references to Barbara’s past (such as her photographic memory and Babs having met Frankie in physio) and the admittance that some of her actions are a little out-of-character, I have faith that Stewart, Fletcher and Tarr respect who Babs is and have put a lot of thought into mapping out her future, and I’m interested in seeing where they take her next.

slim-bannerFor a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

43 comments on “Batgirl 35

  1. Yeah, I can’t unsee the Hawkeye influence, either. It feels like Marvel debuted a lot of street-level solo series in the wake of Hawkeye‘s success, but this is the first one I’ve seen from DC. I think it’s a great change of pace for them (hey! nobody loses an arm here!), and hope it does well enough for them to try to diversify their tone even more.

    • Yup – I like no one losing an arm. Obviously this and Gotham Academy are chasing those more twee aesthetics that doing so well over at Marvel. I think it feels a little more incongruous for DC though – like tonal space between this and standard DC fare is a fucking gulf, but Marvel’s got a nice tonal rainbow going on, with all the shades filled in pretty well.

      I guess I’m just saying that this is a weird first step in re-balancing DC’s over-all tone.

      • Hey man, if they want to jump in the deep end, more power to them. Honestly, I don’t think baby steps would have been that great of an idea — whatever hardcore violence-philes they might have lost softening the tone a little probably wouldn’t have been replaced with new readers. I think they needed to be a little more deliberate in reaching out to an entirely different fan base. Like, “it’s cute and relatable” is a decidedly easier selling point than “it’s a little less gratuitous.”

        • I don’t miss the violence, and I’m glad Babs is feeling happier in her post-recovery life, but man. To me, this just doesn’t feel like the same woman. Her maturity level seems genuinely lowered for some reason; She’s got the tech smarts, and the detective skills, and she plays as a smart character plot-wise, but I have a hard time believing this is the same person who recently faced The Joker during Death Of The Family, or went to war with Knightfall. I dunno. I like this art style a lot, and I like the idea of DC going lighter, but not right now on this specific book for some reason.

        • Or, maybe, the best way to put it, is that I feel like the Batgirl #0 Batgirl is far more mature than this one, and that’s really incongruous to me.

        • This is why I brought up having Steph replace Babs for this run, I think it would have made more sense since Steph is actually younger/less mature. Babs in this role would have worked super well right at the relaunch, but after 3 years worth or trials and tribulations, it sure does feel odd.

        • I think that would bother me more if I was more attached to the old interpretation of the character, but her adventures for basically the last year of Simone’s run were pretty hard for me to get into. I really don’t mind starting fresh. I mean, every month has at least a few different interpretations of Batman running around different books, so I’m willing to forgive some changes to other characters.

        • I’m not particularly upset that DC is making books here and there that aren’t for me; I think that’s great for business and thus also for me, indirectly, as a fan of the company. I guess I have just had a particular fondness for Babs since her Oracle days and I have always considered her to be one of the few Bat Family characters that is special to me, and so what I really wanted was the same person to have less serious problems and for her adventures to be lighter in tone. I can choose to ignore the majority of books starring Batman, and I do, opting for the books I feel capture a familiar or preferred tone; with Batgirl there is only one book, so I would have preferred a new character to be installed as Batgirl so that the Barbara I know would still be free for use in some other capacity (like in Birds Or Prey).

  2. More self-contained stories to the people!

    The book looks like fun. I’ll probably give it a spin a couple of issues, after I’v come down a bit from my 3 year long Wonder Woman trip 😉

    Btw. You are having a look at Secret Origins #6: Wonder Woman right? It’s made by Azzarello, Chiang and Sudzuka and will tie into the current run.

    • I’ll admit that I hadn’t been paying attention to Secret Origins, but I’ll gladly take more Azzarello/Chiang Wonder Woman. Thanks for the tip!

      (By the way: I highly recommend this series. It’s decidedly different in tone from Wonder Woman, but it’s super charming. Definitely outside of DC’s overly grim approach seemingly everywhere else.)

      • It’ll definitely tie into the current run, so you probably don’t want to miss it 🙂 !

        Definitely looks like something else than WW, But I hope it’ll feel as much as it’s own thing as WW has!

        I’ll keep my eye on this one!

  3. I really like the change of tone this series proposes; I don’t know if it will be my cup of tea in the long run but I’m glad DC is offering more variety. The one thing you guys pointed out that bugs me though is how seemingly out of character Gordon Barbara Gordon is in this book, and it’s obviously much too late for this, but it seems like a really simple fix would have been to put Steph Brown back into the cowl. She’s much better known as a bit irresponsible and I think this Burnside setting would have fit in with her as a person much more than Babs Gordon, the ever serious straight-A student.

    • I don’t think it’s so wrong to have Babs overdoing it a little here — nobody gets drunker quicker than folks who don’t normally drink — and I think giving her something resembling a more normal life helps folks relate to her a bit more. Still, it was kind of a shock to see her wake up totally hungover, like maybe we should have seen some of the decision process that led to some out-of-character behavior in the first place.

      And yeah, I can see this series not being for everyone. I enjoyed it a lot, but I might be more excited about the variety it represents than anything. I definitely think this series is going to appeal to a different demographic than much of DCs output, and I think that’s awesome.

    • Gino, I really feel you. On my very first read of both this issue AND “Gotham Academy” I found myself thinking “I don’t know if this book is for me, but I’m really glad it exists because it’s new and different and there are a lot of people who will love it.” As I reread it preparing to write a review, Gotham Academy ended up pretty much completely winning me over, but I’m still a bit more reserved about Batgirl. I think the creative team could not be doing a better job in terms of talent and storytelling skill, but I’m honestly just not sure how much I like Barbara’s supporting cast and this upscale, almost “hipstery” clique she’s fallen in with (and I’m sorry for using the word hipster but I don’t know how else to describe it).

      Of course, I’m some weird combination of an introverted house-bound nerd and a sensitive late 90s punk, so Babs’ new clique is probably the closest thing I have to a natural enemy and I’m trying not to let that affect my reading too much.

  4. Hey, so elephant in the room: we’ve been pretty big Simone boosters in the past (going so far as to write an outraged post when she was initially “fired” from Batgirl back at the end of 2012). Those early issues of Batgirl were pretty formative for me as a comic reader, and for our fledgling comic discussion site. Simone was the first writer to acknowledge our write-ups, and we’ve had a very positive relationship with her ever since.

    That said, I’m not nearly as bummed to get some fresh blood this go-around. Simone’s recent Batgirl issues were increasingly dark, lacking the optimism that so distinguished those first issues. It’s still a little sad to see Simone leaving behind a character she obviously cares about, but this is the most I’ve enjoyed an issue of Batgirl in quite a while. I’m for sure going to continue to follow Simone’s output — I still think she’s a great writer — but I’m actually kind of excited about this change.

    Is anyone else feeling that? Any guilt about it?

    • You know, I first discovered Retcon Punch because Simone retweeted a review of one of her early Batgirl issues, so in a way I owe my entire presence on this site to her. So I guess that’s me saying that, yes, I do feel a little guilty.

      The thing is, though, the darkness in those issues isn’t totally her fault. Simone has spoken about her battle with editorial over the tone of the title; she says she eventually quit because they wouldn’t let her lighten the tone, and as soon as she quit the editors on the book changed and they hired the new creative team that began with this issue. So while I can’t speak for Simone would feel about it, I don’t think we need to feel guilty about enjoying this new creative team or even for not being super enthused about the darkness of the latter half of her run, because apparently she wasn’t either.

      I actually keep forgetting that I wasn’t super jazzed by the second half of her run. I did love the Gothtopia issue, and the last three or so issues really worked for me (I thought both her finale and the Futures End issue were touching ways to end her run), and that left me with a good feeling about her run even though I hadn’t been as into it prior to that.

      So any complaints I raised in this article about this issue varying from what Simone did wasn’t me trying to argue that I loved a certain plot point or bit of characterization just because Simone established it, because I didn’t love everything she did on the title. But it’s still jarring to me to go from a straight-laced, button-up, much-older-than-she-actually is Barbara to a tiny bit of a party girl, from a seemingly jobless Barbara to the college girl already significantly ahead on some sort of massive project, from the girl ready to run away with Alysia and leave everybody else behind to the girl moving out of Alysia’s place so she can be closer to school. That’s why I almost wish this issue had been a cleaner break, or even a new #1 (Marvel style). The changes aren’t necessarily bad, they were just distracting to me.

      • That “clean break” you mention is lacking is sort of the reason I brought up putting someone else in the cowl, because this whole scene feels a bit odd to me for Babs. That being said, I really loved the art and will be giving this title a few more issues, although like you, I’m not much of a trendy-hipster kind of guy, I use none of the apps referenced in the book, so I don’t know if this will really draw me in as much as I’d like. Still, I’m not conceited enough to think that all comic books should be based on what I like, and if this brings in a new crowd and more girls into comics, all the better. I hope when she’s old enough I can get my daughter to read comics and that she’ll really like them, not think I’m an old crud for suggesting them!

        About the switch from Simone, in all honesty I could never really get back into the series after Death of the Family. That first year was great and the DotF tie-ins were among the best, but after Fawkes’ two issues and Simone’s return, the book never really clicked for me again and I eventually dropped it. In fact, and I think I’ve brought this up before, and maybe it’s nostalgia or whatever, but I feel that over all, the first year of the New 52 had the best thing going on and a lot of books have failed to keep my interest beyond that. I’m down to 7 DC titles on my pull list now (I had 20+ at one point) and some of those are either ending soon or on “probation” with their new creative teams. I’m giving some new titles a shot (this revamp, Gotham Academy, and I’m thinking of trying Catwoman again now that Nocenti is out) but I guess what I’m saying is that I’m cutting back and moving my smaller pull more and more into Image territory. We’ll see what this apparent change of direction at DC does for that.

        • I’m just used to, like, maybe 90% of comics from any publisher being a little disappointing for me, so the “down to 7” you describe is actually about my natural DC pull even in the best of years. I did go overboard during the early New 52 just to soak in the overall vibe of the new universe, but I’m largely regretful of buying much of those books.

        • Same here with the early 52 binging; I’d never really done monthlies prior to the new 52, just trades, so when I got in I went really big. I don’t know if it’s my enthusiasm that’s gone down, or if the books were better early on (it’s probably a bit of both) but as you say, now I feel most books aren’t really worth reading and even some of the ones I still pull are on the list on the merits of earlier issues. I think the most consistently enjoyable book of the new 52 for me has been Swamp Thing, I think there’s one or two issues that didn’t do much for me but over all it’s been rock solid. Even Batman, which was my favorite book bar none from issues 1-17, has been a bit dissapointing for me in the last while. Hopefully this new Joker storyline will be the bomb, but I’m starting to feel like Snyder’s “go bigger or go home” attitude is detrimental to my enjoyment of the series. Time will tell I gues. Just out of curiosity Mogo, what’s on your pull these days?

        • I’m always basically pulling DC exclusively, but I’m down to Batman, Superman, Grayson, JL, JLU, Multiversity, and (somewhat begrudgingly) Futures End. Everything else I love already ended (Azz WW, Gail Batgirl, Movement, Lemire Green Arrow). What books are you down to, Gino? It’s nice to chat with you again.

        • Gino, I’ve had the same experience as you: I hadn’t read any floppies before the New 52, but then bought in really hard (going so far as to starting this site), and my DC pull has slowly dwindled down to a small handfull of titles. However, I chalk it up to something different: our tastes have changed. When we were new readers, it didn’t take much to entertain us, so the bar was relatively low for our pull lists — that’s not to say we weren’t selective, just that the threshold for “good enough” wasn’t particularly high. As we read more comics (and diversified our pulls), our tastes matured a bit, and we came to better understand what we like and don’t like, changing our definitions of “good enough.” Like, if Manapul and Buccellato had started on Detective Comics back in 2011, it would have easily been one of my favorite series, but I now have tons of reservations about it because my pull is already full of great titles — I can’t read everything.

          The good news is, I think DC has realized they’ve been hemorrhaging readers, and are definitely course-correcting. That’s why series like this one and Gotham Academy feel so different. They’re not going to be for everyone, but none of DC’s current output is, anyway. At least these will court a different audience.

        • There’s no disregarding DC’s continued embrace of darkness as a house style, though. You could argue that the film properties are the most expensive and influential arm of the comics business now, and DC has put out a movie where Superman half-destroyed Metropolis during a fight, allowed someone close to him to die whom he could have chosen to save, and outright killed a foe; They have another movie slated wherein the primary draw is to see the company’s two most recognizable heroes go at each others’ throats, and a third which stars an entire team of super villains as the main protagonists. I would love to see a little levity mixed into DC’s line, but it looks like darkness will remain the order of the day overall. I don’t hate their style (quite the contrary, I like a little grit, realism, and psychology in my reading) but, like you, I would welcome a few departures here and there (a la Blue & Gold, etc). I don’t, however, want them to be Marvel… either on film or on paper.

        • Well, I would say that that emphasis on grittiness is alienating a lot of longtime fans. I mean, they’re basically telling fans of Silver- and Bronze-Age Superman to just stick with rereading their old comics and re-watching the Donner movies. I certainly don’t mean to advocate for keeping characters frozen in time, but it seems like it’s possible to update them without betraying the core concepts of the character.

          We don’t need to turn this into a debate about Man of Steel, but my biggest gripe about it is that there’s not a single moment of fun. Everything was just so serious ALL THE TIME. I can accept destruction and even killing, but making an utterly joyless Superman movie? That seems like it’s going to turn a lot of people off.

          Wait, Mogo, are you not enjoying the Marvel movies?

        • Yeah, I didn’t mean to necessarily champion MOS. I think it’s rocky at best, but I was just using it as an example of their dedication to that tone. To me, though, Superman is the only character I can think of in DC’s line who ought to be using the Silver Age as a blueprint. Well, maybe Flash, too. I think most of the rest of their line is at its most interesting during the Golden, Bronze, and Modern ages, which all skew dark compared to Silver.

  5. From DC:
    Batman, Batman Eternal, Detective Comics (since Booch & Manapul took over), Injustice – Gods Among Us, Green Arrow (on trial with new creative team), Swamp Thing.

    Other publishers (mostly Image):
    American Vampire, Lazarus, Saga, Sex Criminals, The Private Eye, Velvet.

    Plus the new books I’m trying out:
    Arkham Manor, Batgirl, Catwoman (Nocenti’s gone!!), Gotham Academy, Wytches.

    That still seems like a lot but of the trial books, at this time it seems most likely I’ll tag along only for Wytches, though I want to give each of those books at least 3 issues to strut their stuff (new Green Arrow included).

    If you feel like branching out from DC, I would strongly reccomend everything under my “other publishers” section. Aside from American Vampire, all those series are recent (longest running is Saga at 24 issues) so they’re easy to catch up with and they’re great. The Private Eye is awesome too and is digital only, pay what you want (including 0$) so you can’t really go wrong there.

    It is indeed nice to chat with you again, I can’t seem to recall having seen you around in a while but I’m not sure if it’s because you’ve been absent or because I’m reading fewer books and thus commenting less. Out of your current pull, what’s your favorite book/is there anything you’re thinking of dropping? And how do you feel about Batman these days?

    • I think that’s a fair assessment for the most part. Still, my DC pull is ever-shrinking and I don’t know that any of these new books are really going to keep me coming back. We’ll see I guess. I’d be curious to know what you’re reading/enjoying these days. How big is your personal pull?

      • Because of the digital copies we buy for the site, it’s hard to define a personal pull for me. At this point, I’m only buying physical copies of series that I’ll actually want to keep — I’m actually trying to get rid of much of my collection.

        The only currently ongoing DC titles that I’m collecting are Batman and Swamp Thing (and I was collecting Wonder Woman while Azz and Chiang were still on it).

        I’m collecting several Marvel ongoings: All-New X-Men, Daredevil (which is probably the only comic I’d recommend unequivocally to everyone), Deadpool, Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Uncanny X-Men.

        And a few from other publishers: C.O.W.L., Lazarus, Outcast, Saga, Sex Criminals, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Velvet.

        • I see we’ve got some fairly similar tastes. I was actually pulling several Marvel books at one point but ended up frustrated as I kept being forced to read titles I didn’t care for in the least just to follow along the ones I was actually interested in. In all honesty, it turned me off so much that I’ve not tried new titles from them since, for fear that they would eventually tie into one of their (too) numerous events and push me out again.

          I fell off the Wonder Woman bandwagon at some point but I’m considering reading through the whole thing now that it’s finished, it felt like the kind of book that might benefit from a binge read. Actually, if it wasn’t for my inability to wait, I’d probably read Velvet and a few other titles just when arcs end, because I find it kind of hard to follow month to month. Spies all kinda look the same, no? :p

        • Just out of curiosity, which Marvel series were you reading that were having those crossover problems? They definitely happen on the Avengers and X-Men books, but I haven’t felt compelled to pick up any extra issues for any of the solo titles (Daredevil, Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer).

        • I was really liking Guardians of the Galaxy for a while and then that got pulled into 2 or 3 different events and I just gave up. I was following All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-men (I think? The sister book to ANXM anyhow) and that was just spinning its wheels after a while too.

        • Yeah, Bendis is one of the worst about that stuff. You should definitely check out Daredevil — it’s super good. Intelligent, exciting, and well-told stories that get dark from time to time, but still has a sense of humor about itself. Chris Samnee is definitely one of the best visual storytellers out there. They just started a new volume about a year ago, and the newest arc started two months ago, so there are plenty of easy jumping on points.

    • Thanks for the recommendations. I was reading Saga, and there’s no denying it’s a finely crafted book, but it’s just not the type of comic I’m interested in. I still made out ahead, though, as I sold my first 10 issues at a huge profit (including $80 for the first issue, which I bought for $3). I would like to dive a little more into Valiant, which is my second favorite publisher next to DC, with Dynamite and BOOM! also rating highly with me, but I have a lot of financial concerns at the moment and feel that I’m at the right pull level for the time being. As long as I can get DC’s premier books, I’m a happy man. As for my absence, I don’t really want to cut into family time with my wife for computer time, so I mostly check the internet at work and, until very recently, this site was added to their block list as part of content filtering. It’s now back, so fingers crossed!

      I really love all of the books I’m pulling currently (aside from Futures End, which is okay, but I’m basically riding out as an obligation to follow the continuity leading into Convergence), so it would be hard to pick a favorite. Superman is really, really making me happy right now though. And I can’t wait to read Endgame. I also get a little fatigued at the similarity of scope in Snyder’s stories; I feel that it has eventually resulted in the purposefully big stories not capturing the huge feeling they intend to after awhile. I’m a big believer in Capullo though… I think he’s a genius, and I’m in for the long haul. Even when the action beats and ideas aren’t thrilling me in Snyder’s Batman I’m still always impressed with his dective writing, grasp on handling the tech and the Bat Family concept, and his terrific use of themes. I’m a die hard for this run, even when I feel it’s not at its best. Justice League is also a huge draw for me; Batman and Lex interacting so heavily is a more interesting relationship for me than many of Batman’s own rogues. Probably everyone but Joker. I’m just loving it.

      • Right on man, I hope your finances work themselves out. On the subject of Snyder, what kills me is that American Vampire is still really good and mostly unchanged from before, he just seems to have this idea that Batman has to just keep getting bigger stakes with every arc. I still like it, and it’s still one of the better cape books out there for my money, but I preferred the more subtle, atmosphere oriented stuff from his pre-52 run (The Black Mirror, Gates of Gotham) and the first year and a half or so of his run. I’m really hoping this Joker story is good, he’s pretty much my favorite character and it’ll crush my heart a bit if this story belly flops. I’ll agree that Capullo’s stuff is great though.

        It’s interesting too how we get sort of “plot committed” to some books. You’re reading Futures End mostly not to fall out of the loop, and I’m reading Batman Eternal mostly for the same reason. It’s really good some weeks, but it remains hit or miss and if it wasn’t for all the drastic change it’s supposed to bring about, I’m not sure I’d still be on board. The fact that they’ve said there will be a second year kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth too, I could get behind a one year run to really shake up Gotham and Batman’s world, but another year just feels like a cash grab (yes, even more than it already is).

        Is Justice League much different than it was at the start of the New 52? I really couldn’t get into it then, but I can see how Lex/Bruce playing off each other could be pretty interesting.

        • Oh man, yeah. I detest the idea of the weekly for exactly the unevenness and greedy nature you’re describing. I want a choice to read only the issues of an event which are produced by a creative team that I can get behind. If you put 2 great writers and 2 meh writers in a weekly and shuffle up their scenes then you’re making me buy all 4 comics when I really just want the 2. And you’re forcing totally inconsistent art on me in the process. It’s a bullshit thing, if you ask me.

          I think JL has been fantastic since Throne Of Atlantis, but starting with Forever Evil it becomes less about arcs and more about being the glue between the FE proper issues. Now it’s back to normal, but is dealing with FE fallout. I probably make it sound unappealing by worsing it that way, but it’s actually great. At times it’s felt less than a by-the-numbers team book with villain arcs and way more like DC Universe: The Comic. For me, it’s the glue holding the line together. Where Tomasi is expert at pulling in elements from the rest of the DCU, JL has been expert at actually evolving them. I think it’s the best JL since Waid, personally.

    • No, no, I think the Marvel films are brilliant. Some of the best genre films ever produced. But they don’t ever, in the list, produce the dark, 30’s/40’s originating, weird, pulp-and-cape superhero fare that I think DC has expanded on since their early history. It’s a totally different house style rooted in early-60’s+ concepts. There’s nothing at Marvel that has much kinship to the Golden Age of comics at all, and I think that’s something DC desperately needs to preserve at least a small ammount of. Let’s not forget that Batman was very dark, using guns and killing gangsters, before Marvel invented the Silver Age. And I would consider the Bronze Age a DC-initiated tilt back towards dark realism… it just wasn’t until the Modern Age that it fully cemented.

      • It’s really interesting to hear you say that Marvel invented the Silver Age of comics, because I never think of them that way at all. While those original Marvel books are very much Silver Age in terms of tone and dialogue, when it comes down to characterization and art I think they were already operating at a Bronze Age level. I feel like the Marvel books published during the Silver Age were kind of doing their own thing–they sprung to life already evolved past typical Silver Age tropes.

        When I think Silver Age I think Batman going into outerspace to fight Bat-Mite, Superman playing pranks on Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, Snapper Carr being the Justice League’s sidekick, Gorillas on every other cover of every book DC published, stuff like that. It was a very silly time that, for as silly as Marvel’s books could get, Marvel never really fit into as far as I’m concerned.

        Not to mention that it’s pretty much accepted comic book fact that the Silver Age began with the creation/debut of Barry Allen.

        • I’m not a historian or anything, but I understood it to be that DC had basically stopped selling cape books entirely after the outbreak of the war caused a sudden and massive decrease in interest, and that Fantastic Four #1 and subsequent early Marvel offerings repopularized superhero comics after an inactive period marked by DC printing romance and western nearly exclusively, and their response to the success of early Marvel was to reinvent their Golden Age heros and start creating new heroes entirely. Granted, I could have that massively wrong.

        • Granted, I am aware that Superman/Supergirl, LOSH, Batman, and other survivng DC cape books were printed in that goofier style beginning in the mid-50’s, typical of the Silver Age tone, but isn’t it generally considered that there was no explosion of interes in it until Marvel’s books?

        • Nope, you’re entirely correct. According to the Silver Age wiki the Flash issue you’re describibg did get the popularity ball rolling, and that’s what sparked the reinvention of Golden Age heroes with Marvel’s initiative occurring in response.

        • It looks like Marvel did release some superhero titles after the publication of Seduction of the Innocent but before the Barry Allen Flash, but they weren’t successful.

        • Yeah, I guess maybe what I’m considering is not general popularity but rather the shift away from the material being primarily enjoyed by children; I believe that Marvel’s initiative was the point when Silver Age material began to draw collegiate readers on the back of its more grounded and personal perspective. In respectful disagreement with Piv, though, I consider the Kirby style to be as definitive of the Silver Age as I do that of Curt Swan, Gil Kane, and Carmine Infantino. I consider the Neal Adams style to be the birth of Bronze (a terrific but dark and realistic era marked by Speedy’s heroin habit, Jokerfish, Joker’s Five Way Revenge, etc.) I do think it’s true that Superman, Flash, and a few others benefit from Neo-Silver takes (All-Star Superman being a prime example), but I think those are exceptions in their line. Batman is their most popular character, and most of his Greatespt Stories volumes would almost entirely skip from Golden to Bronze, for instance.

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