Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 3/16/16

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Batman and Robin Eternal 24, Black Canary 9, Robin: Son of Batman 10, and Lumberjanes 24.

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Batman and Robin Eternal 24

Batman and Robin Eternal 24Spencer: With only two issues left in Batman and Robin Eternal, we’re finally starting to see the chink in Mother’s armor — despite her obsession with “strength,” her idea of what actually makes people strong is woefully limited. Really, Spoiler sums it up best:

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Mother’s definition of strength, echoed here by her hand-chosen student, takes into account only ruthlessness and raw physical strength. As Mother’s already proven, those qualities can certainly be effective, but no matter what she thinks, they’re not the be-all, end-all. Stephanie Brown is the perfect character to prove that point, as her strength has always come, not from skill or natural physical ability, but from her perseverance, her ability to never give up no matter what the odds. Really though, this goes for all Spoiler’s allies: Tim’s intelligence, Harper’s loyalty, Cassandra’s conscience, these are all strengths in their own right. Mother’s obsession with her own idea of strength blinds her to that fact, and I’d bet money that her oversight will end up being a major part of her downfall.

If nothing else, it’s certainly why her plan for Harper will end up failing. Despite herself, Harper probably would like to take her frustrations out on Cassandra on some level, but Mother’s mistake is mentioning Harper’s “weak” brother. Harper won’t stand for that, not only because she loves Cullen more than anything, but because caring for and protecting Cullen has made her a stronger, more resilient person than Mother’s cruelty ever could’ve. I have faith that Harper understands that fact.

Writer Steve Orlando brings these ideas to life with quick, quippy dialogue for much of the issue (unsurprisingly, Midnighter’s comic relief especially shines), and Alvaro Martinez provides some of the series’ strongest pencils yet. Without straying from Batman and Robin Eternal’s house-style, Martinez delivers some inventive layouts and memorable images, starting with the shot of Duke Thomas reflected in Gordon-Batman’s visor and following up with Red Hood’s fight scene.

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I love the way this sequence manages space. Jason and his opponent progress linearly through the panels at first, providing a sense of movement, but when that changes, Martinez lets us know by widening the panels and the gutter between them. The sudden switch-up makes Jason’s strategy easy to follow while still highlighting its fluidity and ingenuity. It’s an injection of smart visual storytelling that this series sorely needed.

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Black Canary 9

Black Canary 9Mark: As DC YOU winds down and fans look to Rebirth on the horizon, there’s been a lot of reflecting on individual books and how they’ve fared the past nine or so months. Allow me then to throw in my two cents on Black Canary: a potentially interesting premise wasted on weak characterization and, ultimately, poor plotting. So while filler issues like Black Canary 9 can be a frustrating interruption when you’re heavily invested in the serialized narrative of a book, on Black Canary, where I’ve basically lost interest in the main arc, a filler issue could be a fun way to use the promise of the initial premise in a refreshing way.

Unfortunately, Matthew Rosenberg and Moritat’s one-off issue is a total mess. I’m not mad at the idea of it; going back to the early days of the band (and the better days of the book) is a solid idea. And having them play a private gig for the tween relative of Carmine Falcone, attended by the best C-list baddies Gotham has to offer, is a promising setting. But the execution in both the writing and the art is inconsistent at best.

Take D.D.’s encounter with Valentine Chan. They squabble, Chan pulls a knife on D.D., D.D. kicks the knife out of his hands, then they embrace, mutter threats under their breath, then Chan leaves, abandoning a briefcase that has all the relevant information on his intended assassination target inside. Moritat’s pencils do not help clarify thing:

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Based on genre tropes, I can infer what is supposed to be happening here and why it is theoretically amusing, but it’s not very clear on the page.

The MVP of the issue is Lee Loughridge on colors, lending the book polish and consistency while the rest of the main creative team is on leave. But it’s hard to justify the existence of an issue based on solid coloring work alone, and the rest of Black Canary 9 is just not up to snuff.

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Robin: Son of Batman 10

Robin Son of Batman 10Michael: Since NBC’s Community is such a huge part of my pop culture experience, I can’t help but think of it in times like this. Robin: Son of Batman 10 reminds me of Season 4 of Community because it’s the continuation of a story without the “original” storyteller at the helm. Sure, whereas Dan Harmon created Community Patrick Gleason did not create Damian Wayne — but he did create this series. Ray Fawkes and Ramon F. Bachs do their damnedest to keep this series going after Gleason’s departure but it feels like an unnecessary appendage.

Though Gleason seemed to have introduced and subsequently tied up elements and ideas on Robin: Son of Batman, this issue seems intent on retreading them. After Maya/NoBody Jr. was allowed to walk off into the sunset, the story brings her back like a veteran cop who just can’t stay away from the action. Similarly, Fawkes brings back the “Year of Blood” inspired enemy of the Lu’un Darga Clan. And guess what? They have a sociopath little boy leading their charge too!

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I would not say that Gleason’s Robin: Son of Batman was a perfect book. It did leave a lasting punctuation on the character for me however. That being said Fawkes and Bachs do a respectable job at continuing this series but it falls short because it simultaneously doesn’t try anything new while failing to accurately represent what had been laid out before.
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Lumberjanes 24

Lumberjanes 24Taylor: Walk down the aisle in the supermarket with air fresheners and candles and you’re bound to see the words “Sea Breeze.” Despite the fact that actual sea breezes smell like salt, algae, and rotting fish, the popular idea of a sea breeze smelling fresh and clean holds fast in the popular imagination. No doubt, when most of us think of the sea breeze we think of vacation and freedom — a far cry from our normal, smelly lives. Lumberjanes 24 takes after this idyllic sea breeze of our collective imagination. While this makes for an entertaining comic, it sadly has little of the staying power of the actual smell of sea breeze funk.

After being pulled into the land of lost things the ‘Janes, Sea Farin’ Karen, and the Selkies are in trouble, having fallen into an ocean with a deadly whirlpool. Luckily, Molly and Ripley are there to save them with a pirate ship and a clever plan. After the adventure is done, Karen takes off with the Selkies, shirking her counselor responsibilities without even a thought.

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At the last minute, Karen does manage to get the Janes their badges, which ties up all of the loose ends of this arc. Basically, everything goes back to normal for the Janes after Karen leaves. While this entire adventure centered around Karen, the Selkies, and the Land of Lost Things has been entertaining, I can’t help but feel it’s all been a little to breezy. We got some good character development from Molly, but after that, the list of things that have changed in these past five or six issues is pretty slim. The ease with which everything was tied up in this issue points at a climax that was never that suspenseful. Even when Karen and Molly were struck by lightening I wasn’t all that scared since it seemed unlikely they would perish so suddenly. The ease with which the Selkies and Karen put away their feud also is suspect in the same way.

All of this isn’t to say this is a bad issue. It’s entertaining and fun and a quick, light read. However, it would have been nice if the issue had been a bit more suspenseful or if someone or something changed in a significant way. As it is, its like those sea breeze scents you buy at the store — pleasant, nice, but ultimately evanescent.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

 

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12 comments on “Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 3/16/16

  1. So hey, this isn’t related to any comics released this week, but as our general DC discussion place this week, I’m gonna do a bit of shameless self-promotion:
    I while back I wrote out a pitch/synopsis for the first season of a proposed “Flash Family animated series,” and now I’ve finally finished the second.

    This isn’t meant to be anything serious, just a fun experiment of what kind of stories I’d tell and adapt if I could make my own Flash cartoon. If any of you are interested in that sort of thing, I’d love it if you’d check it out:
    Season 1: http://pivitor.tumblr.com/post/25680136678/the-flash-family-the-animated-series
    Season 2: http://pivitor.tumblr.com/post/141280725619/the-flash-family-the-animated-series-season-two

    Thanks!

    • I have spent all my free time today writing these reviews. I have to go to home depot and buy stuff to fix the yard and then fix the yard. I will definitely take a look!~

    • I’ll certainly take the time to enjoy reading these at some point. This sort of thing is always a fun mind experiment. I do this all the time, though I generally keep them private

    • These are really fun, Spencer! I wish I was as knowledgable about Flash history to engage with this more fully, but I think you crafted something that would be very ingratiating to newcomers.

      • Thanks Drew! I honestly think that would be more important than catering to long-time fans anyway — those fans could have fun reliving old favorite stories, and exploring the way I mixed up old continuity and time periods or reinterpreted characters and backstories, but a new fan should just be able to go along for the ride and enjoy the story, and I’m glad it works in that respect!

        • I’ve got to say, I love how you dealt with Jay Garrick and Keystone City. Really clever solution of a complex problem. Also love the Rogue Profile episodes. I would certainly do things differently (I would keep the world solely around the Flashes, as I don’t think there is enough space for things like the Justice League or Teen Titans not to feel vestigial. I could also throw a series of nitpicks that would matter if this was an actual show, and not a piece of fun).

          The only thing I really have a problem with is my utter confusion that Abra Kadabra is the big villain. Between the fact that Abra Kadabra is missing between episodes 7 and 20, and the effort placed throughout the story at developing the Top, I am interested in hearing your justification for not ending the season the Top.

          Also, since Season 2 is the Wally West Flash, why did you choose not to have Reverse Flash this season? And why not end this season with some sort of Crisis equivalent?

        • Thanks for checking it out, man! And yeah, I’m sure everybody has their own idea of how they’d do something like this, it’s only natural. There’s a lot of valid approaches, and after watching the current live-action Flash show, I’ve been thinking a lot about the advantages of having Jay and Keystone on Earth-2 instead as well. But this is a show about legacy and for that I like having Jay around as an elder statesman. Also, I really like the idea of having the Twin Cities, and in Season Two I definitely take advantage of having two very different cities to set these stories in.

          As for the other superheroes, I just really like having them around as well. The DC Universe is my favorite setting to create stories in. You’re right, the JLA and JSA and Titans are very much vestigial, as this show is focused on the four Flashes and their adventures, but I think it’s a benefit to have these characters around to occasionally drop in. That’s also why I initially introduce all of them as members of teams. Instead of building up to the teams and making it a big deal when guest stars show up, I wanted to say “hey, these teams exist, and these guys will be around sometimes, it’s fun but it’s shouldn’t steal the show from the Flashes and distract from their stories.” In Season 2 there’s a bit where Barry needs some explosives, so he runs to the Batcave and grabs some real fast. That’s Batman’s only contribution to the episode, but I like having that option there. Likewise, Wally’s first instinct when he’s pissed off is to go run off and hang out with the Titans. I like that these guys just kinda casually exist and can wander in and out of the story without demanding the spotlight. Hal Jordan can pop in to hang out with Barry sometimes, Dick Grayson can visit Wally sometimes, it’s not a big deal. It’s not necessary, but I can’t help but have some fun with it. I think there’s a lot of facets of these characters that particularly shine in a team setting.

          I absolutely could have and should have built up Kadabra a bit more between those two appearances, I just didn’t know what to do or where to do it. I think I tell a complete story there with Kadabra, there’s just too big of a break between chapters. That said, I think Kadabra and Top are both the major enemies of the season. The Top is Barry’s final opponent and challenges Barry as an individual, both physically and emotionally, while Kadabra and his army of Rogues challenge the Flash Family and the concept of their legacy as a whole. Both have big and important — but entirely different — roles as big, final bads. Besides, that Top fight would have just felt anticlimatic if it came after Kadabra’s story.

          I didn’t want to end this season with a Crisis Equivalent mainly because I just wanted to end it on the battle with Kadabra’s army with all four Flashes together, instead of flash-forwarding three years to Barry’s death and spending the entire final episode in a new time period without the full cast. I dance around the full circumstances of Barry’s death in Season Two because all that matters to the story I’m telling that year is that Barry died a hero. I do have very specific plans to show the Crisis — or at least Barry’s perspective on it — further down the line, when it has a more natural reason for being a part of the season’s story. Time-travel and flashbacks are a very big part of this show, if I skip over something, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m never gonna tell that story.

          As for the Reverse Flash…I wanted Season One to be about the Rogues. To be honest, even if I was doing a Flash series focused only on Barry Allen like the live action one currently on the air, I still wouldn’t put the Reverse Flash in Season One. He’s a big deal, and I’d rather get the Flash(es) experienced and get the rest of his Rogues Gallery established before telling a Reverse Flash story.

          The rest of your questions about the Reverse Flash should all be answered in Season Two, actually.

        • I stopped watching the Flash show half way through Season One. I decided to give it another try when they did the first Earth-2 episode, only to get frustrated with the fact that Barry Allen goes to the police station to investigate Zoom, only to immediately leave again when his ‘wife’ does, and the rest of the episode proceeded to be Barry really badly pretending to be Earth-2 Barry instead of actually trying to do anything related to Zoom. Then I saw everyone praise it as one of the the best, and decided the show wasn’t for me.

          But yeah, there are certainly advantages to having an Earth-2, and lots of potential that way, there is also a lot of potential to the Twin Cities aspect, which becomes a lot more complex if you want to keep Barry’s original origin. So I love how you reconciled that.

          If you were actually trying to make this show, budget would forbid you adding the other heroes. I remember Young Justice unable to put Troia and whatever Mary Marvel was renamed (either Sergeant Marvel or Lieutenant Marvel) in Satisfaction or the finale as they ran out of money. And Young Justice was a show about the entire DC Universe. I do agree that there is a joy to the idea of the larger universe, where things like the Titans exist. Just hard to elegantly include them into the world with so little space in a season (I’d maybe try and do just one team a season). Though on your teams, I’m interested in some of your unexpected choices. Kaldur’ahm is obvious, but why Queen Hippolyta and Mia Dearden? Hippolyta’s superhero was never a natural retcon to deal with Post Crisis continuity issues (and Black Canary has always been closely connected to the JSA, if you want a woman) and Mia Dearden is a character with great challenges in adapting to a cartoon.

          With Abra Kadabra, maybe a suggestion would be to start earlier? Have his first episode be his first appearance, and then give him some other episodes to build a hatred? The other possibility is to use him as the secondary villain of the finale. So the Big Bad is the Top, and the other Flashes have to band together to fight Abra Kadabra as a sort of ‘Barry’s legacy come together to fight the legacy of the Rogues’ so that Barry can deal with the Top, where the real climax is (but even this structure would require an Abra Kababra who was more present throughout the season). Maybe just have him at the end of episodes more often, building towards a plan? In all honesty, every time a fan tries and do something like this, we love to pack it with everything, and most of the characters probably don’t get enough time in the show overall. I’ve been theorizing what Season 3 of Daredevil would be, and I’m wondering if you could fit Born Again, Out!, the Devil in Cellblock D (and therefore the Murdock Papers I guess) and Hardcore (maybe mixed with Return of the King for a really killer ending) into one season together. But I felt Abra Kadabra was a really obvious problem.

          On the Crisis stuff, it doesn’t have to be a Crisis on Infinite Earths thing. In all honesty, you could have just done something like ‘Barry saves the day in the finale by running so fast, he gets sucked into the Speed Force’. Something large and meaningful, full of the pathos of Barry’s death, without the Anti Monitor or something.

          I certainly agree that the Rogues is a better ‘first season bad guy’ than the Reverse Flash, who is too big of a deal to be dealt with early. But when you are only giving yourself one season with Barry, it is certainly a choice I wouldn’t have made. Reverse Flash and his relationship with Barry is a big deal, and feels like it should have an entire season dedicated to it. That can’t be done if Season 2 is Wally West (I haven’t fully read Season 2 yet, but you seem to be using Reverse Flash as the Big Bad here. I would have gone with Zoom/Hunter Zolomon for Season 2, as he plays into Wally’s fear of not matching up to Barry while being very specifically a Wally villain. It also means you are limited by what you can do with the Barry/Thawne relationship by the need to be a Wally season. And Bart’s should be Inertia. Then remember how annoyed I get at the fact that every major villain in the Flash mythos is a Speedster and thank the world for Jay Garrick)

        • The CW Flash show certainly has its issues, and I wouldn’t say it’s well-written at all, but I still have a lot of fun watching it. It has a good cast and effects and I love seeing my favorite characters brought to life in that way, even if it make a LOT of choices I find puzzling and doesn’t seem to have much consistency to its rules (the fastest Barry can run right now is Mach 3, but that’s enough to break the time barrier?!).

          Honestly, the biggest issue with introducing so many characters is the voice acting budget. You can draw as many characters you want into an episode as long as you’ve got the rights to use em (which was always a big issue with Wonder Woman and her supporting cast until recently), but you probably won’t have the money to voice them all. JLU and Young Justice Season 2 ran into that limitation a lot — you’ll notice that any time the full team is assembled in either show, a good number of them don’t talk. For my show, I think the only time that would be an issue in Season One is with the Rogue Army in the finale, so I imagine that a fair number of them would have to have silent roles in that episode. Besides the four Flashes, Iris, Magenta, and Batman, Kadabra, Cold, Piper, and White Lightning are the only Rogues who absolutely NEED to speak, so from there, when assembling the script, we’d need to figure out who else we think needs to speak and who we could get away with keeping silent. Most of the team episodes aren’t going to have casts that large because they’re focusing on only one Flash, one enemy, and a handful of teammates — I don’t think we’d run into that issue with them.

          As for Mia and Hippolyta, you’re right that both of them are largely there because both teams needed more women. I suppose I could have used Arrowette or Artemis instead of Mia, but honestly, I feel like Mia has the simplest origin of the three — she’s a girl Green Arrow adopted off the street and trained in archery. With more time to think of it, I’d ignore the “prostitute” part of her origin completely, as I do in Mia’s Season Two bio. Hippolyta was my choice for the JSA largely because she (along with Jay, Ted, and Alan) were the four surviving founding members in the first Volume of Goyer/Johns’ JSA reboot, but I also thought her personality would be fun to bounce off the men, and that her immortality gave a very valid excuse for her to still be alive and in fighting shape. It’s getting harder and harder to justify having original JSA members around. Black Canary would have been a valid choice, but then I would have had to explain how she was still alive and in fighting shape, how she had a child young enough to be a contemporary of Barry’s despite being in her 90s, all that jazz. Hippolyta is a much simpler choice, as far as I’m concerned.

          There’s not much more I can say about Thawne right now other than that I had a very specific take on his and Barry’s confrontation in mind, and I pulled off exactly what I wanted with it in Season Two. Thawne was the most dangerous enemy Barry ever had to fight, and I think I established that well. Would I have done it differently if this was a more Barry-centric series? Probably. But that’s not really the story I’m telling. In a lot of ways, Season 2 is about how Barry still looms large over the lives of the other Flashes and affects them every day even after his death, and Thawne plays an important role in that.

          Jay actually does have his own Reverse Flash in the form of Rival, but I’ll be straight-up that I have no plans to tell a Rival story. I’m doing something different with Jay’s big-bad, and there will be no evil speedsters in Season 3. (There will be several in Season 4)

  2. Clandestino #2: There was some serious hype about Black Mask last year. Then they screwed the pooch and didn’t release anything for like 5 months. Finally, Clandestino #2! I was kind of excited. Number one wasn’t great, but it was over the top fun in a dark and twisted guerrilla fighting for his home sort of way. Holy shit was I disappointed. This was undoubtedly one of the worst comics I’ve ever read. The art was bad, the dialogue was comically bad (one character actually said “WTF” in a chase on the first page), the editing was bad (misspellings and incorrect usage of you’re/your)… Holy balls, this was a trainwreck. Issue one talked about how the whole series was completed, then there’s a five month delay and this steaming pile was served up. While Black Mask was stomping on their figurative dicks, Aftershock has come along and put out some super high quality stuff by quality creators. To me, this was the death knell for the entire publisher. This was an abomination and I would have to say with 99% certainty it’s the worst comic I’ve bought this year (and it’s been about 12 weeks, so I’ve bought about 200 comics so far). It might be the worst I’ve bought since I’ve been posting here.

    Dammit, I really wanted to like this.

    Devolution #3: Anyone reading this? Remender has put together a pretty dark story. I think I need to reread it from 1 to 3 to get a full grip on it. I’m not sure even what to say other than it’s intentionally ugly and hard to read. Sort of a glossy colored Heavy Metal style?

    Rat Queens #15: Wow did the hype on this die down. This has always walked really close to the line of, “Let me tell you this cool story about what we did in our D&D game this one time!” which is always terrible. I don’t need to hear about how your 17th level ranger seduced the medusa in a Shades of Gray scene and while blindfolded used her to turn the blue dragon/triceratops hybrid to stone and then killed the medusa on the stoned blue tridragonatops horns. Which is what this comic flirted with, especially in the letters pages (which were the worst). However, it avoids the cliff and is actually, at its core, a very entertaining sword and sorcery story, which is cool.

    It’s delays have hurt it, especially considering the drama in this comic between friends and misunderstandings that cause heartache and breakup that seem sort of ridiculous considering everything else these characters do. And I’m no longer enjoying it enough to go back and figure out what the heck is going on. I sort of miss the “fight the horde, complete the quest, save the town” mentality of the start of this series, and I think that maybe this will pick up as this issue seemed to conclude the magic school chapter of this story.

  3. Batman and Robin Eternal: Seeley, Valentine, Orlando… Everyone seems to be having such fun with Spoiler. Why didn’t they make her part of the main plot? At least this means that she has avoided the lesser writers, and only turns up when the better writers need her to steal our hearts (with the exception of the ballet, Spoiler had had all the best moments of Eternal, basically). Other than that, not much more to say. Orlando is a step down from Valentine, but gets the meatier Act 5. The art is surprisingly good at doing interesting action (and I appreciate Orlando’s effort in making the action interesting and all the beats around Mother that you knew that were going to happen happen. The only other thing to say is that Azrael’s presence here is laughable stupid. Why we are wasting our time on a minor, meaningless character to this story this close to the end is baffling
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    Black Canary: For all Black Canary’s faults, there was just enough interesting in the new martial arts stuff that I was invested. Wish we didn’t have a crappy filler
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    Robin: I think Fawkes is working mostly with the original plans of Gleeson. But he is obviously a step down. Gleeson was never good enough for me to care too much about a writer change if the writer added a new viewpoint to Gleeson’s story. But Fawkes has nothing to add, just to take away. At least it looks like Nobody is going to return. Hopefully this means she has a chance at sticking around.
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    Injection: Is the Injection twisting physics to create these crazy occurrences that the Cultural Cross Contamination Unit investigate, or simply revealing the weirdness already there? That is the big question, and I believe with Issue 8, I am finally getting a handle on the big ideas behind this question.

    And ultimately, this book is meta as hell. I’m always careful about linking the themes to a story to the creative process. At times it is essential and powerful because of it, at other times it is masturbatory. And I really dislike the ‘everything maps to some part of the creative forces that made the story’ interpretations (except for INception, where the idea of everyone’s role mapping to the role of a movie is essential to the basic idea that it is about how movies affect us). But Ellis isn’t doing stuff like that. He is actually railing against the stagnancy of our worlds, and the lack of diversity in every sense of the word.

    A look at the Cultural Cross Contamination Unit makes this clear. You can map Vivek and Simeon to exact characters (Sherlock Holmes and James Bond). Meanwhile Maria, Robin and Brigid are so archetypal that the only reason we can’t link them to a specific character is that there are just too many similar characters. With ideas this generic, is it a surprise that the fruits of their labour was ‘the world will continue to remain stagnant’.

    But once the book gets started, it shows a great interest in reconstruction. Where deconstruction is the art of breaking characters to their core components to show their flaws (something that has happened to these sorts of characters again and again), Reconstruction is the art of putting them together again in a way that gives us everything great about the initial archetype while fixing the flaws. If Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns deconstructed the fascism inherent in Superheroes, Scott Snyder’s Batman reconstructs them by showing Batman’s true importance as an inspiration (can’t wait to talk more about Batman 50).

    This Reconstruction is everywhere. Maria has constant trips to Sawlung Hospital not because she is a Mad Scientist but simply because, for the sake of her mental health, she requires time to heal between missions. Simeon does James Bond stuff, but only through being prepared well in advance. WHen something unexpected happens, he struggles, and his ability to overcome unexpected circumstances is a distinctly different skill set to his ability to do James Bond stuff. Vivek makes a point of discussing how he breaks from the Sherlock style ‘my solution is perfectly logical, but only because I make the exact correct logical step each time’ while still being correct – he can’t Sherlock scan what sort of gun nicked Detective Branch, but he can use his knowledge of statistics to make an informed guess that is correct. All of these are true to the archetype, but with the inherent flaws fixed.

    But while the Reconstruction fixes the lack of diversity in ideas through the use of modern updates, there is another sort of diversity being attacked. Issue 8 begins with Simeon and Brigid in the Foundry. Simeon describes the Foundry as a TARDIS, and for good reason. All that is missing from the Foundry is Peter Capaldi and those Round Things on the wall. Which is of course the point. Because the goal of this scene is not just to introduce the Foundry, but to complain about how Science Fiction and Spy stories lack diversity. This isn’t a new idea – Maria has been complaining about sexism throughout the book – but it is here that the fundamental genre underpinning get attacked. Idris Elba will never be James Bond, despite the fact that he is Idris Elba. And Brigid attacks the idea that she is the Doctor on the grounds that ‘they’ll never let a black woman be the Doctor’ (what I love about this complaint is how unfair it is. Moffat has been doing this exact same sort of stuff with his shows, and Doctor Who has made a real point in the last five seasons to fix many of these issues, making great strides fixing so many of these issues, including making the new Master a 49 year old woman (and, I believe, Hispanic). But who cares, because all of Sci Fi is at fault).

    But this attack in the lack of diversity is only laying the ground work for the real strike, and the centrepiece of Injection 8. The sequence is a hilarious follow up on a similar sequence in Issue 6. Issue 6 took the idea of ‘Sherlock Holmesian detective knows everything’ to an absurd level, to the point where Vivek has actually dabbled in Cannibalism. In Issue 8, though, Ellis does something stranger. Vivek has applied that same scientific rigor to intimacy. Again, it is a reconstruction of the archetype, taking the basic idea but showing the idea actually does have space for human emotion. If it has a problem, it is that Vivek explains all this, breaking it down to the very thematic level when the visual storytelling already tells us all of this (and that Moffat did this first in Sherlock).

    But the sequence isn’t over yet. Just after Ellis gives us yet another example of Reconstruction while giving a speech about how the fact that fictional characters, built from stagnant ideas, do not match reality, we get the reveal that Vivek slept with Simeon. Which is quickly followed by the reveal that Brigid slept with Maria. It is a truly fantastic page. Everyone is gay! Except in the last panel, we see Robin.

    Robin has always been the ‘problem’, in many ways. From a diversity perspective, he is the only one who isn’t ‘diverse’. He is the straight white man. And from a story perspective, it is clear that ultimately, it is Robin’s fault. It was him putting the demon in the Injection that caused everything to go wrong. And while everyone else is Reconstructions, Robin is still stuck in the Deconstruction phase. He is very clearly the past (the scene follows with him talking to his dead relatives), and the thing holding everything back. Where everyone else is a conscious attempt at moving forward and fixing the problems, Robin isn’t.

    And that is Injection’s central thesis. Warren Ellis said ‘folklore is the operating system of culture’, which is basically saying that stories and ideas are important. And yet we have Robin. We refuse to actually move forwards, and get stuck with the old stagnant ideas that are causing the problems.

    To fix our problems, we need diversity, in all forms. Stagnancy is death

    • The more I think about Injection 8, the more I want to say it is one of my favorite comics this year. It is so easy to choose obvious stuff like the amazing Secret Wars 9 or Batman 50. Those comics are fantastic, with how the combine big, important moments with layers upon layers of depth. But something like Injection 8 is full of that same depth, and just doesn’t draw attention to it.

      It is built around a truly amazing sequence, but doesn’t brag about it. I love it

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