DC Round-Up: Comics Released 10/26/16

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How many Batman books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Action Comics 966, Batgirl 4, Detective Comics 943, The Flash 9, and the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special. Also, we’ll be discussing Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 7 on Friday and Wonder Woman 9 on Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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Action Comics 966

action-comics-966Mark: I’ve been wishing for Lois Lane to have a more active role in Superman books outside of “concerned mother/wife” and here we are. Lois is back at The Daily Planet and ready to kick ass! Great! But what on earth happened to get us here?

First, Lana, we need to talk:

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Uh, yeah, Lana. That’s exactly what you say. Sure, you maybe practice a softer choice of words in the mirror a few times before the big moment, but when your Plan B involves a transdimensional doppelgänger taking a dead woman’s place? And lying to her family? Yeah, you go with telling them she was Superwoman and that she’s dead.

And Lois, think about what you’re saying:
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Okay, except you do want a part in telling Sam Lane his daughter is gone! Really! Because the alternative being cooked up here is you taking over a dead woman’s identity and then interacting with her loved ones like everything’s normal. Gross!

Everyone’s motivation here basically boils down to, “Gee, telling someone their daughter died would be a really tough conversation to have. Let’s just have someone pretend to be their dead daughter instead.” How is this possibly the best plan? There’s nothing to be scared of! No one did anything wrong! Why doesn’t anyone consider that Lois Lane’s father would probably be at least a little bit interested in helping them discover how his daughter died?

And then there’s this:

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I’m sorry, what? Let’s break down this madness beat by beat:

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“We wanted to do right be Lois.”

Cool. A good place to start would maybe be not pretending to her family that she’s still alive.

“And within that context, Clark wanted me to do what was best for me.”

“How can the traumatic death of my wife’s doppelgänger be turned into a positive for her?” – Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

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“It’s a key part of who I am.”

No, it’s a key part of who you were. But then your reality was destroyed in a war of the multiverses and now you’re lucky to be alive and with your family. Remember?

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“…Without hurting anyone.” 

Right. Because how could pretending to be someone you’re not possibly hurt anyone?

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I’m desperately hoping Dan Jurgens doesn’t believe any of what he’s laying down here, and is instead setting up Lois, Clark, and company for a very rude awakening. I’m hoping, but not hopeful. Instead, it feels like the decisions made here are being framed as The Noble And Right Thing To Do, that all involved are being noble and in no way putting their own interests first. What an icky point of view.

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Batgirl 4

batgirl-4Ryan M.: While an interconnected web of friends and family are key to a healthy life, sometimes they can obscure an individual by placing them in the contexts of relationships. In Batgirl 4, Barbara is far from Burnside and truly on her own as she fights and investigates Teacher from Korea to China. Barbara never seems to lose a step, she is resourceful and ultra-competent, handling each situation with a confidence and ease that comes with being so far from the ones that distract her, her loved ones. Barbara may be trying to save an old friend from danger, but, at the same time, she is a young woman traveling alone.

Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque reinforce that idea. When Barbara waits for her flight to Shanghai, her posture, luggage and her ponytail all indicate a post-college backpacking trip more than a crime-fighting adventure. That kind of playful out-of-costume activity continues when she bumps an entire cafe from the wifi and sheepishly waves an apology. By being so far from the people that she knows, Barbara is able to be a more pure form of both her costumed and plain-clothesed self.
Not that the costume isn’t useful. In a standout scene from the issue, Batgirl visits Kai in the hospital and Barbara is able to practice self-care from a remove.
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She sets boundaries with Kai in such a straightforward way. It’s satisfying to see a character assert her needs and her unwillingness to accept less. The fact that she does it in a guise allows her to be even more aggressive in her protection of “Barbara.” It’s much easier to support your friends whole-heartedly against anyone who hurts them than it is to defend yourself. With all of her friends ten thousand miles away, Barbara has no choice but to be her own defender.

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Detective Comics 943

detective-comics-943Patrick: Everyone is a victim of something. Loss, trauma, a reductive media, societal pressures, apathy, privilege, homophobia, racism, sexism… even getting punched in the face by Batman — all of these things can cause a human being to feel as though they are being unfairly targeted for failure. James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez’ Detective Comics 943 plays around the the concept of the victim, placing everyone in the role. The costumed villains of this piece, who we see very little of in this first issue, even go so far as to define themselves by this trait, calling themselves “The Victim Syndicate.” Though, after 20 pages of Batmoping, it’s tempting to re-purpose that name as Gotham City’s slogan.

F’real: Martinez draws some of the saddest Batman I’ve ever seen. And keep in mind – we’ve seen Bruce mourn the loss of HIS OWN SON before. That was a very different kind of Batsadness, however, which manifested itself in all of the maniacally productive / violent ways Bruce’s deep-seeded depression issues usually manifest. There is no such redirection of energy here, and while I initially groaned at this panel of Batman slumped over in a chair in front of Tim’s costume, it does speak volumes about his inability to process this loss.

batman-slumped-over-in-a-chairSo, okay, who’s not a victim in this one? The Kanes seem to be holding their own. Kate keeps her shit together and is able to continue her team’s work, even when everyone else needs time to re-coop. And Jacob is unfazed by Batman’s interrogation tactics. I suppose you could also make a case for Harper, who even refuses to be defined by the circumstances that lead her to be Bluebird in the first place. I know there has been some grumbling about her absence in this early issues of Detective Comics  (y’know, because 930-something constitutes “early”), but I love the idea that staying out of the costume is an expression of her strength. She and Jean-Paul get to do some honest good together at the free clinic – so what if they’re not part of Batman’s detective club?

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The Flash 9

flash-9Spencer: Comics are complicated, which is something I occasionally forget until I have to actually explain a story to someone who isn’t a regular reader. Writer Joshua Williamson pokes a bit of fun at the convoluted nature of comics through a conversation between the two Wally Wests, a sentence which practically defines convoluted all on its own.

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So yeah, while my ideal iteration of The Flash is a title filled with with half-a-dozen intertwined speedsters, I can at least understand why The New 52 did away with the “Flash Family.” The Flash 9 practically ties itself into a knot shuffling around bits of continuity in order to make room for both versions of Wally West within the same universe, yet Williamson and artist Jorge Corona also make a strong argument for why having this many Flashes in the same place is a good thing.

That argument, put simply, is that speedsters are in a unique position to train and learn from other speedsters. That was a theme Williamson explored in depth with the Speed Storm victims in his first storyline, but the mentor/protégé relationships take on a special depth in The Flash 9 because the characters are family. Barry might as well have raised classic-Wally, and while nu-Wally is technically his cousin in this continuity, Williamson treats them as dopplegangers; the point is, all these characters know each other like the back of their hands, know what they’ve been through as people and as heroes, and have insights to provide to each other that no one else has. Having mentors and protégés makes Flashes better heroes, and brings out sides of these characters we’d never see otherwise.

I admit, though, that I’m an easy sell, and I’d be curious to see if newer readers think the upsides of having so many Flashes around outweigh the complications. Either way, it’s not gonna slow down Williamson.

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Ending an issue by teasing Jay Garrick pretty much makes The Flash the poster-book for “Rebirth,” but I’ve gotta admit, it works like gangbusters for me, and not just because of nostalgia. The prospect of seeing all the Flashes together again fills me with hope too, but largely because The Flash is just a better character when he’s surrounded by his friends.

(Also, should we assume that this issue’s cover being a parody of Garrick’s first Silver Age appearance is meant to be a subtle bit of foreshadowing towards the cliffhanger? It’s a fun coincidence, if nothing else.)

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Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special

wonder-woman-75th-anniversary-specialDrew: Back in January of 2014, I complained that Batman’s glut of out-of-continuity short story anthologies robbed his 75th anniversary issue of any sense of celebration. Batman was so overexposed in DCs output, so spoiled with top talent and deconstruction after deconstruction, that it was essentially impossible to pull out any more stops to mark the occasion. Wonder Woman has been fortunate to see some of that lavishing of top talent in recent years, but has remained far from what anyone would describe as “overexposed.” That such an iconic character has been left so underutilized is a shame, but it does have the benefit of making this 75th Anniversary Special actually feel like a cause for celebration.

This issue is a true anthology, featuring short stories, pinups, cover sketches, an “interview” with Diana, even a poem (or is it a song?), from some of the character’s most notable recent creators (past, present, and maybe future). Indeed, the issue is too full to name everyone, but all do a fantastic job of highlighting exactly what has made Wonder Woman such an enduring figure: her compassion. Virtually every story, from Diana defending Giganta from an angry mob (whom Diana had just saved from Giganta) in Mairgread Scott and Riley Rossmo’s “One Side Alone,” to Diana pulling the thorn from her adversary’s paw in Renae De Liz’s “The Legend of Wonder Woman,” finds Wonder Woman finding compassion even for her bitterest enemies. I was particularly moved by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl’s short story “Predators,” which finds Diana extending that compassion to the animal kingdom (and makes a strong case for an animated Wonder Woman film). Gail Simone and Colleen Doran’s “Big Things One Day Come” also finds Diana helping an animal, though her uplifting pep-talk to an aspiring superheroine definitely steals the show.

Submission is faith in the strength of others

It’s a fun issue that makes a strong case for more anthologies like this — with so many creators finding so many clever angles on Wonder Woman, there really ought to be more of an outlet for these kinds of stories. If there’s any criticism to be leveled against this issue, it’s that it seems to mostly be celebrating the last 25 years of Wonder Woman’s history. Sure, there are nods to her wartime origins and cameos from Steve Trevor and Etta Candy, but all of the creators are from a much more recent vintage. The commitment to current talent is commendable, but I might have appreciated the scope of this anniversary special to encompass all of Wonder Woman’s 75 year history. The only archival material is a gallery of covers and sketches from Brian Bolland, but even those only reach back to 1992.

My insatiability for old forgotten Wonder Woman stories (and their creators) aside, this issue is a charming celebration of the character. It features many of the recent big names to work with Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s absence is particularly notable because they were even mentioned by name in the solicit), and reminds us of just how versatile the character can be. This is exactly the kind of anniversary special any Wonder Woman fan will love, it’s just a shame we don’t get more of them.

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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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13 comments on “DC Round-Up: Comics Released 10/26/16

  1. Since my complaints about Rebirth seem to be living rent free in Drew’s head, I thought it was worth asking everyone. What does everyone think of Rebirth so far? What’s your opinion on the strengths and the weaknesses? Is it succeeding in what DC Rebirth promised? Now that it has been 5 months, what is everyone’s opinions on DC Rebirth as a whole?

    I will admit, nothing I have seen has made me want to read Rebirth. As great as the idea of a Flash Family is, it cannot justify the horrifically racist choice to ‘bring back’ Wally West. And Action Comics 966 is one of the many reasons I was opposed to the stupid idea of bringing back Post-Crisis Superman. Mark’s piece is a fantastic deconstruction of all the ways it is wrong morally (Mark, it is honestly amazing). And I’m pretty sure the plot logic doesn’t work, as I was under the impression that Post Crisis Lois was much older than New 52 Lois (and that is ignoring the fact that Lois is all of a sudden married and with a surprisingly old son). But of course it is treated as the Noble and Right thing to do, because you need to return to status quo. Which is why this was such a bad idea in the first place. The only shocking thing here is just how morally awful what Lois and Clark do is.

    • Personally, I think these publishing initiatives (Marvel Now, DC You, Rebirth, Marvel Now again) are much more of a marketing ploy than an aesthetic template. The rules of what characters might be alive or dead or depowered or evil might change, but honestly, I was never reading for those “rules” anyway (and am happy to read out-of-continuity stories where those rules are different). I can appreciate your stance of not wanting to support the philosophy behind this particular marketing campaign, but the recipe for good comics hasn’t changed: a talented creative team with a strong concept is just as likely (and unlikely) as it ever was. My DC pull has dwindled over the past several years as they continue to hemorrhage talent (and whatever strong concepts they bring) to other publishers, but I don’t see Rebirth as particularly exacerbating that problem (though it also doesn’t seem to be rectifying it, either). So while I get your objections to the idea of Rebirth, I don’t think it’s really changed the comics in any substantive way. I suppose that can be pitched in a glass half-full kind of way, but I tend to think they needed to do something to pull them out of their slow descent, so I think failing to move the needle is definitely a failure.

      • DC’s top tier books are going to continue to be their top tier books because of the creative teams working on them, not because of anything Rebirth is or isn’t.

        But I do think the rest of DC’s lineup, the mid-tier and low-tier titles, are more effected by the editorial/marketing mandate wrapped in the Rebirth name. Even having a slightly stronger marketing message (“returning hope and optimism to DC”) will change how these middle of the road books are positioned. In that sense, I do think having a more appealing marketing mandate does make a difference.

        As someone who has given pretty much every book to come out of Rebirth at least a look, my overall sense is that Rebirth has raised the bar for these, for lack of a better term, “filler” books. Bare minimum, they’re not all trying to be Christopher Nolan movies; a huge improvement over the New 52’s general dourness.

        So, basically, even though I think the bad books are still bad, I also think they’re an improvement on what came before.

        • I think you are being very unfair on what DC used to be. Even if we look at the New 52 as a whole, the New 52 had many books like Sword of Sorcery, Dial H, Grayson, Batgirl of Burnside, Frankenstein, Demon Knights and Larfleeze that couldn’t be described as dour.

          But more importantly, I think stating that DC was full of too dour Nolan wannabes before DC Rebirth, you are ignoring DC YOU. While DC YOU had some Nolan stuff (Omega Men and Catwoman were Nolan done right, We Are Robin was Nolan done wrong), I think it is unfair to ignore the fact that just before DC Rebirth, DC’s line up was stuff like Gotham Academy, Midnighter, Batgirl of Burnside, Grayson, Prez, Starfire, Martian Manhunter, Justice League 3001, Black Canary and Robin: Son of Batman. None of these are Nolan wannabes and most of them were optimistic. Saying Rebirth is an improvement over the New 52’s dourness ignores the fact that Rebirth came after an era that wasn’t particularly dour

          Instead of looking back at where DC was four years ago, think back to where they were a year ago. What your opinion of where DC is now, compared to where they were last year? Which books specifically do you think have been improved from where they were this time last year? Are there any books you think are in a worse position than they were last year? Is there anything in general that DC does better now than they did last year? Is there anything in general that DC is doing worse now than they did last year?

          Because DC during DC YOU is a very different beast to DC during the New 52’s nadir. And ultimately, Rebirth was the response to DC YOU, not to the New 52

      • Yeah, you are right that the publishing initiatives are more marketing than actual aesthetic changes. But that is largely because the initiatives are built around the current aesthetic shifts. Marvel Now didn’t create the current Marvel, but (as Nick Spencer has been discussing) the effect of Hawkeye. DC YOU ‘started’ with books like Batgirl, Grayson and Gotham Academy. DC Rebirth begun with books like Lois and Clark, Titans Hunt and Post-Valentine Catwoman (it is truly astonishing how immediately after Valentine left, DC literally scorched the earth behind her. Everything related to Valentine’s run couldn’t be forgotten, it had to be literally destroyed). The Publishing Initiatives aren’t the cause of the aesthetic shifts, but merely a good sign post for where an aesthetic shift has occurred. My problem is that I hate DC’s current aesthetic shift, which appears to rely on nostalgia and ‘meat and potatoes’ over originality or current context

        And from what I’ve seen, I think you are right, in that the baseline quality isn’t amazingly different. DC Rebirth is missing a masterpiece, but we can’t expect DC to always have a masterpiece. The fact that they had one in DC YOU was very lucky. And as much as I think about the quartet of Batman, Catwoman, Prez and Omega Men, you could probably argue that between All Star, Deathstroke and Young Animal they are getting close to the first three (though Deathstroke has major, major problems that Catwoman simply didn’t. For DC’s best book, you’d want it to be better).

        So I guess my big question to you is what you think DC’s dominating aesthetic currently is? The recipe of great creative team with a strong concept is still the recipe to success, and DC’s biggest problem seems to be a lack of them (and even getting Tom King exclusive doesn’t seem to have helped, considering no one appears to love his Batman book). But DC’s dominating aesthetic is made up of every single concept the writers have, and is therefore important.

        • I guess I’m not seeing it as a coherent aesthetic shift. Certain characters (Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash) had suffered from middling sales, so DC cooked up a “back to basics narrative” in hopes of drawing back fans they had alienated at the New 52 switch. But other characters were doing well, so were left virtually unchanged. Green Lantern barely shifted direction at all, and Batman still has Snyder (even if he stepped “aside” to put another writer on the main series). More importantly, DC hasn’t scrapped the New 52 changes that led to successful books. Batgirl is still very much in the mold of Hawkeye, and Gotham Academy is still its own quirky Scooby-Doo-at-Hogwarts thing. Because it was the flagship characters that needed the most overhauling, DC could sell those changes as big, but I honestly see it as the resetting of just a handful of series that was branded to include new series, even if they ultimately don’t have any shared aesthetic.

          For me, the more troubling bit is that all of the double-shipping means that DC is selling the same numbers with far fewer titles. Producing twice as many Batmans and Supermans means producing half as many Dial Hs or Sword of Sorceries. I’m less concerned about the talk of more conservative aesthetics (which I really do think is mostly talk), and more concerned about the more conservative publishing line.

          But, at the same time, DC is also publishing the Young Animals line, and while two of those have been duds for me, there’s really no arguing that they’re experimenting. One could argue that those experiments reflect conservative aesthetics, being callbacks to Vertigo’s early successes (you can bet Sandman would be in the mix if it weren’t for Gaiman’s rights to the character), but they definitely throw a wrench in the “Rebirth prevents DC from experimenting” argument.

          So, like I said, I don’t really see there being a coherent shift here. DC is chasing whatever successes they’ve had — some series don’t need to change at all, but others require digging further back in their histories to find anything that could be considered a success. Some of those series will have decidedly conservative approaches, but others are taking bigger, weirder risks. It’s all over the place. I’m not finding that either approach is yielding more successes (though the sales numbers may disagree), and that the hit-to-miss ratio hasn’t changed all that much. That they have fewer titles might make those hits rarer, but will also exaggerate the value of those successes.

          I know you didn’t ask for this, but my prediction for a year from now: Batman will have more or less kept its numbers, even with double shipping, and will keep that publishing schedule indefinitely. The rest of the double-shipped series, however, will see their sales drop off, possibly to numbers below what they were before double-shipping, and will be knocked back to once a month. This will free up editors and creators to try new things, and we’ll get output more similar to DC You/Marvel Now in terms of title diversity. That is: when the dust settles, Batman will be DC’s Amazing Spider-Man — the one double-shipped series from its respective publisher.

        • I used the word dominating specifically because I knew there was always going to be exceptions (I remember that in the lead up to DC Rebirth, DC actually had to come out and say ‘it all won’t be happy and optimistic. The Batman books will still be dark).
          You can list exceptions like Scott Snyder’s Batman, Gotham Academy and Batgirl, for better or for worse.
          But Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Titans, Detective Comics and Blue Beetle are all using ‘What you thought you knew are lies, and there is a hidden truth’. Hell, Superman and the Flash are even more specifically similar in that they have ‘The Superman/Wally West you knew is not the real one. The Real one has now returned. The other one’s identity is actually To be Revealed/Wally West’s cousin’. That is a coherent aesthetic.
          Meanwhile, successful books that weren’t suffering sales problems have also had changes. Grayson was actually healthier than Batgirl of Burnside throughout DC YOU, with a more consistent audience in the end. And yet that changed. Detective Comics, which is supposed to follow up the Eternals, rewrites all of the Eternal characters so that they are completely different, with different relationships and positions within the world. The fact that Snyder is still around makes discussing Batman slightly harder, but the ‘main’ Batman book is a very different aesthetic. In fact, wasn’t the Green Lantern books doing stuff like having Guy Gardener have two ring powers? That seems to have disappeared. Even Green Lantern has changed.

          You are right that double shipping is a problem, and leading too much of DC’s books being Batman, Superman etc and not enough space for Dial H or Sword of Sorcery. And Young Animal, for all its flaws (I like Cave Carson more than you, but that’s by ignoring the incompetent parts. And Doom Patrol is a disaster), does provide some space for experimentation (though experimentation only within the boundaries of the imprint itself. If we compare We Are Robin to Mother Panic, as subversions of Gotham vigilante stories, We Are Robin was central to a crossover event and had roles in Snyder’s Batman and Batman and Robin Eternal. It is doubtful that Mother Panic will get the same treatment).

          But I also think that once you account for all of those changes, there are still changes to the books that come from a shift in aesthetics. I mean, the Superman books have gone from Truth to the latest Action Comics. Snyder’s Batman was the spine that the rest of the Batbooks were built around and influenced by, but is now mostly self-contained. A shift has happened. I’m not trying to persuade you that Rebirth is bad, as I’m more interested in what your opinions are. And so I am interested in what you believe, in general, is the aesthetic shift. Is it a shift towards Optimism? Is it a focus on Legacy? Or is it something else?
          And, because I’m interested, what are the current successes and failures, in your opinion?

          On the sales, I think the discussions about Rebirth being a sales success is overstated. It is doing better than the New 52 did, but in a much healthier market. So ultimately, it will follow a similar course as the New 52. I think Rebirth will begin by doubling down on what they are already doing (they already have, considering everything they have announced are spinoffs), but eventually what you say will be true. In the end, there will only be one or two books that remain double shipping, but I would put my money on Detective and Action. I think they’ll want to keep books like Batman open for something cohesive like Snyder/Capullo

        • Honestly, I’m reading so few DC books, I don’t feel like I can comment on any company-wide aesthetics. I’m barely following any of the series you mentioned. I’ve checked in on Detective and Action, but my reaction was not any stronger (better or worse) than it was the last time I checked in before Rebirth, and I haven’t kept up. As much as I loved the Azz/Chiang Wonder Woman, the character’s treatment across the New 52 was wildly inconsistent (to say nothing of the Finchs’ run), so some kind of reset seems warranted there (though I may be biased because I’m such a big Rucka fan). The series that I tend to like — series that are more or less left to their own devices in spite of what may be going on in the DCU at large — can still be found in the DC lineup, and that’s all I really need. I honestly haven’t considered whether the rest of their lineup (the bulk of their publishing line) is better or worse, since it just doesn’t interest me. All I can say is that that disinterest isn’t any stronger now than it was before, but it also isn’t any weaker.

  2. Batman – the Telltale Series: The third episode, New World Order, was released this week, and continues to be fantastic.

    Denny O’Neil once had a rule that Batman could not sleep with anyone, because the moment he did, he sleeps with everyone. But I have to say, if more stories could treat sex the way Telltale’s new game does, I would love it. It isn’t just the fact that the build up between Bruce and Selina focuses so much on creating a sense of intimacy and connection. The build up is fantastic, all about finding the humanity. A big part of the Batman/Catwoman relationship is the sexuality that sparks off them in basic interaction, but just as important is that under all that sexiness is a genuine, if very complex connection. And the build up really explores those depths, even if it is in the cliche ‘nurse scenario’.
    But that isn’t what really makes it work. What really makes it work is that the next sequence, after that, is all about Bruce walking around in his underwear, looking at Selina’s bookshelf and making breakfast. There is a real sense of Bruce Wayne as a person. There is even a phone call from Alfred where Bruce gets the opportunity to say that he really likes Selina, like a lovesick puppy. There is a real humanity there, by creating people out of these icons. They actually have a life. And looking at Selina’s books shows a carefully chosen selection of books that show the inner life of Catwoman. Despite using a Catwoman that is a bit less glamorous than the Catwomen you read in Brubaker or Valentine’s amazing runs, the central heart to Catwoman still exists, as you wander around her messy, dead end apartment. And you combine that with an honestly fantastic depiction of the little intimacies of a relationship.

    Meanwhile, Harvey Dent is treated in a very different way. In my playthrough, Harvey got his scars and is now Twoface. Except this is a Twoface unlike any other. Origins like the Long Halloween or the Dark night had Harvey going around killing people and becoming a gangster almost instantly. Here, Harvey becomes Mayor, even as he struggles with his classical duality issues. The idea of Twoface as Mayor is brilliant. Both the perfect version of ‘Batman from the perspective of Bruce Wayne’, and as an idea in itself. Seeing Harvey both try and live his life AND try to be mayor as the city is gripped in terrorism is a fantastic twist on the Twoface mythos. WHy haven’t we explored those first days more? Those days when Harvey’s pschology has been split apart but before he became a supervillain.

    And speaking of supervillains, we finally learn who the villain is in this, and it is fantastic. It is the sort of thing that is a truly surprising twist, completely upending expectations. Takes a classic character and does something completely brand new, while feeling completely and utterly true to the character. It is fresh and inventive, even in the context of a Batman game that is fresh and inventive.

    And that’s what makes this so great. It takes the familiar, iconic characters and finds something truly new. In many ways, it is comparable to what Nolan did with his movies. Except the key, fundamental change is the idea that Bruce Wayne and Batman should share the spotlight, and that both sides are heroes in their own way, trying to save Gotham using the tools available to both identities. And the best thing is that you can tell that this idea could have a million variations – this game is finding brand new ground in the Batman mythos that could create a hundred new stories, instead of just doing the same old stories again and again.

    This game as created something truly unique, and should be celebrated. Truly fantastic. I can’t wait is see what happens next episode

    • As someone who has never played a Telltale game (except maybe the Homestar Runner game. Did they develop that?) can you explain how the Batman game works? Is the ending predetermined or do things unfold differently depending on the choices the player makes?

      • The story is largely predetermined, with all the major beats determined. For example, the first episode begins with Batman investigating a theft at Mayor Hill’s campaign headquarters, followed by Bruce Wayne at a gala for Harvey Dent’s campaign that gets gatecrashed by the mob, followed by an investigation of clue in the Batcave.

        However, within the scenes, you have control over dialogue. This allows you to control both the subtleties of the scene (for example, during the Bruce Wayne in his underwear scene, you can have Bruce discuss how he actually cares about Selina, or decide that it is a good opportunity to learn more about Catwoman) and make context changing decisions (the best example is a scene where you talk to Mayor Hill, but have the choice to do it as Bruce Wayne and Batman). Many of the choices you make will pay off later down the line – if you choose to give Vicki Vale a statement, she’ll discus how she’s uses proven to be on your side with the article she wrote with that statement.
        In addition, you are given a couple of major choices, that have larger plot ramifications. For example, you can actually save Harvey Dent from being scarred.
        Ultimately, there is a single ending, but with a large number of subtle permutations that are defined by the smaller choices you make. You can’t change the course of the narrative, but you can chart your own, unique course within the narrative. So you will always end up at Selina’s apartment, but you have the choice of whether you sleep with her, how exactly you feel about Selina, what your history is together and whether your previous collaborations have been strong. From there, you go onto the next scene, a press conference, which is again influenced by your previous interactions with various members of Wayne Enterprises, and with Vicki Vale.
        So you make the smaller choices that provide the texture to the story and create subtle changes, but can’t fundamentally alter it. If you have a look at a video, it mkaes it very clear (though I would suggest not watching too much, because of spoilers)

        And yeah, Telltale did the Strongbad game

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