DC Round-Up: Comics Released 6/7/17

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 Batman 24, Dark Knight III: The Master Race 9, Green Lanterns 24, and Superman 24. Also, we’ll be discussing Green Arrow 24 on Friday and Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor 1 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.


Batman 24

Michael: Batman 24 ends with Batman asking Catwoman to marry him — we shall see if they actually get to the altar. And while I’m semi-conflicted on this proposal I must say that Tom King, David Finch and Danny Miki craft a powerful and engaging epilogue for the 23 chapters that have come before.

After Psycho Pirate healed her fractured mind, Gotham Girl is reintroduced as a cautiously optimistic hero hopeful. This is the first time I’ve actually liked Claire Clover, a character that serves as a metaphor for the potential of a brighter tomorrow for the Dark Knight.

King explores Batman’s psyche in a way that writers rarely do — by having him talk about his feelings. Gotham Girl isn’t a member of the Bat Family or the Justice League, so Batman extends her an unusual courtesy of complete honesty. I think that Batman’s “I’m scared” bit might be a little simplistic but I do so love how King writes Batman as referring to The Joker as “Him.”

If you’re going to have multiple artists work on a book then you should use Batman 24 as a guidebook. David Finch with Danny Miki and Clay Mann with Seth Mann split the work down the middle: Finch and Miki cover all of the Catwoman scenes and the Manns takes the Gotham Girl scenes. Jordie Bellaire further separates these two sequences by giving Gotham Girl the blinding brightness of daybreak and Catwoman the rain-soaked night.

Hey, here’s a question about that last page where Batman proposes: Does Finch draw the Bat-signal in the background just for a dynamic picture or does this imply that Batman can never truly have love because Gotham needs him?


Dark Knight III: The Master Race 9

Drew: I am not a fan of discussions on whether a work of art “justifies its own existence.” It’s an entirely arbitrary value system, built on disregarding the intrinsic value of artistic expression, but the most offensive thing to me about it is that it crosses the analytical line from description (detailing how and why a work succeeds or fails) to prescription (making recommendations about how the work should have been done). And what a useless prescription — a bit like having your vet skip the diagnosis to explain how pet ownership is wrong in the first place. We need to accept that a work of art exists in order to properly discuss it. All of which is my apology for declaring that The Dark Knight III: The Master Race 9 does a miraculous job of justifying not only its own existence, but that of The Dark Knight Strikes Again and The Dark Knight Returns, as well. To be clear, the justification in this case isn’t to me (or indeed, any reader), but to the comics themselves, as this issue articulates themes that retroactively place all of Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight” work in an almost heartwarmingly optimistic context.

Bruce Wayne has been resurrected, giving him a second chance to save the world, but the issue is less about second chances than it is about passing the baton (and learning from our collaborators). Indeed, Batman doesn’t land a single blow in that final fight, as Superman, the Atom, and Lara step in to do the actual world-saving. He’s just a bystander, watching the giants he inspired. That’s a theme that has the potential to come off as self-indulgent for someone with Miller’s legacy, but the reverence here for those giants makes it clear that Miller isn’t holding himself in immodest esteem. Heck, part of me wants to read Batman’s passivity here as a kind of apology for the way comics were reshaped in the wake of The Dark Knight Returns. The Batman of this issue isn’t some grim lone wolf, saving the world by sheer force of will, but an enthusiastic collaborator, saved by the strength of his colleagues. Heck, Miller, co-writer Brian Azzarello, and artist Andy Kubert make that message as iconically as they can, introducing a second figure to that most famous of DKR images:

Batman and Batwoman

What fascinates me most about this idea is that it seems to work on two levels. On the one hand, the turn towards a brighter, more open Batman feels like a corrective to the grim’n’gritty characterizations that followed in the wake of DKR, while the embrace of collaboration feels like a corrective to the auteur narrative that was pushed hard as publishers hoped to establish the medium’s literary bona fides. In short, neither The Dark Knight Returns nor its titular character is what we thought they were.

Intriguingly, while that image closes the feature story, the Miller-drawn backup actually focuses more on the rest of the cast, and offers a spiritual reflection of that closing image with Clark and Lara. And that’s where the point is really driven home. It’s not just about these demigods learning from one another, but what they learn from the rest of the world that makes life beautiful. It’s a startlingly upbeat note for this series to end on, which only emphasizes the point that we all still have plenty to learn.


Green Lanterns 24

Patrick: How do y’all like your mythology? Simple? Straight down the middle of the road? Or do you like that shit complicated with whirling allusions to other times, other places, other realities? If you’re reading Green Lanterns (or any Green Lantern comic for that matter), there’s really no escaping the baroque complexities of the mythos surrounding the power rings. Even as writer Sam Humphries originally set out to tell an earthbound story about the human beings wearing Green Rings, there’s a constant pull toward the narrative arabesque that is “Green Lantern.” Humphries and artists Carlo Barberi, Matt Santorielli and Ulises Arreola present the argument that the more involved with this mythology Jesccia Cruz and Simon Baz become, the more true they are to themselves.

The most straightforward visual representation of this is in Simon learning to ditch his reliance on his sidearm and embrace a multitude of constructs to best Kyle Rayner. Otherwise, that’s kind of a slight story: Kyle and Simon play-fight and have fun. Kind of a snoozer, if not for Simon’s gradual indoctrination into classic lantern-hood. He finds success not by being bold and new, but by playing the game set forth by Green Lanterns before him. It’s goofy, and visually noisy, but it is also undeniably fun.

If you’re keeping tack of crazy constructs, that’s a giant squid (with some kind of cannon-tentacle? like he’s Launch Octopus or something) being lassoed by cowboy Simon, only to be interrupted by glam rocker Kyle. Look, Simon’s so into it that he made both a hat and chaps out of green light!

It’s that same kind of extraneous detail that Humphries embraces by dropping a ten billion year flashback into the middle of this issue. TEN BILLION, YO. That’s a hilariously long time ago. It inspires the same question we asked of Simon in the panels I posted above, but directs it toward the creator. Instead of “why would Simon think to generate chaps?” we ask “Why would Humphries think to bring us back to Mars ten billion years ago?” The answer to both questions is the same: because it’s fun, and that silliness is what Green Lantern stories are.

The lingering question is whether or not there’s a place for Jessica in this Green Lantern world. She marks a win in her training with Guy, and does so with green constructs dancing all around her, so the answer is a tentative yes.

It’s not quite the same, is it? She’s not as carefully constructed as her peers; even Guy’s chainsaw-baseball bat implies a grace that this green fireworks display does not.


Superman 24

Spencer: There are two ways to deal when the future feels uncertain and terrifying (a sensation we’re likely all familiar with right now): you can lash out in fear, or you can hold onto hope for a better tomorrow and take steps to bring that future into being. Those are the stances taken by Manchester Black and Superman, respectively, in Superman 24; it’s no wonder they’re at odds.

That fear is a new emotion for Manchester Black, though, one brought about by the supposed visions of the future he’s seen in his journeys throughout time and space. In his earlier stories Black seemed satisfied to leave Superman alone and let him deal with “gaudy supervillains” as long as Supes didn’t get in his way, but now Black so badly believes that his harsher justice is the only thing capable of saving the world that he’ll brainwash an entire town of innocents and straight-up mentally coerce Superboy into being his dark henchman. That coercion does take the bite out of Black’s earlier attempts to win over Jon (the moral dilemma he’s posing to Jon goes right out the window), but that’s likely the point; fear and violence is a destructive way to confront the future, a stance that can only be perpetuated by spreading more violence and fear in its place.

Hope, on the other hand, lifts people up and makes them better.

People (like Lois) know they can trust Superman. He inspires them and gives them hope, and that is Superman’s greatest power. Manchester Black’s harsh justice may do some good in the immediate present, but it’s also teaching the next generation that fear, violence, and murder are acceptable ways to solve problems. Superman shows people that there’s a better way, raising a new generation that, hopefully, won’t need to fear the future the way we do now. Or, at least, that’s the goal. As unlikely as it may seem, it’s still a goal worth striving for.


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


8 comments on “DC Round-Up: Comics Released 6/7/17

  1. I had somehow missed that the art duties on Batman were split, and was momentarily impressed with Finch’s range. Instead, I just want to see more art from the Manns.

    • King mentioned in Twitter that Finch wasn’t originally supposed to work on this issue, but that he couldn’t picture anybody else drawing the proposal but him, so they worked things out to get him to draw a few pages.

  2. Credit where credit is due, King seems to be the rare writer trying the sort of ideas DC needs, especially with Selina. Just like the murder charge, this seems like a story that is new, regardless of the many ways it could end. But of course, King truly fucked up the Selina murder charge, hasn’t properly done the stuff necessary to suggest a successful version of this plotline (did she even do anything meaningful in I am Bane? If this is your key story, Selina has to actually be a part of the story) and has written a book that is generally incompetent. Hell, the choice to follow this up with a giant flashback arc really makes clear how little faith we should have in this plotline not being screwed over by Rebirth’s constant, consistent problems..

    Fuck, it is so sad that King’s Batman is the closest thing to a justification for Rebirth. At least King’s Batman promises to fuck up interesting ideas, instead of awful ones

    Still, wanted to talk about Injustice 2

    Because Injustice 2 is interesting. The story is crap. It is a fighting game that needs to reduce everything to a series of one on one fights, constantly undercutting it storytelling for another level. The sort of story that Swap Thing and Doctor Fate magically appear every so often just so you can punch someone. Even ignoring that, the chapter structure where each chapter corresponds to a character, while great for gameplay, is terrible for storytelling. The introduction of the idea of Bruce building a new Justice League out of Dinah, Ollie and Harley gets undercut when they disappear from the story almost instantly (especially Dinah and Ollie).

    But it is filled with interesting moments, all buit out of using the premise of ‘What is SUperman went evil and made a fascist state’ to riff on existing stories in unique ways or find new takes. Every so often, there is a moment where Injustice 2 actually makes you it up. It takes the classic, boring Braniac Invasion story and finds new twists by having it happen in the post-Regime world.
    Bruce begins the game having given up the cowl, because in order to ensure the world feels safe, they need to see that Bruce doesn’t feel the need to be Batman.
    Kara Zor-el arrives post Regime, and is found by Diana and Black Adam. Her duty to protect her baby cousin, stoked by Diana’s lies, is set against her Supergirl idealism, finding a unique take on the Supergirl story by exploring a Kara that arrives not to find a Kal who grew up to be the world’s greatest hero, but the world’s greatest villain. Her arc is about realising this, and joining Batman. Creating an interesting exchange. Damian joined Clark, so Kara joins Bruce.
    Cyborg can’t grapple with the fact that he’s the bad guy. He has a problem working alongside Harley and Selina on a mission, because they are supervillains, with the irony being that they are legitimate superheores and Cyborg isn’t. All done quite subtlely.
    Selina walks behind Batman onto the remains of a battlefield like his second in command, showing a comfort in the sort of role, both as superhero and as a soldier, that she never has before.
    Bruce and Clark’s final fight begin with a brief reminiscence about the day Clark told Bruce that Lois was pregant (except Bruce already worked it out)

    What this ends up with is a game that, at its most interesting, is a dialogue with the real DC Universe. It understands that it is a dystopian setting, and is nostalgic for the better world of the comics. It accepts the tragedies, and shows the horrors of these tragedies by having these characters constantly look back at the better world. Yet even as the world itself is nostalgic for the ways in which the world was better, it celebrates the way the world has changed for the better. It rejects any sense of nostalgia for anything ‘worse’. In every way that the Injustice world is better, this is shown has something to be celebrated. Ultimately, it is for growth, change. In the end, Bruce knows that he can’t get back what he once had. But he cna build a new world, one with Kara. Not what he had before, but something new. Unlike both of the game’s villains, who want stagnancy. Whether it is Brainiac’s collection or Clark’s despotic regime, Bruce is the hero because he is trying to build a better world.

    Look to the past. Celebrate its successes, and mourn the ways you failed to live up to the past’s promises. But celebrate the ways you have improved, the victories you have had. No matte rwhat the situation, there is something to celebrate. And something to build on. Because ultiamtely, the only way to go is forward. You can’t get the past back, and the world will be worse off for trying.

    You don’t need Damian, or Clark, if you have Kara. You don’t need Cyborg, if you have Harley. Or Jamie Reyes. Or Firestorm. In Injustice, success comes from looking at where you are and asking ‘How do I go forward?’

    It is still a crap story, but those moments make it so very interesting

  3. Did anybody else make it through DKIII? I didn’t expect to enjoy this issue — I kind of felt like I had to read it, but more out of morbid curiosity than anything at this point — but I loved it. It might just be that Azzarello is an ace with endings, but it really pulled together here.

    • I ended up giving up half way through. I can’t remember exactly where I stopped. The first issue was fascinating, the second issue was terrible, but then, it got boring. Lacked anything, and made me wonder why I was reading. It was empty.

      And the hard thing is, regardless of how good the ending is, ‘it gets good in issue 9’ isn’t praise. A story shouldn’t have to wait that long to get good. A great ending doesn’t make up for the fact that it is a slog to get there.

      The first issue suggested such potential, that I would have loved to seen Dark Knight 3 continue in that vein to be a success. But it quickly lost any goodwill it had. We can praise this issue for being good, but it doesn’t forgive the fact that so many of the other issues were bad

    • I enjoyed your reading of it much more than I enjoyed the issue itself, Drew. This entire series just felt kinda blah and aimless. It’s probably objectively better than Dark Knight Strikes Again, but god, at least that series was so batshit insane that I enjoyed reading it, as bad as it was. DKIII just kinda made me yawn.

  4. I like this issue fo Batman if both of them agree not to marry as it would be toci to Batman, and ruin him. He is willing to change for Catwoamn, possibly too much, yet Selina won’t change for batman. The 237 murders thing, and Batman being ok with that really ruins that for me. The Gotham girl conversation, I think Batman should tell her not to do it, as it would kill her. I really liked some of that conversation though, even if it was too simplistic in parts. Am i the only one who thinks Clay Mann draws Batman like Battfleck. I would love to see him do a Batman series with a good Batman writer

    • Has Bruce ever been willing to change himself for Selina? Hasn’t their relationship’s biggest problem always been the fact that they can never reconcile their differences? That Bruce’s worldview is fundamentally incompatible with Selina’s? That she will always see shades of grey where Bruce can’t? Selina does change for Bruce. His faith in her is a big part of what let’s her connect to her heroic side. But Bruce never changes, and she can never change enough, so their relationship is always complex.

      Actually exploring a relationship between them can work, but you actually have to do it. There are many endings you could do. Have them marry, or have things explode. Finally explore what it would mean if they were together, without doing what the Hush storyline did and cheat at the end. Pre-Flashpoint, it looked like Dini was making a concerted effort to explore that (Heart of Hush really makes that ‘Love? Thank Alfred for the acting lessons’ line in Batman RIP more badass, as Dini makes very clear that Batman isn’t bluffing). But it can’t be done by a writer that has isn’t going to give Selina time. You need to make Selina core to the run, and not sentence her to one or two issue arcs at the end of storylines. She has to have been an actual major character in storylines. You actually have to tell stories about her, instead of doing a big, giant flashback arc about the Joker and Riddler..

      The 237 murders thing isn’t a problem. That has been resolved as part of Rebirth’s ‘let’s destroy every queer woman’s supporting cast so they are reliant on straight men’ agenda. Selina didn’t do it, but covered for the person who did. The problem is that you have a misogynistic publishing initiative that doesn’t want to write about women, and a storyline that will only work if you treat the woman as a major participant. And King, one of the best writers in comics today, has proven utterly incapable of rising above Rebirth’s shittiness and turned in shit Batman script after shit Batman script

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