Biological Truths in the Details of Sideways 1

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Kenneth Rocafort’s art is so packed with detail that shapes, lines and colors often find themselves marooned in the gutter and in the space between his panels. His visually noisy style gives the impression that Rocafort has so much creative energy that it simply cannot be contained by the incidents of the story he’s tasked with telling. As the rift-opening hero Sideways, Derek literally exists between spaces, and Rocafort is long practiced in filling those voids with exciting, vital details. Sideways 1 is marvelous introduction to a character I can’t wait to see more of. Continue reading

Advertisements

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China 20: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: There’s a common belief that kids raised in sheltered, restrictive environments will go absolutely wild at their very first taste of freedom. I don’t know if the truth is that extreme — I was about as sheltered as they came as a child, and all my rebellions have been rather tame — but there is a lot of truth to the idea that needless restrictions and censorship just hurt people, regressing emotions and hindering growth and in many cases leading to actual physical punishment for meaningless offenses. New Super-Man and the Justice League of China 20 taps into the latter when it introduces its new “Aquaman,” Ahn Kwang-Jo. Continue reading

Welcome Nuance Enriches Batman: White Knight 5

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

This is the first installment of Batman: White Knight where Batman has really felt like Batman to me. Sean Murphy digs into the character’s nuances in a way that he hasn’t in previous issues. This is the Batman who will buy Harley Quinn a dress and support her sincere, if bungled, efforts to reform, because under his gruff exterior he truly does care about people, even villains. This is the brilliant detective who has managed to piece together a good 95% of Neo-Harley’s plan when most of the other heroes barely even realize she has a scheme at all. Even Batman’s failed attack on Neo-Harley that closes the issue — which results in the destruction of one of Gotham’s bridges and Batman becoming a fugitive — is motivated by Neo-Harley’s personal attack on him and a desire to protect his family, not wild, unreasonable vengeance. This isn’t the gruff madman of previous issues — this is a complex Batman who still wants what is best for Gotham City. He’s just blinded by his hatred of the Joker. Continue reading

Superhero Action Monopolizes Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Lightning Cold Dead Hands 4

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Is there a limit to how subtle a superhero story can be? I’m certainly not of the mindset that tights and flights have to be bombastic or simple, but it seems obvious to me that, say, “being able to punch really hard” isn’t a solution that can be applied to every problem. Creators have found countless was to get subtler beats into their superhero work, but at some point, “being able to punch really hard” must come up, or the story might as well not feature a superhero. I’ll often regret that necessity when stories jerk away from compelling subtleties for generic action, which is unfortunately what Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands 4 is all about. Continue reading

Green Lanterns 40: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: Tim Seeley’s Green Lanterns has the DC logo on the cover, but it feels like a very Marvel series, particularly The Amazing Spider-Man. In the heyday of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era, ASM had socially relevant messages, long-running narratives, and, of course, the down-on-his-luck protagonist. The modern Amazing Spider-Man tales try that same type of storytelling with an occasional social media flair — to varying success. With ties to prior issues and the constant personal problems of our heroes, and a superhero dating app, Green Lanterns 40 fits right in with that ASM mold. Continue reading

Apologies in Batman 40

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Batman: This is new, but I’m trying.
Catwoman: Yes, well, try harder.

Batman 40

How do we admit our failings? The #MeToo movement is bringing a lot of stories of abuse to light, which means there have also been scores of written apologies. Some don’t use the word “sorry,” some make excuses, some try to deflect with their own surprise admissions. No matter how carefully crafted these statements are, they are all bound to fuck up and fall short. Words do no erase actions. Batman 40 sees creator and creation in similar roles, trying to explain they way they botched handling Wonder Woman. It’s messy, it’s riddled with mistakes, and it’s a genuine expression of how it feels to put your foot in your mouth. Continue reading

A Large Supporting Cast Weighs Down Green Arrow 37

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When you’re one issue away from the grand finale, it’s time to tie up a whole bunch of loose ends. Green Arrow 37 does a lot of wrapping up for several of the series’ supporting cast. At times, that makes the issue feel a little cluttered, but with Oliver’s big court date looming next issue, it makes sense to settle these plot points now. Continue reading

Not Quite a Moral Challenge in Superman 40

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

While Superman’s abilities to punch hard, fly fast, and jump high are the sizzle to his steak, the real meat (pardon the tortured metaphor) of Clark Kent as a character is his strong moral center. Comic books are lousy with characters possessing superpowers, but only a precious few represent truth and goodness like the man from Krypton. That’s why the Superman stories that really stick with us are the ones that find ways to challenge his moral certitude — and by challenging it, ultimately end up amplifying it even more. At multiple points, James Robinson and Doug Mahnke’s Superman 40 is on the precipice of testing the Man of Steel’s philosophical strength in interesting ways, but never shows any interest in doing so.

Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 5 Is Lost In Its Own Cacophony

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The difference between good action movie sequences and bad ones comes down to editing. A lot of quick cuts and different camera angles is a clear tell of a bad action sequence and leaves you confused as to what is actually happening in the fight. Dark Nights: Metal 5 is a lot like that. As readers we have been stuck in this nightmare world for so long that I can’t remember what the stakes are or really care about them. Continue reading

The Reader Knows Too Much in Action Comics 996

by Michael DeLaney 

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Action Comics 996 has me thinking about our expectations and interactions with an individual comic book issue. As readers, we are operating in a dimension above the characters on the comic book page. We are omniscient in that we know what Lois and Superman are up to in their separate times and spaces. Unlike Superman, we know that Zod’s son lies in wait for our hero because of Dan Jurgens’s cover for the issue. Since Lor-Zod’s appearance is a foregone conclusion, does that “spoil” the story at all? Does it diminish the final page reveal? Continue reading