Mister Miracle 12: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Mister Miracle 12

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

Drew: Critics of postmodern fiction often suggest that its self-reflexiveness is flashy, but devoid of meaning. According to the argument, postmodernism is a bit like racing stripes on a car — it might be superficially appealing, but doesn’t actually change what’s under the hood. I would argue that those critics are forgetting (or perhaps taking for granted) one of the most basic roles fiction plays in our lives, as an analogy for reality, augmented and enhanced to reveal something to us about the world we live in. In that way, postmodern self-reflexivity is simply part of that analogy — particularly apt for addressing our own existential crises. There’s no clearer exemplar of this argument than Mister Miracle 12, which twists all of the miniseries’ questions about Scott Free’s reality into a moving commentary on life with depression. Continue reading

The Green Lantern 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: Given the state of, well, everything (recently I’ve found myself answering “How are you?” with “Good…well, other than, y’know, the world“), lately I’ve been finding it harder and harder to deal with “cop stories,” or even the role of cops within non-cop stories I read. I struggle to reconcile the fact that some sort of law enforcement is necessary to deal with murderers, rapists, and those who prey on the innocent with the fact that the police, as an institution, have been infiltrated by white supremacists, abusers, and racists, are filling for-profit prisons with non-violent offenders and killing unarmed children in the street, and have generally been rendered so corrupt so as to be more harmful to the public than helpful. With that in mind, it’s interesting to look at how Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp approach the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps in The Green Lantern 1. What kind of cop story is it? I’m honestly not sure yet. Continue reading

Hex Wives 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Michael DeLaney

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

Patrick: I’ve worked a 9-5 job for the majority of my adult life, cramming the entirety of my creative life into nights and weekends. When I take a vacation, it’s to attend conventions where I’m going to network and land interviews and get first hand experience with the newest talent and products in the comics and video games industries. In effect, I’m always working. But I do it because I love it. In fact, after a weekend of writing and performing and expressing myself creatively, coming back to the office is soul crushing. It’s the most mundane form of existential prison. Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo’s Hex Wives 1 explores that same kind of prison as it restrains a coven of immortal witches. It is simultaneously as exciting and as frustrating as it sounds. Continue reading

The Limits of Control in Action Comics 1004

By Spencer Irwin

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

“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and the two will be one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Mark 10: 7-8

I love the concept behind this bit of marriage/relationship advice, but the problem is that it’s, ultimately, just a metaphor; a couple can try to act as one flesh, but they’ll always be two different people with two very different sets of needs, and that can be a difficult thing to reconcile. In any close relationship the pressure to be on the same page at all times is great, and the temptation to try to control one another in order to reach that point can be even greater. Ultimately, though, you can’t control people, and especially not the people you love, no matter how close you are. That’s the lesson Clark learns in Action Comics 1004. Continue reading

Batman 57 Pushes Through the Looking-Glass

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 57

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

slim-banner

In his write-up of Batman 55, our very own Spencer Irwin highlighted the formal differences between the sequences featuring Dick Grayson and those featuring the mysterious “Mr. Zimmerman.” The Dick Grayson layouts are freewheeling and unpredictable, while “The Zimmerman sequences are highly regimented, each and every one depicted as nine-panel grids. This seems to represent how cold and calculated Zimmerman is and how mercenary and transnational his life is, but also how isolated he’s become.” Issue 56 drove that point home further, doubling down on the formal differences between the two stories (even after Dick Grayson stopped appearing). So by the time we read Batman 57 we’re pretty well conditioned to the notion that nine-panel grids = the KGBeast’s story, while anything else = Batman’s. It’s an expectation Tom King and his collaborators upend brilliantly, forcing us to question those conclusions we drew about these formal choices way back at the start of this arc. Continue reading

Lucifer 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Lucifer 1

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

…its attempts at rising are hopeless. As all attempts are.

Lucifer, Lucifer 1

Drew: When I spoke with Lucifer writer Dan Watters about the teaser pages for this series that appeared in Sandman Universe 1, he was unequivocal about the symbolic meaning of the death of a character named Hope:

I’ve made it quite clear, at least I tried to, that this is going to be a dark book. This is the darkest corner of the Sandman Universe — at least that’s being explored right now. Which, you know, by the nature of the character, by the book, I think it should be. It’s definitely a statement of intent.

And the book is definitely dark. Lucifer‘s assertion that all “attempts at rising are hopeless” comes on the first page, before the issue plunges us into the present day of a status quo Lucifer clearly wishes to rise out of. A character learning to embrace hope would normally be an upbeat moral, but it takes on a twisted meaning here — whatever it is that could force Lucifer into retreat must be truly harrowing. And this is the story of what that experience was. Continue reading

Commentary Track – Dan Watters Talks Sandman Universe 1

Commentary Track Sandman Universe 1

Expanding on the world of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, August’s Sandman Universe 1 served as the launchpad for four new ongoing series from DC Vertigo — The DreamingHouse of Whispers, Books of Magic, and Lucifer — each promising to explore different corners of that Universe. Just before Lucifer 1 released this week, we sat down with writer Dan Watters to go through his Sandman Universe 1 sequence page by page, so get your copy out and join us on the Commentary Track. Continue reading

Clark Controls the Narrative in Superman 4

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Earth is trapped in the Phantom Zone and Superman is being attacked by Rogol Zaar and an army of Phantom Zone prisoners! It’s a dire situation, and not one that Superman has any confidence that he can solve by punching it. Instead, Superman has to redefine his terms of victory, drawing Rogol Zaar out of Earth’s atmosphere just long enough for Ray Palmer to shrink the planet and slide it out of the Phantom Zone. Clark is able to accomplish this because he controls the narrative, even as Rogol thinks he has the upper hand. Rogol’s tactics are better, but Superman controls the goals those tactics are meant to achieve. Artist Ivan Reis and writer Brian Michael Bendis fill the issue with examples of Superman controlling both the stories about him and the method and medium in which those stories are told. Continue reading

Border Town 2: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin

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

PatrickBorder Town hinges on an obviously loaded concept: the membrane between the monster world and the human world lies along the border between the US and Mexico. All the xenophobia, all the paranoia, and all the actual danger is exaggerated. But there’s another component of the traditional border dispute narrative that’s cranked up to ten — culture. Writer Eric M. Esquivel and artist Ramon Villalobos take care to bask in the cultural specifics of our heroes, while only hinting at the implied culture of the monstrous villains. It’s a fascinating look at what humanizes people on either side of either border. Continue reading

Balancing the Superboys in The Adventures of the Super Sons 3

by Michael DeLaney

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

When Pete Tomasi began pairing Jon Kent with Damian Wayne back in the pages of Superman, their dynamic was immediately successful. The pair emulated their fathers in a way that previous Superboy/Robin duos never could, with Damian having Batman’s brooding and Jon having Superman’s pluck. But what happens with you throw another Jon Kent into the mix? Continue reading