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

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Best of 2017: Best Series

Series

We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2017.  Continue reading

The Weight of Influence in Batman 38

By Patrick Ehlers

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

About halfway through Batman 38, Batman discovers a clue that leads him to Dennis O’Neil Avenue. Longtime Batman fans are going to recognize that name, but even relative neophytes are gong to pause at the specificity of that name. Outside of some of the biggest names of the last century — Martin Luther King Jr or John F Kennedy — you’re going to be hard pressed to find a figure who’s full name is up on a street sign. Hell, Chicagoans love Casimir Pulaski, but the north-south thoroughfare that bares his name is simply called “Pulaski Road.” (Though, hilariously, there’s also a brown placard below the street sign designating it “Honorary Casimir Pulaski Road.” It’s a weird town.) But writer Tom King’s use of O’Neil’s full name makes the creators influence on this issue explicit, just as the story itself leans in to one of O’Neil’s pet themes: the psychology of Batman. Continue reading

Batman 37 Knocks it Out of the Park

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 37

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

There are lots of reasons to love superhero comics. Maybe you’re in it for the high-wire action or the sci-fi worlds. Maybe you’re in it for the superhuman feats or the super human morals. There are as many reasons to love superheroes as there are superhero fans, but I think at some level, every fan must share some real affection for these characters, and perhaps even a childlike desire to be them. Those aspirations usually exist off the page, taking shape in our minds as we read, but Tom King and Clay Mann have found an elegant way to address the phenomenon in-universe: making Batman and Superman fans of one another. Continue reading

Near the Beginning and at the End in Batman Annual 2

by Michael DeLaney

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

If you haven’t been paying much attention, Tom King is a big shipper of Batman and Catwoman. In Batman Annual 2, King forgoes any direct connection to his current Batman run and instead writes a Batman/Catwoman tale that functions as the first and last word on the couple. Continue reading

Batman Who Laughs 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Mark Mitchell

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

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Patrick: Outside of dance-able club hits, which state their desire to make you dance, very few works of art tell you what effect they intend to have on you. Batman Who Laughs has one purpose and one purpose only: to shock longtime Batman fans with a violent, evil twist on the Dark Knights’ mythos. And the book cockily asserts that it is going to surprise its readers, by having the titular laughing Batman address the camera directly and saying as much. “You really thought you had it all figured out. That you knew every combination in the deck.” The work assumes the reader is skeptical of its goal from page one — the remainder of the issue is spent trying to prove that this is the darkest, most twisted Batman story ever told. Continue reading

Challenging Batman’s Central Conceit in Batman 35

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 35

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

For all of the impossible technology, the men made out of shapeshifting clay, the resurrection pits, and the shark repellant, the biggest narrative conceit in any Batman story is the idea that an orphan’s single-minded decision to literally fight crime is somehow noble or laudable. For all of the attempts to “ground” Batman over the past few decades, from Batman: Year One to Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, none have deigned question that conceit. It’s too central to who Batman is — he arguably wouldn’t work without it. At least, questioning that conceit wouldn’t work with the kind of grim seriousness of those takes seem to take for granted with the character. By contrast, Tom King has always been willing to embrace the absurdity of Batman, the over-the-top everything that makes him fun, but with a self-awareness to admit that it’s also kind of silly. It’s long been the source of solid laughs for King’s run, but issue 35 hinges its most important emotional moments on that silliness. Continue reading

Batman Lost 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Michael DeLaney

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

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Patrick: For as much mythological importance as we place on origin stories, the question of how a superhero came to be very seldom adds up to his or her actual origin. Batman is the example in question, so let’s use him: a random mugging in crime alley, a broken string of pearls, two shots fired, an orphan. That’s quintessential, primordial Batman — the very stuff of which he is made. But that’s incomplete. A DC Comics murderers’ row of artists and writers set out to remind readers just how strange Batman’s origins really are in Batman Lost 1. In so doing, they also remind us how infinite and unpredictable Batman’s future truly is. It’s a dizzying collage of what-ifs and secret histories, all presented as true with unflinching authority. Continue reading

Relationships Shine in Batman 34

by Spencer Irwin

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

Batman may have just gotten engaged, but can you really imagine he and Catwoman going through life as a “normal” married couple, living a mundane domestic life? Of course you can’t, and not just because they have Alfred — it’s because they’re superheroes, wrapped up in grandiose, larger-than-life concerns. While one of those typically superheroic goals — tracking down Holly Robinson — is technically motivating our heroes in Batman 34, Tom King and Joelle Jones make the smart choice to ground the issue in relationships and emotions, making this an issue driven by the spark between characters. For the first time, maybe I can imagine Bruce and Selina as an everyday married couple — albeit one whose “dates” consist of confronting murderous exes in the desert. Continue reading

Purity of Tone in Batman 33

by Patrick Ehlers

Batman 33

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

Catwoman: He’s right, you know. There are rules.

Batman: I know. I wrote them.

Batman 33

Of course Batman wrote the rules; he’s Batman. But the infallible detective isn’t nearly so authoratative as the creators that have used Batman to repeatedly define both genres and mediums. Is there a better demonstration of superhero camp than Batman ‘66? Is there a purer gritty reboot than Batman: Year One? Within the stories, Batman may be writing the rules of non-interference in Khadym, but from the reader’s perspective, he’s demonstrating writer Tom King’s realignment of Batman’s tone. Continue reading