Batman 39: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Mark Mitchell

Batman 39

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

Drew: Hey, so what is fidelity? I think we all understand the general concept, but the exact borders of the definition are not entirely well defined. If your significant other dies, for example, very few people would classify moving on to another relationship as “cheating,” so we might fairly define “death” as one of the hard edges of fidelity. But what if they’re just presumed dead — say, on a desert island for years and years? Do we consider Helen Hunt’s marriage in Cast Away to be cheating on Tom Hanks? What if it had been Tom Hanks who forged the new relationship (on the island, somehow) — he knows he’s not dead (and could reasonably assume Helen Hunt isn’t), but do the rules of fidelity extend to seemingly hopeless circumstances of languishing in a remote corner of the world? These are certainly unlikely hypotheticals, but unlikely hypotheticals are what superhero comics are all about, and exactly what Batman 39 needs in order to maybe-kinda-sorta justify Batman and Wonder Woman hooking up. Continue reading

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Best of 2017: Best Issues

Best Issues of 2017

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017. Continue reading

Batman 36: Discussion

By Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

Batman 36

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

Spencer: Is Bruce Wayne the mask, or is Batman? Which one is “real”? It’s a long-standing debate amongst the comic book community, and given the myriad of different interpretations of the character, probably one that will never have a definitive answer. My own feelings about this question have shifted and evolved over time, but if you asked me right this second, I’d say that both Bruce and Batman are masks of sorts — the millionaire playboy and the dark knight, respectively. We don’t see him too often, but there’s a real Bruce beneath both those facades, one with real human emotions that often get buried beneath the weight of his own mythology. The best parts of Tom King’s run on Batman have been the moments where he’s let that real Bruce shine through, and more than anything it’s been Catwoman who has allowed this Bruce to do just that. In Batman 36, King adds another tool to his storytelling arsenal that similarly cuts right to Batman’s hidden humanity: his best friend, Superman. Continue reading

Compassion vs. Selfishness in Green Arrow Annual 1

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spencer: Early in Green Arrow Annual 1, Oliver says that “on Christmas everything turns out exactly as it should.” It’s a nice sentiment, but that’s exactly what it is — sentiment. The world doesn’t magically change just because it’s a holiday, and holidays can, in fact, be very depressing times for many people. If Christmas is a special time, it’s because people make it that way, and the desire to do so is the clear line that divides Green Arrow and Count Vertigo. Continue reading

Machinations Abound in Green Arrow 33

by Spencer Irwin

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

Machinations abound in Green Arrow 33. The issue finds Oliver Queen back home in Seattle Star City, ready to once again protect his home and prove his innocence, but for the moment Oliver seems to be the only person in the city without some sort of master plan — but not without a trump card. Continue reading

A Strong — But Not Perfect — Finale in Green Arrow 31

by Spencer Irwin

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

Green Arrow 31 brings Oliver’s “hard-traveling hero” journey to an end in a satisfying, uplifting manner, helping Oliver earn a new reputation amongst the superhero community while also reminding him of the unique role he plays within it. Likewise, Ollie and Black Canary fulfill their missions, destroying the Ninth Circle’s satellite and rescuing Wendy/proving Ollie’s innocence, respectively. This issue does what it needs to to be a successful finale, yet there’s a few nagging details that keep it from being quite as strong as the installments that proceeded it. Continue reading

A Revealing Interruption in Batman 31

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s that part in The Princess Bride where the narrator announces the King died in the night and Buttercup was married to Prince Humperdink the next day. It’s a jarring bit of information, totally incongruous with the story we’ve come to expect, but the more impressive feat of storytelling is Fred Savage’s interruption a few seconds later. Savage’s character cuts in on Humperdink’s “My father’s final words were…” with an impetuous “hold it, hold it!” The effect his immediate: the audience is reminded why we’re watching this story in the first place. “Trust me,” the film implies “even if you’re momentarily upset, you’re going to have fun in the end.” Tom King and Mikel Janín’s Batman 31 pulls off a similar interruption, emphasizing the riddle (or is it the joke?) at the heart of this story arc: why is Bruce telling Selina about the War of Jokes and Riddles? Continue reading

“People” are the Detail that Matters Most in Green Arrow 28

by Spencer Irwin

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

At one point in Green Arrow 28 Lex Luthor compares himself to Sherlock Holmes, priding himself in his ability to be 12 steps ahead of everyone else, and proving it by (rather accurately) analyzing Arrow’s current situation based off of a few small clues in a most Cumberbatchian fashion. Yet for all his genius and detective prowess, there’s one small detail Luthor is rather blind to: people, especially the people who have helped make his company great. Continue reading

Green Arrow 26 Invests in Two Different Kinds of Team-Ups

by Spencer Irwin

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

The power and dangers of money have been an ongoing theme throughout Benjamin Percy’s tenure on Green Arrow, which is why the Ninth Circle make such effective villains for his Oliver Queen. Their bizarre supernatural backstory is by far their least interesting facet; they’re most fascinating because they’re supervillain bankers, primarily using the power money brings to achieve their goals rather than brute force or even coercion. Like most bankers, they also invest in other organizations to achieve mutual goals — but since they’re supervillains, so are their partners. Continue reading

Batman 26: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Batman 26

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

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.

Joseph Stalin

Drew: Joseph Stalin likely never uttered this phrase, but while its provenance may be dubious, it’s hard to argue with its sentiment. We’ve all experienced this personally; individual deaths carry with them the nuance and beauty of the decedent’s death in a way that dozens of deaths simply can’t. Each of those deaths are felt singularly by the loved ones they affect, to be sure, but the rest of us can’t really fit the sum of those tragedies into our brain. They become, for lack of a better term, a statistic. This is why war stories are so rare in superhero comics — the higher death count doesn’t necessarily equal higher emotional stakes, so killing swaths of civilians runs the risk of making any one of those deaths lose whatever oomph it might have on its own. Writer Tom King seems keenly aware of how easy it would be for the victims of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” to become statistics, taking pains to emphasize just how deeply Batman feels each of those deaths. Continue reading