This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
“Forget everything you think you know” is a phrase that has become overused in pop culture — particularly in marketing movies like last year’s Doctor Strange. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think about it while reading Batman/The Shadow 3. Steve Orlando and Scott Snyder challenge our presumptions on Batman’s origins by positing that he is destined to inherit the mantle of The Shadow. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Mark: When I was about twelve years old, some friends and I got it in our heads that we deserved to go to a Six Flags theme park located two hours away from our city. We had just wrapped up a school assignment and were feeling pretty good about it; going to Six Flags was, to our minds, a reasonable reward for a job well done. My parents, for what I now recognize to be completely legitimate reasons, were quick to kibosh the idea — they weren’t interested in driving a Suburban full of sweaty pre-teens two hours to a theme park, driving two hours home, and then doing it all again later that night in order to pick us up. Plus, since I was twelve and had no money of my own to pay for park admission or food once I got in, they would basically be paying me $100 for the pleasure. All because me and my friends felt like we should be rewarded for completing our homework. I was furious.
Dealing with pre-teens and teenagers can be infuriating. They are, after all, categorically terrible; self-absorption coupled with crippling insecurity is a toxic combination. But it’s not their fault nature made them that way. Kids are constantly confronted with situations and decisions they are ill-prepared to face, lacking both the context and emotional experience to properly process and asses the situation. But that doesn’t make it any less irritating to be around them. Continue reading →
This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Alfred fills a peculiar role in Batman’s world. He’s Bruce’s father figure, but also his servant; he’s the Dark Knight’s staunchest ally, but also his greatest critic. The one thing these disparate titles have in common is that they cast Alfred as a supporting player — indeed, it’s often easy to forget that Alfred Pennyworth is a man with his own life and history, not just someone who cleans up after Batman. That’s something Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque are out to change in “The First Ally,” a storyline that dives into Alfred’s past and uses his history with his father to shine a new light on his relationship with Bruce. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing All-Star Batman 10, originally released May 10th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Mark: It’s easy to take post-Crisis Alfred Pennyworth for granted: faithful household butler to Thomas and Martha Wayne who takes young Master Bruce under his wing as a surrogate father, guiding Bruce through the toughest years of his life. Alfred is Batman’s Batman, the person responsible for keeping the trains running on time, and the last man standing in Bruce’s corner when everyone else is against him. This characterization of Alfred is so ingrained in our consciousness thanks to the movies, animated television shows, video games, and, of course, comic books that have released post-Crisis, propelling the Bat Family’s cultural cache into a larger multimedia stratosphere than they’ve ever experienced before. But like most comic books characters, the Alfred we now know is not the Alfred that always existed. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing All-Star Batman 5, originally released December 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS!
Patrick: From the outset, Batman seems like a pretty simple concept: an orphaned billionaire who grew with a grudge against the criminal element that took his childhood away from him. Plus, y’know – gadgets and punching dudes. But nearly 80 years of publishing history have done a number on what the character “means.” A holistic view of Batman is nearly impossible, and it usually takes a savant like Grant Morrison to synthesize it all into one character. With their “My Own Worst Enemy” story arc, Scott Snyder and John Romita, Jr. make a case for the existence of multiple takes on Batman, and by extension multiple takes on heroes, villains, and humanity in general. It’s an exercise in not pinning anything down, which makes for a genuinely exciting, if often unsettling, narrative. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: A few years ago, fellow Retcon Puncher Patrick Ehlers suggested that deconstruction had become so commonplace in Batman stories that they had come to become inseparable from the character. That is, deconstructing the character had become as essential to the telling of Batman stories as Batmobiles and gimmicky villains have become essential to the stories themselves. It’s a compelling argument — especially when you consider the fact that modern interpretations of the character are all informed by Frank Miller’s famous deconstructions of the character — but I maintain that it’s largely incidental to his existence. To me, the key fact is that Batman has been around (and beloved) for 75+ years, so of course creators that grew up with the character are going to relish playing with that history. I can expound on why I think that negates Patrick’s point in the comments, but for now, it’s enough to say that I think the deconstructions have more to do with nostalgia than anything intrinsic to the character. Nostalgia is certainly a central theme in Batman Annual 1, an anthology issue that brings together some of Batman’s most famous stewards, past and present, for a walk down memory lane. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Superman 11, originally released November 16th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: Superman 11 concludes the fantastic and fun “World’s Smallest” arc/prelude to the upcoming Super Sons series. Batman, Superman and Alfred have devised a series of tests for Jon and Damian to overcome by working as a team. With Robin: Son of Batman’s Maya Ducard and “not a man-bat” Goliath in on the fun, Superman 11 is a complete Patrick Gleason/Pete Tomasi partnership. With its classic approach of the character, Superman has consistently been one of the best Rebirth titles. But by throwing Damian Wayne into the equation Tomasi and Gleason up their game exponentially. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing All-Star Batman 1, originally released August 3rd, 2016.
Patrick: It’s hard to think of a creator at DC comics that has had a more lasting, meaningful, and marketable impression on a character in the last five years than writer Scott Snyder. His run with Greg Capullo on Batman (coupled with his role running the rooms for both Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal) makes Snyder the mental and emotional authority on Gotham’s Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne may be the “Batman” in the title, but Snyder himself is the “All-Star.” The first issue moves with such breathless confidence, willfully tossing out repulsive imagery, C-tier villains, and disorienting chronology with such abandon, it’s like the blockbuster creative team is daring us to stay away. But for every “22 minutes earlier,” for every appearance of Firefly, for every horrifying account of people subtly slashed to death, All-Star Batman 1 is an amazingly good time. It’s a remarkable change from Batman, which while obviously excellent, often wasn’t “a good time.” But it’s like Batman reiterates a couple times in this issue: “I’m trying something new.” Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Batman 1, originally released June 15, 2016.
Michael: I keep saying this lately, but there is something so powerfully elemental about Batman. Not all Batman stories are exactly the same, but there is a certain amount of thematic carryover from one story to the other. I remember that, at the start of The New 52, I noticed a lot of similarities between Scott Snyder’s Batman and Grant Morrison’s that preceded it. Now I find myself doing the same thing with Tom King’s Batman and the Scott Snyder run that preceded it. Judging by the name of King’s first arc (“I am Gotham”) and the heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl, King is going to explore Gotham City as a character; a hallmark of Snyder’s run. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman: Rebirth 1, originally released June 1st, 2016.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Drew: There’s plenty of reasons to believe Freud never said such a thing, but whatever its origin, this quote always helps me keep perspective when attempting to parse the symbolism in a work of art. The last thing I want is to sound like Fred Armesin’s exaggerated (and nonsensical) lyrical analyses, so it always makes me nervous when I find my attention drawn to symbols within a comic. Even with that reticence, though, I couldn’t ignore the deeply symbolic nature of Scott Snyder and Tom King’s Batman: Rebirth, even if I’m not quite sure what all of the symbols mean. Continue reading →