Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batman 6, originally released September 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: Comic book fans are extremely protective over their favorite superheroes, a fact that has probably been exacerbated by the internet. We debate on Batman’s actions as if he were a living, breathing person because he’s important to us. It’s the same way of asking the question “What’s the best Batman story of all time?” Art is subjective and comic books are no different. We may agree on many of the same things, but my Batman is different from your Batman. It’s why stories continue to roll out 75+ years after his creation. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Ryan D. are discussing New Suicide Squad 20, originally released May 4th, 2016.
Michael: One of the big draws to New Suicide Squad 20 was the writer Tim Seeley and artist Juan E. Ferreyra – the team who worked on the short-lived, but inspired Gotham By Midnight. While that series was firmly steeped in questions of faith and spirituality from the get-go, it’s interesting that Seeley and Ferreyra seem to be tackling those very same themes in a comic about (mostly) unrepentant killers. Nevertheless, New Suicide Squad 20 gives us a standard shoot ‘em up story framed by the beliefs and personal philosophies of its characters. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Midnighter 10, originally released March 2nd, 2016.
Spencer: I was a little know-it-all as a kid. One of my earliest memories is interrupting a lecturer on a field trip to a planetarium to correct him about outer space trivia; “well, actually” might as well have been my catchphrase in elementary school. Even as an adult with decidedly screwed-up self esteem, I still occasionally find myself falling prey to the snare of overconfidence; in many ways, I think it’s just human nature. Supreme confidence has always been presented as one of Midnighter’s most charming attributes, but after suffering yet another loss, Midnighter 10 starts to explore whether that confidence is an asset or a hindrance, and one of the most effective ways it does so is by comparing it to the overconfidence of the rest of the cast. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Midnighter 9, originally released February 3rd, 2016.
Spencer:Who is Midnighter? It’s clearly a question writer Steve Orlando wants to keep on his readers’ minds, as most issues of Midnighter feature its titular character explaining his life story to someone (this month, his documentarist Robert). Any conclusions we can draw about who Midnighter really is deep inside from that information, though, are complicated to say the least. Who is Midnighter? He’s a contradiction. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Black Canary 4, originally released September 16th, 2015.
Marge: “You liked ‘Rashomon.'”
Homer: “That’s not how I remember it.”
The Simpsons — “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo”
Spencer: By now, anybody with even the tiniest bit of pop culture-savvy is familiar with the concept of an unreliable narrator. Much like the various storytellers in “Rashomon,” an unreliable narrator believes their own personal version of the truth, even if it doesn’t necessarily jive with the experiences of everyone else present. Comics are a particularly fun medium through which to explore unreliable narrators, because the juxtaposition of words and images means that the creative team can explore two different versions of the truth at the same time. This seems to be Brenden Fletcher and Pia Guerra’s intention with Black Canary 4 as they recount Bo Maeve’s backstory, but unfortunately, the differences between Maeve’s version of the truth and reality are never quite clear enough to be effective. Continue reading →
Drew: Determining a level of focus is perhaps the most important step in evaluating a work of art. These foci are specific to the style at hand — harmonic analysis is likely going to tell you very little about a rap song, just as an examination of brush strokes wouldn’t add much to a discussion of da Vinci. Intriguingly, these styles often begin to resemble each other as you zoom in and out — abstract paintings may share concepts of form, color, or composition with those of the Rennaisance masters, for example — further increasing the importance focus in an analysis. Geoff Johns has always written “big” — he’s been at the helm (or at least sharing the helm) of some of DC’s most important events over the past decade — and his writing has often chafed at the analyses of his critics. Justice League of America 7 actually avoids many of the pitfalls Johns is often cited for (a lot of stuff actually happens here), but it still has me wondering if we’re simply using the wrong tool for the job of evaluating a giant, Geoff Johns-penned event. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Suicide Squad 23, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Shelby: How do you say good-bye? If you’re a regular person saying good-bye to another regular person, you would probably do it with a wave, or maybe a handshake or a hug. Tonight the 4-year-old daughter of the owners of my LCS said good-bye to me by jumping up and down and shouting; come to think of it, I think Patrick has said good-bye to me the same way. Like I said, these are all perfectly legitimate, regular person ways to bid someone adieu. If you’re comic book writer Ales Kot saying good-bye to Suicide Squad, however, the best way to do it seems to be with sociopath’s musings on the meaning of love, followed by a battalion of missile-wielding drones and some pie. Not a bad way to go.
Patrick: Did any of you guys ever play Warhammer? If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a table top war game where you assemble an army from your race of choice and battle against your friends’ armies. It’s the least pick-up-and-play game you could ever imagine – understanding the basic rules means reading a 100+ page manual, and keeping a cheat sheet with charts and tables with you at all times. And then there’s understanding your own army, for which you need yet other book completely dedicated to that race. Then you need the little metal figures to represent the members of your army (sold separately), and if you’re really hardcore you can paint them. Then you need a surface large enough to play on – one time my friends and I took a door off its hinges and used that when we were denied the dining room table. Ideally, this surface will be populated with trees and terrain and stuff like that. Setting up the Trinity War has felt an awful lot like setting up a Warhammer game. Everyone’s been reading extra books they don’t really want to read just so they can play in the big game. Now the event is actually here and I can’t believe I’m surprised that all the characters feel like pieces in a game. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Suicide Squad 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Drew: Superhero team-ups are weird. Notions like marketability and synergy are taken into account over tactical utility, forcing writers to tie themselves in knots over why the Avengers would want the Hulk anywhere near them, or what value Aquaman adds to a team that already has actual superheroes on it. More importantly, a team-up often involves characters taking on specific roles within the team — which may not always “fit” their characters. Without any huge names on the title, Suicide Squad has a bit more flexibility in making the pieces fit together (and with the entire population of Belle Reve prison up for grabs, plenty of pieces to work with), but writer Ales Kot seems much more interested in how they don’t fit. Continue reading →
Spencer: A team doesn’t become a team just because a group of characters are assembled together. These characters truly become a team when they can put aside their individual goals, combine their distinct talents and work together as a cohesive unit, and doing so usually takes time and practice. Both of Geoff Johns’ Justice League books this week feature groups that are finally learning to be real teams; the real surprise is that the Justice League-proper isn’t one of those groups.