This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Drew: Bruce Wayne understands that his responsibilities as Batman demands sacrifice. He devotes his time, body, and earthly resources to his mission to fight crime, and generally takes that mission very seriously. All of which can look like he’s sacrificed his own happiness in order to be Batman. Or, more precisely, that his happiness is a necessary sacrifice for his existence. Batman’s drive, the argument goes, comes from his grief, anger, and sadness, so anything that blunts or dilutes those feelings weaken his mission. It’s a position DC Editorial staked out back in 2013, when Dan DiDio explained why Batwoman’s marriage could never happen, but it’s not necessarily a philosophy writer Tom King ascribes to. Indeed, King has argued that Batman’s happiness is a valuable source of drama, stating “There’s no conflict in having Batman be sad. There’s conflict in having Batman be happy.” That may mean King sees Batman’s happiness as only a temporary condition, but it’s obviously not out of the question. The point is, it’s a hotly debated topic, and one that King cleverly allows to play out in the pages of Batman 50. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Bruce. We need you to explain what’s going on here.
Michael: Recently I watched the entirety of HBO’s “The Leftovers,” which I enjoyed immensely. One of the show’s theme songs is Iris DeMent’s “Let the Mystery Be,” which means exactly what it sounds like: don’t try to find the explanation in everything, just enjoy the ride that the unknown provides. Mainstream comic book readers don’t subscribe to this philosophy when it comes to the capes and tights crowd, myself included. Dark Days: The Casting is a dense issue that will likely have our kind baffled as to what we just read. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS.If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!
Spencer: By some sort of weird cosmic coincidence, I’ve been re-reading Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s late 90s JLA run this week. While that series is rightly remembered for its grand, heady ideas and breakneck-paced tales, what impressed me the most this time around was Morrison’s regard for the DC universe — every story was sprinkled with guest stars and allusions to past stories, well-known and deep cuts alike. Despite Rebirth’s best efforts, that sense of history is something I’ve been missing from DC the past few years, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened Dark Days: The Forge — the prelude to Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s big summer event — and discovered that it’s practically an ode to DC’s past. Snyder and Tynion are clearly having a blast digging into DC’s sandbox, and it’s hard for that sense of enthusiasm and wonder not to rub off on the reader. Continue reading →
How many Batman books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Batman 24, Dark Knight III: The Master Race 9, Green Lanterns 24, and Superman 24. Also, we’ll be discussing Green Arrow 24 on Fridayand Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor 1 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: What do you think of when you hear the word “sequel”? Do you imagine a story that deepens the themes established in the original (a la The Dark Knight or The Godfather Part II) or do you imagine a story that returns to the well more out of obligation than any artistic impetus (a la The Dark Knight Rises or The Godfather Part III)? Do you imagine a continuation of the original narrative, taking the characters in bold new directions, or do you imagine a barely disguised repetition of the original narrative, taking the characters in safe, predictable directions? While I try to keep an open mind, I’ve been around the block enough times to recognize that most sequels tend to rely heavily on nostalgia, carefully recreating situations to replicate the thrills of the original. Unfortunately, that phenomenon means even my disappointment in The Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6 all too familiar. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Ryan are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 5, originally released June 29th, 2016.
Mark: Be careful what you wish for.
When Dark Knight III was initially announced—with the subtitle The Master Race, for God’s sake—I feared the worst. Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 pushed Frank Miller over the edge and into a world of hate. I don’t fault anyone who lived through the mindless death and destruction in New York City for being affected by it, but Miller became unhinged, his work borderline unreadable. Lows seldom get lower than 2011’s Holy Terror. Still, The Dark Knight is a name that’ll sell, and DC hasn’t exactly been lighting up the charts, so a resurrection of Miller’s most famous book was inevitable. My hope at the time of the announcement was that having trusted DC talent Brian Azzarello attached to the project as co-author would perhaps temper some of Miller’s more…flamboyant flourishes.
Now, five issues into Dark Knight III, I find myself wishing for a bit more of that Frank Miller lunacy. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 4, originally released April 27th, 2016.
Drew: As much as I enjoy The Dark Knight Returns, I have to admit that it’s a pretty shaggy story — Batman takes on an entirely new foe in every issue (Two-Face, the Mutants, Joker, and the Government, respectively), and most of the conclusions people draw about the book’s maturity comes from parsing only one or another of those battles. How does your neocon reading of part 4 jibe with Bruce Wayne getting his groove back in part 1? How does your psychosexual reading of his relationship with the Joker fit in with the rest of the series (which continues well after the Joker dies)? For all the glib distillations of DKR, none of them actually capture the angularity of what I would argue is a decidedly episodic story. Those terse critics should rejoice, then, over DKIII, which offers a through-line so clear, even literary critics should be able to find it. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 3, originally released February 24th, 2016.
Drew: There are a number of reasons The Dark Knight Strikes Again didn’t attain the critical and cultural success of The Dark Knight Returns, not the least of which being the insanely high expectations of following up a genuine cultural touchstone, but I think the biggest might be what DKSA reveals about DKR. That is, while fans, critics, and the culture at large tend to believe DKR was all about injecting psychological nuance to superheroes, DKSA suggests that creator Frank Miller’s interests were ultimately in the excesses of the genre — any emphasis on psychology was incidental to Miller’s pursuit of bombast. That’s not an airtight argument, but there’s no denying that DKSA went even bigger, trading the psychology of Batman for the sociology of the Justice League. Those interests are still very much in play in DKIII, though perhaps ultimately to pare the cast down to the key players of DKR‘s final showdown. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 1, originally released November 25th, 2015.
Drew: Under the subject of “staying on topic,” the Retcon Punch style guide reminds writers that any piece we write is a discussion of a specific issue of a comic, not a discourse on a creative team, series, or character. That’s a guideline that I stand by as something that keeps our discussions focused and open-minded — my opinions on any prior issues take a backseat to my reactions to this one. Indeed, DKIII might just provide a perfect example of why that focus is so important: we’d all love an opportunity to write about the legacy of The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, or the enduring symbolic potency of Batman, but that would hardly make for a satisfying commentary on this particular comic. Then again, DKR, while formally remarkable in many ways, is most interesting as a response to the Batman stories that came before it — it’s very much a reaction to that legacy and context. Moreover, it was such a watershed moment for superheroes that virtually every superhero comic since then has needed to reconcile with it. That legacy proves inescapable for DKIII, which might actually work to this issue’s benefit. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Robin Rises Alpha 1, originally released December 24, 2014.
Patrick: One of my least favorite criticisms of serialized fiction is that a story “didn’t go anywhere.” We have an expectation that the journey we’re on with the characters is somehow part of an investment that pays off in a meaningful way as events progress. We literally use that term “pay off,” as though the entertainment itself in a cost-benefit proposition. I resent the idea that we can’t enjoy a single issue on its own merits, and instead comfort ourselves with the idea that one volume seeded something that will feel significant later. Robin Rises Alpha 1 closes out the Damian’s Resurrection story by finally giving readers a glimpse of what it means to have a superpowered Wayne behind Robin’s mask. It’s an issue frustratingly short on content, repeating themes, scenes and pages from elsewhere in Batman and Robin, all but guaranteeing that the pay-off here is a retread of the past, rather than boldly striking out into the future of the character. Continue reading →