This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Michael: I’d rather not spend each issue of Doomsday Clock comparing it to Watchmen, but dammit if that’s not what Geoff Johns and Gary Frank want me to do. Doomsday Clock 4 takes a break from the new ensemble of “heroes and villains” that has been established, and instead zeroes in on the new Rorschach. Much like Walter Kovacs in the sixth chapter of Watchmen, Doomsday Clock 4 deals with Rorschach’s current incarceration, as well as his origins. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Gotham Academy 12, originally released December 2, 2015.
Spencer: I spend a lot of time talking about empathy on this site, but only because I believe that developing empathy is one of the single most important things people can do to help create a better world. Working to understand people and care about their feelings can avert catastrophes both big and small, while ignoring the viewpoints of others can turn even the most harmless endeavor dangerous. Case-in-point: Professor Strange. All ol’ Hugo wants to do is learn about Calamity, but his lack of compassion for the actual people hurt by Calamity means that even his simple quest for knowledge has the potential to ruin lives. It may have already ruined Olive’s. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Batman Annual 4 originally released September 30th, 2015.
Ryan: Batman has been happening for quite some time, both in the real world and in the oft rebooted DC Universe. Fans of the series remember his numerous encounters with his rogues gallery throughout the years, as villains escape time after time from the doldrums of Arkham Asylum to once again terrorize the city of Gotham. The formula for Batman may even be seen as a little tiresome: villain arrives, terrorizes Batman, Batman wins, villain returns again, eventually — maybe teaming with another foe, something messed up happens to Bruce Wayne’s personal life, his family rescues him, rinse, repeat. So what is it that draws us back into Batman narratives when the conceit can seem formulaic? Much of its appeal, I would argue, comes from the long-standing history which the reader shares with the character, one which can make jumping into a title so compounded with spin-offs and mini-series and event tie-ins intimidating for some. Batman Annual 4 offers an easy jumping-in point as Bruce Wayne undergoes yet another identity crisis, catching a casual or first-time reader up while showing the audience why a protagonist mired in the past can be so fascinating.
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Material 4, originally released September 2nd, 2015
Patrick: I have very vivid memories of working on a project in elementary school. It was a vocabulary project, and we just had to find a creative way to use all these vocab words. I was being an ambitious little idiot, so I had decided to put on a radio program using all the words. I don’t know why I chose audio-only — I had been making movies in the basement for years at that point — but I suspect that I just wanted to get it done quickly, and radio sounded easier than video. The trick was that we didn’t have a good working tape recorder in the house, so I went from Fisher-Price Tape Deck to Sony Boom Box to 3M Mini-Cassette Recorder trying to get something that worked. At one point, I was shouting into a plastic microphone “I hope you can hear me because my grade is counting on this!” I hit the stop button, and then, rather than try to play back the tape, I realized I’d be so fixated on one solution that I was making myself crazy. I mean, come on Kid-Patrick, you could just as easily make up flashcards with drawings that represent the words – there’s no reason to freak out on your own equipment. Material 4 calls into question the solutions its characters try to apply to their societal and psychological problems in much the same way, only it’s clear that much more than some 10 year-old’s grade is counting on this. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Suzanne are discussing Batman Eternal 30, originally released October 29th, 2014.
Mark: In a few weeks, the Batman Eternal creative team will have produced more issues than even the longest running New 52 books. With the task of producing so much content, the challenges of serialization in a weekly title are magnified compared to a monthly title. Plot and action have to be metered out very carefully as to not burn through too much too fast, but at the same time every issue still has to feel like an event as readers have been trained to expect by monthlies. With that in mind, it’s enjoyable for me to watch the writers of Batman Eternal juggle the many, many plot threads they have introduced over 30 issues. I’ve read every issue since the title launched, and every few weeks I have a good “Hey, remember when this thing was about NANOBOTS?!” moment when something introduced months ago and seemingly dropped suddenly comes back to the forefront. The narrative whiplash is part of the fun. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Taylor are discussing Arkham Manor 1, originally released October 22nd, 2014.
Mark: As DC’s unquestionable cash cow, there is never a dearth of new Batman-related titles and spinoffs in the works. Within the past month DC has launched two new Batman-adjacent titles, first the youth-oriented Gotham Academy and now Arkham Manor. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Batman 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Shelby: I prefer playing games where everyone knows the rules. Sure, there are some PC games out there where you’re just dumped in the game universe and have to figure out what to do and how to do it (Myst, I’m looking at you), but that’s different. That’s more me trying to solve a puzzle than not knowing the rules. If I’m going to play a game with other people, I want everyone to know the rules; what’s the fun in beating someone at a game they don’t know how to play? In Zero Year, Scott Snyder has had a very young Batman pitted against the Riddler in a game our hero has consistently lost. Personally, I think there are two big reasons Batman has been losing this fight: he assumes he knows the rules of the game, and he assumes the bad guy will actually abide by them.
Spencer: Back in the summer of 2010 I was obsessed with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics, and eagerly awaited the release of their movie adaptation. I spent the weeks leading up to it reading and rereading the comics and preparing myself for the awesomeness I knew the movie would surely be. After I actually saw the movie, though, I was oddly disappointed by the many changes made between it and the comics. It took me quite a while to reconcile the two versions, but once I did, I ended up seeing it twice more in theaters and it quickly became my favorite movie. I had a similar experience reading Detective Comics 28 this week. After last month’s introduction to the “Gothtopia” storyline I was expecting a lot out of this issue—specifically, more exploration of this new Gotham utopia—but the story ended up veering in another direction entirely. I was disappointed at first, but fortunately, the story I got instead ended up being pretty enjoyable in its own right. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batman 16 originally released January 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: One of the most thrilling things about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was the surprisingly strong case it made for Joker’s way of thinking. Obviously, we aren’t meant to agree with his murderous methods, but any time he’s given a chance to explain his worldview, he actually makes a pretty compelling argument. The effect was a surprisingly nuanced take on the nature of freedom, drawing our attention to just how untenable Batman’s outlook is, as well. Scott Snyder manages a similar trick in Batman 16, making Joker’s argument alluring, even as his methods are utterly horrifying. Continue reading →
Shelby: Enough “Poor Alec.” Last month, we talked about Alec’s lonely road and his single shining star, Abby. Well, that’s all over! He’s got the resources of Batman in the hands of Barbara Gordon, one of the smartest people in the DCU. He can feel his lady love leading him on, and now that he’s got the backup he needs, he’s going to put an end to this Rot shit once and for all! It’s Swamp Thing’s rallying call! He’s gonna kick some ass in the greenest way imagined! No more pity, it’s time for action! Just as we start to get really pumped, though, Scott Snyder reminds us that it might actually be too late after all.