Today, Drew and Ryan M. are discussing Motor Crush 1, originally released December 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: I’ve been thinking a lot recently about story structure, and particularly Dan Harmon’s distillation of the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell’s monomyth was designed to be as general as possible, so that it might be applied universally, but Harmon takes it a step further, stripping away specifics like “the belly of the beast” and “death and resurrection” to land on an ordered set of eight words: You, Need, Go, Search, Find, Take, Return, and CHANGE. Harmon explains all of those in greater depth, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m interested in the first two: you (establishing a protagonist in a zone of comfort) and need (establishing a need for the character that might draw them outside of that zone of comfort). I’m used to that opening quadrant of the “story circle” — the quadrant that ends when the character leaves their zone of comfort — being relatively small, moving on to the meat of the journey quickly. That’s definitely the case with Motor Crush 1, which pushes its protagonist out of her comfort zone so quickly, I’m honestly not sure what “normal” looks like for her. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Batgirl 52, originally released May 25th, 2016.
Mark: What is the best way to portray a female superhero?
The first sizzle reel revealed for CBS’s (now CW’s) Supergirl television series was met with a healthy dose of skepticism and derision since it included a number of moments where Kara is shown doing stereotypical “girlie” things and its The Devil Wears Prada-esque setting. Some compared it to SNL’s satirical trailer for a Marvel Black Widow movie that aired just a little bit before the Supergirl first look was released. The fact that Kara worried about boys at all or worked at a fashion magazine meant that she wasn’t a strong female character. I haven’t watched Supergirl at all outside of the pilot, but the general consensus of her portrayal now that the first season has concluded seems to be overall positive.
Likewise, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart’s Batgirl of Burnside, making Barbara Gordon more pop and significantly less intense than the Gail Simone run that preceded it, has been met with similar criticism. I’m not a woman, but I am gay and it is through that lens that I approach the desire for people like me to be represented in media by strong characters. In that way, I can understand the eye-rolling at a social media obsessed Batgirl just like I sometimes get annoyed at what I perceive as grossly flamboyant gay characters in movies and TV shows.Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 50, originally released April 6th, 2016.
Mark: Batgirl 50 is the culmination of the Fugue storyline, and Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart successfully check the box on every superhero trope a reader could want. Mind control? Check. A bank robbery? Check. Previously unmentioned deus ex machina device? A big, fat pneumatic tube-shaped check! The Fugue has released all of Batgirl’s previous foes and is using them to set up mind control devices to lure Burnside’s citizens to Burnside Bridge. Then he’s going to blow up the bridge, killing the citizens, and then convince the rest of Gotham that Batgirl is responsible. This is not a good plan! Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Batgirl 49, originally released March 2nd, 2016.
Michael: DC Comics has (sort of) clarified what its upcoming “Rebirth” is, and it has been changing my reading of every comic I’ve read from them in the meantime. It’s still anyone’s guess as to what kinds of changes “Rebirth” brings to the DC line, but we are definitely at the climax/resolution threshold of each title’s story. Case in point: the semi-continuity-resolving, Inception-ish issue that is Batgirl 49. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 46, originally released Dec 16th, 2015.
Mark: Has anyone been reading DC’s (relatively) new Doctor Fate ongoing? The pitch for it was probably a lot like Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s pitch for Batgirl: take a character struggling to find a compelling place in the post-Flashpoint universe (apologies to Gail Simone), and make them balance the typical problems of 20-somethings with the life of a superhero. There are countless problems with Doctor Fate, but one of the major failings is its inability to balance the various threats complicating Khalid Nassour’s life. Everything is treated with equal weight (which in this case is usually none at all), which makes the confrontations and resolutions ultimately unsatisfying. Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Michael, Spencer and Patrick discuss Batgirl 42, Gotham By Midnight Annual 1, Lobo Annual 1 and The Flash Annual 4.
Michael: Have you ever noticed how the fifth Wednesday of a month always brings an odd grab bag of titles from DC? It’s typically full of books that are behind schedule and trying to catch up and the occasional Annual issue. So I guess it’s no surprise that this week’s DC offering is full of five Annuals in total. Let’s cover a few of them, shall we?
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Batgirl 41, originally released June 24th, 2015.
Spencer: One of the defining moments of my childhood was watching the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Over the Edge” in its initial broadcast. For any of you who aren’t familiar with the episode, it the one that ends its first act with Batgirl falling from a building to her death, proceeds to Jim Gordon, who feels betrayed that Batman never told him that Batgirl was his daughter Barbara, raiding the Batcave and capturing Alfred, and only gets more insane (and more violent — I never saw the episode reran) from there. The sheer spectacle of the episode captured my young heart, but it also garnered its fair share of detractors for its ending: the whole story was a nightmare of Barbara’s after being gassed by the Scarecrow.
The “it’s all a dream” ending never bothered me because, as exhilarating as the action was, the true heart of the story was Barbara’s fear of what would happen if she never told her father she was Batgirl. The conflict over Babs’ identity and Jim’s reaction to it is one I’ve seen rehashed in the comics numerous times since, but with diminishing returns. With Jim Gordon now taking the mantle of Batman, it seems inevitable that Batgirl 41 would again focus on this aspect of Jim and Barbara’s relationship, but I feel like I’ve seen this story a few too many times at this point. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Batgirl 40, originally released March 18th, 2015.
Mark: One of the seminal Batman stories, Alan Moore’s Batman:The Killing Joke, was released in March 1988, almost exactly 27 years ago. In that story, Barbara Gordon is shot by the Joker, paralyzing her and confining her to a wheelchair. The controversy spun out from Moore’s decision to use Barbara as a plot device has been defining her, for better and for worse, for almost three decades now.
I have sympathy for comic book writers. It has to be hard to balance respect for canon with the need to constantly create new stories. Too much disregard for history and you’ll alienate your audience, too much reverence and you risk stifling creativity. DC tried pretty valiantly with The New 52to split the difference between honoring the old and building towards the new, but their solutions were usually messy at best. When it comes to reinventing a well-regarded character, there’s no way to please everyone. But with Batgirl 40, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart come pretty close. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 39, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Michael: In most pieces of pop culture, the protagonist is the point of entry for the audience into the fictional world that we are experiencing. You’ll often see events or circumstances that the protagonist themselves isn’t immediately aware of, but for the most part you are riding shotgun with the main character. In comic books, that means you follow the story with the benefit of the main character’s narration/inner monologue. The tricky thing is that your hero may not always be a reliable narrator. Even if they aren’t intentionally misleading you, they are probably not giving you the full story. Such is the case of a one Barbara Gordon, the titular Batgirl. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 38, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Michael: Sometimes you just get sick of being yourself. What I mean by that is we all have a point where we say “Why me?” “Why do I have to suffer?” “Can’t things just be easy for once?” If life is a story, then we might not always like the role that we’re cast in. Being a “supporting character” gets old; everyone wants to be the star eventually. Batgirl 38 finds the creative team and Barbara herself asking these types of questions of identity. Can’t a Batgirl just fight crime and enjoy herself in the process? Not quite, it would seem. Continue reading →