Justice League of America 1

jla-1

Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Justice League of America 1, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: Sometimes I’m a tough customer to please. When it comes to storytelling, I like to get my bearings on the landscape and characters, but I don’t want to be spoon-fed all of the important details. With regards to Justice League of America 1 it nails some subtle world-building but is less successful when handling the stars of the book. Continue reading

Super Sons 1

super-sons-1

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Super Sons 1, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: “What a delight!” I found myself saying after reading Pete Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez’s Super Sons 1. Super Sons has arguably been one of the most anticipated Rebirth books ever since Jim Lee threw in Damian Wayne and Jon Kent on that teaser poster that your comic book shop gave you back in June. Tomasi and Superman co-writer Patrick Gleason gave us a taste of what to expect from this series a few months ago, and Super Sons 1 carries on that joyful vibe without stumbling.

Continue reading

All-Star Batman 5

all-star-batman-5

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

Batman Annual 1

Alternating Currents: Batman Annual 1, Drew and Michael

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

Superman 11

superman-11

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

Mother Panic 1

Alternating Currents: Mother Panic 1, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Mother Panic 1, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

slim-banner

Drew: A quarter century after the runaway successes of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, deconstruction remains a thriving mode of superhero storytelling. It makes sense that, in a world that is constantly retelling the same stories in films, television shows, video games, and the comics themselves, there’s little need to reiterate the beats we already know, so Batman’s origin, for example, can be cut down to a few iconic images, and the rest of the narrative can be given over to highlighting themes and ideas baked into that origin. That is, the narrative can be less about the story (since we all know it), and more about the telling. Of course, that approach tends to be reserved for characters whose origins have become common knowledge — heavy-hitters like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man — but what if that approach was applied to a totally new character? What if their origin was taken as a given, so the emphasis was more on texture than the specific beats of the story? You might end up with something like Mother Panic 1, an issue that blends a familiar presumption of familiarity with a truly unfamiliar character. The effect is disorienting — frustratingly so at times — but nonetheless alluring. Continue reading

All-Star Batman 4

all-star-batman-4

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing All-Star Batman 4, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: One of the tenets of Batman story is perception: the difference of worldview between Batman, his allies, and his villains. There’s the more popular battling ideologies of vigilantism vs traditional legitimate law enforcement or Joker’s anarchy vs Batman’s order, but All-Star Batman’s battle of ideologies is based on the age-old question of “is man inherently good or inherently evil?” Continue reading

Batman 10

batman-10

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Batman 10, originally released November 2nd, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Most writers have certain tics and styles that come to define their work: Brian Michael Bendis, for example, is famous (infamous?) for his unique style of dialogue and pacing. Tom King has made quite a name for himself over the past two years with his critically acclaimed titles (such as Omega Men, The Vision, and Sheriff of Babylon), all of which, as different as they are, share many of the same themes, tones, and idiosyncrasies. King’s run on Batman was never meant to be part of that “Trilogy of Best Intentions,” but it’s still strange to me that Batman 10 is his first issue that really feels like a Tom King comic. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing — turns out that King’s techniques without his usual depth of story can sometimes end up feeling more like a parody of a Tom King comic. Continue reading

Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6

dark-knight-6

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

Detective Comics 942

detective-comics-942

Today, Michael and Ryan M. are discussing Detective Comics 942, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Michael: The “Night of the Monster Men” comes to a conclusion in Detective Comics 942. Though I haven’t been the biggest fan of this storyline, I’d argue that its resolution came too fast, too soon. After four issues of monster mayhem and catastrophe, Hugo Strange is defeated and cuffed as quickly as he arrived. Continue reading