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 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, Ryan M. and Michael are discussing Batgirl 47, originally released January 20th, 2016.
Ryan: Dramatic irony can be frustrating as hell. Having context that a character doesn’t can make them seem inconsiderate or obtuse. You read along, hoping that everyone can figure things out so that we’re all on the same page. However, when done well, it’s an effective way to raise tension in the reader without artificial conflict. 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 →
Today, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 44, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
Ryan: When we’re children, it is clear to whom we owe obedience. We must do what our parents, teachers, coaches, pastors tell us. Part of growing up is learning to choose who deserves that kind of subservience. Certainly, in adult relationships a certain amount of respect is shown by listening and acting in accordance with someone else’s wants. But what about those in our adult lives who request blind and total acquiescence? Should we bend to their whims and deny our own? Also, what kind of person would expect us to? The Velvet Tiger and Batgirl don’t have much in common, but they both have an expectation of obedience. They are each in a leadership position and expect their employees to curb their own ambitions and curtail their own desires. The Velvet Tiger is looking for fealty and unwavering loyalty, while Batgirl’s exerts her authority in a paternalistic effort of protection. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Batgirl Annual 3, originally released July 29th, 2015.
Michael: I don’t know if the concept of “Annual” comic book really has a true characterization. Sometimes it’s just a giant-sized issue of an ongoing story. Other times it’s a semi-audition for up and coming writers to get their feet wet. Then there are annuals like to jam-pack the issue with as much muchness as possible. Batgirl Annual 3 is the much muchness example. 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 →