Superman 16

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Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 16, originally released February 1, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: A lot of my time in Los Angeles has been spent in and around the improv comedy community, and watching a seemingly endless amount of bad comedy (and, truly, few things will make your flesh want to flee your body more than bad improv) really makes you appreciate the pros — people who week after week are able to deliver a baseline solid, occasionally brilliant, show. Consistency is what makes a pro a pro, in comedy, sports, comic books, what have you. The ability to reliably deliver the goods is indispensable. Superman 16 is a slightly disappointing end to Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi’s “Multiplicty” arc, but they’re pros, so even a messier Superman has ideas and moments worth paying attention to. Continue reading

Superman 14

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Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 14, originally released January 4, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: There was something in the air starting around 2005 that demanded male-driven pop culture be characterized by “grit.” Space marines were to be bald, worlds were to be painted in shades of concrete, and heroes were meant to be broken. It’s perhaps unfair to lay the root of this phenomenon at the feet of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins — but here we are. Whatever you think of the movie itself, there’s no question that Nolan’s take on Batman had the (unintended?) side effect of making the character joyless. Everyone wants to be Batman, but who would want to be that Batman? By the time The Dark Knight Rises was released in 2012, this No Fun Allowed Batman was so ingrained in the public consciousness that when Nolan and his brother Jonathan attempted to inject a bit of levity into the proceedings with a handful of actual jokes, some fans of the series balked. And who can blame them? For many, this was the only Batman they knew, and Batman — an adult man who dresses as a bat to beat up clowns and squat fat men and women squeezed into male-gaze fetish gear — was nothing to joke about.

Whether by decree of shared corporate Time Warner overlords or just an attempt to reinvigorize their lineup by capitalizing on the trends of the time, DC’s 2011 New 52 re-launch became an exercise in Nolanization. And while perhaps never as literally grey as the video games of the time, the race to appeal to the same Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel-fueled demographic had the (again, unintended?) side effect of slowly and fundamentally eroding what was so beloved about many of DC’s characters to begin with. To be fair, before Rebirth DC had already begun course correcting toward a more vibrant, diversified, and generally happy lineup of characters, but in some cases the rot was considered too deep. Let us pour one out for New 52 Superman, a sacrificial lamb killed off as a sign of good faith toward spurned fans. Continue reading

Superman Annual 1

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Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Michael: I harp on Annuals a lot because in short, they’re weird. Typically they exist outside of the main ongoing story and sometimes are not even written or drawn by the title’s current creative team. Rebirth is not immune to the pitfalls of Annuals, as Drew and I pointed out in our discussion of Batman Annual 1. The consistently strong Superman title, however, follows through with Superman Annual 1. Pete Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Jorge Jimenez provide us with a story that compliments the main narrative and encapsulates the same joy that has made Superman one of the stand-out Rebirth titles. Continue reading

Nightwing 9

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Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Nightwing 9, originally released November 16th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: If you go back and read my reviews of recent Nightwing issues, I’m on record as calling this run “grim” more than once. I’m still a bit puzzled as to why writer Tim Seeley has filled Dick with so much angst, but at least Nightwing 9 is an acknowledgement of this trend, and seemingly an active move away from it. It’s a refreshing look at why Dick Grayson is such a powerful character in the first place. Continue reading

Superman 9

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Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Superman 9, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Issues 8 and 9 of Superman read like an entire season of LOST. I’m only partially saying that because the action takes place on a mysterious, temporally displaced, impossible-to-escape island populated by monsters. The comparison is actually more apt in the way both LOST and Superman treat their central mysteries. By the end of issue 9, Clark and Jon’s adventure on the island may appear to be over, but readers are left with a host of lingering questions. In lieu of answers, storytellers Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi revel in the charming and illuminating details of the mystery itself, letting the mysterious, the symbolic, and the evocative beats speak for themselves. Continue reading

Trinity 1

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Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Trinity 1, originally released September 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Michael: This might be considered controversial but I like my superheroes to be friends. Superheroes fighting each other is a time-honored tradition dating back to the golden age, but we have taken that to the extreme in the modern day. The past year has given us Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War on the big screen and Marvel’s Civil War II is still on the shelves at comic shops. When characters have lived side by side with one another for 50+ years however, their personal relationships are far more interesting than their super smash battles. Enter Francis Manapul’s Trinity, whose purpose seems to be reuniting the three greatest heroes that DC has to offer and once again make them the greatest friends that DC has to offer as well. Continue reading

Action Comics 958

Alternating Currents: Action Comics 958, Drew and Mark

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Action Comics 958, originally released June 22nd, 2016.

Drew: What kind of themes do you expect of a Superman story? Morality? Alienation? Hope? Love? Over his 75+ year history, Superman has come to represent many ideas beyond that handful of suggestions, but those might serve as a reasonable starting point for the character, describing at least the ballpark he tends to play in. With Action Comics 958 — an issue by its very numbering necessarily recalls a good chunk of Superman stories — Dan Jurgens and Patrick Zircher make a compelling case for voyeurism as a key element of the Superman mythos. Continue reading

Superman: American Alien 7

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Today, Ryan D. and Michael are discussing Superman: American Alien 7, originally released May 18th, 2016.

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the face.

-Mike Tyson

Ryan D: Superman is known for having epic, city-leveling battles. That’s just status quo. But imagine one of these super-superpowered brawls with a Clark Kent who can bleed, one who still feels emotionally and physically vulnerable despite his abilities? Even better: while we’ve seen this Superman deal with mindless monsters and scheming billionaire magnates, imagine his first encounter with a being of deep moral apathy, with whom the Man of Steel may have more in common with than he does with the people of Earth. Max Landis and Jock tell an ambitious story in the ultimate issue of American Alien, concluding my favorite run with the character since Morrison’s All-Star Superman. Continue reading

Batman/Superman 32

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Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman/Superman 32, originally released May 4th, 2016.

Spencer: I’m a sucker for fight scenes. When I was younger, my top priority for any piece of media I checked out was “lots and lots of fighting,” as my voracious consumption of Dragonball Z in middle and high school can attest to. I still have a soft spot for this kind of action — and I look forward to lots of lovingly, intricately choreographed fight scenes when I finally get to see Captain America: Civil War on Friday — but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that action without any sort of substance supporting it is just hollow. While the “Final Days of Superman” storyline has plenty of substance to it, little of it makes its way into Batman/Superman 32. This issue has tons of action, but little of it means anything. Continue reading

Superman: American Alien 6

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Today, Michael and Ryan M. are discussing Superman: American Alien 6, originally released April 26, 2016.

Michael: It’s incredibly difficult for me to not let my opinions on the current DC film adaptations spill over into my Superman-related write-ups. Likewise, it’s difficult for me to write about Superman: American Alien and not repeat myself month after month by saying that Max Landis has proven that you can make Superman relatable without compromising the core of the character. What I’m getting at is that unlike Henry Cavill’s Superman, Superman: American Alien 6 demonstrates that you can actually tell a worthwhile story where Superman just happens to be…kind of an asshole. Continue reading