Spencer: “Blood is thicker than water.” This expression is usually used to describe how family has a special connection, how family has an obligation to stick together no matter what. It would be wonderful if that was always the case, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, families can be dysfunctional or abusive, or just go through hard times, and when this happens it hurts all the more because it comes from family; when the people who are supposed to protect us and love us unconditionally hurt us, it’s a special kind of pain. Batgirl’s been dealing with a lot lately, horrific events that would get anyone down, but they’re even more painful because family is involved. Fortunately, at least some hope is on the horizon. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Scott are discussing Nightwing Annual 1, originally released October 30th, 2013.
Spencer: Will they or won’t they? Television romances love to milk the idea of two characters who are obviously into each other, but for whatever reason, simply can’t spit it out, or if they can, will be kept apart by circumstances beyond their control. Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon are one of DC’s ultimate “will they or won’t they?” couples, and in the Nightwing annual, writer Kyle Higgins decides to further explore their relationship. If these two are so perfect for each other, why can’t they be together? It takes a superpowered arsonist for them to discover the answer. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Trinity of Sin: Pandora 3 originally released August 21, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.
Taylor: One of my favorite scenes in any Quentin Tarantino movie, of which there are many, is the training sequence when Beatrix Kiddo is under the tutelage of Pai Mei. At first, the wizened martial arts master is reluctant to teach a white America woman, but eventually Beatrix’s tenacious character convinces him of her dedication to her chosen craft (killing). It’s a goofy scene that’s intentionally over-the-top in its reference to kung-fu films of old, but that’s part of the pleasure. Adding to my enjoyment of the scene is the fact that this particular segment of Kill Bill references a key archetype of storytelling: the hero’s training. In virtually every story ever written, the hero, at some point, must confront the fact that their best just isn’t good enough. Sometimes this leads to personal growth and sometimes it leads to a training montage. Whichever the choice, it’s hard to find a story where this doesn’t happen. Keeping that in mind, we shouldn’t be surprised that the myth of Pandora is being given the same treatment. However, which road will the writers take? Personal growth, training, or a mixture of the two?
Today, Taylor and Mikyzptlk are discussing Trinity of Sin: Pandora 2 originally released July 31st, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.
Taylor: We like to think of our world as being made up of opposites. There is always a yin to a yang, there is always a cat to a dog. It’s a convenient way of looking at the world and it helps us make sense of a lot of what we see in our everyday lives. But as we grow older we come to realize that maybe the world isn’t so black and white. Maybe there isn’t an absolute good and maybe there isn’t an absolute evil. Despite this, we tend to think of comic book characters as falling in either the spectrum of evil or good. However, when Superman, supposedly a hero of pure heart, opened Pandora’s Box we realized that not even the best of our heroes is totally without a certain darkness in his heart. But if we flip the tables, is it possible we’ll find a super villain who is totally evil of heart? Pandora wants to find out and in the second issue of her stand alone series, we see that the Trinity War is becoming even more complicated than we thought.
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Trinity of Sin: Pandora 1 originally released July 3rd, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.
Patrick: After reading through the first issue of Trinity of Sin: Pandora, I went back and reread Ray Fawkes’ masterpiece – One Soul. The book is beautiful: it’s a sprawling, 200 page meditation on birth, sex, death, life, love, disappointment, god, war – all as told through the eyes of 18 people throughout history that never meet, never interact. None of these characters are named, but they always occupy the same single panel in each spread. When they die, their panel just goes black, and remains that way for the rest of the book. By all accounts, One Soul is a slog. It’s hard to parse out the meaning in 18 different rambling monologues, and every time you do zero in on a character, Fawkes takes them away in a tragedy of circumstance. It’s disorienting and it’s heartbreaking. The middle of this issue shares a lot of these qualities as Pandora hopelessly wanders the Earth for centuries, experiencing unspecified loss over and over again. This directionless wandering is bookended by dense DC mythology, emphasizing the long, meandering, often pointless nature of these big superhero universes. But just because they’re long, just because their meandering, just because they are often pointless, doesn’t mean they’re not also beautiful.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batgirl 19, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Shelby: I’m the oldest kid of three. My brother, sister, and I get on famously now, but that certainly wasn’t always the case. As a kid, I knew that Lindsey and Ben would always be compared to me; I came first, chronologically speaking, and that made me the yardstick. It’s not a fair system: not fair to the sibling forced to be the standard and DEFINITELY not fair to the siblings forced to be compared to someone else instead of being free to forge their own path. Happily, though, the Peterson kids weren’t raised in Gotham, where sibling rivalry is enough to turn a kid with an overachiever sister into a sociopath. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 18, originally released March 13th, 2013.
Patrick: You know how NBC does a week of environmentally themed shows for the week of Earth Day? (Maybe they even call it Earth Week, who knows?) It’s a network-wide mandate and there’s a persistent green peacock in the lower right corner of the screen to remind us of this fact. How individual shows deal with this mandate is sorta flexible — The Office will relegate their green message to the cold open, and 30 Rock will have Al Gore on again. Everybody tows the line because to not do it would be monstrous. You don’t want to be the only sitcom that doesn’t care about global warming, right? Batgirl 18 finds itself in a similar predicament: how to participate in this REQUIEM without derailing the series’ forward momentum. Ray Fawkes eschews convention by trading in themes rather than plot points. The results are mixed. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 17, originally released February 13th, 2013.
Patrick: Like 20 minutes into the movie Fight Club, Ed Norton’s character meets Brad Pitt’s character for the first time. [I’m about to spoil Fight Club – heads up.] Prior to this point, there’s almost non-stop voice over from Norton’s character, prattling on about life, work, commercialism, phonies, etc. But the second Pitt’s Tyler Durden is introduced, the voice over goes away and the two men have a conversation — the irony, of course, being that they’re the same person, so he’s kinda still talking to himself. But the effect of losing that trusty, comfortable narration is jarring, setting up this scene as a Scene That Matters. Batgirl 17 robs us of a similar comfort as it delves deeper into the broken Gordon family. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 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: Themes are tricky. As a semi-abstracted element of storytelling, they require an attention to detail that simply isn’t always there, but our perennial favorites never seem to struggle. Gail Simone has proven herself particularly adept at weaving notions of fear and independence into Batgirl, creating individual issues that satisfy emotionally even when the narrative doesn’t conclude. Leave it to the Joker to throw a wrench in those gears, thwarting any sense of thematic unity — essentially generating a meta-theme of chaos. It’s a brilliant and unexpected choice that manages to make the reading experience subtly unsettling beyond the issue’s own gruesome imagery. Continue reading
We generally avoid quantifying our enthusiasm around here — we’ll gladly praise or condemn comics as our tastes dictate, but turning that into a grade or a score makes us uncomfortable. As there are in our pull-list, there are holes in this ‘Best of’ list. Mea culpa. We’ve had some great experiences with comics this year, and these are the series that were consistently fun, thoughtful and beautiful. Too subjective for a year-end list? Ignore the rankings. Any way you slice it, these are fantastic series that deserve the scrutiny we heap on everything. Each is a rewarding read and well worth your attention. Our picks for the top 12 series of 2012: