Welcome Nuance Enriches Batman: White Knight 5

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

This is the first installment of Batman: White Knight where Batman has really felt like Batman to me. Sean Murphy digs into the character’s nuances in a way that he hasn’t in previous issues. This is the Batman who will buy Harley Quinn a dress and support her sincere, if bungled, efforts to reform, because under his gruff exterior he truly does care about people, even villains. This is the brilliant detective who has managed to piece together a good 95% of Neo-Harley’s plan when most of the other heroes barely even realize she has a scheme at all. Even Batman’s failed attack on Neo-Harley that closes the issue — which results in the destruction of one of Gotham’s bridges and Batman becoming a fugitive — is motivated by Neo-Harley’s personal attack on him and a desire to protect his family, not wild, unreasonable vengeance. This isn’t the gruff madman of previous issues — this is a complex Batman who still wants what is best for Gotham City. He’s just blinded by his hatred of the Joker. Continue reading

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Uncertain Uncertainties in Batman: White Knight 4

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Despite the series being at its halfway point, I honestly don’t quite know what to make of Batman: White Knight. I still believe that Sean Murphy is a tremendous artist, but other than that, my feelings about this series are mired in uncertainty. It seems that some of that uncertainty is purposeful, inherent to the premise, but some of it feels very unintentional and frustrating. I wish it was easier to tell the difference. Continue reading

Batman and The Signal 1: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Taylor Anderson 

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: “Do I fit in?” If you are a human being, then you have likely asked yourself this question at least once in your lifetime. We all want to be a part of something; to be a member of a group, team, or soul-costing cult. And if you’ve been reading Scott Snyder’s Batman run for the past few years, another question has been on your mind: “What the hell is the plan for Duke?” Batman and the Signal 1 finally begins to answer that. Continue reading

Batman 37 Knocks it Out of the Park

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 37

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There are lots of reasons to love superhero comics. Maybe you’re in it for the high-wire action or the sci-fi worlds. Maybe you’re in it for the superhuman feats or the super human morals. There are as many reasons to love superheroes as there are superhero fans, but I think at some level, every fan must share some real affection for these characters, and perhaps even a childlike desire to be them. Those aspirations usually exist off the page, taking shape in our minds as we read, but Tom King and Clay Mann have found an elegant way to address the phenomenon in-universe: making Batman and Superman fans of one another. Continue reading

Batman: White Knight 3

by Mark Mitchell

Batman White Knight 3

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The primary mystery of Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight (with an assist from Matt Hollingsworth on colors) is determining what exactly Jack Napier’s intentions are. How much of his stance against Batman on moral grounds is part of a longer con? And even if Napier is truly free of the Joker, he’s certainly willing to indulge in a little villainy if the ends justify the means. But then, the same can be said of Murphy’s Batman, and it’s the murky morality of most all the major players in Batman: White Knight 3 that makes this book so compelling. Continue reading

Teenage Regrets in Batgirl 17

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 17

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Teens are bad at perspective. It’s not their fault — adolescent brain development sticks them with overdeveloped emotional centers and underdeveloped reasoning centers — but it’s a big part of the reason they aren’t considered “adults.” Fortunately, the stakes for teens is often relatively low. Sure, who takes who to prom may feel like a big deal at the time, but maturity (and time and distance) reveal many teenage concerns to be the trivialities they always were. For that reason, it can be enlightening to revisit your biggest teenage regrets with a more worldly perspective — perhaps they’re not as regrettable as you remember. With Batgirl 17, Hope Larson and Chris Wildgoose seem to take that notion to heart, with a villain vainly asserting the opposite. Continue reading

Challenging Batman’s Central Conceit in Batman 35

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 35

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

For all of the impossible technology, the men made out of shapeshifting clay, the resurrection pits, and the shark repellant, the biggest narrative conceit in any Batman story is the idea that an orphan’s single-minded decision to literally fight crime is somehow noble or laudable. For all of the attempts to “ground” Batman over the past few decades, from Batman: Year One to Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, none have deigned question that conceit. It’s too central to who Batman is — he arguably wouldn’t work without it. At least, questioning that conceit wouldn’t work with the kind of grim seriousness of those takes seem to take for granted with the character. By contrast, Tom King has always been willing to embrace the absurdity of Batman, the over-the-top everything that makes him fun, but with a self-awareness to admit that it’s also kind of silly. It’s long been the source of solid laughs for King’s run, but issue 35 hinges its most important emotional moments on that silliness. Continue reading

Relationships Shine in Batman 34

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Batman may have just gotten engaged, but can you really imagine he and Catwoman going through life as a “normal” married couple, living a mundane domestic life? Of course you can’t, and not just because they have Alfred — it’s because they’re superheroes, wrapped up in grandiose, larger-than-life concerns. While one of those typically superheroic goals — tracking down Holly Robinson — is technically motivating our heroes in Batman 34, Tom King and Joelle Jones make the smart choice to ground the issue in relationships and emotions, making this an issue driven by the spark between characters. For the first time, maybe I can imagine Bruce and Selina as an everyday married couple — albeit one whose “dates” consist of confronting murderous exes in the desert. Continue reading

Trust and Impetuousness in Batgirl 16

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 16

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Guys, I love American Vandal. It’s sendup of Netflix-style documentaries is spot-on, but the thing I love most about it is just how accurately it captures teen life. It renders the goofiness and triviality of high school life in intricate, loving detail, fixating on details that is both hilarious and instantly familiar. But at the center of all the dick jokes and awkwardness is the very real disconnect between the impulsive actions of teens and the logical analysis of adults. What’s more, it examines how the “seriousness” that adults adopt maybe leads them to dismiss important details (like the absence of “ball hairs” on graffiti dicks) that a teen — who actually takes those details seriously — wouldn’t. It makes a rather compelling case for teens as the best detectives for teen-related crimes, as they’re more sensitive to the heightened emotional states and subtle social cues of their fellow teens and more immune to the idea that those details are irrelevant. Hope Larson tilts at something similar in Batgirl 16, suggesting that Babs and Dick might have actually been better detectives when they were younger. Continue reading

Purity of Tone in Batman 33

by Patrick Ehlers

Batman 33

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Catwoman: He’s right, you know. There are rules.

Batman: I know. I wrote them.

Batman 33

Of course Batman wrote the rules; he’s Batman. But the infallible detective isn’t nearly so authoratative as the creators that have used Batman to repeatedly define both genres and mediums. Is there a better demonstration of superhero camp than Batman ‘66? Is there a purer gritty reboot than Batman: Year One? Within the stories, Batman may be writing the rules of non-interference in Khadym, but from the reader’s perspective, he’s demonstrating writer Tom King’s realignment of Batman’s tone. Continue reading