Strength in Teamwork in Batman 43

By Drew Baumgartner

Batman 43

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

On the surface, grief and regret may not seem all that similar; one deals with an inescapable force of nature, the other is preoccupied with (potentially avoidable) personal failures. I might argue that regret is a kind of grief, albeit over the death of an idea or an opportunity, as opposed to a loved one, but there’s a more fundamental commonality between these two: how personal they feel. This can make both grief and regret feel very lonely, potentially driving us away from the friends and family who might want to support us through those difficult times. It’s a trap Ivy falls into, trying to go it alone in the face of her own grief and regrets, but Batman and Catwoman (and the entire creative team behind Batman 43) have a better way. Continue reading

Choosing a Side in Batman 29

by Spencer Irwin

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

Marvel’s various takes on their Civil War franchise have all urged readers to “choose a side.” That’s not an approach Tom King and Mikel Janin can really take with “The War of Jokes and Riddles” though, because who wants to support either side of a war waged by sadistic supervillains? Yet, that’s exactly where Batman finds himself in Batman 29 — forced to pick between supporting either the Joker or the Riddler if he wants to end this war once and for all. Continue reading

“The War of Jokes and Riddles” Gives Batman Another Opportunity to Feel Guilty in Batman 25

by Spencer Irwin

Batman 25

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

It takes quite a bit of hubris to think you can singlehandedly end crime, even in just one city. I’ve never been a fan of the interpretations that paint Batman as insane or as the genesis of his own enemies, but I do think there’s some merit to examining the negative effects his crusade on crime may create. That’s exactly what Tom King and Mikel Janin seem ready to do in “The War of Jokes and Riddles,” a storyline pitting the Joker and the Riddler against each other in a city-wide gang war that, of course, Batman blames himself for. Continue reading

Batman 33

Alternating Currents: Batman 33, Drew and ShelbyToday, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batman 33, originally released July 23rd, 2014.

Drew: The Riddler may not have seemed like the most intuitive choice for a retelling of Batman’s origin — he’s in no man’s land, much more specific threat than those posed by organized crime in Year One, but he’s also not Batman’s biggest villain. Of course, that ignores the specific nature of this origin story, one that openly acknowledges how well-known the story is — or at least how well we think we know the story. That is, in order to not be a total retread, it requires the type of surprise ending we typically associate with riddles. It’s the kind of ending that recontextualizes the three-part story we’ve been reading as one emotional arc with a focus on something we may not have been expecting: Bruce’s relationship to Alfred. Continue reading

Batman 32

batman 32

Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Batman 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.

Shelby: I prefer playing games where everyone knows the rules. Sure, there are some PC games out there where you’re just dumped in the game universe and have to figure out what to do and how to do it (Myst, I’m looking at you), but that’s different. That’s more me trying to solve a puzzle than not knowing the rules. If I’m going to play a game with other people, I want everyone to know the rules; what’s the fun in beating someone at a game they don’t know how to play? In Zero Year, Scott Snyder has had a very young Batman pitted against the Riddler in a game our hero has consistently lost. Personally, I think there are two big reasons Batman has been losing this fight: he assumes he knows the rules of the game, and he assumes the bad guy will actually abide by them.

Continue reading

Batman 31

Alternating Currents: Batman 31, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 31, originally released May 28th, 2014.

Drew: Between comics, movies, tv shows, video games, radio serials, and children’s imaginations, Batman is arguably the most prolific fictional character in history. With that long, multi-media history comes a secondary history of reinvention. I’ve seen it said that each generation redefines Batman, but in my mind, he’s revamped far more often than once a generation. Each new iteration brings changes, some more superficial than others, but what is it that actually defines Batman? What is his immutable core? The thing that would actually make him a different character if it was absent? With Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have already given lie to what many people would assume were givens — grimness chief amongst them — but issue 31 finds them asserting an essential element I hadn’t expected: masochism. Continue reading

Batman 30

batman 30Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Batman 30, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Drew: Adults are very good at pretending to know what they’re doing. Indeed, they’re so good, most folks don’t figure this out until they’re already in the midst of pretending to know what they’re doing themselves, and by then, they’re already adults. It’s almost a secret that there’s basically nothing that qualifies us to have jobs, pay rent, get married, have kids, and whatever else it is that grownups do. You’re not going to be adequately prepared for these things by the time you start doing them, and you’re only going to get better through trial and error. It’s that “error” part that’s scary — nobody wants to lose their job, home, spouse, or kids — but fortunately for us, the stakes of any single mistake are relatively low. Batman, on the other hand, has always played for much higher stakes — typically the wellbeing of his hometown — and Batman 30 explores just what happens when he isn’t up to the challenge.

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Batman 29

batman 29Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman 29, originally released March 12th, 2014.

Shelby: It can be really hard to admit you’ve been wrong. Especially when you’ve gone out of your way to show everyone how right you are. The only thing to do is own up to your mistake and try to fix it. It’s a painful admission to make, and the bigger the consequences of your mistake, the more painful it is. In his own take on the iconic Batman origin story, Scott Snyder has given us a Bruce Wayne who is young, brash, and very confident. Whether through an inflated sense of self or the independence forced upon him at the death of his parents (probably a bit of both), this Bruce is even more reluctant to accept help from others than we’ve seen before. Finally, as the latest arc of Zero Year wraps up, the pieces begin to fall into place, and Bruce finds himself with some mistakes to own up to and a very hard lesson to learn. Problem is, it looks like it might be too late.
Continue reading

Batman 25

Batman 25

Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Batman 25, originally released November 13th, 2013

Mikyzptlk: From the moment that Zero Year was first announced, it has been shrouded in mystery. What exactly was the “Zero Year” and how would it change the origin of Batman that we’ve been familiar with for so long? We are now five issues into the story, and while some of the mysteries are becoming clear, there seems to be tons of new ones cropping up left and right. Issue 25 of Batman is no exception. At the same time, we are introduced to a brand new/really old Batman villain that may just be revealing more about our hero than he is about himself at this point.  Continue reading

Batman 24

batman 24Today, Scott and Spencer are discussing Batman 24, originally released October 9th, 2013.

Scott: It’s not enough just to tell a Batman origin story anymore. We know that story. The Bruce Wayne story. Bruce watches his parents die, he runs away, he trains, he becomes a great warrior, he returns to his city and his fortune, he fights crime, yada yada yada. It’s a great story and it’s fun to read, it’s just that, in this Bat-saturated day-in-age, it’s not enough. It’s not enough to see how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, we need to see how Batman becomes Batman: The Legend. Finally, Scott Snyder is giving us a look at how the myth of Batman is born, or rather, carefully constructed by Bruce and his trusty aide, Alfred Pennyworth. The ensuing story doesn’t just feel like new. It feels like enough. (And I mean that in a very good way.) Continue reading