Dark Nights: Metal 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Mark Mitchell 

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

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Patrick: Throughout Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman, the creative team valued invention over archeology. The character of Batman has been around for so long that deconstruction of the character is practically in his DNA, and while Snyder and Capullo found ways to riff on Batman’s history, their stories were always new. New threats, new allies, new secret identity. With Metal, the latest DC event, Snyder and Capullo turn inward, to explore, refine, and recontextualize the mythology and iconography that is already part of their multiverse. There’s a premium on re-arranging existing pieces into an entirely new whole. Continue reading

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Thawne Has a Point in the Flash 25

by Mark Mitchell

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

The danger in discussing a single issue of a serialized comic book is that a moment or character beat that doesn’t work in isolation might end up folding in nicely once more of the story is laid out to see. Since comic books are designed to tell their stories episodically, the fact that irrational behavior might be explained in the future doesn’t forgive the initial irritation, but it does help calm it. Such is the case in Joshua Williamson’s The Flash 25, where my profound annoyance in the previous two issues (especially The Flash 23) at Barry being so unaware of how selfish and dangerous he’s been by not telling Iris about his secret identity is resolved simply by having Barry acknowledge his foolishness. Continue reading

The Flash 23

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing The Flash 23, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: I’ve never liked Barry Allen’s “new” origin story. It’s always struck me as an attempt to make the character — a likable, yet bland presence in his Silver Age heyday — more palatable to modern audiences by loading him with unnecessary angst, angst which tends to consume and overwhelm both Barry and his title. I’d be curious to see if current Flash writer Joshua Williamson agrees with me on that front or not. Flash 23 does indeed find Barry becoming consumed by angst, but not only do Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico present a rather compelling reason for it (in the form of Eobard Thawne), they also present it as being a rather glaring flaw on Barry’s part. Continue reading

The Flash 22

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Flash 22, originally released May 17, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: So now that the story’s over, I’ve got to ask: what was “The Button” actually about? While the crossover’s first three installments each served up satisfying stand-alone stories, they never came together with any kind of purpose. There’s a touching Batman story buried in “The Button,” but if it was meant to move forward the overarching “Rebirth” storyline, it essentially ended up standing still. Continue reading

Batman 21

Alternating Currents: Batman 21, Drew and Mark

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman 21, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: I was late getting into comics, so by the time I first read Watchmen, its cynical tone and psychologically nuanced characters weren’t the subversive breath of fresh air they were in 1986. Indeed, in the wake of Watchmen‘s success, publishers pumped out plenty of imitators over the past 30 years, but mostly by replicating the tone and approach to characters (honestly, I’ve read so many deconstructions of superheroes at this point, I’m not sure I have any ideas about them left to deconstruct). For this reason, the tone and characters of Watchmen have always struck me as well-done, but largely unremarkable — and before you sound off in the comments, I can assure you I understand how ahistorical this perspective is, but it’s how I feel. But I still love Watchmen deeply because of its formal perfection. While its idiosyncratic aesthetic may make declaring “perfection” highly subjective (or at least qualifies it with some serious “apples and oranges” hedging), I’m still in awe of its disciplined layouts, masterful pacing, and rich details. Continue reading

Justice League 41

justice league 41

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Justice League 41, originally released June 3rd, 2015.

Michael: My biggest gripe with super hero movies or comic book reboots is that their world isn’t fully-formed; typically we have to wait an hour into the movie before the hero does the hero-ing we came to see. Origins, exposition and plot machinations take up an overwhelming amount of time and space in these situations. “Darkseid War” might be my favorite Justice League story yet because it doesn’t take that commonplace route. While Justice League 41 does have a lot of exposition, we are entering into the fully-formed world of the New Gods of Apokolips. This isn’t the origin story of Mister Miracle; he’s BEEN Mister Miracle for a while now. Continue reading

The Flash 36

Alternating Currents: The Flash 36, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Flash 36, originally released November 26th, 2014.

Drew: There’s a lot of weirdness we accept in our comics — radioactive spider-bites, a dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys, even dudes who dress up like birds to support the dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys — but we tend to think of the morality as fairly straightforward. Oftentimes it is — Superman fights for good, Dr. Doom fights for bad — but the weirdness can also raise some bizarre moral questions. Is time-travel inherently immoral? Exactly how icky is the prospect of a body-snatched romantic relationship? Somehow, writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen manage to find the overlap between these inherently comic-booky ideas in The Flash 36. Continue reading

The Flash 32

flash 32Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Flash 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.

Spencer: Speedsters aren’t generally known for their patience. Before the reboot, one of Wally West’s best known qualities was his impatience, and Impulse was the ADHD poster-child; over at Marvel, Quicksilver’s attitude problem canonically comes from the frustration he deals with daily when he’s forced to interact with people who move so much slower than him. My point is, Barry Allen’s methodical, patient lifestyle is the complete antithesis to most speedsters — to use a comparison this issue makes itself, Wally is a basketball fan while Barry’s a baseball fan. The more I read this issue, the more I realize that Barry is the kind of guy who genuinely enjoys slowing down because it means he gets to spend time with the people he loves. It’s what grants him more patience than other speedsters, but it’s also aggravating his greatest flaw; Barry cares so much that he’s trying to be everywhere at once, help everybody at once. It’s an impossible task even for the fastest man alive, and in the process Barry may just be driving away the people who make it worthwhile to slow down in the first place.

Oh, and he may also be tearing apart the space-time continuum. Oops. Continue reading

The Flash 31

flash 31Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Flash 31, originally released May 28th, 2014.

Patrick: Because I spend a fair amount of my time writing about superhero comics, I end up having a lot of conversations about reboots and continuity and “fixing” timelines. You’ll notice that we tend not to dwell on those sorts of things in the actual content of these pieces — we always try to focus on the 20 pages in front of us, and not the uncountable pages that came before — but I’m of the opinion that retcons don’t actually work. If DC were to wipe out the New 52 with the Anti-Monitor next week and launch the old DCU the week following, writers, artists, press and fans would all have the last 3 years of storytelling informing their views on the characters. It’s just like how Aquaman may not have a mini-trident for a hand right now, but that will always be part of who the character “is,” even if it’s not part of who the character “is right now.” But we’re all fascinated with those universe changing mechanics, which is how The Flash 31 upstages itself with a history-altering Future Flash, when the more important character work is happening right now. Continue reading

The Flash Annual 3

Alternating Currents: The Flash Annual 3, Drew and ScottToday, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash Annual 3, originally released April 30th, 2014.

…at the end of the day, the Flash is still the same tone as it was before. It’s still the same character, but kind of just reinvisioned.

Francis Manapul

Drew: The above quote isn’t about Robert Venditti and Van Jensen’s new run on The Flash — Manapul was actually speaking about the start of his own run back when I interviewed him in 2012 — but it might as well be. That a statement can be used to describe a new take on the character as well as the newer take that succeeds is is a universal truism in comics, but it also speaks to an innate truth about the Flash: he needs to move forward. Of course, Jensen and Venditti aren’t privy to the clean break that started Manapul’s run, and have thus needed to address Barry’s past as much as his future. Fortunately, they are also paying attention to this series’ history of meta-commentary, addressing their own creative baggage right on the page. Of all the things they could have ported from the previous run, this is my absolute favorite, injecting The Flash Annual 3 with a sense of rebellion.

Continue reading