Dumbass Details in Sideways 2

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Last month, I praised Sideways 1’s hyper-specificity. Writers Dan DiDio and Justin Jordan crafted an excruciatingly detailed world for the would-be superhero Derek and his geek-culture-obsessed best friend Ernie. Artist Kenneth Rocafort dutifully filled the pages with visual details, whether painstakingly realizing the Gotham City skyline or Ernie’s shrine to cosplay and video games. The high I was feeling from that issue has all but evaporated during the second issue as the details began to feel awkward, forced, or generic. Continue reading

Scrutiny Reveals the Flaws in Batman and the Signal 2

By Patrick Ehlers

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

One of the driving philosophies of Batman and the Signal is the idea that light reveals the flaws in something. A story from the beginning of issue 2 targets Gotham City skyscrapers, partially constructed at night by crews of illegal laborers. Duke’s father was one of these nighttime construction men. He would bring his son to check out the fruits of his nocturnal labor in the cold light of day so Duke could clearly witness the cost of cutting corners. Fittingly, this metaphor falls apart the more closely you examine it. Can you see tiny imperfections in the craftsmanship that goes into building a skyscraper? Probably. Is that overlooking the fact that its a modern marvel of engineering that pierces the sky with steel, iron and glass? Absolutely. My experience writing about comics for Retcon Punch has shown me that we are more often rewarded for our intense scrutiny than we are disappointed by the trivial cracks in the handiwork.

Leave it to Batman and the Signal to demonstrate the opposite. Continue reading

Biological Truths in the Details of Sideways 1

By Patrick Ehlers

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

Kenneth Rocafort’s art is so packed with detail that shapes, lines and colors often find themselves marooned in the gutter and in the space between his panels. His visually noisy style gives the impression that Rocafort has so much creative energy that it simply cannot be contained by the incidents of the story he’s tasked with telling. As the rift-opening hero Sideways, Derek literally exists between spaces, and Rocafort is long practiced in filling those voids with exciting, vital details. Sideways 1 is marvelous introduction to a character I can’t wait to see more of. Continue reading

Batman Who Laughs 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Mark Mitchell

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

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Patrick: Outside of dance-able club hits, which state their desire to make you dance, very few works of art tell you what effect they intend to have on you. Batman Who Laughs has one purpose and one purpose only: to shock longtime Batman fans with a violent, evil twist on the Dark Knights’ mythos. And the book cockily asserts that it is going to surprise its readers, by having the titular laughing Batman address the camera directly and saying as much. “You really thought you had it all figured out. That you knew every combination in the deck.” The work assumes the reader is skeptical of its goal from page one — the remainder of the issue is spent trying to prove that this is the darkest, most twisted Batman story ever told. Continue reading

Batman Lost 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Michael DeLaney

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

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Patrick: For as much mythological importance as we place on origin stories, the question of how a superhero came to be very seldom adds up to his or her actual origin. Batman is the example in question, so let’s use him: a random mugging in crime alley, a broken string of pearls, two shots fired, an orphan. That’s quintessential, primordial Batman — the very stuff of which he is made. But that’s incomplete. A DC Comics murderers’ row of artists and writers set out to remind readers just how strange Batman’s origins really are in Batman Lost 1. In so doing, they also remind us how infinite and unpredictable Batman’s future truly is. It’s a dizzying collage of what-ifs and secret histories, all presented as true with unflinching authority. Continue reading

Green Arrow Stands Apart from Batman in Green Arrow 29

by Michael DeLaney

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

I like to think of Benjamin Percy’s “Hard-Travelling Hero” arc of Green Arrow as “The Oliver Queen Apology Tour” — as Green Arrow travels across the country and ends up proving his worth to the heavy hitters of the Justice League. This time around Green Arrow is teamed up with fellow billionaire playboy/non-powered vigilante Batman. Continue reading

Batman 1

batman 1

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Batman 1, originally released June 15, 2016.

Michael: I keep saying this lately, but there is something so powerfully elemental about Batman. Not all Batman stories are exactly the same, but there is a certain amount of thematic carryover from one story to the other. I remember that, at the start of The New 52, I noticed a lot of similarities between Scott Snyder’s Batman and Grant Morrison’s that preceded it. Now I find myself doing the same thing with Tom King’s Batman and the Scott Snyder run that preceded it. Judging by the name of King’s first arc (“I am Gotham”) and the heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl, King is going to explore Gotham City as a character; a hallmark of Snyder’s run. Continue reading

Gotham By Midnight 12

gotham by midnight 12

Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Gotham By Midnight 12 , originally released December 16th, 2015.

Michael: The finale: the final act of a story, the climax and conclusion, the final word that creators have with a set of characters that they have been working with. There are countless variations on the classic finale recipe (a different kind of examination for another day), but Gotham By Midnight 12 is a very specific finale: the publisher-induced cancellation finale. Ray Fawkes and Juan E. Ferreyra are saddled with the task of punctuating the tale of Gotham City’s resident ghost chasers. Continue reading

Batman Eternal 52

batman eternal 52Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman Eternal 52, originally released April 1, 2015.

People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.

Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins

Spencer: Throughout all of the many different storylines in Batman Eternal, one theme has steadily built under the title’s surface: the idea of Batman’s legacy. While it was never something addressed all that directly (at least until R’as al Ghul flat out asked “Is Batman eternal?” a few weeks ago), the creative bullpen has steadily been building up Batman’s team of allies and investigating just what effect Batman’s presence has had on Gotham City. With this massive weekly series finally coming to an end, Batman Eternal 52 aims to show exactly the power of that symbol on Batman’s chest, and it does so in spectacular fashion, pulling together nearly all the threads that have been cast throughout the last 52 issues into one show-stopping finale. Continue reading

Detective Comics 36

detective comics 36Today, Mark and Ryan are discussing Detective Comics 36, originally released November 5th, 2014.

Mark: It took me a long while to decide what it was I really wanted to do in life. About two years ago I packed up everything that would fit in my car and moved to Los Angeles without a job and without knowing anyone. Ever since then, like Sonic the Hedgehog, I’ve felt the need to go fast. In some ways I feel far behind my peers, and I try to work double to make up for lost time. The sad reality, of course, is that you can’t make up time.

Detective Comics 36 wraps up a two-part story, Terminal, by the guest creative team of writer Benjamin Percy and penciler John Paul Leon. The set up is a familiar mystery thriller trope: a passenger jet lands at Gotham International Airport and careens into the terminal, crew unresponsive. When Batman and the airport’s Chief of Police board the plane, they find everyone onboard is dead and their flesh decayed. What could have killed them? Continue reading