This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
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 →
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 16, originally released February 1, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Mark: A lot of my time in Los Angeles has been spent in and around the improv comedy community, and watching a seemingly endless amount of bad comedy (and, truly, few things will make your flesh want to flee your body more than bad improv) really makes you appreciate the pros — people who week after week are able to deliver a baseline solid, occasionally brilliant, show. Consistency is what makes a pro a pro, in comedy, sports, comic books, what have you. The ability to reliably deliver the goods is indispensable. Superman 16 is a slightly disappointing end to Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi’s “Multiplicty” arc, but they’re pros, so even a messier Superman has ideas and moments worth paying attention to. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Doom Patrol 1, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: When it comes to science fiction and fantasy, I’m shocked at how shocked characters are in their supernatural circumstances. Haven’t they seen movies before? I like my characters to be a little more well-versed in the genre that they are a part of – in 2016 I think that any encounter with an alien, wizard or monster should lend comparisons to similar stories from pop culture. In a way Doom Patrol 1 fulfilled that wish of mine. The characters within had little to no shock when it came to robots, exploding gyros and roommates popping like piñatas. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Klaus 6, originally released June 15, 2016.
Patrick: My mother used to teach first grade, and just about every Christmas, there’d be some little shit in her class that insisted on telling all the other kids that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. Since she was their teacher – their trusted source of ALL INFORMATION – the question would eventually make it up to her. And never in private: kids would interrupt a math lesson to ask “is Santa real?” Now, if you don’t already know my mother, you should know that she’s got a kind of Midwestern / German stoicism that’s practically blinding and she’s got almost 40 years of experience avoiding difficult conversations with children. So she’d turn the question back on them: “some people believe Santa Claus is real and some do not – what do you believe?” And, naturally, the kids that are the most hurt by the notion that Santa could be made up chose to believe. My mother hasn’t crushed any little hopes, but she also hasn’t been dishonest either. She allows the power of the myth to be it’s own magic, just like Grant Morrison and Dan Mora do in Klaus 6.
Though, that’s probably where the similarities between Morrison and my mother end… Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Klaus 5, originally released May 4th, 2016.
Patrick: Joseph Campbell’s monomyth needs revision. Certainly, the concepts born out in his Hero With A Thousand Faces appear in every blockbuster action movie and comic book produced in the last half-century. But the proliferation of visual storytelling since Campbell’s heyday has added some colorful hallmarks to the heroic storyteller’s lexicon. I don’t know what we can really trace these recurring visual motifs to — Hollywood Westerns, anime, comic books, Saturday morning cartoons — but the fact remains that our heroes all share some common traits. They have costumes that give them either an instantly recognizable silhouette or an instantly recognizable color palette. They all move the same way: with a shocking grace, often over rooftops. In Klaus, Grant Morrison and Dan Mora imbue Santa with these same visual hallmarks, updating him from folk legend to comic book hero. Continue reading →
Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2015.Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman 45, originally released October 14th, 2015.
Spencer: Does the man make Batman, or does Batman make the man? That seems to be the question at the heart of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Superheavy” arc, and with Bruce Wayne no longer under the cowl, it’s an especially timely one. Geri Powers, Jim Gordon, Bruce Wayne, and even Duke Thomas all have different ideas of what role Batman (and Robin!) should play and how that role should be carried out, and those conflicting perspectives make Batman 45 a captivating exploration of the function and legacy of the Dark Knight. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Nameless 5, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…
Seth Brundle, The Fly
Drew: When I was first searching for that quote, I was convinced it was actually from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Or, at least, I thought there was a line in Metamorphosis questioning whether Gregor Samsa was a man who dreamt he was an insect, or an insect who dreamt he was a man. I suppose it’s fitting that, while trying to find a quote about the elusive line between fantasy and reality, I ended up looking for a quote that didn’t actually exist. Of course, because Metamorphosis is a real text that exists outside of my head, I can verify what quotes it does or does not contain — it’s a reasonably straightforward binary, translation errors notwithstanding. The events of Nameless, on the other hand, are fictional, so there is no “real.” How, then, do we distinguish its dream sequences from the rest? The answer might just be that we can’t, which could be what this series is all about. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Nameless 4, originally released June 10th, 2015.
So kiss me baby, like a drug, like a respirator
And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut.
Where I get lost in space that goes on forever
And you can make the rest just an afterthought.
I believe it’s you who can make it better.
Though it’s not. No, it’s not. No, it’s not.
Aimee Mann, It’s Not
Patrick: Aimee Mann’s album Lost In Space, is one of my favorite records of all time. It’s got all of the hallmarks Mann’s genius — smart, sensitive lyrics, beautiful melodies, a sophisticated chord palette — but where the album separates itself is in its subtly self-referential nature. The title of the record appears both here (on the last track) and on the album’s title track. Calling the same imagery, of being “lost in space” back at the end of the record, makes the singer sound like she’s so mired in her own frame of reference as to make her actual experience secondary to her ability to express it. Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s fourth issue of Nameless is similarly focused on expressing a character’s ability to express what he’s experienced through his specific cultural and personal lens. And curiously, he make reference to the astronaut’s dream. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing The Multiversity 2, originally released April 29th, 2015.
You’re missing stuff by reading too fast.
Mercury Man, The Multiversity 2
Drew: There’s a specific type of confusion that comes when reading certain Grant Morrison comics — the kind that comes when you have absolutely no idea what’s going on, but you have faith that it will all make sense in the end. Or, at least, you’ll be able to draw conclusions from it in the end. Mercury Man suggests that it all makes sense if we just slow down to make all of the connections, but Morrison books tend to require reading at a pace several orders of magnitude slower than the average comic. That Morrison doesn’t write “the average comic” is exactly why his works are so worth that effort, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make them incredibly difficult to talk about. Continue reading →