Batman 50: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Batman 50

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

Drew: Bruce Wayne understands that his responsibilities as Batman demands sacrifice. He devotes his time, body, and earthly resources to his mission to fight crime, and generally takes that mission very seriously. All of which can look like he’s sacrificed his own happiness in order to be Batman. Or, more precisely, that his happiness is a necessary sacrifice for his existence. Batman’s drive, the argument goes, comes from his grief, anger, and sadness, so anything that blunts or dilutes those feelings weaken his mission. It’s a position DC Editorial staked out back in 2013, when Dan DiDio explained why Batwoman’s marriage could never happen, but it’s not necessarily a philosophy writer Tom King ascribes to. Indeed, King has argued that Batman’s happiness is a valuable source of drama, stating “There’s no conflict in having Batman be sad. There’s conflict in having Batman be happy.” That may mean King sees Batman’s happiness as only a temporary condition, but it’s obviously not out of the question. The point is, it’s a hotly debated topic, and one that King cleverly allows to play out in the pages of Batman 50. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 6: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell 

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

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Spencer: Now that the series has come to an end, I can safely say that I have very mixed feelings about Dark Nights: Metal as a whole. So much of this event has been about embracing gonzo, bonkers, throwback action, but much of that fun is buried under attempts to overexplain every aspect of the (often impossible to follow) plot. The stakes of the event never fully sank in for me, as aside from artist Greg Capullo’s hellish landscapes, most of the nightmarish aspects of the Dark Multiverse were buried away in tie-in issues, while the main series focused on fun, but straightforward action beats. That said, there were a few areas where this series shined, and Dark Nights: Metal 6 exemplifies them all. It’s a strong metaphor for embracing hope and community over nihilism and isolation, a powerful reminder of stories’ ability to inspire, and an ode to the past (and future) of the DC Universe. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 5 Is Lost In Its Own Cacophony

by Michael DeLaney

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

The difference between good action movie sequences and bad ones comes down to editing. A lot of quick cuts and different camera angles is a clear tell of a bad action sequence and leaves you confused as to what is actually happening in the fight. Dark Nights: Metal 5 is a lot like that. As readers we have been stuck in this nightmare world for so long that I can’t remember what the stakes are or really care about them. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal Finds Its Thematic Core in Issue 4

by Spencer Irwin

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

So far, Dark Knights: Metal has been best known for its reverence for DC’s history and its dedication to ideas and concepts as convoluted and zany as they are grand and cosmic (i.e., the instantly iconic Baby Darkseid). This focus has made the event a breathless thrill-ride, but in issue 4 Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo finally start to dig into the thematic and character-driven cores of their story, instantly making it a far more memorable and satisfying experience. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 3 is an Epic Rock Opera of Fun

by Michael DeLaney

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

When it was first announced, the concept of Dark Nights: Metal left me perplexed. But if you’ve been following along with DC’s multiversal exploits of the last ten years — specifically Final Crisis and The Multiversity — then a heavy-metal rock opera isn’t out of place in the musical vibrations of the Multiverse. Now that the stage has been set, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo can play in the crazy world that they have constructed. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 2 Learns to Stop Worrying and Love the Weird

by Michael DeLaney

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

Over the past 50 years, relaunches like The New 52 have favored comic book “realism” — whatever that may be. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve found that comic books are at their best when they embrace the silly, high-concept ideas that ran without question for the first 50 odd years of comic book history. Dark Nights: Metal 2 is the type of book that blends the modern “realism” with the whacky fearlessness of the books of old. Continue reading

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

Best of 2016: Best Issues

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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 2016. Continue reading

Reborn 1

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Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Reborn 1, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Mark: Most of the time, I’m at peace with the idea that death is the end of all things. Part of this peace is born out of a sense of self-preservation because I am a Wear-a-Nightguard-Otherwise-You’ll-Shatter-Your-Teeth level worrier by nature and worrying about something as far out of my control as the afterlife would be enough to end me, but some of it is also that I’m a (relatively) healthy 32 year old. Death is not looming over me at this moment (fingers crossed), and so it isn’t something I think about all that often.

But occasionally, when I’m lying in bed thinking about something dumb I said in 6th grade and fretting that that moment negatively altered the course of my life, an inescapable existential terror bubbles up. Someday I’m going to die, and that’ll be it. Lights out. For that reason, I envy people who believe in something greater coming after this life. It’s unquestionably comforting to think that there’s a great reward for living life well. The classic Western idea of an afterlife is Heaven—a paradise designed as a gift to God’s faithful servants for a job well done. Continue reading

Batman 51

Alternating Currents: Batman 51, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman 51, originally released April 27th, 2016.

Drew: Nostalgia is a complicated force in superhero comics. On the one hand, a 75-year history is a unique and powerful tool, one that can be mined to celebrate past achievements and reward loyal readers; on the other hand, an audience’s fondness for that history may be exploited, used in lieu of actual quality to assure sales of a given title. These ends may not be mutually exclusive, but parsing the value of nostalgia becomes even more complicated when we consider our own relationship to the material. I don’t bring this up to spark a discussion of critical theory and the fallacy of objectivity (though that’s a conversation I’m always willing to have), but to acknowledge just how important Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run has been to me, personally, and to Retcon Punch as a website. Continue reading