Welcome Nuance Enriches Batman: White Knight 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

This is the first installment of Batman: White Knight where Batman has really felt like Batman to me. Sean Murphy digs into the character’s nuances in a way that he hasn’t in previous issues. This is the Batman who will buy Harley Quinn a dress and support her sincere, if bungled, efforts to reform, because under his gruff exterior he truly does care about people, even villains. This is the brilliant detective who has managed to piece together a good 95% of Neo-Harley’s plan when most of the other heroes barely even realize she has a scheme at all. Even Batman’s failed attack on Neo-Harley that closes the issue — which results in the destruction of one of Gotham’s bridges and Batman becoming a fugitive — is motivated by Neo-Harley’s personal attack on him and a desire to protect his family, not wild, unreasonable vengeance. This isn’t the gruff madman of previous issues — this is a complex Batman who still wants what is best for Gotham City. He’s just blinded by his hatred of the Joker. Continue reading

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Uncertain Uncertainties in Batman: White Knight 4

by Spencer Irwin

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

Despite the series being at its halfway point, I honestly don’t quite know what to make of Batman: White Knight. I still believe that Sean Murphy is a tremendous artist, but other than that, my feelings about this series are mired in uncertainty. It seems that some of that uncertainty is purposeful, inherent to the premise, but some of it feels very unintentional and frustrating. I wish it was easier to tell the difference. Continue reading

Surprise Morals in Batgirl 18

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 18

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

There’s a certain type of pat morality we expect of a Christmas special. Even the most cynical characters and series might find comfort and joy in the season. Indeed, the insistence on moral lessons at the end of Christmas stories seems to supersede the typical tone and characterization of the series as a whole, giving “Christmas specials” more in common with one another than they have with their own series. It’s a common enough phenomenon that we both expect and accept it right from the jump, but that’s exactly the expectation Hope Larson and Sami Basri thwart in Batgirl 18. Continue reading

Batman: White Knight 3

by Mark Mitchell

Batman White Knight 3

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

The primary mystery of Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight (with an assist from Matt Hollingsworth on colors) is determining what exactly Jack Napier’s intentions are. How much of his stance against Batman on moral grounds is part of a longer con? And even if Napier is truly free of the Joker, he’s certainly willing to indulge in a little villainy if the ends justify the means. But then, the same can be said of Murphy’s Batman, and it’s the murky morality of most all the major players in Batman: White Knight 3 that makes this book so compelling. Continue reading

Politics and Puddin’ in Batman: White Knight 2

by Michael DeLaney 

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

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Batman: White Knight, but I can now safely say that it is indeed worth the hype. White Knight is part Elseworlds, part political commentary, and part meta commentary on a particularly shameful retcon of recent DC continuity. Continue reading

Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica 1 Only Works When It’s Simple

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Crossover comics almost always have a problem of feeling overstuffed. There are two complete casts of characters and two different worlds, all of which need to be honored in one way or another. Harley and Ivy meet Betty and Veronica 1 packs in a ton of individual character personalities, but ultimately fails to juggle them all at once. By the time we get to the climactic costume party, we’re tracking Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Sabrina, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, to say nothing of Hiram and Smithers, who we can assume are all on-site somewhere. Artist Laura Braga does some incredible design work in this issue (so many costumes!), but continuity of space totally falls apart with so many players in a scene. This issue is at its best at its simplest, but it so seldom sticks to simplicity. Continue reading

Batman Annual 1

Alternating Currents: Batman Annual 1, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: A few years ago, fellow Retcon Puncher Patrick Ehlers suggested that deconstruction had become so commonplace in Batman stories that they had come to become inseparable from the character. That is, deconstructing the character had become as essential to the telling of Batman stories as Batmobiles and gimmicky villains have become essential to the stories themselves. It’s a compelling argument — especially when you consider the fact that modern interpretations of the character are all informed by Frank Miller’s famous deconstructions of the character — but I maintain that it’s largely incidental to his existence. To me, the key fact is that Batman has been around (and beloved) for 75+ years, so of course creators that grew up with the character are going to relish playing with that history. I can expound on why I think that negates Patrick’s point in the comments, but for now, it’s enough to say that I think the deconstructions have more to do with nostalgia than anything intrinsic to the character. Nostalgia is certainly a central theme in Batman Annual 1, an anthology issue that brings together some of Batman’s most famous stewards, past and present, for a walk down memory lane. Continue reading

New Suicide Squad 20

suicide squad 20

Today, Michael and Ryan D. are discussing New Suicide Squad 20, originally released May 4th, 2016.

Michael: One of the big draws to New Suicide Squad 20 was the writer Tim Seeley and artist Juan E. Ferreyra – the team who worked on the short-lived, but inspired Gotham By Midnight. While that series was firmly steeped in questions of faith and spirituality from the get-go, it’s interesting that Seeley and Ferreyra seem to be tackling those very same themes in a comic about (mostly) unrepentant killers. Nevertheless, New Suicide Squad 20 gives us a standard shoot ‘em up story framed by the beliefs and personal philosophies of its characters. Continue reading

Midnighter 10

midnighter 10

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Midnighter 10, originally released March 2nd, 2016.

Spencer: I was a little know-it-all as a kid. One of my earliest memories is interrupting a lecturer on a field trip to a planetarium to correct him about outer space trivia; “well, actually” might as well have been my catchphrase in elementary school. Even as an adult with decidedly screwed-up self esteem, I still occasionally find myself falling prey to the snare of overconfidence; in many ways, I think it’s just human nature. Supreme confidence has always been presented as one of Midnighter’s most charming attributes, but after suffering yet another loss, Midnighter 10 starts to explore whether that confidence is an asset or a hindrance, and one of the most effective ways it does so is by comparing it to the overconfidence of the rest of the cast. Continue reading

Midnighter 9

midnighter 9

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Midnighter 9, originally released February 3rd, 2016.

Spencer: Who is Midnighter? It’s clearly a question writer Steve Orlando wants to keep on his readers’ minds, as most issues of Midnighter feature its titular character explaining his life story to someone (this month, his documentarist Robert). Any conclusions we can draw about who Midnighter really is deep inside from that information, though, are complicated to say the least. Who is Midnighter? He’s a contradiction. Continue reading