Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 14, originally released January 4, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Mark: There was something in the air starting around 2005 that demanded male-driven pop culture be characterized by “grit.” Space marines were to be bald, worlds were to be painted in shades of concrete, and heroes were meant to be broken. It’s perhaps unfair to lay the root of this phenomenon at the feet of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins — but here we are. Whatever you think of the movie itself, there’s no question that Nolan’s take on Batman had the (unintended?) side effect of making the character joyless. Everyone wants to be Batman, but who would want to be that Batman? By the time The Dark Knight Rises was released in 2012, this No Fun Allowed Batman was so ingrained in the public consciousness that when Nolan and his brother Jonathan attempted to inject a bit of levity into the proceedings with a handful of actual jokes, some fans of the series balked. And who can blame them? For many, this was the only Batman they knew, and Batman — an adult man who dresses as a bat to beat up clowns and squat fat men and women squeezed into male-gaze fetish gear — was nothing to joke about.
Whether by decree of shared corporate Time Warner overlords or just an attempt to reinvigorize their lineup by capitalizing on the trends of the time, DC’s 2011 New 52 re-launch became an exercise in Nolanization. And while perhaps never as literally grey as the video games of the time, the race to appeal to the same Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel-fueled demographic had the (again, unintended?) side effect of slowly and fundamentally eroding what was so beloved about many of DC’s characters to begin with. To be fair, before Rebirth DC had already begun course correcting toward a more vibrant, diversified, and generally happy lineup of characters, but in some cases the rot was considered too deep. Let us pour one out for New 52 Superman, a sacrificial lamb killed off as a sign of good faith toward spurned fans. 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 2016.Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batman 6, originally released September 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: Comic book fans are extremely protective over their favorite superheroes, a fact that has probably been exacerbated by the internet. We debate on Batman’s actions as if he were a living, breathing person because he’s important to us. It’s the same way of asking the question “What’s the best Batman story of all time?” Art is subjective and comic books are no different. We may agree on many of the same things, but my Batman is different from your Batman. It’s why stories continue to roll out 75+ years after his creation. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing DC Universe Rebirth 1, originally released May 25th, 2016.
Spencer: To me, one of the most interesting things about the mythology surrounding DC’s “Rebirth” initiative is that, despite its being touted as DC “canonically admitting that they screwed up the New 52,” DC didn’t take this opportunity to reboot or return to their old continuity. Instead, writer/creative director/all-around DC miracle worker Geoff Johns is using Rebirth to course correct their fledgling universe, making a concerted effort to turn away from the darkness that largely came to define the New 52 and instead embrace the ideas of love, hope, and legacy that DC was once famous for.
It’s an effort that warms my heart. I’ll admit to feeling maybe just the slightest, tiniest bit cynical (the upcoming “war” leaves a back-door open to restore the pre-Flashpoint continuity should Rebirth falter as well), but that barely matters. My favorite character in all of comics is back, and thus, I couldn’t be happier. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Justice League: The Darkseid War Special 1, originally released April 4, 2016.
Michael: Damn, in a few weeks “The Darkseid War” will have been going on for an entire year — roughly the same amount of time that Jim Gordon was the Caped Crusader in the pages of Batman. Whereas Gordon’s tenure as Batman felt like it was cut short, “The Darkseid War” almost feels like it has been going on for eternity. Though Justice League is still full of powerful superhero smash-em-ups and the League has seen its fair share of changes, “Darkseid War” has been crawling at a snail’s pace. Unfortunately for us all, Justice League: The Darkseid War Special 1 is more of the same. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Cyborg 1, originally released July 22nd, 2015.
Michael: Words are an interesting thing, are they not? In one of those “Woah, its crazy how humans work” moments, the assemblage of letters, words, sentences, punctuations and so on is impressive. Memorable moments in pop culture can often be whittled down to a few buzzworthy quotes – especially with our 2015 short attention span. This particular mindset heavily influenced my reading experience of Cyborg 1; and that’s not really a good thing. 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 →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Justice League 35, originally released October 15, 2014.
Spencer: Lex Luthor has basically been the main character of Justice League ever since Forever Evil ended, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. It’s inevitable that Lex will go back to being a full-time villain at some point (unless writer Geoff Johns manages to pull off the biggest reformation in DC history and make it stick), but I’m not sure how much that should influence my reading of Luthor’s intentions. There are two things I do know for certain, though: 1. Luthor’s presence has finally made the rest of the Justice League the competent, inspirational team we’ve been hoping they’d become since the New 52 began, and 2. even if Luthor’s reformation is somehow 100% legit, he still has plenty of misdeeds in his past to face up to. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Greg Patrick are discussing The Multiversity 1, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Spencer: It may not seem like it at first, but comics are one of the more interactive art forms out there. While movies and TV shows dictate the pace you experience them at, you can move through a comic book at any pace you desire, and even just the act of turning the page involves you in the story; you are advancing the story, and without your actions, the plot cannot move forward. The Multiversity is a Grant Morrison story, so it should be no surprise that it’s meta as piss. The reader’s power over the narrative is just one of many themes Morrison plays with in this title, but it’s certainly one of the most fascinating — and will likely also be one of the most divisive. Continue reading →
Spencer: One of my favorite hobbies is explaining comic book storylines to people who don’t read comics (“Hey guys, did you know that the Justice League once fought a giant floating psychic island that shoots dinosaurs?!”). It’s always fun to watch their expressions, but it’s also an interesting reminder that comics, at their core, are goofy as hell. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m glad comics are finally being respected as an art form, and I wouldn’t be writing here if I didn’t love poring through comics and discussing their depths, but sometimes it’s just fun to turn off my brain and embrace the goofiness, and no story’s been better for that lately than Trinity War. It’s so much fun that I don’t even mind that big fat “to be continued” at the end—well, I don’t mind it that much…