Breaking the Loop in Batgirl 23

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 23

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

We all have patterns. We run through them again and again until, one day, we finally see ourselves clearly and choose a different path.

Barbara Gordon, Batgirl

Let’s hear it for the quarter-life crisis. We tend to hear more about the mid-life crisis as either a pitiful or destructive force (usually middle aged men blowing money on a sports car or torpedoing their family life for a young girlfriend), but I think the quarter-life crisis is almost the opposite. As society extends adolescence well beyond the teenage years, and careers now take longer to kickstart than they did in generations past, the “what am I doing with my life?” urgency that kicks in around 25 can add some guiding structure. Maybe I’m biased in that way — my own quarter-life crises forced me to identify concrete goals that eventually sent me back to school — but I think a lot of us fall into a rut in our early 20s that we only later get the perspective to shake us out of. Maybe it’s a dead-end job, or an unfulfilling relationship, or a crummy apartment, or bad eating habits. For Barbara Gordon, that rut is a literal mind loop, preventing her from moving forward with her life. Continue reading

The Personal Mythology of Batman: Creature of Night 3

by Michael DeLaney

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

Whether we realize it or not, Americans like to mythologize our lives. Exposure to different forms of fiction and historical accounts feed into our egos, ascribing significance and meaning where otherwise there is none. Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon’s Batman: Creature of Night 3 mythologizes it’s protagonist’s life literally and figuratively. Continue reading

Jack and Batman Come Clean in Batman: White Knight 7

By Michael DeLaney

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

As Batman: White Knight races towards its finale, Batman and Jack Napier come face to face with their own egos and shortcomings. After spending the majority of the series as an aggressive bully, Sean Murphy finally gives Batman the opportunity to be heroic again in Batman: White Knight 7. Continue reading

The Gordons Investigate Together in Batgirl 21

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 21

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

One of my favorite anecdotes (not mine), involves some confusion at an Arby’s drive-thru — a woman orders orange juice and drives away with a cup full of au jus. Of course, the entire premise of that story requires us to accept that anyone would order orange juice at an Arby’s, but I like the punchline enough to justify that minor suspension of disbelief. And that really is how I think about suspension of disbelief: if it’s justified — even retroactively — I’ll happily go along for the ride; if not, then the very odd detail of the orange juice at the Arby’s drive-thru probably shouldn’t be there. Such is the case with Batgirl 21, which finds both Babs and Jim independently investigating the same supernatural phenomenon, but never quite justifies their choices. Continue reading

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

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!

slim-banner

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: White Knight 1

by Ryan Desaulniers and Mark Mitchell

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

 He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

Jim Gordon, The Dark Knight

Ryan: Since that line was uttered in lamentation of Gotham’s corruption, I feel as if it’s almost become a canonical outlook on the Caped Crusader. The thing about that line, though, is that it’s purely subjective on Gordon’s part, and particular unto the circumstances of that Batman story in that film. And almost every statement can be used against the point for which it was originally made, right? Even scientists with objective data sets can use the same numbers to support the opposite side of an argument, or the same verse of scripture used to prove opposing points. In Batman: White Knight 1, Sean Murphy takes Jim Gordon’s iconic statement and uses it to sow the seeds of a Gotham wherein the Joker justifies his action with that logic, both as a villain and a hero. Continue reading

Unknown history sits at the heart of Batgirl 14

by Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 14

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

I’ve never been a huge fan of dramatic irony — I can appreciate how giving us more information than the characters have can produce tension (or humor), but that information kind of gets in the way of relating to the characters. Still, I have a heck of a lot more patience for dramatic irony than I do its exact opposite, where characters are privy to information that is deliberately withheld from the audience. Not only does the tension it create feel cheaper (amounting to little more than a narrative chant of “I know something you don’t know”), it makes the characters even harder to relate to, as we’re necessarily left in the dark about what they might be thinking or feeling. All of which kept me from truly enjoying Batgirl 14. 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

Batman: Rebirth 1

batman rebirth 1

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman: Rebirth 1, originally released June 1st, 2016.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Sigmund Freud

Drew: There’s plenty of reasons to believe Freud never said such a thing, but whatever its origin, this quote always helps me keep perspective when attempting to parse the symbolism in a work of art. The last thing I want is to sound like Fred Armesin’s exaggerated (and nonsensical) lyrical analyses, so it always makes me nervous when I find my attention drawn to symbols within a comic. Even with that reticence, though, I couldn’t ignore the deeply symbolic nature of Scott Snyder and Tom King’s Batman: Rebirth, even if I’m not quite sure what all of the symbols mean. Continue reading