Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing All-Star Batman 5, originally released December 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS!
Patrick: From the outset, Batman seems like a pretty simple concept: an orphaned billionaire who grew with a grudge against the criminal element that took his childhood away from him. Plus, y’know – gadgets and punching dudes. But nearly 80 years of publishing history have done a number on what the character “means.” A holistic view of Batman is nearly impossible, and it usually takes a savant like Grant Morrison to synthesize it all into one character. With their “My Own Worst Enemy” story arc, Scott Snyder and John Romita, Jr. make a case for the existence of multiple takes on Batman, and by extension multiple takes on heroes, villains, and humanity in general. It’s an exercise in not pinning anything down, which makes for a genuinely exciting, if often unsettling, narrative. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing All-Star Batman 4, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: One of the tenets of Batman story is perception: the difference of worldview between Batman, his allies, and his villains. There’s the more popular battling ideologies of vigilantism vs traditional legitimate law enforcement or Joker’s anarchy vs Batman’s order, but All-Star Batman’s battle of ideologies is based on the age-old question of “is man inherently good or inherently evil?” Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing All-Star Batman 1, originally released August 3rd, 2016.
Patrick: It’s hard to think of a creator at DC comics that has had a more lasting, meaningful, and marketable impression on a character in the last five years than writer Scott Snyder. His run with Greg Capullo on Batman (coupled with his role running the rooms for both Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal) makes Snyder the mental and emotional authority on Gotham’s Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne may be the “Batman” in the title, but Snyder himself is the “All-Star.” The first issue moves with such breathless confidence, willfully tossing out repulsive imagery, C-tier villains, and disorienting chronology with such abandon, it’s like the blockbuster creative team is daring us to stay away. But for every “22 minutes earlier,” for every appearance of Firefly, for every horrifying account of people subtly slashed to death, All-Star Batman 1 is an amazingly good time. It’s a remarkable change from Batman, which while obviously excellent, often wasn’t “a good time.” But it’s like Batman reiterates a couple times in this issue: “I’m trying something new.” Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman 44 originally released September 30th, 2015.
Michael: Modern superhero tales have a troubled history with placing too much emphasis on the “how.” How did they get their powers? How did they become a superhero? How would this actually work in the real world? As always, there are exceptions to the rule, but many creators often spend too much time focusing on the “how” instead of placing the emphasis on what happens next. Case in point: Gene Luen Yang and John Romita Jr.’s Superman 44. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 38, originally released February 4th, 2015.
Mark: Well, it’s finally happening. DC announced late last week that starting in June, following the events of the Convergence event, The New 52 will no longer exist. Having run for almost 4 years, it’s not hard to understand why as The New 52 branding was getting a little long in the tooth. What does this mean for our favorite characters? Apparently not much, as no continuity reboot is planned. I mention this because when I first read Superman 38 before the post-Convergence announcements last week, I assumed that the two major revelations in this issue were being unloaded now so they could easily be walked back in only a few months. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Superman 37, originally released December 24th, 2014.
“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange.”
Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist
Spencer: Equivalent Exchange isn’t just applicable to alchemy (or anime) — it’s a principle we all follow every day. We exchange our time for money. We exchange money for goods. We can even (metaphorically) give our hearts in hope of gaining affection in return. The point is, nothing comes for nothing, and the more we hope to gain, the more effort we have to put out to obtain it. This is even true of Ulysses’ Great World — it turns out that the price to maintain its “perfection” is five million human lives. Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.’s Superman 37 finds Superman and Ulysses debating the morality of the Great World, and in doing so, they draw some compelling parallels to our own lives. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Superman 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Drew: When I was five years old, I told my then four-year-old cousin that he was adopted. Nobody had told me that he was, and certainly nobody told me that I wasn’t supposed to tell him, but he was immediately distraught, running to his mother to assure him I was lying. A young kid’s relationship to his parents is his whole world, and the thought that there might be something unusual about it is understandably upsetting. Totally unintentionally, I put my aunt in an incredibly awkward position, forcing her to confront a truth outside of her terms, when her son was already distressed by the idea. Complicating the issue was that his brother is not adopted, which only creates more potential for feelings of alienation. Superman has long been the poster child for adoption, but what if his adopted home had its own “last son” that seemed to be every bit as “super” as he is? Might Clark grow a chip on his shoulder about being “the adopted one”? These are exactly the questions Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. set up in Superman 32, stopping just shy of showing us the answers. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Captain America 7, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Patrick: This whole arc in Captain America has been centered on one very bizarre story: Steve Rogers, trapped in Dimension Z, tries to make a life for himself with his adopted son, Ian. This is a comic book, so we didn’t spend much time watching Rogers change diapers or deciding what religion to raise his child or anything like that – most of those development moments were waved away with an issue-opening title card that read “Eleven Years Later,” way back in issue 4.We’re left to imagine that emotional groundwork, and hopefully our imaginations are pretty good, because Steve Rogers’ long odds (which grow longer by the issue) will net a pretty poor payoff if we can’t find a reason to care about Cap’s relationship with this kid. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Captain America 6, originally released April 17th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Rick Remender has pleasantly surprised me with his take on Captain America. I’m a fan of the character, but he can come off as a little dry from time to time. Remender has solved that issue by not only transporting Cap to a strange and twisted place, but pushing Cap to some pretty intense extremes. Each issue seems to take Cap further and further to his limits, but his new found fatherhood may push him further than he’s ever been pushed. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Captain America 5, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Patrick: There’s a part in the first Metal Gear Solid game where you have to fight a bad guy called Psycho Mantis. Fans of the series will remember this fight fondly for a couple of reasons — the character “reads your mind” and talks trash about the way you’ve been playing the game. Reportedly he will also make comments about the other games you have saved on your memory card. It’s goofy, but it certainly is weird and fun. At one point in the fight, Mantis is reading your mind to determine your motions, and it’s impossible to land a blow. The solution is that you have to plug the controller into the second controller port — that way he can’t read your mind. No, that doesn’t make sense — it’s a rule the game establishes right then and there for this single-time use. It’s not fair, it’s not fun, and you either know to do it (and you win) or you don’t know to do it (and you lose). Captain America’s latest adventures have a little too much in common with this Psycho Mantis fight, and I’m kinda just waiting for him to plug the controller into the Player Two slot.