This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Mark: Modern comic books are built on tropes. After nearly a century of storytelling in the medium, the particulars of what makes a Superman story different from a Batman story are so deeply engrained that creators have a binary choice when sitting down to craft a tale: embrace the tropes or react against them. And while longtime comic book readers tend to seek out and reward stories that are willing to subvert and contort their expectations, either choice can be successful if executed well. Continue reading →
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 →
Drew: They say a man is known by the company he keeps. For Batman, we might think of the bat-family — Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and the various Robins and Batgirl(s) — but we also think of his rogues gallery. Indeed, Batman has long been defined by the villains that he fights, but I’ve always thought of that as “Batman,” the idea, not Batman, the character. Indeed, the fact that Bruce is perpetually locked in battles with his nemeses has always seemed more a curiosity of circumstance than of design — Batman doesn’t kill, and they keep breaking out. Batman 17 puts that assumption under the microscope, asking just what his perpetual battle with Joker might say about Bruce. Obviously, SPOILERS after the jump.Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batman 16 originally released January 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: One of the most thrilling things about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was the surprisingly strong case it made for Joker’s way of thinking. Obviously, we aren’t meant to agree with his murderous methods, but any time he’s given a chance to explain his worldview, he actually makes a pretty compelling argument. The effect was a surprisingly nuanced take on the nature of freedom, drawing our attention to just how untenable Batman’s outlook is, as well. Scott Snyder manages a similar trick in Batman 16, making Joker’s argument alluring, even as his methods are utterly horrifying. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 15 originally released December 12th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: Scott Snyder has stated that his first three pitches for Batman (The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, and the next arc) form a kind of triptych examining different aspects of Batman. The Court of Owls put Bruce’s relationship with Gotham under the microscope, revealing a great deal about both. Joker’s relationship with Batman is equally indelible (and worthy of scrutiny), but Snyder has dug much deeper with Death of the Family, taking on a much more fundamental — but often unexamined — characteristic of Batman: his leadership. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman 14 originally released November 14th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: Batman and the Joker are timeless. That is, they shift and adjust to the times. It gives them longevity, but it also makes pinning down the true nature of their conflict difficult. The Joker has been everything from a harmless prankster to a genociding psychopath, and Batman can range from avenging creature of the night to kid-friendly crime-stopper, so the fundamental nature of their relationship must lie deeper than superficial proclamations about color scheme, or even “seriousness.” The Dark Knight tilted at the deeper levels, but left them as overtones to the physical conflict. In Batman 14, Scott Snyder takes that subtext and makes it the text, delivering a surprising rumination on the nature of both detective stories and humor in general. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 13 originally released October 10th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.
Drew: Bruce Wayne knows those closest to him can be taken away. It’s an idea that was violently embedded in his mind as a child, and has driven every waking moment of his life since. A person driven to such lengths obviously values the closeness of others, yet it’s one of the bitterest ironies of Batman that his goal of stopping violence actually puts the people around him in greater danger. Bruce has been reminded of this all too often, as Jason was killed and Barbara paralyzed, but he can’t help but rely on others; as Batman Incorporated recently pointed out, Alfred was there from the start. That reliance is often one of Bruce’s greatest assets — he could not have defeated the Court of Owls without them — but it’s also one of his greatest liabilities. Fortunately, very few criminals have the express goal of harming Batman emotionally, but of course, the Joker isn’t just any criminal. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batman 12, originally released August 8th, 2012.
Patrick: Scott Snyder’s run on Batman has been fantastic. The 11-issue Court of Owls story-line is going to go down in history as one of the best Batman stories ever, and there are precious few titles in the New 52 that can claim the same level of quality. So, I approached this first post-Owls issue tentatively: would I discover that I was enamored with Snyder’s Owls, and not Snyder’s Batman? What we have in issue 12 is about as radical a departure as we could have asked for – the story is self-contained; the scope of the story is small; and Batman himself doesn’t make an appearance until page 14. But in this gear-shift, Snyder asserts that he’s in it for the long haul, and committed to delivering excellence in Batman, no matter what story he wants to tell in Gotham City. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 11, originally released July 11th, 2012.
Drew: Comic books often rely on well-worn tropes. As do mystery novels. And action movies. This arc of Batman (like all great Batman stories) is essentially all three of these things, so a little soliloquizing from the villain in the final act isn’t just expected, it’s downright obligatory. Of course, Scott Snyder is not a writer content to simply rely on such tropes, and instead uses the opportunity to comment on that particular cliche, while simultaneously delivering a final act soliloquy that is better than any of those it is riffing on. It’s one of my favorite tricks of postmodernism (one that is rarely pulled off so well), and is only a microcosm of what Snyder has been doing with this whole arc. As the Court of Owls arc concludes, we’re left with a deconstruction of a Batman story that is among the best Batman stories ever told. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 10, originally released June 13th, 2012.
Drew: There’s a moment, right in the middle of this issue, that finds Bruce sitting in his robe, idly handling a pair of shell casings. How these clues fit into his current case isn’t apparent, but as the scene plays out, it slowly becomes clear that these were the casings of the bullets that killed Bruce’s parents. This kind of shocking, resonating reveal first introduced as something innocuous is a microcosm of writer Scott Snyder’s current run on Batman; a magic act he’s able to pull off time and time again, to impossibly greater and greater effect. This issue is an exemplar of that skill, cashing in on a set-up not just 10 issues, but 73 years in the making. Continue reading →