Not Quite a Moral Challenge in Superman 40

By Mark Mitchell

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

While Superman’s abilities to punch hard, fly fast, and jump high are the sizzle to his steak, the real meat (pardon the tortured metaphor) of Clark Kent as a character is his strong moral center. Comic books are lousy with characters possessing superpowers, but only a precious few represent truth and goodness like the man from Krypton. That’s why the Superman stories that really stick with us are the ones that find ways to challenge his moral certitude — and by challenging it, ultimately end up amplifying it even more. At multiple points, James Robinson and Doug Mahnke’s Superman 40 is on the precipice of testing the Man of Steel’s philosophical strength in interesting ways, but never shows any interest in doing so.

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Form Trumps Myth in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 37

By Patrick Ehlers

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

My Green Lantern fandom often feels like a relic from a time before I truly understood what I loved about comics. I love the limits of the medium — the way an artist has to imply light and sound and movement and time all on a still page which literally possesses none of these qualities. So much of a comic story, for me, is in how it is told, rather than what it’s telling. But Green Lantern is a myth-making franchise, and the moment-to-moment storytelling can often be measured by the twists and connections it makes to its own winding history. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 37 eschews that entirely, pulling one of Superman’s Big Bads into the ring for some refreshingly innovative visual storytelling. Continue reading

Booster Gold Steals the Spotlight in Action Comics 993

By Michael DeLaney

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


The “Superman time travels back to pre-blown up Krypton” story is so frequent of a tale that DC should make a hardcover collection of them all. A bit more than a trip to way back when, Action Comics 993 touches on the elusive mysteries of Mr. Oz and Doctor Manhattan. Continue reading

Justice League of America 1

jla 1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League of America 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Michael: I’m having a difficult time managing my expectations with this new direction that DC is putting out. Curiously, I’m being overly optimistic that these new books will be excellent and do away with the New 52ishness of recent memory. Basically, I’m falling for DC’s sales pitch hook, line, and sinker. While Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America 1 has some trappings of the New 52, I think he’s trying to blaze his own trail with DC’s trademark team. Continue reading

Batman/Superman 3.1: Doomsday

doomsday 3.1Today, Spencer and (guest writer) Shane are discussing Batman/Superman 3.1: Doomsday, originally released September 25th, 2013. 

Spencer: Doomsday is a hard character to write. Of course he’s a legendary, unstoppable force, but he’s also a personality-less beast with little depth beyond an insatiable desire to destroy Superman. In short, he was a gimmick, but a wildly successful gimmick; considering all of that, I was quite curious going into this issue about what Greg Pak would do with the character. Much to my surprise, Pak decided to write a Doomsday story about how the monster’s legend affects various generations of his victims. It’s a novel approach, but I admit, some unclear or missing parts of the story make it a bit hard for me to figure out what exactly Pak is trying to say. Continue reading

Action Comics 23.2: Zod

Alternating Currents: Action Comics 23.2: Zod, Drew and Jennie

Today, Drew and guest writer Jennie Seidewand are discussing Action Comics 23.2: Zod, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

villain divDrewThe final shot of “Face Off,” Breaking Bad‘s season 4 finale, is absolutely devastating, revealing exactly what lengths Walt was willing to go to in order to survive. It’s a paradigm-shifting twist, one that challenges much of what we thought we knew about the character, and one that risks alienating the audience by keeping them in the dark. It’s an incredible feat that that reveal doesn’t fly Breaking Bad off of the rails — one that can largely be attributed to the fact that the series had long been about Walt’s lies and desperation, and about testing the audience’s sympathy for him. Writer Greg Pak employs a similar tactic in Action Comics 23.2: Zod, keeping the audience in the dark about Zod’s crimes until long after the fact. Unfortunately, without four seasons of incremental steps towards that crime, the reveal lacks any actual surprise. Continue reading

Superman 17

Alternating Currents: Superman 17, Drew and Mikyzptlk

Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Superman 17, originally released March 6th, 2013. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Drew: Last month, Patrick compared Superman 16 to a joke with an aborted punchline — the entire issue was spent building towards a payoff that simply evaporated when we finally arrived. Superman himself has a very similar experience in Superman 17, when he comes face to face with the Oracle, who shows Superman a confusing series of images, but disappears before giving any explanation. It’s a frustrating experience for Clark, one that very pointedly reflects my reactions to both this issue, and the H’el on Earth event as a whole. Continue reading

Supergirl 17

supergirl 17 Hel

Today, Patrick and guest writer Zach are discussing Supergirl 17, originally released February 20th, 2013. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Patrick: I likes me a good anti-hero. There’s nothing quite like cheering for a character’s success and failure at the same time. Let’s take Walter White as a perfect example of this in modern fiction. He is a terrible husband and father, and an even worse friend, who makes dangerous decisions in the name of greed, power and desperation. And yet, I cheer every single one of his personal victories, no matter how immoral they might be. So much of Breaking Bad is about that character finding a way to feel powerful in the face of illness and poverty, and about how that need to feel powerful never goes away. The ride is exhilarating because there’s nothing more satisfying than a character with agency. Say what you will about Walter White — he has goals and he takes the steps necessary to achieve those goals. Supergirl has no such agency. She spends the majority of issue 17, fighting Wonder Woman just because, and then stops fighting her for equally arbitrary reasons. Neither a hero, nor an anti-hero, Supergirl ends up the clueless victim of her own series. 

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Superman 16

superman 16 Hel

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Superman 16, originally released January 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Patrick: You know that knock-knock joke that goes “Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Banana?” Of course you do, we were all kids once. It’s a simple exercise in tension and release: when you hear “orange,” you get a visceral little rush knowing the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” is mere moments away. The Justice League’s assault on the Fortress of Solitude has been one long Banana Knock-Knock joke. But when we finally get the “orange,” the door we’re knocking on teleports somewhere else, making me wonder why the fuck we’ve been putting up with this jokester saying “banana” for so long.

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Supergirl 16

Alternating Currents: Supergirl 16, Drew and MogoToday, Drew and guest writer Mogo are discussing Supergirl 16, originally released January 23rd, 2013. This issue is part of the H’el on Earth crossover event. Click here for complete H’el on Earth coverage.

Drew: Supergirl really drew the short straw on this crossover event. She very quickly aligned herself with a villainous cipher whose motives and methods have yet to be fully explained, which makes her gullible at best, downright stupid at worst — traits we generally don’t associate with heroic figures. We could excuse some of this based on her desire to return to Krypton, but each moment she spends with H’el without asking for just a little more information strains credulity that much further. Supergirl 16 does well, then, to give Kara time away from H’el, reasserting that this character — and this series — might just have some agency after all. Continue reading