Justice and Symbolism in Justice League 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Justice League 1

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

There was no word for justice on my planet. The closest was the symbol on this table. It meant going beyond what was supposed to be possible, the natural laws. Imposing on the universe a higher standard. An ideal.

Martian Manhunter, Justice League 1

Our conceptions of justice hinge on fairness and impartiality — the notion that we are all held to the same standards of behavior (and face the same punishment for flaunting those standards). We understand how that can break down in practice (humans aren’t great at partiality), but we can imagine justice as a kind of platonic ideal we can strive towards. And that may be the best way to think about it, but closer inspection reminds us that, if it’s a platonic ideal, it’s one that varies from society to society and changes over time. We might reflect on the “justice” of the past (or of other cultures) and find it to be decidedly unjust, but that’s not how justice works — it’s not an objective monolith, but a deeply subjective, dynamic concept. That is, justice is a moral construct that only makes sense in light of the values of the society that construct it. Martian Manhunter’s approximation of justice reflects that idea, adding no moral spin to the “ideal” he mentions — in J’onn’s estimation, any ideologically motivated action “beyond what was supposed to be possible” is justice. In short, J’onn’s brief for the Justice League works just as well for the Legion of Doom. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 5 Meanders

By Drew Baumgartner

Doomsday Clock 5

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

The essence of drama, and especially melodrama, is compression. Show only what’s important. So start the scene as late as possible and once the dramatic point is made, end it.

Dennis O’Neil, The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics

Pound for pound, this might be some of the best writing advice I know. But in this age of sequels, prequels, spin-offs and tie-ins, it seems like it’s all but been forgotten. That is, the artistic discipline of narrative efficiency is no match for the commercial demands of more familiar content. I don’t mean to dismiss all sequels etc. out of hand (The Godfather: Part II is a goddamned masterpiece, and is both a sequel and a prequel), but I do think they need to work a bit harder to justify their existence — if the details of this prequel story truly are essential, why weren’t they included in the original. And that scrutiny goes double when augmenting a beloved masterpiece. It’s absolutely possible for a sequel to justify itself, even under those circumstances (again, The Godfather: Part II), but it’s no easy feat. Unfortunately, the longer Doomsday Clock wears on, the less it seems up to that task, not only failing to justify its existence, but pretty much every storytelling choice it makes. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 3: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney 

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

Spencer: What’s the most controversial element of the original Watchmen? For my money, it’s the pirate comics. I understand and appreciate the in-universe reasons for choosing pirates, and I understand their function in reflecting the themes of the story in a sort of parallel narrative, but I’ll admit that, while many readers consider them sacred, I’ve skipped them in all my subsequent Watchmen rereads. To me, those segments have always felt tantamount to the supplemental material in the back of each issue, something extra and non-essential, important more as an intellectual exercise than as an interesting narrative, or an interesting part of the overall Watchmen narrative, in their own right. Issue three of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock introduces this semi-sequel’s own version of the pirate comics: the noir movie. I have similar issues with these segments as well. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 2: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Drew Baumgartner 

Doomsday Clock 2

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

Michael: It seems that the divisive issue this holiday season was not about the fictitious “War on Christmas” but instead about your opinion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m fascinated by the varying differences of opinions on this film. One of the most popular criticisms amongst detractors is that it didn’t meet their expectations. Some Star Wars fans might have given The Last Jedi a small margin of potential victory where the film was both different and spiritually the same to the original films. I’m reminded of this intense desire for both nostalgia and innovation in Doomsday Clock 2. Continue reading

The Power of Faith and Trust in Superman 36

by Spencer Irwin

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

Fans and creators alike often complain that it’s hard to find a proper challenge for Superman when the character is so unfathomably powerful. But as far as I’m concerned, the best Superman stories aren’t the ones that challenge him physically, but the ones that test his morals and ideals, his methods and resolve. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s run on Superman has excelled in this respect, and issue 36 continues this streak, further defining Superman’s greatest strengths by showing what happens when he doesn’t live up to his own lofty standards. Continue reading

An Apokoliptian Mess in Superman 35

by Michael DeLaney

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

Superman 35 is the third chapter of the “Imperius Lex” arc, where Lex Luthor is trying to rescind his status as Lord of Apokolips. The Kent family has been separated across Apokolips, each dealing with the best of what Darkseid’s planet has to offer. It’s hard not to think of the last time Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason sent us to Apokolips in the pages of Batman and Robin. Unfortunately, this is light years away from that bombastic Bat-tale. Continue reading

“People” are the Detail that Matters Most in Green Arrow 28

by Spencer Irwin

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

At one point in Green Arrow 28 Lex Luthor compares himself to Sherlock Holmes, priding himself in his ability to be 12 steps ahead of everyone else, and proving it by (rather accurately) analyzing Arrow’s current situation based off of a few small clues in a most Cumberbatchian fashion. Yet for all his genius and detective prowess, there’s one small detail Luthor is rather blind to: people, especially the people who have helped make his company great. Continue reading

Super Sons 1

super-sons-1

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Super Sons 1, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: “What a delight!” I found myself saying after reading Pete Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez’s Super Sons 1. Super Sons has arguably been one of the most anticipated Rebirth books ever since Jim Lee threw in Damian Wayne and Jon Kent on that teaser poster that your comic book shop gave you back in June. Tomasi and Superman co-writer Patrick Gleason gave us a taste of what to expect from this series a few months ago, and Super Sons 1 carries on that joyful vibe without stumbling.

Continue reading

Superwoman 2

Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Superwoman 2, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M.: If I read a novel in one sitting, I retain next to nothing. The plots, characters, and relationships all start to run together in my mind. I read an entire new adult series about college football players and the girls who love them in the past week and I couldn’t tell you any of the character’s names. I think one was Dallas? Too much story in a finite space leads to nothing making much of an impact. That’s how I feel about Superwoman 2, an issue with so much happening, that nothing has very much meaning. Continue reading

Action Comics 958

Alternating Currents: Action Comics 958, Drew and Mark

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Action Comics 958, originally released June 22nd, 2016.

Drew: What kind of themes do you expect of a Superman story? Morality? Alienation? Hope? Love? Over his 75+ year history, Superman has come to represent many ideas beyond that handful of suggestions, but those might serve as a reasonable starting point for the character, describing at least the ballpark he tends to play in. With Action Comics 958 — an issue by its very numbering necessarily recalls a good chunk of Superman stories — Dan Jurgens and Patrick Zircher make a compelling case for voyeurism as a key element of the Superman mythos. Continue reading