Action Comics 1000: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner, Michael DeLaney, Patrick Ehlers, and Spencer Irwin

Action Comics 1000

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

“From the City that Has Everything”

Drew: Superman changed the world. That’s obvious enough in-universe, but it’s just as true of our world. Action Comics 1 created (or at least codified) the superhero genre, a genre that came to define both the 20th and 21st centuries, and is still growing as Action Comics rings in its 1000th issue. It’s a singular achievement, but celebrating it as such might not be in the spirit of Superman, for whom humbleness is as much a part of his character as heroism. He’s not one to take compliments easily, let alone brag, so any efforts to do so on his behalf run the risk of feeling crass. Most of the stories in this issue opted to ignore lionizing Superman outright, aiming instead to illustrate what it is that makes him so laudable, but in the issue’s opening chapter, Dan Jurgens came up with a way to address the issue with Superman himself, providing a commentary on the whole exercise of a huge anniversary issue, and offering a justification that even Superman can get behind. Continue reading

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A Bad Dad Provides Clarity in Action Comics 995

by Spencer Irwin

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

The past few issues of Action Comics have featured Superman at his worst. His determination to go back in time to watch Krypton’s destruction (all in hopes of proving that Mr. Oz wasn’t actually Jor-El) has practically made him the bad guy of this story, as his stubborn refusal to heed Booster Gold’s warnings to stop meddling in time have endangered all of history. Even at his best moments in this story, though, he’s come across as a bit shortsighted and condescending. It takes a revelation about Booster’s father to help Superman gain some much-needed clarity. Continue reading

Time Travel Trouble in Action Comics 994

by Michael DeLaney

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

With Action Comics 993 I wondered: how many times has Superman traveled back in time to Krypton? Action Comics 994 has me wondering the follow-up questions: how many times has Superman had to watch his birth parents and their home die? 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

Batman 36: Discussion

By Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

Batman 36

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

Spencer: Is Bruce Wayne the mask, or is Batman? Which one is “real”? It’s a long-standing debate amongst the comic book community, and given the myriad of different interpretations of the character, probably one that will never have a definitive answer. My own feelings about this question have shifted and evolved over time, but if you asked me right this second, I’d say that both Bruce and Batman are masks of sorts — the millionaire playboy and the dark knight, respectively. We don’t see him too often, but there’s a real Bruce beneath both those facades, one with real human emotions that often get buried beneath the weight of his own mythology. The best parts of Tom King’s run on Batman have been the moments where he’s let that real Bruce shine through, and more than anything it’s been Catwoman who has allowed this Bruce to do just that. In Batman 36, King adds another tool to his storytelling arsenal that similarly cuts right to Batman’s hidden humanity: his best friend, Superman. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 1: 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: I wasn’t even five years old when the Cold War officially ended, so I can’t really comment on what it must have been like to live under its omnipresent dread. I have plenty of first-hand experience, though, living in 2017, a year where each and every moment has felt like it may be the world’s last, a year which has seen a constant struggle against tyrannic forces just to keep vital freedoms alive. If Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic Watchmen channeled the Cold War’s constant unease into its narrative, then Doomsday Clock does the same thing with the chaotic political battleground of 2017, creating a fraught, tense world that feels mere moments away from ending. 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

Deathstroke’s Murky Morality in Superman 32

by Spencer Irwin

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

Superman’s moral code is not complex, and that’s a great thing about him as far as I’m concerned. Superman does good simply because it’s the right thing to do, and he never kills — Man of Steel nonwithstanding, he always finds a way to win without sacrificing his morals, because that’s just who Superman is. Deathstroke’s morality is far more murky, and that leads to some interesting juxtaposition in Superman 32. Continue reading

Ace Reporter Lois Lane Returns in Superman 31

by Mark Mitchell

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

So much of Rebirth-ed Superman has been focused on Clark and Lois as parents. These familial dynamics are an interesting lens through which to view such storied characters, but doing so has largely left Lois cast in a passive role. The cover of Superman 31 promises fisticuffs between the Man of Steel and Deathstroke, but the issue is really all about Lois Lane, Ace Reporter, and how sweet it is to have this version of Lois back. Continue reading

The Details Drag Down a Strong Premise in Superman 30

by Spencer Irwin

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

There’s a particular brand of story that eschews hard logic or consistent rules for pure emotional storytelling: think Doctor Who at its best, where rules are often bent or changed to support the emotional thrust a given episode, or even the old Teen Titans animated series, where Trigon was defeated by the metaphor of Raven growing up, even if there was never explanation given as to how she gained so much raw power. This kind of storytelling can be tricky: if the emotions and metaphors work well enough readers will forgive (or perhaps not even notice) any gaps in logic, but there’s always the risk that they won’t. For my money, Superman 30 falls a little too close to the latter category; there’s a strong emotional core here, but also a lot of details that don’t fully add-up or make sense. Continue reading