Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Batgirl 40, originally released March 18th, 2015.
Mark: One of the seminal Batman stories, Alan Moore’s Batman:The Killing Joke, was released in March 1988, almost exactly 27 years ago. In that story, Barbara Gordon is shot by the Joker, paralyzing her and confining her to a wheelchair. The controversy spun out from Moore’s decision to use Barbara as a plot device has been defining her, for better and for worse, for almost three decades now.
I have sympathy for comic book writers. It has to be hard to balance respect for canon with the need to constantly create new stories. Too much disregard for history and you’ll alienate your audience, too much reverence and you risk stifling creativity. DC tried pretty valiantly with The New 52to split the difference between honoring the old and building towards the new, but their solutions were usually messy at best. When it comes to reinventing a well-regarded character, there’s no way to please everyone. But with Batgirl 40, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart come pretty close. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 39, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Michael: In most pieces of pop culture, the protagonist is the point of entry for the audience into the fictional world that we are experiencing. You’ll often see events or circumstances that the protagonist themselves isn’t immediately aware of, but for the most part you are riding shotgun with the main character. In comic books, that means you follow the story with the benefit of the main character’s narration/inner monologue. The tricky thing is that your hero may not always be a reliable narrator. Even if they aren’t intentionally misleading you, they are probably not giving you the full story. Such is the case of a one Barbara Gordon, the titular Batgirl. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 38, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Michael: Sometimes you just get sick of being yourself. What I mean by that is we all have a point where we say “Why me?” “Why do I have to suffer?” “Can’t things just be easy for once?” If life is a story, then we might not always like the role that we’re cast in. Being a “supporting character” gets old; everyone wants to be the star eventually. Batgirl 38 finds the creative team and Barbara herself asking these types of questions of identity. Can’t a Batgirl just fight crime and enjoy herself in the process? Not quite, it would seem. Continue reading →
From lines at conventions to the internet petitions every time an assignment changes, its clear comic fans put a lot of stock in who writes and draws their comics, often to the exclusion of the rest of the creative team. While colorists have slowly been gaining more recognition, they are still largely the unsung heroes of the comics world, adding depth and meaning to the storytelling in ways so subtle as to be almost invisible. As we started preparing our year-end lists, we realized that we, too, had been overlooking the contributions of these indispensable artists, and decided it was high time to offer the best the praise they so rightly deserve. These are our top 14 colorists of 2014. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 37, originally released December 10th, 2014. Drew: I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that Barbara Gordon has one of the least memorable origin stories in the Bat-mythos. In fact, without the inciting incident of murdered/criminal parents, or simply figuring out Batman’s identity, it’s arguable that she doesn’t have an origin “story” — she just kind of became Batgirl in the same way someone becomes an adult. That means she doesn’t have the same motivations built into her character that Bruce, Dick, Jason, Tim, Cassandra, Steph, and Damian all have. That’s not to say she’s a lesser character — indeed, she’s been the center of several great stories — just that her “mission” isn’t as strongly defined or as personally motivated as those of her peers. With Batgirl 37, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart turn that lack of definition into a huge asset, making Babs an infinitely more believable 20-something. Continue reading →
Today, Shane and Drew are discussing Batgirl 36, originally released November 12th, 2014.
Shane: When you’re working with some of fiction’s most iconic characters, there’s a lot of baggage to handle. Even DC’s New 52 initiative, designed to jettison most of that excess material, is several years old at this point: there’s history, and relationships, and these characters have already gone through a number of personal journeys. Continuity can be messy, so a fresh start can be appealing, but how does one attempt that without alienating the previous audience? And even if you manage to successfully jumpstart an ailing franchise with new energy, launching a first issue that exceeds expectations and captures interest, is it always so simple to maintain that momentum?Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 28, originally released June 11th, 2014.
Taylor: Madness fills an interesting role in our imagination. Just enough madness and you’re considered a genius. A little too much madness and you’re considered a nut. We tend to think of someone as being “mad” if they have any of a number of mental defects but retain enough of their personality to still be somewhat coherent. Perhaps the most well known madman of all time is Ahab. His singular quest to destroy the white whale consumed his entire life, even if he did retain the vestiges of a sane man. And that’s perhaps what makes him such a disturbing character. Despite (or perhaps because of ) his madness, he is charismatic. We forget that he’s insane sometimes and actually feel that his quest against Moby Dick is justified. Xavier is similarly hell-bent on killing the X-Men of the past, and similarly might have good reasons for wanting to do so. All-New X-Men 28 has me wondering if this quest is the errand of a madman or the product of love gone awry.
Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing All-New X-Men 26, originally released April 20th, 2014.
Patrick: Superheroes are tools. No, not the “Superman is such a tool” kind of way, but in that they are all able to act as narrative and emotional shortcuts. Between shapeshifters and psychics, healers and teleporters, extra-dimensional sorcerers and reality-manipulators, there’s really nothing that the X-Men aren’t capable of. The brevity with which they can be used to evoke emotions might be even more impressive — just think of the ennui immediately invoked by the appearance of Jean Grey, or the uneasy sense of righteous revolution that accompanies Magneto. Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men seems designed to celebrate this tool box: bring the original quintet of X-Men to the present day brings all of those emotional shortcuts to the fore. Issue 26 might be the first time Bendis actually uses those tools, instead of laying them out neatly for us to all to quietly admire before putting them back in their protective cases. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 25, originally released April 9th, 2014.
Taylor: They, the ever shifting and nebulous authority that knows more than us, is always saying that hindsight is 20/20. Once events have played out, we know exactly what we should have done in a given situation to obtain our desired results. It’s a damned feeling; there’s nothing you can do about it but you kick yourself for not doing the right thing. This feeling is often so frustrating that it can keep us up at night, pondering the grand “what if?” While that can be crushing, just imagine what the feeling would be like if perhaps you could change the past, if only you thought about it hard enough. Hank McCoy (the one in his proper time) knows this feeling and All-New X-Men 25 shows us just how deep and dark that hole can be.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Young Avengers 15, originally released January 8th, 2014.
Shelby: New Year’s Eve is a night of…well, generally heavy drinking, but it’s also a night of contemplation and renewal. The last year, with it’s good and bad, is over; whether you liked it or not, it’s over, and it’s time to prepare for a fresh start in the new year. I definitely understood that this year, since I moved to a new apartment December 29th. It was a short move, just a block away, but having lived in my last place for 3 years made it a really big change. There’s the “out with the old” as you throw out a bunch of crap you can’t believe you kept for so long, and the “in with the new” as you figure out a new way to arrange your home. Like New Year’s Eve, it’s a bittersweet thing, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (with a little help from their friends) capture it perfectly at the end of their run on Young Avengers. Nothing but spoilers and revelations ahead, folks. Continue reading →