Imposter Syndrome in The Dreaming 1

by Drew Baumgartner

The Dreaming 1

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

The Lord of the Dreaming has abandoned his post, leaving his realm in the hands of his followers and beneficiaries. That’s the premise of The Dreaming, but it’s also a reasonable explanation of “The Sandman Universe” group, where a handful of hand-picked creators have been given the keys to the settings and characters Neil Gaiman created back before Vertigo was even a glimmer in Karen Berger’s eye. I’m fascinated at Gaiman’s mentorship role here, and how Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely have addressed those real-world elements as meta-commentaries in the narrative, but I’ll limit the focus here to how they address the notion of reverence for what has come before. Continue reading

Sandman Universe 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Sandman Universe 1

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

Drew: Of the “graphic novel” canon — that is, comics that non-comics readers have (however begrudgingly) deemed worthy of their time and interest — Sandman is far and away the longest. Persepolis and Maus constitute two volumes apiece, and Watchmen just the one, but Sandman spills into ten (or more, depending on how you count decades-later follow-ups like this one). However we diagnose that oddity — either as an unusually long, but no less novelistic “literary comic,” or as a more humble ongoing that was elevated to the pantheon of comics grownups aren’t afraid to read — I think the explanation is the same: the flexibility of Dream and his kingdom. Everybody dreams, affording Dream excuses to interact with every corner of the world, from kittens to serial killers, from William Shakespeare to the demons of Hell. And because of Dream’s role as a storyteller of sorts, the only guarantee in any issue was that it would contain a story (often wrapped up in a love letter to stories and storytelling). That is very much true of Sandman Universe 1, which spins its story off into four supporting series, but not before pausing to simply luxuriate in their worlds. Continue reading

The Weight of Influence in Batman 38

By Patrick Ehlers

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

About halfway through Batman 38, Batman discovers a clue that leads him to Dennis O’Neil Avenue. Longtime Batman fans are going to recognize that name, but even relative neophytes are gong to pause at the specificity of that name. Outside of some of the biggest names of the last century — Martin Luther King Jr or John F Kennedy — you’re going to be hard pressed to find a figure who’s full name is up on a street sign. Hell, Chicagoans love Casimir Pulaski, but the north-south thoroughfare that bares his name is simply called “Pulaski Road.” (Though, hilariously, there’s also a brown placard below the street sign designating it “Honorary Casimir Pulaski Road.” It’s a weird town.) But writer Tom King’s use of O’Neil’s full name makes the creators influence on this issue explicit, just as the story itself leans in to one of O’Neil’s pet themes: the psychology of Batman. Continue reading

The Goddamned 1

goddamned 1

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing The Goddamned 1 originally released November 11th, 2015.

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. There I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

Matthew 13: 10-13

Patrick: God makes Adam and Eve. They defy God’s will and are cast out of the Garden of Eden. They have two sons: Cain and Abel. The sons don’t get along, so Cain kills his brother. God is furious with Cain, marks him as a cursed man and sends him out to the land of Nod away from his family. My summary of the Cain and Abel story right there is about as long as the actual text from Genesis. That book is nuts – it can spend paragraph rattling on about lines of succession, but burn through two deep betrayals and the first murder ever in a scant few sentences. If there’s any meaning to be found in that story, it must be extrapolated out by the reader – that’s why people go to church every Sunday: so someone can try to explain the “meaning” of the stories to them. But even those explanations are hard to understand. Take Jesus’ answer to “why do You speak to them in parables?” above. The point of the stories isn’t to understand them necessarily, but to experience them. Jason Aaron and r.m. Guéra’s harrowing first issue of The Goddamned sets out very specifically to be experienced rather than understood.

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