Batman 32: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Batman 32

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

I don’t know.

Teenager, Traditional

Drew: I used to work as an Assistant Dean for an academic enrichment program — basically, high-school students would come to a college campus for a few weeks over the summer to take some classes and get a feel for dorm living. The Dean’s office was there to keep kids out of trouble, or, more accurately, to address the trouble that the kids inevitably got into. Most of the time, the motives for their infractions were clear enough — they skipped class because it was boring or they tried to sneak into the girl’s dorm to see their girlfriend — but every so often, a kid would do something so inexplicable, the first question had to be “why?” And the answer, invariably, was “I don’t know.” Sometimes, our better judgement eludes us, allowing weird impulses or emotions to lead us to actions we can neither explain nor defend. It’s a phenomenon that teens are particularly prone to, with their hormonally-charged emotions and only-partially-developed impulse control, but it happens to adults, too (even sober ones). It is one of these moments that turns out to be Bruce Wayne’s “greatest sin,” as the climax of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” leads him to a rare flash of moral weakness. Continue reading

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A Revealing Interruption in Batman 31

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s that part in The Princess Bride where the narrator announces the King died in the night and Buttercup was married to Prince Humperdink the next day. It’s a jarring bit of information, totally incongruous with the story we’ve come to expect, but the more impressive feat of storytelling is Fred Savage’s interruption a few seconds later. Savage’s character cuts in on Humperdink’s “My father’s final words were…” with an impetuous “hold it, hold it!” The effect his immediate: the audience is reminded why we’re watching this story in the first place. “Trust me,” the film implies “even if you’re momentarily upset, you’re going to have fun in the end.” Tom King and Mikel Janín’s Batman 31 pulls off a similar interruption, emphasizing the riddle (or is it the joke?) at the heart of this story arc: why is Bruce telling Selina about the War of Jokes and Riddles? Continue reading

Choosing a Side in Batman 29

by Spencer Irwin

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

Marvel’s various takes on their Civil War franchise have all urged readers to “choose a side.” That’s not an approach Tom King and Mikel Janin can really take with “The War of Jokes and Riddles” though, because who wants to support either side of a war waged by sadistic supervillains? Yet, that’s exactly where Batman finds himself in Batman 29 — forced to pick between supporting either the Joker or the Riddler if he wants to end this war once and for all. Continue reading

Batman’s Biggest Weakness is Gotham City in Batman 28

by Michael DeLaney

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

What is Batman’s weakness? Some might say his mortality, some might say his relationships, while others might argue that Batman has no weaknesses. Batman 28 argues that Batman’s largest, most vulnerable spot might be Gotham City itself. Continue reading

Batman 26: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Batman 26

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

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.

Joseph Stalin

Drew: Joseph Stalin likely never uttered this phrase, but while its provenance may be dubious, it’s hard to argue with its sentiment. We’ve all experienced this personally; individual deaths carry with them the nuance and beauty of the decedent’s death in a way that dozens of deaths simply can’t. Each of those deaths are felt singularly by the loved ones they affect, to be sure, but the rest of us can’t really fit the sum of those tragedies into our brain. They become, for lack of a better term, a statistic. This is why war stories are so rare in superhero comics — the higher death count doesn’t necessarily equal higher emotional stakes, so killing swaths of civilians runs the risk of making any one of those deaths lose whatever oomph it might have on its own. Writer Tom King seems keenly aware of how easy it would be for the victims of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” to become statistics, taking pains to emphasize just how deeply Batman feels each of those deaths. Continue reading

“The War of Jokes and Riddles” Gives Batman Another Opportunity to Feel Guilty in Batman 25

by Spencer Irwin

Batman 25

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

It takes quite a bit of hubris to think you can singlehandedly end crime, even in just one city. I’ve never been a fan of the interpretations that paint Batman as insane or as the genesis of his own enemies, but I do think there’s some merit to examining the negative effects his crusade on crime may create. That’s exactly what Tom King and Mikel Janin seem ready to do in “The War of Jokes and Riddles,” a storyline pitting the Joker and the Riddler against each other in a city-wide gang war that, of course, Batman blames himself for. Continue reading

Batman 12

batman-12

Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Batman 12, originally released December 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: The murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne: imagery that has probably become as iconic as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We’ve seen these two lovely rich folk get shot up so many times in various Batman stories that they have negative lives racked up. How many times can we go back to that well and find something of value? Batman 12 doesn’t replay those deaths yet again but it does try to draw new perspective from them — but does it work? Continue reading

Batman 10

batman-10

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Batman 10, originally released November 2nd, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Most writers have certain tics and styles that come to define their work: Brian Michael Bendis, for example, is famous (infamous?) for his unique style of dialogue and pacing. Tom King has made quite a name for himself over the past two years with his critically acclaimed titles (such as Omega Men, The Vision, and Sheriff of Babylon), all of which, as different as they are, share many of the same themes, tones, and idiosyncrasies. King’s run on Batman was never meant to be part of that “Trilogy of Best Intentions,” but it’s still strange to me that Batman 10 is his first issue that really feels like a Tom King comic. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing — turns out that King’s techniques without his usual depth of story can sometimes end up feeling more like a parody of a Tom King comic. Continue reading

Batman: Rebirth 1

batman rebirth 1

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman: Rebirth 1, originally released June 1st, 2016.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Sigmund Freud

Drew: There’s plenty of reasons to believe Freud never said such a thing, but whatever its origin, this quote always helps me keep perspective when attempting to parse the symbolism in a work of art. The last thing I want is to sound like Fred Armesin’s exaggerated (and nonsensical) lyrical analyses, so it always makes me nervous when I find my attention drawn to symbols within a comic. Even with that reticence, though, I couldn’t ignore the deeply symbolic nature of Scott Snyder and Tom King’s Batman: Rebirth, even if I’m not quite sure what all of the symbols mean. Continue reading

Grayson 18

grayson 18

Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Grayson 18, originally released March 23th, 2016.

Mark: I came into Grayson 18 unaware of the creative change-up behind the scenes, but it’s immediately apparent that this is a different team than the one that has guided Grayson through the past year and a half. Yes, Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin have departed in preparation for Rebirth, leaving new writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly to wrap up the last three issues with the help of artists Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges. And while Grayson 18 definitely reads like a lesser issue, Lanzing and Kelly do well enough in beginning to bring Grayson‘s many disparate threads together.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Antonio and Borges. Continue reading