This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Batman: White Knight, but I can now safely say that it is indeed worth the hype. White Knight is part Elseworlds, part political commentary, and part meta commentary on a particularly shameful retcon of recent DC continuity. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing All-Star Batman 7, originally released February 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: A sympathetic villain is one whose immoral actions are motivated by noble intentions. Rather than being an outright force of evil, the sympathetic villain tends to have an ultimate goal — the ends of which justify the means. As a mass audience we tend to like our villains to be at least somewhat sympathetic — allowing us to latch on to some human emotion and understand them. You know who also likes to sympathize with his villains? Batman. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Batman Annual 4 originally released September 30th, 2015.
Ryan: Batman has been happening for quite some time, both in the real world and in the oft rebooted DC Universe. Fans of the series remember his numerous encounters with his rogues gallery throughout the years, as villains escape time after time from the doldrums of Arkham Asylum to once again terrorize the city of Gotham. The formula for Batman may even be seen as a little tiresome: villain arrives, terrorizes Batman, Batman wins, villain returns again, eventually — maybe teaming with another foe, something messed up happens to Bruce Wayne’s personal life, his family rescues him, rinse, repeat. So what is it that draws us back into Batman narratives when the conceit can seem formulaic? Much of its appeal, I would argue, comes from the long-standing history which the reader shares with the character, one which can make jumping into a title so compounded with spin-offs and mini-series and event tie-ins intimidating for some. Batman Annual 4 offers an easy jumping-in point as Bruce Wayne undergoes yet another identity crisis, catching a casual or first-time reader up while showing the audience why a protagonist mired in the past can be so fascinating.
Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle 1, originally released April 8th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Mark: It’s been about four years since DC’s controversial reboot into the New 52, and now that it’s come to a nominal end, I think it’s fair to say it was a success. Yes, I miss old, family-man Superman (and man was it great to see him again last week) but going back is also an illustration as to why the New 52 was necessary. Having that 30 years of history (counting from Crisis on Infinite Earths) was both a blessing and a curse. These characters were fully formed over decades of discovery. They were adults with families and complicated relationships. They carried the weights of their decisions with them. The problem is that eventually the weight of all that continuity became overwhelming, the stories you’re able to tell are limited by the past. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and guest writer Greg Smith are discussing Detective Comics 23.3: Scarecrow, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Drew: Peter Tomasi is an ideal utility player — he’s able to synthesize and adapt the ideas other writers introduce in flagship titles into something that can stand up on its own. He regularly turns what could be an unwieldy Frankenstein monster into something beautiful, so long as he’s given the space to do so. It turns out that last caveat is rather important — without appropriate time to develop the ideas, he’s forced to strip them down to the connective tissue they are, yielding stories that feel rushed and obligatory. Unfortunately, Detective Comics 23.3: Scarecrow falls firmly into this latter category, squandering some etherial, appropriately Scarecrow-y Szymon Kudranski art on a strange housekeeping issue. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and guest writer Sarah are discussing Batman: The Dark Knight 23.2: Mr. Freeze, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Patrick: A buddy of mine just had his car stolen. He lives in Los Angeles, and it’s not like that kind of thing is common place, but… well, you expect to encounter a certain amount of shit living in a big city. Cost of doing business, I suppose. His folks don’t live in the area, so he reached out to his friends for help, advice and rides — they were happy to oblige him with all three. It became clear that my friend had found a “family,” which is a concept just abstract enough to really mean something. It didn’t much matter that not everyone could help him in tangible ways, love and emotional support were exactly what he needed in that moment, and this “family” was able to provide it. They were a comfort, a safety net and a reason to push past the tragedy and on to better things. Victor Fries longs for that connection so much it that drove him to project nonexistent feelings on to a perpetually frozen wife. Now that he’s discovered he has real family out there, it’s becoming increasingly clear: it wasn’t the “wife” part of the “frozen wife” of which he was so enamored. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Birds of Prey 20-21, originally released May 15th and June 19th, 2013.
Patrick: Fun fact: when Family Matters debuted in 1989, Jaleel White had not been cast on the show. Instead of being the adventures of Steve Urkel and the neighbors he loved to annoy, the show was a simple spin-off of Perfect Strangers – the story of a middle class working family in Chicago. But Steve Urkel made his appearance in the twelfth episode and was so well-received that it changed the DNA of the series forever. For better or for worse Steve Urkel had taken over Family Matters, and suddenly he was the only thing mattered. As Birds of Prey struggles to find it’s own audience and its own direction, it receives an Urkel of its own: The Court of Owls. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwoman 19, originally released April 17th, 2013.
Patrick: Early in this issue, DEO Agent Cameron Chase says to her sister: “I think I’m about to do something horrible.” This isn’t an admission of guilt, she isn’t asking for absolution, and she certainly doesn’t want to be talked out of doing this horrible something. But Chase isn’t the only person in this series that’s about to do something horrible. The whole cast of Batwoman imposes personal sacrifices on each other to the benefit of… well, of what exactly? Love? Honor? Duty? The very thing they’re sacrificing?
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Birds of Prey 18-19, originally released March 20th and April 17th, 2013.
Shelby: I have the most trouble writing beginnings and endings. Beginnings are hard because you have to draw the reader in, entice them enough to keep reading. Endings are hard because you have to conclude your message with enough finality that there’s a sense of closure without being too abrupt. My biggest complaint about Duane Swierczynski’s run on Birds of Prey was his endings; story arcs just sort of … stopped. There is little I find more frustrating than a well-written story that doesn’t deliver on the ending, that simply ends. Birds finds itself with a new beginning, though, as Christy Marx wraps up Sword of Sorcery and takes over writing duties here; her strong, female-centric take on Nilaa won me over from day one, and would seem to make her a perfect fit for this superheroine team title. Continue reading →
Today, Courtney and (guest writer) Nate are discussing Batwoman 18, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Courtney: It’s hard work to start a sequel off with a credible voice. The expression that most often comes to mind is “Space Mutants IV: the Trilogy Continues.” This is essentially the beginning of Batwoman’s second major story arc, and I am proud to report that J.H. Williams has risen admirably to the occasion. The grim mystery of Gotham’s missing children solved, this series hits the ground running with a new set of problems for our heroes, or at least a set of unsettling complications of all of their old problems. Continue reading →