Bruce Wayne Confronts His Assumptions (and Our Own) in Batman 52

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 52

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

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We’ve written a lot over the years about how the disparate tones of various incarnations of Batman have created a kind of range that the character operates in. Maybe he’s light and campy, maybe he’s dark and serious. Maybe he’s a high-tech wizard, maybe he’s a low-tech sleuth. Maybe he’s a bitter loner, maybe he’s cultivating an ever-growing family of friends and allies. That range applies just as much to the look of Batman, as different character designs emphasize different aspects of his character. Is his costume scary, or silly? Is humanity obscured by his costume, or made more obvious by it? In practice, the platonic image of Batman we keep in our minds might be just as diffuse as his mood — a kind of pastiche of the designs from, say, our favorite comics runs, Batman: The Animated Series, and maybe even a few movies. High in the mix for most modern comics fans, though, must be David Mazzucchelli’s distinctively line-smart Batman: Year One, which distilled Batman down to as few brush strokes and dabs of color as possible, creating a kind of shorthand iconography for the character that perfectly suited the early-days nature of that story. It’s a style that Lee Weeks and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser evoke in Batman 52, though rather than celebrating that iconography, they’re interrogating it. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 6 Circles Marionette’s Past as it Circles the Drain

By Patrick Ehlers

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

If I asked you to picture the single imagine that evokes Watchmen, what would you picture? Likely, you’re imagining the Comedian’s smiley face button, but I could also see an argument for Doctor Manhattan’s circular forehead logo. Both symbols are circles. I know that’s not exactly mind-blowing, but this is the level of visual rhetoric writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank are playing with in Doomsday Clock 6.

The series continues to slump along in much the same way it did last time we talked about it. This time, Marionette and Mime are the focus of the story, which really doesn’t do Johns or Frank any favors. Stripped of all but the most tangential references to the Watchmen universe, the creators are left with the tone and tools of the piece to tell a story that spans two tonally discrete universes. If that sounds like an inadequate set of tools to complete an impossible task, that’s because it is. Continue reading

The Hard Truth of Batman: White Knight 8

by Michael DeLaney

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

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Sean Murphy debuted Batman: White Knight with a simple twist: what if The Joker went good and made Batman the villain? Throughout the subsequent seven issues, Murphy added unique layers to both The Joker, Harley Quinn and Gotham City as a whole. Batman: White Knight 8 closes out the series by bringing the attention back to The Caped Crusader himself. Continue reading

Jack and Batman Come Clean in Batman: White Knight 7

By Michael DeLaney

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

As Batman: White Knight races towards its finale, Batman and Jack Napier come face to face with their own egos and shortcomings. After spending the majority of the series as an aggressive bully, Sean Murphy finally gives Batman the opportunity to be heroic again in Batman: White Knight 7. Continue reading

Politics and Puddin’ in Batman: White Knight 2

by Michael DeLaney 

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

All-Star Batman 7

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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

Batman Annual 4

batman annual 4Today, 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.

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Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle 1

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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.

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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

Detective Comics 23.3: Scarecrow

Alternating Currents: Detective Comics 23.3: Scarecrow, Drew and Greg

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.

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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

Batman: The Dark Knight 23.2: Mr. Freeze

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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.

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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.
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