Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman 50, originally released March 23rd, 2016.
Drew: The owner of my old LCS, Paul, was not a Batman fan. In his mind, a billionaire using his resources to “punch bad guys” was so misguided as to be immoral. Couldn’t Bruce Wayne do more good resolving the root causes of crime by building mixed-income housing or running programs for at-risk youth? Admittedly, Batman’s “punch bad guys” solution to crime lacks nuance, and seems increasingly outmoded the more we understand what causes crime in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s kind of key to Batman’s appeal — he can be a philanthropist on the side, sure, but nobody wants to read a comic where a guy dressed like a bat subsidizes grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods. To writer Scott Snyder’s credit, he started his run on Batman by having Bruce turn his attention to exactly that type of socioeconomic solution, a goal that forces within Gotham actively worked against. It was a smart move, but the fact that the Court of Owls would allow Bruce to be Batman, but drew the line at him rearranging the economic structure of Gotham speaks to just how ineffectual Batman is at affecting systemic change. With Batman 50, Snyder offers a more compelling justification for Batman — one that just might be the definitive answer to Paul’s criticisms. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Nameless 5, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…
Seth Brundle, The Fly
Drew: When I was first searching for that quote, I was convinced it was actually from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Or, at least, I thought there was a line in Metamorphosis questioning whether Gregor Samsa was a man who dreamt he was an insect, or an insect who dreamt he was a man. I suppose it’s fitting that, while trying to find a quote about the elusive line between fantasy and reality, I ended up looking for a quote that didn’t actually exist. Of course, because Metamorphosis is a real text that exists outside of my head, I can verify what quotes it does or does not contain — it’s a reasonably straightforward binary, translation errors notwithstanding. The events of Nameless, on the other hand, are fictional, so there is no “real.” How, then, do we distinguish its dream sequences from the rest? The answer might just be that we can’t, which could be what this series is all about. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Nameless 4, originally released June 10th, 2015.
So kiss me baby, like a drug, like a respirator
And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut.
Where I get lost in space that goes on forever
And you can make the rest just an afterthought.
I believe it’s you who can make it better.
Though it’s not. No, it’s not. No, it’s not.
Aimee Mann, It’s Not
Patrick: Aimee Mann’s album Lost In Space, is one of my favorite records of all time. It’s got all of the hallmarks Mann’s genius — smart, sensitive lyrics, beautiful melodies, a sophisticated chord palette — but where the album separates itself is in its subtly self-referential nature. The title of the record appears both here (on the last track) and on the album’s title track. Calling the same imagery, of being “lost in space” back at the end of the record, makes the singer sound like she’s so mired in her own frame of reference as to make her actual experience secondary to her ability to express it. Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s fourth issue of Nameless is similarly focused on expressing a character’s ability to express what he’s experienced through his specific cultural and personal lens. And curiously, he make reference to the astronaut’s dream. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Nameless 3, originally released April 8th, 2015.
It’s like the goddamn “Exorcist” meets “Apollo 13”!
Grant Morrison, Nameless
Drew: One day, I’d like to write an essay defending allusions as the defining artistic device of our time. That’s not to say allusions haven’t been used well throughout history, or that allusions are ubiquitous in all contemporary art, but it’s hard to deny the prevalence of allusions in modern pop-culture, from sampling in hip-hop to the naked homages of Quentin Tarantino. It makes sense; allusions are the natural, artistic extension of the hyperlinks we’ve come to expect throughout our daily reading. In that way, remixes and pastiches are the distillation of our time, simulating the experience of living in an overstimulating world, combining countless inputs into one meta-narrative we might call our lives. Nobody does this kind of remix better than Grant Morrison, whose career is as much defined by his ability to reconcile unwieldy continuity as it is by his affinity for impenetrable density. Nameless 3 showcases both of those sides, meditating on a whole host of sci-fi inspirations before spinning into a wickedly self-aware web of confusion. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Nameless 2, originally released March 4th, 2015.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL 9000: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that
2001: A Space Odyssey
Drew: Arthur Miller called betrayal “the only truth that sticks,” and it’s hard to deny the visceral power of a betrayal. Betrayals are at the center of every great tragedy, from Euripides to Shakespeare, and are still very much a driver of drama today. In it’s simplest form, a betrayal is simply someone acting differently than we expect, but “acting differently” can have dire consequences in a life-or-death situation. That’s what makes HAL 9000’s turn in 2001 so compelling — a computer with a sense of self-preservation is shocking enough, but because the story is set in outer space, there’s a lot more at stake than when your laptop decides to auto-update. Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless 2 clearly draws a lot of inspiration from that betrayal, as the crew remains unaware of a mutiny brewing back at the base. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Nameless 1, originally released February 4th, 2015.
Michael:Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, Wife Swap: popular pieces of film, literature and even reality TV. Besides being engaging pieces of fiction (reality TV burn!) they all have an essential plot element that draws us in as an audience: they are all “fish-out-of-water” stories. Marty McFly isn’t familiar with the culture of the ’50s, Dorothy doesn’t understand the strange land of Oz, and one wife doesn’t know how to live in a drastically different home. Since Nameless is a Grant Morrison story, it is over-the-top bonkers and full of heady ideas. At its core though, it is also a story about a fish out of water. Continue reading →
Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 14 issues of 2014. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures 1, originally released December 17th, 2014. Mark: The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures 1 is a story out of time. On Earth-5, Billy Batson and friends exist in a pre-New 52 (and pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths?) continuity. Shazam is the name of a wizard, not the name of our superhero. The Rock of Eternity is attacked and the wizard Shazam taken prisoner by the evil Dr. Sivana. Working in tandem with the Sivanas across the multiverse, Dr. Sivana has mined enough Suspendium to build his own Rock of Eternity and create his own day on the cosmic calendar: Sivanaday, a day where everything goes his way. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Ryan are discussing The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1, originally released November 19th, 2014.
Mark: Alan Moore’s Watchmen is regularly heralded as the finest work ever produced in the medium of comics, but it wasn’t born in a vacuum. Moore’s original pitch was to use heroes from DC Comics’ then recent acquisition of certain Charlton Comics characters like Peacemaker, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question. In the end DC had other plans for their new IP, but Moore used those heroes as the frameworks for his invented characters. Now, almost 20 years later, the all-star team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely flip Moore’s original vision on its head in The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1. On Earth-4, Peacemaker is our The Comedian, The Question takes on characteristics of Rorschach, Captain Atom those of Doctor Manhattan, and Blue Beetle reflects Nite Owl. If Watchmen is a snake eating it’s own tail, Pax Americana is the tail biting back just a bit. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby, Drew, Spencer, Mikyzptlk, and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated Special 1, originally released August 28th, 2013.
Grant Morrison’s Batman, Incorporated epic recently concluded with the “death” of Talia, the “end” of Leviathan, and dozens of Damian clones in jars. While we lost a few characters, some we loved more than others, Morrison’s run spawned a multi-cultured cast of goofy Batman and Robin agents, working ’round the world to do good. Forced to shut the program down, Batman is giving Batman Incorporated casefiles one last looksie before “closing” everything down. Continue reading →