Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Flash 36, originally released November 26th, 2014.
Drew: There’s a lot of weirdness we accept in our comics — radioactive spider-bites, a dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys, even dudes who dress up like birds to support the dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys — but we tend to think of the morality as fairly straightforward. Oftentimes it is — Superman fights for good, Dr. Doom fights for bad — but the weirdness can also raise some bizarre moral questions. Is time-travel inherently immoral? Exactly how icky is the prospect of a body-snatched romantic relationship? Somehow, writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen manage to find the overlap between these inherently comic-booky ideas in The Flash 36. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Flash 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Spencer: Speedsters aren’t generally known for their patience. Before the reboot, one of Wally West’s best known qualities was his impatience, and Impulse was the ADHD poster-child; over at Marvel, Quicksilver’s attitude problem canonically comes from the frustration he deals with daily when he’s forced to interact with people who move so much slower than him. My point is, Barry Allen’s methodical, patient lifestyle is the complete antithesis to most speedsters — to use a comparison this issue makes itself, Wally is a basketball fan while Barry’s a baseball fan. The more I read this issue, the more I realize that Barry is the kind of guy who genuinely enjoys slowing down because it means he gets to spend time with the people he loves. It’s what grants him more patience than other speedsters, but it’s also aggravating his greatest flaw; Barry cares so much that he’s trying to be everywhere at once, help everybody at once. It’s an impossible task even for the fastest man alive, and in the process Barry may just be driving away the people who make it worthwhile to slow down in the first place.
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Flash 31, originally released May 28th, 2014.
Patrick: Because I spend a fair amount of my time writing about superhero comics, I end up having a lot of conversations about reboots and continuity and “fixing” timelines. You’ll notice that we tend not to dwell on those sorts of things in the actual content of these pieces — we always try to focus on the 20 pages in front of us, and not the uncountable pages that came before — but I’m of the opinion that retcons don’t actually work. If DC were to wipe out the New 52 with the Anti-Monitor next week and launch the old DCU the week following, writers, artists, press and fans would all have the last 3 years of storytelling informing their views on the characters. It’s just like how Aquaman may not have a mini-trident for a hand right now, but that will always be part of who the character “is,” even if it’s not part of who the character “is right now.” But we’re all fascinated with those universe changing mechanics, which is how The Flash 31 upstages itself with a history-altering Future Flash, when the more important character work is happening right now. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash Annual 3, originally released April 30th, 2014.
…at the end of the day, the Flash is still the same tone as it was before. It’s still the same character, but kind of just reinvisioned.
Drew: The above quote isn’t about Robert Venditti and Van Jensen’s new run on The Flash — Manapul was actually speaking about the start of his own run back when I interviewed him in 2012 — but it might as well be. That a statement can be used to describe a new take on the character as well as the newer take that succeeds is is a universal truism in comics, but it also speaks to an innate truth about the Flash: he needs to move forward. Of course, Jensen and Venditti aren’t privy to the clean break that started Manapul’s run, and have thus needed to address Barry’s past as much as his future. Fortunately, they are also paying attention to this series’ history of meta-commentary, addressing their own creative baggage right on the page. Of all the things they could have ported from the previous run, this is my absolute favorite, injecting The Flash Annual 3 with a sense of rebellion.
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash 30, originally released April 23rd, 2014.
Drew: I lost a part of my innocence when Richard Harris passed away. It wasn’t an existential crisis brought about by confronting mortality, but the cognitive dissonance brought about by his role of Albus Dumbledore being filled by Michael Gambon. I’m sure for many young Harry Potter fans, that was the first time they were confronted with the notion that the identity of a beloved fictional character is so dictated by casting decisions, but looking at the differences between the two actors’ performances, it’s almost as if they were playing different characters. Harris imbued the role with a quiet, almost doddering sweetness, while Gambon’s take was notably sterner. Both takes are supported by the books, but it had never occurred to me before seeing Prisoner of Azkaban that an actor’s (or director’s) emphasis on certain traits could have such a profound effect on the final product. I found myself thinking those same thoughts as Robert Venditti and Van Jensen assert their own read on Barry Allen in The Flash 30.
Today, Scott and Spencer are discussing Nightwing 21, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Scott: Obsession can be a very dangerous thing. For Superheroes, letting emotions dictate the decisions they make often muddles the line between justice and personal satisfaction. Dick Grayson is obsessed with Tony Zucco, a man he rightly feels deserves punishment for murdering Dick’s parents. But Dick has shown that he will go to any lengths to get to Tony, even if it means compromising many of the things Nightwing stands for.Nightwing 21 finds Dick Grayson venturing further into the realm of moral ambiguity, with implications as fascinating as they are frightening. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Nightwing 19-20, originally released April 17th and May 15th, 2013, respectively.
Scott: Moving to a new city is hard. Finding the right place to live, learning your way around town, making friends, it all takes time. Unfortunately, Dick Grayson doesn’t have much chance to settle into his newfound home in Chicago. He’s in the Windy City with a purpose- to find the man who killed his parents- and he’s hardly welcomed with open arms. Nightwing 19 and 20 serve as a beginning to a new chapter for Dick, away from the torpedo of death and depression that Gotham has come to represent for him. New life is breathed into Nightwing, courtesy of a gust of wind off of Lake Michigan, and it is something to behold. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Zach Kastner are discussing Ravagers 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Ravagers 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Patrick: There are some story types that are fundamentally more compelling than others. Storytellers know these tropes well and trot them out whenever a) they’re also trying something new or b) they don’t have any better ideas. This is why most cop and detective shows put a child in danger in the first episode. We can all get on board with that: save the child – there’s no way not engage with that story. The trope on display in Ravagers 0 (and I suspect through most of the Culling story line) is a newer one: teenagers forced to fight each other to the death. Oh Hunger Games/Battle Royale/Ravagers, you do have one hell of an interesting concept. But while something like Hunger Games really finds itself in the details, Ravagers couldn’t be bothered with anything other than the broadest possible strokes.