Today, Ryan M. and Michael are discussing Batgirl 47, originally released January 20th, 2016.
Ryan: Dramatic irony can be frustrating as hell. Having context that a character doesn’t can make them seem inconsiderate or obtuse. You read along, hoping that everyone can figure things out so that we’re all on the same page. However, when done well, it’s an effective way to raise tension in the reader without artificial conflict. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 46, originally released Dec 16th, 2015.
Mark: Has anyone been reading DC’s (relatively) new Doctor Fate ongoing? The pitch for it was probably a lot like Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s pitch for Batgirl: take a character struggling to find a compelling place in the post-Flashpoint universe (apologies to Gail Simone), and make them balance the typical problems of 20-somethings with the life of a superhero. There are countless problems with Doctor Fate, but one of the major failings is its inability to balance the various threats complicating Khalid Nassour’s life. Everything is treated with equal weight (which in this case is usually none at all), which makes the confrontations and resolutions ultimately unsatisfying. Continue reading →
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, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 39, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Michael: In most pieces of pop culture, the protagonist is the point of entry for the audience into the fictional world that we are experiencing. You’ll often see events or circumstances that the protagonist themselves isn’t immediately aware of, but for the most part you are riding shotgun with the main character. In comic books, that means you follow the story with the benefit of the main character’s narration/inner monologue. The tricky thing is that your hero may not always be a reliable narrator. Even if they aren’t intentionally misleading you, they are probably not giving you the full story. Such is the case of a one Barbara Gordon, the titular Batgirl. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 10, originally released March 12th, 2014.
Taylor: Anyone who’s been reading the news lately has been spoiled by a surprising amount of entertaining stories. The mystery of the vanished Malaysian airliner has captivated the world since each day new and more confounding information is released about its fateful voyage. Then there’s the ongoing political crisis in Crimea. Vladimir Putin’s bizarre quest to take back a former Russian province has set the Western world afire. With stories such as these making the news one would wonder why we need to read fiction since the real world seems capable of delivering enough entertainment on its own. As if in answer to this question, East of West 10 tells us why fiction and comics are important. This issue seems to hold a mirror up to the world and the reflection, while twisted, is all too recognizable as belonging to nothing but humanity.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 9, originally released January 29th, 2013.
Taylor: When successfully writing a story about a fictional world, there is one thing the author must do if they want their work to be believable. It’s not necessarily high-flown concepts or a strong thesis, though those certainly help. Instead, it’s important for the author to create a world that follows its own rules and mythologies. The author must not break away from these or else the world he or she so deliberately built will come crashing down. In the land of comics where fantasy worlds become reality on a regular basis, Jonathan Hickman has established himself as a skilled observer of this rule with such titles as The Manhattan Project and of course East of West. In the latter, Hickman has created a bleak landscape where death roams the world, both literally and figuratively. The world Death inhabits, along with its inhabitants, is fascinating and dark, and learning more about it is part of the joy of reading East of West. Issue 9, like issue 8 before it, indulges the reader with world building which is both a delight and a little frustrating at the same time. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing East of West 8, originally released December18th, 2013.
Shelby: The occasionally tempestuous relationship between the church and the state has a longer relationship than one might realize. In ancient times, being a ruler often came with the title of deity; your word was law because it was divine. Martin Luther was one of the first to begin to call for a separation of the two, and by the time the First Amendment of the United States was drawn up, Thomas Jefferson was speaking of “a wall of separation between the church and state,” in order to guarantee religious freedom. Personally, I believe very strongly in the idea of the separation of the two, namely because there are many religions in the world, and I see no point in a government forcing someone to follow a set of beliefs. That is not genuine worship. In East of West, however, Jonathan Hickman presents a trickier situation; there is no religion, there is no government, there is only The Message, and if the Message demands political leaders keep the populace dumb and under control to prep them for the four horseman of the apocalypse, the politicians hasten to obey.
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 25, originally released November 13th, 2013.
Spencer: They say disaster brings out people’s true colors; some perfectly normal people turn on their neighbors for petty reasons, while others will risk their own lives to rescue total strangers. For Barbara Gordon—at this point still a few years shy of “Batgirl” status—the disaster of the Zero Year brings out her heroic side for perhaps the first time ever. While some of the other Zero Year tie-ins have felt a tad superfluous, this story feels like a first essential step in the heroic legacy of Barbara Gordon. Continue reading →
Drew: Last month, Patrick compared Superman 16 to a joke with an aborted punchline — the entire issue was spent building towards a payoff that simply evaporated when we finally arrived. Superman himself has a very similar experience in Superman 17, when he comes face to face with the Oracle, who shows Superman a confusing series of images, but disappears before giving any explanation. It’s a frustrating experience for Clark, one that very pointedly reflects my reactions to both this issue, and the H’el on Earth event as a whole. Continue reading →
Patrick: You know that knock-knock joke that goes “Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Banana?” Of course you do, we were all kids once. It’s a simple exercise in tension and release: when you hear “orange,” you get a visceral little rush knowing the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” is mere moments away. The Justice League’s assault on the Fortress of Solitude has been one long Banana Knock-Knock joke. But when we finally get the “orange,” the door we’re knocking on teleports somewhere else, making me wonder why the fuck we’ve been putting up with this jokester saying “banana” for so long.