Batman Annual 1

Alternating Currents: Batman Annual 1, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: A few years ago, fellow Retcon Puncher Patrick Ehlers suggested that deconstruction had become so commonplace in Batman stories that they had come to become inseparable from the character. That is, deconstructing the character had become as essential to the telling of Batman stories as Batmobiles and gimmicky villains have become essential to the stories themselves. It’s a compelling argument — especially when you consider the fact that modern interpretations of the character are all informed by Frank Miller’s famous deconstructions of the character — but I maintain that it’s largely incidental to his existence. To me, the key fact is that Batman has been around (and beloved) for 75+ years, so of course creators that grew up with the character are going to relish playing with that history. I can expound on why I think that negates Patrick’s point in the comments, but for now, it’s enough to say that I think the deconstructions have more to do with nostalgia than anything intrinsic to the character. Nostalgia is certainly a central theme in Batman Annual 1, an anthology issue that brings together some of Batman’s most famous stewards, past and present, for a walk down memory lane. Continue reading

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Robin: Son of Batman 11

robin son of batman 11Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Robin: Son of Batman 11, originally released April 20th, 2016.

Spencer: Every once in a while you stumble across a premise so unique, exciting, or just plain off-the-wall bonkers that you have to check the story out. More often, though, a story will feature a more standard premise, and it’s up to the creative team to make those familiar ideas feel fresh, either by finding a new angle to explore the concept from, by using it to explore their cast in a novel way, or simply by having as much fun with it as possible. Sadly, Robin: Son of Batman 11 does none of these things. The Lu’un Darga are the definition of cliched, stock villains, and Ray Fawkes and Ramon Bachs do nothing to liven them up. Continue reading

Jackpot 1

jackpot 1Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Jackpot 1, originally released April 13th, 2016.

Spencer: Making a good first impression is vital; this goes doubly so for new comic series, which often have just one issue to hook a curious reader on their story. That puts a lot of pressure on first issues — they’ve got to introduce readers to the series’ premise, to a new cast of characters, perhaps even an entirely new world altogether, and if they want the reader to come back next month, they’ve got to do so in a manner that’s both coherent and entertaining. It takes a lot of finesse to find just the right approach to a first issue, and while Ray Fawkes and Marco Failla make some smart choices throughout Jackpot 1, their approach may nonetheless be flawed on a fundamental level.
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Gotham By Midnight 12

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Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Gotham By Midnight 12 , originally released December 16th, 2015.

Michael: The finale: the final act of a story, the climax and conclusion, the final word that creators have with a set of characters that they have been working with. There are countless variations on the classic finale recipe (a different kind of examination for another day), but Gotham By Midnight 12 is a very specific finale: the publisher-induced cancellation finale. Ray Fawkes and Juan E. Ferreyra are saddled with the task of punctuating the tale of Gotham City’s resident ghost chasers. Continue reading

Gotham by Midnight 10

gotham by midnight 10

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Gotham by Midnight 10, originally released October 28th, 2015.

Patrick: Opinions very pretty wildly on whether or not Quentin Tarantino’s contribution to Grindhouse, “Death Proof,” works. It’s a talky flick, even by Tarantino’s standards, and the film’s sharp divide between two discrete halves makes it kind of an endurance test for the audience. By the time the movie reaches the final chase sequence, viewers are either totally bored or totally invested in the characters and the mythology. Those that invested during the first 80 minutes are rewarded with a harrowing vehicular action sequence, which would no doubt be impressive on it’s own, but which means tremendously more for all the groundwork laid before it. Gotham by Midnight 10, continues the talkiness of the interrogation-heavy ninth issue, but ultimately rewards them with — you guessed it — a thrilling car chase. It’s a testament to Juan Ferreya’s impeccable visual storytelling skills that this sequence it’s every bit as explosive and exciting as the most white-knuckle chase scene in the movies.

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Gotham by Midnight 9

gotham by midnight 9

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Gotham by Midnight 9, originally released September 23rd, 2015.

Michael: Though Sergeant Rook came knocking on their door back in issue 1, Jim Corrigan and the rest of the Midnight Shift finally have to answer for their mysterious dealings in Gotham by Midnight 9. Rook tears through their station house for any potential evidence against the Midnight Shift while Corrigan and Lisa Drake are poked and prodded by Internal Affairs in their interrogation rooms. Both Corrigan and Drake go a few round with their respective interrogators without breaking a sweat – they are seasoned cops who how to play the game. The cops start leading Corrigan to the conclusion that he is the Spectre and that he knowingly chooses the Spectre’s victims. Needless to say Corrigan becomes agitated and the Spectre takes control, killing the two cops. The kicker is that Spectre tells Corrigan that the interrogators were right – Corrigan DOES pick the victims.

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DC Round-Up Comics Released 7/29/15

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Michael, Spencer and Patrick discuss Batgirl 42, Gotham By Midnight Annual 1, Lobo Annual 1 and The Flash Annual 4.

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Michael: Have you ever noticed how the fifth Wednesday of a month always brings an odd grab bag of titles from DC? It’s typically full of books that are behind schedule and trying to catch up and the occasional Annual issue. So I guess it’s no surprise that this week’s DC offering is full of five Annuals in total. Let’s cover a few of them, shall we?

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Guardians Team-Up 8

guardians team up 8Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Guardians Team-Up 8, originally released July 29th, 2015.

Spencer: The best writers know when to step aside and let their artist tell as much of the story as possible — “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” right? Of course, to do this, a writer must have trust in their artist to properly convey their story, and in the chaotic world of mainstream superhero comics, where there are sometimes fill-in artists or multiple artists on a single title, that kind of trust can often be a rare commodity. In light of that point, Guardians Team-Up 8 is even more impressive — Ray Fawkes and Bengal tell their one-off story without any words (until the last page), putting Bengal in charge of all the issue’s storytelling. While this issue isn’t without its faults, I’d call it a largely successful gambit. Continue reading

Batman Eternal 52

batman eternal 52Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman Eternal 52, originally released April 1, 2015.

People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.

Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins

Spencer: Throughout all of the many different storylines in Batman Eternal, one theme has steadily built under the title’s surface: the idea of Batman’s legacy. While it was never something addressed all that directly (at least until R’as al Ghul flat out asked “Is Batman eternal?” a few weeks ago), the creative bullpen has steadily been building up Batman’s team of allies and investigating just what effect Batman’s presence has had on Gotham City. With this massive weekly series finally coming to an end, Batman Eternal 52 aims to show exactly the power of that symbol on Batman’s chest, and it does so in spectacular fashion, pulling together nearly all the threads that have been cast throughout the last 52 issues into one show-stopping finale. Continue reading

Batman Eternal 30

batman eternal 30Today, Mark and Suzanne are discussing Batman Eternal 30, originally released October 29th, 2014.

Mark: In a few weeks, the Batman Eternal creative team will have produced more issues than even the longest running New 52 books. With the task of producing so much content, the challenges of serialization in a weekly title are magnified compared to a monthly title. Plot and action have to be metered out very carefully as to not burn through too much too fast, but at the same time every issue still has to feel like an event as readers have been trained to expect by monthlies. With that in mind, it’s enjoyable for me to watch the writers of Batman Eternal juggle the many, many plot threads they have introduced over 30 issues. I’ve read every issue since the title launched, and every few weeks I have a good “Hey, remember when this thing was about NANOBOTS?!” moment when something introduced months ago and seemingly dropped suddenly comes back to the forefront. The narrative whiplash is part of the fun. Continue reading