Batman Who Laughs 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Mark Mitchell

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

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Patrick: Outside of dance-able club hits, which state their desire to make you dance, very few works of art tell you what effect they intend to have on you. Batman Who Laughs has one purpose and one purpose only: to shock longtime Batman fans with a violent, evil twist on the Dark Knights’ mythos. And the book cockily asserts that it is going to surprise its readers, by having the titular laughing Batman address the camera directly and saying as much. “You really thought you had it all figured out. That you knew every combination in the deck.” The work assumes the reader is skeptical of its goal from page one — the remainder of the issue is spent trying to prove that this is the darkest, most twisted Batman story ever told. Continue reading

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New Roadblocks to a Burgeoning Friendship in Super Sons 10

by Spencer Irwin

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

Super Sons 10 is a bit of a breather issue and a “move things into place” issue, neither of which tend to be the most popular installments of any comic series. Personally, though, I feel like this is the mode in which Super Sons operates best — I don’t follow this series because of the plot, I follow it because I love seeing Damian and Jon’s personalities bounce off each other, and that’s 95% of this issue. Peter Tomasi and Jose Luis actually couldn’t have timed this better — with Jon and Damian growing closer and becoming more amicable, it was time to introduce some new challenges for them to overcome and to add a few more hurdles to their burgeoning friendship. Continue reading

Challenging Batman’s Central Conceit in Batman 35

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 35

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

For all of the impossible technology, the men made out of shapeshifting clay, the resurrection pits, and the shark repellant, the biggest narrative conceit in any Batman story is the idea that an orphan’s single-minded decision to literally fight crime is somehow noble or laudable. For all of the attempts to “ground” Batman over the past few decades, from Batman: Year One to Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, none have deigned question that conceit. It’s too central to who Batman is — he arguably wouldn’t work without it. At least, questioning that conceit wouldn’t work with the kind of grim seriousness of those takes seem to take for granted with the character. By contrast, Tom King has always been willing to embrace the absurdity of Batman, the over-the-top everything that makes him fun, but with a self-awareness to admit that it’s also kind of silly. It’s long been the source of solid laughs for King’s run, but issue 35 hinges its most important emotional moments on that silliness. Continue reading

Batman Lost 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Michael DeLaney

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

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Patrick: For as much mythological importance as we place on origin stories, the question of how a superhero came to be very seldom adds up to his or her actual origin. Batman is the example in question, so let’s use him: a random mugging in crime alley, a broken string of pearls, two shots fired, an orphan. That’s quintessential, primordial Batman — the very stuff of which he is made. But that’s incomplete. A DC Comics murderers’ row of artists and writers set out to remind readers just how strange Batman’s origins really are in Batman Lost 1. In so doing, they also remind us how infinite and unpredictable Batman’s future truly is. It’s a dizzying collage of what-ifs and secret histories, all presented as true with unflinching authority. Continue reading

Relationships Shine in Batman 34

by Spencer Irwin

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

Batman may have just gotten engaged, but can you really imagine he and Catwoman going through life as a “normal” married couple, living a mundane domestic life? Of course you can’t, and not just because they have Alfred — it’s because they’re superheroes, wrapped up in grandiose, larger-than-life concerns. While one of those typically superheroic goals — tracking down Holly Robinson — is technically motivating our heroes in Batman 34, Tom King and Joelle Jones make the smart choice to ground the issue in relationships and emotions, making this an issue driven by the spark between characters. For the first time, maybe I can imagine Bruce and Selina as an everyday married couple — albeit one whose “dates” consist of confronting murderous exes in the desert. Continue reading

Anti-Climactic Wisdom in Super Sons 9

by Michael DeLaney

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

Superman is super not because of his laser eyes, his mighty pecks or his punchy fists. Superman is super because of his good heart. The best use of this heart? Super speeches. In Super Sons 9, Superboy follows in his father’s footsteps. Continue reading

Creative Commentary in Super Sons 8

by Michael DeLaney

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

Storytellers explore the questions of the human condition through their characters, often times trying to work out their own personal questions. A current popular trend in comic books is to explore the idea of creating stories altogether. And while the true intentions of the villain Ygarddis aren’t 100% clear yet, Peter Tomasi seems to also be commenting on the nature of creating stories in Super Sons 8. Continue reading

Unknown history sits at the heart of Batgirl 14

by Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 14

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

I’ve never been a huge fan of dramatic irony — I can appreciate how giving us more information than the characters have can produce tension (or humor), but that information kind of gets in the way of relating to the characters. Still, I have a heck of a lot more patience for dramatic irony than I do its exact opposite, where characters are privy to information that is deliberately withheld from the audience. Not only does the tension it create feel cheaper (amounting to little more than a narrative chant of “I know something you don’t know”), it makes the characters even harder to relate to, as we’re necessarily left in the dark about what they might be thinking or feeling. All of which kept me from truly enjoying Batgirl 14. Continue reading

Super Sons 6: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

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

Spencer: Despite not making a single appearance, the Teen Titans loomed large over the first five issues of Super Sons. The Titans were Damian’s trump card, the cool older friends he could taunt Jon with whenever Jon gained the upper-hand against him. Amazingly, Jon never seemed all that affected by Damian’s bluster, at one point even telling Damian off for bringing the Titans up so much. This all changes as Peter Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez bring the Titans into the fold in Super Sons 6, adding some interesting new wrinkles to these two boys’ relationship. Continue reading

Becoming a Hero in Gotham Academy: Second Semester 11

by Drew Baumgartner

Gotham Academy Second Semester 11

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

I think it’s safe to say Maps Mizoguchi is the breakout character of Gotham Academy. Her enthusiasm for adventuring is infectious, and often positions her as a kind of audience surrogate. Plus, she runs circles around the rest of the Detective Club in terms of actual detective skills. In many ways, she’s the Hermione Granger of Gotham Academy, skilled beyond her classmates in just about every way that matters. But she’s not quite Hermione Granger. Importantly, while she may outpace her friends on the detective front, her relative youth means that she’s not quite as emotionally mature. It’s a detail that hasn’t come into play much thus far, but issue 11 reveals that it might just be Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl’s smartest piece of groundwork. Continue reading