This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
Jim Gordon, The Dark Knight
Ryan: Since that line was uttered in lamentation of Gotham’s corruption, I feel as if it’s almost become a canonical outlook on the Caped Crusader. The thing about that line, though, is that it’s purely subjective on Gordon’s part, and particular unto the circumstances of that Batman story in that film. And almost every statement can be used against the point for which it was originally made, right? Even scientists with objective data sets can use the same numbers to support the opposite side of an argument, or the same verse of scripture used to prove opposing points. In Batman: White Knight 1, Sean Murphy takes Jim Gordon’s iconic statement and uses it to sow the seeds of a Gotham wherein the Joker justifies his action with that logic, both as a villain and a hero. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Tokyo Ghost 6, originally released April 20th, 2016.
Shelby: I used to listen to the news on NPR every morning, but I’ve stopped for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is that it’s simply too depressing; so many shitty people being shitty to each other, it’s too much to take. And I’m not even talking about the election coverage, which I am completely sick and tired of, despite the fact we’re still only in the primaries. Not only am I tired of all the bad news about bad people doing bad things, I have very little trust in the news that I hear. Every news story has me wondering who paid for their version of the truth to be broadcast, who is trying the hardest to trick me into being on their side. I can understand why the people of New Los Angeles would rather plug into mindless entertainment than put up with sorting through the spin and PR to find the truth. And that’s exactly what Rick Remender and the rest of the creative team on Tokyo Ghost want me to understand: they want us to understand how easy it can be to become the willingly ignorant, and the cost of breaking free. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Tokyo Ghost 5, originally released January 20th, 2016.
Shelby: A difficult personal story: about a year and a half ago, I witnessed a murder/suicide in my office. It shattered my world as I knew it. Everything is different now for me; my social anxiety is through the roof, I can’t really deal with parties or crowds anymore. I worry constantly about my interactions with other people: am I behaving correctly? Have I said/been offensive? I should probably apologize, I clearly did something wrong. I get depressed a lot, I find it can be difficult to get excited about things, even things I love and find exciting. The world as I understood it was taken away that day, by one person’s decision. I think that might be why I love Debbie in Tokyo Ghost so very much; I understand her fight to get back the world she lost when Teddy became Led Dent. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t go back. Sometimes, as Led is about to discover, the end is the end. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Tokyo Ghost 3, originally released November 18th, 2015.
Drew: There’s something violating about an “averted happy ending” — endings that dangle a “happily ever after” in front of the audience before cruelly snatching it away. Vertigo is probably the most well-known example of this, but there are countless others. It’s an effective choice — we’re conditioned to expect happy endings, so denying us that happy ending at the last moment is always surprising — but it’s often brutal on the audience, who just wants resolution for the characters. It would be misguided to suggest that Tokyo Ghost 3 presents an averted happy ending — the central conflict has barely begun, let alone concluded — but I couldn’t help but feel just as violated by the loss of that “happily ever after.” Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Tokyo Ghost 2, originally released October 21st, 2015.
Shelby: We got Internet at my house when I was in high school. I had experienced it before then, of course, but I was old enough to remember that moment my farm in rural northern Wisconsin was plugged in and online. Those of us in our late 20s/early 30s are probably the last generation to remember life before the internet, when life and plans had to be scheduled ahead of time instead of on the fly, when the thought of connecting to someone a world away was unheard of, when there was just some information you didn’t have constant access to. As someone who feels too old be a Millenial and too young to be a Gen-Xer (or whatever came before the current generation), I feel of two minds about our near constant plugged in state, but Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth sure don’t. The future they’ve envisioned in Tokyo Ghost is a world where the worst parts of the Internet have taken over, and it is somehow grimmer and more fascinating than you’d imagine. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Batman Annual 4 originally released September 30th, 2015.
Ryan: Batman has been happening for quite some time, both in the real world and in the oft rebooted DC Universe. Fans of the series remember his numerous encounters with his rogues gallery throughout the years, as villains escape time after time from the doldrums of Arkham Asylum to once again terrorize the city of Gotham. The formula for Batman may even be seen as a little tiresome: villain arrives, terrorizes Batman, Batman wins, villain returns again, eventually — maybe teaming with another foe, something messed up happens to Bruce Wayne’s personal life, his family rescues him, rinse, repeat. So what is it that draws us back into Batman narratives when the conceit can seem formulaic? Much of its appeal, I would argue, comes from the long-standing history which the reader shares with the character, one which can make jumping into a title so compounded with spin-offs and mini-series and event tie-ins intimidating for some. Batman Annual 4 offers an easy jumping-in point as Bruce Wayne undergoes yet another identity crisis, catching a casual or first-time reader up while showing the audience why a protagonist mired in the past can be so fascinating.
Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Chrononauts 1, originally released March 18th, 2015.
Ryan: On September 13th, 1959, the Soviet Union made history by landing the first man-made object — the Luna 2 — on the moon. The Soviet success allowed their premiere, Nikita Khruschev, a scientific triumph to laud over President Eisenhower demonstrating the virtues of Communism. After a decade of dominating the Space Race, the USSR lost the ultimate prize to the USA and its space program, which had been kicked into high gear under the watch of President John F. Kennedy, when the first feet to touch the surface of the moon belonged to American astronauts on July 20, 1969. Despite the years of rivalry and the mires of the Cold War, when Apollo 11 touched down, the Russians cheered. As Soviet astronaut Alexei Leonov wrote, “Everyone forgot that we were all citizens of different countries on Earth. That moment really united the human race.” Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy’s new title, Chrononauts, seeks to recapture the magic of families across the world crowding around their televisions and radios as science catches up to imagination. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Wake 10 originally released July 30th, 2014.
They are our witness. Our memory. Our reflection staring back at us from the surface of the water. Challenging us to be unafraid, to take whatever leap we can.
Dr. Lee Archer, The Wake 10
Patrick: I let a lot of creative projects marinate in my imagination for long time before I ever express them to anyone. As a result, most of these projects never ever ever see the light of day. Half-formed ideas wither and die in my mind on a daily basis — exciting worlds, interesting characters, heartbreak, adventures, mysteries revealed. I know that ever single idea I’ve ever had would benefit from a second imagination’s scrutiny, so why would I let so many concepts suffocate inside my own skull? Because expression is scary. Admitting that you think an idea you have is cool is impossibly risky: literally no one else has ever weighed in on the idea before you. Actually expressing an original story you want to tell (or an original painting you want to paint or an original song you want to sing), requires the artist to be a narcissist and a champion of the unknown at the same time. That’s an incredibly naked position to be in, and that’s how Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy cast the whole of humanity in the final issue of The Wake. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing The Wake 9 originally released June 4th, 2014.Shelby: Death is a pretty easy way to end a story. In most mediums, you wouldn’t be wrong to say it’s the ultimate end of a story; dead is dead, right? We’ve learned time and time again, however, that comic books play by their own, messier set of rules when it comes to the death of a character. Usually it’s an eye-rolling sort of resurrection we all begrudgingly saw coming a mile away. Sometimes, like in Charles Soule’s last issue of Thunderbolts, we love the “just kidding, not dead!” moment despite knowing with complete certainty it was coming. Sometimes, though, the death/not death of a character catches us so off guard we don’t know where to go next. That shock is exactly what I got at the end of Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s penultimate issue of The Wake. In case you didn’t catch my drift (ocean puns!): here be spoilers. Continue reading →