Dark Days: The Casting: Discussion

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

Bruce. We need you to explain what’s going on here.

Hal Jordan

Michael: Recently I watched the entirety of HBO’s “The Leftovers,” which I enjoyed immensely. One of the show’s theme songs is Iris DeMent’s “Let the Mystery Be,” which means exactly what it sounds like: don’t try to find the explanation in everything, just enjoy the ride that the unknown provides. Mainstream comic book readers don’t subscribe to this philosophy when it comes to the capes and tights crowd, myself included. Dark Days: The Casting is a dense issue that will likely have our kind baffled as to what we just read. Continue reading

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Justice League 41

justice league 41

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Justice League 41, originally released June 3rd, 2015.

Michael: My biggest gripe with super hero movies or comic book reboots is that their world isn’t fully-formed; typically we have to wait an hour into the movie before the hero does the hero-ing we came to see. Origins, exposition and plot machinations take up an overwhelming amount of time and space in these situations. “Darkseid War” might be my favorite Justice League story yet because it doesn’t take that commonplace route. While Justice League 41 does have a lot of exposition, we are entering into the fully-formed world of the New Gods of Apokolips. This isn’t the origin story of Mister Miracle; he’s BEEN Mister Miracle for a while now. Continue reading

Convergence: Superman 2

superman 2 conv

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.

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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

Batman and Robin 40

batman and robin 40

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 40, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Drew: Bruce Wayne’s back was broken. Otto Octavius took over Peter Parker’s body. Superman had a mullet. Steve Rogers was dead. We often talk derisively of these kinds of easily-reversed changes in superhero comics because they seem gimmicky and cheap — what better way to boost sales than to trumpet the death of Superman? — but I’d actually argue that these stories offer a clever way of exploring what makes these heroes great. Moreover, they remind us not to take what we like about these characters for granted. Fewer characters have been put through quite so many changes recently as Damian Wayne, who has both died and gained superpowers, so while Batman and Robin 40 ends with him back in his non-dead, non-superpowered state, it’s actually kind of refreshing. Continue reading

The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures 1

multiversity thunderworld 1Today, Mark and Drew are discussing The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures 1, originally released December 17th, 2014.
Mark: The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures 1 is a story out of time. On Earth-5, Billy Batson and friends exist in a pre-New 52 (and pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths?) continuity. Shazam is the name of a wizard, not the name of our superhero. The Rock of Eternity is attacked and the wizard Shazam taken prisoner by the evil Dr. Sivana. Working in tandem with the Sivanas across the multiverse, Dr. Sivana has mined enough Suspendium to build his own Rock of Eternity and create his own day on the cosmic calendar: Sivanaday, a day where everything goes his way. Continue reading

Justice League 35

Justice League 35Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Justice League 35, originally released October 15, 2014. 

Spencer: Lex Luthor has basically been the main character of Justice League ever since Forever Evil ended, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. It’s inevitable that Lex will go back to being a full-time villain at some point (unless writer Geoff Johns manages to pull off the biggest reformation in DC history and make it stick), but I’m not sure how much that should influence my reading of Luthor’s intentions. There are two things I do know for certain, though: 1. Luthor’s presence has finally made the rest of the Justice League the competent, inspirational team we’ve been hoping they’d become since the New 52 began, and 2. even if Luthor’s reformation is somehow 100% legit, he still has plenty of misdeeds in his past to face up to. Continue reading

Batman and Robin 34

batman and robin 34

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Batman and Robin 34, originally released August 20th, 2014.

Patrick: When The Death of the Family was heading into its final issue, Scott Snyder appeared in a ton of interviews claiming that this conclusion was going to have a lasting effect on Batman and the Batfamily. But after that story line wrapped up, Snyder took his own series into Batman’s past, conveniently avoiding working through much of this fallout. Similarly, Grant Morrison killed Damian in Batman Incorporated, but wrapped up his series only a few issues later. The emotional heavy lifting as fallen to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who have dutifully presented the most erratic, emotional and frustrating Batman possible. Everything that Batman is — the selfless knight of justice, the patriarch of the Batfamily, the infallible detective — has been undermined in the wake of these twin tragedies. Understandably, that pushes Batman away from his readers, and his alienation from the world started to reflect the audiences’ alienation from the character. In issue 34, Tomasi and Gleason have Bruce offer a naked apology to his protégés, but they’re also inviting us to trust Batman again. Fuck yes: I’m ready to forgive. Continue reading

Forever Evil 6

forever evil 6Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Forever Evil 6, originally released March 5th, 2014. 

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Spencer: One of the biggest issues I’ve had with Forever Evil has been trying to figure out just how, exactly, its interpretation of Earth-3 works. Before the reboot Earth-3 was a world of opposites, where all evil characters were good guys and all the good guys were villains, and villains always won, but ever since the Crime Syndicate forced their way onto our world at the end of “Trinity War” writer Geoff Johns has largely shown Earth-3 as a world where everybody is evil, which I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around up to this point. Johns and David Finch’s Forever Evil 6 has finally helped put things in perspective for me, though, by unmasking the Syndicate’s prisoner and showing us exactly what a hero looks like on Earth-3. Continue reading

Justice League of America 7.4: Black Adam

Alternating Currents: Justice League of America 7.4: Black Adam, Drew and Mikyzptlk

Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Justice League of America 7.4: Black Adam, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

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Oh, you mean…Black Debbie

Whoa whoa whoa whoa, why is she “Black” Debbie?

No, not in a BAAAD way. It’s just to tell them apart because she’s…black!

Stormy and Sparks, “No Names (Black Debbie)”

Drew: A child, orphaned by crime, vows to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. The last survivor of a race of superpowered aliens is raised in small town Kansas. A regular guy is given super-speed when he is struck by lightening and doused with chemicals. Our favorite superheroes have simple, iconic origins, which make them easy to introduce in film or television, and easy to reintroduce when relaunching an entire comics line. That simplicity is a big selling point for a lot of these characters, but what of those whose history is a bit more complicated? Black Adam has always been a dark reflection of Shazam, but exactly how dark has varied widely over the years, and has offered a great deal more interest than its simple villain-turned-antihero scaffold might suggest. Unfortunately, the New 52 steamrolled all of that history, turning Black Adam back into a straightforward villain. With Justice League of America 7.4: Black Adam, writers Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates work to re-complicate Adam’s story — making him more than just “Black Shazam” — but may go for too much, too soon. Continue reading

Justice League Dark 23

Justice League Dark 23 trinity

Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Justice League Dark 23 originally released August 21st, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.

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Mikyzptlk: Event comics are…strange. As Drew mentioned in his previous coverage of Trinity War, event comics like these can be hard to pin down. There’s usually a ton of damage and more colorfully clad heroes than you can shake a superpowered stick at. At the same time though, with so much going on, it can be hard to get to any meaningful characterization. It’s not impossible, but there’s just usually not that much of it. Another thing that event comics like Trinity War are known for is the idea that “Things Will Never Be The Same” after the events of said comics. In the end, what we normally get in event comics are shallow, action packed adventures that drastically change the playing field for our heroes. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, in fact, I think it’s kind of necessary. The ever-changing playing field helps to keep these decades old characters fresh, and help to prime our heroes for those character-rich solo stories we all love so much. While Trinity War has given us some interesting moments, I can’t help but feel impatient for the drastic changes it will bring. The penultimate chapter of the tale helps to reinforce that feeling.  Continue reading