Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Superwoman 2, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan M.: If I read a novel in one sitting, I retain next to nothing. The plots, characters, and relationships all start to run together in my mind. I read an entire new adult series about college football players and the girls who love them in the past week and I couldn’t tell you any of the character’s names. I think one was Dallas? Too much story in a finite space leads to nothing making much of an impact. That’s how I feel about Superwoman 2, an issue with so much happening, that nothing has very much meaning. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Drew are discussing Action Comics 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Suzanne: Have you ever read a story arc that you didn’t quite connect with? A few years back, I picked up Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night and was disappointed that it didn’t have the emotional punch for me that so many other readers felt. Maybe I was at a disadvantage — I was unfamiliar with the pre-New 52 universe and this was my introduction to many of the characters. Then I read the first few issues of Johns’ Justice League when the members confront the ghosts of their dead loves ones. For example, Thomas and Martha Wayne appeared and told Bruce how disappointed they were in his choices in life. Again, I didn’t have a strong reaction to the story because the stakes didn’t feel as real. Action Comics 38 includes a horror zombie version of Jonathan and Martha Kent. So can Greg Pak revive what has become a (somewhat) tired trope and also bring renewed focus to a series overshadowed by the recent “Superman: Doomed” crossover? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Action Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Patrick: The opening to Jaws is just about perfect. A beautiful young woman indulges herself in a (probably drunken) morning swim. It’d be an idyllic scene but for the foreboding sense that this moment is somehow too precious for a movie with a giant shark on the poster. When the inevitable shark attack happens, the audience is briskly snapped away from the pleasant scene and tossed back and forth like the film’s first victim. The violence is jarring, not because it’s particularly graphic or believable (there’s no reason a shark would drag someone around the surface of the water for so long), but because we’re able to feel the loss of the pleasantly banal moment that came before. Action Comics 37 plays a similar trick, insisting on a Smallville that’s apparently very serene, until that very serenity ends up be just as creepy as any external threat Superman can face. Continue reading →
Today, Shane and Taylor are discussing Action Comics 36, originally released November 5th, 2014.
Shane: Horror in comics has recently hit a major revitalization. Heralded by the meteoric success of The Walking Dead, we’ve seen such titles as American Vampire, Uzumaki and Locke & Key emerge to terrify the market. Even mainstream superhero books like Animal Man and X-Men have made real attempts to embrace the horror genre, but, honestly, answer me a question: If you had to pick an iconic superhero, one of the real icons, to have a major horror arc…would Superman be your first choice? No. Not at all. Batman, sure — he fits right into the dark world. Even Wonder Woman, with her mythological connections, could gravitate towards a number of unsettling stories. But Superman, the paragon of hope? Not a chance. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Action Comics 32, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Drew: How do you beat the unbeatable man? Normally, Superman writers struggle with this question in trying to create any real tension — the conventions of comics dictate that Superman is the most powerful being on Earth and that the good guy always wins, so how do you manage to wring a compelling story out of that? “Doomed” solves this problem by turning it on its head: what if Superman was the bad guy? Then the fact that he’s the most powerful being on Earth lies in direct conflict with the fact that the good guys always win, making the question of how to beat Superman no longer a trivial detail, but a key to the resolution of the conflict. Of course, years of the other kind of conflict have given writers an arsenal of weapons to use against Superman — they’ve never quite worked on their own, but maybe they can get the job done together. Action Comics 32 explores this idea in earnest, but reminds us that for all the ways we have to beat Superman, he was always our only solution to beating Doomsday. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and (guest writer) Shane are discussing Batman/Superman 3.1: Doomsday, originally released September 25th, 2013.
Spencer: Doomsday is a hard character to write. Of course he’s a legendary, unstoppable force, but he’s also a personality-less beast with little depth beyond an insatiable desire to destroy Superman. In short, he was a gimmick, but a wildly successful gimmick; considering all of that, I was quite curious going into this issue about what Greg Pak would do with the character. Much to my surprise, Pak decided to write a Doomsday story about how the monster’s legend affects various generations of his victims. It’s a novel approach, but I admit, some unclear or missing parts of the story make it a bit hard for me to figure out what exactly Pak is trying to say. Continue reading →
Scott: This comic is called Animal Man, but it’s hardly about Buddy Baker at this point. Sure, Animal Man and Swamp Thing are the focal points of the RotWorld crossover event, but their personal objectives and motivations are overshadowed by RotWorld itself. There are so many characters fighting against the rot that it’s tough to consider Animal Man the main character in this issue, and even more difficult to think of his personal motivation — to save Maxine — as the emotional center of the story. Throw in the fact that this issue truly is a crossover with Swamp Thing, and it’s harder yet to think of this as Animal Man’s story. Not that that’s a bad thing. Animal Man is part of an awesome team fighting against the Rot, and the collective inventiveness they display here makes Animal Man 17 a thoroughly fun and often jaw-droppingly cool experience.
“It’s horrible when you sense the “to be continued” coming. You know, you’re watching the show, you’re into the story. You know, there’s like 5 minutes left and you realize “Hey! They can’t make it! Timmy’s still stuck in the cave. There’s no way they wrap this up in 5 minutes!” I mean, the whole reason you watch a TV show is because it ends. If I want a long, boring story with no point to it, I have my life.”
– Jerry Seinfeld
Drew: Comics are a serialized medium. Spirited debates can be had about the relative virtues of straight serialization or a more episodic approach, but most readers understand that a given story may not wrap up in a single issue. The surprise “to be continued” described in the epigraph doesn’t happen as often in comics, where issues are clearly billed as the conclusion, but I found myself reminded of that experience as I neared the end of Swamp Thing 17, realizing that the “Finale” billed on the cover might not be so final, after all. Continue reading →
Patrick: The End of the World. Pretty bleak subject matter, right? But we can go bleaker. Let’s kill as many superheroes as possible, and then use their grotesquely reanimated corpses to attack our protagonists. Also, no one’s safe, so those protagonists themselves can get picked off at a moment’s notice. Still not grim enough? Then let’s keep flashing back to the putrid death of our hero’s family. These are the principal building blocks of Rotworld. So if I’m using the adjectives “grim,” “grotesque” and “bleak” so much, why is this issue so much fun?
Shelby: Last month, Drew talked about Jeff Lemire thwarting our expectations to surprise us in the best way. This month is no different, as he sprinkles some obvious and not-so-obvious surprises throughout the issue. And really, he’s made it easy for us to be surprised; with Rotworld, Lemire has turned the DCU into a place where literally anything can happen. Kill all the heroes and leave the world a rotting shell? Sure! Turn characters we all know into horrifying monsters who want little more than to tear our protagonist limb from limb? Why not! In a universe where all the rules have been broken, even our wildest guesses fall short of the mark. Continue reading →