This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Mark: When I was about twelve years old, some friends and I got it in our heads that we deserved to go to a Six Flags theme park located two hours away from our city. We had just wrapped up a school assignment and were feeling pretty good about it; going to Six Flags was, to our minds, a reasonable reward for a job well done. My parents, for what I now recognize to be completely legitimate reasons, were quick to kibosh the idea — they weren’t interested in driving a Suburban full of sweaty pre-teens two hours to a theme park, driving two hours home, and then doing it all again later that night in order to pick us up. Plus, since I was twelve and had no money of my own to pay for park admission or food once I got in, they would basically be paying me $100 for the pleasure. All because me and my friends felt like we should be rewarded for completing our homework. I was furious.
Dealing with pre-teens and teenagers can be infuriating. They are, after all, categorically terrible; self-absorption coupled with crippling insecurity is a toxic combination. But it’s not their fault nature made them that way. Kids are constantly confronted with situations and decisions they are ill-prepared to face, lacking both the context and emotional experience to properly process and asses the situation. But that doesn’t make it any less irritating to be around them. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Superman 22, originally released May 3, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: DC’s double-shipping initiative has created quite the creative dilemma: how do you handle art duties with a schedule that makes it impossible for a single regular artist to handle every issue? Most titles have found a regular roster of artists to cycle through, but Superman adds an interesting wrinkle to that concept — while there are several artists who have consistently lent their talent to the book, co-writer Patrick Gleason is clearly its “main” artist, whose work is usually saved for the most important issues and stories. Such is the case with “Black Dawn,” the culmination of Gleason and Peter Tomasi’s first year of Superman stories. Gleason illustrated “Black Dawn’s” first two chapters, but Doug Mahnke takes over for its third installment. The switch in artists could be jarring, but Tomasi and Gleason incorporate it beautifully, using the opportunity to switch the perspective of their story entirely. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Super Sons 3, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael:Super Sons 3 picks up where we last left our boy wonders: Robin vs. Superman and Superboy vs. Batman. The pair quickly discover that they are not fighting their superdads, but instead robot duplicates. Despite their best efforts and hero poses, they prove unsuccessful in taking down their robodads without the help of Sara Duffy — you know, of the short-lived Super Duffys. After the events of Justice League’s “The Amazo Virus,” the Duffys were one of the three percent of the population that kept their superpowers. Following a brief stint of an Incredibles-esque family super team, Sara’s brother Reggie aka “Kid Amazo” went nuts and made his family the hostages we saw in previous issues of Super Sons.Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Superman 9, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Patrick: Issues 8 and 9 of Superman read like an entire season of LOST. I’m only partially saying that because the action takes place on a mysterious, temporally displaced, impossible-to-escape island populated by monsters. The comparison is actually more apt in the way both LOST and Superman treat their central mysteries. By the end of issue 9, Clark and Jon’s adventure on the island may appear to be over, but readers are left with a host of lingering questions. In lieu of answers, storytellers Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi revel in the charming and illuminating details of the mystery itself, letting the mysterious, the symbolic, and the evocative beats speak for themselves. Continue reading →
Today, Shane and Spencer are discussing Convergence: Superboy 2, originally released May 13th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Shane: Once upon a time, I wanted to be an actor when I grew up. There wasn’t anything in particular driving this dream, I just knew that I wanted to be an actor, and I made that pretty well known to anyone around me. My parents, to their credit, did what they could to further that dream, enrolling me in acting clubs, community plays, and the like. This passion helped define me as a child, expressing itself in a general sense of theatricality that still, in some ways, exists in my personality. In a similar (albeit more extreme) vein, Superboy’s desire to become Superman that defines him, instilled in him from “birth” as his sole purpose in life. A driving force in virtually every Superboy story, it remains prominent in this Convergence miniseries set so early in his life. As he goes up against heroes from the Kingdom Come universe, he battles with all of his power, even against all odds. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Shane are discussing Convergence: Superboy 1, originally released April 15th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Spencer: If there’s one flaw to this second week of Convergence tie-ins that wasn’t present in the first, it’s the fact that these characters can’t really change or evolve. Since week one took place at the end of the Post-Crisis DC Universe, the creative teams could examine what an “ending” for their protagonists may look like (before cruelly snatching those endings away), but this week’s books have to keep their stars in a sort of suspended animation — unable to evolve or drift too far from their established fate, they’re more than ever defined by their most basic conflicts and character traits. This isn’t always a bad thing (it works out better for Parallax than, say, Azrael), but it is a bit of a tricky hurdle to leap. Do Fabian Nicieza and Karl Moline manage to succeed in crafting a compelling story for Superboy despite the limitations of the format? I’d say yes, but despite this impressive success, they do falter just a bit on some of the smaller details. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and (guest writer) Michael D. are discussing The Multiversity: The Just 1, originally released October 22nd, 2014.
Spencer: So far Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity has been chock-full of ideas and meta-commentary, but while the first issue was essentially a celebration of everything comics offer as an art form, The Multiversity: The Just1 explores much more critical, perhaps even cynical takes on the medium. Fortunately, it’s just as dense, thought provoking, and flat-out bonkers as the issues that came before. Continue reading →
Drew: Last month, Patrick compared Superman 16 to a joke with an aborted punchline — the entire issue was spent building towards a payoff that simply evaporated when we finally arrived. Superman himself has a very similar experience in Superman 17, when he comes face to face with the Oracle, who shows Superman a confusing series of images, but disappears before giving any explanation. It’s a frustrating experience for Clark, one that very pointedly reflects my reactions to both this issue, and the H’el on Earth event as a whole. Continue reading →
Mikyzptlk: Ah, the Ticking Clock. This dramatic device has been used countless times in probably every story telling medium imaginable. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s fairly simple. If you are a writer and want to add a bit more tension or urgency to your story, just introduce a countdown or time bomb element of some kind. The H’el on Earth event has been using this particular device since the Star Chamber threatening Earth was introduced. Superboy 17 introduces yet another ticking clock, and, as it turns out, it’s fairly effective.
Patrick: You know that knock-knock joke that goes “Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Banana?” Of course you do, we were all kids once. It’s a simple exercise in tension and release: when you hear “orange,” you get a visceral little rush knowing the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” is mere moments away. The Justice League’s assault on the Fortress of Solitude has been one long Banana Knock-Knock joke. But when we finally get the “orange,” the door we’re knocking on teleports somewhere else, making me wonder why the fuck we’ve been putting up with this jokester saying “banana” for so long.