Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Supergirl 4, originally released December 14. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Patrick: Hey, why do we hate midichlorians so much? Y’know, the quantifiable micro organisms that live in bodies of Star Wars characters that help them communicate with the force. Do we hate it because it’s an explanation of something that was cool precisely because it was mysterious? Or is it that we hate the answer because it is inherently dumb? The answer is kind of a mix of both – I’m totally fine with unanswered questions if the wonder those questions inspire is fun all on its own. That quality — let’s just call it “wonder” — is something that I look for in Superman comics. I want to grin stupidly to myself and say “whoa, neat.” But that wonder is so fragile, and can be ruined with some inelegant attempt to explain the mysteries I’m letting into my heart. Unfortunately, Supergirl 4 is all answers for middling mysteries, going out of its way to over-explain even the most uninteresting questions.
Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Supergirl 1 originally released September 7, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.
“It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.”
Patrick: I know, I know, I know – Garden State is a flick that’s ultimately too twee for it’s own good. But underneath all the cloying “you have to listen to The Shins!” moments and hackneyed beats of artificial quirk, there is a compelling universal truth. Concepts like “home” and “family” are so easy for the young to grasp, but they are nearly impossible for adults to hold on to. That’s because they’re both inextricably linked to our own personal origin stories, and you only get one of those in a life time. A superhero — especially one with as oft a rebooted history as Supergirl — runs the risk of trivializing the potency of that transition from origin to adult life, but ace writer Steve Orlando trots out countless examples of a better life on Krypton to genuinely sell Kara’s newfound loneliness and frustration. Couple that with Brian Ching’s Marvel-esque design work, and you’ve got one of the most sympathetic new series in DC’s stable. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Supergirl Rebirth 1, originally released August 17th, 2016.
Spencer: Ever since the character was reintroduced after Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC has had a hard time figuring out just what, exactly, to do with Supergirl. Remember the time she was an angel, or a blob of protoplasm, or a Red Lantern, or Darkseid’s minion, or simply an obnoxious brat in a belly shirt? Supergirl Rebirth 1 finds Steve Orlando and Emanuela Lupacchino soft-rebooting Supergirl once again, and while they take some obvious inspiration from her current television series, they thankfully seem to be cherry-picking the show’s best qualities, particularly Supergirl’s ability to empathize with and inspire others. Unlike some of the other directions I mentioned, this take on Supergirl doesn’t feel like a gimmick or a phase, but a genuine attempt to give her a place in the DC Universe all her own, while still honoring the Superman mythos. Only time will tell if this is the take that sticks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Orlando’s Supergirl catch on fast. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman/Superman 31, originally released April 13th, 2016.
Drew: What is a comic book series? That sounds like a simple question, but it’s one of those definitions that falls apart under close scrutiny. Peter Tomasi understands how strange our notion of a series can get, as he piloted Batman and Robin through the better part of a year without Robin. In that case, it wasn’t the cast, but the creative team that allowed us to group those issues as part of Batman and Robin. But if we take that definition of a “series” as something to do with a serialized narrative told by the same person (or team of people), what do we make of “Super Legion,” Tomasi’s new eight-part crossover that cycles through four different titles? Does it function like its own miniseries, or do its constituent issues maintain enough of their series’ identity to keep them distinct? The answer lies somewhere in between, which makes Batman/Superman 31 one of the most fascinating, if troubled, individual issues I’ve read in quite some time. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Superman/Wonder Woman 9, originally released June 11th, 2014.
Patrick: When all’s said and done, ‘Doomed’will have made its way through four different series: Superman (before Johns takes it over next month), Action Comics, Batman / Superman (both of which are written by Greg Pak), and this series, Superman/Wonder Woman. The supporting casts featured in each chapter of this event vary a bit depending on the series — naturally, Wonder Woman and her supporting cast will feature more heavily here, just as Batman plays a bigger role in the series that bears his name. The slightly less visible connections come from what our authors are familiar with, or excited about writing about. Superman 31 found Super Doom trading blows with the Teen Titans, but only because they share a common writer: Scott Lobdell. Even Pak — who seems to be leading the charge here — has focused his issues on the Phantom Zone and Ghost Soldier and Mongul, all spun out of his own titles. The same things happens in this issue, as Super Doom gets a chance to beat down Soule’s other babies — Guy Gardner and the Red Lanterns. All of these developments are strange, and you can almost hear Lobdell, Pak and Soule glancing around the room, muttering “what else, what else, what else?” This reinforces their sadly generic vision for Man of Tomorrow. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Green Lantern / Red Lanterns 28, originally released February 5, 2014.
Inigo: I do not think you will accept my help, because I’m only waiting around to kill you. Wesley: That does put a damper on our relationship. Inigo: But, I promise I will not kill you until you reach the top. Wesley: That’s very comforting, but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait. Inigo: Is there any way you’ll trust me? Wesley: Nothing comes to mind. Inigo: I swear on the soul of my father: you will reach the top alive. Wesley: Throw me the rope.
-The Princess Bride
Patrick: Trust is a tricky intangible quality — often you don’t know it until you see it. There’s no magic switch you can throw to make someone trust you, and — more tragically — no switch you can throw to trust yourself. It’s both hard-won and easily lost. Robert Venditti and Charles Soule use the newly minted Red Lantern Supergirl to explore how issues of trust are slowly eroding the Greens, the Red and both of their leaders. Turns out all the Rage, Will and Hope in the universe don’t mean shit without Trust. 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 →
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 →
Patrick: I likes me a good anti-hero. There’s nothing quite like cheering for a character’s success and failure at the same time. Let’s take Walter White as a perfect example of this in modern fiction. He is a terrible husband and father, and an even worse friend, who makes dangerous decisions in the name of greed, power and desperation. And yet, I cheer every single one of his personal victories, no matter how immoral they might be. So much of Breaking Bad is about that character finding a way to feel powerful in the face of illness and poverty, and about how that need to feel powerful never goes away. The ride is exhilarating because there’s nothing more satisfying than a character with agency. Say what you will about Walter White — he has goals and he takes the steps necessary to achieve those goals. Supergirl has no such agency. She spends the majority of issue 17, fighting Wonder Woman just because, and then stops fighting her for equally arbitrary reasons. Neither a hero, nor an anti-hero, Supergirl ends up the clueless victim of her own series.
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.