Superman Fails to Find a Better Way in Man of Steel 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Man of Steel 6

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

Superman always finds a better way.

Superman purist, Traditional

I’m paraphrasing pretty heavily here, triangulating a sentiment from the dozens of arguments I read (and participated in) in the wake of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, but the idea that Superman can always come up with a solution that doesn’t involve murder is a ubiquitous one in Superman fandom. And I agree with that idea as it applies to that film — Superman certainly could have at least attempted something else (or the movie could have done a better job convincing us that he had exhausted his options) — but something about “always finding a better way” doesn’t quite feel like Superman to me. His moral compass true, and he’ll never fail to aim for a solution that satisfies his sense of what’s right and wrong, but the thought that he always comes up with a solution would rob those morals of any real consequence. While some Superman stories might resemble Sherlock Holmes in that “seeing how he solves it is the fun” kind of way, one of the most interesting things about Superman having such a strong morality is that it might be tested or bear some emotional cost. That’s a point Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Fabok leverage twice in Man of Steel 6, as Superman fails to “find a better way” in both his superheroing and family lives. Continue reading

The Man of Steel 5 Lets Superman Define the Symbol

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Early in this issue, Superman catches a glimpse of a symbol on Rogol Zaar’s chest, and while he gets a good look at it, he can’t quite make out what it’s supposed to mean. The symbol is one that writer Brian Michael Bendis and his collaborators have been playing with from the very first pages of Man of Steel — a perfect circle with something interrupting that perfection. Bendis’ various collaborators have cast a number of different circles and spheres to play the role of this symbol: sometimes it’s a collapsing Krypton, or a quiet Earth, or the reflection of Rogol in Superman’s eye. My favorite circle actually appears in this issue, as Rogol’s eye peering into the opening of the bottled city of Kandor. Bendis has been teasing meaning in this shape for so long that when Superman finally decides he is interested in divining that meaning, the character and the reader are united in purpose. Continue reading

The Restraint and the Rage of The Man of Steel 4

by Michael DeLaney

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

Outside of certain movies, Superman is not a creature of rage. He does not fly blindly into a situation without tying to think of its ramifications. And most important of all: he does everything possible to ensure the safety of innocent bystanders. The Man of Steel 3 ended with an enraged Superman attacking Rogol Zaar in a rare instance of blind rage. In The Man of Steel 4 Superman quickly comes to his senses, as he regains that trademark composure, restraint and presence of thought. Continue reading

The Man of Steel 3 Highlights Superman’s Great Compassion and Guilt

by Michael DeLaney 

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

slim-banner

Any seasoned comic book reader — or really anyone who knows their pop culture — should know that you can never be sure that a character is dead unless you find their body. And even when they do find a body there’s the chance that it’s a clone, robot, time traveler, impostor, etc. While we haven’t found any bodies per se, in Man of Steel 3 it seems that Brian Michael Bendis has just killed…The Bottle City of Kandor. Continue reading

Supergirl 4

supergirl-4

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.

Continue reading

Supergirl 1

supergirl-1

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.”

Garden State

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

Supergirl Rebirth 1

supergirl rebirth 1

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

Batman/Superman 31

Alternating Currents: Batman Superman 31, Drew and Spencer

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

Superman/Wonder Woman 9

superman wonder woman 9Today, 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

Green Lantern / Red Lanterns 28

green lantern 28

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