Superman 22

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

Super Sons 1

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Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Super Sons 1, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: “What a delight!” I found myself saying after reading Pete Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez’s Super Sons 1. Super Sons has arguably been one of the most anticipated Rebirth books ever since Jim Lee threw in Damian Wayne and Jon Kent on that teaser poster that your comic book shop gave you back in June. Tomasi and Superman co-writer Patrick Gleason gave us a taste of what to expect from this series a few months ago, and Super Sons 1 carries on that joyful vibe without stumbling.

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Superman 16

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Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 16, originally released February 1, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: A lot of my time in Los Angeles has been spent in and around the improv comedy community, and watching a seemingly endless amount of bad comedy (and, truly, few things will make your flesh want to flee your body more than bad improv) really makes you appreciate the pros — people who week after week are able to deliver a baseline solid, occasionally brilliant, show. Consistency is what makes a pro a pro, in comedy, sports, comic books, what have you. The ability to reliably deliver the goods is indispensable. Superman 16 is a slightly disappointing end to Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi’s “Multiplicty” arc, but they’re pros, so even a messier Superman has ideas and moments worth paying attention to. Continue reading

Superman 14

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Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Superman 14, originally released January 4, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: There was something in the air starting around 2005 that demanded male-driven pop culture be characterized by “grit.” Space marines were to be bald, worlds were to be painted in shades of concrete, and heroes were meant to be broken. It’s perhaps unfair to lay the root of this phenomenon at the feet of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins — but here we are. Whatever you think of the movie itself, there’s no question that Nolan’s take on Batman had the (unintended?) side effect of making the character joyless. Everyone wants to be Batman, but who would want to be that Batman? By the time The Dark Knight Rises was released in 2012, this No Fun Allowed Batman was so ingrained in the public consciousness that when Nolan and his brother Jonathan attempted to inject a bit of levity into the proceedings with a handful of actual jokes, some fans of the series balked. And who can blame them? For many, this was the only Batman they knew, and Batman — an adult man who dresses as a bat to beat up clowns and squat fat men and women squeezed into male-gaze fetish gear — was nothing to joke about.

Whether by decree of shared corporate Time Warner overlords or just an attempt to reinvigorize their lineup by capitalizing on the trends of the time, DC’s 2011 New 52 re-launch became an exercise in Nolanization. And while perhaps never as literally grey as the video games of the time, the race to appeal to the same Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel-fueled demographic had the (again, unintended?) side effect of slowly and fundamentally eroding what was so beloved about many of DC’s characters to begin with. To be fair, before Rebirth DC had already begun course correcting toward a more vibrant, diversified, and generally happy lineup of characters, but in some cases the rot was considered too deep. Let us pour one out for New 52 Superman, a sacrificial lamb killed off as a sign of good faith toward spurned fans. Continue reading

Superman Annual 1

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Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Michael: I harp on Annuals a lot because in short, they’re weird. Typically they exist outside of the main ongoing story and sometimes are not even written or drawn by the title’s current creative team. Rebirth is not immune to the pitfalls of Annuals, as Drew and I pointed out in our discussion of Batman Annual 1. The consistently strong Superman title, however, follows through with Superman Annual 1. Pete Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Jorge Jimenez provide us with a story that compliments the main narrative and encapsulates the same joy that has made Superman one of the stand-out Rebirth titles. Continue reading

Superman 11

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Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Superman 11, originally released November 16th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: Superman 11 concludes the fantastic and fun “World’s Smallest” arc/prelude to the upcoming Super Sons series. Batman, Superman and Alfred have devised a series of tests for Jon and Damian to overcome by working as a team. With Robin: Son of Batman’s Maya Ducard and “not a man-bat” Goliath in on the fun, Superman 11 is a complete Patrick Gleason/Pete Tomasi partnership. With its classic approach of the character, Superman has consistently been one of the best Rebirth titles. But by throwing Damian Wayne into the equation Tomasi and Gleason up their game exponentially. Continue reading

Nightwing 9

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Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Nightwing 9, originally released November 16th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: If you go back and read my reviews of recent Nightwing issues, I’m on record as calling this run “grim” more than once. I’m still a bit puzzled as to why writer Tim Seeley has filled Dick with so much angst, but at least Nightwing 9 is an acknowledgement of this trend, and seemingly an active move away from it. It’s a refreshing look at why Dick Grayson is such a powerful character in the first place. Continue reading

Wonder Woman 9

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Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Wonder Woman 9, originally released October 26th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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Mark: I find the romantic entanglements of superheroes to be deeply uninteresting territory. For every Lois Lane—in her best portrayals an ambitious, go-getting reporter for The Daily Planet— there’s a dozen Gwen Stacy-types, a character known primarily for two things: the color of her hair and her untimely death.

After the explosive climax of Wonder Woman 7, Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp take a breather with Wonder Woman 9. Focused more on the private life of Diana Prince, the issue features the most Steve Trevor we’ve seen in the run thus far and, not coincidentally, drags the most when he’s around. Continue reading

Superman 9

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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

Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6

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Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: What do you think of when you hear the word “sequel”? Do you imagine a story that deepens the themes established in the original (a la The Dark Knight or The Godfather Part II) or do you imagine a story that returns to the well more out of obligation than any artistic impetus (a la The Dark Knight Rises or The Godfather Part III)? Do you imagine a continuation of the original narrative, taking the characters in bold new directions, or do you imagine a barely disguised repetition of the original narrative, taking the characters in safe, predictable directions? While I try to keep an open mind, I’ve been around the block enough times to recognize that most sequels tend to rely heavily on nostalgia, carefully recreating situations to replicate the thrills of the original. Unfortunately, that phenomenon means even my disappointment in The Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6 all too familiar. Continue reading