Spencer: Every once in a while you stumble across a premise so unique, exciting, or just plain off-the-wall bonkers that you have to check the story out. More often, though, a story will feature a more standard premise, and it’s up to the creative team to make those familiar ideas feel fresh, either by finding a new angle to explore the concept from, by using it to explore their cast in a novel way, or simply by having as much fun with it as possible. Sadly, Robin: Son of Batman 11 does none of these things. The Lu’un Darga are the definition of cliched, stock villains, and Ray Fawkes and Ramon Bachs do nothing to liven them up. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Robin: Son of Batman 9, originally released February 17th, 2016.
Spencer: Up until yesterday, I didn’t know that Robin: Son of Batman 9 was Patrick Gleason’s final issue as writer and penciller on the title. With the suddenness of the news — and the circumstances surrounding Gleason’s departure still unknown — it’s hard to tell whether this issue was meant to serve as the finale to his run, or was originally planned as the beginning of something more. Either way, it highlights Gleason’s greatest strengths as a creator, but a few of his more notable weaknesses as well. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Robin: Son of Batman 6, originally released November 25th, 2015.
Spencer: “Redemption” can be an awfully selfish pursuit if the person seeking redemption is more interested in clearing their own name and conscience than about alleviating the pain they’ve caused others. I certainly wouldn’t accuse Damian Wayne of being selfish, but he is young, and still learning just what, exactly, redemption and forgiveness are all about. In Robin: Son of Batman 6, Patrick Gleason uses the events of the past five issues to teach Damian an entirely new definition of redemption, one focused more on others than himself. Continue reading
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Robin: Son of Batman, originally released October 28, 2015.
Michael: Here’s an odd question: do you ever have cognitive dissonance about traditional story progression when you’re reading a particular comic book? I know I do. I’ve been exposed to so many comic book series and arcs that I have been conditioned in a way. I often find myself judging the pace of a series and when it hits certain plot points – all based on standards set by prior comic books. Do stories need to be examined with such a focused lens? Or can we as the readers let go of any preconceived notions and trust that the creator has an intentional plan? Continue reading
Mark: One of the complaints leveled at comic books is that nothing ever sticks. A character dies, only to be brought back at the next best opportunity. Damian was dead, but now he’s back. Reborn Damian has super powers, but it’s probably only a matter of time before he’s de-powered. Does the inevitability detract from what’s happening now? As a reader, that’s not something that’s ever bothered me. My only expectation/hope when reading a series is that individual arcs will be satisfying. Comic books are mini-rebooting between arcs all the time. If a good arc is followed by a bad arc, it doesn’t diminish what came before.
Batman has had a lot of surrogate children over the years (it seems like recently we’re having a Robin graduation every year or so), but there’s obviously something unique about his relationship with Damian. It’s been a long journey to Damian’s resurrection, and finally seeing the Dynamic Duo back in action is a lot of fun. Still in the end, as much as this is sold as a new beginning, this issue is more of a concluding chapter to the Robin Rises saga. Continue reading
Peter Tomasi can be seen as a workhorse of DC’s writer stable. He is constantly dealing with other people’s baggage in his own series, including the Batman and Robin-altering death of Damian Wayne. But that’s not the only thread Tomasi has used to weave his Batman epic. Indeed, the loss of Robin has turned into survey of how the New 52’s Batman fits into rest of the Universe. Issue 30, titled Batman and Wonder Woman, plays with some of the best toys in the box. Patrick sat down with Pete and went through the issue page by page, so get your copy handy and join us on the Commentary Track.
Retcon Punch: First, can you talk about going after Wonder Woman and exploring the more magical end of the Universe. I know we’re chasing around resurrection pits and whatnot…
Peter Tomasi: Yeah, it seemed like a good place to explore. They’ve had Lazarus Pits all around the globe, and it felt like a cool bit that we hadn’t ever seen where: why wouldn’t a secret island full of Amazons have one? Maybe there’s a little something-something going on there, and we could play with a little magic there. I don’t really do this a lot, I’m a very linear storyteller — I wrote this whole sequence of them going to the island first and all this stuff. Continue reading
Mikyzptlk: Origin stories. We are getting a lot of origin stories from DC Comics these days. I suppose it’s only natural given the relative newness of the New 52. It’s been a few years now, but there are still a lot of lingering questions and a lot more room to reinterpret certain origins. Still, I’ve been suffering from “origin-itis” lately, especially with Villain’s Month throwing a ton of new origins our way. While Peter Tomasi didn’t use the Two-Face Villain’s Month special to explore the origin of the villain, he’s certainly using this current arc to do so. So, how does he do? Well, Tomasi brilliantly circumvents my origin-overload by tying Harvey’s past directly into his present. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Drew: I’m not sure I’ve ever “gotten” Ra’s al Ghul. Sure, as the immortal leader of a criminal empire, he’s a great villain, but I never fully understood why he’s a Batman villain. The best Batman rogues highlight some important element of Bruce Wayne: Joker’s gleeful chaos reflects Batman’s brooding order, for example. Without a gimmicky hook, I was always left thinking that Ra’s was meant to highlight Bruce’s mortality, which is kind of a defining characteristic, but one that is brought up every time he’s put in moral peril, so not really specific to Ra’s. With Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, writer James Tynion IV finds that parallel in the way both men wield myths to make them stronger, turning in a character-defining secret origin that actually builds on the character’s history, rather than simply rehashing it. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 13, originally released July 31st, 2013.
It never ends. It probably never will.
Drew: What does it mean to end a run writing Batman? How do you “end” a story featuring a character that has been published in perpetuity for over 70 years with no signs of slowing down? Sure, Grant Morrison “killed” Bruce Wayne, but that was back at the close of his epic’s second act. No, the ending here had to be something much grander, something much truer to the unrelenting nature of Batman. The sheer scope of Morrison’s epic is deserving of the same pomp and circumstance of “the definitive end” of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern, but Morrison manages to approach that same grandiosity with modest deference, keeping in mind that, while the he may be done, Batman will keep on going. That simple nod turns his elaborate love letter to Batman’s past into an equally impassioned love letter to Batman’s future, and gracefully shifts Morrison from center stage to the audience. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 12, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Drew: I don’t know when exactly I learned the phrase “grand finale,” but for much of my childhood, I only associated it with Fourth of July fireworks shows. I don’t know if it was just youthful impatience, or just excitement over getting to use those special words, but that was the only part of the show I ever cared about — who wants to see brilliant explosions paced out slowly when they can all go off in rapid succession? To some degree, I think there’s still an expectation for finales to be grand — remember everyone’s reaction to The Sopranos finale? — even if that ignores that narratives aren’t the same thing as fireworks shows. A satisfying conclusion to a narrative features consequents to the antecedents set up throughout the story, effectively closing all of the open parentheses. That job is already tough (think of how many otherwise decent stories have been totally ruined by a botched ending), but becomes exponentially tougher as the antecedents and open parens pile up over the years — especially when Grant Morrison is writing. His Batman Epic has been truly epic — it features both a global scope and a historical perspective, and has introduced countless characters, relationships, and histories — all of which require additional consideration as the story winds to its close. This entire final chapter of Batman Incorporated has been about starting that process, but issue 12 suggests that Morrison might actually intend to close ALL of his open parentheses AND give us the grand finale our inner child has been begging for for the past seven years. Continue reading