This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Patrick: For as much mythological importance as we place on origin stories, the question of how a superhero came to be very seldom adds up to his or her actual origin. Batman is the example in question, so let’s use him: a random mugging in crime alley, a broken string of pearls, two shots fired, an orphan. That’s quintessential, primordial Batman — the very stuff of which he is made. But that’s incomplete. A DC Comics murderers’ row of artists and writers set out to remind readers just how strange Batman’s origins really are in Batman Lost 1. In so doing, they also remind us how infinite and unpredictable Batman’s future truly is. It’s a dizzying collage of what-ifs and secret histories, all presented as true with unflinching authority. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.
I like to think of Benjamin Percy’s “Hard-Travelling Hero” arc of Green Arrow as “The Oliver Queen Apology Tour” — as Green Arrow travels across the country and ends up proving his worth to the heavy hitters of the Justice League. This time around Green Arrow is teamed up with fellow billionaire playboy/non-powered vigilante Batman. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing All-Star Batman 4, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: One of the tenets of Batman story is perception: the difference of worldview between Batman, his allies, and his villains. There’s the more popular battling ideologies of vigilantism vs traditional legitimate law enforcement or Joker’s anarchy vs Batman’s order, but All-Star Batman’s battle of ideologies is based on the age-old question of “is man inherently good or inherently evil?” Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman 51, originally released April 27th, 2016.
Drew: Nostalgia is a complicated force in superhero comics. On the one hand, a 75-year history is a unique and powerful tool, one that can be mined to celebrate past achievements and reward loyal readers; on the other hand, an audience’s fondness for that history may be exploited, used in lieu of actual quality to assure sales of a given title. These ends may not be mutually exclusive, but parsing the value of nostalgia becomes even more complicated when we consider our own relationship to the material. I don’t bring this up to spark a discussion of critical theory and the fallacy of objectivity (though that’s a conversation I’m always willing to have), but to acknowledge just how important Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run has been to me, personally, and to Retcon Punch as a website. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Robin War 2, originally released January 13, 2016.
Spencer:Have you ever watched or read something that you could tell was good, but something about it just didn’t work for you? Maybe there was just one small plot point that rang false, but the failure of that one moment led to the rest of the narrative collapsing around it? That’s the way I feel about Robin War 2. There’s quite a bit about this issue that I like, but there’s one flaw in its very premise that kinda ruins the entire event: writer Tom King never explains why the Court of Owls wants to reclaim Dick Grayson so badly. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman Eternal 52, originally released April 1, 2015.
People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.
Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins
Spencer: Throughout all of the many different storylines in Batman Eternal, one theme has steadily built under the title’s surface: the idea of Batman’s legacy. While it was never something addressed all that directly (at least until R’as al Ghul flat out asked “Is Batman eternal?” a few weeks ago), the creative bullpen has steadily been building up Batman’s team of allies and investigating just what effect Batman’s presence has had on Gotham City. With this massive weekly series finally coming to an end, Batman Eternal 52 aims to show exactly the power of that symbol on Batman’s chest, and it does so in spectacular fashion, pulling together nearly all the threads that have been cast throughout the last 52 issues into one show-stopping finale. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 11, originally released July 11th, 2012.
Drew: Comic books often rely on well-worn tropes. As do mystery novels. And action movies. This arc of Batman (like all great Batman stories) is essentially all three of these things, so a little soliloquizing from the villain in the final act isn’t just expected, it’s downright obligatory. Of course, Scott Snyder is not a writer content to simply rely on such tropes, and instead uses the opportunity to comment on that particular cliche, while simultaneously delivering a final act soliloquy that is better than any of those it is riffing on. It’s one of my favorite tricks of postmodernism (one that is rarely pulled off so well), and is only a microcosm of what Snyder has been doing with this whole arc. As the Court of Owls arc concludes, we’re left with a deconstruction of a Batman story that is among the best Batman stories ever told. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 10, originally released June 13th, 2012.
Drew: There’s a moment, right in the middle of this issue, that finds Bruce sitting in his robe, idly handling a pair of shell casings. How these clues fit into his current case isn’t apparent, but as the scene plays out, it slowly becomes clear that these were the casings of the bullets that killed Bruce’s parents. This kind of shocking, resonating reveal first introduced as something innocuous is a microcosm of writer Scott Snyder’s current run on Batman; a magic act he’s able to pull off time and time again, to impossibly greater and greater effect. This issue is an exemplar of that skill, cashing in on a set-up not just 10 issues, but 73 years in the making. Continue reading →
Drew: Let’s talk about baggage. Comics (especially comics with 70+ year histories) have a lot of fictional history that fans have long demanded that creators adhere to. DC’s relaunch promised to shake that status quo up a bit, freeing up editors, writers, and artists to keep what works and jettison anything that doesn’t. Of course, Batman being Batman, damn near everything about him worked. Writer Scott Snyder has revealed a lot of new information, largely by focusing on things that aren’t Bruce (or his core relationships), but much of what we knew about Batman has remained true. This makes any changes that are made — like those revealed towards the end of Batman Annual 1 — particularly effective; especially when they play so brilliantly against what we expect. Continue reading →
Drew: Serialization is in. There have always been long-form narratives that have relied on dense mythologies to build-up stories over time, but until recently, they have always been balanced by more episodic works; for every Days of Our Lives, there was a Law and Order. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, but with the popularity of DVD collections for television and trade paperback collections for comics (and the availability of individual episodes or issues online) have made, dense, long-form narratives are easier than ever to gain access to. It’s understandable why serialization is so appealing to both creators and audience alike — characters have a chance to develop over longer scales than single chapters, and don’t have to jockey as much for space against the actual plot. Continue reading →