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

Batman 41: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Ryan Mogge

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

Michael: The traditional superhero narrative can boil down to “hero is on top, villain arrives and takes over, hero defeats villain and the status-quo is restored.” There will be a period — however long or brief — where the villain has won and all hope is lost. Instead of showing a gradual build to that moment of defeat, Batman 41 starts us off there. Instead of opening with the first act optimism of A New Hope, Batman 41 goes right for the bleak Empire Strikes Back act break. Continue reading

Near the Beginning and at the End in Batman Annual 2

by Michael DeLaney

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

If you haven’t been paying much attention, Tom King is a big shipper of Batman and Catwoman. In Batman Annual 2, King forgoes any direct connection to his current Batman run and instead writes a Batman/Catwoman tale that functions as the first and last word on the couple. Continue reading

A Pity Party vs. a Victim Complex in The Flash 30

by Spencer Irwin

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

Ramsey the coroner, a.k.a. Bloodwork a.k.a. the villain of The Flash 30, never wants to be a victim again after a sheltered childhood hiding from hemophilia, and has only hurt or killed others in order to protect himself. That doesn’t absolve him, of course — the only real risk he’s facing is his own crimes being exposed, and he has zero remorse for any of his actions — but it does explain why he wants to hurt the Flash. Not only is Flash a personal threat to Bloodwork, but Ramsey also views him as a threat to all of Central City, something Barry, in his current self-pitying, Negative Speed Force addled state, would definitely agree with. Continue reading

The Flash 29 Is An Issue Divided

by Spencer Irwin

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

The bi-weekly shipping schedule DC’s implemented for some of its top books has been a benefit to the speed of the narrative, but it’s been more problematic when it comes to the artwork. While some titles have found elegant solutions to this problem, others have worked their way through fill-in artists almost haphazardly. The Flash, unfortunately, is one of the latter, and issue 29 is especially egregious in that regard. Continue reading

Self-Pity as a Weapon in The Flash 28

by Spencer Irwin

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

Barry Allen’s greatest weakness is that he gets caught up inside his own head. When Barry’s upset about something it’s all he can think about, making him late, making him oblivious to the needs of those around him, making him oblivious to the damage his own obliviousness is causing. It’s a vicious cycle; Barry feels bad about himself and retreats into his own head, leading him to make more, similar mistakes, leading him to feel worse about himself, leading him to make more mistakes, on and on and on. Continue reading

The Negative Speed Force Only Muddles the Flash 27

by Spencer Irwin

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

The “emo Peter Parker” from Spider-Man 3 gets a lot of well-deserved flack, but it’s always bugged me when people complain about that being the “evil” version of Peter. No, that’s not how the symbiote works — it doesn’t turn people evil, it frees them from their inhibitions and reveals who they truly are inside, something established in the comics, and at least implied in the movie. The result, in Peter’s case, may be dumb, but at least it’s consistent with how the symbiote works. I wish I could say the same about Eobard Thawne’s Negative Speed Force, because I have no idea what in the world that thing does. Continue reading

Legitimizing The Emerald Archer in Green Arrow 27

by Michael DeLaney

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

Green Arrow’s recent “Hard-Traveling Hero” arc is basically an excuse to have Oliver Queen do a tour of the DCU — and I have absolutely no problem with that. After their team-up last issue, The Flash passes the Green Arrow-shaped torch to Wonder Woman. Continue reading

It’s One Step Forward and Two Steps Back for Barry in The Flash 26

by Spencer Irwin

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

Guilt alone is not usually enough to help somebody change for the better. It’s an important first step, of course, but unless it leads to self-reflection, guilt can often do more harm than good. That’s certainly true for Barry Allen throughout Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter’s The Flash 26, where Barry’s overwhelming guilt leads him to make yet another stupid decision, despite the best of intentions. Continue reading