Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Batman 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Shelby: I prefer playing games where everyone knows the rules. Sure, there are some PC games out there where you’re just dumped in the game universe and have to figure out what to do and how to do it (Myst, I’m looking at you), but that’s different. That’s more me trying to solve a puzzle than not knowing the rules. If I’m going to play a game with other people, I want everyone to know the rules; what’s the fun in beating someone at a game they don’t know how to play? In Zero Year, Scott Snyder has had a very young Batman pitted against the Riddler in a game our hero has consistently lost. Personally, I think there are two big reasons Batman has been losing this fight: he assumes he knows the rules of the game, and he assumes the bad guy will actually abide by them.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 31, originally released May 28th, 2014.
Drew: Between comics, movies, tv shows, video games, radio serials, and children’s imaginations, Batman is arguably the most prolific fictional character in history. With that long, multi-media history comes a secondary history of reinvention. I’ve seen it said that each generation redefines Batman, but in my mind, he’s revamped far more often than once a generation. Each new iteration brings changes, some more superficial than others, but what is it that actually defines Batman? What is his immutable core? The thing that would actually make him a different character if it was absent? With Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have already given lie to what many people would assume were givens — grimness chief amongst them — but issue 31 finds them asserting an essential element I hadn’t expected: masochism. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Batman 30, originally released April 16th, 2014.
Drew: Adults are very good at pretending to know what they’re doing. Indeed, they’re so good, most folks don’t figure this out until they’re already in the midst of pretending to know what they’re doing themselves, and by then, they’re already adults. It’s almost a secret that there’s basically nothing that qualifies us to have jobs, pay rent, get married, have kids, and whatever else it is that grownups do. You’re not going to be adequately prepared for these things by the time you start doing them, and you’re only going to get better through trial and error. It’s that “error” part that’s scary — nobody wants to lose their job, home, spouse, or kids — but fortunately for us, the stakes of any single mistake are relatively low. Batman, on the other hand, has always played for much higher stakes — typically the wellbeing of his hometown — and Batman 30 explores just what happens when he isn’t up to the challenge.
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman 29, originally released March 12th, 2014.
Shelby: It can be really hard to admit you’ve been wrong. Especially when you’ve gone out of your way to show everyone how right you are. The only thing to do is own up to your mistake and try to fix it. It’s a painful admission to make, and the bigger the consequences of your mistake, the more painful it is. In his own take on the iconic Batman origin story, Scott Snyder has given us a Bruce Wayne who is young, brash, and very confident. Whether through an inflated sense of self or the independence forced upon him at the death of his parents (probably a bit of both), this Bruce is even more reluctant to accept help from others than we’ve seen before. Finally, as the latest arc of Zero Year wraps up, the pieces begin to fall into place, and Bruce finds himself with some mistakes to own up to and a very hard lesson to learn. Problem is, it looks like it might be too late. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batman 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014.
Shelby: We all know why Bruce Wayne became Batman: parents killed, city corrupted, a cowardly and superstitious lot, etc. We get it, we get Batman. But that has never been enough for Scott Snyder. Throughout his run on Batman, Snyder has forced Bruce to recognize his allies, and nearly lose them. In Night of the Owls, the very city of Gotham seemed to turn on Batman, and Death of the Family saw Bruce realize how important the Bat-family is to him just in time to nearly lose it (or actually lose it, the family certainly hasn’t been the same since). While on its surface, Zero Year is another retelling of the Batman origin, Snyder actually gives us a much closer look at Bruce’s motivations, and the beginnings of those relationships he grew to value so dearly. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Batman 26, originally released December 11th, 2013
Scott: There’s real risk in presenting a story like Zero Year. Mostly, there’s a risk that there won’t be enough tension to keep the story interesting. One thing that makes a story exciting to read is that we don’t know what will happen to the characters, and there’s always the possibility of tragedy striking a character we love. Those possibilities are limited in Zero Year. Since it takes place in the past, we know a lot of things can’t happen. Bruce can’t die in Zero Year. Neither can Alfred, Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox, or any other character we saw in the first 20 issues of Batman. With that in mind,let’s take this opportunity to thank goodness that Scott Snyder knows how to exploit all of the things this type of story can do. Zero Year shows an evolution — one of strange people becoming the characters we’ve come to know — and it’s full of mystery. Seems like a risk worth taking. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Batman 25, originally released November 13th, 2013
Mikyzptlk: From the moment that Zero Year was first announced, it has been shrouded in mystery. What exactly was the “Zero Year” and how would it change the origin of Batman that we’ve been familiar with for so long? We are now five issues into the story, and while some of the mysteries are becoming clear, there seems to be tons of new ones cropping up left and right. Issue 25 of Batman is no exception. At the same time, we are introduced to a brand new/really old Batman villain that may just be revealing more about our hero than he is about himself at this point. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Spencer are discussing Batman 24, originally released October 9th, 2013.
Scott: It’s not enough just to tell a Batman origin story anymore. We know that story. The Bruce Wayne story. Bruce watches his parents die, he runs away, he trains, he becomes a great warrior, he returns to his city and his fortune, he fights crime, yada yada yada. It’s a great story and it’s fun to read, it’s just that, in this Bat-saturated day-in-age, it’s not enough. It’s not enough to see how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, we need to see how Batman becomes Batman: The Legend. Finally, Scott Snyder is giving us a look at how the myth of Batman is born, or rather, carefully constructed by Bruce and his trusty aide, Alfred Pennyworth. The ensuing story doesn’t just feel like new. It feels like enough. (And I mean that in a very good way.) Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 23, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Drew: Origin stories are a fact of life for comic book fans. Love them or hate them, they’ve become an obligate part of superhero storytelling. Every movie franchise, every hard reset, every soft relaunch, needs to retell the origin story with a new spin (you know, to justify the retelling), folding new elements into those of previous iterations. The result is a strange, multi-generational chimera, cannibalized from every version of the story that’s come before. The results can range from beautiful to grotesque but the best manage to pay homage to the past while pointing a way forwards. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo tackle a seminal moment of Batman’s history in Batman 23, perfectly balancing the admiration and innovation, building to a climax perfectly designed to excite Batman fans. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Shelby: There’s a special kind of arrogance that comes with being in your early twenties. We all knew that one guy, fresh out of school, who was convinced he knew it all, that his way was THE way and if you didn’t agree than you were wrong. It comes in part from being freshly educated. You’ve got all this new knowledge, this new way of viewing the world around you; you think you have finally figured everything out when actually you’re just beginning to figure out how to think. It also comes from the new-found independence of college life. Whether you enjoyed the pseudo-independence of the dormitory lifestyle, or had more pressing concerns like rent and the electric bill in an apartment, it’s probably the first time you’ve been solely in charge of yourself. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, I didn’t know that guy…” then there’s a chance you were that guy. Fear not! Bruce Wayne’s behavior this issue of Batman shows us you’re in good company.