This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
In his write-up of Batman 55, our very own Spencer Irwin highlighted the formal differences between the sequences featuring Dick Grayson and those featuring the mysterious “Mr. Zimmerman.” The Dick Grayson layouts are freewheeling and unpredictable, while “The Zimmerman sequences are highly regimented, each and every one depicted as nine-panel grids. This seems to represent how cold and calculated Zimmerman is and how mercenary and transnational his life is, but also how isolated he’s become.” Issue 56 drove that point home further, doubling down on the formal differences between the two stories (even after Dick Grayson stopped appearing). So by the time we read Batman 57 we’re pretty well conditioned to the notion that nine-panel grids = the KGBeast’s story, while anything else = Batman’s. It’s an expectation Tom King and his collaborators upend brilliantly, forcing us to question those conclusions we drew about these formal choices way back at the start of this arc.Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
From now on, I am Evil Abed. We are the Evil Study group, and we have but one evil goal: return somehow to the Prime Timeline, the one that I stopped you from rolling that die. Then we destroy the good versions of ourselves and reclaim our proper lives.
Evil Abed, Community
The notion of the “darkest timeline” seems to have entered the zeitgeist, mostly through tongue-in-cheek suggestions that we’re currently living in it, but it’s a relatively common concept in science fiction. Indeed, there are so many examples, I kind of split my metaphor on my discussion of Batman 45, touching on everything from Back to the Future Part II to It’s a Wonderful Life to that “Treehouse of Horror” episode of The Simpsons where Homer keeps accidentally changing the timeline. But none are more explicit about the superlativeness of the badness of the timeline than Community‘s darkest timeline.
It stands as a kind of conceptual opposite of Gottfried Leibniz’s “best of all possible worlds” theory — his explanation for human suffering that any other “world” (effectively, a different timeline) would be worse. The Back to the Future franchise suggests that the original timeline was neither the best nor the worst (Marty improves it in the first movie, turning his father into a successful science fiction writer, Biff makes it worse in the second, turning himself into a Trump-ian real-estate mogul), but most of these other examples only show changes to the timeline making things worse — effectively, that we’re actually living in the best of all possible worlds. This is definitely supported in the horrific timeline Booster Gold created as Bruce’s wedding gift, which is undeniably worse than the DC Universe as we know it, though on the surface appeared better for Bruce. That is, until Booster tries to fix things in this issue. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week. Continue reading →
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, Spencer and Drew are discussing Batman 21, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Spencer: Two gunshots ring out in a dark alley. A string of pearls falls to the ground. Sound familiar? It should — Batman’s origin story is one of the best-known and most beloved in comic book history. It’s been told and retold countless times, and while many of these stories are flat-out classics — Year One, Batman Begins, Mask of the Phantasm — one still wonders: Is another Batman origin story really necessary? Can Batman’s origin still be retold in a fresh way that doesn’t rehash or invalidate those earlier stories? The jury’s still out on the first question, but in Batman 21, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo prove that they’re capable of telling a Batman origin story the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
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 →