Action Comics 23.4: Metallo

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Today, Patrick and guest writer Chuck are discussing Action Comics 23.4: Metallo, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

villain divPatrick: Have you ever wondered why we find the idea of an evil version of our heroes so interesting? From Bizarro to Venom to Dark Link, we love seeing a warped mirror image of the protagonist. I think it’s because we get to double down on the time we spend exploring their common details. But there’s also this kind of “there but for the grace of God” fascination — if circumstances or perspective were just a little bit different the hero could become the villain. Sholly Fisch tries that same approach to Metallo, and it results in making the character feel less interesting, less unique. Fortunately, that’s exactly what he’s going for. Continue reading

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Action Comics 23.3: Lex Luthor

lex luthor 23.3Today, Shelby and guest writer Dad — er, Pete, are discussing Action Comics 23.3: Lex Luthor, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

villain divShelby: If there’s ever been a character defined by ego, it’s Lex Luthor. He’s the classic evil genius; unimaginably intelligent and selfish to the bone. Lex Luthor’s primary concern is Lex Luthor, and there’s no moral code he won’t break to get his way. He’s the perfect nemesis for Superman because they are complete opposites. Superman uses the power he has to give, Luthor uses it to take. Writer Charles Soule, in the guise of a “day-in-the-life-of” piece gives us a glimpse of what the world would be like without a Superman to provide balance against Luthor. The results are grim and rather brilliant.

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The Flash 23.3: Rogues

rogues 23.3Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing The Flash 23.3: Rogues, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of DC’s Villain Month. Click here for our coverage of Villain Month.

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Patrick: I wouldn’t say that Captain Cold is an alcoholic, but he does drink. Occasionally, he drinks to escape, but he also drinks to celebrate. It’s a dimension of who he his, but it doesn’t define him, which is so rare in comics. If someone’s a drinker, that’s probably some horrible vice that pigeonholes them into being abusive, inattentive or otherwise absent. Hell, Taylor and I just posted a piece of Casey Jones’ alcoholic father in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yesterday. Beer is a consistent factor in this issue, it sees Cold through despair, it helps him unwind, and it’s even a sign of hospitality. Cold’s boozing habits are nuanced and resist simple definition, just like the man himself. Continue reading

Teen Titans 23.1: Trigon

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Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Teen Titans 23.1: Trigon, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

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Shelby: Demons, am I right? They are pretty much the most concentrated form of evil out there, short of Satan himself. There are a few demons floating around the DCU, so it’s no surprise one of them would get an issue this month. The only thing I knew about Trigon going into this issue was that he fathered Raven, and I was intrigued by what his origin would be. Would he be something along the Christian lines of Hell and minions of Satan, or would it be a more galactic demonic force sort of situation? Whatever it was, I knew it would be unsavory, in a dark magic sort of way, which is usually right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for just how unsavory it would turn out to be.
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Batman and Robin 23.2: Court of Owls

court of owls 23.2Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman and Robin 23.2: Court of Owls, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

villain divShelby: For being a new villain in the DC universe, the Court of Owls finds itself very firmly rooted in Gotham’s history. They’ve existed since the beginning, secretly running the city behind the scenes, shaping it into the image they want. They claim to be Owls,  but operate more like snakes: hiding and striking from the shadows, fleeing when the going gets tough. That is the lesson James Tynion is teaching us in this Villains Month issue; the Court of the Owls will always retreat to the shadows when faced with an unbeatable adversary. And those shadows go a lot deeper than you might think.

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Batman 23.2: The Riddler

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Today, Shelby and guest writer Lindsey are discussing Batman 23.2: The Riddler, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

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Shelby: The Riddler and the Joker. Two clowns, of a sort, with very different reputations. To the Joker, the world is a gag, a cheap joke that doesn’t make sense. That’s why he’s so scary; you literally have no idea what he’ll do next. The Riddler has always been different to me. Riddles are silly, true, but they’re clever. There’s a perverted sense of logic to them. That’s how I’ve always thought of Edward Nygma: clever, but ultimately rather silly and harmless. Ray Fawkes and Scott Snyder show us a different, more dangerous Riddler, and I am liking what I see.
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The Flash 23.2: Reverse Flash

Alternating Currents: Flash 23.2 Reverse Flash, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Flash 23.2: Reverse Flash, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of DC’s Villain Month. Click here for our coverage of Villain Month.

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Oh, if I had just lived right up to that moment… and not one second more. That would have been perfect.

Walter White, Breaking Bad

Drew: Regrets are the worst. We make hundreds of decisions every day, but our minds seem only to fixate on the mistakes and missed opportunities. We fetishize how things might have been different if only we had made that one small change, creating entire life paths that never have been, never could be, never will be walked. If the regrets are small enough (I wish I had ordered the fajitas), we usually forget about them and move on, but larger regrets can consume us, creating a vivid fantasy world of “if only.” In “Fly,” a brilliantly mediative episode from Breaking Bad‘s third season, Walt pinpoints the exact moment where his life should have ended, with every moment since steeped in regret that it didn’t. It’s a surprisingly unguarded moment for the character, revealing that, for all his machinations, he may suffer from the same uncertainties — and be driven by the same simple motivators — as the rest of us. Daniel West finds a similarly specific final moment of happiness in this issue, but of course, he locates it with the hope of going back and undoing everything that follows. Continue reading

Justice League 23.1: Darkseid

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Justice League 23.1: Darkseid, originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

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PatrickAny time I write about Darkseid, I’m worried that I’m going to misspell the character’s name. This is a fairly unique problem for me — outside of my unfortunate “Kitty Pride” habit (which I kicked after reading like a dozen issues of All-New X-Men), I’ve got a pretty good handle on how everyone’s name is spelled. I put the dash between Spider and Man and I know to double the R at the end of Dex Starr. But when I get to Darkseid, not only to I need to wrestle with internal pronunciation (‘darkSEED’ vs. ‘darkSIDE’), but I have to fight all of my elementary school spelling-training. “I before E, except after C and when sounding as ‘ay’ such as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh.'” My mnemonic rhyme fails and I’m left with what’s in front of me. There’s an odd parallel to the presence of the New Gods in the New 52 – there’s a lot that we could know about them going in, but none of it is going to do you any good when you try to understand the character that’s in front of you. Ladies and gentlemen: Darksied Darkseid.
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Batman: The Dark Knight 23.1: The Ventriloquist

ventriloquist 23.1

Today, Shelby and guest writer Mike are discussing Batman: The Dark Night 23.1: The Ventriloquist, originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

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ShelbyIt’s a well-documented fact around the non-existent Retcon Punch offices that I love morally ambiguous anti-heroes. That character who walks the dividing line between good guy and bad guy makes for such an interesting and exciting read. My love of the gray area between good and bad extends to the various shades of good and bad; some good guys are more good than others, some bad guys are more bad than others. With the Justice League dead, this month is going to feature a lot of bad guys encountering bad guys, and as is the case in this issue, no one really wins. Not even the reader, sadly.
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Green Arrow 23.1: Count Vertigo

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Today, Shelby and guest writer Zach are discussing Green Arrow 23.1: Count Vertigo, originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

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ShelbyJust what makes a villain? Are villains people (super-powered or otherwise) who tried to do right but realized doing wrong was faster and easier? Were they denied something in their life, and have decided to get it back no matter what it takes? Are they just huge assholes? As DC rolls out Villains Month, I suspect we’ll be asking ourselves these questions over and over. This month, I’m hoping to get some deeper insight into the role of the villain, as well as the origins of the villains our heroes encounter every month. Also, I want some depredation and cruelty, because what’s the point of a month of villains only without depredation and cruelty? Happily, Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Marcelo Maiolo give me exactly what I want, kicking of Viillains Month with a dizzying bang. Continue reading