Patrick: Though my love for Green Lantern has dulled some over the years, the central concept behind the character is infinitely compelling to me. All the Green Lanterns use their power rings to will physical objects into existence. Sometimes these constructs are simple blasts of energy, sometimes they’re giant hammers, sometimes they’re cages or slings or flyswatters. Whatever it is, the thing only exists because a human being (…or some kind of alien…) willed it into existence. I find this idea fascinating — all it takes to achieve the impossible is to have the resolve to declare it possible. Realistically, I know that’s not all there is to it: achieving just about anything also takes time and hard work and practice and failure and money — but that all falls as a result of one’s will. Superheroes are a willful lot, but none more defiantly so than Elektra, and issue 7 demonstrates that that’s been her most valuable superpower all along.
Patrick: I probably bring up the Matrix movies more than I ought to when discussing comics. For all the hullabaloo that surrounded their release, the original Matrix was more of a cultural anomaly, and not the flashpoint for a vibrant new franchise. One of the biggest reasons that first film worked at all is that the Wachowskis melded arresting visuals with some rudimentary philosophy. Like, it’s just intellectual enough to engage the thinky portion of your brain, and then it switches tracks to engage the adrenaline-junky in all of us. The second and third movies got this mixture all wrong, agonizing over bare philosophy for far too long, never dressing it up as anything more abstract. And then there’s the matter of the spectacle, which got a lot less compelling with each new installment. Elektra has also toed this line, exploring how death has shaped the lives of Elektra and Bloody Lips against the backdrop of Michael Del Mundo’s glorious artwork. Issue three escalates both its spectacle and philosophy to dizzying heights, setting the stage for one hell of a heady ending to the opening arc.
Patrick: Last time, we discussed the lengths Elektra goes through to not be defined by the actions taken against her (or even those taken on her behalf). The obvious point of comparison is the bounty hunter Bloody Lips, introduced to us in that issue, but left off our heroine’s radar. Bloody Lips gains skills and perspectives by eating the flesh of his enemies. Rather than having traits forced upon him, his borrowed abilities are elective. It’s hard to distinguish between the morality of these two characters: both are mercenaries willing to kill in order to get closer to their goal. The second issue starts to delineate hero from villain as Bloody Lips is propelled forward by instinct and Elektra is held back by compassion. Continue reading
Today, Suzanne and Patrick are discussing Elektra 1, originally released on April 23, 2014.
Suzanne: By her own admission, Elektra has a bad habit of identifying herself through relationships to the men in her life. Her father, Matt Murdock, Kingpin, Bullseye…they all contribute to Elektra’s history in powerful ways. My first exposure to the character was Jennifer Garner’s appearance in Daredevil. Despite having a powerful skill set as an assassin, I didn’t leave the cinema wanting to kick butt like Elektra. Maybe this is a bit unfair, but my overall impression was that things happened to her and that element of passivity was unattractive. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 24, originally released October 16th, 2013.
Drew: When evaluating a work of art, I tend to ignore the artist — I’m far too focused on what the art means to me to care about what it means to anyone else, even if that anyone happens to be the one who made it. I think it helps me stay focused on the work in question — it’s all to easy to excuse bad art from an artist you like, or dismiss good art from an artist you hate — and focus on the meaning of a work of art. Occasionally, though, the artist (or the context into which the art was released) dominate the work’s meaning. Van Gogh paintings are presented as springboards for discussions of madness, and Beethoven symphonies simply cannot be performed without someone mentioning deafness. The real-world drama surrounding the release of Batwoman 24 are not nearly so biological, but in many ways, that only makes the issue a more frustrating read.
Last week, Haden Blackman announced that he and J.H. Williams III will be leaving Batwoman after issue 26, citing editorial interference. Williams has been instrumental in creating the unique, haunting look of the series, and together with Blackman, has crafted a smart, thoughtful, intimate story unlike anything else in in the New 52 — so what gives? Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 23, originally released August 21st, 2013.
Drew: At the end of Batwoman 22, Kate asks Bones for thirty hours to prepare for her planned takedown of Batman. We all suspected that that request might not be entirely on-the-level, assuming that Kate would use that time to set-up her own counter-plan. Issue 23 reveals that we were only half-right — Kate does use that time more for her own personal ends than for preparing for her mission, but how she uses it is entirely unexpected. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwoman 22, originally released July 17th, 2013.
Patrick: We spent last month with The Killer Croc — an oddly blunt instrument for symphony as subtle and sophisticated as Batwoman. A few pages in to this issue, and we become aware that our heroes are searching for Bane to ask him for advice on how to capture Batman. I know Bane’s actually done this before, but it is interesting to see the brutish villains popping up in a more cerebral title. And the party doesn’t end there — the ranks of the good guys and the bad are fleshed out with soldiers and psychopaths. How exactly these opposing forced are going to accomplish their goals is another topic of conversation altogether. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and guest writer Suzanne are discussing Batwoman 21, originally released June 19th, 2013.
Shelby: Story breaks are a tricky thing to manage when you’re dealing with a serialized form of media. In the case of comic books, the writer already has to contend with a month of time passing between story points; I like to think I’m a pretty attentive reader, and there are times I have to go back and skim over last month’s issue to remember what all we’re dealing with. But to interrupt your own on-going story with a mini-story takes a lot of confidence in both your on-going work and your interlude. J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have that confidence for good reason, as they interrupt out regularly scheduled Batwoman programming for a touching look at Gotham’s scaliest villain.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwoman 19, originally released April 17th, 2013.
Patrick: Early in this issue, DEO Agent Cameron Chase says to her sister: “I think I’m about to do something horrible.” This isn’t an admission of guilt, she isn’t asking for absolution, and she certainly doesn’t want to be talked out of doing this horrible something. But Chase isn’t the only person in this series that’s about to do something horrible. The whole cast of Batwoman imposes personal sacrifices on each other to the benefit of… well, of what exactly? Love? Honor? Duty? The very thing they’re sacrificing?