This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Patrick: For as much mythological importance as we place on origin stories, the question of how a superhero came to be very seldom adds up to his or her actual origin. Batman is the example in question, so let’s use him: a random mugging in crime alley, a broken string of pearls, two shots fired, an orphan. That’s quintessential, primordial Batman — the very stuff of which he is made. But that’s incomplete. A DC Comics murderers’ row of artists and writers set out to remind readers just how strange Batman’s origins really are in Batman Lost 1. In so doing, they also remind us how infinite and unpredictable Batman’s future truly is. It’s a dizzying collage of what-ifs and secret histories, all presented as true with unflinching authority. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman 50, originally released March 23rd, 2016.
Drew: The owner of my old LCS, Paul, was not a Batman fan. In his mind, a billionaire using his resources to “punch bad guys” was so misguided as to be immoral. Couldn’t Bruce Wayne do more good resolving the root causes of crime by building mixed-income housing or running programs for at-risk youth? Admittedly, Batman’s “punch bad guys” solution to crime lacks nuance, and seems increasingly outmoded the more we understand what causes crime in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s kind of key to Batman’s appeal — he can be a philanthropist on the side, sure, but nobody wants to read a comic where a guy dressed like a bat subsidizes grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods. To writer Scott Snyder’s credit, he started his run on Batman by having Bruce turn his attention to exactly that type of socioeconomic solution, a goal that forces within Gotham actively worked against. It was a smart move, but the fact that the Court of Owls would allow Bruce to be Batman, but drew the line at him rearranging the economic structure of Gotham speaks to just how ineffectual Batman is at affecting systemic change. With Batman 50, Snyder offers a more compelling justification for Batman — one that just might be the definitive answer to Paul’s criticisms. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman 49, originally released February 10th, 2016.
Spencer: One of the concepts that’s made Batman such a popular hero for the past 75 years is the idea that anybody could become Batman. None of us are alien refugees or Amazon princesses, none of us can expect to be struck by Speed Force lightning or bitten by a radioactive spider (and survive, at least), but with the right training, resources, and determination, anyone could become Batman; and sure, most of us don’t have access to the seemingly unlimited wealth, technology, or training Bruce Wayne had, but they’re at least goals that someone living in our real world could feasibly aspire to achieve. In Batman 49, though, Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette make all those qualifications — and, indeed, the very possibility of anyone besides Bruce Wayne ever truly becoming Batman — moot. Being Batman is about more than gear or training or money. Becoming Batman requires great, tragic sacrifice; it involves dying, whether figuratively or literally. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing Annual 3, originally released October 29th, 2014.
Spencer: As a very young child, I loved watching Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Supermanwith my mom every week. It wasn’t the first superhero show I fell in love with, but it was the first show I loved that got cancelled. I can still vividly remember sitting on the floor at my grandfather’s house bawling inconsolably the night the final episode aired. As an adult I’ve better come to appreciate that everything ends, but while many endings are absolutely triumphant (see: Trillium), there’s still always a feeling of melancholy that accompanies watching something I love come to an end. Charles Soule clearly can relate: Swamp Thing Annual 3 is all about the fact that all stories must come to an end, and how difficult those endings can be for those that have to experience them. In the process, Soule also explores the great power stories have in our lives, be it the power to comfort and inspire or the power to deceive and sow fear.
It’s that time of year again: where we suck up all of our grumblings about art being unquantifiable and compile our best-of lists. Today, we’re looking at our favorite single issues. Love or hate the subjectivity of this list, at the very least, it serves as a great reminder of all of the fantastic comics we’ve read over the past year. We’re sure your list will be different (and welcome your thoughts in the comments), but here are our top 13 issues of 2013. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Swamp Thing 19 originally released April 3rd, 2013.
Drew: Taking over a title from a much-loved creative team must be an intimidating task — especially after an epic story arc like Rotworld. First issues necessarily inspire less awe than story conclusions, which means the most salient points of comparison can only be unflattering. Mercifully (or perhaps diabolically), Snyder and Paquette had a bit of a fire-sale with characters, effectively setting the series back to zero in terms of interpersonal relationships. Those changes hinted at a very different status quo for Swamp Thing moving forward, one that new creative team Charles Soule and Kano not only pick up on, but assert with a strong sense of purpose. Continue reading →
Shelby: I’m going to be honest with you all: I’m at a loss, here. I’m not sure where to begin. Swamp Thing has been one of my favorite titles since I picked it up around issue 6. Scott Snyder’s Alec Holland is a conflicted man, trying to find his place in the world, but ultimately following his heart. Yanick Paquette’s art is horrifyingly beautiful, so beautiful I was inspired to permanently ink it into my skin. Add a couple star-crossed lovers, disgusting zombie creatures, and the destruction of the DC universe, and you’ve got something pretty special on your hands. This issue marks the end of Rotworld, the end of Snyder and Paquette’s work on the title, and the fates of Abby and Alec; it’s no wonder I’m feeling a little bittersweet about this write-up. Continue reading →
Shelby: Enough “Poor Alec.” Last month, we talked about Alec’s lonely road and his single shining star, Abby. Well, that’s all over! He’s got the resources of Batman in the hands of Barbara Gordon, one of the smartest people in the DCU. He can feel his lady love leading him on, and now that he’s got the backup he needs, he’s going to put an end to this Rot shit once and for all! It’s Swamp Thing’s rallying call! He’s gonna kick some ass in the greenest way imagined! No more pity, it’s time for action! Just as we start to get really pumped, though, Scott Snyder reminds us that it might actually be too late after all.
We generally avoid quantifying our enthusiasm around here — we’ll gladly praise or condemn comics as our tastes dictate, but turning that into a grade or a score makes us uncomfortable. As there are in our pull-list, there are holes in this ‘Best of’ list. Mea culpa. We’ve had some great experiences with comics this year, and these are the series that were consistently fun, thoughtful and beautiful. Too subjective for a year-end list? Ignore the rankings. Any way you slice it, these are fantastic series that deserve the scrutiny we heap on everything. Each is a rewarding read and well worth your attention. Our picks for the top 12 series of 2012:
You know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you can’t judge the cover on its own merit. Some covers are so excellent that they back all the drama, excitement and emotion of the whole issue into one succinct image. Sometimes they end up being their own surreal experience. And other times, we’re just exciting to see our favorite heroes kicking ass one more time. These are our top 12 most awesome, creative and graphic covers of 2012.