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God of Comics – Ragman #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

October 10, 2017

Ragman #1 (DC Comics)

Gotham is… not a good place. There’ve been whole stories speaking of Gotham being stepped in evil, and the city itself has sometimes been the villain in better Batman stories (City of Crime comes immediately to mind).

There’re rumors in Gotham. The Batman is not a known quantity, and most people living in Gotham will never see a supervillain or on the darkling vigilantes that try to hold back that darkness. Those people are the rumors ordinary people whisper to one another, but those whispers circle around again: the villains and heroes sometimes whisper of a figure called the Ragman.

Ragman, real name Rory Regan, is a Jewish hero based in the Golem myth. He’s a good man who wore a costume of rags to do good works in, but that changed when tragedy struck and the rags started absorbing the souls of evildoers. Rory could then access the skills, attributes, and abilities of those so absorbed, and in the process he learned about and became skilled in the art of magic.

Cool, right? He did some stuff in the occult underground lurking along the corners of the DCU, even fighting the Spectre at one point and walking away to tell the tale. He vanished during the nu52, because even the grimdark tone of that world couldn’t handle the actual grim and dark that is the heart of this character.

But DC returned to its roots with Rebirth and they’ve been slowly revisiting old concepts and the world – our world, the real one – needs representation. Thanks to Marvel we’ve lost Captain America to the Nazis, so writer Ray Fawkes is bringing back one of the strangest heroes with his nuanced eye. This is the guy that wrote Gotham by Midnight and worked on the awe-inspiring Mnemovore. The character is in good hands.

His idea is that a war veteran failed to raid a tomb in the Israeli desert and lost all of his partners in the process. He heads back home to Gotham, followed by whatever was in that tomb and the power it wants to give him… for a price. His mission upset things older than the nation Rory lives in, see, and along with the thing that wants to give him power is a person who wants everything that thing has to offer.

Did we mention Inaki Miranda is doing the art? Because Inaki Miranda is doing art. Inaki is a DC Comics mainstay, having worked on everything from Coffin Hill (and for the love of every god you can name, go read Coffin Hill), Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Fables, House of Mystery… look, he’s good at illustrating horror, romance, the whole breadth of human emotion.

This is going to be amazing stuff. Don’t miss out.

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523

God of Comics – The Shadow / Batman #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

October 4, 2017

The Shadow / Batman #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Didn’t this just happen…?

Well, yes. Yes, it did. It started in April and wrapped a few weeks ago. DC Comics had their crack at this crossover earlier in the year, and even used the same writer. Steve Orlando told a solid and harrowing tale that worked with the constructs that both the Shadow and the Batman demand, and yet he sowed them together and showed where their similarities lie. Most importantly, he moved the mythology of both characters forward by weaving a tale rife with fated outcomes and the price of free will, the cost of perspective and redemption.

Heady stuff, but Steve is good like that.

This is the follow-up, the chance for Dynamite to publish the second half of Steve’s story – or so we assume. Previously, we learned that the Shadow is created from evil and given the task of redemption, and that someone who chose evil and murdered their way towards corrupting everything forever. Batman and the Shadow stopped that from happening by combining their efforts despite their differences: while both of them know the evil that lurks in the hearts of men, the Shadow kills and the Bat does not.

Interestingly, Steve put forth the idea that the powers that taught the Shadow were also shaping Bruce, preparing him to take up a different mantle; when Bruce turned them down, the Shadow imagined himself cursed to carry the weight of his struggle forevermore. It’s interesting that Bruce, offered immortality, would turn it down – but then, he has always been human, and always known that some day he was going to die.

So, here they go again: the path to those that taught the Shadow has been lost, leaving two men who cannot stand one another struggling to understand what one of them is and might become. In the process, they have discovered a taint that lies at the very core of both civilization and the human spirit. Can even minds such as theirs stop such a threat without killing everyone in the process?

This is the question that Steve Orlando asks: can evil be fought without destroying everything? Can one look unblinking into the Abyss without the Abyss looking into that one? Dynamite brings Giovanni Timpano for another crack at the Shadow, and if there is anyone that illustrates that character better you’d be hard-pressed to find him or her. The man lives in noir, regardless of what other genres he finds himself bringing to life with his clever pens: science fiction (Eclipse), horror (Infestation), Action (Justice, Inc), or even camp (Plan 9 From Outer Space Strikes Again!).

Do not miss this – it’s going to be incredible. And be sure to pick up DC Comics’ version of this when it comes out in trade, too.

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531

God of Comics – Batman: White Knight #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

October 2, 2017

Batman: White Knight #1 (DC Comics)

It’s interesting. The Joker, I mean.

He’s nearly as old a character as Batman, debuting only a few years into Batman’s run as a character. He started as a sneaky killer who could get to people anywhere back in the early days, when Batman was as much a killer as the criminals he hunted. As the Bat solidified as a character and stopped killing and using guns, so the Joker also solidified into something more and, like the Bat, something easy to write badly or to write well by accident.

We’ve said this before, but the Bat isn’t about revenge – if he was, he would have stopped after finding his parent’s killer. The Batman is about protection, about making sure that no one else ever has to suffer the trauma that a young child suffered when his parents were murdered in front of him. He is, in a very real well, trying to instill order on a broken world. He tries to build and has a goal, a nigh impossible but achievable one.

The Joker works as his antithesis because the Joker is complete and utter entropy.

He’s chaos for its own sake, the destruction of systems for no reason other than to kick them over. He doesn’t even care what happens afterward, he just wants to destroy everything for the sake of casual destruction and because the world is a joke. Through the eyes of the Joker, civilization itself is a game of make-believe that we delude ourselves into playing, and anarchy is the truth that he pushes. His sanity is insane.

And he’s easy enough to twist and turn regardless of what society demands of him. He survives the comic code authority and retains his character because he doesn’t care about dignity, morality, or what anyone thinks – his only concern is the man in the cowl and dragging that man down to a place where he, too, sees the stark raving truth that is the heart of the character: every single thing that we imagine ourselves to be is a lie.

The Joker languishes in that place where the very worst human impulses deny everything we build. He’s patient zero, an infection more than a man, as inhuman as the Batman himself.

We’ve seen a few places where the Joker tries to be good, or someone takes the name and tries to do good with it. Some of them are better than others. But this…?

This might work.

Here, writer and artist Sean Murphy presents a Joker that has been cured of his madness while still keeping his perspective. He sees the joke of things but is now working to fix the damage he sees, but he’s still cracked and tainted by his vision. He’s trying to make amends and do better, facing down the mind-shattering horror he once embodied, and a big part of that is pitting himself against a Batman that has lost all compassion, all reason, all mercy…

Batman stories are, at their core, tragedies. Bruce can fight with everything in him and never win, not really, because he’s facing the force the Joker embodies. But if that champion changes than the Bat can as might, the symbols becoming muddied until the only thing that can purify either of them is the other. Sean’s got some experience with that kind of story – witness his work in Punk Rock Jesus – and it could be aces here.

It will be aces here. We’re in the midst of a Bat renaissance right now, with all the Bat-comics being about the best they’ve ever been, and this title is going to bring something fresh and new to the table. Do not miss it.

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507

God of Comics – Detective Comics #965

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 26, 2017

Detective Comics #965 (DC Comics)

A Lonely Place of Living.

That’s the name of this story arc. It’s a play on A Lonely Place of Dying, the tale that introduced us to Tim Drake as Robin, and though the art can be a little iffy in places the writing is spot on: a kid figures out that Dick Grayson and Jason Todd were Robin, so Bruce Wayne must be Batman. He’s proven to be a genius and has noted the Bat is acting crazier than usual – he gets Dick involved in trying to help Bruce, but Dick is firmly Nightwing at this point and Bruce needs a Robin. It’s awesome stuff, full of psychology and pathos and some excellent Joker / Two-Face villainy, and it’s an easy recommendation.

And then all of that was tossed aside in the nu52. “Tim Drake” was no longer his real name, but the name he was given as a part of the Witness Protection Program after hacking the Penguin (and the government moved him to Gotham because nothing made any sense at all in the nu52). That Tim was never a Robin, adopting Red Robin from the get-go because he thought that would pay homage to Jason without stepping on any toes – and the name Red Robin wasn’t going to trigger any guilt or anger in Bruce, not with the name graphically illustrating a certain crowbar-related incident.

The real reason for Red Robin was that black and red are cooooooooool colors that are also exxxxxxxxxxrtreme and they match the nineties aesthetic that makes so much of the nu52 unreadable.

But this? This feels like the last vestiges of the nu52 are being washed away. Tim Drake is back, and his reason for becoming Red Robin is because he’d moved on and become a hero in his own right, having helped Bruce come to terms with Jason’s brutal death.

Of course, things aren’t so cut-and-dry.

In an earlier part of James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela’s run on this title, Tim sacrificed himself for Gotham. Everyone thinks he’s dead, but in truth he was taken by people good enough to fool Batman. He’s been stuck wherever he is, information about his captors and their reasons doled out slowly. We don’t know what’s about to happen but James has been laying an ever-increasing complexity in this tale, one that raises the stakes with every arc and makes every previous arc better in retrospect.

What’s even more impressive is how good those story arcs are to begin with. Carmen Carnero and Ulises Arreola are a large part of that, bringing light to Gotham and the world while keeping the Bat in shadows, working a variety of inks and vibrancies to a title that is all the stronger for it. We don’t mention letterers much these days, but Sal Cipriano’s work on this title has been exquisite and has given immediately recognizable textures to the voices of Gotham. It’s a heady mix of darkness and light, silent sounds and voices that seep off the page, mingled with strong story-telling and interesting characters.

It is very much everything you could want from a Batman comic, and you should read it.

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510

God of Comics – Wonder Woman / Conan #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 22, 2017

Wonder Woman / Conan #1 (DC Comics)

We stumbled across the announcement for this title about a month back and could scarcely believe it – it’s not a crossover that has happened before but you’d think it would have. These are two characters that compliment one another quite a bit, though their origins and creators are vastly different.

William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, was a psychologist involved in a polyamorous relationship back in the twenties and invented the lie detector. He was a fascinating man who gave us one of the most enduring characters of the medium and one of the cornerstones of DC Comics as a whole, even though a lot of the people that have written her since haven’t gotten what she’s about.

And what she is about is Truth and Mercy. We go on about this quite a lot, I think, but we go on about it because so many writers don’t seem to get it, but occasionally someone does and the character just clicks. Gail Simone is one of those writers. She gave us a seminal run with the character that has informed pretty much everything that came afterward, the equivalent of the Walt Simonson run on Thor.

Both of those runs – Simonson’s Thor and Simone’s Wonder Woman – have been collected in trade and they are well worth hunting down and reading. They’re pretty much the best way to get a feel for either character.

Robert E. Howard, on the other hand, is the guy who pretty much invented the sword and sorcery genre. He published anthology stories and invented Conan the Barbarian as his central character, a wandering warrior who was as much about clever trickery as swordplay. He also had some… well, his views on race and gender were pretty standard for their time, but they haven’t aged well.

Interestingly, his stories have. Like the best writers, his characters took on a life of their own and Conan often seemed to oppose the views the author held – he was as much liberator as conquerer. It’s interesting that while Robert espoused views that denigrated civilization as a whole, Conan himself took for granted the social cues of civilized society and Robert was a massive patron of the arts in general and writing in particular.

For example, Robert was a huge fan of Lovecraft and helped develop the Cthulhu mythos. Conan existed within that world, too… and so did Red Sonja. To the best of my knowledge, Gail Simone hasn’t written Conan in the past, but she did write one of the best runs on a Red Sonja comic you’ll ever read and that gives us some pretty high expectations going into this title.

So, it’s with all this in mind that we see these two character crossover – the Amazon princess who works with philosophy as much as strength of arm and the barbarian savage who whose philosophies serve his own aims in all things. There’s a lot to work through here and Gail immediately seizes the throat of her narrative by asking what makes these characters legendary? Why do they endure when other characters fall by the wayside and are forgotten? Is it the will of their in-world gods that they succeed or is it in spite of them, and does that spite make them who they are?

We don’t know yet. We haven’t read the comic, but we’re going to.

And we know it’s going to be gorgeous – Aaron Lopresti and Matthew Ryan are on art duties. The former has done some incredible work with Wonder Woman in the past, and this project sees him reunited with Gail Simone to further that aforementioned legendary run. Matthew Ryan is another Wonder Woman alum with both Simone and Lopresti, and he’s done some incredible color work that should serve this story well.

This has been a really good week for comics, and this title is the one we’re most looking forward to.

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736

God of Comics – The Wild Storm #7

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 20, 2017

The Wild Storm #7 (DC Comics)

There’s got to be something immensely satisfying about giving Warren Ellis the keys to your kingdom.

We’ve read what he can do with forgotten characters and concepts (Nextwave), read what he can so with meta-narratives (Supreme: Blue Rose), read how he can take old characters and modernize them (Injection), even taken established characters and rebuild them into something recognizable-but-new (Moon Knight). We’ve even seen how he can take a bare-bones video game story and turn it into something awesome (Castlevania). It’s Warren Ellis. No one can touch him.

So, let’s talk Wildstorm. The imprint was the embodiment of the nineties – flashy and kind of stupid but groping towards maturity and surprisingly deep. There were some very serious questions about god and mortality, some quiet meditations on personhood and evolution and the true nature of power, on expectation meeting reality. Some of the very best comics spilled out of the Wildstorm imprint (for Emp’s sake, read Sleeper).

The nu52, with its weird nineties obsession, tried to marry the Wildstorm imprint in with the DCU – and this didn’t work. The DCU is about opera and all that entails, while Wildstorm evolved into stories about shades of gray and conspiracy. The two could crossover with one another (and frequently did!) but not co-exist because they are so thematically different.

When the powers-that-be at DC Comics decided they wanted readers again, they rebooted their world with Rebirth, and that ended up being an insanely wise decision that has seen their whole line meet widespread acclaim. Good for them. The Wildstorm imprint got left to one side, though, its characters and mythos abandoned in that moment.

I like to imagine Warren Ellis as more of a force of nature than a mere mortal. I have pretty wild head-canon about how Nextwave came into being and I’ve got a similar head-canon for this comic: the DC Comics editorial board gets ready for a meeting against a window sunset. The room is locked, protected, sealed – and yet, when they gather, a single chair slowly turns around. The chair is empty.

The door closes. Warren Ellis is behind them.

I have an idea,” Warren says, and the whole room panics. They catch glimpses of the unknown realities that dance in the frame of this one man. They fear him, the small hairs on their arms standing up from the sheer electric creativity he brings with him.

So do I,” says Jim Lee, the lightning infecting him. “You should re-write the whole Wildstorm universe.”

And Warren smiles because the idea he had has permeated reality. He is an ascended being, you see. He, along with a very few masters, has loved the written word so much that he has become the very spirit of Writer.

He’s gone slowly with this, introducing the complexities and concepts of the Wildstorm he’s envisioned. We’re just now getting into the aliens that circle the world and live within it, devoured the concept of covert action teams and the human division of heaven and earth. A small cast thus far, but a promise of more to come as the story demands them. This is what the Wildstorm imprint looks like all grown up, building to the sword of Damocles hanging lightly overhead.

Artist Jon Davis-Hunt has a knack for expression and structure that serves this story well, underlining the underlying text with subtle cues. He’s plotting out soul architecture here, and it brings a sense of realism to the ground-level identity this comic craves. Colorists Steve Buccellato and John Kalisz work with varying shades of being, painting a world into hues that seem light but bleed shadows.

This comic is the perfect echo of the nineties having found the maturity a decade spent groping for. It’s immaculate, quick and lethal and thoughtful, prone to eerie revelation, terror, and resignation mingled with a chance that things might be okay again someday, if only we are willing to fight right now. Find your halo, pick up this comic, and get ready for the war to come.

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398

God of Comics – Wonder Woman #30

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 15, 2017

Wonder Woman #30 (DC Comics)

Yesterday, we talked the Shadow. Today, we’re talking Wonder Woman.

It’s interesting to draw the parallel between these two wildly different characters: they are both champions, they both kill, but the single most important thing about them both is where their power comes from.

Both of them draw their power from the Truth.

The Shadow knows only the evil that gnaws at the soul of all humankind. Diana has things a little better, but her iconic lasso allows her to know the truth of any person or situation, full and unbridled. Given this, she has seen more than her fair share of evil, of misunderstanding, of projection and hate. Her power comes from looking down into the core of the individual and the group, but she bears a second power that makes all the difference.

For all his fury, the Shadow can only answer evil with evil. Diana’s second greatest power, however, is mercy.

She is as strong and fast as Superman, a warrior born of clay and literal divinity. She was trained from childhood for war and philosophy, away from the world of men and their bickering, away from the dystopia we have made of our world. Upon meeting a man for the first time, however – the demon of her childhood stories – she rescues him and nurses him back to health. She knows his subjective truth and the objective truth of the world around him, and she shows him mercy.

Diana makes the world a better place in much the same way that Superman does, but from a different angle. Superman is above most worldly concerns and has to think and remember to care about them. Diana, on the other hand, is intimately tied to the world and is very much a part of it. She has the capacity to know the absolute truth of everything going on around her and has the capacity to show mercy to everyone, even the worst of us. She can find what makes monsters of humanity and, thus, how to make it better.

And all of that is what makes this latest storyline so interesting. Like the Shadow, Wonder Woman is dealing with some real world issues. Someone has been after her for some time now, trying to have her brought in for reasons unknown. We now know that the person behind these attempts is a doctor and religious man who believes that he can use her blood and DNA to heal several diseases, including cancer. He thinks he can use her to save kids.

Superhero mathematics often speak of sacrificing the needs of one for the needs of the many. Wonder Woman herself has used that metric, saving groups when needed and letting the lonely ones go when necessary. How can she do anything else when applying that same metric to herself? Remember, she knows the truth of the situation and how best to apply mercy, so she surrenders herself to the process.

Diana is not, of course, an idiot. Truth and mercy being her powers doesn’t make her stupid and she lets her allies know where she’s going and why. She’s a diplomat for a semi-divine people and so has government ties, but it probably surprises her to learn that the government is well aware of who this doctor is and what he’s been up to. He’s rich, religious, and makes a lot of noise about being a good guy, but we haven’t seen much evidence of it – but Diana is face to face with him now and only the truth stands between them… and after that, mercy.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Shea Fontana pens a worthy follow-up to the work Rucka started and plays with concepts that would do the likes of Gail Simone proud. This is very much the Diana we saw in the movie, which is the best decision that anyone could have made given that the movie has been the best thing out of DC is a very long time. She’s backed up the deft lines and shade of Inaki Miranda and the bright colors of Romulo Fajardo, Jr, and if you dug the movie you should do yourself a favor and check this out.

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396

God of Comics – Darkseid Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 29, 2017

Darkseid Special #1 (DC Comics)

The other company (you know, the one we’re not reading these days), is doing a thing with their big purple guy that has little to no connection to the rest of their universe and is better off for it. Are we going to see the same done with Darkseid? If so, writers Sam Humphries and Mark Evanier are the people to do it.

I met Sam briefly when he was in town doing a podcast. He was working on Star Lord at that point, building a relationship between Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde that was built perfectly before Marvel decided to wreck it for another tired retread. He was charming, reserved, the sort of writer possessed of a decency that never should have become archaic.

Mark Evanier is a man I’ve never met but who was taken in by none other than Jack Kirby. The King kickstarted him but his drive and talent helped develop everything the Hanna Barbara animation studio ever did and helped build up DC Comics’ New Gods, a property that Jack Kirby invented and that Darkseid is a part of.

The New Gods are exactly what they sound like; Jack wanted to develop his own ethereal mythology and DC Comics let him do it, building up a divine dichotomy that flavors the backdrop of DC’s operatic nature. Darkseid is a part of that, the absolute evil that beats at the core of DC Comics, the monster and shadow that rips at people’s souls.

He is not the Devil. DC Comics has their own version of Satan and Hell; the New Gods were a step beyond other religions and Darkseid doesn’t need to carry the weight that comes from other mythologies. He is his own monster and all the more fascinating because of it, the God Emperor of the planet Apokolips, a world he murdered to feed his own ambition. He’s built an empire and this is where he gets interesting.

Yes, he is one of the most powerful beings in comics, but he’s a being a perfect order rather than chaos. He sees free will as a curse and wishes for all souls to abdicate their responsibility and choices to him, for his intellect and drive to inform every decision made by every living being in the cosmos. To this end, he’s been seeking to unravel something called the anti-life equation, a metaphysical sum based in the maths that underlie everything that he believes will give him perfect control of the cosmos for all eternity.

To him, no cost is too great for this. His every crime and atrocity can be forgiven and the horrors that others carry out in his name are just in his eyes provided they get him closer to his goals. He is the big bad of the entire DCU, the one being that everyone is afraid of.

Even Superman, who once led a revolution on Apokolips to overthrow Darkseid… and failed.

Beating Darkseid is possible some of the time, but the chances of surviving him are always somewhere between slim and none. He twists the good things in life into terrors, deals in cosmic abstracts and breaks them. He adopts whole worlds of children and turns them into disposable zealots willing to live and worship and die for his name, all of them raised by monsters he’s created and crafted and built to serve his purposes.

Every now and again, though, one of those children escapes. That’s where this comic starts, with a group of cosmic orphans fleeing the tender care of the greatest tyrant DC can offer. He is incensed. He is infuriated. And he’s putting his best hunter to the task of collecting those that would run from him, as yet unknowing that one of the escapees holds a secret even from the darkest of all gods.

Scott Kolins turns his tight pencils to the art of this story, and he’s the perfect person to do so, what with his background in science fiction and superhero comics and this being a melding of those two genres. Steve Rude, meanwhile, is handling things on behalf of Sam Humphries, and the two of them are combining their efforts to tell a classic tale in the vein of the King.

This sounds like a comic for people that love comics. We do, so we’re planning on reading this and you should, too.

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291

God of Comics – Batgirl #14

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 21, 2017

Batgirl #14 (DC Comics)

We had to get here eventually. We used to talk about Batgirl all the time, even before this whole Living Myth Magazine and God of Comics things got started. I remember going to elementary school and talking Batgirl, but I looked at Barbara Gordon as a secondary character at best until the Killing Joke. I was a kid. Forgive me.

Thing is, Oracle was much more interesting as a character to me than another Bat-sidekick. I was looking into injury and recovery when Sword of Azrael came out (I was as much an insomniac than as I am now), and I thought there was something interesting about this incredibly athletic person being forced to fall back on their mind in the wake of injury.

I liked that her superpower was her mind, her intellect, her skill with computers. The internet was still becoming a thing back then and not many people knew much about it or suspected what it would become, but the writers behind Barbara were predicting the way things would turn out. I discovered some of my favorite sociologists because of this character (hi, Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist~!).

There was also the question of her trauma. Long before post-traumatic stress disorder became a thing that people were talking about, Barbara had it. The better writers at DC Comics were able to work that into her stories and show how she was coping with her damage and living past it. There was a lot to like and Oracle became one of my favorite characters. I followed her appearances everywhere I could.

As I got older I started meeting people that couldn’t walk for one reason or another. Some of them knew about Oracle; some of them didn’t. All of them liked her or liked the fact that she existed. It was something to start conversations or friendships with.

Then Gail Simone happened.

Oracle went from being a b-list character to an a-list player, the person that the Justice League called on when they needed help. She formed her own team, the Birds of Prey, and even got her own (borderline unwatchable) television show. I devoured all of the things.

A new Batgirl showed up in No Man’s Land and a part of that story was dedicated to how Barbara dealt with someone taking on her old identity. She mentored the third Batgirl, and then the fourth. She had an awesome rapport with Steph Brown that was prematurely ended in favor of the grimdark narrative that was the nu52, undoing thirty years of history to put her back in the cowl and get her out of the chair.

I didn’t like it for a number of reasons; I don’t like stories that go backward and retcon things – it shows laziness and a lack of awareness, I think, on the part of the writers or editors that make those decisions. A few factors kept me interested, though: the first was that Gail Simone was returning to write, the second was a conversation I had with a friend, and a third was something I observed all on my own.

Gail is obvious and she wrote the best of the nu52 comics, so we’ll leave that where it is. The conversation with my friend went on about how there was more at stake for Barbara under the cowl, that if she was discovered she would ruin not only herself but her father. I could get behind that. The last one, the observation, was that as Barbara goes, so goes DC Comics as a whole.

She was a part of the goofy sixties and seventies. Her solo adventures started getting more involved and operatic in the eighties, then Oracle and the darkness that followed happened in the nineties. She returned to opera as a survivor and a genius in the early aughts, where DC started flirting with intelligent stories that concentrated on strong friendships overcoming corruption and evil. She went dark for the nu52, but was one of the first characters to go light as Rebirth approached.

Barbara Gordon, for some reason, is the herald of what the DC Universe will be at any given time.

That alone is reason to pay attention to her, but then you add in the writing of Hope Larson as she delves into the lore of the character, cutting right to the quick and showing who Barbara is in relation to the people around her and why she matters. Hope is a writer who brings out the best Barbara has to offer in the modern world, a worthy successor to the earlier works done by Gail, and she’s quietly writing one of the better titles DC is currently publishing.

Given how good DC Comics is at this point, that is saying something.

Currently, she’s digging into the ties between Barbara and Dick Grayson and trying to see what lies at the core of their bond. Is it just an old crush forged into something more by Bruce-instilled loyalty? Is there anything more there? Odds are, yes, yes there is, but Hope is going to figure out how far that bond goes. If you like Barbara or Dick Grayson at all, you owe it to yourself to be reading this comic.

I chose the Dan Mora cover for our header because I love Dan Mora and the man needs to be working on more comics, The interior is being handled by the team of Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz, and the two of them compliment one another nicely. Inaki does details that run almost as deeply as her shadows, and Eva does some interesting things with light sources that work well for this story.

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361

God of Comics – Batwoman #6

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 15, 2017

Batwoman #6 (DC Comics)

There’s ways to do the good-guy-gone-bad story and make it work. The more successful ones have to play into the character doing the switch: what motivation do they have for going bad? What are their tools? What does that look like for their relationships? And – this is a big one – can they come back from it? Do you want them to?

Marvel utterly fails when answering any of the questions on this list. They made Tony Stark into a fascist and spent a decade trying to fix him, turned their core heroes into mass murderers and then had to reboot their universe to save them, and then turned the moral center of their whole universe into a Nazi. So, you know. They suck.

DC, on the other hand…

We’ve ragged on DC Comics in the past, but their Rebirth event has led to a rebirth of the creativity and core concepts that make DC’s properties great. Pretty much everything they’re publishing at this point is worth taking a look at and more than half of it is worth collecting. They started doing operatic scale stories again and rooting them in place with some of the best writers the industry has.

The two writers working on this title? They are among them. James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett are fucking fantastic. James has a talent for building character and mythology and Marguerite plays in mythology with the same difficulty that fish find in swimming. This is to say, she lives in myth. You show her a myth and she’ll expand it, grow it, cultivate it.

No character in DC Comics needs a myth-pert quite like Batwoman does. She’s unique among the Bat-family, both where she stands in relation to Bruce and what made her pick up the mantle. We all know that Bruce’s mom’s name is Martha, but her maiden name was Kane. She had a brother named Joe who was in the military, and that brother had a couple of twins: the surviving twin is Kate, which makes Batwoman Bruce’s cousin.

It gets better. Joe is a colonel who got into diplomacy. When Kate was a child, she and her mom and her sister got kidnapped and dad led a rescue operation that saw her mom and sister die. Kate got into the military and excelled, but then was kicked out under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and lost the one thing she’d built her life around.

She bummed around for a bit. Got drunk a lot. Had a fling with Renee Montoya. Was wandering through an alley in Gotham and got mugged and beat the crap out of her attackers, turned around and saw… she saw Batman. He said something about expecting that to go differently and then took off and she watched and thought to herself That. I want to do that.

Her dad helped her. Finished her training and put her through some black-ops stuff, got her the equipment she needed, helped her keep it together. She met Batman and started working with him, not knowing who she was (which, I imagine, made Hannukah a special kind of celebration. Did I mention Kate is Jewish, Martha was Jewish, and therefore Batman is a Jew?).

One question sort of bugged the astute reader, though: how did Joe put all this stuff together? James was kind enough to answer, giving us a villain like nothing else – a black-ops unit based on Batman himself that Joe was putting together for Kate to lead, but by the time he has ready to bring her into the fold it was too late. Bruce had already put together a team for her, and Bruce’s code had affected Kate and her way of thinking. She helped take down her father.

And from out of all that you get this, a Batwoman solo series. It is steadily moving towards the dream-like art and narrative that was the hallmark of the series prior and this is the best thing, the sort of thing that might help us put the grimdark past behind us. It’s also why you need a writing team this strong, though, one that can dig into Kate’s past and present to define her future.

Here, we get a look at the darkest timeline, a quick look at a possible waiting future. There, Kate has embraced the fate her father built for her and is looking to turn all the power that gives her on Gotham. We caught a glimpse of this before, but here James and Marguerite dig into the guts of the thing and show us why Kate went bad.

This comic is a little bit more than awesome and a return to form, so if you get the chance to read it? Do so. You will not be disappointed.

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