dc comics

The Best of the Worst

villains featured

With Forever Evil wrapping up and DC’s Villains month over, Adam and Nick thought it was the perfect time to talk about the most interesting villains in comics. We picked a group of villains who represent the different styles of villainy. Motivations range from the classic plotting to take over the world to more sympathetic goals like wanting to save a loved one. What makes a protagonist last for decades? We answer that question by examining some of the most important bad guys in comic book history.

Listen to the Episode Directly.

Listen to the Episode on iTunes.

iTunes listeners: HELP US OUT!

Win Free Marvel Comics of your choice by leaving us iTunes reviews. Click HERE to find out how!

Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

Biff Bam Metaphysics

grant-morrisonIf we wanted Batman to save us all, we were doomed. Look at the world while wearing your metafiction suits and there is still no way he can reach every person calling out for help. The world is too big, too daunting. It is filled with things we have to call dreams because we fear what they say about us if we are the truth.

But for others they reject Batman. They claim it isn’t Batman. They look at the Dark Knight and don’t recognize him. Where is that old Whiff Bam Pow? Where is the grim dark ultra justice? Why is he wasting time in space when Gotham needs help? Where did the Bat-nipples go.

Morrison’s Batman run is Batman et all. It is grime meets sci-fi meets pop art meets madness meets camp meets ultra justice. He did it in one night. He did it thirty-five minutes ago. He did it while the world collapsed. He did it collapsing the world into a singularity. He did it while focusing the world around a single city. And he did it while distracting us. The Magic Batman trick.

batman2-600x507It started with a cave and it ended with a cave and all the while Batman went into caves, he built new Batcaves (complete with giant coins and costume displays). He had mysteries for the mystery fans, monsters for the monster fans, sci fi for those fans. He even played songs for the obscure indie Batman fans with their Batmanga hardcovers. And all the while he played this tune with different instruments and composers, some who faltered(1) we got an amazing symphony with bits that everyone could enjoy.

But like most classical music, it is easy to get lost. There were issues where everything faded together and I felt I was missing things. Some jokey reference. Some obscure reference. Something vitally important to the universe. Things became rougher during the intermission when these jokes became more obscure and originally I’d stopped reading there.

My original reading of Morrison’s Batsaga began with with RIP. It made no sense. Batman didn’t die. Who are all these foreign people in costumes? Why did Joker get shot in the head. And then the end – why is there stuff with Darkseid? Why aren’t things wrapped up. I put the book away in disgust. I wanted Batman’s funeral by Neil Gaiman, not THIS.

My second reading began with INC and notes. Annotations, a fresh start and the bounty of comic internet journalism made me love the series, the artists, the camp sci fi action. Hello Lord Death Man. And then comics died down for my – the universe I knew ended, the series went on hiatus and I took a comic sabbatical.

But finally I went back to the beginning for my third reading. I opened the Black Casebook stories and the heritage of Batman. I followed up with reading from the beginning of Morrison’s brief Bat-stuff in 52. Those moments where he was in Nanda Parbat. The exercising of his demons – the first villains he more or less fights in the Ghost Batman – the Ghosts of his Past, Present and Future. Maybe the gun, his failure and his ruined legacy. There I found the Morrison Batman magic with everything.

Batman-Inc-hed1And the idea of the future was recurring. The Batman 666 future – Gotham in flames, the world insane and everything collapsing. Over and over, the Batman who made the deal with the devil. The great to the x-th grandson of the man who made a deal with a devil. “Yes father I will become the Bat”. Even the son without the father born in the belly of leviathan leading to the apocalypse. The intermingling of the Bible and myths from the world into some super religion – a collapse of all faiths into one. Leviathan. It became hypnotic and confusing and tricky and it ate itself and became a bundle of snakes.

And Batman does the same, his family grows, it lives when he doesn’t. When he is dead he expands the legacy of his family. He cleanses his line. And when he returns it grows again. And then it collapses. The army he made shrinks against a larger one. He loses. He suffers loss. And he continues. Batman lives in the strangest world where everything comes together for one reason, to one point.

The biggest misconception of Batman is that he does his work for revenge. It is not revenge because Joe Chill has vanished and the drive for good has not. Batman is not there for any one person. Batman is out there for every scared child to comfort them. He teaches them, inspires them and like any parent he hopes he works out for the best.

In the end building a family, hoping the future will be better than the one before are all you can do. Batman didn’t end here. Other Batman stories will never touch the changes. The stories that can before can never affect this one and so we are locked with something completed. A complete Batman directed by many men into a single song, played many ways and it ended as it began in a cave, with a friend, with a world that still needs saving.

Batman by Grant Morrison took many names. It took us to many places. And in the end, it took us back to the beginning of the track with memories and ideas. With hope and inspiration. And even if he didn’t save all of us because of preconceptions or who Batman is, he did what he could.

 

1. Looking at you guy on Return of Bruce Wayne 4 who filled in for Cameron Stewart. Less issues with the computer guy for the Internet 3.0 issue.

Injustice: Gods Among Us & More

INJUSTICE_11

Adam talks about his experience with the game Injustice: Gods Among Us. The game features an original DC super hero story centering around the Justice League and is a classic multiple Earths story. After that they talk about where the New 52 is and what is working and what isn’t. In addition, they talk about some of their favorite books like Hawkeye, Batman, and Age of Ultron. Check it out!

Listen to the Episode Directly.

Listen to the Episode on iTunes.

iTunes listeners: HELP US OUT!

Win Free Marvel Comics of your choice by leaving us iTunes reviews. Click HERE to find out how!

Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

Batman Loves Sitting

dc paul jenkins new 52

If you haven’t read the Bleeding Cool Article that details Paul Jenkins struggle dealing with New 52 DC Editorial, do yourself a favor and do so now. The gist of it is that former Dark Knight writer, Paul Jenkins, was given the note by editorial that he needed to change a panel he storyboarded that depicted Batman sitting. He was told he didn’t “get” the character because, according to this (for some reason unnamed) DC editor, Batman does not sit down.

tumblr_mo7p4rsHJ71sug50so1_500

Jenkins was really surprised by this “fact” and found it pretty easy to disprove it with some very famous panels showing Batman sitting. He sits in the Batmobile, in the Batcave, when talking to the Joker, and many other times. The micromanagement by DC editors on creators keeps coming up as reasons why many are jumping ship. This seemed like an amazing example of shortsightedness.

tumblr_mo7q2zxPC31sug50so1_500Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool ended his article by asking someone to create a Tumblr with images of Batman sitting. I was eager to see what people came up with so I went right to Tumblr. I was really surprised to not find one already made. Since I have a number of Tumblrs, I figured I could put one together quick. I created “Batman Sits” shortly after and Rich updated his article to include a link to my Tumblr. I’ve since added an e-mail address where people can send me images of Batman sitting (and a number of people have already done this) as well as a Twitter account that is retweeting people talking about Batman sitting and sharing the Tumblr posts.

If you have an image of Batman sitting you want to see on Batman Sits, send it to – BatmanSits@ComicBookPanels.com .

Make sure to follow Bruce Wayne’s sitting exploits on Twitter – @BatmanSits

Hero Flip Floppers

EpsSlider

Sometimes a good guy goes bad. Or rather, a protagonist becomes an antagonist. Villains become heroes more often then the other way but there are times where some of the best go down a dark path. Adam and Nick discuss a few notable twists in the lives of the best heroes. Some of these number in our lists of favorite comic stories of all-time. Check out why we think these characters made these changes and why they are important stories.

Listen to the Episode Directly.

Listen to the Episode on iTunes.

iTunes listeners: HELP US OUT!

Win Free Marvel Comics of your choice by leaving us iTunes reviews. Click HERE to find out how!

Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

My Picks of the Week

Marvel Now and The New 52 keep plugging along. Age of Ultron keeps getting better and the tie-ins have been exceptional. Superior Spider-Man’s story escalates and the repercussions of Rot World continue. It’s a Pre-Infinity and Pre-Trinity War landscape. Iron Man is on Friday and Free Comic Book Day is later this week. That’s where we’re at now let’s check out the best of the week (and one that just didn’t work).

The Best

detailX-Men Legacy #10

Marvel Comics

Writer: Simon Spurrier

Artist: Paul Davidson

The first 9 issues of this series were used to establish David Haller’s mindset and where he fits in the Marvel Universe since his father, Charles Xavier, died. The past few issues have gone a long way to establish David’s relationship with the mutant Blindfold. Everything feels like it’s been leading up to this new storyline that begins with this issue. Many who heard that Legion would be the star of his own series were very surprised and confused. With all the mutants out there more popular than him (literally dozens and dozens) how long would a book last about his adventures. It turns out that his outsider designation is exactly what propels this book. David does not see himself as a super hero and find most of them ridiculous. His biggest battles are internal ones and his attitude on his potential is far different that a more stock hero’s. This issue covers a lot of ground and works as a jumping on point for the series. I also feel as the the antagonist of this story might be something that no mutant has ever faced. You can’t call him a villain and it’s VERY easy to see where he is coming from. I think this book is exploring territories none of the X-Men books have since potentially the 90s series X-Man but this book has a much less mainstream feel to it. This feels like a Vertigo style X-Men book and I hope it continues to explore deeper territory.

file_204655_1_AgeOfUltron_7_TeaserAge of Ultron #7

Marvel Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, Roger Martinez

This is what I really like about alternate reality stories. A science fiction trope that ranks high in my favorites is the idea of changing the past and the ripple affect that it has from that point on. These stories from Back to the Future, Star Trek’s Mirror Mirror, and most comparatively The Age of Apocalypse. It all goes back to Ray Bradbury’s 1952 “A Sound of Thunder”. That story gives us the butterfly effect which states that a small change at one place can result in large differences to a later state. This story really is yet another Age of Apocalypse style story where the elimination of one important figure in the past yields a different world all together in the new present. In fact, Bendis’s own House of M deals with very similar ideas. I’m hoping that this is just one stop in this story that has yet to really deal with the titular Ultron. Still, fun deviation that I am sure will be mined at a later date. The art is exceptional in this issue especially with how the art chorus were broken up. Let’s all hope this is going somewhere that matters.

IM2012009_DC11Iron Man #9

Marvel Comics

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

This is the prologue to what is suppose to be the biggest Iron Man story of the year. Since this is a year with an Iron Man movie in theaters, I’ll listen to Marvel hyperbole more than I usually do. I’ve been impressed with every issue of Kieron Gillen’s Marvel Now Iron Man and it feels like most of it has been leading up to this. I think the addition of Dale Eaglesham is a welcome one after the recent arch with Greg Land. This prologue feels like a bridge between Tony’s space adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy and an origin story. I was unsure how there could be a natural bridge until I saw the last panel of this book. Suffice to say, the next issue can’t come fast enough after this cliff hanger. Fans of the movie franchise could very well start here with the comic but you’d be missing out on the equally approachable previous 8 issues. If you haven’t been reading Iron Man, give it a shot again. You’ll find a hybrid science fiction/super hero comic that’s a real page turner.

Animal-Man_20_FullAnimal Man #20

DC Comics

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: John Paul Leon

Ever since Rotworld ended (and you could make a case during Rotworld) Animal Man hasn’t felt like the book I fell in love with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still been one of the better DC books but it’s horror/drama story that it started as was something that gave me so much hope for The New 52. Almost two years later, I’m not that impressed with much of what DC is publishing but Jeff Lemire’s work has continued to be the high water mark (for books not starring Batman). This is all preface to what I’m about to say…Animal Man #20 is one of my favorite issues of 2013. It’s a refreshing reflection on what remains of Buddy Baker’s life. I’m not going to get into much detail on how Lemire tells this story but it’s very inventive and I’m surprised I haven’t read an Animal Man story like this before. What propels this issue to the top of my list for best issues of this year is the art by John Paul Leon. I am sure many who read this will draw comparisons to David Aja’s minimal line masterpieces in Hawkeye and Iron Fist but Leon’s style is also (ironically) cinematic. Like the best comic book artists, he’s really the director (more irony) of this story. Many of the most poignant panels in this issue have no words. They don’t need any. This comic is self contained and very approachable. It also punches you in the gut. Lemire excels at these emotional stories and this has been his best issue in a while. The next issue promises a new start for Buddy Baker. This issue, however, was just what I needed to remind myself why there are stories that can only be told in Animal Man.

The Most Disappointing

Detective-Comics-20Detective Comics #20

DC Comics

Writer: John Layman

Artist: Jason Fabok

Here’s a book that has been derailed a lot recently. This sort of thing happened a lot with pre-New 52 DC books and with Death of The Family, the death of Damian, and the anniversary issue, Detective Comics has struggled to finish this story. It all ends in this issue, though for the antagonist Emperor Penguin. While his rise to power was fun to watch at the beginning, we received a pretty weak payoff in this issue. Yes, it seems that the whole point of this was to create a new colorful character to Batman’s rogues gallery but we still don’t know what makes him interesting. At first it was his philosophy of staying in the shadows and being the power behind the throne that separated him from the other villains of Gotham. That was something different. The problem is that he throws that all away very quickly in this issue leaving you with a rushed and unsatisfying ending. I also felt ripped off of a chance to see Penguin rebuild an empire from nothing. That would have been a story that could have defined him and yet that wrap up happens in just a few panels. I hope Layman gets another chance at telling a memorable Batman story because in the glut of all the other Bat-Books, this is quickly becoming the least important. I will say that the art of Fabok was consistently well done and dynamic in this book, however.

June 2013 Solicits

39Featured Image

We discuss the comics coming to stores in June 2013, what we think about many Marvel and DC titles, and Marvel Now vs. The New 52. We also look at some of the quotes Marvel is using to promote their books. They are so boring! Stuff like, “I Love This Book” – IGN. Seriously…you can do better.

Listen to the Episode Directly.

Listen to the Episode on iTunes.

iTunes listeners: HELP US OUT!

Win Free Marvel Comics of your choice by leaving us iTunes reviews. Click HERE to find out how!

Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

Who was the best Superman actor?

407932_467721663292459_625286476_n

Let us know in the comments below?

Best Comics of the Week

comic books podcast review

This week’s comics featured a few huge issues with one, in particular, dominating the comic news cycle. I’m reviewing the obvious issue as well as one that’s not as obvious. Let’s get into it:

Batman Inc. #8 – The cover gives it away and it was leaked weeks ago. That said, there was a part of me still hoping it wouldn’t be so. It was a powerful and meaningful death that didn’t feel exploitative. This feels like everything Morrison has been working towards since 2006. The war with Talia and Batman has put Damian in the middle the whole time. While this war has been going on, he has evolved into one of the most complex and interesting characters created in the past 25 years. The scene with him and Dick Grayson was one that will stick with me for a long time. I’m going to really miss this character. I’ve been posting images from Damian’s past recently at www.SonOfTheBat.com Remember Damian and check it out.

*Update -  I decided to write a lot more about this in an article. Check it out here!

Avenging Spider-Man #17 - Unlike Superior Spider-Man, I feel like this title figures out what works with the new status quo right out of the gate. The main reason this seems like a better exploration of Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man is that the Peter Parker “Ghost” is nowhere to be found. You really get into his head better without the repetitive, annoying and helpless voice of Peter nagging at us. We’ve read SpiderMan before, we understand what Peter would do in the same position we don’t need running commentary. OK…rant over! Ha. Seriously, though, this title and this issue in particular keeps the fun of Spider-Man intact by the reactions of Doc Ock to other characters he would have never had mixed with before. Doc Ock learns something with every issue by being forced in positions he finds beneath him. With every team-up, Otto grows and you learn more about how he thinks. This was a really strong issue that shows the full potential of storytelling with this new Spider-Man.

The Best Of March Comics

march comics previews reviews

Adam and Nick choose their favorite comics coming out in March. Wrath of the First Lantern, Constantine #1, Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy #1, and many more books previewed and discussed.

Listen to the Episode Directly.