Why do we love Batman Part 1

It’s an odd question one that can not be answered in one post I mean I barely even scratch the surface of Joker let alone the rest of his rogue’s gallery. We look at superheroes and look for escapism or somebody that we can aspire to be.

For many, Superman is the Boy Scout who has morals and goodwill and who has inspired hope, not just in the city of Metropolis, but the world as we know it. Next to him is Spiderman who has throughout his life been the underdog. We have to look no further than the everyday life of Peter Parker, he deals with normal – things that the majority of us may have dealt with at school: bullies, teen romances and all teen-related problems that are real and very important at the time. It appears that these characters are radically different, however, that has not stopped them from being a conduit for the writers’ thoughts and themes.

What seems a staple of the comics’ medium is very much the death of a loved one. Many characters have been subject to this comic book trope. The effects this has on the characters are radically different. For example, the death of Pa Kent makes Superman humble, for the fact that even though he has godlike powers, even he cannot stop death. Compare this to the effect upon Frank Castle after the death of his family which throws him into a tale of revenge; killing those he deems ‘bad people’. Although the circumstances are not similar, as one’s family dies from being murdered and the other dies from a heart attack, it is clear that tragedy plays a part in defining the way in which a character will develop his or her motivations.

Batman is up there with Superman and Spiderman as one of the three main most popular comic book characters ever. Many have said in the past that Bruce Wayne is Batman’s secret identity, now he is no longer the billionaire playboy but the vigilante, the dark knight who patrols the streets of Gotham and who uses Bruce Wayne’s fortune to fund his crusade. Alternatively, his status rose during the phase of “Bat-God” we went through in Grant Morrison’s (GM) early 2000s Justice League of America (JLA) run. Which poses the question “is it this ability to be both a god and just a man that makes us like him all the more?”

There’s a great panel from GM’s JLA where the white Martians capture the Justice League and the leader exclaims “he’s only one man” and Superman retort is “the most dangerous man on earth”, for many this sums up what Batman is. Somebody who is dangerous but has managed to earn himself a spot amongst god-like beings, who is considered their equal and at times the one trusted with leading them.Untitled

What is clear is there is a definite love of Batman evidenced by the sheer volume of comics, graphic novels, and movies made about him. What is so prevalent with Batman is the number of tonal shifts between series, but yet still remaining true to who the characters are. A prime example is the differences between the New 52 Batman run written by Scott Synder and drawn by Greg Capullo, and Tom King’s current Batman Rebirth run. We just have to look at the horror of the death of the family arc with a Joker seemingly on the edge on murdering the Bat family with this almost extremist take on what the Joker is and the levels of depravity he can go to. When we compare this to Tom King’s take on the Joker it’s in stark contrast even though there are similar ideas of what the Joker is.

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The way in which the character (Joker) is portrayed through his mannerisms, looks, and attitude is vastly different with King’s Joker dressing being sleek with a more quiet menace to his character, which for some could be even more frightening, than a maniacal laughing Joker. That’s the thing with the Joker, as it is with Batman, there is the ability and opportunity to tell completely different stories in regards to certain the
themes or setting up events.

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The potential has always been and continues to be enormous with these characters as they are generally semi-blank slates used to tell complex and intriguing stories that have managed to capture all of our imaginations at one time or another.

The Mighty Thor – Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman

Full Spoilers

With the Mighty Thor, we are on the cusp of perhaps the death of one of Marvel’s greatest modern age character. 705, is the one issue that will answer the question of the death of the Mighty Thor arc. As with all things in comics, the status quo must be put back in place with some saying that Odinson has spent too long as the Unworthy Thor. However, others, myself included, argue this has brought about a needed change in the Marvel Universe. It is truly one of the great success stories demonstrating how a legacy character can work.

Jane Foster may not be a traditional legacy character in the same way as Robin, for example, but there is no doubt she has taken up the mantle and made the character her own. This has not occurred overnight and it can be seen in how much work has been put into this book by Jason Aaron and Russel Dauterman.

Aaron and Dauterman have managed to create something truly special, which will become required reading in the years to come. For me, what makes this run so special is that Aaron has never shied away from anything within this story, for example, Volstagg being forced to watch innocents burned in front of him, making it hardly surprising he gets attracted to the Ultimate’s hammer and becomes the War Thor. However, what is most prevalent is Jane Foster’s continued internal struggle as suffering from cancer she endures bout after bout of chemotherapy, and at times will instantly rid it of her body by wielding Mjolnir. The result is a modern Shakespearean tragedy, Mjolnir will get rid of the poison that could be saving her life but will leave the cancer as the hammer sees it as a part of her.Unknown

The Mighty Thor is one of Marvel’s best ongoing series, each issue building upon the last. It manages to work on many different levels from an artistic standpoint to the reference and respect to all that’s come before, an example being the issue regarding the secret origin of Mjolnir, built upon its predecessor’s works. As in all comics, there is a status quo that events must return to, there are times though that some things are cherry-picked to remain as part of the canon and I do hope this origin of Mjolnir is one of those times. It is one of the issues that I don’t want to spoil but I recommend that everyone reads issue 12 from the Mighty Thor Vol 2.

Looking at the artistic talent behind this book, Russell Dauterman appears to do everything right, the artwork is excellent. It is very much a modern day Kirby which also manages to hark back to classical Kirby designs of Asgard, whilst at the same time reinvents much of what we loved making us love it all over again.the_mighty_thor__1_cover_by_rdauterman-d94ttu5.jpg

In each issue Aaron and Dauterman have been sowing the seeds for what it seems will be the pinnacle of their run. The Mangog, perhaps the Asgardians greatest foe, is coming for Asgardia having destroyed the Ultimates hammer and almost killing Volstagg on its way. It seems that only Jane Foster can save Asgardia and its people from the judgment of the Gods from the Mangog, but will save them cost the ultimate price?

Mister Miracle – Tom King and Mitch Gerads

Full Spoilers for the first six issues of Mister Miracle

Synopsis: Scott Free, born on New Genesis, raised on Apokolips is now on Earth.  He has his house, his career as super escape artist, Mister Miracle, and is married to the love of his life, Big Barda. He has conquered every challenge ever to come his way but it is not enough and he has decided to perform his greatest trick …to conquer death.

Mr Miracle has just wrapped up its first 6 issue arc and it is certainly a game changer, as it seem all Tom King books are at the minute. Without the constraint of mainstream continuity, King and Gerads have managed to tell a story that surely will be a “must read” for years to come. The New Gods, perhaps Kirby’s most fantastical creation, has been brought down to human level. At the heart of this comic it’s about the emotions felt by each and every character.

I believe what makes this comic very special is the clear thought that has gone into telling this story, from King in a story point of view and how Gerads has channelled his inner Kirby to update the New Gods, while at the same time not ignoring what came before and the legacy that Kirby left

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For example, when Issue Two was released Gerads tweeted that you should listen to Led Zeppelin’s’ Immigrant song while reading the first six pages.  Do it, it really works!  Coupled with psychedelic war images you also are given an insight into how potentially broken Scott Free is by what he has done and what he has endured.

Consistently throughout the first six issues has been the message of “Darkseid is” a threat weaved through the narrative of this story.

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The misconception of Darkseid though is that he is “just a fighter” but he doesn’t need to fight that’s what his generals are for – to command his armies of parademons.  In his hands the anti-life equation just reinforces this.  Perhaps this is why at the end of issue six we see Scott Free, after making his way to Orion’s chambers with Barda,Scott goes in alone to discover him dead. It is at this moment our first glimpse of Darkseid is revealed through the whole series. It seems that this is now what pushes Scott over the edge again makes him realise the danger that Darkseid truly poses.

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With six issues down and six issues to go, we leave Scott losing the last remaining remnants of his sanity, and with many questions still left to answer what will become of Scott and Barda? Will they get their happy ending?  However, being a Tom King book I very much doubt it. We just have to look at how his run on the Vision ended to have a pretty good idea of the truth.

Aliens Dead Orbit By James Stokoe

Published by Dark Horse Comics

Full Spoilers

Plot Summary: Taking place in the year 2295CE, on the Weyland-Yutani fuel depot/way station Sphacteria, we follow Engineer Wascylewski and the rest of the crew as they are slowly picked off one by one by the Xenomorph threat.

Undoubtedly one of the best comics of 2017 was James Stokoe’s Aliens Dead Orbit four-issue series. What this comic does is strip back all the unnecessary and convoluted lore that Ridley Scott has been trying to introduce in Prometheus and more recently Alien: Covenant. By taking all this away Stokoe has managed to create a short and condensed story that acts as a pastiche to the original Alien film.

Stokoe’s art style uniquely manages to capture the feeling of claustrophobia and suspense that slowly builds up this feeling of dread. The narrative of each of the issues is unveiled in Medias Res (starting in the middle of things) and although we, as an audience, can guess what is going to happen to the crew, of six, on board a space station – soon to be housing a Xenomorph. So the story unfolds with each member being slowly picked off until we are left with Wascylewski as he comes to Ripley’s conclusion that the only way is to run. Although his plan includes taking both of the Xenomorphs out it seems that escape is his foremost concern. We learn, just as we did in Alien, the escape doesn’t go well. It unfolded with a limited amount of oxygen left and the uncertainty of any potential rescue.

Now there is a reason that this plot works so well. I put it down to the fact that the world never feels empty. Even space, as imagined by Stokoe, is a cluttered horrific mess. It is totally understandable to see why this comic was delayed, even if we were not happy about it when we see the level of detail that has gone into each and every panel – it is outstanding. If we were to “judge this book by its cover “, we would not be disappointed, in fact, the opposite, as every single panel within the book has had as much care and attention as has the cover.

Stokoe does well playing on emotions and the paranoia that comes when dealing with the horror genre. For example, the use of shadows where Wascylewski mistakes piping for a Xenomorph plays upon the primal fear we all feel when we think we have seen something in the shadows or hear a noise at night. This comic has a sense of realism and because of this, you dread what is to come for each of the characters.

2017 was a great year for comics and Aliens Dead Orbit has certainly stood its ground and some amongst so many other great comics.

Hi! Welcome to the Watchers Archive

The Watchers Archive is a new weekly blog that discusses a range of Comic related topics from newly released issues to whats going on in the industry, and to ask and answer hypothetical questions about the certain comic material.

A bit more about me my names Will I’m currently a second-year university student. My personal tastes when it comes to comics has always been DC over Marvel I guess this was because it was my entry into comics. However, I believe that a personal preference should not sway what you read I will never put down a book because it was Marvel over DC at the end of the day it is about quality. We are currently living in the golden age of comics and comic book movies take advantage of it and consume all the content you can.

My favorite ongoing lists shall be in the ‘about me’ and I shall be updating them as and when a series ends or when something special comes along.

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Batman (DC)

Favourite ongoing DC series:

  • Mister Miracle – Tom King & Mitch Gerads
  • Batman – Tom King, Joelle Jones, Mikel Janin & Jordie Bellaire
  • Justice League – Christopher Priest & Pete Woods

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Favourite ongoing Marvel Series:

  • The Mighty Thor – Jason Aaron & Russel Dauterman
  • Runaways – Rainbow Rowell & Kris
    Anka
  • X-Men Red – Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar & Ryan Stegman

 

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Favourite ongoing Image Series:

  • Saga – Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples
  • Redlands – Jordie Bellaire & Vanesa R. Del Rey
  • Sex Criminals – Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

I look forward to building our community, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask something in the comment section.