Q: Given all that could have gone wrong, what about the concept and execution makes Batman Beyond work so well? -- @caseyjustice
A: Something must be going around these days, because I've seen a lot of conversations about Batman Beyond popping up recently. I even got into a little discussion with Jordans Gibson and Witt about a few places where -- at least in my opinion -- the flaws in the show, which I otherwise love, became too big to ignore. That's actually one of the things that made me want to answer this question for this week's column. The other was how you phrased it.
See, I've never considered the premise of Batman Beyond to be something that could've easily gone wrong, but you're absolutely right in classifying it as such. To me, it's always been more about how they built that show by taking the two best ideas in superhero comics and putting them together.
The thing is, that should've been a pretty difficult marriage -- and most of those flaws that I was talking about show up for that exact reason.
Welcome back to Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a weekly podcast in which X-Perts Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes explore the ins, outs, and retcons of fifty years of Marvel’s greatest superhero soap opera!
This week: Rachel and Miles celebrate an anniversary with a retrospective of one of the great romances of the Marvel universe; the Summers/Grey family tree is more of a transdimensional strawberry patch; the X-Men play some football; Professor Xavier is not a jerk; and Scott Summers and Jean Grey are the power couple of existentialism.
If there's one thing we've learned from our years on the Internet, it's that there's no aspect of comics that can't be broken down an quantified into a single definitive list, preferably in amounts of ten. And since there's no more definitive authority than ComicsAlliance, we're taking it upon ourselves to compile Top Ten Lists of everything you could ever want to know about comics.
This week, we're kicking it off with The Top Ten Underrated Batman Villains! The Dark Knight has an awful lot of notable foes, but there are plenty of also-rans, C-listers and one-shot villains who deserve better than being punched out and thrown into Blackgate, never to be seen again. So from the obscure to the unappreciated, here they are!
If there's a Hall of Fame for comic book titles, then Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories deserves its own wing. You put those words in that order on the cover of a comic book, and I'm going to buy it, no questions asked, and I'm pretty sure I'm not exactly alone in that way of thinking. To be honest, though, I will admit to being just a little bit disappointed that it's not an accurate description of the contents. I mean, is there anyone who wouldn't want to read a treasury-sized extravaganza about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego busting out forbidden martial arts techniques in order to fight their way out of the oven? I would.
That said, what we actually have -- an extra-sized $20 tome edited by Bruce Timm and Erik Larsen -- is still pretty amazing; an anthology of stories from fantastic creators that accomplishes that rare feat of being an anthology book where every single story is highly entertaining, even if they're not about Esau mastering poison styles to take his ultimate revenge on Jacob.
I'll be honest, folks: I have very little interest in Future's End as a line-wide crossover. DC Comics' tactic of derailing their books into weird tangents every September, a tradition that goes back to the relaunch of the "New 52" universe, never quite works as well as I want it to, and when you throw in the fact that we're peering into the dim and distant future of a world that we've only actually had for three years, and, well, no thanks, I'm good. What really had me worried, though, was Grayson.
I've really been enjoying what Tom King, Tim Seeley and Stephen Mooney have been doing with this book over the first few issues, but as I think we all know, there's no faster way to derail a brand new comic's momentum than to drop it into a crossover after two months. I almost didn't bother to read it, but I'm glad I did. It turns out that King, Seeley and Mooney have taken their Future's End tie-in as an opportunity to produce one of the most enjoyable single issues I've read in a long while.
This installment of The Arkham Sessions covers the final acts of "Robin's Reckoning," the highly-acclaimed two-part episode of Batman: The Animated Series, which explores the story of how Dick Grayson becomes Batman's sidekick. As we learned from Part 1, Bruce refuses to allow Dick to become involved in the case of Tony Zucco, the man who murdered Dick's family. For reasons unstated, Batman is determined to be the one to take Zucco down, causing a rift between Robin and himself. Despite Batman's efforts, it is Robin who captures Zucco. In the emotional conclusion, Robin is faced with a decision that could change his life forever.
One of the biggest issues in the news this week has been the ongoing rampant misogyny and outright terrorism in gamer culture, specifically the attacks on Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn and feminist media commentator Anita Sarkeesian -- both of whom have suffered exceedingly personal attacks and threats on their lives (including the horrible one in the graphic above, which was sent to Sarkeesian via Twitter). The former for merely talking sexual agency as an independent, adult woman, and the latter for criticizing the industry's treatment of women in its games. What do these issues have to do with the rest of geek culture? Well .... everything. Misogyny in gamer culture is a symptom of a larger, systemic issue. And something needs to be done about it. Now.
Comics are weird. I mean, that's part of their charm, right? And it makes sense that they would be. You take a medium that allows people to put whatever they want to on the page, have it defined by the offspring of pulp heroes and sci-fi and let it marinate for a few years, and you're going to get weird stuff like Superman with a lion head and the backstory of any given member of the Summers family. With the debut issue of God Hates Astronauts from Image, though, Ryan Browne has taken weirdness to an entirely new level.
Seriously, this is without question one of the top five weirdest comics that I've read in my life, and other than being held together with two staples and having the words in more or less the right order, it's weird in every way, with something freshly bizarre on every single page. And it's also one of the most fun comics of the year.
Geof Darrow made a welcome return to the pages of the Dark Horse Presents anthology recently, in the first issue of its latest relaunch, with a new Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot story. Missing was Darrow's collaborator on the original 1995 comic, Frank Miller; in an interview prior to the release of the new short story, Darrow said he'd talked to Miller and hoped he would still come on board to write some dialogue, but it didn't read as overly convincing, so it wasn't a surprise to see him listed as the sole author in this edition. Needless to say, a Miller-less Big Guy makes for a very different reading experience.
Over the past 40 years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has transitioned from a gag-a-day comic strip about a high school to an ongoing chronicle of pure, abject misery. Thanks to the ongoing commentary on Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon, I am now completely obsessed with it, which is why I spend a little time every month rounding up its finest examples of crushing despair.
This month... oh brother, this month. Tom Batiuk's offerings over the past few weeks have made August 2014, without question, the single worst and most mind-bogglingly bizarre month on record. If you haven't been reading my recaps of the strip over the past few years, this is the one you're going to want to start with, if only to see how completely irate one man can get over a newspaper comic strip about a man trying to write a made-for-cable movie about his dead wife.
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