Category: Retro-Reviews

Our culture fetishizes moral ambiguity.

As much as it’s become a dead horse trope, our storytelling conventions still rely on a black and white framework. Too often, like adolescents testing limits, we obsess over the ways we can complicate this simple dichotomy of good and evil. An entire age of comics was defined by our love affair with violent anti-heroes, ‘good’ characters who engage in ‘evil’ behavior.

Nonetheless, it’s rare that we latch on to a character who truly inhabits a moral shade of gray, rather than some attractive paradoxical commingling of good and evil. Magneto is one of these characters.

Part of what makes Magneto special is the inherent presence of a greater evil in his story. As limitedly as it factors in to some stories, Magneto inherently allows us to grapple with the problem of evil and to sort out our feelings about hatred, intolerance, and genocide.

Magneto: Testament is the rare comic that tackles these issues head on and the result is stunning. Written and drawn in collaboration with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Magneto: Testament examines and reveals, for the first time, the early life of the boy who would become Magneto. Continue reading


SotB 19

The 90s were an interesting time. I was young then, finding my first taste of comics through the television each Saturday morning. Later I would discover the nearly laughable pains that Marvel went through to replicate the Jim Lee era X-Men comics, but little did I know, at the time, that things in the world of Batman were very different from what I knew. As the first season of Batman: The Animated Series came to a close, the role of Batman passed to a young man named Jean-Paul Valley in the second act of DC’s mammoth Knightfall storyline.

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Aquaman Time and Tide 1

One of DC’s four Golden Age heroes to survive to the modern-day, Aquaman is undoubtedly the one that gets the worst rap. The legacy of the Superfriends remains strong and most people still think of him as a joke. But for all the bad press he gets, Aquaman has endured for over seventy years, often well received even during periods that his Justice League comrades would rather forget.

In the mid-nineties, DC was chasing the dark and gritty trend. Superman died, Batman was broken, Wonder Woman replaced, the Green Lantern fell from grace, Wonder Woman flipped burgers, the Titans fell apart, and Wonder Woman received many a wedgie. And though Aquaman was hardly immune to the fashion of the day, quite appropriately, he found a way to swim with the current.

While Batman was bogged down in an endless series of crossovers and Superman wandered through every hairstyle, color scheme, and state of being that the writers could think to give him, Aquaman was given to Peter David, who began the longest run of Aquaman comics to date.

Today we’ll start examining the second underwater mini-series that David penned, and the first to feature Aquaman in a starring role: Time and Tide.

In short, if you thought Geoff Johns was the first one to make Aquaman cool, it’s about time you took a look at the history of Atlantis. Continue reading

Love and War

Do you enjoy comics that look and read like some amazing fever dream? Fan of stories about dysfunctional relationships and deeply disturbed individuals? Are you tired of all those pesky superheroes in your superhero comics? Well do I have a book for you!

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Batman Annual 14

Andrew Helfer is an editor and writer who’s done most of his work in the industry at DC. He’s probably most famous for overseeing the relaunch of the Justice League of America and Superman, respectively, into the JLI and The Man of Steel (not to be confused with the recent film) and for founding DC’s Paradox imprint. Despite having more than one Eisner award to his name, Helfer doesn’t seem to have the same recognition as fellow editors like Mike Carlin, Dennis O’Neill, or Julius Schwartz. He’s not really a celebrity the way some of his colleges are, he’s just an accomplished editor.

Oh, and he also wrote one of the most important Batman stories of all time.

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