Old School Wednesdays

Old School Wednesday Flashback: The Batman vs. Superman Edition

Old School Wednesdays presents a new flashback feature in which we Book Smugglers reflect on a new topic or theme in popgeekdom.

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Old School Wednesdays is a weekly Book Smuggler feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of 2012, when both Ana and Thea were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny (and often over-hyped) books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past?

This time, on our very first Old School Wednesday flashback, we focus on the recent DC superhero (poop) bonanza: Batman vs. Superman.

So. A little movie came out this past weekend to almost universally crappy reviews–boring, bloated, like a sad ad for the Justice League, with a certified Rotten rating (29%) on Rotten Tomatoes, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t doing so well. Neither of us Smugglers has watched it yet–we’re saving that boozy-hate viewing matinee for this weekend–but we thought we’d get in the mood by reflecting on some Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman DC Trinity stuff we LOVE. You know. To take the edge off.

The Hiketeia: Wonder Woman and Batman Throw Down and IT IS GLORIOUS

By Greg Rucka, J.G. Jones, Wade von Grawbadger, Dave Stewart

Hiketeia

A Greek tragedy on a superhero scale, The Hiketeia examines the core values that make Princess Diana of Themyscira–acting as the Ambassador of Themyscira in the world of men–tick. The Hiketeia is a vow that binds a supplicant to a protector. It is an unbreakable vow (in the very Harry Potter sense), and Diana has entered into such a bond with a hunted, haunted young woman named Danielle Wellys. It turns out that Danielle is hunted not only by the Furies, but by Batman, who presses Diana to turn the murderess over into his custody to return to Gotham.

This is where the tragedy unfolds–because, you see, because both Diana and Bruce are creatures of uncompromisable principles. As I said in my review: “Diana cannot break the Hiketeia as she is a creature of her beliefs and ethics, in ritual and her religion. Neither can Batman turn away from his all-consuming passion for his own religion of dark justice.”

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Watching the ensuing, inevitable battle unfold between Wonder Woman and Batman is breathtaking–and kind of hot, if we’re being honest. It’s a favorite of ours for good reason, and we highly recommend checking it out.

The Dark Knight Returns: A Joint Review of a Classic

By Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, John Costanza, and Lynn Varley

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This remains one of Thea’s favorite graphic novels to this day. The Dark Knight Returns deals with a retired Batman–Bruce hung up the cowl 10 years prior–and Gordon is eager to also enter his last adventure of life, free from the Gotham Police Force. The thing is, though, that Batman isn’t happy with retirement–he feels cold, and empty, and restless.

The story proper follows a new gang that rises in Gotham, the Mutants, and watches as Harvey Dent (aka, Two Face) is rehabilitated and released into regular society once again–only to disappear, once again. This, of course, makes Wayne don the cape and cowl once more. And when he does so, he is far more brutal in his deliverance of dark justice than he has ever been before. Instead of prison, Bruce kills; instead of the police, the Batman judges.

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And then the only person who can stop Bruce Wayne, and save him from the gaping maw of darkness, is the only member of the Justice League who is still in commission. That is, Superman. The government–in particular the United States government–sends in the Man of Steel to stop the dark vigilante.

And… well, it’s just about what you would expect.

While the Superman v. Batman angle is not as pronounced as it is in other comics and collections, this graphic novel is pretty much perfect when it comes to character study and motivation. And for that reason, it counts in our top favorites to read while getting mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared for watching a potentially horrid movie.

Wonder Woman at Super Hero High: The New Generation

by Linda Yee

Wonder Woman at Superhero High

So this novel is a wildcard on the list–it’s brand new, and super adorable. A middle grade adventure in a fictional super hero high school, Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee is SUPER CUTE.

This novel follows Wonder Woman as she trades in her secluded life on Paradise Island for a future at Super Hero High. Her high school is full of other DC heroes and villains–including Bumblebee (student of the month!), Hawkgirl (athletic and hawk-eyed), Katana (wicked good with a blade and her sense of argument), Harley Quinn (video superstar and Wondy’s roommate), and Poison Ivy (shy but brilliant with experiments and botanical science).

This awesome new featuring of superheroes in a single high school environment is incredibly fun, fodder for some deeper character exploration in future volumes, and also ties in very nicely to DC’s merchandising and animation feature plans.

If you’re not interested in any of the ancillary stuff, the book is pretty darn good on its own.

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So there you have it! Have you seen Batman vs. Superman–any insights? Recommended reads?

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3 Comments

  • Meljean
    April 10, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I’m way behind! But I’d always recommend JLA: LEAGUE OF ONE — in which Wonder Woman takes down the entire Justice League to stop a prophecy in which the entire league is killed. The artwork is just STUNNING and it’s just fantastic from page one.

    SPOILERS BELOW FOR SUPERMAN VS BATMAN

    Superman vs. Batman … I didn’t hate it as much as many of the critics. I thought there were serious problems, but enough that I liked to keep me from being totally disgusted. Wonder Woman grinning as she’s hit and getting right back up. The opening scene was powerful and made me forgive a lot of Batman’s characterization throughout — like, how does Bruce Wayne react when he’s utterly helpless? Not so well, it turns out. And I liked that the series/DC universe seemed to be going in a direction I like a lot better than it started out (with Man of Steel and that wanton destruction.)

    But I also think they really screwed themselves by pumping up all the Jesus imagery in the first Man of Steel movie. Because when the moment comes when Batman finally realizes that Superman is just a man, too … well, if it had just been people like Lex and others who’d been comparing Superman to a god the whole time, it might have been more effective. But the movie(s) kept positioning Superman as a god, too. So trying to hit home with “he’s a man who makes mistakes, just like every man?” … kind of falls flat.

    As does the inevitable resurrection, lol. Talk about beating that horse.

  • Serena
    April 11, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Great suggestions! Kate and I recently posted a video review for this movie with some book suggestions too! We also highlighted “The Dark Knight Returns,” but also a great Wonder Woman nonfiction title “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore and also the YA title “Lois Lane: Fallout” by Gwenda Bond. They’re fun reads, if you want even more to check out!

  • shahin ahmed
    January 28, 2018 at 8:24 am

    watch new movie

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