Category Archives: Perspectives

Urbane Turtle Year One: The Collected Works

Take Urbane Turtle on-the-go offline when you download the collected works of Urbane Turtle Year One.

The Collected Works includes some of my favorite pieces of comics criticism and analysis from the first year of Urbane Turtle, including the only place you can read my undergraduate thesis on Superman.

This features writing about House of X, Amazing Spider-Man, Strange Adventures, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles City at War, Nightwing, and All-Star Superman. This book seeks to be a source for scholarship and to elevate the conversation surrounding comics as a narrative art.

Available as a PDF and CBZ format. Pay what you like, as low as $0.

Lovingly designed, assembled, and laid out by yours truly.

Purchase here.

Batman: Knightfall and The Light Beyond the Darkness

In the 1990s, massive status quo shake-ups were the engine that drove the industry. Superman was killed in battle and four pretenders vied for the throne. Spider-Man was replaced by a long-forgotten clone. Every issue of The X-Men promised to change everything, or mark the first appearance of a new character.

No matter the hero, things would never be the same. That was the promise. 

Continue reading Batman: Knightfall and The Light Beyond the Darkness

Batman Month at Urbane Turtle

Welcome to Batman Month here at Urbane Turtle dot com!

During my hiatus period toward the end of last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to write about and how I want to approach it. What is speaking to me, or that I think I have some insight into? What’s most important to me—churning out content on a regular schedule? Making regular columns that talk about the “industry” broadly? Focusing on regular comics reviews?

None of that really appealed to me. I like what I am doing here, taking a step back to look at books and media from any period as the mood strikes me. It isn’t good for building an audience or SEO but I have at least one other outlet for quick reviews and initial impressions on series. What I most enjoy is digging into books and media and figuring outwhat makes them tick, or what speaks to me, and to celebrate how those stories are told.

Taking comics seriously. Taking genre stories seriously.

What I found myself struggling with as I began getting into the thick of things was deciding what to engage with and wrestling with what I think makes my perspective or voice unique. This kind of idea paralysis continues to be my biggest mental block. As I began to consider what I wanted to write about, I looked at big milestones over the next few months, and one thing stood out to me, and that is the release of the new Matt Reeves directed, Robert Pattinson starring, The Batman.

I got excited about tying my writing thematically to Batman as a character and a franchise, both as an opportunity to produce somewhat timely content but also because it struck me that I have never written seriously about Batman or Batman comics. I engaged with the character a bit over the course of my DCAU Rewatch many years ago, and first approached serious themes with the character in my short-lived retrospective on Grant Morrison’s work with the character. But both of these things are quite old, the work of a younger person with less skill and perspective.

Truth be told, I have been quite burned out on the character for several years now, confusing my frustration with the Zack Snyder era of DC films with a general disillusionment with the Batman. Preparing for this series sparked something in me I had forgotten about…an abiding love for Gotham and its world. Batman is what brought me to comics, the bridge to my passion for the art form.

So, I invite you to join me as I celebrate what makes Batman enduring, what he inspires us to be, the challenges he empowers us to overcome, and the fears he helps us grapple with. The essays I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks range from the more analytical and academic you might be more familiar with if you have been a reader, to the more reflective and personal. I am trying to push myself over these weeks, to bring myself to the stories and you, the reader, and to share what Batman and superhero comics, mean to me, and how I think he speaks to something deep inside all of us who hunger for justice and hope in the dark corners of the night.

Week 1: Batman: Knightfall and the Light Beyond the Darkness

Week 2: The Mud Pack, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Batman

Week 3: Batman: Cold Days – The God in the Cape

Week 4: The Lowest, Most Despicable, and Most Harmful Form of Trash: Batman’s Secret Identity in the Silver Age

The Urbane Turtle 2021 Year in Review – The Comics

In 2020, in the first couple months of this Urbane Turtle experiment, I posted a Year in Review of some of the various forms of media that got me through a difficult year. I was very explicit that it wasn’t a “Best-Of,” and I did not limit it to any medium.

But after a full year as a semi-professional comic critic, I want to share with you my Top 10 comics from the year that was. There is not much in the way of ground rules for how books qualify for this list. They had to release new issues in 2021. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks catching up on a backlog of releases and am happy to finally share this with you all.

Continue reading The Urbane Turtle 2021 Year in Review – The Comics

COMICSXF Interview: Kyle Higgins Breaks Down the First Arc of Image’s Radiant Black

For ComicsXF, I chatted with writer Kyle Higgins about the first arc of Radiant Black. We got into his philosophy of superheroes and the responsibility to take risks he feels in writing an independent comic. Read the interview here.

The Final Night and the Forgotten Legacy of the DC Universe

One thing my recent Nightwing project accomplished was reigniting my love for DC Comics–particularly the stories and universe of the 90s, which, ironically, I have ready very little of. While I initially planned to cancel my DCU Infinite subscription once I finished that Nightwing read, I instead decided to dive into the stories I was always intrigued by but never had the opportunity to read.

As a kid I spent countless hours online following the stories of DC characters I had never heard of before, written by fans who chronicled the various adventures in compelling narratives. The DC Universe was boundless; there were always new characters and new stories to discover. In particular the fall of Hal Jordan seemed especially captivating. Reading about his sacrifice in The Final Night was such a moving memory even in the form of synopsis that when I found the story on DC Infinite those heady days of research came flooding back. Imagine my surprise to find that an event series from the mid 90s, an era that has a reputation for excess and convoluted plots, was in fact one of the most compelling, reserved, and moving superhero stories I’ve ever read.

The Final Night was a 4-issue, weekly event series written by Karl Kesel with art by Stuart Immonen, inks by Jose Marzan Jr. and colors by Patricia Mulvihill. It begins with the death of a world, as a mysterious power extinguishes the planet Tamaran’s sun. The alien Dusk, a messenger from another world, races from the dying Tamaran to warn the next planet of the coming of the Sun Eater, as she has done countless times before. The Sun Eater is coming to Earth, and there is no hope. Her goal is not that the next planet will defeat the Sun Eater but that they somehow save a few from certain death.

Continue reading The Final Night and the Forgotten Legacy of the DC Universe

Who is Dick Grayson? A Critical Retrospective of Nightwing

I read every issue of Nightwing, every Dick Grayson solo series (including his time as Batman and a super spy) and 100+ issues of Titans and Justice League over the last two months, in search of the answer to one question.

Continue reading Who is Dick Grayson? A Critical Retrospective of Nightwing

The Simple Beauty of WandaVision

You would be forgiven for thinking WandaVision was a complex narrative full of redirects, misleads and hidden clues in every frame. An entire ecosystem of takes, theories, and explainers sprang up around the series over the course of its eight week run. I found myself caught up in it, firmly convinced the arrival of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver was a sign of multiverse shenanigans, fueled by speculation of Wanda’s forthcoming appearance in Dr. Strange 2, subtitled In the Multiverse of Madness.

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A Millennial Superhero out to make a difference in RADIANT BLACK #1

In Image Comics Radiant Black #1, Nathan Burnett is a thirty year old screw up who is too scared to pursue his dream of being a writer. He returns to his boyhood home in small town Illinois to live with his parents and dig himself out of crippling debt. While there he is reunited with an old friend who pushes him to open up about his fear and failure for the first time. After a night of drinking beer and catching up with one another, the two stumble upon a strange glowing black sphere on the train tracks. After touching it, Nathan is encased in a sleek alien suit of armor and suddenly finds himself with new powers that, so far, seem to allow him to levitate items as large as a train and fly through the air.

A millennial superhero with something to prove, Nathan’s generational downward mobility leaves him lost and his grand dreams of the future out of reach. It’s a familiar sorrow for many of us who came of age in the years following one of the worst economic collapses in American history, only to be met with a new economic collapse just as we thought we were starting to get a handle on adulthood. 

Continue reading A Millennial Superhero out to make a difference in RADIANT BLACK #1

Introducing the Urbane Turtle Turtle Club Newsletter!

We got a Newsletter going! Fill in your email at the link at the bottom of this post and sign up. The first post is available now (you can read it here) that includes some musings on Nightwing and general stuff.

I try to keep the site a somewhat fancy high-brow place with critical pieces of writing and opinion, that can act as a portfolio, so hopefully this newsletter is a space where we can engage in some less formal discussion on comics, pop-culture, or whatever else is on my mind in the great big beautiful world of geeky things that I think about and have no one to talk to about. It’ll be more coherent than my twitter feed and hopefully thoughtful.

I’ll also keep subscribers updated on what I am working on and provide a recap of what has been added to the site every week. So if you want to stay up to date you can sign up there.

https://urbaneturtle.substack.com/welcome