A.I

Wanna see Batman punch a ghost?

There are many great joys of reading superhero comic books. Absurd situations, operatic conclusions, and soap opera stylings are the bread and butter of the genre. Superheroes can be highbrow, certainly. But they are also simple pleasures.

Sometimes you just want to see Batman punch a ghost. With the special gloves he has. For punching ghosts.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)


Image: Tom Taylor, Andy Kubert/DC Comics

Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert’s Batman: The Detective kicked off this week, taking Bruce Wayne on a trek around Britain and Europe to find a villain who is systematically killing everyone who ever had their life saved by Batman. Also they find time to have him punch a ghost with his ghost-punching gloves. Hell yes.

“Has anyone told you you look lovely today?” Loki says, offering a bouquet of flowers to a large shadowy figure. A large pink slobbery tongue beings constricting him. “Oh, hello! Forward. Oh! OKAY!” he says as he is squeezed, eyes bugging out hilariously, in Thor & Loki: Double Trouble #2, Marvel Comics (2021).

Image: Mariko Tamaki, Gurihiru/Marvel Comics

I love love love love Gurihiru’s rendering of Loki in this second issue of Thor & Loki: Double Trouble. Incredible. Show-stopping. I could barely decide which panel was best.

But I did, it’s the third one here.

A man sits at a dining table in front of a large painting of a pirate standing on the deck of a ship covered in bloody corpses. The pirate blows a fife, as lightning crackles through the background just like on the cover of The Dark Knight Returns, in Rorschach #7, DC Comics (2021)

Image: Tom King, Jorge Fornés/DC Comics

If you can wrap your head around how Frank Miller is now a pivotal character inside Tom King and Jorge Fornés’ Rorschach comic, it’s undeniably fun to imagine what The Dark Knight Returns would have been in a comic book industry dominated by pirates instead of superheroes.

A woman in a red backwards baseball cap and a red jumpsuit surrounded by floating red shapes walks into an airplane hangar where a giant shape is concealed under a tarp, a narration box says “She’s called it the Nuclear Bastard, America’s first walking ghost-powered weapon,” in Home Sick Pilots #5, Image Comics (2021).

Image: Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard/Image Comics

OK, so maybe this is on me for not reading up on it, but Home Sick Pilots, that comic that’s about punk band teens, a haunted house, and collecting ghosts? Well, at the end of issue #5, it turns out the whole story has been winding up toward a US GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE TO DEVEOP A HAUNTED HOUSE THAT TURNS INTO A GHOST-POWERED MECHA???????

I am absolutely losing my shit.

The five patron goddesses of the Amazons, depicted holding books, except for Aphrodite, in Wonder Woman #771, DC Comics (2021).

Image: Jordie Bellaire, Paulina Ganucheau/DC Comics

DC Comics’s new thing this year is leaning into back up stories and anthologies, and I really like what Wonder Woman is doing in this regard. The main story is solidly modern teens-and-up Wonder Woman comic (where she meets Thor), and the back up is a solidly modern YA-to-all-ages story about a young Diana on Themiscyra uncovering secrets about Amazon history. The idea of a parent or older sibling sharing their comic with a younger kid who gets to feel like they’re part of the hobby gives me the warm fuzzies.

Dracula advises Omega Red on how to infiltrate Krakoa from the vampire settlement in Chernobyl in Wolverine #11, Marvel Comics (2021).

Image: Benjamin Percy, Scot Eaton/Marvel Comics

This is just a casual reminder that recently Dracula manipulated the Russian government into giving him sovereignty over the greater Chernobyl area and he lives there now with hordes of bloodsucking undead in a “vampire nation” and he wants Wolverine’s blood because it allows vampires to be out during the day and also he thinks his kingdom should rival Krakoa because mutants and vampires have so much in common in that they are immortal and humans both hate them and want to be them.

Dracula!

James Gordon reveals that he already knows that Batgirl/Oracle is his daughter, Barbara Gordon, to the surprise of Oracle and Batman in The Joker #2, DC Comics (2021).

Image: James Tynion IV, Guillem March/DC Comics

I liked Joker #1, and the series’ second issue sucked me right in by turning the book into a father-daughter investigatory story, with Batman assigning Oracle to be James Gordon’s Guy in the Chair as he goes on a one-man manhunt for the Joker. Then, Gordon reveals what is obvious if you think about it for more than a second: He’s known for years that his daughter is Batgirl/Oracle. Because he is a fucking detective.

Peter Quill tells both Gamora and Richard Rider/Nova that he’s not ready for a relationship now, with either of them, in Guardians of the Galaxy #13, Marvel Comics (2021).

Image: Al Ewing, Juan Frigeri/Marvel Comics

Guardians of the Galaxy #13 might not be a #1 issue, but it feels like a new beginning, making Al Ewing and Juann Cabal’s previous issues on the title feel like they were just setting up the chess board — in a good way! Issue #13 expands the cast dramatically and in interesting ways, while creating new trajectory for the character development that began in the previous arc. For example, Peter Quill recently died, and while dead spent an extra lifetime in another dimension where he formed an adventuring thruple with a couple of aliens. He even had a kid with them. Then in order to save that dimension, he had to leave it behind, reappearing alive and in the main Marvel Universe only a few months after he’d left.

Now, we’ve got this love triangle where on the one hand, Gamora, Peter’s long-time partner, wants to rekindle their relationship. And on the other, mourning Peter’s death lead to Richard Rider/Nova realizing that he’s queer and has always had strong feelings for Peter. But Peter’s still mourning his partners and kid from that other dimension. This is a chef’s kiss of comic book soap opera.

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