Comics

This Was Then: Prodigal

Stories about 'growing up' are timeless. The time, place, or circumstances may change, but a boy always becomes a man, and a girl always becomes a woman. I could share personal stories about how I did not get along with my father while I was in high school. I am sure you have your own stories. Everyone does. Growing up and becoming an adult is tough. Just as we deal with these problems in everyday life, the characters we read about in our comic books have problems as well.

Every so often a comicbook character comes along, just like a character in a movie or television show, that we can relate to; one that shares in our problems. Whether it is something in that character's past that we can associate with, or just their views of the world; we can find a piece of ourselves in a comic book. For myself, that character I can most easily associate with is Dick Grayson. From Robin, to Nightwing, to Batman, we have seen Dick Grayson grown and evolve over the years.

This week, This Was Then focuses on Prodigal. Released in '94 and '95 Prodigal explores a time when Bruce Wayne decided to leave town, and after the mistake of leaving the identity of Batman to Jean Paul Valley (during Batman's Knightfall saga). This time, he entrusts the mantle to his former partner, Dick Grayson. As good as this series is, the best part is saved for the final issue: Robin #13.

Bruce returns to the Batcave, asking Dick to give back the mantle of Batman. Dick gets angry and begins bringing up old issues that where unresolved from years earlier. As children, we sometimes latch on to our parents' mistakes, always remembering how they wronged us. We carry that pain and hurt into our adult lives, remembering that moment of when our parents screwed up. Dick may have taken on the identity of the Dark Knight, but is still acting like a Boy Wonder.

After Dick gets everything off his chest, Bruce makes a comment that brings it all together. 'A distance grew between us. I left so many things unsaid. I handled it all wrong. But that's the way it always is, isn't it? ... Between fathers and sons?'

All relationships evolve over time, but none so much as between a father and son. It starts as a protective relationship, with the father looking out for the son, teaching him how to take care of himself just as Batman trained Robin. However, it grows to a point where the son becomes his own man, and the two become equals for the most part. We see the way Dick craves respect as a friend and hero from Bruce, longing to be looked at as anything but a child.

Dick gives the title of Batman back to Bruce, and goes back to being Nightwing. Taking Bruce's place as Batman won't help him grow up, he must do that on his own.

The writers and artists change with every issue of this series, however the overall feeling of growing up is very strong from beginning to end. Stories about becoming an adult will never lose their familiarity with readers. Whether we are currently growing up, or raising children of our own, growing up is something that never gets old.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.