Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 4/9/14

round upLook, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Patrick, Shelby and Drew discuss All-New Ultimates 1, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 11, All-New Ghost Rider 2, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon 1, Shutter 1, Green Lantern Corps 30, and Astro City 11.

slim-banner4Patrick: We start our round-up in that most peculiar corner of the Marvel Universe, the Ultimate corner. All-New Ultimates 1 introduces the titular team — now comprised of Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Cloak and Dagger and Bombshell — as they try to reclaim their claim in a post-Cataclysm New York City. Without S.H.I.E.L.D. to support them, or anyone with any managerial experience, it looks like the series is positioned to explore the way groups of teenagers function without central leadership. And while that’s sorta interesting, so much of it happens in costume, the only exception to that is a single scene between Jessica and Kitty Pryde (on whose couch Jessica is crashing). Continue reading

Thunderbolts 24

thunderbolts 24Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Thunderbolts 24, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Spencer: It’s rough to start picking up a new comic in the middle of a storyline. If I can’t buy a book starting with issue one, I try to wait for a new storyline to begin, and I’m far from the only person with this strategy. Charles Soule wisely takes advantage of this in his and Paco Diaz’s Thunderbolts 24; while much of the issue is devoted to establishing the new storyline to come, there’s enough focus on the characters and team dynamic to make this the perfect first issue for any Thunderbolts-newbie. If you aren’t already picking this book up, now’s the time to give it a try! Continue reading

Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 1 – Context

Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 1 - Context

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

This notion is a kind of unofficial mantra for Retcon Punch. We fully embrace that our perspectives are limited, which is why virtually everything we publish features at least two writers and an open comment section. It’s an attitude that serves us very well when discussing works of art, where interpretation is paramount, but makes us decidedly less good at journalism, which aims to transcend interpretations in pursuit of facts.

We’ve largely shied away from reporting news (honestly, there are so many sites for comic news out there already), and while we will wade in every once in a while, our cross-talk format results in longer gestation times than the twitter-assisted news cycle tends to have patience for. We’re happy to focus on discussing comics and leaving the news to other sites, but we felt like we needed to speak up about the Janelle Asselin Controversy and fallout. This story is obviously bigger than the facts in question – something that might warrant the kind of longer, slower conversations we do here — and more importantly, it addresses issues that matter to us personally. Continue reading

Captain Marvel 2

captain marvel 2Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Captain Marvel 2, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Shelby: Mistaken identities and their resulting confusion have got to be one of the more commonly used plot devices out there. I think just about every play I did in high school drama involved people being mistaken for someone else and a lot of hiding in closets/multiple door antics. It’s commonly used because it’s one small moment that can quickly telescope into an entire story; each person’s unexpected reaction based on the mistake triggers another unexpected reaction, and so on and so forth. It’s so easy when we’re outside observers to see that if everyone would just calm down and think for a second, everything would make sense. As Carol Danvers is about to learn, however, sometimes mistakes happen so fast, you don’t even have a second to spare to think about it. Continue reading

Manifest Destiny 6

Alternating Currents: Manifest Destiny 6, Drew and GregToday, Drew and Greg are discussing Manifest Destiny 6, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Hell is a terrible place. Maggots are your sheet, worms your blanket, there’s a lake of fire burning with sulfur. You’ll be tormented day and night for ever and ever. As a matter of fact, if you actually saw hell, you’d be so frightened, you would die.

Miss Albright, “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment”

Drew: Do you ever get the impression that people are trying way too hard to make hell scary? Fire and brimstone is exactly as generically horrible as harps and white robes are generically pleasant — I understand the gist, but holy crap do those rewards and punishments have no relation to my everyday life. I suppose the reason the over-the-top conception of hell is so frustrating to me is that it ignores a much scarier truth about a life of sin, one that remains true even if you don’t believe in any kind of afterlife: that you may be forever tormented by your own guilt. If you believe you are deserving of some horrible fate, you will spend your days waiting for the axe to fall, while someone at peace with their actions may lead a more serene, contented existence. In that way, Heaven and Hell aren’t destinations we move to at the ends of our lives, but mindsets we create for ourselves as we move through them. These are feelings that tend to lie dormant, but can be brought to the surface by something as big as a loved one passing, or as small as having one too many drinks. Manifest Destiny 6 finds Lewis and Clark confronted by both ends of the spectrum (if you replace the drinks with a potent floral hallucinogen), and shows just how differently they respond.

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Batgirl 30

batgirl 30Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 30, originally released April 9th, 2014. 

slim-bannerPatrick: One of the tricks to performing satisfying long form improv is the ability to call out an unusual thing and deal with it. In fact, most of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s comedic philosophy is based around that single truth: whatever’s happening, let’s identify it, explore it and process it. “Don’t be coy” is what that usually breaks down to. Issue 30 of Batgirl is mercilessly coy, refusing to share its biggest secret, but still tries desperately to mine pathos out of it. The result is an emotional clusterfuck — one that I doubt would be satisfying even if the powers that be deemed us worthy of Forever Evils biggest reveals.

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East of West 11

Alternating Currents: East of West 11, Drew and TaylorToday, Drew and Taylor are discussing East of West 11, originally released April 9th, 2014.

That’s when the attack comes — not from the front, no, from the side, from the other two raptors you didn’t even know were there.

- Alan Grant, Jurassic Park

Clever girl…

- Robert Muldoon, Jurassic Park

Drew: I’m not sure I can explain why, but some of my favorite movies feature surprises that are actually spoiled within the movie itself. Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy perfected this idea, basically using it to structure each film, but my all-time favorite example has to be the raptor attack from Jurassic Park. The attack doesn’t come until towards the end of the movie, but is actually explained, virtually point-for-point, by Grant within the first ten minutes. In the excitement of the scene, we forget what Grant said about raptor attacks, and can only piece it together after it happens — after we realize that we already knew what would happen. While Jonathan Hickman doesn’t hide anything quite as shocking as a surprise velociraptor in East of West 11, he does blindside us with an element that has been hidden in plain sight since the beginning: the Endless Nation.

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Nightcrawler 1

Alternating Currents, Nightcrawler 1, Scott and SuzanneToday, Scott and Suzanne are discussing Nightcrawler 1, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Scott: He’s back! The recent Amazing X-Men arc found Kurt Wagner, AKA Nightcrawler, being brought back from the dead, an excellent set-up for a new Nightcrawler title. Nightcrawler 1 not only reintroduces Nightcrawler to the land of the living as the star of his own series, it reunites him with ex-X-Men writer Chris Claremont. There’s a lot of catching up to do, and Claremont seems more interested in writing about Nightcrawler the way he remembers him, rather than concentrating on the things that have happened to the character in the interim. Repercussions of Kurt’s death and new life are strangely absent, making for an uneven and perplexing first issue. Continue reading

Secret Avengers 2

secret avengers 2Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Secret Avengers 2, originally released April 9th, 2014. 

This is the Secret Avengers, there are no rules.

-S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill

Patrick: For all the crap people give the superhero genre for being “formulaic” or “predictable,” the medium of comics is anything but. I really liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier — and that flick does take a lot of big crazy chances — but one of the moments I was disappointed by was the split second we thought we were going to see Nick Fury’s car fly through the streets of D.C. Hot damn, I wanted to see that car fly. “Flying car” is one of those things you sorta just have to shrug at and say “comics are weird, man.” Or, more precisely, “there are no rules.” Ales Kot’s Secret Avengers embraces this philosophy, combining a cast of button-down Special Agents with a band of superhero (…and supervillain) misfits into one cacophonous volume. It’s a buffet of surprises, each one gleefully undermining all the others. Continue reading

Daredevil 1.5

Alternating Currents: Daredevil 1.5, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 1.5, originally released April 9th, 2014. 

Drew: Ah, the anthology-style anniversary issue. I absolutely appreciate the concept of bringing in a bunch of top creators to riff on a character they know and love, but in practice, all of that talent ends up competing to leave an impression. That often means wild deconstructions of the very character the issue is celebrating — a thrilling exercise for longtime fans, but one that runs the risk of alienating more casual readers. In the letters column for Daredevil 1.5, editor Ellie Pyle asks what Daredevil means to us, but the question in my mind is “who is this comic for?”

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