Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 5/20/15

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Look, 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, Drew, Michael and Spencer discuss Daredevil 15.1, Guardians of the Galaxy 27, Star Wars 5, Archie vs. Predator 2, Jem and the Holograms 3, The Kitchen 7, Ufology 2, and Wytches 6.

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Patrick: We’ve been digging deep into the DC and Marvel crossover events lately, and so it’s always a relief when we can spend some time exploring more self-contained stories. But no matter how self-contained a story appears, there’s always a legacy — either literal or adopted — that forces a set of assumptions and expectations on the reader. This round-up includes a Star Wars comic, for crying out loud, so there’s some obvious franchise baggage there, but even as we move into the smaller, creator-owned series, the trappings of the genres (we very neatly have Crime, Sci-Fi and Horror represented there) prove themselves to be just as informative as an entire franchise. Continue reading

Mad Max: Fury Road: Nux and Immortan Joe 1

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Today, Shelby and  Mark are discussing Mad Max: Fury Road: Nux and Immortan Joe 1, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Shelby: I’ve always liked the Mad Max franchise. I saw Beyond the Thunderdome first, and I remember being startled by the bleakness of the first movie in comparison to that pageantry. When I saw Fury Road, I realized it was a combination of the bleakness of the first movie and the nonsense of the third, and I loved it. When Patrick asked, “If you love it so much, why don’t you…write a post on the forthcoming comic book?” I obviously said yes, especially when I saw the first issue was written about the villain Immortan Joe. Everyone knows I’m a sucker for a complex villain, and I couldn’t wait to see if this monster was ever anything more than that. I reference the movie a lot below, so if you haven’t seen it yet, here there be spoilers.  Continue reading

A-Force 1

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Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing A-Force 1, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

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Michael: Full disclosure: the exact ins and outs of Secret Wars are kind of over my head. I know that it is a better (and actually planned out) version of DC’s Convergence. I also know the basics of the event, which pretty much can be boiled down to the recap page of: “The Multiverse was destroyed! The heroes of Earth-616 and Earth-1610 were powerless to save it! Now, all that remains…is Battleworld!” So I’m going to try to take A-Force objectively, at face value. Continue reading

Trees 9

Alternating Currents: Trees 9, Ryan and Drew

Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Trees 9, originally released May 20th, 2015.

…Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Ryan: The curtains rise in Trees 9 on three silent pages chronicling the Luciferian Fall of poor, poor Marsh. My favorite character in this series rests, undone by the very thing which drove him to the brink of madness:

Flowers mark his grave

The nefarious flowers bloom in his desiccated corpse as if in an elegy: Here Lie Marsh, Whose Name Was Writ Only in Alien Poppies. Thank you, Jason Howard, for the send-off which Dr. Marsh needed. Continue reading

Kaptara 2

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Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Kaptara 2, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Patrick: Fun personal fact about me: I get sorta stressed out writing about some of the more prestige comics that Retcon Punch covers. While something like Saga or Nameless or Velvet might be both excellent and full of meaning, those creators are savvy enough to obscure any absolute reading of their work. The masters know enough to resist reducing their work to an easy slug line. I find the exact same quality to be true of Chip Zdarsky and Kagan McLeod’s Kaptara. Is it a subversion of high fantasy tropes? Or does the naturalistic, jokey approach to storytelling invalidate any comparisons one could draw to the standards of the genre? Issue two hints at commentary on celebrity, politics, gender dynamic, but doesn’t stay with anything long enough to make a point. But it may just be Kaptara’s refusal to make any point that makes it so damn fun. Oh, and the Cat Tanks. Obviously. Continue reading

Loki: Agent of Asgard 14

loki 14 swToday, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 14, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

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Patrick: Secret Wars isn’t something that’s happening to the Marvel Universe. Secret Wars is the result of specific planning and action from an entire team of editors, publishers, writers and artists. It exists by sheer force of will and accomplishment, about as intentional of a thing as can happen in comics. Loki: Agent of Asgard 14, bearing the “Last Days of” banner, explores the idea of the agency of the storyteller, even if that storyteller happens to be a character from within the story. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 5/20/15

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Today, Drew and Patrick discuss Ultimate End 1, Battleworld 1, Planet Hulk 1, Spider-Verse 1, and Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars 1.
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I have no idea what Secret Wars is going to be.

Retcon Punch, Traditional

Drew: Seriously, though: what is Secret Wars? Is it an excuse to revisit popular stories from Marvel’s history? Is it a means to merge the 616 Universe with the most popular elements of the Ultimate Universe? Is it an open field for creators to try out goofy ideas? Is it a stupid summer crossover event designed to sell comics? Offering the first real taste of what the tie-in issues, this week’s offerings suggest that the answer to all of our questions is “yes.” Continue reading

Convergence Round-Up: Week Seven

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Today, Shane leads a discussion about
Convergence 7, Adventures of Superman 2, Batman & the Outsiders 2, Green Lantern Corps 2, Hawkman 2, Justice League of America 2, Superboy & The Legion 2, Swamp Thing 2, and Wonder Woman 2.

convergence divShane: I’m not saying that it’s easy to write a story, but there’s still a basic structure that, if followed, makes the work a bit simpler. You’re going to set the stage and introduce the characters, before moving on to a rising action to give way to the ultimate conflict. Eventually, you’ll turn everything on its head with the climax of the story and begin to settle various plot points, before eventually drawing up an ending. Convergence is no different, and even though the series has been split into eight main issues, these five have all been strongly represented (so far, at least—we aren’t at the conclusion yet!)—but it’s been equally fascinating to see how each two-issue miniseries uses this story structure, as well. Notably, with this month’s final issues, we’ve seen a lot of titles subvert the classic formula, offering conclusions but still sending their characters onward and back into the main event. It’s been done in some cases better than others (I’m now just as sick of the earthquake as I was Telos’ speech in the first month), but it’s refreshing to see that even if a miniseries is the last time we’ll see a character star, their story has at least the potential to continue. Continue reading

Convergence: The Flash 2

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Convergence: The Flash 2, originally released May 20th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence this week, click here.

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Spencer: For the several decades that fell between Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Flash: Rebirth, Barry Allen was DC’s greatest hero. He was also dead, mind you, but that’s the exact reason why Barry became so legendary. The Flash sacrificed his life to save the entire multiverse, and by martyring himself he became this almost mythic figure, inspiring the entire DC universe — fans were even known to call him “Saint Barry.” But when Barry returned to life, he was overwhelmed by the praise. Fame was never something he wanted, and he knew he was far from perfect. Every action he took as the Flash, from stopping a mugger to sacrificing his life to save the universe, was taken with only one thought in mind — helping others. This dichotomy between how others view Barry and how he views himself is one of the central themes of Dan Abnett and Federico Dallocchio’s Convergence: The Flash 2. Continue reading

The Fade Out 6

Alternating Currents: The Fade Out 6, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Fade Out 6, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Fuck you; I gave you a reason to live and you were more than happy to help. You lie to yourself! You don’t want the truth, the truth is a fucking coward. So you make up your own truth.

Teddy, Memento

Drew: The more I think about Memento, the more I love it. It’s easy to see the backwards structure as gimmickry, but I’m absolutely enamored of how it draws us into Leonard Shelby’s subjectivity. And I mean “draws us in” — that the scenes are shown to us in reverse order doesn’t just put us in his shoes, it forces us to trust him in spite of his obvious shortcomings as a narrator. His unreliability is front-and-center from the start, but because we’re lost with him, we have no choice but to trust him. Charlie Parish’s unreliability is decidedly less tangible, but no less central to his story — the whole mystery surrounding Valeria’s death hinges on him not remembering what happened. As The Fade Out ramps into its second arc, his subjectivity becomes an ever more important element of the series. Continue reading