Patrick: Friday night, I was at a bar with some friends and — after the second round — the topic of conversation turned to “panty raids.” None of us had even participated in one nor had any of us been victim of one, but we all had these half-formed ideas from 80s college movies (and anything parodying 80s college movies). We all understood the same broad strokes: a group of men, probably a fraternity, steals underpants from a group of girls, probably a sorority. The purpose of a panty raid was still sort of elusive, and even among our small group, our perceptions of the gender and sexuality politics involved were all over the map. Is it a harmless prank? An anarchic expression of teenage sexuality? A skeezy male sexual power fantasy? That last thought hung with me through the weekend: no matter how panty raids were intended, the end result is at least a little rapey. Even something as stupid and frivolous as a panty raid has overtones of rape. Modern feminism has an awful lot to say about this prevalent rape culture, especially as a particularly glaring example of how far we really are from gender equality. As DC’s de facto symbol of feminism, Wonder Woman was bound to address the issue eventually, and the subtlety and grace of the conclusion to Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s masterpiece was the perfect place for it to happen. Continue reading
Spencer: This new volume of Daredevil has largely revolved around Matt Murdock’s move to San Francisco and how his unfamiliarity with that city has affected his skills as a crime fighter. Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez’s Daredevil 6 finds Matt returning to New York City (seemingly only so he can get mixed-up with Original Sin), but despite being back in his old stomping grounds, things don’t get any easier for Matt. Waid spends this entire issue showing us just how unprepared Matt is now that all his secrets are out in the open; the way Waid piles tragedy atop tragedy atop tragedy is horrifically beautiful. Continue reading
Greg: At my high school, marching band was a huge deal. It had all the emotions, pressures, and big personalities of a championship football team. I played in the pit upfront (marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones) my entire high school career. My freshman year was the long-running, much-loved band director’s swan song — he also happened to be my dad, which definitely didn’t help with the pressure thing. We won state championships for the first time that year, meaning my sophomore year definitely didn’t help with the pressure thing. Certain instructors and students started treating it like a military outfit, and it was too much for me. I took to my LiveJournal and posted an obscenities-and-hormones fueled diatribe on the people who I felt were taking it too far. My parents immediately found out. My dad, no longer the band director but now the assistant principal, ordered me to face the new band director in a one-on-one. I went in expecting to be eviscerated, but was surprised to find the director met me with patience, understanding, and forgiveness. I was primed and ready for battle, but instead had a deep, insightful, mutually respectful conversation. This sense of narrative rise-and-hard-left-turn happens in Trees 3 as well, and left me feeling similarly satisfied.
Drew: The Riddler may not have seemed like the most intuitive choice for a retelling of Batman’s origin — he’s in no man’s land, much more specific threat than those posed by organized crime in Year One, but he’s also not Batman’s biggest villain. Of course, that ignores the specific nature of this origin story, one that openly acknowledges how well-known the story is — or at least how well we think we know the story. That is, in order to not be a total retread, it requires the type of surprise ending we typically associate with riddles. It’s the kind of ending that recontextualizes the three-part story we’ve been reading as one emotional arc with a focus on something we may not have been expecting: Bruce’s relationship to Alfred. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Saga 21, originally released July 23rd, 2014.
Shelby: it’s hard to watch something you love fall apart. Even if that something is a work of fiction, it can still break your heart just as fast (if not faster) than real life. I get very invested in the media I consume; anyone who’s watched a movie with me can attest to the fact I am frequently, literally on the edge of my seat at the climax of the movie. That’s how I find myself as we build toward the end of each arc in Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga: on the edge of my seat.
Drew: Last month, Patrick laid out the difference between time travel narratives that amount to fish-out-of-water stories and those that are actually about time travel — that is, those where the actions and repercussions of time travel are the point of the story. Turtles in Time 1 fell squarely into the first category, basically giving the Turtles an excuse to run around with dinosaurs for a while. It’s certainly a noble endeavor (and darn successful — we loved the heck out of that issue), but for a mini-series titled Turtles in Time, it seems only natural that the focus should shift back to the time travel itself, bringing all the concerns of causation and the space-time continuum to the fore as the Turtles encounter themselves pre-reincarnation in feudal Japan. Continue reading
Patrick: Violence. Abuse. Torture. Slavery. I just named, like, the four worst things in the world. They’re all awful on their own, but each act becomes unfathomably detestable the second you add the descriptor “sexual.” Sexual violence is so horrible, we don’t really know how to process it and we sure as shit don’t know how to talk about it. As a result, so much sexual assault gets swept out of our field of vision, even when we know full-well that it’s going on. The numbers vary wildly, but every study on reporting rape statistics suggests that a shocking number of sexual assaults go unreported. Studies also show that sexual assault, especially toward children, can trigger psychosis and schizophrenia later in life. It’s simply too much for brains to handle, which is why we tend to freak out whenever rape shows up in our pop entertainments. Ales Kot and Tonči Zonjić boldly express our inability to process these moments of pure, unadulterated horror in a breathtaking new installment of Zero. (spoilers for Zero 9 after the jump). Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Last Fall 1, originally released July 16th, 2014.
Patrick: You know what’s wrong with the narrative in the Star Wars prequels? I mean, beyond “everything” — if you had to pin-point what’s so awful about the story itself, what overarching storytelling philosophy leads that series astray? I’m sure everyone has their own answer to this, but for me, the biggest culprit is Lucas’ refusal to make the interstellar conflict personal. All the motivating factors for going to war are tariffs and alliances — which could be effective if only our characters had some sort of relationship to how futile and trivial their efforts are. That’s a damn shame: there’s a lot of compelling mileage to mine from the futility of war. Tom Waltz and Casey Malone’s The Last Fall is set to explore just that thematic territory.
“Vacation / All I ever wanted / Vacation / Had to get away.”
Vacation, The Go-Go’s
The number one reason we do Retcon Punch is because it’s fun. We like comics, and we like writing about comics, and that’s basically all that goes on here. “Fun” has been my driving force on all of this from day one. Whenever we approached a new challenge, the first question out of my mouth was always “okay, how do we have fun with this?” Putting together our daily discussions is also a lot of work. Like a lot. The Summer time brings a lot of changes to people’s schedules and priorities, and we’re in a place right now where the work-to-fun ratio isn’t playing about quite how we’d like it.
With that in mind, I’d like to announce that we’re transitioning into Summer Hours, which will mean significantly less coverage than usual. In fact, we’ve whittled down the next two months of releases to a list of absolute cannot-miss comics, and those are the only issues that we’ll be doing in-depth Alternating Currents for. We’re hoping to re-introduce weekly round-ups, so the breadth of coverage should still be there too, just not quite in the same way as it has been.
I want to thank all of our readers for sticking around with us during this time. July is Retcon Punch’s 30th month, and Drew and I have never taken any time off from the site. I’ve known people to get degrees in less time. Degrees! My hope is that we can all rally around the pieces that we will be posting and can keep an active dialogue there. If you’re reading this piece right here, that means that you are important to us. So thank you for your understanding, and your patience, and for talking about comics with us for however long you’ve been reading.
Also, just because we’re dialing down for a bit doesn’t mean that we’re not coming back. We’re going to be returning to a regular schedule after Labor Day, with more writers and a renewed sense of purpose. In the meantime, thanks for sticking with us, and here’s a list of the comics we’ll be talking about over the next two months:
Batman 33, Wonder Woman 33, Sex Criminals 7, Daredevil 6, Saga 21, Trees 3, Zero 10, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles In Time 2, Hawkeye 19, Outcast 2, Trees 4, Moon Knight 6, The Multiversity 1, Wonder Woman 34, Sex Criminals 8, Daredevil 7, Saga 22 and Original Sin 8
Comic release schedules being what they are, you can always check out Pull List to get more specific dates on when we’re posting about what.
Patrick Ehlers, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Last week, we noted that the great Marvel Hype Machine has kicked into full gear where the Guardians of the Galaxy are concerned. Let’s be honest: while there’s a lot of non-specific good will built up towards Marvel Studio Movies, this is a completely untested property. That means fans of the comics are going to have to be amazing ambassadors, and to move these five characters up to the forefront of our minds, Marvel has kicked off three new series: one of which was Rocket Raccoon — a high-profile release by a rock-star creator and featuring the prescribed breakout character from the movie. What about the other two?