Scott: The world is built on lies. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that anyone who’s achieved great success wouldn’t have gotten there without at least a little bit of dishonesty. We’re encouraged to lie on our resumes. It’s practically a requirement during job interviews. Can you imagine if politicians couldn’t make any false promises while campaigning? They wouldn’t be able to say anything. And it’s not always such a bad thing. We lie to be polite. We tell our waiters that everything tastes great even though we’ve only taken one bite. They smile and life goes on. It’s harmless. In Loki: Agent of Asgard 2, writer Al Ewing and artist Lee Garbett point out just how common lying really is. It may not be possibly for two people to converse for ten minutes without one of them lying. Now what if Loki, the God of Mischief, is put in a situation where he can’t lie? The outcome might surprise you…
Shelby: There is something fascinating about the regular lives of celebrities. They can be doing the same, boring stuff I do every day, and I’m still going to be interested in it. In fact; it’s better if they’re doing regular stuff like me; it de-mystifies them, taking them down from the pedestal we’ve put them on. Celebrities are people, too, after all. I have a similar fascination with the regular lives of comic book characters. I love seeing the balance between their super lives and their regular lives. It’s extra intriguing when we’re dealing with a super who can’t look like an ordinary civilian; Scott Lang can blend into a crowd pretty well, but Ben Grimm is going to stand out no matter what he does. It’s really no wonder I like Charles Soule’s take on She-Hulk so much; it’s more about Jennifer Walters trying to live her life around She-Hulk, instead of She-Hulk smashing things. There is still some smashing, though; it wouldn’t be a [fill-in-the-blank] Hulk book without it.
Spencer: One of the biggest issues I’ve had with Forever Evil has been trying to figure out just how, exactly, its interpretation of Earth-3 works. Before the reboot Earth-3 was a world of opposites, where all evil characters were good guys and all the good guys were villains, and villains always won, but ever since the Crime Syndicate forced their way onto our world at the end of “Trinity War” writer Geoff Johns has largely shown Earth-3 as a world where everybody is evil, which I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around up to this point. Johns and David Finch’s Forever Evil 6 has finally helped put things in perspective for me, though, by unmasking the Syndicate’s prisoner and showing us exactly what a hero looks like on Earth-3. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Moon Knight 1, originally released March 5, 2014.
Patrick: What do we call what we’re doing here at Retcon Punch? Literary criticism? Art criticism? Pop psychology mixed with informed gawking? I like to think that we’re simply exploring narratives and what makes them interesting. No matter what you think we’re trying to do, one thing we end up doing a lot is explaining. Occasionally, we lack the tools to properly explain something we read — maybe there’s a character who’s history we don’t have an adequate handle on or maybe the cultural references fly over our heads — but we always need to attempt to explain the issue in front of us. Moon Knight is one of those characters I don’t know shit about, but it’s cool — writer Warren Ellis is counting on my ignorance, and is waiting in the wings to exploit my every assumption. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Scott are discussing Magneto 1, originally released March 5th, 2014.
Taylor: I’ve always been intrigued by villains. From an early age I remember being bored with the rudimentary morals most heroes possess. Instead, I gravitated to the other side to the spectrum, choosing to root for the bad guys. I found Cobra Commander fantastic, Megatron enviable, and Darth Vader the most impressive person I had ever seen. Something about their ruthlessness always drew me to them. These aren’t simple men — they have agendas and were willing to do anything to see them carried out. Yet each character also possesses a certain cerebral quality that sets them apart from your average thug. It’s this quality that draws me to these characters and it also happens to be the same quality that draws me to Magneto. He’s smart, ruthless, and devoted. But can an entire series based on this metal-bending character be sustained by these qualities alone?
Drew: Ah, the learning curve. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit that there are things that everyone simply sucks at when they start. Some stick with it and get better, others don’t, but the fact that so many people are out there parallel parking or whatever just goes to show what we’re capable of when we put our minds to it. Of course, a good teacher helps, and the learning curve has a funny way of exaggerating the type of help we get. At our noblest, humans are capable of providing age-old (or even personal) wisdom to n00bs, but we’re just as capable as having a few yuks at the expense of the new guy. As much as I enjoy a good larf, I’ll never fully understand the inclination to let the new guy muddle through the same mistakes everyone else has made. Sure, maybe he needs to experience those mistakes firsthand, but how are we to know if nobody’s ever bothered to help anyone avoid it? At best, it’s negligent, and at worst, it’s malicious, but it always leaves the new guy worse off. Unfortunately, Alec is still in the early stages of learning the ropes as the Avatar, and every one of his mentors seems more content to watch him fuck up than offer any kind of help. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Serenity: Leaves on the Wind 2, originally released February 26th, 2014.
Taylor: Rebooting a series is seldom a wise idea. With the rise of the internet, fans of cancelled or obscure media suddenly able to connect with each other like they never had before. This meant that those pining for the reboot of a beloved yet cancelled comic or show suddenly had someone to voice their opinion to. They found strength in their numbers and, surprisingly, studios began to listen. When Firefly was cancelled few seemed to care. But as more and more people fell in love with the show, it eventually gained a cult following, the strength of which is rivaled by few. Firefly got its reboot in the form of a movie, which by most accounts put an end to the story of Malcolm Reynolds and his motley crew. But the fans continued to clamor and now we have a comic book devoted to continuing the story. While this revival may stir feelings of sweet nostalgia the wisdom of its creation is still a question floating in space.
Greg: When I was a little kid, I dealt with some pretty heavy duty separation anxiety. Going to first grade was a nightmarish ordeal on a daily level. I would do and try anything to get out of it — faked stomach aches, insistence on a high temperature, temper tantrums like nothing else. And if my parents did manage to get me to school, I was still a wreck — crying over nothing, lashing out at teachers and latchkey supervisors, generally weirding out my classmates. Eventually an attempt at a solution was posed: go to school, but bring a photograph of my family at home that I could look at whenever I wanted. I only had to try this once to know immediately that the pain this caused wasn’t worth it. Rather than soothe my anxieties, it stoked their fires. Looking at this photo and knowing I couldn’t be there evoked a cutting sense of nostalgia, the meaning of which comes from, as Lois Lane reminds us, the clash between the desire to return home and the pain of knowing you can’t. Superman: Lois Lane deals with these evocative themes like separation, reunion, melancholy, yearning, and family with aplomb, showcasing mature and heartwarming storytelling even amidst plot-busy coverups and set pieces.
Patrick: There’s a persistent tension inherent to any narrative based on a lie or secret between its characters. Writer Dan Slott has been successful enough at fleshing out who exactly Otto is in the body of Peter Parker, so the issue of “will anyone find out what’s really going on?” often takes a back seat to Otto’s superheroic machinations. And yet, that tension is still there: that’s not Peter Parker, and the truth is going to infuriate people. Secret-based stories basically have two options if they’re to last — 1) reveal the mystery and let the characters deal with the ramifications of that revelation (as in Mad Men or Breaking Bad) or 2) string the mystery out ridiculously straining credibility (as in Dexter). With an end-date to the Superior franchise in sight, Slott breathlessly catapults Otto toward option one. It’s an invigorating thrill ride as all of Otto’s chickens come home to roost.
Spencer: Our heroes’ greatest enemies are often their polar opposites: While Batman is a dark, brooding creature fighting for justice, his nemesis is a silly-looking clown obsessed with evil; while Superman is the most human alien around, Lex Luthor has foresaken his humanity to stroke his ego; while the Flash always looks forward, the Reverse Flash is caught up in his own past. In Indestructible Hulk 19 writer Mark Waid and his expansive team of artists provide the Hulk with an opposite of his own: while the Hulk is fueled by his rage, Jessup gains power from stealing other people’s anger. Continue reading