History With Comics: Drew grew up with Superman pajamas. His best days were when he never had to change out of them. He fell in love with Batman the Animated Series when he was 5. He had never read a comic in his life, but started reading Batman trades when he was in high school. He continued to pick up trades and one-offs throughout the 00′s, but never got into the monthly swing. After almost a decade of being an outsider looking in, Drew seized upon DC’s relaunch to start picking up monthlies.
New 52 Favorites: Batman, Wonder Woman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Lazarus 5, originally released December 11th, 2013.
Shelby: With family dramas like Lazarus, it seems to always come down to loyalty. With family, a certain amount of loyalty is assumed; they’re your family, you have to be loyal to that. Greg Rucka really tests that with the Carlyles; the first issues are rife with schemes and betrayal. Poor Forever is stuck with the task of not only remaining loyal to the back-stabbingest family, but also not really having a choice as the family’s Lazarus. Despite her unwavering facade, there’s that tiny seed of doubt planted by the anonymous message that she’s not actually a part of the family. If blood ties are the driving force behind her loyalty, what’s she to do if those ties don’t even exist? Continue reading →
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, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman / Superman 6, Green Arrow 26, Earth-2 18, Superior Spider-Man 23, Amazing X-Men 2, Indestructible Hulk Annual 1, and Guardians of the Galaxy 9.
Drew: Greg Pak’s Batman/Superman charged out of the gate with a fascinating study of Bruce and Clark, using the funhouse mirror of Earth-2 to show us who they are — and importantly, who they aren’t. Batman/Superman 6manages to continue to demonstrate who the characters aren’t, which unfortunately means an issue full of super-powered Batman and rage-fuelled Superman. Aptly titled “Boss Fight,” this issue casts aside all of the hard-earned emotional intelligence of the first arc, favoring an insanely overpowered punch-em-up. This may read better for those with a fondness for the tropes being sent-up, but for the rest of us, this issue largely approximates the experience of watching your friend play video games. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and guest writer Dan Jones are discussing Avengers Annual 2013, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Drew: Superheroes are a lonely bunch. They’re generally unlucky-in-love. Many of them are orphans (or had other close loved ones die). They also have isolating responsibilities and power-sets that can make them difficult to relate to. Unless, of course, they’re trying to relate to other superheroes. Characters like Iron Man and Captain America seem peerless when surrounded by everyday schmucks, but they act as serviceable peers to one another. That emotional support can be lost in stories that attempt to justify their team-ups with ever-bigger baddies to punch (coughInfinitycough), but can be a goldmine for savvy writers. Kathryn Immonen goes a step further in the Avengers Annual 2013, making the subtext of superhero loneliness the text, and giving the Avengers a reason to team up besides a giant bad-guy. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern 26, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Drew: Any 8th-grade social studies student can tell you that colonialism is a sticky subject. Many decry the loss of indigenous cultures, but how do you weigh that against the boon of western medicine? Are we morally obligated to preserve human culture at the cost of human life, or vice versa? That question only gets stickier when you take those other cultures into account — perhaps they value these things differently than their would-be colonizers. These are questions that have tormented philosophers for centuries — exactly the kind of thing Hal Jordan might blunder into unwittingly. Green Lantern 26 finds Hal struggling to impose his rule on Dekann and while he succeeds, his victory suggests a disturbing new status quo within the Green Lantern universe. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Swamp Thing 26, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Drew: I always get awkward when meeting new people: between my own anxiety over making a good impression and trying to size them up myself, genuine interactions often get squeezed out. These problems are only exacerbated when it comes to meeting new coworkers, where there are actual stakes that you get along, and the specter of “professionalism” adds pressure to the situation. I should mention here that I have a great relationship with my coworkers, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel super awkward on my first day, and probably postured more than necessary to make them like me. Jason Woodrue faces similar awkwardness as the new Avatar of the Green, and works way too hard to impress his new bosses. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Shredder, originally released December 4th, 2013.Taylor: For many things, the magic is in the mystery. Not knowing how a magician sawed that lady in half makes the trick something more than it really is. We all know that the magician isn’t actually cutting a living person in two and putting them back together again. However, we don’t know exactly how they created that illusion and are left to wonder how exactly the trick (or illusion) was pulled off. This blurs the line between reality and perception and lets the imagination fill in the gaps. Anything is possible in this space and therein lies the beauty of a magic show. Just so, the circumstances surrounding Oroku Saki’s death and rebirth have, up to this point, been shrouded in mystery. It’s been fun speculating just how the turtle’s age old enemy has defied death, but in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Shredder, we get some definite answers. With the illusion of his rebirth dispelled, it seems that the TMNT universe has lost a little magic of its own.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Mind MGMT 17, originally released November 27th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: I’m normally not the type to start a series with anything other than issue 1, but being an editor for Retcon Punch requires you to step out of your comfort zone every once in a while. I started this series with issue 16, and since it was a one-shot, it felt like an interesting experiment. Analyzing issue 17 feels like an experiment too, but of a different sort. Today, I’ll be trying to figure out what’s going on underneath the surface of issue 17 of Mind MGMT while trying to piece together the events of the previous issues. Hoo-boy. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Saga 16, originally released November 27th, 2013.
The best-laid plans of mice and men
Often go awry
Robert Burns, To A Mouse
Drew: I used to get so disappointed when the plans of a protagonist would change. It took me a long time to understand that those changes are the engine of drama, and even longer to appreciate that they reflect reality on a fundamental level. Our plans are always changing, sometimes due to external forces, and other times due to internal chances to our own priorities. Most narratives are loaded with the former type, but that latter type is rare. Rarer still are narratives where every character has their plans upended in both ways. Saga has long been one such rarity, and issue 16 reasserts the fragility of its characters’ plans. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Letter 44 2, originally released November 27th, 2013.
Drew: I was never a Boy Scout, but their “be prepared” motto captured my young imagination. Growing up in suburbia, “preparation” was simply carrying enough cash in case my friends wanted to get ice cream, but I liked to carry the concept ad absurdum. Do you have a snake bite kit? Are you conversational in Farsi? Could you beat a polygraph test? I’m decidedly unprepared for most eventualities, but the beauty of the human mind is that we can improvise. Ultimately, it’s not how well we prepare for the expected, but how well we react to the unexpected that allows us to survive. That capacity for improvisation is the crux of Letter 44 2, as both President Blade and the crew of the Clarke try to deal with the unknown. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28, originally released November 27th, 2013.
Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?
-Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
Drew: It’s easy to take things for granted. In our never-ending quest for the better, we often overlook the value of what we already have — especially if we’ve always had it. “Youth is wasted on the young,” as they say, which I’ve always taken to mean that you can only truly appreciate a carefree existence once you’ve lived a careful existence. Because kids have never lived in a world where their parents weren’t always there for them, they can’t really understand what it is their parents do for them in the first place. I’ve long felt the same way about Leonardo. He’s the leader because he’s always been the leader — I’ve never really understood what it is he brings to that role on the team (you know, besides having any of the more distinctive quirks of his brothers). City Fall has long featured some exploration of what life without Leo looks like, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28 shows just how well the turtles work without him. Continue reading →