Patrick Ehlers, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Location: Los Angeles
History With Comics: Patrick came late to the comics game. After enjoying adaptations of Batman, Superman and the Justice League, he was finally tricked into picking up a set of graphic novels after seeing Robert Rodriguez’ Sin City. Naturally, this lead to further exploration of Frank Miller’s work, specifically with Batman. But it was not until an unexplainable desire to read Blackest Night that Patrick began purchasing the trades of Geoff Johns’ run Green Lantern. With a convenient new entry point and a handful of friends to follow him into the madness, Patrick began reading monthlies with the New 52’s Justice League #1.
New 52 Favorites: The Flash, Swamp Thing, Batwoman
Other Favorite Comics: Usagi Yojimbo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Saga
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Effigy 1, originally released January 28th, 2015.
Patrick: How many different police procedurals are on TV right now? Like a billion. (Don’t check my facts on that.) They’re all basically the same, and you can usually determine whodunnit by the order the characters are introduced (or by who’s the most prestigious guest star), so what’s the difference between them really? Perhaps intuitively, it’s the detectives themselves that make or break a detective show. The light sci-fi premise of The X-Files might have sold the series, but it’s the personalities of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully that give the series staying power. Tim Seely’s new series, Effigy, works extra hard to give us a clear and unique vision of our detective, so by the time the mystery finally hits, we’re already invested. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 148, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Once upon a time…
Drew: Where would you say your story begins? Your first memory? Your birth? Your conception? Your parents’ first date? Their births? It’s easy enough to trace that back ad infinitum, as the circumstances that allowed you to become the person you are were set in motion at the very dawn of time. The same could be said of when your story ends. Is it your death? The death of the last person who knew you? Perhaps your mere existence influences events until the very end of time. Obviously, the scope of an individual story tends to be a bit narrower — infinite context is rarely necessary or informative — but what about the scope of all stories? The folklore origins of Fables have always given the characters a certain vintage of origin, and the modern-day setting gives them a certain end-date, but issue 148 finds important context stretching further in both directions, effectively widening the scope of the series to the narrative arc of the entire universe.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, Spencer and Patrick discuss Batman Superman 18, Batman Eternal 42, The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 3, Spider-Woman 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 13, Scarlet Spiders 3, Elektra 10, The Legendary Star-Lord 8, Rocket Raccoon 7, and Guardians of the Galaxy 23.
Spencer: Remember all those times Batman was paranoid and over-prepared, even going as far as to devise contingency plans to use against his friends and teammates? Greg Pak does, and in Batman Superman 18 he portrays them in a decidedly more positive light, not only using the Kryptonite embedded in Batman’s armor to uncover a major clue about “Superman’s Joker,” but also allowing Superman to be understanding, even a bit blase about the whole thing. Could that be because Batman is indeed the person Clark confides in the most, and who understands him the best? Pak makes a strong argument for it, rooting the issue in the bond between these two characters that once defined this title but also shining a light on Clark’s relationships with Supergirl and Lois Lane. Superman’s been fortunate enough to have had a number of excellent creators working on his titles lately (Snyder and Johns, among others), but for my money, Pak’s the one with the best handle on what makes the character, and especially his supporting cast, so compelling. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Justice League 38, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Michael: No one is 100% honest 100% of the time. We often present each other with “versions of the truth.” In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker that Darth Vader had murdered his father. After Luke figured out that Vader was the daddy, Obi-Wan justified his actions as telling the truth “from a certain point of view.” People withhold information from one another for a lot of reasons, but typically it’s to protect someone else or to protect yourself. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Verse Team-Up 3, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Patrick: We’ve gotten to understand the rhythms of Spider-Verse pretty well at this point. Meet some Spiders; have some fun with them; there’s some meta-commentary; maybe someone dies; repeat until you’re no longer having fun. Spider-Verse Team-Up 3 subverts that trend, turning thematic patterns on their head and insisting that Spider-Verse is more nuanced and interesting than it ever let on. But is what we sacrifice in fun worth the extra depth? 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, Spencer and Patrick discuss Astro City 19, Batman Eternal 41, Justice League United 8, Superman Wonder Woman 15, Spider-Verse 2, Avengers 34.2, S.H.I.E.L.D. 2, Silver Surfer 8, and All New Captain America 3.
Drew: The deeper psychology of superheroes has been de rigueur in comics for the past three decades, but few writers do it as well as Kurt Busiek. Astro City 19 follows the life and times of Quarrel, tracking her sense of duty and loyalty back to her absent father. The daddy issues get freudian as Busiek also track’s Quarrel’s volatile romance with Crackerjack, revealing both the positive and negative sides of their relationship. As the second chapter of a four-part story, we don’t get a conclusion here, but Busiek plants enough seeds to get the psychology good and messy before pulling back out to allow time to heal at least some of the wounds. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Deadpool 40, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Taylor: The old saying goes “art imitates life.” we here at Retcon Punch believe comics to be art, so that means these funny little picture-books imitate life the same as your Van Goghs and Shakespeares of the world. Being things that are published every month, comics are perhaps better suited than other art forms at reflecting life since they can comment on real life situations almost as soon as they happen. Given this, we shouldn’t be at all surprised that a title like Deadpool would find time to comment on life, especially considering it’s unique ability to break the fourth wall and speak directly to readers. But who would have ever guessed that the comic would tackle such a loaded topic as environmental policy? Always surprising, Deadpool once again takes a unique approach to story telling in issue 40 and in so doing, enters a major environmental debate. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 38, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Michael: Sometimes you just get sick of being yourself. What I mean by that is we all have a point where we say “Why me?” “Why do I have to suffer?” “Can’t things just be easy for once?” If life is a story, then we might not always like the role that we’re cast in. Being a “supporting character” gets old; everyone wants to be the star eventually. Batgirl 38 finds the creative team and Barbara herself asking these types of questions of identity. Can’t a Batgirl just fight crime and enjoy herself in the process? Not quite, it would seem. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Grayson 6, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Your nifty hypnos tech trick may make it so I can’t see Spyral agents’ faces, but I’d know that ass anywhere. Grayson.
Midnighter, Grayson 6
Patrick: Do you have any idea how many times Sherlock Holmes has been adapted? From George C. Scott to Benedict Cumberbatch, from VeggieTalesto The Great Mouse Detective, there’s virtually no end to the twists and variations writers, actors and filmmakers can apply to this character. But no matter how the story is dressed up, the personality of Holmes himself always shines through. Dick Grayson, as it turns out, is very much the same way; whatever the genre, whatever the story, whatever the supertechnology trying to disguise him, we’re always going to recognize Grayson. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Mark: My least favorite part of any story that follows the traditional hero’s journey is when we get to the Reluctant Hero. You know, the part when, after being given an incredible power like, say, a ring that allows you to construct anything with your mind using only willpower, the hero complains about how much responsibility they have and how difficult their life is. It’s like listening to a teenager complain about their feelings: “My life is so bogus. No one understands but me. You guys are so phony!”
Comics can be a lot of things, but I don’t feel like it’s going too far to say that traditional superhero comic books are generally a form of escapism and wish fulfillment. We read these books for the same reason we watch movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark: fundamentally we want to be Indiana Jones. We want to be the Green Lantern. Continue reading →