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, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Trillium 7, originally released March 9th, 2014.
Time has stopped before us / The sky cannot ignore us / No one can separate us / For we are all that is left
The Beginning is the End is the Beginning, Smashing Pumpkins
Shelby: While the execution is a little more angsty than I might prefer at my advanced age of 29, the lyrics to The Beginning is the End is the Beginning from the soundtrack of The Movie Which Shall Not Be Named very well match Jeff Lemire’s penultimate issue of Trillium. More than anything else, the song’s title (as well as its partner, The End is the Beginning is the End) seem to capture Lemire’s whole approach to time and the relationship of William and Nika. It’s an interesting love story that finds its beginning at the end of the universe, possibly at the end of time itself. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Wolverine and the X-Men 1, originally released March 5th, 2014.
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”
Patrick: I have a number of teacher-friends, my colleague and responder on this article, Taylor among them. The idiom above is largely bullshit, but it stings enough that I’ve seen links posted on facebook to articles decrying the attitude that it represents. The argument always follows that teaching presents its own specific challenges, distinct from the discipline being taught. (The follow-up argument, naturally, being that teachers are under-valued in our society, but like whatever: we’re all undervalued.) For my money, the hardest thing about teaching has got to be the shifting of priorities, from the betterment of yourself to the betterment of others. When I fail myself — write a bad article, perform as crummy scene, log something incorrectly in QuickBooks — I’m mostly just hurting myself. But when a teacher blows off their duties, there are a bunch of people, children even, that pay the price. Wolverine and the X-Men renumbers itself and zeros in on this burden of responsibility, just who can deal with it and who’s struggling. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Forever Evil 6, originally released March 5th, 2014.
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 →
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 discuss Manhattan Projects 18, Deadpool 24, Batman/Superman 8, Tomb Raider 1, Fantastic Four 1, All-Star Western 28, Daredevil: Road Warrior Infinite Comic 1, and Guardians of the Galaxy 12.
Drew: I love tvtropes.org. Its snarky tone is a great salve when you’re identifying lazy stereotypes or tired scenarios in whatever you’re reading (which I’ve been doing a bitrecently), but I also respect it as a catalogue for those tropes. Without that site, I would have never put a name to The Worf Effect (when a villain is proven a physical threat by making short work of a known physical threat), which means I wouldn’t have been able to so specifically identify what is going on in Manhattan Projects 18. Feynman and Einsteins alien Frankenstein might not exactly fit the definition of a “known” threat, but by the end of the first page, there’s no real doubt what he might be capable of. That Westmooreland then takes him down (adding the creature’s ear to his necklace) cements the general as perhaps the biggest threat the Projects have faced. That Groves then forms a partnership with Westmoreland feels a bit like a deal with the devil, but is quickly trumped by Einstein’s partnership with Oppenheimer. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 28, originally released February 26, 2014.
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.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Empire of the Dead 2, originally released February 26th, 2014.
Drew: What is it that makes us human? Is it the capacity for emotion? Reason? Is it the ability to recognize that other people might have perspectives and motivations that are different from our own? These are some of the most fundamental questions of philosophy and psychology– perhaps too big to hope to tackle in a discussion of a horror comic book — but I’d like to suggest that humanity, however we define it, is the detail that separates Zombies and Vampires. Sure, there are the obvious cosmetic differences (illustrated beautifully by Alex Maleev on this month’s cover), but they’re ultimately quite similar: both are undead, both feed on humans, and both have the power to convert their victims into more monsters. The fundamental difference between the two — and what makes each so scary — is the question of their humanity: vampires have all of those qualities I mentioned up front, but zombies don’t at all. Or, at least they usually don’t – Empire of the Dead 2 reveals that its zombies may be more human than it may seem. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 31, originally released February 26th, 2014.
Patrick: How do we heal? Whether the wounds are physical or emotional, there’s almost never a good answer to that question — certainly never an easy answer. When I look back on the biggest hurts I’ve recovered from, I know that I did heal, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you how. I remember at the time feeling like there would be no relief — from a broken heart, or a broken bone. I was always afraid that I’d never get better, that I would only ever forget what “better” feels like and accept broken as my new emotional base. It’s unsatisfying and it’s messy and it’s prone to regression. The biggest fuck of it all is that there are no shortcuts. All of the Turtles (and their friends) are in need of healing, and it’s been such a slow beautiful process, I can’t help but feel unnerved when April introduces a magic healing goo. Fortunately, the tension between the quick fix and honest healing is right at the front of yet another fantastic issue of TMNT. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 8, originally released February 26th, 2014.
We are what he made us to be. To try and be something else…is the greatest sin of all.
Drew: I didn’t know religion growing up. My parents never took me to church, and somehow, none of my childhood friends ever went, either. It wasn’t until I entered middle school that I made friends with people of any kind of faith — run of the mill midwest Lutheranism, but they might as well have been the pope in my sheltered mind. Being both 13 and an asshole (I know that seems redundant, but I only grew out of one of those), I enjoyed picking fights with them over simple religious tenants. The simplest — why do bad things happen to good people? — was most commonly answered with the wimpy cop-out of “God works in mysterious ways.” That seems like a simple enough “we’ll never know” (and was probably only ever invoked to get me off their backs), but as with most religious answers, that simplicity masks a world infinitely more complex than the question itself. Is everything that ever happens part of God’s “mysterious” workings? If “bad” things can be part of God’s plan, doesn’t that throw the whole notion of morality out the window? These questions lie at the heart of Brother Lono 8, though the answers Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso come up with may not be what anyone suspected. 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, Patrick, and Drew discuss New Warriors 1, Avengers World 3, A+X 17, Amazing X-Men 4, Batwoman 28, Batman and Two-Face 28, and Justice League 28.
Spencer: Due to my fondness for young superheroes, a rapidly growing appreciation for Nova, and a long-standing love of Marcus To’sart, I decided to check out this week’s New Warriors 1by Christopher Yost and Marcus To. The issue introduces us to all but one of the members portrayed on the cover — Nova, Speedball, Justice, Scarlet Spider, Hummingbird, Sun Girl, and Faira Sar Namora — as each group faces down the forces of the High Evolutionary. While it didn’t necessarily blow me away, this is still a solid issue. Continue reading →