Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 2 – Representation

Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 1 - Context

Interviewer: So, why do you write these strong female characters?
Joss Whedon: Because you’re still asking me that question.

This exact change may be a tad apocryphal. The rhetoric is too biting, too effective, even for a wordsmith like Whedon to toss out on the fly. The quote comes from a speech Whedon gave on gender equality, and it’s the well-scripted button on the top of an extremely well-crafted, well-reasoned argument for normalizing equality. The reason his response cuts so deep is because it is an intuitive truth. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve patted artists on the back for not being lecherous fuckers, or how frequently we need to sing the praises of a writer that creates female characters with real agency. We are so used to the imbalance between quality female characters and quality male characters that simply resisting this trend is often greeted as progress. This needs to change. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 31

superior spider-man 31

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 31, originally released April 16th, 2014.

Shelby: If I learned anything from watching countless episodes of M*A*S*H* as a child, it’s that the first step of dealing with any disaster is triage. You need to assess the situation and make some quick decisions to prioritize your next steps. Usually this means letting some people in pain suffer a little while longer so you can tend to the immediately life-threatening issues. It’s only after you’ve stopped the bleeding and patched up the worse off can you step back and consider the situation as a whole; that’s the point you can begin to make some decisions about long-term fixes and really start cleaning up your mess.

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Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 4/9/14

round upLook, 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, Patrick, Shelby and Drew discuss All-New Ultimates 1, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 11, All-New Ghost Rider 2, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon 1, Shutter 1, Green Lantern Corps 30, and Astro City 11.

slim-banner4Patrick: We start our round-up in that most peculiar corner of the Marvel Universe, the Ultimate corner. All-New Ultimates 1 introduces the titular team — now comprised of Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Cloak and Dagger and Bombshell — as they try to reclaim their claim in a post-Cataclysm New York City. Without S.H.I.E.L.D. to support them, or anyone with any managerial experience, it looks like the series is positioned to explore the way groups of teenagers function without central leadership. And while that’s sorta interesting, so much of it happens in costume, the only exception to that is a single scene between Jessica and Kitty Pryde (on whose couch Jessica is crashing). Continue reading

Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 1 – Context

Serious Issues: The Janelle Asselin Controversy pt. 1 - Context

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

This notion is a kind of unofficial mantra for Retcon Punch. We fully embrace that our perspectives are limited, which is why virtually everything we publish features at least two writers and an open comment section. It’s an attitude that serves us very well when discussing works of art, where interpretation is paramount, but makes us decidedly less good at journalism, which aims to transcend interpretations in pursuit of facts.

We’ve largely shied away from reporting news (honestly, there are so many sites for comic news out there already), and while we will wade in every once in a while, our cross-talk format results in longer gestation times than the twitter-assisted news cycle tends to have patience for. We’re happy to focus on discussing comics and leaving the news to other sites, but we felt like we needed to speak up about the Janelle Asselin Controversy and fallout. This story is obviously bigger than the facts in question – something that might warrant the kind of longer, slower conversations we do here — and more importantly, it addresses issues that matter to us personally. Continue reading

Batgirl 30

batgirl 30Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 30, originally released April 9th, 2014. 

slim-bannerPatrick: One of the tricks to performing satisfying long form improv is the ability to call out an unusual thing and deal with it. In fact, most of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s comedic philosophy is based around that single truth: whatever’s happening, let’s identify it, explore it and process it. “Don’t be coy” is what that usually breaks down to. Issue 30 of Batgirl is mercilessly coy, refusing to share its biggest secret, but still tries desperately to mine pathos out of it. The result is an emotional clusterfuck — one that I doubt would be satisfying even if the powers that be deemed us worthy of Forever Evils biggest reveals.

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Secret Avengers 2

secret avengers 2Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Secret Avengers 2, originally released April 9th, 2014. 

This is the Secret Avengers, there are no rules.

-S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill

Patrick: For all the crap people give the superhero genre for being “formulaic” or “predictable,” the medium of comics is anything but. I really liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier — and that flick does take a lot of big crazy chances — but one of the moments I was disappointed by was the split second we thought we were going to see Nick Fury’s car fly through the streets of D.C. Hot damn, I wanted to see that car fly. “Flying car” is one of those things you sorta just have to shrug at and say “comics are weird, man.” Or, more precisely, “there are no rules.” Ales Kot’s Secret Avengers embraces this philosophy, combining a cast of button-down Special Agents with a band of superhero (…and supervillain) misfits into one cacophonous volume. It’s a buffet of surprises, each one gleefully undermining all the others. Continue reading

Daredevil 1.5

Alternating Currents: Daredevil 1.5, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 1.5, originally released April 9th, 2014. 

Drew: Ah, the anthology-style anniversary issue. I absolutely appreciate the concept of bringing in a bunch of top creators to riff on a character they know and love, but in practice, all of that talent ends up competing to leave an impression. That often means wild deconstructions of the very character the issue is celebrating — a thrilling exercise for longtime fans, but one that runs the risk of alienating more casual readers. In the letters column for Daredevil 1.5, editor Ellie Pyle asks what Daredevil means to us, but the question in my mind is “who is this comic for?”

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Batman Eternal 1

batman eternal 1Today, Patrick leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 1, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Patrick: I love Batman, but I’ve been exposed to so many books and games and movies and TV shows (plus one Stunt Show Spectacular at Six Flags), that very little in a Batman story can genuinely surprise me. The writing team on Batman Eternal acknowledges this familiarity, simultaneously leveraging those emotional beats for everything they’re worth, and suggesting that there are still some surprises out there. Continue reading

Deadpool 27

deadpool 27Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Deadpool 27, originally released April 9th, 2014.

Spencer: We all have that one friend whom we love dearly, but who’s clearly a huge jerk. What’s fascinating about having a friend like this is what happens when they fall in love and/or get married. It’s a strange thing to experience; there’s joy at seeing your friend happy, but there’s also a bizarre feeling of unease and dread. Can this last? Is it for the best? Should you warn their boyfriend/girlfriend about what they’re getting themselves into? (Pro-tip: Don’t do this). As sad as it is to say, there’s this odd feeling that maybe the whole thing is just a very bad idea. This is the situation Deadpool’s friends find themselves facing in Deadpool 27. Yes, Wade Wilson is getting married, and it’s exactly as strange as it sounds. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 4/2/14

round upLook, 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 Pretty Deadly 5, Private Eye 6, Red Sonja 8, Red Sonja and Cub Magneto 2, Black Widow 5, and Swamp Thing 30.

slim-banner4Drew: We like thinking about comics on this site — it’s literally the only reason it exists — which often predisposes us to patience. We’re willing to put the time in to unpack a dense work of art or give creators the benefit of the doubt that this will all pay off because we know how rewarding those experiences can be. That patience means we may be willing to wait a little longer for answers — heck, it may mean we actually like waiting for answers — but there’s a point of diminishing returns on ambiguity. Indeed, the bliss of ignorance can obscure the conflict necessary to drive a narrative. Or, put another way: is it possible to appreciate a solution if we never understood the problem? Continue reading