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
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 10, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Spencer: “I’m sorry” is an incredibly powerful and versatile statement, capable of mending anything from minor transgressions to grand betrayals if used properly, but it’s not a cure-all. The wronged party has no obligation to accept an apology, and there are some rare occasions when an apology alone just isn’t enough — and sometimes an apology can even be selfish, such as if the guilty party apologizes simply to ease their own conscience rather than to make it up to their victim. In his long, infamous career Loki has tried out every kind of apology possible, and Al Ewing and Lee Garbett’s Loki: Agent of Asgard 10 finds the God of Mischief at his most sincere, but also apologizing for what might truly be an unforgivable offense. Has Loki used up the last of his goodwill? Does he even deserve to be forgiven? Continue reading
Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Avengers 40, originally released January 14th, 2015.
The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Drew: I think it would be fair to say that Dostoevsky’s polyphonic style — one built upon the perspectives of an array of characters — is antithetical to the notion of the hero’s journey. Indeed, Dostoyevsky’s philosophies (as articulated in the quote above) suggest that there’s an active tension between caring about an individual and caring about humanity at large. I’ve always been partial to the depth of understanding achieved by sticking with one protagonist — especially when it comes to comics — which has made me wary of the kind of expansive, Dostoyevskian scope of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers. In my mind, a tight focus on a single character more accurately reflects how we experience the world, but with Avengers 40, Hickman makes a compelling case for how his dense interconnectedness reflects how the world actually is. 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, Drew and Suzanne are discussing Captain Marvel 11, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Drew: It’s no secret that I don’t have a lot of patience for tropes. Predictable situations, reactions, or patterns are crutches for serialized storytellers, which is only made more apparent by those writers who manage to avoid them. Still, I do understand that certain tropes can be comforting — and perhaps even important to the identity of the work of art in question. I’m willing to forgive The Twilight Zone having the most obvious twist endings, because that’s kind of the point. That willingness to forgive certain tropes varies from person to person, as can be seen in the varied reactions to Christmas movies, albums, and episodes. Are they cheap cash-grabs? Charming acknowledgements of the season? Unfortunate acquiescences to the Christo-normativity of America? Christmas stories aren’t my favorite (I swear, if I see another reimagining of A Christmas Carol, I’m going to lose it), but I’ve seen enough pulled off well that I’m willing to at least have an open mind. Unless, of course, I’m consuming that story three weeks after Christmas, in which case, my patience for Christmas tropes dwindles right back down to zero. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Star Wars 1, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Drew: I was eight years old when Michael Crichton’s The Lost World was published. I hadn’t read Jurassic Park (reminder: I was eight), but I LOVED the movie. Nothing, not even my reading level, could stop me from consuming this new tale of genetically resurrected dinos, so I convinced my parents to get me the book on tape. When the film adaptation came out in 1997, it was my first experience seeing a movie based on a text I was already familiar with. There were substantial changes to the plot, but I didn’t care — the draw for me was dinosaurs, and the movie definitely delivered. I was similarly undaunted by the streamlining of the plot in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations — the draw here was a heroes journey set in a lushly detailed fantasy world.
It wasn’t until Zack Snyder’s Watchmen that I was first apprehensive about a film adaptation — the draw for me was no longer the plot or specific characters, but the medium of the story itself. A film couldn’t hope to capture the formal elements specific to comics that makes Watchmen such an achievement. I find myself confronted with these questions as I think about Marvel’s new Star Wars series (my first foray into any non-film explorations of the universe) — what is the draw for Star Wars? Is it the space operatics? The characters? The actors that play them? The thrilling John Williams score? It turns out, my answer may be “all of the above,” but that doesn’t stop this issue from being a largely successful translation of the Star Wars universe onto the page. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Daredevil 12, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Spencer: In my mind, I always equate action with fight scenes. Call it a remnant of my high school obsession with Dragonball Z, or even my growing up on Adam West’s Batman series (which featured a gigantic fight scene as the centerpiece of each episode), but I often forget that there are other, equally thrilling definitions of action. Fortunately, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee aren’t as forgetful as I am; Daredevil 12 is filled with action of all sorts, be it high-flying stunts or heart-pounding car chases, and there couldn’t possibly be a better artistic team than Samnee and colorist Matthew Wilson to bring that action to life. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Spencer: Before reading Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1, I always thought of Squirrel Girl as more of a meme than a character: she was the girl with silly powers who routinely (and often inexplicably) defeated the most powerful players in the Marvel Universe without breaking a sweat, and while that’s awfully funny the first few times, it never seemed like a concept that could support a character in the long-term. Fortunately, North and Henderson’s take on Doreen Green eases any worries I may have had in this regard, giving us an instantly likable character who is far more than just an easy joke, and ultimately declaring that it doesn’t matter if Doreen always wins — what’s interesting is seeing how. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Ant-Man 1, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Taylor: As long as stories have been told, people have enjoyed hearing about clever heroes. Perhaps the prototype of the clever character in western literature is Odysseus — a man who more than made up for physical shortcomings with the power of his mind. And while many people nowadays might not feel a close kinship to Odysseus, they still appreciate a clever hero — and a clever story. Marvel, as a publisher, has taken this love of cleverness and has essentially turned it into a multimillion dollar business. While the Marvel movies embody this philosophy to their core, there are a number of comic series which also are banking on this appreciation for wit. The reboot of Ant-Man is no exception to this formula, but does it have anything all that clever to say? Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 12, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Drew: Last week, Patrick and I spent a good ten minutes laughing about The Comic Archive’s “Marvel Movie Omnibus” — that is, all of the Marvel Studios films leading up to and through the end of The Avengers compiled into one mega-movie. Never mind that the thing weighs in at an ungainly 12-hour play-time, what really amused us was the steamrolling of narrative cohesion in favor of what the video description calls “correct story order.” I’ve always been a bit peeved when fans are more concerned with how stories fit together than whether they’re emotionally satisfying, and this struck me as the ultimate manifestation of those priorities. Indeed, flashbacks from Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy are included, even though Malekith and Peter Quill don’t otherwise appear in the movie (remember, this only carries through the end of The Avengers), passing over Chekhov’s gun in favor of boneheaded reportage. The result is a work that is so focused on its whole (however unwatchably long it may be) that it fails to offer satisfying servings, such that any movie-sized chunk of it wouldn’t be a satisfying chapter so much as an arbitrary slice of an indivisible monolith. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how I feel about Amazing Spider-Man 12, a slice of “Spider-Verse” that ends up being mostly connective tissue. Continue reading