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
Drew: Ah, the learning curve. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit that there are things that everyone simply sucks at when they start. Some stick with it and get better, others don’t, but the fact that so many people are out there parallel parking or whatever just goes to show what we’re capable of when we put our minds to it. Of course, a good teacher helps, and the learning curve has a funny way of exaggerating the type of help we get. At our noblest, humans are capable of providing age-old (or even personal) wisdom to n00bs, but we’re just as capable as having a few yuks at the expense of the new guy. As much as I enjoy a good larf, I’ll never fully understand the inclination to let the new guy muddle through the same mistakes everyone else has made. Sure, maybe he needs to experience those mistakes firsthand, but how are we to know if nobody’s ever bothered to help anyone avoid it? At best, it’s negligent, and at worst, it’s malicious, but it always leaves the new guy worse off. Unfortunately, Alec is still in the early stages of learning the ropes as the Avatar, and every one of his mentors seems more content to watch him fuck up than offer any kind of help. Continue reading
Greg: When I was a little kid, I dealt with some pretty heavy duty separation anxiety. Going to first grade was a nightmarish ordeal on a daily level. I would do and try anything to get out of it — faked stomach aches, insistence on a high temperature, temper tantrums like nothing else. And if my parents did manage to get me to school, I was still a wreck — crying over nothing, lashing out at teachers and latchkey supervisors, generally weirding out my classmates. Eventually an attempt at a solution was posed: go to school, but bring a photograph of my family at home that I could look at whenever I wanted. I only had to try this once to know immediately that the pain this caused wasn’t worth it. Rather than soothe my anxieties, it stoked their fires. Looking at this photo and knowing I couldn’t be there evoked a cutting sense of nostalgia, the meaning of which comes from, as Lois Lane reminds us, the clash between the desire to return home and the pain of knowing you can’t. Superman: Lois Lane deals with these evocative themes like separation, reunion, melancholy, yearning, and family with aplomb, showcasing mature and heartwarming storytelling even amidst plot-busy coverups and set pieces.
Scott: As a kid, I didn’t enjoy ghost stories very much. I did my best to avoid them, but sometimes, late at night at a slumber party or around a campfire, it was impossible. I endured; listening wasn’t the hard part. In the moment, whatever shock or gore the stories contained didn’t affect me much. It was the aftermath, the lingering psychological torment — the fear, however irrational, that maybe the deranged killers they told these stories about might actually exist. In The Flash 28, Barry Allen is confronted with my greatest fear: the murderous monster from his childhood ghost story is real. A ghost story combined with a detective story, this issue is as fun as you can imagine, even though all of the elements don’t mix together quite right.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Animal Man 28, originally released February 19, 2014.
Buddy Baker, Animal Man 28
Shelby: I feel like this quote from the latest issue of Animal Man perfectly sums up my experience with Buddy Baker in the hands of Jeff Lemire. Buddy’s defining characteristic has, for me, always been his connection to his family. Nowhere else have we seen someone forced to balance a spouse and family with being a superhero, occasionally having to go to space, etc. Mostly, Buddy’s balancing act has brought a lot of suffering to the Baker clan, so it’s nice to see our favorite family man finally get a real win.
Scott: What works out for one person often effects someone else negatively. Recently, I was getting ready to go on a long trip, so I lined up a subletter to stay in my apartment. It was going to be perfect. Until, that is, she got an offer to house-sit somewhere else and backed out of our deal. It worked out well for her, but it left me scrambling. What I’m trying to say is, never celebrate a plan until it’s complete, because it can always be derailed by someone else’s plan. I’m not trying to advocate Murphy’s Law or anything, but as Wonder Woman 28 teaches us, most plans are foiled, and even when your goal is within grasp it can still blow up in your face.
Drew: When someone accuses a joke of “going too far,” they tend to mean that it is offensive — that it has left the concept of good taste behind in the pursuit of a bigger laugh. But offensiveness isn’t the only metric of taste. Indeed, I would argue that even the most family-friendly humor can take its core concepts “too far,” neglecting to cultivate the expectations that jokes are designed to subvert. Taken too far, scenarios become unrecognizable, characters become unrelatable, and irony curdles into nihilism. It’s the reason I can’t really get into Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! — I’m unable to form a frame of reference for why it’s even supposed to be funny, making the experience little more than a parade of one-note awkwardness. I found myself feeling the same things as I read Harley Quinn 3, as the series continues to stretch its own rules to the breaking point. When absolutely anything is possible, it’s hard to be surprised by a punchline. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batgirl 28, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Shelby: Not that long ago, we had a glut of vampires in popular culture. Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood: we were inundated. It didn’t seem that unusual to me, though; my high school into college experience featured a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hellsing (the anime, not the awful movie), so “Vampires did it!” isn’t really that strange of a story for me. Outside of Legenderry and the occasional Halloween issue, though, vampires are not something I expect to see in the comics I’m reading. Needless to say, I was intrigued by the cover of this month’s Batgirl.
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Superman/Wonder Woman 5, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Taylor: When I first moved to Chicago a little over six years ago I was desperate for cash and ended up applying for a job at a local tea and coffee and chain. My roommate at the time, and current Retcon Punch editor Patrick, was in the same straights as I, so he applied as well. We both got jobs but we were told we couldn’t work at the same location because we were roommates. The best we could figure it, the company was worried about our personal life bleeding over into our work life. At the time it seemed silly to us, but in retrospect it’s maybe a good policy for the company to adopt. After all, you never want a friendship or relationship getting in the way of your job. This proves especially true for romantic relationships and it only seems natural that Superman/Wonder Woman would eventually get around to the exploring this idea. In issue five, Clark and Diana are forced to confront this issue head on while also dealing with some invaders from Krypton’s past.
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman 28, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Shelby: Serialized story-telling is a fickle mistress. There’s a lot of anguish to be had in waiting a month for the conclusion to a cliffhanger, sure, but it’s a sweet kind of anguish, especially when the story-telling is solid and the art is amazing. It can be frustrating, especially if you’re particularly impatient, but there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation as well. Unless, of course, you don’t get the next piece of the story as you were expecting; that’s the point when frustration can win out. Watch out, there be spoilers ahead.