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 Drew discuss Batman Eternal 35, Gotham Academy 3, Grayson 5, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin 1, The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw 2, and The Private Eye 9. Spencer: So there’s been a lot of talk about who the “big bad” behind Batman Eternal is, but issue 35 makes me think that perhaps he’s been right under our noses since the very first issue. The one constant throughout this series, the one figure putting in an appearance in every arc, has been Jason Bard, and in this week’s installment we begin to dive into his intensely personal motives for targeting Batman. Indeed, “personal” is the name of the game this issue; Bard’s attacks on Batman continue to get more and more personal as he not only strips Bruce Wayne of his company and assets, but turns a trusted friend against him to boot. Fortunately, Bard’s about to get a taste of his own medicine; Vicki Vale is in Detroit, ready to dig up every last piece of dirt she can find on Bard. I don’t know whether Vicki was only faking her relationship with Bard to get close to him, or if she just had a change of heart after getting to know him better, but either way, it’s a delicious reversal. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Woods 8, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Spencer: We’ve all liked someone we shouldn’t have, right? Crushes aren’t choosy, and it’s easy to shrug off or explain away someone’s ugly traits when you’re infatuated with them. Unfortunately for Isaac, this exactly describes the dynamic between him and Adrian in James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas’ The Woods 8. I relate to Isaac a lot here, but while my particular brand of blind, tasteless crush just ended with a broken heart and some particularly sad relationship experience points, poor Isaac’s is a matter of life-and-death. Such is the fate of anyone who falls in love in a comic book, I suppose. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Secret Six 1, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Spencer: It’s no secret: Gail Simone’s first, Pre-New 52 run on Secret Six is still the best work of her career, but that fact has likely created some heightened expectations for this week’s Secret Six relaunch. There’s no escaping the hype completely, but Simone manages to mitigate much of it by showing from the very beginning how different this volume is from what came before. Much like Catman himself, readers are thrown blindly into the middle of a still-unfolding mystery — it’s a thrilling way to kick off a new series, but some frustratingly inconsistent art threatens to derail the entire experience. Continue reading →
C.O.W.L. is the story of a superhero union in mid-century Chicago. That logline heaps on the atmosphere, from the period setting to the particular climate of organized labor in Chicago, giving writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel a ton of space to explore. With issue 6, they offer a bit of a sideways approach to that world-building, giving us an in-universe comic book with an obvious in-universe political agenda. Parsing that agenda uncovers layers of meaning, telling us a great deal about Geoffrey Warner, even if the story isn’t entirely true. Patrick sat down with Kyle and Alec and went through the issue page by page, so get your copy handy and join us on the Commentary Track.
Retcon Punch: Let’s just start right from the cover: we’ve got a wildly different approach, right from the get-go.
Kyle Higgins: This cover is illustrated by Joe Bennett and it’s inked by Marcelo Mueller and colored by Rod Reis. Joe and Marcelo were originally supposed to do the entire issue when we were putting together the idea for the one-shot. Alec and I love the idea of world-building, and the opportunity to have this comic be something that’s of the world, we realized we were killing a couple birds with one stone, you know? Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Detective Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Mark: Of all the Batman movies, Batman Returns remains my favorite. It’s probably the darkest Batman film yet made (I mean, it opens with parents throwing their baby in the sewer. Opens!), but it also has a sense of humor and style that the oppressively serious Christopher Nolan adaptations lack. One of the things that makes the movie pop is the decision to set the action at Christmastime. Even all lit up for the holidays there’s no place as terrible as Gotham City, and that contrast adds a dark mirth to the proceedings. With the holiday season once again upon us, it’s the perfect time to revisit Gotham at Christmas. After a two month airport diversion, creative team Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are back and Detective Comics 37 jumps us right into the thick of Gotham on Christmas Eve. Guess what? Things are not great. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014.
Men have become the tools of their tools.
Henry David Thoreau
Drew: I think it’s safe to say that technophobia has always been a thing. From fire to electricity, somebody was always more concerned over what we were losing than what we were gaining. Stories of people fearing electrical vapors or locomotives seem quaint to us now, but it wasn’t so long ago that buying things through this new internet thing seemed like an absurdly risky endeavor. In fact, I think consumers were so scared of online shopping that we were kind of oblivious to the impacts it could have in offline shopping. If anyone should have been scared of online shopping, it was brick-and-mortar establishments like Blockbuster and Borders (and, you know, countless small businesses) that couldn’t compete with the convenience and selection. The comics industry is still recovering from its most recent bout of technophobia, having only recently fully embraced same-day digital releases and content designed specifically for screens. Those growing pains are very much at the heart of Swamp Thing 37, which checks in on how the various avatars are reacting to the space technology is carving out for itself. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Deadpool 38, originally released December 3rd, 2014.
“I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Drew: The duality of man might just be one of the most central notions of all philosophical thought. Indeed, it might be one of the simplest — is man good, or evil? — but that doesn’t stop fiction writers from coming up with insanely complicated ways of approaching it. Scenarios like Dr. Jekyll’s or Bruce Banner’s are obviously artificial, but they allow us to ask questions that might not make sense in our day to day lives: what actually defines us? Is it our actions at our best? Our actions at our worst? Our sense of humor? Our intelligence? If any one of those things changed, would we be fundamentally different people? Deadpool 38 puts these questions front and center, as Wade’s newfound passivity continues to effect the people around him. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Action Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014. Patrick: The opening to Jaws is just about perfect. A beautiful young woman indulges herself in a (probably drunken) morning swim. It’d be an idyllic scene but for the foreboding sense that this moment is somehow too precious for a movie with a giant shark on the poster. When the inevitable shark attack happens, the audience is briskly snapped away from the pleasant scene and tossed back and forth like the film’s first victim. The violence is jarring, not because it’s particularly graphic or believable (there’s no reason a shark would drag someone around the surface of the water for so long), but because we’re able to feel the loss of the pleasantly banal moment that came before. Action Comics 37 plays a similar trick, insisting on a Smallville that’s apparently very serene, until that very serenity ends up be just as creepy as any external threat Superman can face. 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 Gotham by Midnight 1, Arkham Manor 2, Batman Eternal 34, Batman Beyond Universe 16, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 17, Scarlet Spiders 1, Spider-Man 2099, Nova 24, New Warriors 12, Cyclops 7, Lazarus 13, Manhattan Projects 25, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 2. Drew: With an ever increasing number of movies and tv shows based on comics, there is a lot of focus on how comics are influencing pop culture at large, but I think the more interesting part of that narrative is how comics are in turn influenced by their more widely-viewed cousins. In some situations, those influences are quite direct — the co-opting of Harley Quinn and Phil Coulson spring to mind — but in others, it may just be the mood of a particularly stylish tv show that makes its way into a comic. That’s exactly the case with Gotham by Midnight 1, which wears its debt to True Detective on its sleeve, pairing a philosopher with a philistine, and sending them both to Gotham’s own bayou of Murder Swamp. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Spencer are discussing Secret Avengers 10, originally released November 26th, 2014. Greg: I studied a lot of television history in college, and there are many similarities between that medium and comic books. Particularly, there’s a notable trend in both mediums from self-contained, episodic units that could be watched and appreciated with no greater context, to highly serialized, novelistic longform works that have identifiable cause-and-effect and require consumers to know their stuff. TV content creators seem to understand this is a primary method of creating and consuming TV now, with binge-watching services like Netflix and Hulu taking storm, and even half-hour sitcoms serializing like crazy (I would not recommend jumping into New Girl halfway through, for example). Comic book creators, however, still seem to try and cater to both extremes of readership; in the case of Secret Avengers 10, they manage to succeed, but just barely. Continue reading →