Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 1, originally released November 25th, 2015.
Drew: Under the subject of “staying on topic,” the Retcon Punch style guide reminds writers that any piece we write is a discussion of a specific issue of a comic, not a discourse on a creative team, series, or character. That’s a guideline that I stand by as something that keeps our discussions focused and open-minded — my opinions on any prior issues take a backseat to my reactions to this one. Indeed, DKIII might just provide a perfect example of why that focus is so important: we’d all love an opportunity to write about the legacy of The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, or the enduring symbolic potency of Batman, but that would hardly make for a satisfying commentary on this particular comic. Then again, DKR, while formally remarkable in many ways, is most interesting as a response to the Batman stories that came before it — it’s very much a reaction to that legacy and context. Moreover, it was such a watershed moment for superheroes that virtually every superhero comic since then has needed to reconcile with it. That legacy proves inescapable for DKIII, which might actually work to this issue’s benefit. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman 45, originally released October 14th, 2015.
Spencer: Does the man make Batman, or does Batman make the man? That seems to be the question at the heart of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Superheavy” arc, and with Bruce Wayne no longer under the cowl, it’s an especially timely one. Geri Powers, Jim Gordon, Bruce Wayne, and even Duke Thomas all have different ideas of what role Batman (and Robin!) should play and how that role should be carried out, and those conflicting perspectives make Batman 45 a captivating exploration of the function and legacy of the Dark Knight. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Andy are discussing Batman & Robin Eternal 1, originally released October 7th, 2015.
Mark: Last year DC debuted three different weekly series, Earth 2 Worlds End, New 52 Futures End, and Batman Eternal. Where the former two had shorter runs and were used to set up the events of Convergence, Batman Eternal was a 12-month affair that told its own story (though there were a few spin-off titles based on the events of the series during that time). Frankly, 12 months was way too long a time to tell the story Eternal wanted to tell, and the amount of juggling it had to do to keep all of its narrative balls in the air made for a sometimes boring, occasionally incomprehensible read. Now, six months after the title’s conclusion, I could hardly tell you much about it and actually had to look up how it ended.
But for all of the title’s failings, there’s no denying it was a commercial success. The same probably can’t be said for the less-loved Futures End and Worlds End. Everyone loves Batman, and even though readership dropped steadily over the year, enough folks were willing to spend more than $200 to read it all that we’re getting a sequel of sorts, Batman & Robin Eternal.
Today, Andy and Spencer are discussing Justice League 44, originally released September 30th, 2015.
Andy: Justice League stories usually come in one of two shapes: seismic clashes between legions of good and evil that change the universe forever, or workplace procedurals driven by quirky-character team ups. Justice League 44 sits firmly in the first category, as Darkseid and Darkseid-wannabe Anti-Monitor punch each other to decide the true big baddie of the DC universe. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Batman Annual 4 originally released September 30th, 2015.
Ryan: Batman has been happening for quite some time, both in the real world and in the oft rebooted DC Universe. Fans of the series remember his numerous encounters with his rogues gallery throughout the years, as villains escape time after time from the doldrums of Arkham Asylum to once again terrorize the city of Gotham. The formula for Batman may even be seen as a little tiresome: villain arrives, terrorizes Batman, Batman wins, villain returns again, eventually — maybe teaming with another foe, something messed up happens to Bruce Wayne’s personal life, his family rescues him, rinse, repeat. So what is it that draws us back into Batman narratives when the conceit can seem formulaic? Much of its appeal, I would argue, comes from the long-standing history which the reader shares with the character, one which can make jumping into a title so compounded with spin-offs and mini-series and event tie-ins intimidating for some. Batman Annual 4 offers an easy jumping-in point as Bruce Wayne undergoes yet another identity crisis, catching a casual or first-time reader up while showing the audience why a protagonist mired in the past can be so fascinating.
Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Grayson 12, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
Mark: Grayson 12 is billed as Dick’s return to Gotham after quitting Spyral, and it is, but it’s also a continuation of the Grayson spy game. Dick truly intends to leave his life as international sex spy behind, but his hand is forced when the mysterious Agent Zero attacks him at Wayne Manor. Unless he returns to Spyral, she threatens, they’ll reveal to the world that Bruce Wayne is Batman. It’s a threat that’s been made in Bat Family comics forever, but it actually has greater weight here as Bruce is currently in no position to defend himself. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman 43, originally released August 12th, 2015.
It seems like so many of these interpretations [of Batman] are somebody’s favorite. And the truth be told is that they all feel like it’s the same character. Regardless of how different they might be or how separate they might feel, they all feel like they’re Batman. They all feel true to the core conceit of what that character is.
Drew: As diverse as Batman stories can be, they’ve always shared some core tenants of who the character is and what he stands for. Or, maybe we need to be more specific — there have been a few different Batmen over the years, with some variation in guiding principles (and origin stories), but Bruce Wayne has always stood for the same things. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on this series has been a slow indictment of each of those guiding principles, from Batman’s relationship to Gotham to exactly where he falls on the “superstitious and cowardly” spectrum, but this issue takes away something even more central to Bruce than all of these things combined: his drive as a detective. Indeed, that seems to be the linchpin that makes Bruce Batman — without it, he’s almost unrecognizable. Continue reading →
Retcon Punch is on Summer Hours, which means we’re going to be writing fewer in-depth pieces for the month of August. But we’re addicts at this point, so we need a place for our thoughts on all those comics we can’t stop reading. Today, we’re discussing Midnighter 3, Detective Comics 43, Batman Beyond 3 and Green Lantern 43.
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League: Gods and Monsters Batman 1, originally released July 22th, 2015.
Michael: There are a couple of questions we face when we read an “Elseworlds” tale in regards to the main continuity. What’s the point of any of this? Why does any of this matter? We are presented with alternate versions of the heroes that we know and love and wonder, “what the hell does this have to do with anything?” The worst case scenario is that we follow the exploits of a character that has a familiar name, but is absolutely nothing like what we know, and just different for difference’s sake. The best case scenario is that the character — while different from what we know – resonates with us to a certain truth at their core. Justice League: Gods and Monsters Batman1 stars a different Dark Knight that circles a lot of familiar Batman tent poles. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Reid are discussing Justice League 42, originally released July 15th, 2015.
Patrick: Justice League 42 is all about gods – who are gods, who are not gods, who can defy gods, who can become gods, whose godliness can be taken away. But that’s the real difference between a ‘god’ and a ‘superhero?’ Is it physical abilities? Do our gods need to be able to destroy worlds? Do we need our gods to present pure morality? Do we just need to feel that our gods are in control and have a plan? Or maybe gods just need to come from an established pantheon? Whatever other qualities you want to ascribe to gods, I think the most important idea is that they matter in a way that mere humans don’t. Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s “Darkseid War” zeroes in a conflict so big and so “important” that we need to check in on the godliness of every hero and every villain. Continue reading →