Spencer: We here at Retcon Punch haven’t been subtle about our love of Batman’s new Hellbat armor. The suit is awesome, and what’s better is that it isn’t just some gimmick meant to push toys; writer Peter Tomasi has created “realistic” (in comic book terms, at least) reasons for the Hellbat’s great power and for why Batman needs to use it in this particular situation. Still, he and penciller Patrick Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and colorist John Kalisz understand just how cool the Hellbat is, and much of Batman and Robin 35’s success comes from how the creative team chooses to portray the suit — which, in some cases, means not showing it at all. The issue is visually dazzling, and the artists know which types of imagery to use to best convey the stories both on Apokolips and on Earth. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Batman and Robin 34, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Patrick: When The Death of the Family was heading into its final issue, Scott Snyder appeared in a ton of interviews claiming that this conclusion was going to have a lasting effect on Batman and the Batfamily. But after that story line wrapped up, Snyder took his own series into Batman’s past, conveniently avoiding working through much of this fallout. Similarly, Grant Morrison killed Damian in Batman Incorporated, but wrapped up his series only a few issues later. The emotional heavy lifting as fallen to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who have dutifully presented the most erratic, emotional and frustrating Batman possible. Everything that Batman is — the selfless knight of justice, the patriarch of the Batfamily, the infallible detective — has been undermined in the wake of these twin tragedies. Understandably, that pushes Batman away from his readers, and his alienation from the world started to reflect the audiences’ alienation from the character. In issue 34, Tomasi and Gleason have Bruce offer a naked apology to his protégés, but they’re also inviting us to trust Batman again. Fuck yes: I’m ready to forgive. Continue reading
Today, Greg and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batman and Robin Annual 2, originally released January 29th 2014.
Greg: My friends often make fun of me for liking everything, and they have a good point. If one of them asks me for a movie recommendation, I’ll give twenty, and get at least one “I heard that was terrible” in response. If someone rags on the recently cancelled and critically reviled Sean Saves The World, I’ll pipe in and counter that it was actually one of the best new comedies of the season, prematurely put down. The new Paramore album? On repeat, in my car stereo, no apologies. Sometimes I’ve been criticized as not having enough cultural taste or filtration. My counterargument is that the consumption of media and storytelling fundamentally stems from love and positivity. It behooves a consumer to like things, because of the positive feelings you get. So, whenever I do genuinely, fully, through-and-through dislike something, not only do I mean it, but it pains me to say it out loud. It blots out my blinding sun of naive media love. I’ll put it frankly, no matter how much it hurts me to say: Batman and Robin deserve better than this issue.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Detective Comics 27, originally released January 8th, 2014.
Mikyzptlk: Detective Comics 27 is an anniversary issue not only because it’s the second “Detective Comics 27” in DC’s publishing history, but also because it’s Batman’s 75th anniversary (or close to it, anyway). With that, DC has brought on an impressive array of writers and artists (Brad Meltzer! Neal Adams!) in order to celebrate the Bat’s 75th birthday. The result is as intriguing as it is entertaining and heartwarming. Continue reading
Mikyzptlk: Origin stories. We are getting a lot of origin stories from DC Comics these days. I suppose it’s only natural given the relative newness of the New 52. It’s been a few years now, but there are still a lot of lingering questions and a lot more room to reinterpret certain origins. Still, I’ve been suffering from “origin-itis” lately, especially with Villain’s Month throwing a ton of new origins our way. While Peter Tomasi didn’t use the Two-Face Villain’s Month special to explore the origin of the villain, he’s certainly using this current arc to do so. So, how does he do? Well, Tomasi brilliantly circumvents my origin-overload by tying Harvey’s past directly into his present. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Drew: I’m not sure I’ve ever “gotten” Ra’s al Ghul. Sure, as the immortal leader of a criminal empire, he’s a great villain, but I never fully understood why he’s a Batman villain. The best Batman rogues highlight some important element of Bruce Wayne: Joker’s gleeful chaos reflects Batman’s brooding order, for example. Without a gimmicky hook, I was always left thinking that Ra’s was meant to highlight Bruce’s mortality, which is kind of a defining characteristic, but one that is brought up every time he’s put in moral peril, so not really specific to Ra’s. With Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, writer James Tynion IV finds that parallel in the way both men wield myths to make them stronger, turning in a character-defining secret origin that actually builds on the character’s history, rather than simply rehashing it. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batman and Nightwing 22, originally released August 21st, 2013.
Shelby: Grief is hard. Even the most well-adjusted, grounded person will struggle with it, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that Bruce Wayne is pretty far from well-adjusted. His grief over his parents’ deaths so many years ago still propels him forward, so it’s no surprise he’s been having difficulty letting go of Damian. It’s not until he lets himself see the grief in those around him that he really begins to move towards acceptance.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 13, originally released July 31st, 2013.
It never ends. It probably never will.
Drew: What does it mean to end a run writing Batman? How do you “end” a story featuring a character that has been published in perpetuity for over 70 years with no signs of slowing down? Sure, Grant Morrison “killed” Bruce Wayne, but that was back at the close of his epic’s second act. No, the ending here had to be something much grander, something much truer to the unrelenting nature of Batman. The sheer scope of Morrison’s epic is deserving of the same pomp and circumstance of “the definitive end” of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern, but Morrison manages to approach that same grandiosity with modest deference, keeping in mind that, while the he may be done, Batman will keep on going. That simple nod turns his elaborate love letter to Batman’s past into an equally impassioned love letter to Batman’s future, and gracefully shifts Morrison from center stage to the audience. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batman and Catwoman 22, originally released July 17th, 2013.
Spencer: I’m probably in the minority among the Retcon Punch writers, but I’m actually a huge fan of Catwoman. When written properly she’s an unpredictable, fun character, but I’m particularly fond of her team-ups with Batman. Catwoman’s been a lot of things to Batman in the past: a villain, a temptation, an ally, and even a love interest, and each version brings out a new aspect of Batman’s personality. When you throw these two characters together you can never be quite sure how they’ll react, and their team-up in Batman and Catwoman 22 doesn’t disappoint; Selina even manages to make Batman smile.