Today, Drew and guest writer Michael D. are discussing Batman and Red Hood 20, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Drew: Bruce Wayne has never been particularly good at processing grief. He’s still driven by the death of his parents — actively and daily. In the wake of Damian’s death, Peter Tomasi has set out to follow Bruce through the five stages of grief, but has Bruce ever gone through all five stages? This month’s stage — anger — reveals a very familiar Batman, suggesting that he may have stalled out there 20+ years ago. Of course, both this issue (like last month’s) finds Bruce bargaining something fierce, so perhaps there’s hope he can progress, after all. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Scott are discussing Batman 20, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Spencer: As a kid, Clayface was always one of my favorite Batman villains. Some of that has to do with the fact that he starred in one of the first cartoons that ever made me cry (Batman: The Animated Series’ excellent final season episode “Growing Pains”), but mostly it was just my young self finding this giant shapeshifting puddle of mud that could sprout blades out of his chest to be totally wicked awesome. I won’t even try to hide it, I still find those facets of the character just as fun as an adult, but I’ve come to realize that, beyond the standard shapeshifter tricks, there isn’t much to Clayface’s personality; usually he’s just treated as a device to serve some other villain’s master plan. Scott Snyder manages to wring a surprising amount of personality out of Clayface, but if the walking mud puddle isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry: there’s plenty of other stuff going on too.
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Batman 19, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Scott: Who says Batman has to be complicated? Anyone who has read Scott Snyder’s series for the last year and a half has gotten used to arcs that take many months to unravel. First, it was Night of the Owls, then Death of the Family. Even the random peppering of Harper Row storylines feel like part of a grander scheme. Well, another multi-issue epic is on the way, in the form of Zero Year, but first Snyder has made room for a rather straightforward two-parter. The immediacy of the payoffs in Batman 19 comes almost as a shock, as Snyder reminds us how much fun it can be to watch Batman solve a mystery that feels only a couple steps -- as opposed to issues — ahead of the reader.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Batman and Red Robin 19, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Some of the things we enjoy discussing here on Retcon Punch are the various themes that come up in the comics that we read. Sometimes those themes are buried deep within the surface of the story while other times they are a bit more telegraphed. With the latest issue of Batman and Rob –sorry– Batman and Red Robin, Peter Tomasi has chosen the latter option as he’s begun to take Bruce Wayne on a journey through the 5 stages of grief due to the loss of his son. There is no doubt that this issue is all about denial to the extent that it’s the actual title of the issue, but if Bruce is going through denial Tomasi is going to make sure he doesn’t do it alone. The obvious guest-star of this issue is Red Robin, but Tomasi has another surprise for you up his sleeve. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 9, originally released March 27th, 2013.
Drew: In Batman Incorporated 0, Grant Morrison asserted that “the first truth of Batman” was that he was never alone, and backs it up with the fact that Alfred was there from the start. But is that the first truth of Batman? If Batman was born that night in his father’s study, he was surely conceived 18 years earlier as Thomas an Martha died, making loss the first truth of Batman. With that loss comes the loneliness that Morrison’s “first truth” was reacting to. Sure, Bruce sought comfort in his friends and wards, but every moment of his life was shaped by the crushing loneliness he felt watching his parents die. The death of Damian reemphasizes that point, distancing Bruce even from Alfred, who — as Morrison asserted — was always there. The result is a uniquely lonely Batman, spinning another take on the character into the tapestry of Morrison’s epic. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Nightwing 18, originally released March 20th 2013.
Scott: It’s a bad time to be Dick Grayson. He perhaps lost more than anyone in the Death of the Family, with Joker destroying Amusement Mile and undoing all of the hard work Dick put into Haly’s Circus. At the end of Nightwing 17, he finally found some comfort in the words of Damian Wayne, who was promptly killed in Batman Incorporated 8, leaving Dick with even greater grief. Even a man as level-headed and generally unfazed as Dick might start to question the fairness of these events- why he keeps getting punished when he hasn’t done anything wrong. But of course, when it rains, it pours, and Nightwing 18 only manages to torture Dick further with more terrible news. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Captain America 5, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Patrick: There’s a part in the first Metal Gear Solid game where you have to fight a bad guy called Psycho Mantis. Fans of the series will remember this fight fondly for a couple of reasons — the character “reads your mind” and talks trash about the way you’ve been playing the game. Reportedly he will also make comments about the other games you have saved on your memory card. It’s goofy, but it certainly is weird and fun. At one point in the fight, Mantis is reading your mind to determine your motions, and it’s impossible to land a blow. The solution is that you have to plug the controller into the second controller port — that way he can’t read your mind. No, that doesn’t make sense — it’s a rule the game establishes right then and there for this single-time use. It’s not fair, it’s not fun, and you either know to do it (and you win) or you don’t know to do it (and you lose). Captain America’s latest adventures have a little too much in common with this Psycho Mantis fight, and I’m kinda just waiting for him to plug the controller into the Player Two slot.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman and Robin 18, originally released March 13th 2013.
Drew: I could have told you that summarizing and analyzing a dialogue-free comic would be hard — pictures are worth a thousand words, but the words in comics direct our attention, and provide context for those images. Strictly speaking, sequential art doesn’t require words, but they’re so common (especially in superhero comics) that to eschew them altogether feels downright radical. This isn’t meant as a value judgement — I’ve read many great dialogue-free comics — just to say that it’s a little outside my wheelhouse. By all rights Batman and Robin 18 should be hard to talk about because of it’s lack of dialogue, but instead, it’s hard to talk about because it’s so fucking sad. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Scott are discussing Batman 18, originally released March 13th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: The death of a loved one is something that is incredible hard to face. It’s also got to be something incredibly hard to write about, especially when you have to do so in a superhero comic where action and adventure is normally the name of the game. With the recent death of Robin The Boy Wonder, the Bat-writers have been tasked to deal with his death in their own way. Scott Snyder manages not only to continue the story of his new character Harper Row, but seamlessly and organically ties her story into the death of young Damian Wayne.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing the Batman Incorporated 8, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk:Spoiler Alert. Hahaha, just kidding. Fuck you very much, internet. Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system–Seriously, couldn’t you have just kept your mouth shut for a few more days?!? Okay, it’s okay, I’m all better now. As I write this, I’ve just finished reading issue 8 of Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. and I’m still not quite sure what to make of things. We all know by now that Damian “The Boy Wonder” is dead. And though I have some wild theories that say he’s not actually dead, the issue leaves us with that conclusion. Grant Morrison has stated (a bit earlier than he should have mind you) what the death of Damian means in the greater sense of the themes he was presenting us with, but I’d like to focus on the character of young Damian and what his death means in the context of the world in which these characters live. I’ll leave the heavy lifting to Drew. Continue reading →