Mikyzptlk: Event comics are…strange. As Drew mentioned in his previous coverage of Trinity War, event comics like these can be hard to pin down. There’s usually a ton of damage and more colorfully clad heroes than you can shake a superpowered stick at. At the same time though, with so much going on, it can be hard to get to any meaningful characterization. It’s not impossible, but there’s just usually not that much of it. Another thing that event comics like Trinity War are known for is the idea that “Things Will Never Be The Same” after the events of said comics. In the end, what we normally get in event comics are shallow, action packed adventures that drastically change the playing field for our heroes. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, in fact, I think it’s kind of necessary. The ever-changing playing field helps to keep these decades old characters fresh, and help to prime our heroes for those character-rich solo stories we all love so much. While Trinity War has given us some interesting moments, I can’t help but feel impatient for the drastic changes it will bring. The penultimate chapter of the tale helps to reinforce that feeling. Continue reading →
Drew: Determining a level of focus is perhaps the most important step in evaluating a work of art. These foci are specific to the style at hand — harmonic analysis is likely going to tell you very little about a rap song, just as an examination of brush strokes wouldn’t add much to a discussion of da Vinci. Intriguingly, these styles often begin to resemble each other as you zoom in and out — abstract paintings may share concepts of form, color, or composition with those of the Rennaisance masters, for example — further increasing the importance focus in an analysis. Geoff Johns has always written “big” — he’s been at the helm (or at least sharing the helm) of some of DC’s most important events over the past decade — and his writing has often chafed at the analyses of his critics. Justice League of America 7 actually avoids many of the pitfalls Johns is often cited for (a lot of stuff actually happens here), but it still has me wondering if we’re simply using the wrong tool for the job of evaluating a giant, Geoff Johns-penned event. Continue reading →
Patrick: Did any of you guys ever play Warhammer? If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a table top war game where you assemble an army from your race of choice and battle against your friends’ armies. It’s the least pick-up-and-play game you could ever imagine – understanding the basic rules means reading a 100+ page manual, and keeping a cheat sheet with charts and tables with you at all times. And then there’s understanding your own army, for which you need yet other book completely dedicated to that race. Then you need the little metal figures to represent the members of your army (sold separately), and if you’re really hardcore you can paint them. Then you need a surface large enough to play on – one time my friends and I took a door off its hinges and used that when we were denied the dining room table. Ideally, this surface will be populated with trees and terrain and stuff like that. Setting up the Trinity War has felt an awful lot like setting up a Warhammer game. Everyone’s been reading extra books they don’t really want to read just so they can play in the big game. Now the event is actually here and I can’t believe I’m surprised that all the characters feel like pieces in a game. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 21, originally released June 26th, 2013.
Taylor: When you’re John Constantine, it’s always good to predict future as best you can. In order to escape the jaws of death time and again, John needs to predict what his enemies will do and how they will do it. Usually the man is pretty good at that sort of stuff and since he is often the focus of Justice League Dark it’s easy to forget that there are other ways of going about things. In fact, in Madame Xanadu the team has a colleague who can literally see the future and who doesn’t need to indulge herself in guesswork of any sort. But how useful is this power? More importantly, how does she choose to use this power and is it responsible? Issue 21 of Justice League Dark delves into these questions while also exploring a character that — up until this point — we have known very little about.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 20, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Drew: Comic books love team-ups, to the point that we rarely question their utility. Whether it’s random circumstance or a specific goal that brings the team together, once the team is formed, we kind of take it for granted that they will stick together. Who cares if Ocean’s 12 requires a ballistics expert (or whatever it is that Brad Pitt’s character does)? The team is the team – don’t question it. Unless, of course, you’re Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes, who devote Justice League Dark 20 to examining the utility of each team-up, from the random cameos to the team’s core members. The result is a fresh, surprisingly compelling argument for the team’s existence. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 19, originally released April 24, 2013.
Taylor: There’s nothing like having a little time to yourself. This proves to be especially true after you’ve completed a large project or gone through an important life event that required a lot of your time or energy. Having just completed a stint as a student teacher, I understand how nice it is to regain a little bit of time for yourself. Suddenly, I have ample time to pursue my own interests, to take care of things I’ve been putting off for too long, and to generally dedicate myself to laziness and slobbery. Comic book writers and artists, along with the characters they give life to, similarly get to enjoy these moments of re-centering when they come to an end of a story arch. Without the obligations of having to progress a plot or defeat absolute evil, comic creators have the chance to spend a little more time on their characters and enjoy their company. Additionally, this is a chance for writers to reassess where they would like the focus of their series to fall and on whom. Justice League Dark, having wrapped up the Timothy Hunter arc, is enjoying one of these precious moments and in issue 19 it’s a pleasure to see what effect that has on the series.
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, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Patrick: Have you ever been introduced to a group of new people with a specific adjective? Someone says “this is my funny friend Patrick” or “you’ll be working with Patrick, he’s really smart.” Suddenly, it doesn’t matter how you view yourself, it becomes your singular goal to live up to that defining adjective. It’s stressful, but having your friends state their expectations of you right upfront increases that likelihood that you will be the thing they say you are. So what do you say about someone to turn them into your hero?
Scott: This comic is called Animal Man, but it’s hardly about Buddy Baker at this point. Sure, Animal Man and Swamp Thing are the focal points of the RotWorld crossover event, but their personal objectives and motivations are overshadowed by RotWorld itself. There are so many characters fighting against the rot that it’s tough to consider Animal Man the main character in this issue, and even more difficult to think of his personal motivation — to save Maxine — as the emotional center of the story. Throw in the fact that this issue truly is a crossover with Swamp Thing, and it’s harder yet to think of this as Animal Man’s story. Not that that’s a bad thing. Animal Man is part of an awesome team fighting against the Rot, and the collective inventiveness they display here makes Animal Man 17 a thoroughly fun and often jaw-droppingly cool experience.
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 16, originally released January 30th, 2013.
Shelby: I loved magic when I was a kid. Stories about fairies, dragons, unicorns: I ate that shit up. I always wanted so badly for those sorts of things to be real. Even as an adult, I still wish for real magic in the world. Embarrassing confession time: I saw the first Chronicles of Narnia movie in the theater with my family. It came out in 2005, so I was 21 years old, and leaving the movie I was bummed out that I couldn’t actually go to Narnia. Nearly a real adult, and I just wanted to be whisked away to a dreamworld of magic. It’s really no surprise I like Justice League Dark as much as I do; Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes have crafted a world where that magic exists and is in danger of being eradicated. Obviously you know which side I’m rooting for. Continue reading →