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 →
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., originally released January 16, 2013.
Shelby: I’m going to be honest: I just finished the last issue of Frankenstein, and I have no idea what just happened. I’m not sure what I was expecting; the last issue wrapped up so conveniently with the formation of the nigh-unstoppable undead army we’ve seen in Animal Man. Even though this issue isn’t a part of Rotworld, and even though it is the last issue of the title, I guess I thought there would be some sort of connectivity between issues 15 and 16, that we would see some kind of closure for these characters we’ve come to (briefly) know. Instead of having Frank go out in a blaze of glory, Rotworld style, or having Frank and Nina live happily ever after, Matt Kindt has returned these two to “same old, same old” and the effect is…rather hollow. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 15, originally released January 2nd, 2013.
Shelby: Science and magic. In the broadest of terms, they are the two sources of meta-humans’ powers in the DCU. Superman? He’s an alien being powered up by the particular wavelength of light from our sun: that’s science. Wonder Woman? She’s a demi-god, pure and simple: that’s magic. Green Lantern? Trick question, it’s will-power harnessed and weaponized: I’m calling it magic refined by science. Lantern Corps aside, there’s usually a pretty clear line between science (far-fetched and ridiculous though it may be) and magic in the comic book universe. Often times the two sides face off, refusing to see that they are kind of two sides of the same coin, but every so often science and magic team up and we get something extra special. Luckily for us, Justice League Dark gives us both options in one action-packed issue. Continue reading →
Scott: Perspective is everything in storytelling. Storytellers can have a profound impact on how a story is received based on the information they have access to and how they choose to present that information. Really good storytellers include personal touches that show their passion for the subject, giving emotional weight to the story. I would venture to guess Frankenstein is not this type of storyteller. Frankenstein has fairly simple tastes; he likes killing monsters and not being around people. So how do you elegantly tell a story about a character whose preferred mode of communication is a disinterested grunt? Take the story out of his hands and tell it from a third person point of view, which writer Matt Kindt does to beautiful effect in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 15.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 14, originally released November 28th, 2012.
Drew: Chekhov’s gun — the principle that a writer should not introduce a story element in the first act unless it comes into play by the third — is meant to keep stories simple and efficient. Details that don’t matter can clutter a story needlessly, making for a flabby, muddy narrative. On the other hand, when handled obviously, knowing that every element introduced must come into play can ruin an otherwise good surprise. In Justice League Dark 14, we find Jeff Lemire applying Chekhov’s principle to the House of Mysteries, delivering a kind of comedic interlude in the midst of Zatana and Tim Hunter’s disappearance. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E 14, originally released October 10th, 2012. This issue is part of the RotWorld crossover event. Click here for complete RotWorld coverage.
Patrick: 2003 was supposed to be the year that the Matrix series ruled the world. To follow-up their genre defining 1999 masterpiece, the Wachoskis planned an all-out media blitzkrieg. Over the course of six months, they released two enormous science-fiction action movies, a set of animated shorts that tied directly into those movies and a AAA video game whose narrative wove throughout the movies and the shorts. Naturally, the movies were the flagships of this Matrix armada, so when they weren’t very good, the whole fleet sank. But I played the everloving shit out of that Enter the Matrix video game. It worked because Enter the Matrix had to embrace conventions of a video game directly, instead of stylishly dancing around them (as the films did). It might have seemed strange when Morpheus would tell you to collect three keys to access the next level, but there’s something refreshing about that objective-based narrative — especially considering that the terms of victory in the Matrix movies were becoming ever more grim and convoluted. Frankenstein is the Enter the Matrix of Rotworld: what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in clarity of objective.