Drew: When someone accuses a joke of “going too far,” they tend to mean that it is offensive — that it has left the concept of good taste behind in the pursuit of a bigger laugh. But offensiveness isn’t the only metric of taste. Indeed, I would argue that even the most family-friendly humor can take its core concepts “too far,” neglecting to cultivate the expectations that jokes are designed to subvert. Taken too far, scenarios become unrecognizable, characters become unrelatable, and irony curdles into nihilism. It’s the reason I can’t really get into Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! — I’m unable to form a frame of reference for why it’s even supposed to be funny, making the experience little more than a parade of one-note awkwardness. I found myself feeling the same things as I read Harley Quinn 3, as the series continues to stretch its own rules to the breaking point. When absolutely anything is possible, it’s hard to be surprised by a punchline. Continue reading
For Valentine’s Day last year, you may recall, we here at Retcon Punch showed you our love with corny, superhero valentines. Obviously, we had to do it again. So, Internet, this is our way of saying Be Mine; please enjoy these free, awesome valentines! Print them, share them, just keep our name on them; more after the break!
“I think I may have found a project I’d actually enjoy doing: helping these cats and dogs. They should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.”
April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation
Spencer: So far, both issues of Harley Quinn have featured its heroine rescuing animals from oppressive environments. Harley being an animal lover isn’t really a surprise—she’s basically a big kid, plus she’s canonically owned and raised laughing hyenas in the past—but it still seemed a bit odd to me at first that this book was hitting this point so hard. I suppose it ultimately makes sense, though; when writing a book featuring a villain protagonist you’ve got to make sure the antagonists are even more loathsome, and everybody hates animal abuse—even supervillains—right? Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing All-Star Western 26, originally released December 31st, 2013.
Drew: I’ve always been suspicious of happy endings. Not that I’m a grump or a pessimist (or, not just because I’m a grump and a pessimist), just that I think the tendency to wrap stories up with a nice bow tends to make them same-y. Knowing everything will work out in the end robs stories of most of their drama, and more importantly, they tend to ring false. Still, there’s something undeniably alluring about a happy ending — a gentle reassurance that the characters will be okay specifically, and that things tend to work out generally. It’s incredibly tricky to acknowledge both aspects of the happy ending, but Alan Moore’s classic “For the Man Who Has Everything” does it beautifully by presenting (and ultimately rejecting) a classic “what if” scenario. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti aim to tap that same magic in All-Star Western 26, but as is the case with most comparisons to Moore, they come up just a little short. Continue reading
Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Harley Quinn 1, originally released December 18th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Sometimes, what we need in life is a fresh start. That means cutting ties with what came before, moving on, and moving out. Sometimes, that also means traveling into some unknown territory and taking a leap of faith that things will work out. Harley Quinn has had a…troubled past to say the least, so if anyone in the DCU could use a fresh start it’s her. Harley Quinn 1 gives us the beginning of Harley’s fresh start. Will she make it out alive? Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Harley Quinn 0, originally released November 20th, 2013
Patrick: My buddy Andrew and I once went halfsies on a copy of the game Catherine. If you’ve never played it, the game is half puzzle game, half infidelity simulator. You’re barely even in control of the main character as he blushes his way through an affair with a blonde sex nymph. Those portions of the game when you’re sitting in the bar, trying to non-suspiciously excuse yourself to the bathroom so you can read the sexy tests your new lady is sending you are novel as shit. I don’t know that it was an engaging gameplay experience, but it was addictive and unique – an “experience” devoid of any qualifiers like “game” or “storytelling.” Harley Quinn 0 manages the same feat, simultaneously throwing out and embracing everything you’ve ever known about visual storytelling. The result is a manic experience. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing All-Star Western 24, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Drew: The lone wolf has always been an alluring figure. Every continent has their tales of solitary, wandering soldiers — most often period stories (knights, ronin, cowboys) — but comics have always featured that notion pulled into the modern day. All-Star Western has always been about playing with that line, often in reverse, pushing our expectations of superheroes back to the old west, but the current arc makes that relationship explicit, pulling Hex into the modern day DC Universe. Surprisingly, he fits in quite well. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and guest writer Sarah are discussing Batman: The Dark Knight 23.2: Mr. Freeze, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Patrick: A buddy of mine just had his car stolen. He lives in Los Angeles, and it’s not like that kind of thing is common place, but… well, you expect to encounter a certain amount of shit living in a big city. Cost of doing business, I suppose. His folks don’t live in the area, so he reached out to his friends for help, advice and rides — they were happy to oblige him with all three. It became clear that my friend had found a “family,” which is a concept just abstract enough to really mean something. It didn’t much matter that not everyone could help him in tangible ways, love and emotional support were exactly what he needed in that moment, and this “family” was able to provide it. They were a comfort, a safety net and a reason to push past the tragedy and on to better things. Victor Fries longs for that connection so much it that drove him to project nonexistent feelings on to a perpetually frozen wife. Now that he’s discovered he has real family out there, it’s becoming increasingly clear: it wasn’t the “wife” part of the “frozen wife” of which he was so enamored.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing All-Star Western 20, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Patrick: If you go back and watch old Flintstones cartoons, you realize that there’s not much to them beyond their prehistoric trappings. The setting is to unique and weird that it totally trumps character or story or even the jokes. The same can be said of the Jetsons – neither of these shows had characters or relationships that would hold any water if they were to be set in a modern day context. So the 1987 animated feature The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones was little more than the characters pointing out how strange the lives of their counterparts were… that and a convoluted time travel plot. The raw charisma of Jonah Hex and Booster Gold save All-Star Western 20 from a similar fate, but not by much. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwing 19 and 20, originally released April 3rd and May 1st, 2013.
Patrick: We’ve seen a lot of creatives shifts in the DC line-up in the last couple of months — and there are a few more up-coming — but none have been quite so bold as Batwing to explicitly toss out the old version of the character for a new one. Not only does the Batwing costume change, but the man behind the costume changes, and there’s nothing to connect one Batwing to the next. And that’s the real problem: the concept of Batwing is one that require justification and understanding. Through this transition, new series writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray do nothing to explore that for either the venerable David Zavimbe or the newbie Luke Fox. Continue reading