Spencer: We see a lot of redemption stories in comics (and in pop culture in general), and while many of them end in death, almost all of them end with the person seeking redemption finding some sort of forgiveness. Yes, the ideas of atoning for past crimes and being forgiven for them tend to go hand-in-hand, but should they? It’s an interesting notion, one which Patrick Gleason seems interested in examining throughout Robin: Son of Batman 2. Damian Wayne is out to atone for a year full of horrors he committed before becoming Robin, but atoning for some crimes is clearly going to be much harder than atoning for others — and it may simply come to down to who he’s seeking redemption from. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 40, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Drew: Bruce Wayne’s back was broken. Otto Octavius took over Peter Parker’s body. Superman had a mullet. Steve Rogers was dead. We often talk derisively of these kinds of easily-reversed changes in superhero comics because they seem gimmicky and cheap — what better way to boost sales than to trumpet the death of Superman? — but I’d actually argue that these stories offer a clever way of exploring what makes these heroes great. Moreover, they remind us not to take what we like about these characters for granted. Fewer characters have been put through quite so many changes recently as Damian Wayne, who has both died and gained superpowers, so while Batman and Robin 40 ends with him back in his non-dead, non-superpowered state, it’s actually kind of refreshing. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batman and Ra’s al Ghul 32, originally released June 18th, 2014.
Patrick: No one’s got a deeper bench than Batman. A lot has been made of the integrity of his relationships lately — it’s almost the most important piece of Batman’s mythology in the New 52. Check it out: Batman Eternal is all about Batman struggling with his relationship with the city, and even pulls Gordon out of rotation. This comes on the heels of The Death of the Family and the Leviathan killing Damian, which all just compounds the stress put upon those relationships. Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Robin, Red Hood, they all have reason to distrust the man who’s a superhero first, and a human being second. But Batman’s not just the biggest superhero in Gotham, he’s the biggest superhero in the DC Universe, so there’s no end to the relationships we can explore to learn something just a little bit more about Bruce Wayne. Continue reading
Greg: Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy are both some of my favorite and least favorite things to happen to contemporary pop culture. I love them because the movies, particularly that second one, are smashingly good entertainments, with towering performances, consistent style, and an attitude of taking the world seriously that feels naturally extended from the best Batman comics and ‘90s animated series episodes. I hate them because now it feels like every single big budget blockbuster that comes out (even the new Captain America, for goodness’ sake) is dark, gritty, oppressively somber, po-faced, and muted. It’s a conflicting feeling because as much as I love the shock and awe that comes from treating these extraordinary scenarios with verisimilitude, I similarly love the fun and joy that comes from treating them as, well, fun and joyful. Batman ‘66 Meets The Green Hornet is a strikingly contagious example of what happens when you have affectionate fun in your larger-than-life storytelling, and I’d like writers Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman to get their own big budget trilogy, please.
Peter Tomasi can be seen as a workhorse of DC’s writer stable. He is constantly dealing with other people’s baggage in his own series, including the Batman and Robin-altering death of Damian Wayne. But that’s not the only thread Tomasi has used to weave his Batman epic. Indeed, the loss of Robin has turned into survey of how the New 52’s Batman fits into rest of the Universe. Issue 30, titled Batman and Wonder Woman, plays with some of the best toys in the box. Patrick sat down with Pete and went through the issue page by page, so get your copy handy and join us on the Commentary Track.
Retcon Punch: First, can you talk about going after Wonder Woman and exploring the more magical end of the Universe. I know we’re chasing around resurrection pits and whatnot…
Peter Tomasi: Yeah, it seemed like a good place to explore. They’ve had Lazarus Pits all around the globe, and it felt like a cool bit that we hadn’t ever seen where: why wouldn’t a secret island full of Amazons have one? Maybe there’s a little something-something going on there, and we could play with a little magic there. I don’t really do this a lot, I’m a very linear storyteller — I wrote this whole sequence of them going to the island first and all this stuff. Continue reading
Spencer: It’s hard to talk about Nightwing 29 without talking about the circumstances surrounding it. Forever Evil revealed Nightwing’s identity to the world and may possibly be killing him off; even if Dick survives, his life is going to be drastically different, as indicated by the cancellation of his title and the premature end of writer Kyle Higgins’ run. I admit that I’m a little bitter; Nightwing’s move to Chicago had rejuvenated the title, and I’m disappointed not to see the story of the Chicago Mask Killer resolved. I certainly can’t claim to know how Higgins feels about the decision, but if he’s upset, he’s not letting it show. Instead, he uses his final issue to create a highlight reel of his run, show us how it’s changed Nightwing, and ultimately, remind us why Dick Grayson is such an important, beloved character in the first place. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman 28, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Shelby: Serialized story-telling is a fickle mistress. There’s a lot of anguish to be had in waiting a month for the conclusion to a cliffhanger, sure, but it’s a sweet kind of anguish, especially when the story-telling is solid and the art is amazing. It can be frustrating, especially if you’re particularly impatient, but there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation as well. Unless, of course, you don’t get the next piece of the story as you were expecting; that’s the point when frustration can win out. Watch out, there be spoilers ahead.
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, 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.
Today, Drew and guest writer Gino Killiko are discussing Batman and Batgirl 21, originally released June 19th, 2013.
Drew: I have to admit, as a stage of grief, bargaining never made all that much sense to me — especially not as the third stage. I can accept that somebody might make an impassioned plea to whatever powers exist at the time of a loved one’s death, but I’m just not sure who people are bargaining with long after a loved one has died. It turns out, that is because the whole Kübler-Ross model that the “five stages of grief” are based on is actually adapted from the stages associated with an impending death, which kind of supports the notion that bargaining after the fact doesn’t necessarily make any sense. That might explain why Batman and Batgirl 21, which is meant to focus on the third stage of grief, doesn’t quite work. Continue reading