She-Hulk 5

Alternating Currents: She-Hulk 5, Drew and MichaelToday, Drew and guest writer Michael are discussing She-Hulk 5, originally released June 11th, 2014. 

slim-bannerThe film went from a Japanese Saturday matinee horror flick to more of a Hitchcock, the less-you-see-the-more-you-get thriller.

Stephen Spielberg on Jaws

Drew: I don’t care about authorial intent. It seems totally logical to me — I can’t presume to know what an author’s intent was, so I don’t know why I would bother caring about it — but I often find myself confronted by people who don’t see it that way. The author clearly didn’t intend that, so why am I talking about it? In those instances, I like to point them to the production of Jaws — specifically, the way the malfunctioning Shark puppet affected Spielberg’s choices. His intent was to show the shark a bunch, but circumstances forced him to reserve those shots for key moments, relying more on suspense than jump-out-of-your-seat moments. It makes for a compelling viewing experience, but one that’s virtually unrelated to anyone’s intent. That is, an analysis focusing on the authorial intent of Jaws would dismiss a key element of the final product as if it were a flubbed line, or a member of the crew in frame, some unaccounted-for artifact of the filming process. It would be easy to similarly dismiss a guest artist as a similar artifact of comic books, a decision borne more out of necessity than of creative mojo, but that would ignore the effect those changes have on the reading experience, which — as is the case in She-Hulk 5 — can be quite profound.

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She-Hulk 3

she-hulk 3Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing She-Hulk 3, originally released April 2nd, 2014. 

slim-bannerSpencer: She-Hulk is a superhero lawyer. What does that mean? Well, she’s a superhero who is also a lawyer, but that’s obvious. Does it mean she takes on cases involving superpowered individuals? No doubt they’re a huge part of her clientele, but I think there’s more to it. Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk 3 finally gives us a chance to see Jennifer Walters, attorney-at-law, in action, and she’s every bit as great at the job as we’ve been told. What stood out to me the most, though — and what truly makes her a “superhero lawyer” in my eyes — is that she tackles the case with the same kind of enthusiasm and dedication that she devotes to fighting crime. Continue reading

She-Hulk 1

she-hulk 1Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing She-Hulk 1, originally released February 12th, 2014. 

slim-bannerThere’s figures on this. 70% of what people react to is the look; 20% is how you sound; and only 10% is what you say.

Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill

Patrick: Drew recently brought a Mutilversity article on comic book criticism to my attention. Interestingly, they posted another article that same day on the diminishing role of artists in comics — effectively arguing that we know series by their writers and not by their artists, and isn’t that fucked up? I think there’s room to argue that serialized storytelling in any format is going to be a writer’s medium (just look at how much more writer-driven TV is than the movies, which are much more director-driven). Regardless, the fact remains that there’s a problem in comics — and comic criticism — with focusing too heavily on the words that are written on the page. At one point in this issue, Jennifer Walters — a Hulk that spends very little of her time smashing — asserts that “90% of lawyering is conversation.” That’s an interesting inversion of the pearl of wisdom Eddie Izzard drops in the bit above, but that also might explain why we don’t have the most exciting piece of fiction in our hands. Continue reading

FF 16

ff 16

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.

Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.

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FF 12

Alternating Currents: FF 12, Shelby and Drew

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing FF 12, originally released September 25th, 2013.

Shelby: Destiny takes on a whole new meaning in ComicBookLand. To us regular folk, destiny is the idea that the natural order of the universe has predetermined our future. In comic books, it generally means a version of yourself from the future has arrived who knows what happens next because they’ve already lived it. It makes it a lot harder to argue your future is your own when faced with someone who knows what you’re going to do next, and the consequences of those actions. Unless, of course, you’re in Matt Fraction’s FF; no matter how many intellects from the future drop by, you never actually know what will happen next.

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FF 11

FF 11

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing FF 11, originally released August 28th, 2013.

Patrick: I don’t care how many times we say it around here — it bears repeating: comics are weird. Every time I think I get a handle on the time travel, or space travel, or clones, or moloids or whatever, I discover that the well of weird is deeper than I could ever imagine. Enter: The Impossible Man. Who’s The Impossible Man? Just a shapeshifting alien with nearly unlimited power and a comprehensive knowledge of (and fascination with) Earth popular culture. I did a little rudimentary research, just to familiarize myself with the character, and my favorite piece of trivia about The Impossible Man is that he once talked Galactus out of eating Earth, and then celebrated by going to the Marvel offices and demanding that Stan Lee give him is own solo series. It is in that spirit that FF 11 introduces his son.

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FF 10

ff 10Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing FF 10, originally released July 31st, 2013.

“I’ve written myself into my own script.”

“That’s kinda weird, huh?”

“It’s self-indulgent! It’s narcissistic! It’s solipsistic! It’s pathetic! I’m pathetic and I’m fat and pathetic!”

Nick Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman, Adaptation

Patrick: Adaptation is the best narrative I’ve ever encountered that directly confronts the challenges of portraying beauty abstractly. The screenplay works incredibly hard to achieve this, constantly doubling down on both its own cleverness and its disdain for said cleverness. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman does this my making himself a character in his own movie about adapting the book he’s been hired to adapt. If that sentence seemed to loop back on itself — and consequently, not make any sense — that’s because the film really needs to be experienced to be understood. Matt Fraction inserts himself, artist Mike Allred and editor Tom Brevoort into this issue of FF, but the lessons he offers have more to do with history than with expression. Plus, he makes himself say “ginchy,” like he’s Velma from Scooby-Doo, so you know it’s a home run.

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FF 9

FF 9

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing FF 9, originally released July 17th, 2013.

Patrick: We recently decided to ax our coverage of the FF‘s sister series, Fantastic Four. Partially, we did this because Reed Richards is an insufferable asshole, but the series also suffered from its own apparent non-importance. The idea of the Fantastic Four’s totally episodic adventures through time and space sounded like an awful lot of fun, but they started to feel trivial pretty quickly. When you account for the Magic School Bus level of coincidence involved in some of their stories (“hey look kids, it’s Julius Cesar!”), it became clear that the story wasn’t for us. Or was it? FF’s stories have been pretty insubstantial too, but there’s something about the cast and the sense of humor we just liked more. With this issue, Fraction reveals that none of his stories have been irrelevant, and all of these threads are woven together into a single tapestry, telling personal, interested and interesting stories about the people touched by the Fantastic Four. Plus: POOL PARTY!

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Fearless Defenders 6

fearless defenders 6

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Fearless Defenders 6, originally released July 10th, 2013.

Patrick: Hey guys: GENDER IN COMICS! If there’s one thing we get whipped into a frenzy about on a fairly regular basis over here at Retcon Punch, it’s the portrayal of women in superhero comics. And with good cause: not only is there a decades-long tradition of turning female characters into disposable subjects of the leers and catcalls of male readers, but the inequity between male and female characters continues to this day. When DC relaunched it’s line two years ago, the editors found a home for 4 different past male-Robins, but couldn’t be bothered to include Stephanie Brown in their ranks. Why? The same can be said about Earth’s Green Lanterns: Guy, John, Kyle and Hal were all zipping around the universe, but whither Jade? And even a series like Fearless Defenders, which in 6 issues has only featured one named male character, seems to be plagued with gender problems: occasionally-cheesecakey art; a hysterical, flakey lead; and now the ubiquitous woman in a refrigerator. But it is possible that we put too much responsibility on these all-women series to be paragons of gender equality?
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Fantastic Four 9/FF 8

fantastic four 9 ff 8Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing Fantastic Four 9 and FF 8, originally released June 19th, 2013 and June 26th, 2013, respectively.

Shelby: Everyone makes mistakes. There’s no way around it. Personally, I think it’s a better judge of character to see how a person deals with their mistakes, and less so that the mistakes were made in the first place. It’s important to admit when you’ve messed up and take responsibility fr your actions, but the gesture rings a little hollow when you don’t actually expect to be held responsible. Or if you can just go back in time and undo what you did: how will you learn from a mistake if you can just erase it? Moreover, if you aren’t going to be held responsible for what you did, and you can’t undo it no matter how badly you may want to, can you really forgive yourself?
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