Reverence Meets Irreverence in Bug! The Adventures of Forager 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Bug! The Adventures of Forager 4

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Dense mythologies are both the greatest strength and weakness of modern comics. We could spend ages parsing out how the major companies have approached those mythologies in recent years, but all of those broader approaches are largely irrelevant when talking about Bug! The Adventures of Forager, which continues to march to the beat of its own drum. It’s attitude is deeply reverent of Jack Kirby’s contributions to the DC mythos, systematically touching on each forgotten storyline from his time there, while somehow also taking a completely irreverent “don’t sweat the small stuff” approach to the material. Completist Kirby fans will recognize every situation Forager encounters, but newcomers (like me) are left largely in the shoes of Forager, who mostly sees all of this stuff as kooky weirdness. It’s a balance that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does, somehow knitting all of this kooky weirdness into the dense mythology it always was. Continue reading

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A Revealing Interruption in Batman 31

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s that part in The Princess Bride where the narrator announces the King died in the night and Buttercup was married to Prince Humperdink the next day. It’s a jarring bit of information, totally incongruous with the story we’ve come to expect, but the more impressive feat of storytelling is Fred Savage’s interruption a few seconds later. Savage’s character cuts in on Humperdink’s “My father’s final words were…” with an impetuous “hold it, hold it!” The effect his immediate: the audience is reminded why we’re watching this story in the first place. “Trust me,” the film implies “even if you’re momentarily upset, you’re going to have fun in the end.” Tom King and Mikel Janín’s Batman 31 pulls off a similar interruption, emphasizing the riddle (or is it the joke?) at the heart of this story arc: why is Bruce telling Selina about the War of Jokes and Riddles? Continue reading

Angelic 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Spencer: Simon Spurrier may just be the best world builder working in comics today. We here at Retcon Punch are continually impressed by Spurrier’s ability to birth creative new world after creative new world, each with its own rules, vernacular, and aesthetic (thanks to the talented artists he’s enlisted), each feeling far vaster than the stories Spurrier decides to tell in them, each reflecting systematic problems, abuses, and issues we face here in the real world. Following on the heels of The Spire and Godshaper, Angelic finds Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard using a world of sentient animals and oppressive lore to tell a story about the dangers of blind faith. Continue reading

A Widescreen World in Descender 24

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The action of Descender 24 takes place on a new world to the series, a small, fringe planetoid known as Woch. And while the issue gives writer Jeff Lemire a chance to sharpen his focus a bit to just Driller (and eventually to reintroduce a bit-player who will seemingly become an important villain in the future), my favorite part of this issue is just getting to see Dustin Nguyen bring life to yet another new world, one with landscapes and features unlike any we’ve seen before. It’s no wonder that he uses so many double-page spreads this month — it’s the only way to fit that much wonder onto the page. Continue reading

Secret Weapons 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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“There. There it is: too much iron in your blood…”

Magneto, X2

Patrick: Magneto controls magnetic fields. It’s an objectively cool super power, impossibly useful in every situation (and particularly useful against any otherwise unkillable enemy). In X2, Magneto uses this power rip microscopic particles of iron out of his prison guard’s bloodstream. He manipulates the magnetic fields around the resultant bloody cloud until he’s in control of free-flying bullets and hovering platforms. It’s an absurd demonstration of Magneto’s powers. There’s a lot to criticize in the logic of that scene, but it’s hard to fault the giddy enthusiasm. Writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín show a similar enthusiasm for their characters’ powers. The difference is that they start from a ridiculous premise and work their way to exciting applications.

That’d be reason enough to love the conclusion of Secret Weapons, but Heisserer, Allén and Martín hold the comic book medium in the same high esteem as the goofy powers their characters posses. Just as Avi, Nikki and Owen apply their simple skills in ingenious ways, so too does the creative team master the page with mindblowingly intuitive art. Continue reading

Empathy Overpowered by Patriarchal Vengeance in Green Lanterns 31

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz travel ten billion years into the past are integrated into the foundational Green Lantern myth. They are “important” in every conceivable sense of the word. And while they achieve that import through battle and victory and all the usual superhero hullabaloo, it’s Jessica Cruz’ skills coping with overwhelming emotions and mental illness that earn them a place in the Green Lantern history books… or, it would if her empathy weren’t so easily overwritten by a history that refuses to change. Continue reading

A Universe Made More Mysterious in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 10

By Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Anyone who knows anything about science fiction writing knows that world-building is key to creating a good story. Without an established universe full of wonder and mystery even the best plots will fall flat. All-New Guardians of the Galaxy has been tiptoeing along this line ever since its relaunch ten issues back, but has survived based on the inherent likability of its characters. In issue 10, however, Gerry Duggan finally begins to unveil mysteries of the universe and the result is an entertaining and engrossing issue. Continue reading

Ace Reporter Lois Lane Returns in Superman 31

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

So much of Rebirth-ed Superman has been focused on Clark and Lois as parents. These familial dynamics are an interesting lens through which to view such storied characters, but doing so has largely left Lois cast in a passive role. The cover of Superman 31 promises fisticuffs between the Man of Steel and Deathstroke, but the issue is really all about Lois Lane, Ace Reporter, and how sweet it is to have this version of Lois back. Continue reading

A Glimpse Outside Non-Compliance in Bitch Planet Triple Feature 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Bitch Planet Triple Feature 4

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Bitch Planet has always been about non-compliance, about women refusing to be denied their humanity in a system designed to do exactly that. For me, the real teeth of its social commentary lies in just how modest the infractions — and how strict the boundaries of compliance — are. These characters by and large are asking nothing more than to look the way the look, live the way they live, and love the way they love, and are imprisoned for having the audacity to do so. The “logic” of the fathers suggests that their lives would be so much better if they just chose to comply, though we’ve seen relatively little of what life is like for compliant citizens. Bitch Planet: Triple Feature 4 offers a hint at the larger world away from the penal system, following people who otherwise live within the strict boundaries of their world, but it sure doesn’t seem like life is any better for their compliance. Continue reading

Giving Dylan a Life Worth Fighting For in Kill Or Be Killed 12

By Drew Baumgartner

Kill or be Killed 12

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It was clear enough that Dylan’s method for first round of killings wasn’t sustainable. We understand that in a practical sense — his sloppiness had landed him in brushes with both the Russian Mob and the NYPD, both of which seemed to be edging ever closer to figuring out who was behind these attacks — but I also mean it terms of Dylan’s psyche: the more his life was mired in guilt and paranoia, the less it seemed like he would risk so much to protect it. Or, perhaps more importantly, the less we could relate to his desire to protect it. This series regularly places Dyaln at the edge of relatability, but creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are smart to pull Dylan back a bit in this issue, renewing his lease on life before plunging him headlong into a one-man war against the Russian Mob. Continue reading