Retcon Punch is on Summer Hours, which means we’re going to be writing fewer in-depth pieces for the month of August. But we’re addicts at this point, so we need a place for our thoughts on all those comics we can’t stop reading. Some comics fall neatly in the the categories “DC” or “Secret Wars” — these comics don’t! Today, we’re discussing Guardians Team-Up 10, Silk 6, and The Infinite Loop 5.
Guardians Team-Up 10
Spencer: One of my favorite moments in Retcon Punch history is the lively debate we had in the comments of this article about the “proper” way to write Deadpool. Is he a wacky joke machine, or a tragic figure whose humor masks his pain? While Duggan’s interpretation would eventually evolve into the latter, Tim Seeley’s take on good ol’ Wade Wilson in Guardians Team-Up 10 clearly falls in the first category, to the point where even Wade’s supposedly deep, personal reason for instigating the issue’s entire plot boils down to sheer boredom. This is Deadpool at his zaniest, which at times can almost be exhausting, but more than enough jokes land to make this story thoroughly entertaining. Artist Mike Norton is a fantastic asset in this regard — he has a phenomenal grasp on Deadpool’s body language, and renders the issue in such detail that it breathes fresh life into even the most obvious of gags.
I mean, seriously, how long must it have taken Norton to draw all those pouches?! This joke is all the funnier because Norton gives it his all.
Another thing I appreciate about this story is how well Seeley balances his two leads. While the spotlight is squarely on Deadpool — which Seeley lampshades by having Wade break the fourth wall and decide to use this crossover with a more popular character to boost his own sales — Rocket Raccoon still gets several moments to shine, and the details of the actual plot reference the backstories of both characters in equal measure. While we’ll probably never see Macho Gomez again, his reappearance still effects both characters and could, conceivably, even be referenced outside this issue, and even just that tiny bit of relevance provides enough backbone to keep this story from collapsing under the weight of its own wackiness. That’s some smart comedy writing.
Spencer: Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee run Cindy Moon through an emotional gamut in Silk 6. This entire series has found Cindy facing the harsh realities of life outside her bunker, but this issue piles the worst of those traumas on one after another — and while nearly being dissected is, of course, absolutely horrible, the greatest blow for Cindy is having information about her family dangled in her face, only to be cruelly snatched away. Silk explodes in rage before deflating, reaching an absolutely devastating emotional low that, nevertheless, is essential to her emotional growth.
This moment is the culmination of six issues of development. We’ve seen Cindy struggle to adapt to a world that left her behind, struggle with anxiety, and throw herself into her work in order to recapture the sense of control she felt in her bunker, but through it all she’s mostly suffered in silence, hiding or ignoring her emotions. Now, though, Cindy finally acknowledges that, while she’s happy she’s finally free, she’s having trouble adjusting to that freedom and the pain it can bring. The issue ends with Cindy calling the therapist Mr. Fantastic recommended her, a move that will no doubt benefit her, but that she probably would never have taken if she hadn’t hit rock bottom. Silk does a lot well — from Lee’s magnificent facial expressions and fight scenes to Thompson’s intriguing overarching plot about Cindy’s family — but successfully framing its first arc around a subtle examining of its protagonist’s mental health is probably its most impressive feat of all.
The Infinite Loop 5
Patrick: This is a series that’s never been shy about playing with its thematic cards face up on the table, but issue 5 explores the condition of being unable to be anything but thematically transparent. When Teddy and Ulysses get to the storage facility, they’re greeted by a child whose gender literally changes before their eyes. Oh, yeah, there’s also a dinosaur there, but Ulysses can’t seem to get past this genderqueer kid. Again, this isn’t subtle stuff we’re dealing with here — the kid’s name is Andromeda, for crying out loud — but I appreciate writer Pierrick Colinet embracing this kind of material with blunt force precisely because gender signifiers and gender identity are just as personal as sexual identity but a million times more outward-facing. This kinda goes back to the idea of closets that Michael and I brought up in our discussion of issue 3 — while homosexuals only have to present themselves as “other” around the topics of sex and relationships, non-cis-gendered people present as “other” constantly. We are culturally obsessed with defining and presenting gender, to the point of insensitivity toward anyone that doesn’t immediately identify — and then match our vision of — one gender or the other. Andromeda may be a sci-fi / supernatural manifestation of genderqueering, but her frustration at having to explain and de-marginalize herself is achingly grounded in reality. Plus, I just love seeing that dope Ulysses getting straight-up schooled.
Of course this isn’t some kind of oppression pissing contest. Colinet and artist Elsa Charretier start to explore the idea that all socially progressive movements are interconnected when Teddy and Ulysses discover backups of other erased anomalies and they turn out to be social rights champions from across the globe and across time. The message — and again, this is a message that can’t afford to be subtle — is that thee fight for equal rights and equal treatment is no unique to any one group in any one time, but a constant struggle fought over and over again, with ever-moving goal posts, the titular Infinite Loop.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?