Belfry

belfry-1

Today, Taylor and Michael are discussing Belfry, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: One of my favorite bits of trivia about the very first Alien movie is that the titular monster doesn’t appear in its full form until an hour into the movie. Even after this first appearance, the alien is on screen for less than four minutes total. This trivia caught me by surprise when I first heard it. After all, the alien scared the hell out of me and has become a symbol of sci-fi horror. But the dread the xenomorph inspires is precisely because of how unseen it is. Not knowing where, or exactly what a xenomorph is, is exactly why it’s so terrifying. These thoughts on Alien and what makes a good horror story were in my mind after reading Gabriel Hardman’s  Belfry both because of its triumphs and in shortcomings. Continue reading

Captain America: Steve Rogers 12

Alternating Currents: Captain America: Steve Rogers 12, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Steve Rogers: Captain America 12, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: To say that Captain America: Steve Rogers 1 rocked the comics world would be a profound understatement. It caused an uproar unlike any I’ve seen in my time writing on comics, and it continues to be a point of controversy nine months later. It set the tone for a Captain America story unlike any we’ve seen before, built upon one huge, jaw-dropping twist. The downside of kicking off a series with a twist that large is that it’s hard to match. Writer Nick Spencer has struggled admirably in this regard — and may have actually topped himself in Civil War II: The Oath — but a twist that required the rewriting of reality as we know it is a nigh-unreachable bar. Case in point: this issue’s return of Elisa Sinclair. Continue reading

The Wild Storm 1

wild-storm-1

Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing The Wild Storm 1, originally released February 15th, 2017.

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.

Dean Jackson

Ryan D: Transformation stands as a long-enduring fascination for us, as humans. Sometimes, this includes our history with shapeshifting, which goes back to the oldest discovered forms of shamanism, or enduring texts like The Epic of Gilgamesh or The Iliad. The lore of werewolves alone originated way back to 22 A.D. Transformation seems to be ingrained in our collective unconscious, with the superhero genre and comic books to be a very receptive medium for the trope. What surprises me, however, is when the transformation hurts. I remember playing The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and seeing Link put on a transformative mask for the first time, and then being aghast as the little hero screamed in pain as he changed into a Deku Scrub. Another example: the scene in An American Werewolf in London when the protagonist howls in agony as he becomes lupine. The Wild Storm 1 brings to the pages many transformations for its characters, but is also a transformation unto itself — of an imprint and universe left in chrysalis form for six years and being born again. How well, then, have Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt coped with the growing pains with this first issue? Continue reading

Daredevil 17

daredevil-17

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 17, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Our mission statement here at Retcon Punch has always been to foster thoughtful discussions about comic books, but there’s another idea that’s always factored heavily into our work as well: everyone’s unique perspective contributes heavily to their interpretation of any given book. It’s an idea that kept popping into my head as I read Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla’s Daredevil 17, because my feelings about this issue are heavily influenced by my feelings about Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s previous run with the character. I can only imagine that this story reads far differently to anyone without that attachment. Continue reading

Batwoman Rebirth 1

batwoman-rebirth-1

Today, Mark and Ryan M. are discussing Batwoman Rebirth 1, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: One of the benefits of comic books as a visually-driven medium is that sometimes fantastic art can help make up for an otherwise competent but unremarkable issue. Such is the case with Steve Epting and Jeromy Cox’s work on Batwoman Rebirth 1, whose art uses the opportunity of Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV’s Kate Kane history lesson to deliver page after page of remarkable, poster-worthy splash pages. Continue reading

Mighty Thor 16

mighty-thor-16

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Mighty Thor 16, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: As our current president is learning on the job, it’s hard to be a good leader. On one hand, you have to appease the electorate who voted you in and gave you your power in the first place. On the other, you also have to work with fellow politicians, some of whom hate you, to get your legislation across the table. It’s a difficult job and some are more suited to the task than others. And while the gods may deal with things on a grander scale, this doesn’t mean they are by any means exempt from these same problems. After all, being the leader of entire worlds, as opposed to just one nation, isn’t an easy task, as Mighty Thor 16 assures us. Continue reading

Sex Criminals 16

sex-criminals-16Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 16, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarksy’s Sex Criminals plays with some very big, very difficult ideas. The thematic engine of this series spits out hard questions about identity, sexuality, morality and mental health, but it runs on moment-to-moment action. I’m talking about “action” in the basest sense — Jon and Suzie may have the power to stop time and rob banks, but no one is tuning in for that spectacle. I mean “action” like how we follow one statement from the speaker to its audience, tracking the psychological cause and effect in every second of the interaction. That’s what allows Fraction and Zdarksy to find the drama in Jon repeating “I don’t know how to do this.” His is a prison of inaction, of apathy. In highlighting the action that doesn’t really seem like action, Fraction and Zdarsky drastically alter the speed and intimacy of the story they’re telling. Continue reading

Super Sons 1

super-sons-1

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Super Sons 1, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: “What a delight!” I found myself saying after reading Pete Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez’s Super Sons 1. Super Sons has arguably been one of the most anticipated Rebirth books ever since Jim Lee threw in Damian Wayne and Jon Kent on that teaser poster that your comic book shop gave you back in June. Tomasi and Superman co-writer Patrick Gleason gave us a taste of what to expect from this series a few months ago, and Super Sons 1 carries on that joyful vibe without stumbling.

Continue reading

The Ultimates 2 4

ultimates-2-4

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Ultimates 2 4, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible. […]

Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. […]

Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.

Aristotle, “Rhetoric”

Drew: I’ve never studied philosophy, or even public speaking, but even I’ve heard of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, the three modes of persuasion Aristotle describes in the excerpts above. Obviously, “heard of” is a pretty far cry from understanding, but to my lay mind, Logos — the mode that relies on logic — is often held up as the purest form of persuasion, as it hinges on facts rather than our emotions or faith in whoever is making the argument. But, of course, it’s difficult to truly ignore the impact of Ethos and Pathos — we’re emotional, social beings — so it’s possible for something to feel like Logos when, in fact, it isn’t (a phenomenon we call “truthiness”). Moreover, dubious Logos may shore up its logicalness by being distractingly lacking in Ethos and Pathos (a phenomenon we might call “fuck your feelings”). This is all very messy, and is threatening to turn into an essay on political discourse, but I brought it up to address the appeals characters make to one another in Ultimates 2 4 — all modes are on display, including a “logical” argument built on such shaky ground that its arguer feels compelled to call itself “Logos.” Continue reading

East of West 31

east-of-west-31Today, Patrick and Ryan D. are discussing East of West 31, originally released February 8th, 2017. As always this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: In our write-up of East of West 16, over two years ago, Drew made the observation that this series “is no fun, but it might be important.” I have long considered “no fun” to be one of the more damning criticisms of this series. For all of its interesting, impactful ideas and harsh truths about human nature and the corrupting influences of power, greed and faith, East of West seldom has an enjoyable narrative to buoy its grim headiness. I now believe this to be the point. With pages and pages of static boardroom scenes, we are meant to feel the excruciatingly dull banality of evil. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Nick Dragotta only allow their creation to be truly exciting when the good guys actively resist the powers oppressing them. Continue reading