Between the commercial success of a near-constant stream of Marvel Studios Avengers movies and the critical success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, there are impossible expectations for Man of Steel. Expectations like reigniting the public’s love for Superman; expectations like launching a blockbuster film franchise; expectations like being any good in its own right. Zach Snyder’s Superman slug-fest has a lot to accomplish. Does it achieve any of that? Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Drew: Like many comics fans, I was incredibly excited by the teaser trailer for this movie. In spite of the trailer’s own prominent reminder that Zach Snyder directed both Watchmen and 300, it felt like this movie got Superman. Indeed, the trailer trades in Snyder’s standard embarrassing music cues and slow-motion punches for meditative statements about Superman’s power as a symbol. Between story credits by Dark Knight Trilogy scribe David S. Goyer and director Christopher Nolan, I dared hope that Man of Steel might be to Superman what The Dark Knight films were to Batman: an operatic drama that understands the defining nature of the hero.
Marvel Studio’s follow-up to the uber-successful Avengers movie, Iron Man 3, came out this weekend to mixed reactions from critics and fans, but it cleaned up at the box office, certifying the longevity of the whole Avengers’ stable of films. The movie also serves a double roll — concluding the Iron Man series while kicking off Marvel’s Phase II. How well did it succeed in any of these capacities? Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Patrick: I had the pleasure of seeing this movie with my little brother, Jack — who until recently, had been writing about a title-a-week with us. He’s the fascinating case of someone who had never seen any of the Iron Man movies and also has not seen The Avengers. As a self-contained adventure, this worked amazingly well for her. I don’t know how the Marvel Studios guys do it, but they manage to make relatively faithful superhero movies that aren’t steeped in dense mythology. Walking out of that movie, Jack concluded that Tony’s superpower was “data management,” which sounds like it should be boring. But there are enough ultra-fast-talkin’ sequences and super-computer-assisting-crime-solving sequences to dramatize this super-collation of data in engaging and funny ways. Continue reading →
Zero month saw the launch of several new titles, including the fantasy-infused Sword of Sorcery. As soon as the issue was released, the return of Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld was overshadowed by controversy surrounding a scene of an attempted rape. Reactions ranged from outrage and disappointment to outrage and disappointment over said outrage and disappointment. The only thing that could really be said about the reactions is that everybody had one. Not to be left out of the dialogue, the Retcon Punchers have their own thoughts on the issue. Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Drew: The charge against this issue is largely lead by Chris Sims of Comic Alliance. Sims’ objection basically boils down to two key points: 1) that rape as an overused trope writers use to darken comics needlessly, and 2) that it’s particularly inappropriate in a kid-friendly title. This blogger does a pretty good job of rebutting Sims first point, so I’ll just add that while rape can be misused as a narrative bludgeon — as can death, love, war, hate, or pretty much anything else that makes stories compelling — it doesn’t mean it should be off-limits. Whether or not it was used inappropriately should be determined on a case-by-case basis, so its perceived overuse shouldn’t enter into the conversation at all. Continue reading →
At San Diego Comic Con this year, Vertigo made the surprising announcement that Neil Gaiman will be writing a new Sandman story arc, with Retcon Punch favorite J. H. Williams, III. Even though we don’t currently cover any Vertigo titles, Gaiman’s return to this game-changing, original, and incredibly unique title is definitely worthy of a discussion. What have been the fan reactions? What does DC’s current preponderance of prequels reflect of the current state of the industry? Are you incredibly excited for this dynamic artistic team-up? Retcon Punchers sound off: Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Shelby: I am stupid excited for a new Sandman story. When Patrick first started talking to me about working on this site, my response was, “DC Comics are great, when will we talk about Sandman?” The universe Gaiman created is unlike any other I have ever experienced, except maybe in other Gaiman books. He has a great way of blending multiple cultures’ mythologies; I never would have guessed stories featuring the Muses of the Greeks could exist next to stories of Odin and Thor, and that it would all work. What really intrigues me, though, is the comparison of fan reactions between this prequel (super positive) and the Before Watchman prequels (often negative).
Hey, here’s the unfortunate reality: The Dark Knight Rises is going to be forever linked to the shootings in Aurora, Colorado. Unless you saw a midnight show, your theatre-experience was affected by the actions of one 24-year old with some guns and a gas mask. You had police officers wandering in before all the major action sequences, you looked twice at everyone that walked in. What happened was terrible and we’re going to be hearing and reading and writing and talking about it for a long time. And while we’re not in the habit of covering current events, we absolutely have to talk about the new Batman movie. No one’s trying to be crass, no one’s trying to be dismissive; our discussion is going to be about the movie we all saw this weekend. Let’s try to keep it that way in the comments.
In October, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman series will be reintroducing the Joker to the New 52 continuity, reigniting one of the greatest rivalries in comics history. But what does it mean for a hero to have a nemesis? Are nemeses important to the identity of a superhero? Who are the best nemeses? Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Shelby: A nemesis is an important character in a comic book. It’s an opportunity for stories to explore the dark side of our heroes. Very often, the nemesis represents the “flip side of the coin” of the hero; they are what the hero would be without the sense of morality and justice. The nemesis tests the hero to find his limits, and tries to push the hero past them. Also, the nemesis is an easy trick to pull out of the bag when you’re stuck for a plot.
With the release of the Zero Issues in September, DC is publishing origin stories for all of their current New 52 series. (Not so fast, JLI). They will also be introducing 4 new series by this same method. What are your thoughts on the new books? Are you interested in getting more origins on stories that just started over a year ago? With the sheer number of events and crossovers since the relaunch, is this just another easy cash grab or a meaningful addition to universe?
Peter: It is no secret that I love backstory and history. With the announcement of #0 issues that coincide with the 1 year anniversary of the New 52, I was pretty stoked. For me, these #0 issues, along with a ‘Third Wave’ with 3 interesting titles, there is probably NO WAY this could go bad. But then again, after some thinking there are DEFINITELY ways it could, and that’s what worries me.
We’ve all this conversation before: “If you could have any one super power, what would it be?” That’s a fun exercise in an of itself, but the answers too frequently default to flight and/or invisibility. Given the assets and liabilities of the various superpower sources in the DC Universe (magic, speed force, being a God, whatever), which one is the most personally appealing to you? Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Patrick: I love Batman. I love all the Bat-allies. But I could never ever ever be a Gotham City gadget-based hero for one reason: Batman seems like a terrible boss. He may keep you well-funded and impeccably trained, but the man’s expectations are essentially psychotic. Can you imagine fighting crime all night and then still having to go and help him out of a jam from time to time? Plus, you have to keep up a secret identity, and all without the aid of proper staff. Batman only has Lucius and Alfred on payroll – that’s not a proper support staff. Continue reading →
Following Co-publisher Dan Didio’s announcement that a formerly straight DC character was going to be reintroduced as gay, the comics world has been abuzz with guesses as to just who this character might be. While Didio’s comments have ruled out many characters that have already been introduced, that hasn’t stopped folks from expressing who they’d like that character to be. Today, the Retcon Punchers weigh in with their favorite — not necessarily most likely — guesses. Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Drew: I’ve found many occasions to bring this up on this site, but I really think Jason Todd would make a lot of sense as a gay character. In fact, I think his story becomes more compelling if he is gay. Think about it: he’s this incredible exaggeration of the classic younger sibling of an overachiever; he’s always made to feel guilty about every little thing he does differently from the way Dick did things. It’s not a huge leap to think that he may have felt that pressure in his personal life, staying closeted for fear of the way his father (figure) might react. Gay readers may find a great deal to relate to in Jason’s conflict with Bruce, who fundamentally can’t accept him for hard-lined moral reasons (not that I’m comparing homosexuality to murder). Continue reading →
In 2008, Marvel Studios introduced Tony Stark to the big screen in “Iron Man.” 4 years, one sequel, and new Thor and Captain America franchises later, we are a week away from “The Avengers.” This is the first time a studio has created separate movies for each team member, leading into a full-fledged, comic book team movie. Will it work? More important, could it be done for a DC team? What would it take for a full-fledged Justice League movie? Retcon Punchers sound off. Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Patrick: Oh, it’ll work. I don’t think there’s a doubt in anyone’s mind that The Avengers is going to work. It’s release geniusly coincides with the weekend of Free Comic Book Day, so fans of the movie may find themselves wandering into their local comic shop. Once inside, they’ll inevitably stumble on Marvel’s big cross-over series: Avengers vs. X-men. We laugh at the corporate buzz-word “synergy,” but this is some impressive fucking synergy.