Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Gotham Academy Annual 1, originally released August 31st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: The first few arcs of Gotham Academy were very clearly telling a story about Olive Silverlocke. That’s not to say that the rest of the cast (especially Maps) didn’t have personality or important roles, just that they were very much supporting characters to Olive’s story. That’s what made the transition to the “Yearbook” storyline so jarring to me; without warning, what had been one long story focused on Olive suddenly shifted to a series of short stories starring an ensemble cast. I love Gotham Academy‘s cast and enjoyed quite a few of “Yearbook’s” tales, but for my money, Gotham Academy Annual 1 is the first time the supporting characters have felt like they could support a story on their own. Brenden Fletcher and returning co-writer/creator Becky Cloonan achieve this by first highlighting how the Detective Club falls apart without Olive’s leadership, and then by bringing them together to achieve victory on their own. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Supergirl Rebirth 1, originally released August 17th, 2016.
Spencer: Ever since the character was reintroduced after Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC has had a hard time figuring out just what, exactly, to do with Supergirl. Remember the time she was an angel, or a blob of protoplasm, or a Red Lantern, or Darkseid’s minion, or simply an obnoxious brat in a belly shirt? Supergirl Rebirth 1 finds Steve Orlando and Emanuela Lupacchino soft-rebooting Supergirl once again, and while they take some obvious inspiration from her current television series, they thankfully seem to be cherry-picking the show’s best qualities, particularly Supergirl’s ability to empathize with and inspire others. Unlike some of the other directions I mentioned, this take on Supergirl doesn’t feel like a gimmick or a phase, but a genuine attempt to give her a place in the DC Universe all her own, while still honoring the Superman mythos. Only time will tell if this is the take that sticks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Orlando’s Supergirl catch on fast. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Shane are discussing Superman 4, originally released August 3rd, 2016.
Mark: Ever since they started teaming up, Batman has been the yin to Superman’s yang. And after 5 years of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason tackling the Batman/Damian dynamic, it’s an interesting exercise to watch them explore the similar-yet-not-at-all-the-same dynamic of Superman and his son Jon (aka Superboy). Jon is the anti-Damian; reluctant to use his powers, he has no problem keeping his nose clean and following the rules. An eager to learn Jon has provided Superman the perfect opportunity to reiterate his ethos, and by extension allowed Tomasi and Gleason to hammer home their operating thesis: Superman isn’t super because of his powers, he’s super because of the strength of his character. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Wonder Woman 2, originally released July 13, 2016
Michael: Wonder Woman was a unique entry of The New 52 and the same can be said of the Wonder Woman of DC Rebirth. After a “bad breakup” Greg Rucka returns to DC fueled by his passion for everyone’s favorite Amazon. In a lot of ways, Rucka is having his cake and eating it too. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing The Flash Rebirth 1, originally released June 8th, 2015.
Spencer: What, exactly, is the purpose of these “Rebirth” one-shot issues? The most successful installments have managed to successfully introduce new status quos while also launching head-first into the series’ first stories, but other one-shots have been a bit too preoccupied with untangling complicated knots of continuity to do much else. Interestingly enough, The Flash Rebirth 1 falls squarely into the middle of that spectrum. While the issue does give us a good look at Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s take on Barry Allen, it also spends a lot of time dealing with other stories that may or may not be related to upcoming issues of The Flash. Continue reading →
Today, Shane and Michael are discussing Superman Rebirth 1, originally released June 1st, 2015.
Shane: It can be incredibly difficult to lose a hero. This year has seen a lot of notable role models pass — David Bowie, Prince, Mohammed Ali, and others. To be entirely honest, though? I know that they meant a lot to a lot of people — many close friends were crushed with Bowie’s passing, as an example — but although I appreciate them all, they weren’t as influential to my own life. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of any real-life famous figure who notably inspired me…but Superman? He was my hero. Reading his adventures during my formative years genuinely helped impart a true sense of right and wrong, to try to not just take the easy route, to genuinely do better and make a difference if possible. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman: Rebirth 1, originally released June 1st, 2016.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Drew: There’s plenty of reasons to believe Freud never said such a thing, but whatever its origin, this quote always helps me keep perspective when attempting to parse the symbolism in a work of art. The last thing I want is to sound like Fred Armesin’s exaggerated (and nonsensical) lyrical analyses, so it always makes me nervous when I find my attention drawn to symbols within a comic. Even with that reticence, though, I couldn’t ignore the deeply symbolic nature of Scott Snyder and Tom King’s Batman: Rebirth, even if I’m not quite sure what all of the symbols mean. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Batman 52 originally released May 11th, 2016.
Mark: I have exactly zero interest DC’s upcoming animated adaptation of The Killing Joke. You will never be able to convince me that there is a version of Batman that needs to be R-rated. I don’t object inherently to the idea of a difficult Batman, I think there’s a place for one-off stories like The Killing Joke or Arkham Asylum, but to my mind these are mere diversions, thought exercises meant to explore the darker facets of the character. But while sometimes interesting, I don’t think they should even be lionized as important to the character. The best ones, including Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, are more a commentary on comics in general than they are everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader. You don’t really need any more evidence that holding The Dark Knight Returns and its ilk up as the “cool” version of Batman is a damaging exercise than Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Commentators and critics have already done a thorough job dissecting that movie’s many failings so I’ll refrain from doing so here, but I will add that even though Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman was praised by even some of its harshest critics, it’s not a portrayal of Batman I particularly enjoyed. Occasionally fun to look at? Sure. But like pretty much every other aspect of the movie, this is a Batman completely devoid of joy. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman/Superman 32, originally released May 4th, 2016.
Spencer: I’m a sucker for fight scenes. When I was younger, my top priority for any piece of media I checked out was “lots and lots of fighting,” as my voracious consumption of Dragonball Z in middle and high school can attest to. I still have a soft spot for this kind of action — and I look forward to lots of lovingly, intricately choreographed fight scenes when I finally get to see Captain America: Civil War on Friday — but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that action without any sort of substance supporting it is just hollow. While the “Final Days of Superman” storyline has plenty of substance to it, little of it makes its way into Batman/Superman 32. This issue has tons of action, but little of it means anything. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman 51, originally released April 27th, 2016.
Drew: Nostalgia is a complicated force in superhero comics. On the one hand, a 75-year history is a unique and powerful tool, one that can be mined to celebrate past achievements and reward loyal readers; on the other hand, an audience’s fondness for that history may be exploited, used in lieu of actual quality to assure sales of a given title. These ends may not be mutually exclusive, but parsing the value of nostalgia becomes even more complicated when we consider our own relationship to the material. I don’t bring this up to spark a discussion of critical theory and the fallacy of objectivity (though that’s a conversation I’m always willing to have), but to acknowledge just how important Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run has been to me, personally, and to Retcon Punch as a website. Continue reading →