The Man of Steel 5 Lets Superman Define the Symbol

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Early in this issue, Superman catches a glimpse of a symbol on Rogol Zaar’s chest, and while he gets a good look at it, he can’t quite make out what it’s supposed to mean. The symbol is one that writer Brian Michael Bendis and his collaborators have been playing with from the very first pages of Man of Steel — a perfect circle with something interrupting that perfection. Bendis’ various collaborators have cast a number of different circles and spheres to play the role of this symbol: sometimes it’s a collapsing Krypton, or a quiet Earth, or the reflection of Rogol in Superman’s eye. My favorite circle actually appears in this issue, as Rogol’s eye peering into the opening of the bottled city of Kandor. Bendis has been teasing meaning in this shape for so long that when Superman finally decides he is interested in divining that meaning, the character and the reader are united in purpose. Continue reading

A Tainted Legacy in Captain America 701

by Michael DeLaney

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

Michael: Mark Waid is a self-professed devotee of DC Comics’ Legion of Superheroes — the team from the 31st Century inspired by Superman’s actions to be heroes themselves. It should be no surprise then that he has crafted a similar future built on the inspiring example of Captain America in Captain America 701. Continue reading

Hellboy – Krampusnacht: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Taylor Anderson

Hellboy Krampusnacht

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

The Christmas tree, where did that tradition come from? It sounds like the behavior of a drunk man. I can picture it now: ‘honey, why is there a…pine tree in our living room?’ “I like it! Tomorrow, we’re gonna…we’re gonna decorate it…for Jesus.”

Jim Gaffigan

Drew: Traditions are weird. Even if you understand the origins of holiday gift-giving or decorations or whatever, the reason you do it actually boils down to the fact that you always have, or your family always had. That is, the reason traditions are traditions is because they’re traditions. It’s not a super satisfying answer, especially when you’re questioning why we do these silly things in the first place, but the simple fact is that we tend to do things the way we’re used to doing them, even if we also think they’re silly. It takes some doing to break out of those habits, as the Krampus learns in Hellboy: Krampusnacht. Continue reading

Betty & Veronica 1

betty and veronica 1

Today, Patrick and Ryan M. are discussing Betty & Veronica 1, originally released July 20th, 2016.

“Whoever wins, we lose.”

Tagline, Alien Vs. Predator

Patrick: There’s something comforting about the premise of a horror movie mash-up. Like, what the hell else would you expect when you put Freddie and Jason in the same room? They’re gonna try to kill each other, duh. Same deal with the Alien and the Predator. They fight and die and it’s awesome. Until, inevitably, it isn’t. At some point, the kids are going to team up with Jason or a Predator is going to befriend a scientist or something dumb like that. As long as the monsters are true to themselves, any “Versus” scenario can be a ton of fun. Adam Hughes’ Betty & Veronica is a “Versus” story in everything but name, so any assessment of the first issue comes down to the question: does he stay true to the fundamental nature of his monsters? Depends on what you think that nature is. Continue reading

Harley Quinn 0

harley quinn 0

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Harley Quinn 0, originally released November 20th, 2013

Patrick: My buddy Andrew and I once went halfsies on a copy of the game Catherine. If you’ve never played it, the game is half puzzle game, half infidelity simulator. You’re barely even in control of the main character as he blushes his way through an affair with a blonde sex nymph. Those portions of the game when you’re sitting in the bar, trying to non-suspiciously excuse yourself to the bathroom so you can read the sexy tests your new lady is sending you are novel as shit. I don’t know that it was an engaging gameplay experience, but it was addictive and unique – an “experience” devoid of any qualifiers like “game” or “storytelling.” Harley Quinn 0 manages the same feat, simultaneously throwing out and embracing everything you’ve ever known about visual storytelling. The result is a manic experience. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 4

dr manhattan 4 B4W

Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Dr. Manhattan 4, originally released February 27th, 2013. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Shelby: How do you tell any kind of story about a man who sees all of  time at once? He knows his past, his future, and everything in between; how do you find a compelling narrative in the story of a man who knows his whole story? J. Michael Straczynski has tried to do that by exploiting Dr. Manhattan’s kooky relationship with time. “Doc Manhattan knows every possible future? FINE. I’ll WRITE every possible future!” JMS seemed to say. This title hasn’t been terrible (especially compared to the other monstrosities JMS had his hand in), but it hasn’t been great, either. At best, this book has been conceptually interesting, but has fallen short in execution. This issue is no different; JMS tries out something new that’s interesting, but ultimately the story doesn’t go much of anywhere. Continue reading

Best of 2012: Best Covers

best coversYou know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you can’t judge the cover on its own merit. Some covers are so excellent that they back all the drama, excitement and emotion of the whole issue into one succinct image. Sometimes they end up being their own surreal experience. And other times, we’re just exciting to see our favorite heroes kicking ass one more time. These are our top 12 most awesome, creative and graphic covers of 2012.

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Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 3

Alternating Currents: Before Watchmen - Dr. Manhattan 3, Michael and DrewToday, Michael and Drew are discussing Dr. Manhattan 3, originally released December 12th, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Michael: One of the themes of almost any time travel story is exponential chaos. Messing with the space time continuum can get out of control fast. The time-travel narrative can get similarly disordered as alternate worlds open and paradoxes proliferate. When the protagonist can exist in and explore these permutations, like Dr. Manhattan, drama gets complicated and the context needed to recognize a satisfactory ending gets fuzzy.  In this issue, “Ego Sum”, J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes try to gracefully execute a clunky, inelegant story solution to the reckless splitting of worlds that results in a nuclear holocaust. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 2

Today, Patrick and Michael Capristo are discussing Dr. Manhattan 2, originally released October 10, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: The first issue of Dr. Manhattan has sort of become Retcon Punch’s go-to example of something about which we can neither agree nor be civil. At its best, the issue was clever homage, setting up a daunting narrative structure with dazzling artwork. At its worst, the issue was reductive, inaccurate and repetitive. The centerpiece of our contention: Schrodinger’s cat. The thought experiment posits that an unobserved cat in a box is simultaneously dead and alive, and only when the cat is observed do the realities collapse into a single universe. Schrodinger came up with this puzzle partially to illustrate how silly the field of quantum mechanics is. Which isn’t to say that he didn’t buy into it, just that you live in a profoundly weird universe if a fact can be simultaneously true and not true. I’ve been thinking about it all evening, and “profoundly weird” is exactly how I want to describe Dr. Manhattan 2.
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Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 1

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Dr. Manhattan 1, originally released August 22nd, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Shelby: Dr. Manhattan is a tricky character to deal with. He is all powerful; he can control any matter in any way, can see all time, and knows how everything will happen. That’s difficult to even really comprehend as a reader, let alone to understand it enough to write about. Once you get over the hurdle of writing about an infinitely powerful being with seemingly no weaknesses, there’s the fact that you’re writing a prequel story that the readers already know. Dr. Manhattan gets the most detailed origin story in Watchmen, so how do you write more about a story that we already know without completely derailing the character? I will admit, I was doubtful J. Michael Straczynski would pull it off, solely based on my disappointment in Nite Owl so far. I was surprised and immensely pleased to find this title is very, very good.
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