Swamp Thing 40

swamp thing 40

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 40, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Drew: I’ve always been frustrated by endings. Not necessarily because I want the story to continue, and not even because they’re done poorly (though they often are), but because the notion of “ending” draws attention to the limits of the narrative precisely when we want to savor every moment of the story itself. “Life goes on,” so the saying goes, but stories don’t — at least, not on the page. It’s a testament to this awkwardness that even William Shakespeare felt the need to lampshade it, defiantly pointing at the limits of the narrative itself in the hopes of elevating it beyond them. Charles Soule does something very similar in his Swamp Thing 40, turning this final issue into a postmodern commentary on endings in general. Continue reading

The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1

pax americana 1Today, Mark and Ryan are discussing The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1, originally released November 19th, 2014.

Mark: Alan Moore’s Watchmen is regularly heralded as the finest work ever produced in the medium of comics, but it wasn’t born in a vacuum. Moore’s original pitch was to use heroes from DC Comics’ then recent acquisition of certain Charlton Comics characters like Peacemaker, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question. In the end DC had other plans for their new IP, but Moore used those heroes as the frameworks for his invented characters. Now, almost 20 years later, the all-star team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely flip Moore’s original vision on its head in The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1. On Earth-4, Peacemaker is our The Comedian, The Question takes on characteristics of Rorschach, Captain Atom those of Doctor Manhattan, and Blue Beetle reflects Nite Owl. If Watchmen is a snake eating it’s own tail, Pax Americana is the tail biting back just a bit. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 1: Futures End

futures end swamp thing 1Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing Swamp Thing 1: Futures End originally released September 3, 2014.

Patrick: Okay, so why “five years later,” huh? What’s the point of all these glances into the theoretic furutre of DC Comics? I know it shouldn’t matter that these stories may prove to be part of a future-narrative that gets wiped out of the canon, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’re reading a bunch of what-if stories. Intriguingly, these glimpses into future have their eyes set on the past; evoking elements of Pre-Flashpoint continuity and reconciling that with what’s been established since September of 2011. The future is a point on a line, plotted using the past and present as reference. It’s a herculean task, but one that writer Charles Soule and artist Jesus Saiz are more than up for, aligning themselves with the intrepid Alec Holland, perhaps unsure that they would make it through to the other side unharmed.

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All-Star Western 26

all-star western 26

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing All-Star Western 26, originally released December 31st, 2013.

Drew: I’ve always been suspicious of happy endings. Not that I’m a grump or a pessimist (or, not just because I’m a grump and a pessimist), just that I think the tendency to wrap stories up with a nice bow tends to make them same-y. Knowing everything will work out in the end robs stories of most of their drama, and more importantly, they tend to ring false. Still, there’s something undeniably alluring about a happy ending — a gentle reassurance that the characters will be okay specifically, and that things tend to work out generally. It’s incredibly tricky to acknowledge both aspects of the happy ending, but Alan Moore’s classic “For the Man Who Has Everything” does it beautifully by presenting (and ultimately rejecting) a classic “what if” scenario. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti aim to tap that same magic in All-Star Western 26, but as is the case with most comparisons to Moore, they come up just a little short. Continue reading

Swamp Thing Annual 2

swamp thing annual

Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Swamp Thing Annual 2, originally released October 30th, 2013.

Scott: One of my favorite pop culture cliches is the hero preparing for the ‘big fight”. You’ve seen the Rocky-inspired montages, with the running up the stairs and the drinking raw eggs and “Eye of the Tiger” blaring. It works every time. In Swamp Thing Annual 2, we get Charles Soule’s version of the pre-fight montage. It fits right into the ongoing storyline, which I love. It’s basically just the next two issues in one, which should come as great news to anyone who was dreading the thought of waiting another month to find out what’s going on with Alec’s impending duel with Seeder. Soule doesn’t exactly have Alec donning a headband and heading to a meat locker, instead focusing on Alec’s mental preparation. With the help of a few wise advisors- one of whom you might be shocked to see- Alec’s pre-fight journey may not have you pumping your fists, but it’s still pretty darn uplifting.
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Before Watchmen – Rorschach 4

rorschach 4 B4W

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Rorschach 4, originally released March 6th, 2013. Rorschach is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: You can’t understand Rorschach. Sorry, it’s true. The character is designed to defy your analysis and your close reading. So why attempt to explore the character’s past in Before Watchmen? What do we stand to gain from exploring the abyss? Brian Azzarello and Lee Barmejo bring the Rorschach mini-series to a close without answering these questions, leaving us to ponder what we expected of this whole experience.

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Before Watchmen – Rorschach 3

rorschach 3 B4W

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Rorschach 3, originally released November 12th, 2012. Rorschach is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Shelby: One of the many intriguing aspects of the Watchmen universe is the view of our actual history it offers. Alan Moore took the world we lived in and tweaked it just enough to allow for caped superheroes and one very real Super Man. It’s my favorite kind of science fiction; as much as I like far-flung fantasy, I’m most affected by books and stories set in times and places I believe in, that I can personally relate to. Looper is a great example; set about 40 years in the future, the people live basically the same lives we do now, the wealthy just have nicer phones and toys. Brian Azzarello has already shown us he’s very adept at blending history into the Watchmen universe with The Comedian, and with issue 3 of Rorschach, he shows us he’s actually been doing it the whole time here as well, we just didn’t notice.

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Before Watchmen – Rorschach 2

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Rorschach 2, originally released October 3rd, 2012. Rorschach is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: Rorschach’s a hypocrite. I don’t know how clear that is in the original series. When you consider the costumed hero type, there’s a little bit of hypocrisy built right into the concept of “the law doesn’t apply to me.” One of the first things we see Rorschach do under Alan Moore’s pen is break a man’s fingers for essentially no reason. But Rorschach also distrusts humanity because he sees people as inherently self-interested and unwilling to help their fellow man. Moore makes this point explicit in issue #6, as Rorschach relays the story of Kitty Genovese to Dr. Long:

Kitty Genovese. Raped. Tortured. Killed. Here. In New York. Outside her own apartment building. Almost forty neighbors heard screams. Nobody did anything. Nobody called cops. Some of them even watched. Do you understand? Some of them even watched. I knew what people were then, behind all the evasions, all the self-deception. Ashamed for humanity, I went home.

But Brian Azzarello adds another layer of self-deception, this time to Rorschach himself.

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Before Watchmen – Curse of the Crimson Corsair 7-13

Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Curse of the Crimson Corsair 7-13, originally released July 18th (in Silk Spectre 2), July 25th (in Comedian 2), August 1st (in Nite Owl 2), August 8th (in Ozymandias 2), August 15th (in Rorschach 1) August 22nd (in Dr. Manhattan 1) and August 29th, 2012 (in Minutemen 3). It is also available for free on DC’s Source Blog. Curse of the Crimson Corsair is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Peter: The question of ‘Why?’ has come up a lot with the Before Watchmen project. The biggest why has got to be around the Crimson Corsair story. The Crimson Corsair is really the oddest duck in the brace of ducks that is Before Watchmen. Unlike the Tales of the Black Freighter, it plays no real role in the storyline as a whole, which is a loss connection anyway, but also it just doesn’t flow like the Black Freighter did. It’s just gets 2 pages stuck on the end of each issue, and is very out of place. It’s also just difficult to keep up with, because of the way it’s published and spread out. It’s to the point for me really, where I just skip it over it.

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Chat Cave: New Sandman Story

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).

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