Batman 1

batman 1

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Batman 1, originally released June 15, 2016.

Michael: I keep saying this lately, but there is something so powerfully elemental about Batman. Not all Batman stories are exactly the same, but there is a certain amount of thematic carryover from one story to the other. I remember that, at the start of The New 52, I noticed a lot of similarities between Scott Snyder’s Batman and Grant Morrison’s that preceded it. Now I find myself doing the same thing with Tom King’s Batman and the Scott Snyder run that preceded it. Judging by the name of King’s first arc (“I am Gotham”) and the heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl, King is going to explore Gotham City as a character; a hallmark of Snyder’s run. Continue reading

Klaus 6

klaus 6

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Klaus 6, originally released June 15, 2016.

Patrick: My mother used to teach first grade, and just about every Christmas, there’d be some little shit in her class that insisted on telling all the other kids that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. Since she was their teacher – their trusted source of ALL INFORMATION – the question would eventually make it up to her. And never in private: kids would interrupt a math lesson to ask “is Santa real?” Now, if you don’t already know my mother, you should know that she’s got a kind of Midwestern / German stoicism that’s practically blinding and she’s got almost 40 years of experience avoiding difficult conversations with children. So she’d turn the question back on them: “some people believe Santa Claus is real and some do not – what do you believe?” And, naturally, the kids that are the most hurt by the notion that Santa could be made up chose to believe. My mother hasn’t crushed any little hopes, but she also hasn’t been dishonest either. She allows the power of the myth to be it’s own magic, just like Grant Morrison and Dan Mora do in Klaus 6.

Though, that’s probably where the similarities between Morrison and my mother end… Continue reading

Batman: Rebirth 1

batman rebirth 1

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman: Rebirth 1, originally released June 1st, 2016.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Sigmund Freud

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

Batman/Superman 32

batman superman 32

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

Dark Knight III: The Master Race 4

Alternating Currents: Dark Knight III 4, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 4, originally released April 27th, 2016.

Drew: As much as I enjoy The Dark Knight Returns, I have to admit that it’s a pretty shaggy story — Batman takes on an entirely new foe in every issue (Two-Face, the Mutants, Joker, and the Government, respectively), and most of the conclusions people draw about the book’s maturity comes from parsing only one or another of those battles. How does your neocon reading of part 4 jibe with Bruce Wayne getting his groove back in part 1? How does your psychosexual reading of his relationship with the Joker fit in with the rest of the series (which continues well after the Joker dies)? For all the glib distillations of DKR, none of them actually capture the angularity of what I would argue is a decidedly episodic story. Those terse critics should rejoice, then, over DKIII, which offers a through-line so clear, even literary critics should be able to find it. Continue reading

Batman 51

Alternating Currents: Batman 51, Drew and Patrick

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

Superman: American Alien 6

superman amer alien 6

Today, Michael and Ryan M. are discussing Superman: American Alien 6, originally released April 26, 2016.

Michael: It’s incredibly difficult for me to not let my opinions on the current DC film adaptations spill over into my Superman-related write-ups. Likewise, it’s difficult for me to write about Superman: American Alien and not repeat myself month after month by saying that Max Landis has proven that you can make Superman relatable without compromising the core of the character. What I’m getting at is that unlike Henry Cavill’s Superman, Superman: American Alien 6 demonstrates that you can actually tell a worthwhile story where Superman just happens to be…kind of an asshole. Continue reading

Robin: Son of Batman 11

robin son of batman 11Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Robin: Son of Batman 11, originally released April 20th, 2016.

Spencer: Every once in a while you stumble across a premise so unique, exciting, or just plain off-the-wall bonkers that you have to check the story out. More often, though, a story will feature a more standard premise, and it’s up to the creative team to make those familiar ideas feel fresh, either by finding a new angle to explore the concept from, by using it to explore their cast in a novel way, or simply by having as much fun with it as possible. Sadly, Robin: Son of Batman 11 does none of these things. The Lu’un Darga are the definition of cliched, stock villains, and Ray Fawkes and Ramon Bachs do nothing to liven them up. Continue reading

Gotham Academy 17

Today, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Gotham Academy 17, originally released April 13th, 2016.

Ryan M.: I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this. It’s a black mark on whatever music-listening cred I have, but this is a safe forum, right? Here is my dark secret: I really like “best of” albums. It’s a single place to hear the breadth of a band’s sound. My first Violent Femmes album is Add it Up and the only full Talking Heads album I own is a two-disc compilation. Greatest hits or Best Of compilations function like those Best American anthologies that flood Barnes and Noble every Christmas. While I don’t like the idea of having someone else curate my experience, it is great to know that you are going to get the best of what a band has to offer. It’s like a one-band mix-tape (another thing I love, though I am a few degrees less-embarrassed to admit it). Gotham Academy’s “Yearbook” storyline on has used an anthology format to offer a taste of the varied elements that make the series so great. Continue reading

Batman/Superman 31

Alternating Currents: Batman Superman 31, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman/Superman 31, originally released April 13th, 2016.

Drew: What is a comic book series? That sounds like a simple question, but it’s one of those definitions that falls apart under close scrutiny. Peter Tomasi understands how strange our notion of a series can get, as he piloted Batman and Robin through the better part of a year without Robin. In that case, it wasn’t the cast, but the creative team that allowed us to group those issues as part of Batman and Robin. But if we take that definition of a “series” as something to do with a serialized narrative told by the same person (or team of people), what do we make of “Super Legion,” Tomasi’s new eight-part crossover that cycles through four different titles? Does it function like its own miniseries, or do its constituent issues maintain enough of their series’ identity to keep them distinct? The answer lies somewhere in between, which makes Batman/Superman 31 one of the most fascinating, if troubled, individual issues I’ve read in quite some time. Continue reading