Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing All-Star Batman 1, originally released August 3rd, 2016.
Patrick: It’s hard to think of a creator at DC comics that has had a more lasting, meaningful, and marketable impression on a character in the last five years than writer Scott Snyder. His run with Greg Capullo on Batman (coupled with his role running the rooms for both Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal) makes Snyder the mental and emotional authority on Gotham’s Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne may be the “Batman” in the title, but Snyder himself is the “All-Star.” The first issue moves with such breathless confidence, willfully tossing out repulsive imagery, C-tier villains, and disorienting chronology with such abandon, it’s like the blockbuster creative team is daring us to stay away. But for every “22 minutes earlier,” for every appearance of Firefly, for every horrifying account of people subtly slashed to death, All-Star Batman 1 is an amazingly good time. It’s a remarkable change from Batman, which while obviously excellent, often wasn’t “a good time.” But it’s like Batman reiterates a couple times in this issue: “I’m trying something new.” Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Nightwing 1, originally released July 27th, 2016.
Michael: I find it kind of odd that as popular and enduring as Dick Grayson is, he’s constantly going through a series of status quo changes: Robin, Nightwing, Batman, Agent 37 and back to Nightwing again. Change is life, both in our three dimensional world and comic books’ two dimensional one. But the ground under Dick Grayson’s feet seems to shift moreso than other characters. Is it because comic-dom loves him so much and wants to keep him fresh? Is it because we don’t really know what we want for him? Nightwing 1 would have us believe that Dick’s always on the move because of his hectic circus upbringing, which is a plausible explanation, but I don’t know if I quite buy it. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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, 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 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 →
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 →
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 →
Today, 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 →