Retcon Punch is on Summer Hours, which means we’re going to be writing fewer in-depth pieces for the month of August. But we’re addicts at this point, so we need a place for our thoughts on all those comics we can’t stop reading. Today, we’re discussing Midnighter 3, Detective Comics 43, Batman Beyond 3 and Green Lantern 43.
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Detective Comics 42, originally released July 1st, 2015.
Patrick: Creators on long-running comics are always trying to shake up the status quo. That can be exciting for fans, who love (or love to hate) seeing their favorite properties monkeyed with. And eventually, there’s always the added reward of the return of the original status quo — the status quo ante — which reinstates all our old standards. I try not to be a cynical reader, but sometimes I can’t escape the idea that characters are changed more or less arbitrarily in order to generate conversation and enthusiasm about a series. It’s not like this is bad — change means growth, and I’d love for superhero comics to embrace more growth — but the tendency to revert to a status quo ante makes any attempt at growth feel impotent. Bruce Wayne is dead. Sure. New status quo. He’ll be back. Status quo ante. But what about everyone caught in Batman’s periphery? They have to change too, but there’s nothing forcing them to change back. Detective Comics 42 hovers around this periphery, challenging and pushing characters that may actually be capable of growth. Continue reading
Today, Michael leads a discussion about Convergence 8, Action Comics 2, Blue Beetle 2, Booster Gold 2, Crime Syndicate 2, Detective Comics 2, Infinity Inc. 2, Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters 2 and World’s Finest 2.
Michael: When’s the last time you read a true finale from Marvel or DC? I’m talking final word, last story, completion of a hero’s journey, close-the-book-on-it ending. I could probably only count a handful of those types of finales in the past couple of years; maybe. Like any analysis of the Big Two, it can be seen in two ways: cynically or inspiringly. Cynically, there will never be a “final story.” The Coca-Cola and Pepsi of comic books always leave a door open for potential future stories because they want your money. Inspiringly, we are witnessing the sagas of modern mythology: endless heroic epics. These stories will never come to a true end because their legend continues and the heroes never say die. It can be impossibly cheesy, but the end caption “Never the end” always clutches at my heart strings. After eight weeks, 41 books and 89 issues Convergence has finally met its end. I think there is a strong argument for the inspiring read of “Never the End” present in most of these finales. Conversely, Convergence been criticized as a sales stunt, so the more cynical finale read is just as viable. Two months later what have we learned? For one, nostalgia can be expensive. Continue reading
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1 originally released April 29th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Michael: Week Four of Convergence has included my first exposure to tie-ins that attempt to dedicate equal page time to two of the alternate Earths that will be coming to blows once the dome comes down. Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1 follows two alternate versions of the Justice League: The Crime Syndicate of America from pre-Crisis Earth 3 and Justice Legion Alpha of the 853rd Century. Continue reading
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Detective Comics Endgame 1, originally released March 11th, 2015.
Michael: If there is one thing that the big two comics publishers suffer from it’s the excessive reliance on crossovers. DC especially has pimped out every major Batman storyline that Scott Snyder has produced thus far, hijacking the narratives of books like Batgirl and the like to show the goings on of Owls/Jokers/Zero Years from the other Bat-perspectives. It seems that DC has gotten hip to their overreliance on these types of stories, and instead gives us a series of one-shots that tie into the events of Batman’s current “Endgame” arc. So, does Detective Comics Endgame 1 add much to Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul’s Detective Comics and/or Scott Snyder’s “Endgame?” Not so much. Continue reading
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Detective Comics 40, originally released March 4th, 2015.
Mark: On a week to week basis, comic books are junk food. Most everything that comes out is disposable, easily forgotten. While occasional stories and arcs will make a mark, for the most part Batman’s latest encounter with a violent psychopath quickly becomes only of interest to the most diehard continuity enthusiast. These are the same stories that DC has been telling for basically 30 years, and they work. They’re engaging. They sell a dwindling number of books. Detective Comics 40 ends an arc built around hatred, revenge, and the murder of children. It’s another take on the classic Batman formula: a new threat emerges in Gotham, Batman tries to control the threat, Batman loses control and order in Gotham is threatened, Batman confronts the source of the threat, almost loses, but through strength and determination, Batman defeats the threat. Mad libs “threat” for the name of any member of his rogue gallery, and you’ve got yourself a Batman story. Continue reading
From lines at conventions to the internet petitions every time an assignment changes, its clear comic fans put a lot of stock in who writes and draws their comics, often to the exclusion of the rest of the creative team. While colorists have slowly been gaining more recognition, they are still largely the unsung heroes of the comics world, adding depth and meaning to the storytelling in ways so subtle as to be almost invisible. As we started preparing our year-end lists, we realized that we, too, had been overlooking the contributions of these indispensable artists, and decided it was high time to offer the best the praise they so rightly deserve. These are our top 14 colorists of 2014.
C.O.W.L. is the story of a superhero union in mid-century Chicago. That logline heaps on the atmosphere, from the period setting to the particular climate of organized labor in Chicago, giving writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel a ton of space to explore. With issue 6, they offer a bit of a sideways approach to that world-building, giving us an in-universe comic book with an obvious in-universe political agenda. Parsing that agenda uncovers layers of meaning, telling us a great deal about Geoffrey Warner, even if the story isn’t entirely true. Patrick sat down with Kyle and Alec and went through the issue page by page, so get your copy handy and join us on the Commentary Track.
Retcon Punch: Let’s just start right from the cover: we’ve got a wildly different approach, right from the get-go.
Kyle Higgins: This cover is illustrated by Joe Bennett and it’s inked by Marcelo Mueller and colored by Rod Reis. Joe and Marcelo were originally supposed to do the entire issue when we were putting together the idea for the one-shot. Alec and I love the idea of world-building, and the opportunity to have this comic be something that’s of the world, we realized we were killing a couple birds with one stone, you know? Continue reading
Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Detective Comics 37, originally released December 3rd, 2014.
Mark: Of all the Batman movies, Batman Returns remains my favorite. It’s probably the darkest Batman film yet made (I mean, it opens with parents throwing their baby in the sewer. Opens!), but it also has a sense of humor and style that the oppressively serious Christopher Nolan adaptations lack. One of the things that makes the movie pop is the decision to set the action at Christmastime. Even all lit up for the holidays there’s no place as terrible as Gotham City, and that contrast adds a dark mirth to the proceedings. With the holiday season once again upon us, it’s the perfect time to revisit Gotham at Christmas. After a two month airport diversion, creative team Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are back and Detective Comics 37 jumps us right into the thick of Gotham on Christmas Eve. Guess what? Things are not great. Continue reading
Drew: Last month, Shelby compared Detective Comics to a well-executed magic trick. Specifically, she was referring to the way Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul wield misdirection, but I think the similarities between magic and art are manifold. Both rely on deceptively simple techniques to create effects that are greater than the sum of their parts. For me, the only real difference is how we value being “fooled” by those effects. If we see the strings, a magic trick is ruined, but understanding exactly how a scene was painted or filmed or carved can enhance our appreciation of a work of art. I personally enjoy knowing how a magic trick is performed, too — I think it gives me a deeper appreciation for exactly how skillful the magician is — but then again, I’ve always liked knowing how the sausage is made. Many folks would rather never know how the lady gets sawed in half, or how a painter simulates sunlight peaking through the clouds, or how a composer strings harmonies into a coherent musical idea. It’s an attitude I can’t fully support, but I do understand it: a little magic is lost when you can spot every palmed card. Manapul and Buccellato have long been a team that rewards digging beneath those effects, but this issue found me wishing that I wasn’t so aware of what they were doing. Continue reading