Old Habits Die Hard in Amazing Spider-Man 796

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 796

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

There’s a concept in psychology of the “repetition compulsion,” which essentially lays out a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy for our neuroses. A straightforward (and non-pathological) example would be an introvert avoiding big crowds, which in turn prevents them from developing comfort around (or at least strategies to cope with) big crowds, which in turn encourages them to avoid big crowds, but this phenomenon can be seen operating at everything from our smallest habits to our biggest problems. Lest this sound too fatalistic, those cycles of repetition can be broken, but my actual point in bringing them up is just to emphasize how cyclical our lives can be — even when embarking on a new adventure, our old habits may force them to resemble our old adventures. Such has long been the case of superheroes, whose new adventures are in part only marketable because people liked the old adventures, so leaning into those repetition compulsions (even the destructive ones) is a logical choice.

Writer Dan Slott has always managed to keep a remarkable balance between the old and the new, repeating enough to keep his characters recognizable, but changing enough to keep the stories exciting, largely by changing the big patterns (Pete’s job, relationship status, identity, etc) but holding onto the small ones (Pete’s talkativeness, bad luck, sense of responsibility, etc). But with issue 796, Slott and co-writer Christos Gage begin folding some of those larger repetitions back into the mix, suggesting that Slott might just be putting the toys back in place as he hands over the reigns of the series he’s been writing for over a decade. Continue reading

Low-Stakes Silliness at its Finest in Super Sons Annual 1

by Mark Mitchell

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

A lot of times when I read comic books on assignment for this site, I dive right into the digital issues without first checking out the solicitation or even paying much attention to the covers. Going in blind sometimes leads to delightful surprises, like with Peter J. Tomasi and Paul Pelletier’s Super Sons Annual 1, where I was totally unprepared for the issue’s joyous left-turn into a Super-Pets-led rescue mission. Continue reading

Unknowability is a Strength in Star Wars: Darth Vader 3

by Mark Mitchell

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

Last month when discussing Darth Vader 2, I counted the fact that Darth Vader largely remains a cipher in his own series as a core weakness in Charles Soule’s story, but with Darth Vader 3 I think I have it all wrong. It’s still true that readers looking for a deep, complex shading of Darth Vader won’t find it here, but really, who wants that in the first place? The Prequels were predicated on the audiences’ interest in “understanding” Darth Vader, and those were terrible. The world already has enough context for Vader’s actions thanks to years and years of pop culture indoctrination. Darth Vader as a mostly silent, imposing villain is optimal Darth Vader. It’s the difference between original Halloween Michael Meyers and reinvented Rob Zombie-era Halloween Michael Meyers. Continue reading

Green Lantern 23.1: Relic

relic 23.1

Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern 23.1: Relic, originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

villain div

PatrickHey, everyone: meet Relic. What’s that, you say you’ve already met? Oh, well let me tell you about this universe where emotions were weaponized as beams of solid light… Yeah, now that you mention it, that is sorta like the universe we’re currently in. Okay, okay, what if all these different emotion-based factions were constantly at war, sometimes with each other and sometimes united against a common foe? That’s pretty cool, right? Shit, you’re right, that is also just like the modern Green Lantern universe… what if I told you there’s a conservationist allegory and 20 splash pages drawn by Rags Morales? There’s the meat of this thing! Continue reading

Green Lantern Annual 1

Today, Drew and Peter are discussing the Green Lantern Annual, originally released August 29th, 2012. This issue is part of the Rise of the Third Army crossover event. Click here for complete Third Army coverage. 

Drew: I have a confession: before the relaunch, I had never read a single comic written by Geoff Johns. Moreover, I had never read a Green Lantern story of any kind. However, all of other Retcon Punchers had read all of Johns’ work on Green Lantern, from Rebirth through Brightest Day, so his titles came with very high praise. It quickly became clear why: he’s unrivaled in developing complex mythologies. His work on Green Lantern has broadened its universe immeasurably, nesting decades of comics history into an elegant mythology that manages to make more sense than it has any business doing. At the same time, his tendency to draw out individual plot points to take up entire issues occasionally tried my patience. The Green Lantern Annual finds Johns at his best, delivering all of the insane mythology and plotting, and doing so at such a breakneck pace to please even the most impatient readers.

Oh, and GOOD GOD are there ever plot points to spoil here, so read the issue first, or proceed with caution.

Continue reading