The Responsibility of the Witness in Daredevil 605

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 605 begins with Wilson Fisk raising from his hospital bed to attempt to regain control of New York City. Even dressed in a hospital gown and dragging an IV pole behind him, Fisk backs Foggy into a corner. It looks like Fisk is going to get his way, but ends up collapsing to the ground — it turns out that he wasn’t well enough to exert himself so much. But he made a choice to stop letting Matt Murdock run New York City, rather that simply witnessing it from the safety of his hospital room. While the sun sets on this Wilson Fisk story after three pages, the remainder of the issue plays out that same fundamental question over and over again: what responsibility does a witness have to interfere with whatever they are witnessing? Continue reading

Cypher Drives the Action in Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 3

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 3

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

One of my favorite insights in film criticism is that a shot can only have one subject. The subject can be (and often is) an individual, but the fascinating thing about a two-shot or group shot is that the individuals can’t be the subjects of those shots, so instead, the subject is their relationship. That is, when two characters are occupying a single shot, the subject of the shot isn’t either one of them, but their relationship to one another, whether it’s familial, antagonistic, friendly, or romantic. And I think we might be able to say something similar about ensemble stories. Or, at least, that the subject of an ensemble story can’t be several individuals. The subject can be anything from a character to a relationship to a theme, but there can be only one. So what is the subject if Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost? Is it Daredevil, our narrator (and most recognizable character)? Is it Frank McGee and Misty Knight’s budding romance? Is it the group dynamics of this makeshift team? With issue three, Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni seem to have settled on an unexpected option as their subject: Cypher. Continue reading

Who Controls the Page in Daredevil 604?

By Patrick Ehlers

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

“I’m gonna need the room.”

Father Jordan, Daredevil 604

Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 604 is all about controlling space. Within the world of the story, that’s about dispersing satanic mists, or driving out swarms of ninjas. On the metatextual level, that’s about which character commands the space on the page. With the introduction of the Order of the Dragon (or Ordo Dragonum, if you’re nasty), the pages become thick with both action and potential, but it’s still on Daredevil to take control of every square inch of the city… and by extension, every inch of the page. Continue reading

Approaching Old Stories From a New Angle in Poe Dameron 28

by Spencer Irwin

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The fact that The Last Jedi picks up almost immediately where The Force Awakens left off leaves the Poe Dameron comic in a bit of a tight spot — the Star Wars comics have been mining the fertile ground between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back for decades now, but Poe Dameron doesn’t have that kind of space to work in, instead leaving Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta only tiny blank gaps of backstory to fill in. We here at Retcon Punch have been a bit frustrated by this over the past few issues, generally preferring the sweet, chemistry-filled framing device (a conversation between Poe, Rey, and Finn) to the actual stories it’s being used to tell. Poe Dameron 28, though, finds success by approaching these vignettes from a new angle, building a mystery around who actually is telling the story. Continue reading

A Story Deepened by Shades of Gray in Darth Vader 17

by Spencer Irwin

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

Throughout their run on Darth Vader Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli have created (and/or reintroduced) a fascinating set of supporting and one-off characters, but for my money, the most intriguing is Jedi Master Ferren Barr. Last month Patrick already seemed suspicious of Barr’s methods, and in Darth Vader 17 the creative team doubles down on the shades of gray surrounding Barr. It’s the questions surrounding him and his methods that make Barr so interesting, especially as a Jedi. Continue reading

Good vs. Evil in Astonishing X-Men 12

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“Good vs Evil” implies that there are two sides — two warring factions — battling for the fate of the world. It’s a compelling image: a battlefield with good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Good and evil are separate forces, and in our imaginations, represented by two different groups of people. While Charles Soule and Gerardo Sandoval’s Astonishing X-Men 12 still gives the reader avatars of light and darkness in the forms of X and The Night King, the armies fighting for each side are made up of all the same players. Old Man Logan is both a reformed ally-murderer and an irredeemable death machine; good and evil waging war within one mind. Continue reading

A Mid-Issue Shift Elevates Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 2

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 2

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

Listen, I know there were crime procedurals before Law & Order (and there have been plenty since), but that show was such a mainstay of my formative pop-culture years that I can’t help but think of it every time I encounter a new fictional criminal investigation. What’s remarkable to me about that show is how entertaining it could be in spite of having an entirely rote structure (it was so set in stone, in fact, that they decided to enshrine it in the very title of the series). That is, the drama was never in whether they caught the culprit (they always did), or whether they would be convicted (they were found guilty or pled out the vast majority of the time), but in how they did it — or more precisely who was doing it. Individual details of the case might be interesting, but only inasmuch as they prompted quips from Briscoe or righteous indignation from McCoy. The procedural is an excuse to watch detectives do what they do best, so giving those detectives big, distinct personalities makes or breaks the whole exercise. In this way, Charles Soule has truly stacked the deck in his favor, cramming four larger-than-life investigators into tight quarters and giving them a hard case to chew on. Continue reading

Matt Murdock Holds the Puppet Strings in Daredevil 603

by Michael DeLaney

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

Matt Murdock’s modern history is a delightful roller coaster of changing status quo: he’s been a vigilante, the kingpin of crime, a vessel of The Hand and now Mayor of New York City. In Daredevil 603 Charles Soule draws upon these experiences to highlight the fact that Matt is a master strategist and impressive leader. “The Man Without Fear” preys upon others’ fears in order to manipulate them. Continue reading

Aesthetic Takes Center Stage in Curse Words 14

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s an intangible quality to most of your favorite art that belongs solely to that work. Maybe it’s a voice, or a take, or a perspective, or a rhythm. It’s that magical X factor that makes you say “that’s a Farside joke” or “that’s a Stevie Wonder horn line.” Curse Words’ DNA is so hard to nail down — a mix of crass irreverence and hopelessness, with a jolly veneer that just barely hides some genuine darkness. Issue 14 drifts away from Wizord and lets this lurching aesthetic take center stage. Continue reading

The Difference Between Mayoral Action and Superhero Action in Daredevil 602

By Patrick Ehlers

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

“New York City’s uniformed protectors are under attack by the Hand.” It’s a straightforward premise, one with both obvious drama and an obvious solution: superheroes fight the ninjas. But as of Daredevil 601, Matt Murdock is more than just a superhero; he’s also the mayor of New York. Suddenly those simple solutions don’t seem quite as simple. Charles Soule, Mike Henderson, Matt Villa and Clayton Cowles’ Daredevil 602 illustrate the difference between the streamlined drama of the superhero and the complicated drama of the mayor. Continue reading