This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Mark: Modern comic books are built on tropes. After nearly a century of storytelling in the medium, the particulars of what makes a Superman story different from a Batman story are so deeply engrained that creators have a binary choice when sitting down to craft a tale: embrace the tropes or react against them. And while longtime comic book readers tend to seek out and reward stories that are willing to subvert and contort their expectations, either choice can be successful if executed well. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Mark: When I was about twelve years old, some friends and I got it in our heads that we deserved to go to a Six Flags theme park located two hours away from our city. We had just wrapped up a school assignment and were feeling pretty good about it; going to Six Flags was, to our minds, a reasonable reward for a job well done. My parents, for what I now recognize to be completely legitimate reasons, were quick to kibosh the idea — they weren’t interested in driving a Suburban full of sweaty pre-teens two hours to a theme park, driving two hours home, and then doing it all again later that night in order to pick us up. Plus, since I was twelve and had no money of my own to pay for park admission or food once I got in, they would basically be paying me $100 for the pleasure. All because me and my friends felt like we should be rewarded for completing our homework. I was furious.
Dealing with pre-teens and teenagers can be infuriating. They are, after all, categorically terrible; self-absorption coupled with crippling insecurity is a toxic combination. But it’s not their fault nature made them that way. Kids are constantly confronted with situations and decisions they are ill-prepared to face, lacking both the context and emotional experience to properly process and asses the situation. But that doesn’t make it any less irritating to be around them. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Action Comics 958, originally released June 22nd, 2016.
Drew: What kind of themes do you expect of a Superman story? Morality? Alienation? Hope? Love? Over his 75+ year history, Superman has come to represent many ideas beyond that handful of suggestions, but those might serve as a reasonable starting point for the character, describing at least the ballpark he tends to play in. With Action Comics 958 — an issue by its very numbering necessarily recalls a good chunk of Superman stories — Dan Jurgens and Patrick Zircher make a compelling case for voyeurism as a key element of the Superman mythos. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman: Lois and Clark 5, originally released February 24th, 2016.
Michael: I’m enough of a seasoned comic book reader to know that I shouldn’t be misled by/read into comic book covers. But dammit, I still get my hopes up about covers with the best of ’em. The cover for Superman: Lois and Clark 5 teases that beardy Clark will come face to face with New 52 Batman. Alas it was just a tease. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Superman: Lois & Clark 3, originally released December 30th, 2015.
Spencer: In any comic storyline lasting more than two or three issues, it’s the middle chapters that are usually the weakest. Openings can rely on the excitement of starting a new story, penultimate chapters generally benefit from a big twist, and conclusions, of course, seem to matter the most simply because they’re the end of the story. Those middle chapters, though — third and fourth issues specifically, if it’s a six-issue arc — tend to blend together, existing only to “move the story forward” without really gaining an identity or having a complete, satisfying narrative of their own. Issue 3 of Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks’ Superman: Lois and Clark fits this description to a “t,” and is a weaker installment because of it. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman: Lois & Clark 1, originally released October 14th, 2015.
Michael: Many of my early pieces for Retcon Punch consisted of me complaining about The New 52 and comparing it to the old DCU that I knew and loved. I’d often go off on tangents about the way DC does business and neglect the book I was actually covering. I loved and missed the pre-Flashpoint DCU and I still do. Enter a book like Superman: Lois & Clark 1, which allows me to cheat by writing about the old DCU and the book in front of me. Continue reading →
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, Mark and Drew are discussing Batman Beyond 2, originally released July 1st, 2015.
Mark: With the release of Batman: Arkham Knight a few weeks ago I’ve been on quite the Batman kick recently, revisiting favorite catalog comic book issues and re-watching episodes of Batman: The Animated Series that I haven’t thought about for years. As part of this Batman binge, I listened to a podcast with Animated Series co-creator Bruce Timm where he discusses the origin of Terry McGinnis and Batman Beyond. According to Timm, the character was birthed when an executive at Kids WB asked for a show that could appeal more to young kids starring Batman as a teenager. Timm and company were originally repulsed by the idea, but when they started hashing out pitches amongst themselves they hit on the idea of keeping it in continuity with an elderly Bruce Wayne acting as mentor to his chosen successor. From there the character grew and the world of Batman Beyond was established over three seasons of television, a movie, and a handful of comic books. 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, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week. Continue reading →