History Deepens in Doctor Strange 23

by Taylor Anderson

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

The Marvel universe is as deep as the Mariana Trench, which is to say it’s practically bottomless. After more than fifty years of continuously pumping out serialized stories, it’s fair to say that no person knows everything about the Marvel universe no matter how much they’ve read. The breadth of its history gives writers a leg up when writing their stories: when you have deep pool to draw from it’s unlikely it will run dry any time soon. Even with the vastness of this narrative landscape, Doctor Strange stands out because it always hints at an even deeper world history beyond the Marvel pages. This is something Dennis Hopeless knows and uses to his great advantage in Doctor Strange 21.

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Jean Grey 4 Delivers a Puzzling Moral

by Spencer Irwin

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

The best idea in Dennis Hopeless and Harvey Tolibao’s Jean Grey 4 is that the Odinson teaches via stories — quite often rambling, drunken ones. It’s an ingenius use of the character, exploiting both his greatest strengths and weaknesses, but unfortunately for an issue about teaching lessons, the moral never fully comes together. Continue reading

Jean Grey 3: Discussion

By Ryan Desaulniers and Ryan Mogge

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

Ryan D: When one writes about comic books, due to the popular types of stories being told, the critical eye encounters Joseph Campbell’s template for “the hero’s journey.” This monomyth pervades the pages of superhero titles, and seems even more prevalent in solo runs of characters due to the ease of accessibility inherent to that narrative. In Jean Grey, however, Dennis Hopeless and his creative team use a different kind of literary precedent — that of the Bildungsroman –– to tell the story of the young Jean as she gears up to meet the looming threat of the Phoenix. The Bildungsroman is a novel of formation or education with the psychological and moral development of the protagonist as the crux of the narrative, along the lines of Ponyboy in The Outsiders or Marji in PersopolisJean Grey 3 continues that trend of Jean moving painfully towards development and maturity as she learns a lesson in the company of “Marvel’s First Mutant,” Namor. Continue reading

Understanding Golden Age Tropes is an Asset in Doctor Strange 22

by Taylor Anderson

Doctor Strange 22

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

No matter how much success comic book movies have in crossing over into the mainstream or how dark and gritty Christopher Nolan, Alan Moore, or anyone else can make their comic book universe, monthlies will never be able to escape the shadow of the goofiness of the Golden Age. In some ways, the silliness of Golden Age comics have been celebrated by serious comic book fans and writers. They knowingly acknowledge that comics of the past weren’t great, but also pay homage to the stories that gave birth to some of today’s most beloved heroes. Doctor Strange is a product of the Golden Age, and in issue 22 Dennis Hopeless both celebrates and takes a dig at these roots. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 21

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Doctor Strange 21, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Taylor: Here are Retcon-Punch, we read a lot of comics. This is great in so many ways, but primarily because at no other time in history has their been so many quality options for monthly reads. However, the deluge of great comics can take its toll. Given too much of something good, even great comics, a person quickly becomes numb to their pleasures. Reading so many wonderful series means that it becomes easy, on occasion, to overlook just how amazing and unique some issues really are. It’s for this reason that Doctor Strange 21 stands out to me. Not only is it an excellent issue on its own, but it reminds me why comics are some of the most innovative mediums going today. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 5/24/17

We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Black Panther 14 and Jean Grey 2. Also, we will be discussing I am Groot 1 on Tuesday and Captain America Steve Rogers 17 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Jean Grey 1

Alternating Currents: Jean Grey 1, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Jean Grey 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Ah, the solo album — is there any more fraught trial in popular culture? Making it as a solo act is a grueling process, and while most never rise above obscurity, artists who are already well known for their work with a band have the blessing/curse of starting their solo career in the public eye. It requires instantaneously landing on a musical voice that’s somehow familiar enough to appeal to longstanding fans (capitalizing on that notoriety) yet also distinct enough to justify the solo status. Dennis Hopeless and Victor Ibáñez face a similar tightrope in Jean Grey, aiming to give the (in)famous X-Man a voice that could distinguish this series from her other adventures. Continue reading

Spider-Woman 17

Today, Taylor and Michael are discussing Spider-Woman 17, originally released March 29th, 2017 . As always, this article containers SPOILERS!

Taylor: My ten-year college reunion is fast approaching this summer, and with it so approaches the acknowledgment that I’m basically who I’m going to be in life. At my five year reunion it was fun to see old friends and also consider how we still still had much of our life in front of us. Now, solidly in my thirties, it’s pretty apparent what trajectory my life is going to take. For better or for worse, people at the reunion will judge me by this metric and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it except choose not to care. Where did I learn such sage-like wisdom, you may ask? From the heartening and fun somewhat final issue of Spider-Woman, I answer.

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Spider-Woman 16

spiderwoman-16

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Woman 16, originally released February 22, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

“…as for Ellen and me, we were finally joined into a new element — much, much bigger than anything we had ever known. We didn’t know what the future had in store for us, but what did it matter? We fulfilled our destiny.”

“Day of the Dot” The Adventures of Pete and Pete

Patrick: Action movies and will-they-won’t-they romanic stories have a lot in common. Both rely on the promise of something big and meaningful just on the other end of the narrative. It’s a sense of longing — either for a pair of soulmates to recognize each other or for explosions and motorcycle chases — that drives like 90% of the story. When the lovers get together, or the fists start flying, that means we’re just about at the end of the thing. The Adventures of Pete and Pete got its two teenage leads together in a special before the series even got started, which made for a weird transition to a regular serialized romance. It was kind of neat though, to actually see the glory of their romance (in all of its innocence) before having it awkwardly revoked a few episodes later. Spider-Woman 16 moves us to those goal posts on both the romanic and action fields, showering the reader in destinies fulfilled. Continue reading

Best of 2016: Best Writers

best-writer-2016

In such a collaborative medium as comics, it can be difficult to say where a writer’s influence on the story ends, but there’s no question on where it begins: words on the page. Whether they thrill, elate, chill, or deflate, the best writers create characters, settings, and situations we want to return to, again and again. These are our top 10 writers of 2016. Continue reading