Batman 7 and Nightwing 5

batman-7

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batman 7 and Nightwing 5 (aka, parts one and two of “Night of the Monster Men”), originally released September 21, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: If I had to guess conservatively, I’d say that we’ve covered a billion crossover events over the last four years on Retcon Punch. These kinds of stories always beg the narrative question “why?” The commercial question is a lot easier to answer: I’m reading Batman, and I’m certainly not going to skip an issue of Batman, so I might as well pick up the attendant issues of Nightwing, Detective Comics, and whatever else might be participating in this story. The result is usually a tonal mess, superficially tying together the storytelling styles of a disparate set of teams with some arbitrary commonality. “Night of the Monster Men” cuts a different swath through the series bearing its banner, uniting them under one writer, the always excellent Steve Orlando, and a unified artistic vision. Continue reading

Nightwing 1

nightwing 1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Nightwing 1, originally released July 27th, 2016.

Michael: I find it kind of odd that as popular and enduring as Dick Grayson is, he’s constantly going through a series of status quo changes: Robin, Nightwing, Batman, Agent 37 and back to Nightwing again. Change is life, both in our three dimensional world and comic books’ two dimensional one. But the ground under Dick Grayson’s feet seems to shift moreso than other characters. Is it because comic-dom loves him so much and wants to keep him fresh? Is it because we don’t really know what we want for him? Nightwing 1 would have us believe that Dick’s always on the move because of his hectic circus upbringing, which is a plausible explanation, but I don’t know if I quite buy it. Continue reading

Batman & Robin Eternal 26

batman and robin eternal 26

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batman & Robin Eternal 26, originally released March 30th, 2016.

Michael: It wasn’t that long ago when Retcon Punch decided to pit me and Spencer against one another, reviewing Batman Eternal 52 with very different opinions. Now they’ve done it again as we go head-to-head on the finale of the semi-sequel, Batman & Robin Eternal 26. As we transition back to the status quo, does this particular Batman-less Batman tale add anything to the mythos overall? Continue reading

Grayson 18

grayson 18

Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Grayson 18, originally released March 23th, 2016.

Mark: I came into Grayson 18 unaware of the creative change-up behind the scenes, but it’s immediately apparent that this is a different team than the one that has guided Grayson through the past year and a half. Yes, Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin have departed in preparation for Rebirth, leaving new writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly to wrap up the last three issues with the help of artists Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges. And while Grayson 18 definitely reads like a lesser issue, Lanzing and Kelly do well enough in beginning to bring Grayson‘s many disparate threads together.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Antonio and Borges. Continue reading

Batman 50

Alternating Currents: Batman 50, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman 50, originally released March 23rd, 2016.

Drew: The owner of my old LCS, Paul, was not a Batman fan. In his mind, a billionaire using his resources to “punch bad guys” was so misguided as to be immoral. Couldn’t Bruce Wayne do more good resolving the root causes of crime by building mixed-income housing or running programs for at-risk youth? Admittedly, Batman’s “punch bad guys” solution to crime lacks nuance, and seems increasingly outmoded the more we understand what causes crime in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s kind of key to Batman’s appeal — he can be a philanthropist on the side, sure, but nobody wants to read a comic where a guy dressed like a bat subsidizes grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods. To writer Scott Snyder’s credit, he started his run on Batman by having Bruce turn his attention to exactly that type of socioeconomic solution, a goal that forces within Gotham actively worked against. It was a smart move, but the fact that the Court of Owls would allow Bruce to be Batman, but drew the line at him rearranging the economic structure of Gotham speaks to just how ineffectual Batman is at affecting systemic change. With Batman 50, Snyder offers a more compelling justification for Batman — one that just might be the definitive answer to Paul’s criticisms. Continue reading

Detective Comics 50

detective comics 50

Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Detective Comics 50, originally released March 9th, 2016.

Mark: Well…huh. Is that all there is?

Writing a mystery story in any medium is an unenviable task. It’s basically impossible to nail the landing. For my money, the ideal solution to any mystery is both surprising and logical. Once the solution is revealed, the audience wants to see that the answer was hiding in plain sight all along. Writing a satisfying conclusion like that is nearly impossible. It’s why when something like The Sixth Sense comes along it is so successful. But M. Night Shyamalan learned the wrong lesson from its success, thinking that audiences craved a “GOT YA” ending. And it’s why his other films that attempted a twist failed. Sure, the twists are surprising…but they’re meaningless and add no additional understanding to what came before. So after two (and a half) strong issues of Peter J. Tomasi’s Detective Comics mystery, we reach the end of The Bronze Age arc and, again, I ask: is that all there is? Continue reading

Superman: American Alien 4

superman amer alien 4

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman: American Alien 4, originally released February 17th, 2016.

Michael: When people ask me why characters like Superman and Batman work so well, my answer typically boils down to: they were the first ideas of their kind and in this case they were the best. The idea of Superman is incredibly simple and yet incredibly amazing. What a lofty goal it is to dream up the most powerful hero around who is a champion for good. Superman: American Alien 4 continues that trend of big dreams and hopeful ambition from all sorts of perspectives. Continue reading

Batman 49

batman 49

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Batman 49, originally released February 10th, 2016.

Spencer: One of the concepts that’s made Batman such a popular hero for the past 75 years is the idea that anybody could become Batman. None of us are alien refugees or Amazon princesses, none of us can expect to be struck by Speed Force lightning or bitten by a radioactive spider (and survive, at least), but with the right training, resources, and determination, anyone could become Batman; and sure, most of us don’t have access to the seemingly unlimited wealth, technology, or training Bruce Wayne had, but they’re at least goals that someone living in our real world could feasibly aspire to achieve. In Batman 49, though, Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette make all those qualifications — and, indeed, the very possibility of anyone besides Bruce Wayne ever truly becoming Batman — moot. Being Batman is about more than gear or training or money. Becoming Batman requires great, tragic sacrifice; it involves dying, whether figuratively or literally. Continue reading

Grayson 16

grayson 16

Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Grayson 16, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Mark: You know when you over indulge in something that you love? When you love Nerds candy so much you buy a movie theatre box-sized pack of them and eat them in bed, only to wake up the next morning with multi-colored sugar nuggets stuck to your chest and a raging sugar headache? Grayson 16 is the comic book equivalent of that. Dick Grayson is so Dick Grayson this issue, it has to be a knowing parody right? Not to say that the sugar wave isn’t a blast while you’re riding it. It’s hard to blame Seeley and King for giving the people what they want. After the end of its first spectacular arc, Grayson has come down to Earth a little bit, working overtime for a few issues to expound an increasingly complex mythology. Grayson 16 is pretty back-to-basics, but turns everything you loved about early Grayson up to insane levels. Continue reading

Robin War 2

robin-war-2

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Robin War 2, originally released January 13, 2016.

Spencer: Have you ever watched or read something that you could tell was good, but something about it just didn’t work for you? Maybe there was just one small plot point that rang false, but the failure of that one moment led to the rest of the narrative collapsing around it? That’s the way I feel about Robin War 2. There’s quite a bit about this issue that I like, but there’s one flaw in its very premise that kinda ruins the entire event: writer Tom King never explains why the Court of Owls wants to reclaim Dick Grayson so badly. Continue reading