What the Hell Happened to Nightwing?

by Michael DeLaney 

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

Typically, a write-up from Retcon Punch would consist of one or two writers sharing their observations and interpretations of a given comic book issue. This write-up, however, will be something else entirely. As the title suggests, I find myself asking the question “What the hell happened to Nightwing?” Continue reading

Severing Yet Another Tether to Bruce’s Humanity in Batman 55

by Spencer Irwin

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

slim-banner

When first introduced back in 1940, Dick Grayson — then known as Robin, the Boy Wonder — was meant to provide a reference point for young readers, a way for them to see themselves in the stories they were reading. His youthful charm not only won over readers, but Batman himself, who quickly transformed from his early brooding, murderous, pulp-inspired incarnation into a more genial, bombastic character thanks to Robin’s influence. Even as modern interpretations of Batman return to a darker take on the character, Dick Grayson — now Nightwing — remains a tether to Batman’s humanity, a character who can bring out his lighter side even under the harshest circumstances. In Batman 55, Tom King and Tony Daniel highlight this vital role Nightwing fills, not just through his actions, but through the very structure of the issue. Continue reading

Past and Present Trauma Collapse into One in Batman 54

by Patrick Ehlers

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

slim-banner

More than any other medium, comics have a rigidly prescriptive relationship with scenic transitions. Settings change on a page turn. Not every turn of the page will give the reader a new scene, but every new scene requires a new page. There are exceptions, of course. Creators can cut away to a quick one- or two-panel scene to provide context to a page. It’s also pretty common to run two scenes simultaneously on alternating panels on a page, like in Watchmen. But even in these cases, the scene or scenes at play are allowed to end at a page turn. With Batman 54, writer Tom King and artist Matt Wagner toss that conventional wisdom out the window, transitioning into and out of extended flashbacks part-way through the page. The result is a conflation of past with present, and of suffering with healing. Continue reading

How to Maintain a Balanced View of Technology in Nightwing 46

by Spencer Irwin

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

slim-banner

I’ve spent a lot of time recently making fun of “Alexa” and other similar voice activated assistants — the idea of willingly installing what ultimately amounts to a wire-tapping device in my own home seems patently absurd to me. Yet, I can’t deny the fact that I carry a smartphone with me at all times, a device that not only has similar surveillance abilities, but the power to track my every movement as well. I guess the question I should really be asking, then, isn’t “why would someone willingly buy a device like this?,” but “what would it take to make someone willingly buy a device like this?” Sometimes it’s convenience, sometime it’s the unparalleled access to information, and sometimes it’s simple denial. All these seem to be in play in Benjamin Percy, Christopher Mooneyham, and Lalit Kumar Sharma’s Nightwing 46, as Blüdhaven embraces technology that’s clearly attempting to data-mine the entire city. Continue reading

The Social Media Nightmare in Nightwing 45

by Michael DeLaney 

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

slim-banner

I try to ignore how attached I am to social media, my smart phone and the like, because the reality of the matter is both frightening and depressing. Benjamin Percy taps into that real fear in Nightwing 45 with his villain Wyrm. Wyrm is literally a computer virus, but what he represents may be the targeted marketing and social media manipulation. Continue reading

Exploring Dick Grayson in the Here-And-Now in Nightwing 44

By Michael DeLaney

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

Michael: As a whole, DC comic book readers are very protective of Dick Grayson. He’s the first Robin, the first one to leave the short pants behind, lauded as the sexiest man in the DCU, and just an all-around great guy. Nevertheless Mr. Grayson can never seem to completely escape Batman’s shadow — I can name a slew of my favorite Batman stories but barely any Nightwing stories. Nightwing 44 is Benjamin Percy and Christopher Mooneyham’s inaugural issue on the title, and they are setting out to explore what makes Dick Grayson unique from the very first page. Continue reading

The Darkest Timeline in Batman 46

By Drew Baumgartner

Batman 46

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

From now on, I am Evil Abed. We are the Evil Study group, and we have but one evil goal: return somehow to the Prime Timeline, the one that I stopped you from rolling that die. Then we destroy the good versions of ourselves and reclaim our proper lives.

Evil Abed, Community

The notion of the “darkest timeline” seems to have entered the zeitgeist, mostly through tongue-in-cheek suggestions that we’re currently living in it, but it’s a relatively common concept in science fiction. Indeed, there are so many examples, I kind of split my metaphor on my discussion of Batman 45, touching on everything from Back to the Future Part II to It’s a Wonderful Life to that “Treehouse of Horror” episode of The Simpsons where Homer keeps accidentally changing the timeline. But none are more explicit about the superlativeness of the badness of the timeline than Community‘s darkest timeline.

It stands as a kind of conceptual opposite of Gottfried Leibniz’s “best of all possible worlds” theory — his explanation for human suffering that any other “world” (effectively, a different timeline) would be worse. The Back to the Future franchise suggests that the original timeline was neither the best nor the worst (Marty improves it in the first movie, turning his father into a successful science fiction writer, Biff makes it worse in the second, turning himself into a Trump-ian real-estate mogul), but most of these other examples only show changes to the timeline making things worse — effectively, that we’re actually living in the best of all possible worlds. This is definitely supported in the horrific timeline Booster Gold created as Bruce’s wedding gift, which is undeniably worse than the DC Universe as we know it, though on the surface appeared better for Bruce. That is, until Booster tries to fix things in this issue. Continue reading

The Timeline Skews in Batman 45

By Drew Baumgartner

Batman 45

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

Here’s the present, 1985, the future, and the past. Prior to this point in time, somewhere in the past…the time line skewed into this tangent…creating an alternate 1985. Alternate to you, me, and Einstein…but reality for everyone else.

Doc Brown, Back to the Future Part II

We’re all familiar enough with the notion of alternate timelines and the butterfly effect by this point that any reasonable time-traveler would have to fear ever changing past events — indeed, it’s a sci-fi concept so ubiquitous, even Abe Simpson thought to offer Homer a warning about it on his wedding day. And yet, we still like to imagine “what if” scenarios about making different decisions in only our own pasts, but those of fictional characters. The most well-known “what if” story in superhero comics might well be “For the Man Who Has Everything,” Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s clever parable about fantasy wish fulfillment. Superman’s fantasy necessarily focuses on his own experiences on a non-exploded Krypton, but the absence of Superman would obviously have profound effects back on Earth. That is, there are butterfly effects in that fantasy timeline we never see, that a Krypton-based Kal-El wouldn’t even know about. Cleverly, Tom King and Tony Daniel open on the butterfly effects of their alternate timeline in Batman 45 before circling back to explain how and why this alternate timeline was created in the first place. Continue reading

Welcome Nuance Enriches Batman: White Knight 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

This is the first installment of Batman: White Knight where Batman has really felt like Batman to me. Sean Murphy digs into the character’s nuances in a way that he hasn’t in previous issues. This is the Batman who will buy Harley Quinn a dress and support her sincere, if bungled, efforts to reform, because under his gruff exterior he truly does care about people, even villains. This is the brilliant detective who has managed to piece together a good 95% of Neo-Harley’s plan when most of the other heroes barely even realize she has a scheme at all. Even Batman’s failed attack on Neo-Harley that closes the issue — which results in the destruction of one of Gotham’s bridges and Batman becoming a fugitive — is motivated by Neo-Harley’s personal attack on him and a desire to protect his family, not wild, unreasonable vengeance. This isn’t the gruff madman of previous issues — this is a complex Batman who still wants what is best for Gotham City. He’s just blinded by his hatred of the Joker. Continue reading

Uncertain Uncertainties in Batman: White Knight 4

by Spencer Irwin

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

Despite the series being at its halfway point, I honestly don’t quite know what to make of Batman: White Knight. I still believe that Sean Murphy is a tremendous artist, but other than that, my feelings about this series are mired in uncertainty. It seems that some of that uncertainty is purposeful, inherent to the premise, but some of it feels very unintentional and frustrating. I wish it was easier to tell the difference. Continue reading