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 Bizarro 3, Black Canary 3, Dr. Fate 3, Green Lantern The Lost Army 3, Justice League 43, Martian Manhunter 3 and Robin: Son of Batman 3.
Drew: We often talk about “close readings” in our discussions, but the most rewarding works of art are interesting from far away, too. When zoomed out, you can appreciate the broader form and plotting, while when zoomed in, you can appreciate the moment-to-moment mechanics that make those larger parts work. Indeed, it’s this scalability that allows stories to remain interesting in spite of our familiarity with Joseph Campbell’s monomyth — at some scales, the non-essential details don’t matter at all, but at other scales, they’re the only thing that matters. Any halfway decent discussion of a work of art needs to focus on multiple scales, but certain works of art strongly suggest one scale over the other. More formulaic stories — an episode of Law & Order, for example — tend to offer more rewards for those looking at the details (and certain boredom for anyone looking at form). I’d argue that the controversy of LOST‘s finale stems largely from confusion over the suggested scale — is this a show about a weird island, or about the people who encounter it? — which may have changed from episode to episode. I’d argue that that ever-shifting scale is part of what made that show so great, but there’s no denying that abruptly changing gears can bring discomfort, even if it reaps the kinds of rewards we see in Green Lantern 29. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Green Lantern Corps 27, originally released January 15th, 2014.
Patrick: Fans of the Geoff Johns era of Green Lantern might consider Johns to be the architect of all conflict in the GL universe. It’s a regularly recurring conflict: basically, the past comes back to haunt the corps. This means a lot of fighting among the various corps (Blackest Night), fighting within the GLs themselves (Green Lantern War) or reckoning with some force responsible for their power in the first place (Volthoom, Relic). But all of this stuff stems from a prophecy that Alan Moore wrote decades ago – promises the eventual fall of Sodam Yatt, the destruction of Mogo, and Oa’s occupation by “demons.” We’ve spend tens of years reading those predictions into fruition, and it’s only now, as the Lanterns appear to have their own shit in order that they realize how utterly dissatisfied they’ve left the universe they swore to protect. For the first time since I can remember, that puts the corps up against a threat that’s ideological, nuanced, and –most importantly — not magical. There’s no single domino they can topple to quash a universe in revolt against them. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern 26, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Drew: Any 8th-grade social studies student can tell you that colonialism is a sticky subject. Many decry the loss of indigenous cultures, but how do you weigh that against the boon of western medicine? Are we morally obligated to preserve human culture at the cost of human life, or vice versa? That question only gets stickier when you take those other cultures into account — perhaps they value these things differently than their would-be colonizers. These are questions that have tormented philosophers for centuries — exactly the kind of thing Hal Jordan might blunder into unwittingly. Green Lantern 26 finds Hal struggling to impose his rule on Dekann and while he succeeds, his victory suggests a disturbing new status quo within the Green Lantern universe. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern 24, originally released October 2nd, 2013.
Shelby: What does it mean to lose the will to fight? To be willful is generally not a compliment; usually it means someone who does what they want, when they want without any consideration of the consequences, but on it’s own will is drive and motivation. That’s why I’ve always been so pleased with the way Blue Lanterns (Rest in Peace) need a Green Lantern to mount an offense: hope is fine and all, but hope without the will to do something about it is merely inaction. Robert Venditti kicks off the Green Lantern Lights Out event with a bang, both literally and figuratively, as Relic descends upon Oa and we contemplate the consequences of truly losing the will to do anything.
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern Corps 21, originally released June 11th, 2013.
Patrick: Any comic series you’re going to read from the Big Two publishers is going to be something of a Frankenstein monster. In an editor-driven system, even the most auteur creators have to construct their stories by committee. And that’s great: there’s no way a single mind would have the time or patience to construct all these stories on their own. Plus, collaboration yields kick-ass art, and the one-man comic creation is the incredibly rare exception. The latest incarnation of Green Lantern Corps has a tall family tree, with prestigious branches like Peter Tomasi and Alan Moore, but it also has a confusing mishmash of fathers — after Josh Fialkov walked off the series, Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti (he’s credited as “co-pilot”) constructed a story for which Van Jensen wrote the script. It’s no wonder that first issue for the new creative team is a jumble of interesting ideas and characters, impossibly focused on both embracing and escaping the past. It’s a mess, but sort of a charming one. Continue reading
Drew: When M*A*S*H ended its 11-season run in 1983, it was one of the most beloved series on television. Its series finale, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” a movie-length victory lap, was more widely watched than that year’s Super Bowl — or any Super Bowl before or for twenty-seven years afterwards. Like I said, beloved. We don’t yet have sales numbers on Green Lantern 20, and while I doubt it will post Super Bowl-beating numbers (even by comic book standards), the similarities are striking: it was an extra-large conclusion to a beloved, nearly decade-long run. Point is, it was going to be a tough act to follow, yet Robert Venditti (who readers might recognize from his work on Valiant’s X-O Manowar) handles the transition with surprising grace, staying true to the spirit of Green Lantern while adding something unexpected to the mix: the spirit of the New 52. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern Corps 20, originally released May 8th, 2013. This issue is part of the Wrath of the First Lantern crossover event. Click here for our First Lantern coverage.
Patrick: It might be pure, dumb circumstance that this issue of Green Lantern Corps came out a full two weeks before this epic run of Green Lantern stories comes to a close. The cover of this issue brashly proclaims that the story within is an “epilogue.” And it is – in the strictest sense, everything that happens in this issue takes place immediately after the crossover has been resolved. Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin’s preemptive coda challenges the very idea that a Green Lantern story could end and explores a deeper truth about what we want, what we need and what we expect from serialized storytelling. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern 19, originally released April 10th, 2013. This issue is part of the Wrath of the First Lantern crossover event. Click here for our First Lantern coverage.
Patrick: It’s hard not to see Volthoom as an author surrogate. This is a creature who feasts off the emotional turmoil of the Green Lantern characters and can alter their pasts with a snap of his glowing, iridescent fingers. So why is he the bad guy? Comic book fans are very quick to turn on creative or editorial teams when it seems like the choices they’re making threatens what the fans hold dear. Scott Lobdell mentions that Tim Drake was never Robin? “Oh fuck that guy.” Dan DiDio says the Crises never happened? “Well, he’s an idiot anyway.” Fans harbor such ire for creative missteps that it (unfortunately) makes sense to make the character who re-writes history the bad guy. But what about the writers we love – where are they represented? There are writers that live and die with these characters, why should they be solely represented by a universe-stomping big-bad? Green Lantern Corps 19 provides the antidote for just that.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Green Lantern 18, originally released March 13th, 2013. This issue is part of the Wrath of the First Lantern crossover event. Click here for our First Lantern coverage.
Shelby: To think about all the various paths one’s life can take boggles the mind. What if I hadn’t moved to Chicago 5 years ago? Picked a different major in college? Gone to a different college all together? Focused on sports instead of the arts in high school? Told Nathaniel I thought he was super cute in first grade? And those are just a handful of big choices (except maybe that last one); if every choice I make has the potential to create a completely new life path, I can’t begin to comprehend the sheer number of lives I could have lived. Going down any of these infinite paths, would I still retain that core “me-ness” that identifies who I am? It’s a fascinating question that was raised with Wrath of the First Lantern last month, and that is rehashed again here. Continue reading