Justice League 7/Adventures of the Super Sons 2: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

Adventures of the Super Sons 2:Justice League 7

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

Spencer: No two people experience the same piece of media the same way. That’s actually the entire foundation of what we do here at Retcon Punch — we exist to examine the different ways our various writers interpret weekly comic books.  Two books released by DC this week dive into this theme as well — Adventures of the Super Sons 2 explores how the same stories led two members of the Gang down very different life paths, while Justice League 7 finds three very different people reacting to some harsh truths about the universe in very different ways. Both drive home the same point: our natures and preconceived notions often have as much to do with how we interpret media as the actual media itself does, for better or for worse, no matter what the creators’ original intent may be. Continue reading

No One is Infallible in Justice League 6

by Michael DeLaney

Justice League 6

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

The Justice League is often elevated to a status akin to the gods of myth: immensely powerful, iron-willed and nearly unstoppable. The Trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman is at the head of that pantheon of gods, with two veritable immortals and one mortal man who we consider incorruptible and infallible. With the epic cosmic stakes of Justice League 6, we are reminded that no one is infallible, and that a little humility might actually save the universe. Continue reading

The Martian Migraines and Cosmic Confusion ofJustice League 3

By Michael DeLaney

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

Great superhero epics always have a touch of mystery: an unseen enemy, the villain’s elaborate master plan or the occasional gigantic conspiracy. Does the simultaneous inclusion of multiple mysteries add to the excitement of such an adventure, or does it simply distract? These are the types of questions I face when reading a book like Justice League 3. Continue reading

Superman Fails to Find a Better Way in Man of Steel 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Man of Steel 6

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

Superman always finds a better way.

Superman purist, Traditional

I’m paraphrasing pretty heavily here, triangulating a sentiment from the dozens of arguments I read (and participated in) in the wake of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, but the idea that Superman can always come up with a solution that doesn’t involve murder is a ubiquitous one in Superman fandom. And I agree with that idea as it applies to that film — Superman certainly could have at least attempted something else (or the movie could have done a better job convincing us that he had exhausted his options) — but something about “always finding a better way” doesn’t quite feel like Superman to me. His moral compass true, and he’ll never fail to aim for a solution that satisfies his sense of what’s right and wrong, but the thought that he always comes up with a solution would rob those morals of any real consequence. While some Superman stories might resemble Sherlock Holmes in that “seeing how he solves it is the fun” kind of way, one of the most interesting things about Superman having such a strong morality is that it might be tested or bear some emotional cost. That’s a point Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Fabok leverage twice in Man of Steel 6, as Superman fails to “find a better way” in both his superheroing and family lives. Continue reading

The Man of Steel 5 Lets Superman Define the Symbol

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Early in this issue, Superman catches a glimpse of a symbol on Rogol Zaar’s chest, and while he gets a good look at it, he can’t quite make out what it’s supposed to mean. The symbol is one that writer Brian Michael Bendis and his collaborators have been playing with from the very first pages of Man of Steel — a perfect circle with something interrupting that perfection. Bendis’ various collaborators have cast a number of different circles and spheres to play the role of this symbol: sometimes it’s a collapsing Krypton, or a quiet Earth, or the reflection of Rogol in Superman’s eye. My favorite circle actually appears in this issue, as Rogol’s eye peering into the opening of the bottled city of Kandor. Bendis has been teasing meaning in this shape for so long that when Superman finally decides he is interested in divining that meaning, the character and the reader are united in purpose. Continue reading

Corruption Within the Corps in Green Lanterns 49

by Spencer Irwin

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

Over the past few years, as police injustices have been brought more and more into the open and it’s become harder and harder to justify supporting them (or often even tolerating them) as an organization, it’s become harder for me to fully buy into the idea of the Green Lantern Corps as well. It’s not the characters that give me pause — I adore Jessica, Simon, Kyle, and Guy — but their space cop routine. I don’t know, maybe that’s the point — so many Green Lantern stories in the past decade have positioned the Corps’ own leadership as their greatest enemies — but it’s certainly a thought that ran through my mind in Green Lanterns 49, where the biggest threat to Jessica Cruz isn’t the crime-lord who helped frame her, but the leaders within the Corps who already had it out for her before that even happened. Continue reading

The Restraint and the Rage of The Man of Steel 4

by Michael DeLaney

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

Outside of certain movies, Superman is not a creature of rage. He does not fly blindly into a situation without tying to think of its ramifications. And most important of all: he does everything possible to ensure the safety of innocent bystanders. The Man of Steel 3 ended with an enraged Superman attacking Rogol Zaar in a rare instance of blind rage. In The Man of Steel 4 Superman quickly comes to his senses, as he regains that trademark composure, restraint and presence of thought. Continue reading

Compassion vs. Accountability in Green Lanterns 48

by Patrick Ehlers

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

One of my coworkers was really upset about Kanye West a couple weeks ago. No shit, right? Her problem wasn’t that West was tweeting racist things about slavery probably being a choice, or even his support of Trump (who she also loathes), but that the entire would was holding a mentally ill man on a psychotic break accountable for his actions. Her argument goes that someone in West’s condition isn’t being themselves — they are literally being their illness. I began to stammer back with some feeble counterargument, something about the illness being made manifest by that person, so while we can practice compassion, we do still have to hold them accountable. “So you think he… put his own spin on mental illness?” she exhaled back at me. Shit. No. What the hell point was I trying to make? All I can really say is that I want anyone who does something wrong to face consequences, but is a mentally ill person really the one “doing” it? We are bad at talking about, dealing with, and even understanding mental illness. Aaron Gillespie and Ronan Cliquet’s Green Lanterns 48 takes our capacity for compassion and places it squarely against law and order. Continue reading

Justice and Symbolism in Justice League 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Justice League 1

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

There was no word for justice on my planet. The closest was the symbol on this table. It meant going beyond what was supposed to be possible, the natural laws. Imposing on the universe a higher standard. An ideal.

Martian Manhunter, Justice League 1

Our conceptions of justice hinge on fairness and impartiality — the notion that we are all held to the same standards of behavior (and face the same punishment for flaunting those standards). We understand how that can break down in practice (humans aren’t great at partiality), but we can imagine justice as a kind of platonic ideal we can strive towards. And that may be the best way to think about it, but closer inspection reminds us that, if it’s a platonic ideal, it’s one that varies from society to society and changes over time. We might reflect on the “justice” of the past (or of other cultures) and find it to be decidedly unjust, but that’s not how justice works — it’s not an objective monolith, but a deeply subjective, dynamic concept. That is, justice is a moral construct that only makes sense in light of the values of the society that construct it. Martian Manhunter’s approximation of justice reflects that idea, adding no moral spin to the “ideal” he mentions — in J’onn’s estimation, any ideologically motivated action “beyond what was supposed to be possible” is justice. In short, J’onn’s brief for the Justice League works just as well for the Legion of Doom. Continue reading

Man of Steel 2: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Drew Baumgartner

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

Michael: Batman is a subject that frequents many pages of my sketchbooks and I assume everyone else’s.  Unlike the versatile Batman, I find that Superman is a harder character to draw, especially in his facial features. The face of Superman has to simultaneously convey strength, joy and a decent amount of charm. Thus far, I am enjoying Brian Michael Bendis’ depiction of Superman, and in Man of Steel 2, he is joined by 3 artists who tap into that Clark Kent Charm. Continue reading