This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Crossover comics almost always have a problem of feeling overstuffed. There are two complete casts of characters and two different worlds, all of which need to be honored in one way or another. Harley and Ivy meet Betty and Veronica 1 packs in a ton of individual character personalities, but ultimately fails to juggle them all at once. By the time we get to the climactic costume party, we’re tracking Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Sabrina, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, to say nothing of Hiram and Smithers, who we can assume are all on-site somewhere. Artist Laura Braga does some incredible design work in this issue (so many costumes!), but continuity of space totally falls apart with so many players in a scene. This issue is at its best at its simplest, but it so seldom sticks to simplicity. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: A few years ago, fellow Retcon Puncher Patrick Ehlers suggested that deconstruction had become so commonplace in Batman stories that they had come to become inseparable from the character. That is, deconstructing the character had become as essential to the telling of Batman stories as Batmobiles and gimmicky villains have become essential to the stories themselves. It’s a compelling argument — especially when you consider the fact that modern interpretations of the character are all informed by Frank Miller’s famous deconstructions of the character — but I maintain that it’s largely incidental to his existence. To me, the key fact is that Batman has been around (and beloved) for 75+ years, so of course creators that grew up with the character are going to relish playing with that history. I can expound on why I think that negates Patrick’s point in the comments, but for now, it’s enough to say that I think the deconstructions have more to do with nostalgia than anything intrinsic to the character. Nostalgia is certainly a central theme in Batman Annual 1, an anthology issue that brings together some of Batman’s most famous stewards, past and present, for a walk down memory lane. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Ryan D. are discussing New Suicide Squad 20, originally released May 4th, 2016.
Michael: One of the big draws to New Suicide Squad 20 was the writer Tim Seeley and artist Juan E. Ferreyra – the team who worked on the short-lived, but inspired Gotham By Midnight. While that series was firmly steeped in questions of faith and spirituality from the get-go, it’s interesting that Seeley and Ferreyra seem to be tackling those very same themes in a comic about (mostly) unrepentant killers. Nevertheless, New Suicide Squad 20 gives us a standard shoot ‘em up story framed by the beliefs and personal philosophies of its characters. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Midnighter 10, originally released March 2nd, 2016.
Spencer: I was a little know-it-all as a kid. One of my earliest memories is interrupting a lecturer on a field trip to a planetarium to correct him about outer space trivia; “well, actually” might as well have been my catchphrase in elementary school. Even as an adult with decidedly screwed-up self esteem, I still occasionally find myself falling prey to the snare of overconfidence; in many ways, I think it’s just human nature. Supreme confidence has always been presented as one of Midnighter’s most charming attributes, but after suffering yet another loss, Midnighter 10 starts to explore whether that confidence is an asset or a hindrance, and one of the most effective ways it does so is by comparing it to the overconfidence of the rest of the cast. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Midnighter 9, originally released February 3rd, 2016.
Spencer:Who is Midnighter? It’s clearly a question writer Steve Orlando wants to keep on his readers’ minds, as most issues of Midnighter feature its titular character explaining his life story to someone (this month, his documentarist Robert). Any conclusions we can draw about who Midnighter really is deep inside from that information, though, are complicated to say the least. Who is Midnighter? He’s a contradiction. Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Michael, Shane, Patrick and Mark discuss Black Canary 2, Green Lantern The Lost Army 2, Martian Manhunter 2, Secret Six 4 and Superman/Wonder Woman 19.
Michael: We’re in the second month of DC’s soft reboot of “DC YOU.” Though the name is so very stupid, the shakeup of DC’s monthly offerings has been a welcome change of pace thus far. We’re dealing with characters and concepts that have been in rotation for at the very least a couple of decades; so it’s nice to look at them from a different, less New 52-ish lens. I think that this particular selection for our DC round-up presents iterations of villains and do-gooders that may be different but don’t stray too far from the core of their character. You finally seem to be on the right path DC. (Hopefully.)
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, originally released February 11th, 2015.
Spencer: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti had a rough road ahead of them when tasked with refashioning Harley Quinn into the star of her own comic book. A villain protagonist must walk a fine line, being sympathetic enough to earn the audience’s affection while still villainous enough to avoid losing the spark that drew readers to them in the first place. Conner and Palmiotti’s approach to Harley Quinn has often involved pitting their villain protagonist against people even worse than she is, having her stand up for animal rights, and giving her a sort-of family in the form of her tenants; judging from sales numbers, it’s been a successful tactic, but has Harley become a better person in the process? Despite being a holiday special, that’s the question at the heart of Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, and it’s a surprisingly rich question to ask, even if the answer is a bit unclear, and the question often muddied and buried within the oversized issue’s many tangents and asides. Continue reading →
February 14th is about three things: socks with hearts on them, discount chocolates on the 15th, and corny Valentines cards for your friends. We can’t really share the first two with you, our loyal readers, but boy can we share the third! A couple years ago we made a bunch of corny Valentine’s Day cards, and we had so much fun we did it again last year. Because we’re once, twice, three times a lady, we’ve done it again and made a new batch of Valentines for you all. Feel free to print and pass them out to the nerds you love the most, just keep our name on them, huh? More after the break.
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Harley Quinn 3, originally released February 19th, 2014.
Drew: When someone accuses a joke of “going too far,” they tend to mean that it is offensive — that it has left the concept of good taste behind in the pursuit of a bigger laugh. But offensiveness isn’t the only metric of taste. Indeed, I would argue that even the most family-friendly humor can take its core concepts “too far,” neglecting to cultivate the expectations that jokes are designed to subvert. Taken too far, scenarios become unrecognizable, characters become unrelatable, and irony curdles into nihilism. It’s the reason I can’t really get into Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! — I’m unable to form a frame of reference for why it’s even supposed to be funny, making the experience little more than a parade of one-note awkwardness. I found myself feeling the same things as I read Harley Quinn 3, as the series continues to stretch its own rules to the breaking point. When absolutely anything is possible, it’s hard to be surprised by a punchline. Continue reading →
For Valentine’s Day last year, you may recall, we here at Retcon Punch showed you our love with corny, superhero valentines. Obviously, we had to do it again. So, Internet, this is our way of saying Be Mine; please enjoy these free, awesome valentines! Print them, share them, just keep our name on them; more after the break!