This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Servitude is a crucial part of the soldier’s identity. They don’t just fight for abstract concepts like truth, and justice and the American way, but so the people they serve can experience those abstractions. There’s a virtue in that sacrifice, but it remains a sacrifice. Perhaps more than most superheroes, Wonder Woman is a traditional soldier, trained in both the art and etiquette of war, but her sacrifice has always been a bit ill-defined. She gives up paradise, but only so her fellow Amazons can continue to experience it. Writer Shea Fontana finds a new angle on Wonder Woman’s sacrifice in Wonder Woman 26: Diana’s childhood. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Wonder Woman 2, originally released July 13, 2016
Michael: Wonder Woman was a unique entry of The New 52 and the same can be said of the Wonder Woman of DC Rebirth. After a “bad breakup” Greg Rucka returns to DC fueled by his passion for everyone’s favorite Amazon. In a lot of ways, Rucka is having his cake and eating it too. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Secret Origins 6, originally released October 22, 2014.
Spencer: Patrick and I recently lamented a certain style of comic, the kind that tries to recap an entire lifetime with voiceover, practically becoming an illustrated Wikipedia article in the process. It seems as if the entire purpose of these comics is simply to relay information without attempting to further characterization or plot, and the longer I read comics the more this kind of story bothers me. This particular style seems to pop up most often when retelling origin stories (just check out our Zero Month coverage for proof), and that made me particularly cautious about picking up Secret Origins 6. Each of the three stories presented in this issue tackles the business of telling an origin story slightly differently, yet two of them still stick pretty close to this format. I suppose that raises the question of who this title is actually for: newbies who may need an illustrated Wikipedia article, or long-time readers who might expect a little more from their stories? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 34, originally released October 1st, 2014
“Hey mouse, say cheese.”
<Bart takes a picture of the Itchy robot, scrambling its circuits.>
“With a dry cool wit like that, I could be an action hero.”
Bart Simpson, Itchy & Scratchy Land
Patrick: It’s a good thing all of our action heroes have a team of writers working quietly behind them, because audiences hold this irrational expectation that heroic actions be punctuated by hilarious, insightful, precise quips. This is a trend that I’ve come to hate, largely because those pure little micro-tweets are so seldom earned. How do you put a character through the paces so thoroughly that acerbic wit feels natural tumbling out of their victorious mouths? They’re not poets or comedians or scholars — they’re warriors, but somehow they know to belch out a characteristically perfect “Yippy-kai-yay, motherfucker” or a “Welcome to Earth” or even a “get away from her, you bitch!” Thing is: those three examples all work because we’re there with Bruce Willis, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. It’s not just about having the dry cool wit, but waiting until the audience and the character need the release of such a quip, instead of handing them out willy-nilly. As Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang narrow in on their epic Wonder Woman conclusion, they’re cashing in on all those cheesy action movie beats. And they’ve earned every damn second — the result is unadulterated climax, satisfying on just about every level. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 33, originally released July 23rd, 2014
Patrick: Friday night, I was at a bar with some friends and — after the second round — the topic of conversation turned to “panty raids.” None of us had even participated in one nor had any of us been victim of one, but we all had these half-formed ideas from 80s college movies (and anything parodying 80s college movies). We all understood the same broad strokes: a group of men, probably a fraternity, steals underpants from a group of girls, probably a sorority. The purpose of a panty raid was still sort of elusive, and even among our small group, our perceptions of the gender and sexuality politics involved were all over the map. Is it a harmless prank? An anarchic expression of teenage sexuality? A skeezy male sexual power fantasy? That last thought hung with me through the weekend: no matter how panty raids were intended, the end result is at least a little rapey. Even something as stupid and frivolous as a panty raid has overtones of rape. Modern feminism has an awful lot to say about this prevalent rape culture, especially as a particularly glaring example of how far we really are from gender equality. As DC’s de facto symbol of feminism, Wonder Woman was bound to address the issue eventually, and the subtlety and grace of the conclusion to Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s masterpiece was the perfect place for it to happen. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 30, originally released April 16th, 2014.
Taylor: The internet is an amazing tool. The rhetorical nature of that comment is almost so great that it’s remarkable, but I think it’s occasionally a good exercise to step back and take stock of the amazing things that make up our world. In the recent past the internet has caused real social change given its ability to unite people behind a singular cause. In particular, the movement for gender equality seems to be gaining more and more steam, as both women and men are able to voice their experiences with prejudice in their daily lives. Comics, being a reflection of the world of which gave them birth, are also picking up on this trend. It seems only natural that Wonder Woman, a title which features an empowered female lead, would eventually weigh in on this subject. However, the subtlety and grace with which it broaches this topic in issue 30 is both unexpected and wonderfully wrought, making for an memorably understated episode.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Fearless Defenders 9, originally released September 11th, 2013.
Taylor: Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Bros before hoes, sisters before misters. Men and women are two different species. Such platitudes have been woven into the fabric of society since the dawn of civilization. Given their age, you might find yourself uttering such phrases during awkward conversations in the lunch room at work because you know they will be accepted with little umbrage. However, that doesn’t make these seemingly innocuous phrases any less offensive or misinformed. While men and women are different in many respects, the truth is they share far more similarities than differences. Some might call this a progressive view, but in reality it’s just a logical one. With that being said, you would think Fearless Defenders, a title which seemingly strives to show that female superheroes are just the same as male superheroes, would champion the similarities between the sexes rather than exaggerate them. But is issue nine, which examines this idea, up to the task?
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Fearless Defenders 6, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Patrick: Hey guys: GENDER IN COMICS! If there’s one thing we get whipped into a frenzy about on a fairly regular basis over here at Retcon Punch, it’s the portrayal of women in superhero comics. And with good cause: not only is there a decades-long tradition of turning female characters into disposable subjects of the leers and catcalls of male readers, but the inequity between male and female characters continues to this day. When DC relaunched it’s line two years ago, the editors found a home for 4 different past male-Robins, but couldn’t be bothered to include Stephanie Brown in their ranks. Why? The same can be said about Earth’s Green Lanterns: Guy, John, Kyle and Hal were all zipping around the universe, but whither Jade? And even a series like Fearless Defenders, which in 6 issues has only featured one named male character, seems to be plagued with gender problems: occasionally-cheesecakey art; a hysterical, flakey lead; and now the ubiquitous woman in a refrigerator. But it is possible that we put too much responsibility on these all-women series to be paragons of gender equality? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 5, originally released June 5th, 2013.
Drew: Comics love engaging in their own history. Whether they’re rehashing origin stories, resurrecting campy villains, or just making winking nods to their own pasts, comics always find ways to reference their own histories. It makes sense — both creators and fans love comics — but what do you do when the history your referencing isn’t so charming? It’s no secret that comics don’t always have the most enlightened views when it comes to female characters, but what is a writer’s obligation to that history? Should they ignore it? Reclaim it? Embrace it? These are the weird questions Cullen Bunn is forced to address in Fearless Defenders 5, as he blows up the scope to comment on virtually all of Marvel’s female characters. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 1-4, originally released February 6th, March 13th, April 10th and May 8th, 2013.
Patrick: The premise of first four issues of Fearless Defenders is simple: Valkyrie was tasked with recruiting eight female warriors from Earth to serve as Shield Maidens of Odin, but she put off making the decision for so long that a handful of undead Doom Maidens have risen to take their place. Now no longer a matter of selecting who would make the best — or most cohesive — unit of Shield Maidens, Valkyrie ends up assembling a crew who can best be described as motley – composed entirely of women. This ends up being the series’ greatest strengths: no top-tier characters, no common theme connecting the cast and no expectations as to what this team is capable of or responsible for. Continue reading →