We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing Hawkeye 6, Spider-Gwen 19 and Unstoppable Wasp 5. Also, we discussed Jean Grey 1on Thursdayand will be discussing All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 1 on Monday and Secret Empire 1 and Black Bolt 1 on Tuesday, so come back for those!As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Black Cloud 1, originally released April 5th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: We all have some tolerance for ambiguity in stories. It’s what allows mysteries to remain mysterious until the final act, and just generally keeps us guessing about what our characters might do next. Tolerable levels of ambiguity might be called “intriguing,” but once that tolerance threshold is crossed, that intrigue curdles into confusion. There’s no hard rule for finding that threshold (which I suspect varies from person to person), but I suspect it hinges on the faith in the creators. That is, audiences will sit through moments where they have no idea what’s going on so long as they trust that it will all make sense in the end. Audiences tend to have a supply of that trust as a kind of benefit-of-the-doubt, which is why they can abide flash-forward cold opens, but that supply can be exhausted if the creators don’t work to reassure the audience that they can be clear when they need to be. Alas, such is the case with Black Cloud 1, an issue so dense in teasing mythology about storytelling, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for actual storytelling. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Spider-Gwen 9, originally released June 15th, 2016.
Spencer: There’s little I hate more than being forced or coerced into doing something. I don’t know about any of you, but I hate that feeling so much that sometimes, even if someone is trying to force me to do something I know I’ll like, I’ll oppose it almost simply out of spite. The only thing worse than someone trying to force you to do something is when life itself seemingly backs you into an inescapable corner, when a twist of fate seemingly decides the course of your life without your input whatsoever. In Spider-Gwen 9, Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi examine how Gwen Stacy’s responded to the twist of fate that’s come to define her life, whether she wanted it to or not. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Spider-Women Omega 1, originally released June 1st, 2016.
Spencer: In the letters at the end of Spider-Women Omega, writers Dennis Hopeless, Jason Latour, and Robbie Thompson all touch upon one of the primary elements that has made this crossover so strong: its focus on character-driven storytelling, not spectacle for spectacle’s sake. Spider-Women‘s grand finale sticks with this winning formula, leaving every character in a far different state emotionally than they were at the story’s beginning. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Spider-Gwen 3, originally released April 1st, 2015.
Patrick: Last week, Drew and I posited that Amazing Spider-Man 17 was about Peter Parking being a bad grown-up. So much of Peter’s identity is tied up in childish — specifically teenage — tropes, that the character has very little sense of agency. He’s reactive more than active. Peter doesn’t have a plan for when he arrives three hours late to his Aunt Mae’s birthday party because he was out fighting the Green Goblin, he just yammers and stammers until he’s ostracized everyone he loves. ASM 17 saw a push away from that attitude with the help of Peter’s sorta-girl-friend-but-not-really (look, Spider-Man got complicated for a while there), but no matter how many opportunities for growth our Spider-Man has enjoyed over his 50 year history, fresh Spider-Man analogues have to start back at square one. Of course, teenage drama might look a little different with the genders reversed. Spider-Gwen 3 ends up being a frustrating exploration of navigating the tough decisions as a teenage Spider-Woman. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Gwen 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Patrick: If you had to name the most important quality for a superhero story to nail, what would it be? Action? Adventure? Humor? Relatability? Kind of depends on the character, doesn’t it? What I think ends up being most important across publishers and mediums is the story’s ability to express the fundamental nature of the character. If you’re telling a Batman story, it better be dark, grimey, and morally ambiguous. If you’re telling a Spider-Man story, it better be humorous, optimistic and dutiful. So how on earth would anyone write a Spider-Gwen story? The character barely exists beyond a small roll in the recent Spider-Verse event. Fans latched on to the character for a number of reasons (everyone misses Gwen Stacy), but the clearest virtue of the character is that she looks amazing. In lieu of a letter’s page, editor Nick Lowe thanks fans for worshiping the incredible design of Gwen’s costume, celebrating it through fan-art and cos-play. This obsession with image becomes the fundamental nature of stories in Gwen’s world, as Spider-Gwen turns the superficial into the substantial. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Deadpool 40, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Taylor: The old saying goes “art imitates life.” we here at Retcon Punch believe comics to be art, so that means these funny little picture-books imitate life the same as your Van Goghs and Shakespeares of the world. Being things that are published every month, comics are perhaps better suited than other art forms at reflecting life since they can comment on real life situations almost as soon as they happen. Given this, we shouldn’t be at all surprised that a title like Deadpool would find time to comment on life, especially considering it’s unique ability to break the fourth wall and speak directly to readers. But who would have ever guessed that the comic would tackle such a loaded topic as environmental policy? Always surprising, Deadpool once again takes a unique approach to story telling in issue 40 and in so doing, enters a major environmental debate. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Wolverine and the X-Men 1, originally released March 5th, 2014.
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”
Patrick: I have a number of teacher-friends, my colleague and responder on this article, Taylor among them. The idiom above is largely bullshit, but it stings enough that I’ve seen links posted on facebook to articles decrying the attitude that it represents. The argument always follows that teaching presents its own specific challenges, distinct from the discipline being taught. (The follow-up argument, naturally, being that teachers are under-valued in our society, but like whatever: we’re all undervalued.) For my money, the hardest thing about teaching has got to be the shifting of priorities, from the betterment of yourself to the betterment of others. When I fail myself — write a bad article, perform as crummy scene, log something incorrectly in QuickBooks — I’m mostly just hurting myself. But when a teacher blows off their duties, there are a bunch of people, children even, that pay the price. Wolverine and the X-Men renumbers itself and zeros in on this burden of responsibility, just who can deal with it and who’s struggling. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing A + X 4, originally released January 23th, 2013.
Scott:A + X makes me feel like a kid again, playing with my action figures after school. I would create worlds where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars heroes could coexist, Han Solo and Donatello teaming up to defeat… well, something, I’m sure. It was never really the end result that interested me, but rather the excitement of combining these two things that I loved individually. What it created was an especially fleeting sort of fun, where the initial idea was the best part and it grew harder to sustain the longer it went on. I feel the same way about A +X, which is why splitting the issue into two stories is such a good idea — the novelty wears off much less over just ten pages. A + X 4 pairs Avengers and X-Men characters who compliment each other in interesting ways: first, two who have a lot in common, then two who could hardly be more different.