Ryan: Sometimes, if a character is too interesting or too dynamic, they can take over a narrative. I call it the Dawson’s Creek conundrum, since that was a show that was hypothetically built around (and named after) the least engaging character. It’s not always a problem. It can be fun to have a character enter the story, take over for a bit and then step out, as long as the story knows that it’s happening. In Captain America: Steve Rogers 14, writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz have a character taking over, but don’t cede the entire book to her. Continue reading
Without artists, all of your favorite characters, scenes, costumes, and locations would just be words on a page. In short, they’re the ones that make comics comics. That’s a lot of responsibility, yet the best artists manage to juggle all of those tasks and inject some meaningful art and style into the proceedings. Whether its a subtle expression or a jaw-dropping action sequence, our favorite artists add the requisite magic to make their worlds and characters real. These are our top 10 artists of 2016.
Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2016. Continue reading
Patrick: The most troubling thing about any inspirational figure is that they are necessarily mutable. Human beings are never only one thing, but we often reduce them to a single trait or value so that we may incorporate that into our own view of the world. John Lennon believed in peace, Martin Luther King Jr. believed in equality, Steve Jobs believed in innovation. Those are all trite reductions of fantastically complicated people, but it is useful to have avatars of these qualities and principals. Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’ Steve Rogers Captain America 1 sets out to complicate one of the most inspirational figures in comics — which I feel is a necessary exploration of the Greatest Generation — but the issue is almost more interested in the concepts of inspiration and legacy than the specific twist deployed on the final splash page. Continue reading
Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion 1, originally released January 13, 2016.
Mark: I have to admit, Green Lantern proper and the continuing adventures of Hal Jordan in the New 52/DC YOU, has not captivated me for a few years now. I was, then, incredibly excited when Green Lantern: Lost Army launched in the aftermath of Convergence. Cullen Bunn and Jesús Saíz’s series started as one of the strongest Green Lantern stories in years, and I was very excited to see where it went. Unfortunately my initial enthusiasm was not universal, and the story kind of lost the thread as it went on. So despite DC’s editorial promise to let all of their new books run for at least 12 issues, Lost Army was a victim of DC’s panic in the face of flagging sales. Cancelled after 6 issues, DC promised to wrap up the story started by Bunn in Lost Army with a 6 issue mini-series: Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion, with the departure of Bunn and Saíz, replaced by writer Tom Taylor and artist Ethan Van Sciver.
Well, “wrap up.” Because, while it may have been explained away as a continuation of Lost Army, Edge of Oblivion is a new #1, for all intents and purposes it begins a whole new story completely divorced from Bunn’s work before. For better or for worse, Taylor has taken the base core of Lost Army (Green Lantern Corps lost in space/time), and gone from there. No more pyramids, no more Mogo being a source for the entire ring spectrum, no more flashbacks to John Stewart’s life on Earth. Continue reading
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern: The Lost Army 5, originally released October 21, 2015.
Michael: How do you value one life over another? Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Green Lantern: Lost Army 5 shows us the burdens of being the person in charge who has to make this tough decisions. It also does something that is equally difficult: making John Stewart interesting. Continue reading
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.
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, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 40, originally released March 4th, 2015.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Drew: I’ve always been frustrated by endings. Not necessarily because I want the story to continue, and not even because they’re done poorly (though they often are), but because the notion of “ending” draws attention to the limits of the narrative precisely when we want to savor every moment of the story itself. “Life goes on,” so the saying goes, but stories don’t — at least, not on the page. It’s a testament to this awkwardness that even William Shakespeare felt the need to lampshade it, defiantly pointing at the limits of the narrative itself in the hopes of elevating it beyond them. Charles Soule does something very similar in his Swamp Thing 40, turning this final issue into a postmodern commentary on endings in general. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing 39, originally released February 4th, 2015.
“My lack of vision was unsurprising, in a way. If you’ve lived within a system long enough, it’s hard to imagine existing without it.”
Lady Weeds / The Machine Queen, Swamp Thing 39
Patrick: Comics, and superhero comics in particular, are a recursive, thematically redundant medium. Archie’s always going to date two ladies, Batman’s always going to miss his parents, Spider-Man is always going to crack wise. But if the X-Men are always going to be an analogue for any group with outsider status, why do we even bother to pick up the new issues? Is there something comfortable in reiterating on the same themes over and over again? Swamp Thing 39 features just about every single Swamp Thing-ism you can name — grotesque body horror, warring elementals, physically repulsive affection, John Constantine — but still seems to slyly suggest that there’s an alternative to all of it. Charles Soule has played the part of Swamp Thing writer so faithfully for so long, but if he’s any bit as anarchic as Lady Weeds — a character of his creation — we might be in store for an unpredictable ending to his final Swamp Thing story. Continue reading