The Power of Friendship (and smoke) in Daredevil 24

by Michael DeLaney

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

How long can you stay mad at your best friend? In the case of Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson, it took about 20+ issues. In Daredevil 24 Charles Soule and Alec Morgan finally begin to mend their broken relationship as Matt continues his grand quest to “legalize superheroing.” That, and pick on poor Tombstone. Continue reading

History Deepens in Doctor Strange 23

by Taylor Anderson

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

The Marvel universe is as deep as the Mariana Trench, which is to say it’s practically bottomless. After more than fifty years of continuously pumping out serialized stories, it’s fair to say that no person knows everything about the Marvel universe no matter how much they’ve read. The breadth of its history gives writers a leg up when writing their stories: when you have deep pool to draw from it’s unlikely it will run dry any time soon. Even with the vastness of this narrative landscape, Doctor Strange stands out because it always hints at an even deeper world history beyond the Marvel pages. This is something Dennis Hopeless knows and uses to his great advantage in Doctor Strange 21.

Continue reading

Proceeding(s) Forward in Daredevil 23

by Ryan Desaulniers

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

A good villain pulls a particular thread of a hero’s core fabric; a great villain can challenge a hero on multiple levels — as Wilson Fisk so often has for Matt Murdock over the years. The Kingpin’s inclusion in the current DD arc, “Supreme,” struck me as a solid idea when it was dangled as last issue’s final reveal, but this issue shows that this great villain brings with him a multi-pronged approach to opposing Murdock which helps to progress this story on many levels. Continue reading

Understanding Golden Age Tropes is an Asset in Doctor Strange 22

by Taylor Anderson

Doctor Strange 22

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

No matter how much success comic book movies have in crossing over into the mainstream or how dark and gritty Christopher Nolan, Alan Moore, or anyone else can make their comic book universe, monthlies will never be able to escape the shadow of the goofiness of the Golden Age. In some ways, the silliness of Golden Age comics have been celebrated by serious comic book fans and writers. They knowingly acknowledge that comics of the past weren’t great, but also pay homage to the stories that gave birth to some of today’s most beloved heroes. Doctor Strange is a product of the Golden Age, and in issue 22 Dennis Hopeless both celebrates and takes a dig at these roots. Continue reading

Matt Looks to the Law to End Crime in Daredevil 22

by Spencer Irwin

Daredevil 22

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

As much as I admire superheroes and the aspirational messages they’re designed to send, it is occasionally troubling that they solve 95% of their problems with violence. There are other ways, often better ways, to help people, and that’s something Matt Murdock has always understood. It only makes sense, then, that the big plan to “end crime” in NYC writer Charles Soule (a lawyer himself) has been teasing for the past few issues has nothing to do with super-powered spectacle, and everything to do with setting a legal precedent.  Continue reading

Doctor Strange 21

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Doctor Strange 21, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Taylor: Here are Retcon-Punch, we read a lot of comics. This is great in so many ways, but primarily because at no other time in history has their been so many quality options for monthly reads. However, the deluge of great comics can take its toll. Given too much of something good, even great comics, a person quickly becomes numb to their pleasures. Reading so many wonderful series means that it becomes easy, on occasion, to overlook just how amazing and unique some issues really are. It’s for this reason that Doctor Strange 21 stands out to me. Not only is it an excellent issue on its own, but it reminds me why comics are some of the most innovative mediums going today. Continue reading

Daredevil 18

Alternating Currents: Daredevil 18, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 18, originally released September 2nd, 2015. 

Act three: The climax occurs as well as the dénouement, a brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns. In other words, it is simply the resolution.

Wikipedia, Act (drama)

Drew: It might be reductive to call the final act of a story the most important, but it certainly defines what kind of story it is; is it a tragic or optimistic? Is it about how people and things change or about how they stay the same? Is it about satisfying resolutions for the characters, or satisfying resolutions for the plot? I’ve presented some obviously false dichotomies there, but the point is, the exact nature of a story, from its ultimate message to its storytelling sensibilities, can’t be defined until that final act. That puts a lot of pressure on the final act — a pressure that is doubly true in comics, where the final issue may make up a tiny fraction of the series’ run. Of course, it’s under pressure that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Daredevil has always had its highest moments, from moving Matt and company across the country to gracefully integrating into whatever crossovers Marvel cooked up to simply resolving the daring cliffhangers they came up with the month before. Daredevil 18, their final issue, is no different, which is exactly why it’s such a remarkable ending. Continue reading

Daredevil 16

daredevil 16Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 16, originally released June 24th, 2015. 

Patrick: One of the base assumptions that I usually have to check when discussing a work of genre fiction is the assumption that the villain acts as an analogue to the creative forces behind the story. Heroes — be they superheroes or brave knights or swashbuckling adventurers — seldom get to trade in particularly complex or nuanced ideas. But villains! Villains get to have a much more human relationship to morality, often holding conflicting ideas in their heads. What’s more is that both the villains and the creators have the same job: make the hero suffer. This relationship gets even trickier when the characters are on-loan from elsewhere, as is so often the case with comic books. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have made their mark on Daredevil, but the character does not belong to them in the strictest sense. Issue 16 sees the creators trying to reconcile their relationship to the titular hero, and in so doing, welcome a host of villains into their drama. Continue reading

Spider-Gwen 3

spider-gwen 3

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

Spider-Gwen 1

spider-gwen 1

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