There’s No Such Thing As “Down Time” in Black Bolt 7

by Patrick Ehlers

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

I think it’s fair to ask where superheroes find their peace. Zipping through space, or ruling ancient kingdoms, or even fighting street-level crime leaves very little time or energy for self-reflection. Realistically, all these guys would be suffering from PTSD, so even those quieter moments would be rife with unease and conflict. As Black Bolt heads back to Earth, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Frazer Irving demonstrate how, even when the weary do get to rest, it’s not very restful. Continue reading

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Agency and Sacrifice in Black Bolt 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Bolt 6

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

“Freedom isn’t free” has become the insulting platitude gun advocates offer to justify the United States’ unrivaled gun violence numbers. Never mind that countless countries enjoy similar freedoms without the same body counts — the freedom to own a gun, the logic goes, is worth the lives of any number of concertgoers, congressmen, nightclubbers, pedestrians, or schoolchildren. It’s strange that the notion of the cost of freedom has gone from personal costs one might make in order to secure freedom for themselves and their country to some kind of blood sacrifice we demand of others, since the two couldn’t really be more different. One is about noble sacrifice, the other is about throwing someone else under the bus to save your own skin. It’s a point that Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward make elegantly in Black Bolt 6, as the mad scramble for freedom yields some unexpected costs. Continue reading

A Heartbreaking Loss of Innocence in Ms. Marvel 22

by Drew Baumgartner

Ms. Marvel 22

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

The song I’d like to do for you is a song that I had the pleasure of doing when I was 15 years old…it’s a song that will last, unfortunately, for a long, long time. And when I say “unfortunately,” I’m talking about the fact that it will always be relevant to something that is going on in this world of ours.

Stevie Wonder, introducing “Blowin’ in the Wind”

Love, loss, betrayal, greed. There are a number of timeless themes we might trace back to the earliest stories we can find. But there are other themes, just as timeless, that have not always been featured in our stories in this same way — themes kept so out-of-sight that some people refuse to acknowledge that they exist at all. Of course, for the people actually affected by those timeless truth of oppression, it is simply a part of life. If we are any more aware of those themes in this day and age, it is only through listening to the people who actually experience them. As ever, G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel presents a frank account of what life is like for a young muslim woman in America, bringing hard truths to those of us who might not see them, otherwise. Continue reading

The Past is Both a Strength and a Weakness in Black Bolt 5

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Bolt 5

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

I had a boss who used to say “your greatest weapon is ultimately also the sword you fall upon.” That is, our strengths tend to secretly carry weaknesses. He usually meant it in terms of workplace skills — natural leaders might not make for great team players, for example — but I’ve found this idea remarkably insightful in people’s personal lives, as well. Maybe you draw strength from your extended family, though that may tie you down geographically, or from a hobby that also sucks up most of your free time. It’s an idea that’s relatively well-worn in superhero comics, but is generally limited to loved ones becoming liabilities. Black Bolt 5 offers a different take, injecting its usual style and emotional depth to both Blackagar’s strength and his weaknesses. Continue reading

Making a Connection in Black Bolt 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Bolt 4

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

Black Bolt and Crusher Creel are about as different as characters get in the Marvel universe. Sure, Black Bolt is generally a good guy and Creel is generally a bad guy, but they’re also on opposite ends of the relatability spectrum. Creel has that sympathetic backstory that makes his decisions understandable, while Black Bolt’s regality and silence make him almost impenetrably aloof. Black Bolt’s abilities stem from his genetics, while Creel’s came to him later in life. All of these things make Black Bolt and Creel unlikely bedfellows, but Black Bolt 4 finds them forging a connection, even as Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward do everything the can to illustrate how different these characters are. Continue reading

IvX 1

ivx1

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing IvX 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Last month’s IvX 0 did a fantastic job of summing up the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men and showing why their going to war was only a matter of time. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s IvX 1, though, is the issue where that powder keg finally ignites into all-out war, and war…well, war is ugly. IvX 1 plays up the fun of watching these two groups duke it out, but also the pain and sadness inherent in its scenario. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 10

ms marvel 10Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Ms. Marvel 10, originally released December 17th, 2014.
slim-bannerSpencer: Ms. Marvel is a revolutionary book in many ways. A title starring a Muslim young woman — and written by a Muslim woman as well — is remarkable enough in its own right, but it’s also notable how writer G. Willow Wilson has used the book, and the character of Kamala Khan, to address issues of identity in a way that any reader could relate to. That said, over the past few issues we here at Retcon Punch have often felt like Kamala’s primary foe, the Inventor, has been strangely unrelated to the themes that seem most important to the book. Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona fix that minor problem in Ms. Marvel 10 by positioning the Inventor as a stand-in for adults who prey on children or make them feel worthless, giving Kamala a new role as a defender of youth culture in the process. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 9

ms marvel 9Today, Suzanne and Taylor are discussing Ms. Marvel 9, originally released October 15, 2014.

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Suzanne: Ms. Marvel 9 introduces the subject of having a heritage that you don’t necessarily connect to. Who hasn’t gone through that at some point as a teenager? We’ve all been there, usually in less dramatic fashion than Kamala’s trip to New Attilan. For some teens, it looks like telling your dad you don’t want to go to med school like he did. For Kamala, this essentially expands on her feelings of difference and being an outsider as a Pakistani American. Continue reading

FF 16

ff 16

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.

Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.

Continue reading

Infinity 6

infinity 6-INFINITY

Today, Ethan and Spencer are discussing Infinity 6, originally released November 27th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.

infinity divider

Ethan: When I was starting college, I knew – objectively – that I would at some point no longer be a student; I’d graduate, get a job, do the adulthood thing. But at the time, steeped in the day-to-day evasion of and frantic return to schoolwork, hanging out with friends, sleeping as little as possible, the thought if college actually ending rarely crossed my mind. And then BAM it was time to get up to go to the early-morning rehearsal for the graduation ceremony. College was finished, I was moving into a new apartmen and starting a new job. That sense of disconnect – when something long awaited feels as though it happens and is shoved into the past before we have the chance to actually experience – is the same feeling I’ve gotten during most of the turning points in the Infinity event, and the same is true of its finale. Continue reading