This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
What would it take for Bloodshot to settle down? Easy answer, right? Wife and kids. Classic motivators for a cowboy to hang up his boots. We’ve all read enough genre fiction to know what happens next: the quiet of the Bloodshot/Magic Jessie household is violently shattered, sending the hero on a revenge rampage. Hold the phone — writer Jeff Lemire is flipping that trope on his head, instead killing off Bloodshot and making Magic and her daughter the heroes of our story. Continue reading →
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 →
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Bloodshot Reborn 0, originally released March 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: I tend to steer a pretty wide berth around 0 issues. Unlike a first issue, which is clearly designed for newcomers (even if the character has been around for decades), 0 issues might be explicitly pitched as a prequel of sorts, offering origins or explanations for elements already at play in an ongoing series. Then again, they may be prologue for a forthcoming series — a kind of de facto first issue, perhaps tackling inessential exposition that would only bog down the real first issue. Or they might achieve that prologue effect by way of an epilogue for the previous volume, pointing to the future while tying up some loose ends from the past. Any of these varieties can be good, but usually only for longtime readers — folks already invested in the characters, their current situations, or what might happen next. In this way, Bloodshot Reborn 0 is an unfortunate introduction to the franchise, though the appeal of these characters (and this creative team) shines through, even if some of the finer points of the story are lost on newcomers. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Doctor Strange 11, originally released September 7th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.
Taylor: To say that modern movie making has changed the course of comic books would be an understatement. Once wrongfully believed to be the bastion of solely nerds and misfits, the world of comics has now opened up to broader audiences with the wide appeal and easy entry point movies have offer. It’s easy to assume that the scripts for these movies are plundered from the rich depths of over a half a century of serial publication, but that assumption wouldn’t be entirely accurate. As the Civil War movie shows, movies frequently influence their panelled brethren. The Civil War II comic event, while totally independent from the movie, certainly has been influenced by the film, and that comes as no surprise. Marvel has money to make. And though it’s true that the Civil War movie was based on an earlier comic, it’s clear to see that movies, for better or worse, are influencing comics. There is no better example of this than Doctor Strange 11.
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Doctor Strange 6, originally released March 9th, 2016.
Spencer: I’ve never really been able to get into stories about magic. Part of that is just my upbringing — they were strictly forbidden in my household growing up — but I also have trouble getting invested in the stakes. So many characters who use magic are capable of doing anything, of solving any problem effortlessly, and so many stories about magic are obsessed with defining the rules of magic while never establishing why those rules are worth caring about in the first place. Thankfully, Doctor Strange has managed to avoid both of these problems, and issue 6 especially stands out in this regard. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo have crafted a story about the “End of Magic” that actually shows us why the loss of magic would be a tragic blow to the Marvel Universe. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Constantine 2, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Taylor: John Constantine is an addict. If you look at anything that chronicles the life of an addict, you’ll find a chapter or two that speaks of the magnificent high times — even though stark reality later sets in. These high times suggest that addiction is more worthwhile than any reasonable person would believe. With the exception of movies like Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream or shows like A&E’s Intervention, there have been relatively few realistic portrayals of addiction and the effect it has on both its users and those who love them.So it’s odd that a story about magic and the occult would have much insight to offer when it comes to the subject of addiction. Constantine 2 does exactly that while deepening our understanding of what drives the titular hero. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Justice League Dark 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Patrick: Have you ever been introduced to a group of new people with a specific adjective? Someone says “this is my funny friend Patrick” or “you’ll be working with Patrick, he’s really smart.” Suddenly, it doesn’t matter how you view yourself, it becomes your singular goal to live up to that defining adjective. It’s stressful, but having your friends state their expectations of you right upfront increases that likelihood that you will be the thing they say you are. So what do you say about someone to turn them into your hero?
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Justice League Dark 16, originally released January 30th, 2013.
Shelby: I loved magic when I was a kid. Stories about fairies, dragons, unicorns: I ate that shit up. I always wanted so badly for those sorts of things to be real. Even as an adult, I still wish for real magic in the world. Embarrassing confession time: I saw the first Chronicles of Narnia movie in the theater with my family. It came out in 2005, so I was 21 years old, and leaving the movie I was bummed out that I couldn’t actually go to Narnia. Nearly a real adult, and I just wanted to be whisked away to a dreamworld of magic. It’s really no surprise I like Justice League Dark as much as I do; Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes have crafted a world where that magic exists and is in danger of being eradicated. Obviously you know which side I’m rooting for. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Peter are discussing Phantom Stranger 0, originally released September 5, 2012. Phantom Stranger 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: I don’t remember when it is that I first stumbled across William Safire’s cheekily ironic Rules for Writers, but the last rule, “Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives,” has managed to nestle itself in my editing subconscious. I make a point of eliminating any cliche I see on the site (the odd exception aside), which has effectively lowered my tolerance for reading them. It rarely becomes a problem — this is one of the most well-known axioms in writing, after all — but every so often, I’ll come across a piece that indulges in cliches to excess, it’s beyond distracting. The Phantom Stranger 0 is one such example, offering sequences that are so dense with cliches, it’s hard to remember that this story was published in 2012.