Strange Continues to Damn Himself in Doctor Strange 387

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spencer: Damnation is an appropriate title for this event in several ways. The entire city of Las Vegas was damned to Hell when it was destroyed during Secret Empire, and its revival has damned the soul of anyone who dares get near the city. Perhaps most significant, though — especially in the Doctor Strange tie-in issues — is the damnation the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Stephen Strange, faces. There’s the literal damnation courtesy of Mephisto, of course, but Donny Cates and Niko Henrichon seem much more interested in the self-damnation Strange has put himself through, the way he’s driven away his friends and allies, and the increasingly desperate and toxic ways he’s attempting to cope with this fact. Continue reading


Doctor Strange: Damnation 2 is Basically a Heist Movie

by Taylor Anderson

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

Just as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Steven Soderbergh will reemerge from “retirement” now and again to make another heist movie. One can’t blame him for this: heist movies are fun, and Soderbergh has shown that he’s become very good at making them. Still, why is it that our thirst for these can’t be sated? Is it seeing familiar faces from different walks of life team-up? The notion of stealing for a just cause like Robin Hood? Or perhaps it’s serving comeuppance to someone who deserves it. Whatever the reason may be, the heist story is here to stay, and, as Donny Cates and Nick Spencer show, is easily transferable to the superhero genre. Continue reading

Underestimating Rock Bottom in Doctor Strange 386

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spencer: Doctor Strange has had a rough year. Mind you, I don’t think superheroes ever get to have easy years, but Strange has still had it harder than most as of late, between the Empirikul’s magical genocide, Loki’s coup, and the loss of all his friends and allies. It makes sense that Strange might be looking for a win. It makes sense that his decision to raise and restore Las Vegas might not be entirely selfless. And, given the price he’s paying for this act, it makes sense that his attempts to make things right are only leading to more mistakes. Strange thought he’d hit rock bottom, but he didn’t realize how much worse things could get. Continue reading

Doctor Strange: Damnation 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

Spencer: Since our audience has excellent taste, I’m going to assume that you’re all watching NBC’s The Good Place, right? Essentially a show about lost souls trying to earn their way into Heaven by becoming better people, one of the more interesting concepts percolating beneath the show’s surface is the idea that the rules dictating what afterlife you’re sent to are inherently flawed and unfair. It’s almost impossible to earn your way into the Good Place — only the most selfless and charitable of souls make it — leaving plenty of folks who led wholly mediocre lives (or whose greatest crimes were being born in Florida) facing an eternity of torture and punishment. I couldn’t help but think of this while reading Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, and Rod Reis’ Doctor Strange: Damnation 1, which finds the city of Las Vegas, the Avengers, and perhaps the entire world being judged by equally biased, unfair rules. Continue reading

Daredevil 17


Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 17, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Our mission statement here at Retcon Punch has always been to foster thoughtful discussions about comic books, but there’s another idea that’s always factored heavily into our work as well: everyone’s unique perspective contributes heavily to their interpretation of any given book. It’s an idea that kept popping into my head as I read Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla’s Daredevil 17, because my feelings about this issue are heavily influenced by my feelings about Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s previous run with the character. I can only imagine that this story reads far differently to anyone without that attachment. Continue reading

Loki: Agent of Asgard 4

loki 4

Today, Patrick and Suzanne are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 4, originally released May 7th, 2014. 

slim-bannerPatrick: This issue borrows its title from one of our favorite / least favorite entries from TV Tropes. The trope is known as “Let’s You and Him Fight” and refers to the all-too-common occurrence in superhero comics that forces heroes to fight each other. Presumably, this stems from our desire to see our hypothetical “who would win in a fight?” conversations played out on the page. But it’s not like we ever really get an answer to that question — those hero-fights always end in ties — and the brawl is just prelude to a team-up. We may be watching Batman vs. Superman in 2015, but they’ll be chumming it up in Justice League of America in 2016. This is Loki we’re talking about here, so it’s not quite so simple. Take a look at that title again: it’s “Lets You and Him Fight,” conspicuously leaving the apostrophe out of “Let’s.” (Someday, I won’t care about the absence of apostrophes in titles, but that’ll have to be next week.) Al Ewing takes our understanding and expectations of this trope and subverts them by applying a handful of others, creating a truly innovative piece of fiction made up of all old pieces. Continue reading

Thunderbolts 22

thunderbolts 22Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Thunderbolts 22, originally released February 26th, 2014.

Shelby: Kids love “…and they lived happily ever after.” It’s an uncomplicated and rewarding end to a story; the good guys are rewarded, the bad guys punished, the boy gets the girl, and the plucky sidekicks probably got some action as well. It’s not until you get older that the everything-worked-in-the-end approach grows stale. It’s too neat and clean; we want our stories to reflect the complexities of every day life, not tie everything up in a nicely resolved bow. Personally, I find a too-happy ending where everything works out to be insincere and frankly a little boring. It might be surprising, then, that I love Charles Soule’s latest issue of Thunderbolts. Leave it to Soule to deliver an end to the recent Thunderbolts arc that gives the “good” guys exactly what they want and leaves the bad (by comparison) guy with a mess to deal with, without once appearing insincere.

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Thunderbolts 21

Alternating Currents: Thunderbolts 21, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Thunderbolts 21, originally released January 29th, 2014.

Drew: Life is complicated. It’s an axiom that we’re all familiar with, but in a vacuum, our own lives are pretty simple: we have basic needs that must be met, and additional wants that we try to meet. It’s only when people, with their own conflicting needs and desires, start interacting that things get messy. That’s the stuff narratives are made of — a hero encounters some opposition to what he wants or needs — but what if the team itself is a source of opposition? What if your heroes can’t even decide what their wants and needs are? That’s when thing start to really resemble the complexities of life, and is exactly the kind of situation the team finds themselves in in Thunderbolts 21. Continue reading

Thunderbolts 20

thunderbolts 20

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing Thunderbolts 20, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Patrick: With issue 20, Thunderbolts enters All-New Marvel NOW! territory. Functionally, this means that this issue should serve as a good jumping-on point for new readers, and the cover broadcasts that in a variety of ways: note that the issue’s number is technically 20.NOW; there’s a second issue number in the upper right corner, declaring this “No Mercy #1”; the All-New Marvel Now logo is emblazoned along the bottom; and finally, the cover prominently features a character that’s not normally on the team. The contents of the issue follow suit, giving us another start to a delightfully self-contained adventure. With it’s one-job-for-you-one-job-for-me structure, Thunderbolts might be the series most perfectly suited for this periodic refreshing of the Marvel line. Continue reading

Deadpool 12

deadpool 12

Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Deadpool 12, originally released June 26th, 2013.

Scott: You can’t avoid the inevitable. Throughout Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan’s Deadpool run, there has been one constant: no matter how much Wade Wilson has to suffer, he always kills the guy he sets out to kill. As a result, Deadpool comics are more about the thrill of the ride than the destination. As individual episodes, Deadpool is light fun, with humorous characters regularly being introduced and killed in humorous ways. So when it comes to a villain who has been around for several issues, should we expect his death to be several times as much fun? Deadpool 12 says so long to a character who has defined the series’ second major arc and, aside from some structural problems, Posehn and Duggan deliver an epically fun, albeit inevitable, farewell.

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