Imposter Syndrome in The Dreaming 1

by Drew Baumgartner

The Dreaming 1

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

The Lord of the Dreaming has abandoned his post, leaving his realm in the hands of his followers and beneficiaries. That’s the premise of The Dreaming, but it’s also a reasonable explanation of “The Sandman Universe” group, where a handful of hand-picked creators have been given the keys to the settings and characters Neil Gaiman created back before Vertigo was even a glimmer in Karen Berger’s eye. I’m fascinated at Gaiman’s mentorship role here, and how Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely have addressed those real-world elements as meta-commentaries in the narrative, but I’ll limit the focus here to how they address the notion of reverence for what has come before. Continue reading

Sandman Universe 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Sandman Universe 1

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

Drew: Of the “graphic novel” canon — that is, comics that non-comics readers have (however begrudgingly) deemed worthy of their time and interest — Sandman is far and away the longest. Persepolis and Maus constitute two volumes apiece, and Watchmen just the one, but Sandman spills into ten (or more, depending on how you count decades-later follow-ups like this one). However we diagnose that oddity — either as an unusually long, but no less novelistic “literary comic,” or as a more humble ongoing that was elevated to the pantheon of comics grownups aren’t afraid to read — I think the explanation is the same: the flexibility of Dream and his kingdom. Everybody dreams, affording Dream excuses to interact with every corner of the world, from kittens to serial killers, from William Shakespeare to the demons of Hell. And because of Dream’s role as a storyteller of sorts, the only guarantee in any issue was that it would contain a story (often wrapped up in a love letter to stories and storytelling). That is very much true of Sandman Universe 1, which spins its story off into four supporting series, but not before pausing to simply luxuriate in their worlds. Continue reading

American Gods 1

Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing American Gods 1, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Shelby: I love the power of pagan mythology. The magics of these stories seem more raw, more chaotic, more basely elemental than what you find in newer, monotheistic religions: like a no-holds-barred Old Testament. And I’m not even talking Greek and Roman pantheons, here; I’m talking ancient Egypt, Norse, Slavic. This is the unfiltered magic that shapes the earth, sea, and skies around us. This is the kind of mystic power Neil Gaiman taps into in his novel American Gods; Gaiman imagines an America populated with these ancient beings, brought here by our immigrant forefathers and forgotten, left to fend for themselves as the world changes around them. I’m sure it will come as no great surprise to you, gentle readers, that I am a big, big fan of this book (and all things Gaiman), and am already enjoying the comic book adaptation with writer P. Craig Russell and artist Scott Hampton. Some NSFW images to follow, so consider yourselves warned.  Continue reading

Best of 2015: Best Issues

best issues 2015
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 2015. Continue reading

Miracleman 4

Alternating Currents: Miracleman 4, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Miracleman 4, originally released November 4th, 2015.

Drew: What is religion for? Having not grown up with religion, I’ve never really understood. I can appreciate the origins of religion as a kind of pre-scientific way of explaining the world, but what’s the appeal nowadays, when most reasonable people accept that these stories aren’t literally true? I honestly have no idea, and religious friends can only give vague answers about community and faith. I suspect different people will have different answers, but for me, it seems that religion scratches an itch I just don’t have. That sentiment is sometimes met with pity from those who genuinely believe that a religious life is more fulfilling. I’d never be willing to dig through the stories and traditions that define any one faith, but what if faith wasn’t part of the equation at all? Miracleman 4 asks exactly that, looking into the life of a woman who has no doubt about the validity of her religion. Continue reading

The Sandman Overture 6

 

sandman overture 6

Today, Shelby and Michael are discussing the The Sandman Overture 6, originally released September 30th, 2015.

Shelby: I’m a big fan of Rick and Morty, that cartoon on Adult Swim that’s basically Back to the Future on crack. Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t seen season one of Rick and Morty, you’re best off just skipping past the break to the rest of the post. Anyway, there’s an episode where Rick, the mad scientist grandpa, basically ruins the whole world, mutates everyone into a Cronenberg-esque monster. You think he’s going to have a clever idea to save everybody, but instead he finds a version of the world in a parallel dimension where he solved the mutation problem but he and Morty died. Rick and Morty merely take their places, and go on living in this new dimension. It’s a mind-blowing episode, one of those special moments when you realize a show is much more than a show. Now imagine that, but instead of having to find a new universe, Rick had to create a new multiverse completely from scratch, and you’ve got the end of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Overture. Continue reading

The Sandman Overture 5

Alternating Currents: The Sandman Overture 5, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing the The Sandman Overture 5, originally released May 27th, 2015.

Drew: Neil Gaiman has never been shy about pulling down the curtains that separate fiction from reality. I might call it “breaking the fourth wall,” but it’s less winking at the camera, and more showing us the puppet’s strings to better appreciate the puppet itself. In that vein, it’s never been hard to see Gaiman as Dream, the raven-haired prince of stories, fighting to maintain order over his dominion of characters, settings, and situations. It makes for some fascinating commentary on the creative process, especially when Dream comes up against forces beyond his control, even within his own stories. That’s exactly the name of the game in The Sandman Overture 5, as Gaiman pulls the curtain back on Dream’s mother and brings in some surprises that even Destiny didn’t see coming. Continue reading

The Sandman Overture 2

sandman 2Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing the The Sandman Overture 2, originally released March 26th, 2014.

Shelby: There are a few dreams I’ve had in my life that I remember very clearly. Once I dreamt I had to go to a new job, and in order to get there I had to swim underwater. On my first day, we’re swimming and swimming, and I’m running out of air but I have to stay behind my guide. Then I woke up gasping; I had been holding my breath in my sleep. Not too long ago, I dreamt I was in a dark room that was even darker near the door. I had to pass through the darkest part of the room to leave, and as I did, two hands shot out of the shadows and grabbed my arms. That was one that had me bolt upright in bed, and then turn on every light in my apartment. I think these dreams stuck with me because there was a sense of reality to them; I was actually holding my breath, I could almost feel the stranger’s hands on my arms. Dreams are like bits of reality spun together to resemble a sort of whole, a feeling that Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams have somehow captured in their long-awaited second installment of Sandman Overture.

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By Cupid’s pistols, it’s Valentine’s Day!

For Valentine’s Day last year, you may recall, we here at Retcon Punch showed you our love with corny, superhero valentines. Obviously, we had to do it again. So, Internet, this is our way of saying Be Mine; please enjoy these free, awesome valentines! Print them, share them, just keep our name on them; more after the break!

superman wonder woman valentine

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Guardians of the Galaxy 8

guardians of galaxy 8 infinityToday, Scott and Patrick are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 8, originally released October 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
infinity dividerScott: I always know I like a comic when it stops feeling “new”. There comes a point in every series where I’m no longer reading because it has potential to be good, but because it actually has become good (either that, or it never realizes that potential and I stop reading altogether). Eight issues in, and I feel like Guardians of the Galaxy is no longer getting by on merely being new. Without Iron Man to buoy it any longer, this is something of a sink or swim moment for this series, and it doesn’t miss a beat. Everything is clicking- the writing, the characters, the humor and the art. Especially the art. This is the issue that moves Guardians from my “Intriguing New Titles” column to my “Must Read!” column.
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