Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Spider-Woman 10, originally released August 26th, 2015.
Spencer: I’m a suburban kid at heart, but I also really enjoy the city. That makes me a bit of an outlier amongst my extended family, which is filled with farmers and country folk. I dunno, I just enjoy having people and places close to my home — the quiet and sparseness of the country creeps me out big time. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, though, it’s obvious that there’s a drastic difference between the city and the country. In Dennis Hopeless and Natacha Bustos’ Spider-Woman 10, those differences have come to represent Jessica Drew’s dual lives. The city — New York City, to be exact — is Jessica’s old life as an Avenger, a complicated life full of chaos, while the strange simplicity of her new life as a P.I. is perfectly — and quite literally — represented by the American Midwest. It’s crystal clear which of those lives Jess prefers, but with the end of the world approaching, she doesn’t really have a choice as to which one she must live. Continue reading →
Today, 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 →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Daredevil 6, originally released July 23rd, 2014.
Spencer: This new volume of Daredevil has largely revolved around Matt Murdock’s move to San Francisco and how his unfamiliarity with that city has affected his skills as a crime fighter. Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez’s Daredevil 6 finds Matt returning to New York City (seemingly only so he can get mixed-up with Original Sin), but despite being back in his old stomping grounds, things don’t get any easier for Matt. Waid spends this entire issue showing us just how unprepared Matt is now that all his secrets are out in the open; the way Waid piles tragedy atop tragedy atop tragedy is horrifically beautiful. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Spencer are discussing Trees 3, originally released July 23rd, 2014.
Greg: At my high school, marching band was a huge deal. It had all the emotions, pressures, and big personalities of a championship football team. I played in the pit upfront (marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones) my entire high school career. My freshman year was the long-running, much-loved band director’s swan song — he also happened to be my dad, which definitely didn’t help with the pressure thing. We won state championships for the first time that year, meaning my sophomore year definitely didn’t help with the pressure thing. Certain instructors and students started treating it like a military outfit, and it was too much for me. I took to my LiveJournal and posted an obscenities-and-hormones fueled diatribe on the people who I felt were taking it too far. My parents immediately found out. My dad, no longer the band director but now the assistant principal, ordered me to face the new band director in a one-on-one. I went in expecting to be eviscerated, but was surprised to find the director met me with patience, understanding, and forgiveness. I was primed and ready for battle, but instead had a deep, insightful, mutually respectful conversation. This sense of narrative rise-and-hard-left-turn happens in Trees 3 as well, and left me feeling similarly satisfied.
Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing Trees 2, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Tallahassee: My mama always told me someday I’d be good at something. Who’d a guessed that something’d be zombie-killing? Columbus: Probably nobody.
Patrick: Disaster narratives are always going to be rooted in the hardships of survival. When the aliens invade or the world starts to crumble on its foundations, that’s how we insert ourselves into the story: “how would I survive?” Zombie stories have permeated the zeitgeist so thoroughly that that question has slowly evolved into “how would I thrive?” That’s why Zombieland is so successful – instead of dwelling on the nitty gritty day-to-day of not-dying, the movie speedily gets around to the business of defining and achieving success in this world. Tallahassee isn’t a crass opportunist, he’s a man that understands his skills in the zombie apocalypse, and he’ll use those skills to better his quality of life. Trees, despite its unique premise, is also able to quickly move on to the business of understanding and taking advantage of the disaster. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Daredevil 4, originally released June 18th, 2014.
Not everyone is you.
Drew: The realization that there are other people with feelings and motivations separate from our own is a key moment in child brain development. As early (and often) as that lesson comes, we’re still pretty bad at understanding that people have different perspectives. We want different things, value different things, and believe in different methods for how to achieve our goals, yet it’s still hard to understand why someone would disagree with you. It’s obvious they’re wrong! Why can’t they see it? Those differences of perspective tend to correlate to differences of experience — middle aged Russians are likely going to agree with each other more than either would with a teenaged Australian — but it’s the differences within those groups that can lead to the biggest failures of understanding. That’s exactly the kind of failure Matt is confronted with in Daredevil 4, where Kirsten needs to remind him that not everyone is quite as resilient (or noble) as ol’ horn-head. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Trees 1, originally released May 28th, 2014.Drew: All stories have a narrator. This point was obvious enough to me in high school english classes, as we aimed to parse first person from close third person, or subjective from omniscient, but was utterly lost when I thought about the more visual storytelling of film and comics. Who is the narrator of Casablanca? Of TheGodfather? It’s easy enough for us to point to a first person narrator when there’s overbearing voiceover, but whose is the default point of view we take when watching a movie or reading a comic book without that kind of obvious diegetic narration? Some might argue that those narratives present some kind of objective accounting of the events in question, but subjectivity creeps in at every turn, with shot composition, lighting, costuming, pacing, editing, even music cues designed to illicit very specific emotional reactions (often those of the characters on the screen or page). With Trees 1, Warren Ellis and Jason Howard have shined a spotlight on those very details, starting threads that differ not only in their settings and characters, but in the perspective of their narrators, as well. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Daredevil 3, originally released May 21st, 2014.
Patrick: Shortly after I moved to Chicago, I was looking for jobs and had landed an interview for a secretarial job at an accounting firm. Or… maybe it was an accounting firm, maybe it was a bank? Something with money and finances, that much I knew for sure. I practiced answering questions about myself, I wore my best suit, and walked into the interview wholly unprepared to ask for a job at an institution I knew next-to-nothing about. I had underestimated just how hard it was going to be to get this job, and my confidence proved to be my undoing, as I was heading back to my car 15 minutes later. That’s the danger of moving to a new city and looking for a new job: you simply don’t know what you don’t know, and all of your previous assumptions get thrown out the window. Daredevil 3 finds Matt Murdock overestimating his likelihood of success over and over again. How do you think that works out for him? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Daredevil 2, originally released April 23rd, 2014.
Patrick: If every issue is someone’s first issue, then every series must be someone’s first series. That’s precisely why Daredevil has kicked back to number one in the first place — to act as an easy access point for new readers. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee seem to be both embracing the possible newness of their readers while playing against the expectations of old readers with the character of Max Coleridge, The Shroud. Part Batman-homage, part Dardevil-mirror-match, part call-back to the scariest villain of the previous series, The Shroud is an interesting indicator of what we can expect from Matt Murdock’s adventures in San Francisco. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Daredevil 1, originally released March 19th, 2014.
Spencer: While we often refer to the articles we write here at Retcon Punch as “reviews”, that isn’t necessarily the most accurate term for them. We aren’t here just to tell you whether an issue is good or bad, or to rate it from one to ten; we like to talk about the book itself, about themes and characterization and the craft that goes into making a book great (or bad, for that matter). In fact, as Patrick recently mentioned, we usually try to avoid broad statements of quality about the books we write. Why am I bringing this up? Well, I wanted to give you guys this context so that you’d realize how significant the following statement actually is: Daredevil 1 may just be a perfect comic book. Or, if it’s not, then it’s certainly a perfect first issue. Continue reading →