The Burden of “Figuring It Out” in Mister Miracle 4

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s really nothing quite like seeing a good close-up magician. As a jaded mega-skeptic, I always convince myself that if I focus hard enough, I can spot the trick. I’m not even sure that I want that–I love being fooled by illusions–but I always try. It feels like a survival tactic: if I can identify the trick, I can rest assured that the universe functions more or less the way I believe it does. If I can’t spot the trick? Well, then how can I ever be guaranteed of what is and is not real? Mister Miracle 4 zeroes in on this idea of focusing harder on what we believe to be a trick. And the truly disquieting thing is, no matter how hard we look, we can’t figure out what’s really happening. Continue reading

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The Evasiveness of Identity in Mister Miracle 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Mister Miracle 2

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

You are what you think all day long.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Identity is a frustratingly slippery thing. We all have one, but most of us would be hard pressed to describe what it actually is — what it is that actually makes us who we are. Is it our life experiences? Our relationships? Our interests? The information we absorb? It’s both none of and all of those things (and more). It’s the messiness of that notion that makes characters like Scott Free so compelling; born of New Genesis, raised on Apokolips, he has two families that are now locked in war with one another. The question of who he sides with slips into the messy details of who he is, an issue already strained by the questions he has regarding the very nature of his reality. To extrapolate from Emerson: who are you if you don’t know what to think? Continue reading

Driving Toward the Single Arresting Moment in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 27

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Y’know that scene in Raging Bull  where Jake LoMatta (DeNiro) is in the ring and takes that slow-motion jab right to the nose? Sure you do — even if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s one of those moments that’s been parodied and emulated hundreds of times in the four decades since the film’s release. The punch slowly ripples across Jake’s face, breaking his nose and forcing a geyser of blood to erupt from his head. Its a explosive moment of physical horror which comes after nearly two whole hours of slowly unspooling emotional horror — effectively, it is thematic material of self-destruction made literal and permanent. There’s something about the violence of that choice that shakes the audience awake, casting everything that happened before it, however gradually, in to sharp, sudden relief. In Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 27, writer Robert Venditti and artist Rafa Sandoval drive towards a similarly gross moment, and while they steer into the silliness of it, the inherent gore in cutting out Orion’s heart serves the shake the reader awake. Continue reading

Mythological and Emotional Mystery in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 26

by Patrick Ehlers

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

John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan are interesting characters. They’re all men with tremendous baggage, and perhaps the decades of dragging around said baggage have trained them to just blurt out their feelings with the blunt force of a green-light mallet. All of them are reeling from Soranik Natu Sinestro’s heel turn, and the defection of the Yellow Corps, and maybe they’re all a touch too eager to yell about their feelings. That emotional transparency is at odds with the opaque plotting of issue 26. The inherent mystery in “what is Orion doing here again?” makes the reader double back on those seemingly clear emotional statements. Continue reading

Bug! The Adventures of Forager 1

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Bug! The Adventures of Forager 1, originally released May 10, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: One of the inherent problems with superhero stories is that the characters are often immediately knowable. That guy in the bat costume? He’s Batman, dead parents, war on crime, world’s greatest detective. You know him. You know his secret identity, his home, his son, his butler, his past, his present, his future. That makes Batman familiar, comfortable. In Bug! The Adventures of Forager 1, Lee and Michael Allred make an argument for the power of not knowing, striking out boldly with a story that is as enigmatic as their main character. The thing is, they deploy just enough alluring clues and leading hints to get readers guessing, leveraging what we think we know against what we’re still ignorant of. It’s a trip. Continue reading

Wonder Woman 34

wonder woman 34Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 34, originally released October 1st, 2014

“Hey mouse, say cheese.”
<Bart takes a picture of the Itchy robot, scrambling its circuits.>
“With a dry cool wit like that, I could be an action hero.”

Bart Simpson, Itchy & Scratchy Land

Patrick: It’s a good thing all of our action heroes have a team of writers working quietly behind them, because audiences hold this irrational expectation that heroic actions be punctuated by hilarious, insightful, precise quips. This is a trend that I’ve come to hate, largely because those pure little micro-tweets are so seldom earned. How do you put a character through the paces so thoroughly that acerbic wit feels natural tumbling out of their victorious mouths? They’re not poets or comedians or scholars — they’re warriors, but somehow they know to belch out a characteristically perfect “Yippy-kai-yay, motherfucker” or a “Welcome to Earth” or even a “get away from her, you bitch!” Thing is: those three examples all work because we’re there with Bruce Willis, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. It’s not just about having the dry cool wit, but waiting until the audience and the character need the release of such a quip, instead of handing them out willy-nilly. As Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang narrow in on their epic Wonder Woman conclusion, they’re cashing in on all those cheesy action movie beats. And they’ve earned every damn second — the result is unadulterated climax, satisfying on just about every level. Continue reading

Wonder Woman 33

wonder woman 33Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 33, originally released July 23rd, 2014

Patrick: Friday night, I was at a bar with some friends and — after the second round — the topic of conversation turned to “panty raids.” None of us had even participated in one nor had any of us been victim of one, but we all had these half-formed ideas from 80s college movies (and anything parodying 80s college movies). We all understood the same broad strokes: a group of men, probably a fraternity, steals underpants from a group of girls, probably a sorority. The purpose of a panty raid was still sort of elusive, and even among our small group, our perceptions of the gender and sexuality politics involved were all over the map. Is it a harmless prank? An anarchic expression of teenage sexuality? A skeezy male sexual power fantasy? That last thought hung with me through the weekend: no matter how panty raids were intended, the end result is at least a little rapey. Even something as stupid and frivolous as a panty raid has overtones of rape. Modern feminism has an awful lot to say about this prevalent rape culture, especially as a particularly glaring example of how far we really are from gender equality. As DC’s de facto symbol of feminism, Wonder Woman was bound to address the issue eventually, and the subtlety and grace of the conclusion to Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s masterpiece was the perfect place for it to happen. Continue reading

Wonder Woman 32

wonder woman 32Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 32, originally released June 18th, 2014.

Shelby: Often times for me, the hardest part about writing any of these posts is this very intro. I always want to find some overarching theme in the issue, or one relevant anecdote from my past to broadly introduce the issue. I used to write the intro last on a regular basis, so I could find that one theme as I was writing. I couldn’t possibly use that approach with this post, however. Brian Azzarello has given me so many individual moments to get excited about this issue, the best I can do at coming up with a unifying theme is to marvel at how beautifully the pieces fit together to create the whole.

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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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Wonder Woman 27

wonder woman 27

Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Wonder Woman 27, originally released January 22nd, 2014.

Scott: What’s a reasonable attention span? Could anyone actually sit through all three hours of The Wolf of Wall Street without their mind wandering at least once? I doubt it. The average time between commercial breaks is seven minutes, and I have trouble staying engaged that long. I’ve been working a lot with preschoolers over the past few months and I can tell you that getting a three year old to stay focused on a task for even one minute is a challenge. It’s just so easy to get distracted by the thought of a snack or going to play outside. Well, much like a three year old’s brain, the hectic world of Wonder Woman is full of distractions, ready to yank you away from that thing that was so interesting just one minute ago. Brian Azzarello keeps things moving at such a pace that you might just forget about the thing you were just…Sorry. I lost my train of thought.
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