It’s the 2017 DC Comics New Talent Showcase! To cover it, Retcon Punch has assembled our finest old talent to say something about each of these stories.
By Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.
Drew: Joseph Stalin likely never uttered this phrase, but while its provenance may be dubious, it’s hard to argue with its sentiment. We’ve all experienced this personally; individual deaths carry with them the nuance and beauty of the decedent’s death in a way that dozens of deaths simply can’t. Each of those deaths are felt singularly by the loved ones they affect, to be sure, but the rest of us can’t really fit the sum of those tragedies into our brain. They become, for lack of a better term, a statistic. This is why war stories are so rare in superhero comics — the higher death count doesn’t necessarily equal higher emotional stakes, so killing swaths of civilians runs the risk of making any one of those deaths lose whatever oomph it might have on its own. Writer Tom King seems keenly aware of how easy it would be for the victims of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” to become statistics, taking pains to emphasize just how deeply Batman feels each of those deaths. Continue reading
Shelby: A couple years ago I saw Melancholia in the theater, I believe with the esteemed Retcon Puncher Taylor. Spoiler alert: it’s probably the most depressing move I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, but calling it a downer would be an understatement. In it, Kirsten Dunst plays an extremely depressed woman; at one point, she is physically incapable of getting out of bed, relying completely on her sister’s aid. For me, it raised the question of how much leeway should we give people suffering from mental illnesses such as depression. While I was watching the movie, I was distracted by how seemingly mean the rest of the characters were to this severely ill woman, but you have to step back and think about the impact her illness has had on their lives. At what point do those closest to someone with this sort of disease finally snap from dealing with it, and can we really blame them for doing so? And finally, what happens when that mental illness manifests itself as super-powered criminal activity? (Okay, that last question is more about the Batgirl annual than Melancholia, but you get the idea.)
Today, Spencer and Mikyzptlk are discussing Detective Comics 28, originally released February 5th, 2014. This issue is part of the Gothtopia event. We talked with John Layman about Gothtopia, you can find that interview here.
Spencer: Back in the summer of 2010 I was obsessed with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics, and eagerly awaited the release of their movie adaptation. I spent the weeks leading up to it reading and rereading the comics and preparing myself for the awesomeness I knew the movie would surely be. After I actually saw the movie, though, I was oddly disappointed by the many changes made between it and the comics. It took me quite a while to reconcile the two versions, but once I did, I ended up seeing it twice more in theaters and it quickly became my favorite movie. I had a similar experience reading Detective Comics 28 this week. After last month’s introduction to the “Gothtopia” storyline I was expecting a lot out of this issue—specifically, more exploration of this new Gotham utopia—but the story ended up veering in another direction entirely. I was disappointed at first, but fortunately, the story I got instead ended up being pretty enjoyable in its own right. Continue reading
“I think I may have found a project I’d actually enjoy doing: helping these cats and dogs. They should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.”
April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation
Spencer: So far, both issues of Harley Quinn have featured its heroine rescuing animals from oppressive environments. Harley being an animal lover isn’t really a surprise—she’s basically a big kid, plus she’s canonically owned and raised laughing hyenas in the past—but it still seemed a bit odd to me at first that this book was hitting this point so hard. I suppose it ultimately makes sense, though; when writing a book featuring a villain protagonist you’ve got to make sure the antagonists are even more loathsome, and everybody hates animal abuse—even supervillains—right? Continue reading
Today, Drew and guest writer Greg Smith are discussing Detective Comics 23.3: Scarecrow, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Drew: Peter Tomasi is an ideal utility player — he’s able to synthesize and adapt the ideas other writers introduce in flagship titles into something that can stand up on its own. He regularly turns what could be an unwieldy Frankenstein monster into something beautiful, so long as he’s given the space to do so. It turns out that last caveat is rather important — without appropriate time to develop the ideas, he’s forced to strip them down to the connective tissue they are, yielding stories that feel rushed and obligatory. Unfortunately, Detective Comics 23.3: Scarecrow falls firmly into this latter category, squandering some etherial, appropriately Scarecrow-y Szymon Kudranski art on a strange housekeeping issue. Continue reading