Batman Who Laughs 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Mark Mitchell

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

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Patrick: Outside of dance-able club hits, which state their desire to make you dance, very few works of art tell you what effect they intend to have on you. Batman Who Laughs has one purpose and one purpose only: to shock longtime Batman fans with a violent, evil twist on the Dark Knights’ mythos. And the book cockily asserts that it is going to surprise its readers, by having the titular laughing Batman address the camera directly and saying as much. “You really thought you had it all figured out. That you knew every combination in the deck.” The work assumes the reader is skeptical of its goal from page one — the remainder of the issue is spent trying to prove that this is the darkest, most twisted Batman story ever told. Continue reading

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Batman/The Shadow 6: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Mark Mitchell 

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

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Michael: As Drew and I suggested in our discussion of this series’ first issue, Batman/The Shadow is absolutely a Batman-centric book featuring The Shadow and not the reverse. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just proves how strong Batman’s hold is on the heart and mind of Scott Snyder. The finale — Batman/The Shadow 6 — underlines that statement as the fantastical elements of The Shadow’s world only strengthen Batman’s very human legend. Continue reading

Batman is Always Right in Batman/The Shadow 5

by Michael DeLaney

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

After Frank Miller turned Batman into an angry grumpypuss, many modern Bat-tales involved The Dark Knight’s allies showing him that there might be a better way than un-trusting ultraviolence. In Batman/The Shadow 5, Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando place Batman on the opposite side of that dynamic while embracing another trope of the character: Batman is always right. Continue reading

A New Take on an Old Myth in Batman/Shadow 3

by Michael DeLaney

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

“Forget everything you think you know” is a phrase that has become overused in pop culture — particularly in marketing movies like last year’s Doctor Strange. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think about it while reading Batman/The Shadow 3. Steve Orlando and Scott Snyder challenge our presumptions on Batman’s origins by positing that he is destined to inherit the mantle of The Shadow. Continue reading

DC Round-Up: Comics Released 5/24/17


How many Batman 
books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Batgirl 11, Batman / The Shadow 2 and Wonder Woman 23. Also, we will be discussing Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 21 on Monday, so check back for that! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Batman/The Shadow 1

Today, Michael and Drew are discussing Batman/The Shadow 1, originally released April 26th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: Perspective is a key component of storytelling — both from the storytellers and the readers. A creator’s familiarity and appreciation of a character inform the story, as does the reader’s in their reception. In Batman/The Shadow 1 Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando pen a story of Batman investigating the mystery of The Shadow. I’m not super familiar with The Shadow so I shared Batman’s POV: as he learned more about The Shadow, so did I. Continue reading

Batman Annual 1

Alternating Currents: Batman Annual 1, Drew and Michael

Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Batman Annual 1, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: A few years ago, fellow Retcon Puncher Patrick Ehlers suggested that deconstruction had become so commonplace in Batman stories that they had come to become inseparable from the character. That is, deconstructing the character had become as essential to the telling of Batman stories as Batmobiles and gimmicky villains have become essential to the stories themselves. It’s a compelling argument — especially when you consider the fact that modern interpretations of the character are all informed by Frank Miller’s famous deconstructions of the character — but I maintain that it’s largely incidental to his existence. To me, the key fact is that Batman has been around (and beloved) for 75+ years, so of course creators that grew up with the character are going to relish playing with that history. I can expound on why I think that negates Patrick’s point in the comments, but for now, it’s enough to say that I think the deconstructions have more to do with nostalgia than anything intrinsic to the character. Nostalgia is certainly a central theme in Batman Annual 1, an anthology issue that brings together some of Batman’s most famous stewards, past and present, for a walk down memory lane. Continue reading

Batman 7 and Nightwing 5

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batman 7 and Nightwing 5 (aka, parts one and two of “Night of the Monster Men”), originally released September 21, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: If I had to guess conservatively, I’d say that we’ve covered a billion crossover events over the last four years on Retcon Punch. These kinds of stories always beg the narrative question “why?” The commercial question is a lot easier to answer: I’m reading Batman, and I’m certainly not going to skip an issue of Batman, so I might as well pick up the attendant issues of Nightwing, Detective Comics, and whatever else might be participating in this story. The result is usually a tonal mess, superficially tying together the storytelling styles of a disparate set of teams with some arbitrary commonality. “Night of the Monster Men” cuts a different swath through the series bearing its banner, uniting them under one writer, the always excellent Steve Orlando, and a unified artistic vision. Continue reading

Batman 52

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Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Batman 52 originally released May 11th, 2016.

Mark: I have exactly zero interest DC’s upcoming animated adaptation of The Killing Joke. You will never be able to convince me that there is a version of Batman that needs to be R-rated. I don’t object inherently to the idea of a difficult Batman, I think there’s a place for one-off stories like The Killing Joke or Arkham Asylum, but to my mind these are mere diversions, thought exercises meant to explore the darker facets of the character. But while sometimes interesting, I don’t think they should even be lionized as important to the character. The best ones, including Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, are more a commentary on comics in general than they are everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader. You don’t really need any more evidence that holding The Dark Knight Returns and its ilk up as the “cool” version of Batman is a damaging exercise than Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Commentators and critics have already done a thorough job dissecting that movie’s many failings so I’ll refrain from doing so here, but I will add that even though Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman was praised by even some of its harshest critics, it’s not a portrayal of Batman I particularly enjoyed. Occasionally fun to look at? Sure. But like pretty much every other aspect of the movie, this is a Batman completely devoid of joy. Continue reading

Constantine: The Hellblazer 4

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Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Constantine: The Hellblazer 4, originally released September 16th, 2015.

Michael: I’m going to tell you something that you’ve heard so much already that you’re going to want to stop reading after I tell you (but please, don’t): fiction is escapism. The simplest bit of escapism is tossing our problems aside and putting ourselves in the shoes of someone sexier, stronger, more likeable and generally just better than what we’re working with. There’s an equal amount of catharsis and distortion at play in this escapism. John Constantine isn’t the guy you are wishing you could be – he’s the guy who you’re thanking your lucky stars that you’re not. I mean, afterlife existential grief/survivor’s guilt makes your last break up look pretty vanilla. Continue reading