Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Clone Conspiracy 1, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article containersSPOILERS.
The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.
Drew: The Ship of Theseus, as this thought experiment is commonly known, is often used in science fiction to address the notion of personal identity — that is, how much of you has to be, say, cybernetic before you are no longer yourself — but I actually think the key to the problem Plutarch laid out is that the ship isn’t a person. The question of whether or not a partially-replaced thing could be called the same thing is an interesting question, but I’m less inclined to think that a person’s identity is tied up in the provenance of their body parts. Moreover, I doubt anyone would assert that someone who receives a liver transplant is even a little bit a different person (especially since our livers are constantly replacing old cells, and best estimates suggest a full turnover of liver cells happens every 1-2 years). I’d suggest that the inverse is also true: that someone’s identity can change without changing their bodies at all (besides their liver, obviously). Point is, identity is much more complex than the simple summation of our body parts. For colloquial evidence, we need look no further than Dan Slott’s work with Spider-Man, where characters’ identities might inhabit other characters’ bodies (or octo-bots) without any real questions about who is who. That’s not to say issues of bodies and identity can’t get messy, just that it takes something a little extra to take us there — something like Clone Conspiracy. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Verse Team-Up 3, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Patrick: We’ve gotten to understand the rhythms of Spider-Verse pretty well at this point. Meet some Spiders; have some fun with them; there’s some meta-commentary; maybe someone dies; repeat until you’re no longer having fun. Spider-Verse Team-Up 3 subverts that trend, turning thematic patterns on their head and insisting that Spider-Verse is more nuanced and interesting than it ever let on. But is what we sacrifice in fun worth the extra depth? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash Annual 3, originally released April 30th, 2014.
…at the end of the day, the Flash is still the same tone as it was before. It’s still the same character, but kind of just reinvisioned.
Drew: The above quote isn’t about Robert Venditti and Van Jensen’s new run on The Flash — Manapul was actually speaking about the start of his own run back when I interviewed him in 2012 — but it might as well be. That a statement can be used to describe a new take on the character as well as the newer take that succeeds is is a universal truism in comics, but it also speaks to an innate truth about the Flash: he needs to move forward. Of course, Jensen and Venditti aren’t privy to the clean break that started Manapul’s run, and have thus needed to address Barry’s past as much as his future. Fortunately, they are also paying attention to this series’ history of meta-commentary, addressing their own creative baggage right on the page. Of all the things they could have ported from the previous run, this is my absolute favorite, injecting The Flash Annual 3 with a sense of rebellion.
Patrick: Drew had to fight pretty hard to find some meaning in last month’s issue of Superboy. I’m not saying his assertions are wrong, but they certainly meet Tom DeFalco more than half-way. Shelby was not so kind. This issue, by comparison, brings some strong characterization of Superboy, non-stop action and an interesting theme (with clever call-backs). This issue isn’t going to start any Superboy-revolution, but it is a tonally consistent, exciting story. Maybe I’m setting the Superbar pretty low at this point…
Drew: We’re pretty big fans of meta-commentary here at Retcon Punch. That is, the notion that the way a story is told can reflect the themes of the narrative itself (or vice versa), adding another level of meaning to the work, and often some kind of experiential element. This can happen when a character experiences time in an unusual way, or when our expectations for a title might be unreasonable, but we generally treat those moments as specifically designed by the creators to speak to our own experience of the title. Tom DeFalco isn’t responsible for the strange identity crisis Superboy (the series) has experienced in the New 52 (at least, not solely responsible), but issue 15 finds him tying that in beautifully to Kon’s own identity issues. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Team 7 2, originally released November 14th, 2012.
Taylor: Teams are in. Everywhere we look in today’s society, teamwork is emphasized as being one of the most important skills to develop. When you apply for a job, employers want to know how well you work with others and what your contribution to the team will be. Sports stars are lauded for the ability to swallow their ego and function as a member of a team that functions as one unit. And speaking of teams, we can’t ignore the recent Avengers movie which was one of biggest team love-fests to ever grace the silver screen. Hell, even Batman, the quintessential solitary dark night, learned to work on a team in Christopher Nolan’s latest film. Indeed, it seems that the way of the lone wolf — your Clint Eastwoods and wandering Ronin — is a thing of the past. Given this favorable disposition towards the idea of teamwork, it seems like DC’s Team 7 would be an instant hit. But as the second issue demonstrates both in its plot and it its execution, sometimes getting a team to work together effectively is harder than it would first appear.