I’ve made it quite clear, at least I tried to, that this is going to be a dark book. This is the darkest corner of the Sandman Universe — at least that’s being explored right now. Which, you know, by the nature of the character, by the book, I think it should be. It’s definitely a statement of intent.
And the book is definitely dark. Lucifer‘s assertion that all “attempts at rising are hopeless” comes on the first page, before the issue plunges us into the present day of a status quo Lucifer clearly wishes to rise out of. A character learning to embrace hope would normally be an upbeat moral, but it takes on a twisted meaning here — whatever it is that could force Lucifer into retreat must be truly harrowing. And this is the story of what that experience was. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
It’s been fascinating watching Chip Zdarsky evolve as a writer. While I once thought of him primarily as a humorist, over the last few years it’s become apparent that his greatest strength is actually his ability to find the humanity in any character he touches, even villains. Throughout his run on Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Zdarsky’s turned that into a strength of Peter’s as well, having him “defeat” several of his opponents (J. Jonah Jameson, The Tinkerer) by connecting and empathizing with them, by appealing to their shared humanity. Issue 308 pulls off the same feat with a particularly tricky character to humanize: The Sandman. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!
How do we characterize a remix? As a self-aware riff on whatever work is being remixed, it feels somewhat postmodern, but in my mind, remixes don’t necessarily share the skepticism and ironic distance we associate with postmodernism. Indeed, many remixes might be better understood as reverent tributes to their source material, taking what I’d argue is a decidedly romantic approach: offering an unabridged window into how the remixer sees a given work of art (or entire oeuvre). I was first struck by this idea when listening to The Beatles’ Love, which feels very much like bouncing around inside a Beatles fan’s head, but it came back in a big way as I read Bug! The Adventures of Forager 2, an issue that takes the same approach to comics mythology (both DC’s and others). Continue reading →
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 →
Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Secret Wars 1, originally released May 6th, 2015.
“Oh, best war ever…”
-General Nick Fury, Secret Wars 1
Ryan: Secret Wars grabs the baton from Jon Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers beloved/despised/confusing “Time Runs Out” saga chronicling the futile struggle of Earth-616 against the collapse of the multiverse. Hickman dives in by tipping his hat to the concluding plot thread of Doom vs. The Beyonders, the significance of which — aside from helping to shrink the amount of surviving universes down to a baker’s dozen minus a bunch — is still a bit lost on me. The narration of the issue is provided by Reed Richards, and the first installment of this event belongs to him.
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!
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing the Dead Boy Detectives 1, originally released December 30th, 2013.
Patrick: The first issue of Dead Boy Detectives revolves around a young girl named Crystal Palace and a near-death experience that brings her — however temporarily — face to face with our titular detectives. The issue is pretty neatly divided into periods before and after the experience. The before-portion is an odd little mediation on art and artists and the relationship between the two, and that’s naturally what interests me most in this issue, so let’s pick that apart! Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing the The Sandman Overture 1, originally released October 30th, 2013.
Shelby: Nearly 20 years ago, I started reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Just about every time a new book came out, I would re-read the last one or two; if enough time had passed between books, I would re-read the whole series to prep for the newest. The last volume comes out in paperback in December, and I’ve been reveling in what could very well be my last re-read of this series. There’s something about reading something again, especially something that’s been a part of your life for so long. The characters are like old friends, the settings and stories like places you’ve been before and can’t wait to re-visit. I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and I adore Sandman; I have been eagerly (and somewhat impatiently) waiting for Overture. From page one, it was like a reunion with an old, old friend.
At San Diego Comic Con this year, Vertigo made the surprising announcement that Neil Gaiman will be writing a new Sandman story arc, with Retcon Punch favorite J. H. Williams, III. Even though we don’t currently cover any Vertigo titles, Gaiman’s return to this game-changing, original, and incredibly unique title is definitely worthy of a discussion. What have been the fan reactions? What does DC’s current preponderance of prequels reflect of the current state of the industry? Are you incredibly excited for this dynamic artistic team-up? Retcon Punchers sound off: Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Shelby: I am stupid excited for a new Sandman story. When Patrick first started talking to me about working on this site, my response was, “DC Comics are great, when will we talk about Sandman?” The universe Gaiman created is unlike any other I have ever experienced, except maybe in other Gaiman books. He has a great way of blending multiple cultures’ mythologies; I never would have guessed stories featuring the Muses of the Greeks could exist next to stories of Odin and Thor, and that it would all work. What really intrigues me, though, is the comparison of fan reactions between this prequel (super positive) and the Before Watchman prequels (often negative).
In May, DC will begin releasing the first (and in some cases, only) arcs of each of the New 52 titles compiled as graphic novels. Trade paperback collections have a short but venerable history, and often act as gateways for curious newcomers. Monthlies have a much longer and equally venerable history, and the cost of entry is in most cases only $2.99. Fans have their own (occasionally adamant) opinions on the “Monthlies vs. Trades” debate, but how do the Retcon Punchers feel? Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Drew: I must admit, part of what got me thinking about this was a recent piece I read by the AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff decrying the habit of watching entire seasons of TV in marathon viewing sessions. His main argument centers on allowing yourself time to savor episodes on their own, a philosophy that is easily applied to this topic. This idea has been resonating with me, as I’ve burned through Brian K Vaughan’s Y: the Last Man at a clip of about two trades a week. That series is particularly good at ending with teasing cliffhangers, which makes demonstrating self-control particularly difficult.Continue reading →