The Martian Migraines and Cosmic Confusion ofJustice League 3

By Michael DeLaney

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

Great superhero epics always have a touch of mystery: an unseen enemy, the villain’s elaborate master plan or the occasional gigantic conspiracy. Does the simultaneous inclusion of multiple mysteries add to the excitement of such an adventure, or does it simply distract? These are the types of questions I face when reading a book like Justice League 3. Continue reading

Justice League 2: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Ryan Mogge

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

Michael: Justice League 2 is all over the place, and for once that is intended as a compliment. With Dark Knights: Metal and Justice League: No Justice, Scott Snyder has gotten plenty of practice writing a team dynamic in the face of epic-level threats. And while both of those stories had their highs and lows, Justice League has been a pretty solid, fun ride thus far. Continue reading

Justice and Symbolism in Justice League 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Justice League 1

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

There was no word for justice on my planet. The closest was the symbol on this table. It meant going beyond what was supposed to be possible, the natural laws. Imposing on the universe a higher standard. An ideal.

Martian Manhunter, Justice League 1

Our conceptions of justice hinge on fairness and impartiality — the notion that we are all held to the same standards of behavior (and face the same punishment for flaunting those standards). We understand how that can break down in practice (humans aren’t great at partiality), but we can imagine justice as a kind of platonic ideal we can strive towards. And that may be the best way to think about it, but closer inspection reminds us that, if it’s a platonic ideal, it’s one that varies from society to society and changes over time. We might reflect on the “justice” of the past (or of other cultures) and find it to be decidedly unjust, but that’s not how justice works — it’s not an objective monolith, but a deeply subjective, dynamic concept. That is, justice is a moral construct that only makes sense in light of the values of the society that construct it. Martian Manhunter’s approximation of justice reflects that idea, adding no moral spin to the “ideal” he mentions — in J’onn’s estimation, any ideologically motivated action “beyond what was supposed to be possible” is justice. In short, J’onn’s brief for the Justice League works just as well for the Legion of Doom. Continue reading

Justice League: No Justice 4: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Justice League No Justice 4

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

Everything changes here!

Comics solicit, traditional

Drew: Okay, that epigraph is maybe too cute by half, but seriously, what does it mean for “everything” to change? The closest parallel I can draw to real life is the conventional wisdom that “a baby changes everything,” but even then, we understand “everything” to be decidedly limited in its scope. Certain events might be life-changing, but only for those with some connection to said events. And yet: comics. Big crossover events are promoted with the promise that the events with change “everything,” and while we might understand “everything” to be limited to the folks involved (in the same way that it is for a birth), there’s also tons of details we might assume exempt from “everything,” from the laws of physics to the peculiarities of english grammar — some things never change. Even so: some comics events are bigger than others, so there’s a range of just what “everything” means. Maybe it’s interpersonal dynamics of the superheroes involved, maybe it’s the principles of the universe as we know it. In its finale, Justice League: No Justice reveals that it falls almost entirely into that latter category, sending the DC Universe into decidedly uncharted territory. Continue reading

Finding Balance in Justice League: No Justice 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

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We here at Retcon Punch, sadly, haven’t had much of a chance to discuss Justice League: No Justice until now, but I’ve been enjoying it immensely from the start. It has many of the same strengths as its predecessor, Dark Nights: Metal, but since No Justice is working with only four issues, avoids most of its excesses. No Justice is focused and easy to follow, yet still has a grand scope and a firm grasp on the characters and history of the DC Universe. It’s well-balanced, which plays right into the themes of the series and the goals of its various League factions. Continue reading

The Art of the Tease in DC Nation 0

by Michael DeLaney

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

DC Nation 0 provides teases for three different types of upcoming books: Tom King’s continuing run on Batman, Brian Michael Bendis’ upcoming turn on the Superman books and the Scott Snyder-helmed Justice League: No Justice series. Different books lead to different teases. Continue reading

Action Comics 1000: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner, Michael DeLaney, Patrick Ehlers, and Spencer Irwin

Action Comics 1000

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

“From the City that Has Everything”

Drew: Superman changed the world. That’s obvious enough in-universe, but it’s just as true of our world. Action Comics 1 created (or at least codified) the superhero genre, a genre that came to define both the 20th and 21st centuries, and is still growing as Action Comics rings in its 1000th issue. It’s a singular achievement, but celebrating it as such might not be in the spirit of Superman, for whom humbleness is as much a part of his character as heroism. He’s not one to take compliments easily, let alone brag, so any efforts to do so on his behalf run the risk of feeling crass. Most of the stories in this issue opted to ignore lionizing Superman outright, aiming instead to illustrate what it is that makes him so laudable, but in the issue’s opening chapter, Dan Jurgens came up with a way to address the issue with Superman himself, providing a commentary on the whole exercise of a huge anniversary issue, and offering a justification that even Superman can get behind. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 6: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell 

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

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Spencer: Now that the series has come to an end, I can safely say that I have very mixed feelings about Dark Nights: Metal as a whole. So much of this event has been about embracing gonzo, bonkers, throwback action, but much of that fun is buried under attempts to overexplain every aspect of the (often impossible to follow) plot. The stakes of the event never fully sank in for me, as aside from artist Greg Capullo’s hellish landscapes, most of the nightmarish aspects of the Dark Multiverse were buried away in tie-in issues, while the main series focused on fun, but straightforward action beats. That said, there were a few areas where this series shined, and Dark Nights: Metal 6 exemplifies them all. It’s a strong metaphor for embracing hope and community over nihilism and isolation, a powerful reminder of stories’ ability to inspire, and an ode to the past (and future) of the DC Universe. Continue reading

Scrutiny Reveals the Flaws in Batman and the Signal 2

By Patrick Ehlers

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

One of the driving philosophies of Batman and the Signal is the idea that light reveals the flaws in something. A story from the beginning of issue 2 targets Gotham City skyscrapers, partially constructed at night by crews of illegal laborers. Duke’s father was one of these nighttime construction men. He would bring his son to check out the fruits of his nocturnal labor in the cold light of day so Duke could clearly witness the cost of cutting corners. Fittingly, this metaphor falls apart the more closely you examine it. Can you see tiny imperfections in the craftsmanship that goes into building a skyscraper? Probably. Is that overlooking the fact that its a modern marvel of engineering that pierces the sky with steel, iron and glass? Absolutely. My experience writing about comics for Retcon Punch has shown me that we are more often rewarded for our intense scrutiny than we are disappointed by the trivial cracks in the handiwork.

Leave it to Batman and the Signal to demonstrate the opposite. Continue reading

Dark Nights: Metal 5 Is Lost In Its Own Cacophony

by Michael DeLaney

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

The difference between good action movie sequences and bad ones comes down to editing. A lot of quick cuts and different camera angles is a clear tell of a bad action sequence and leaves you confused as to what is actually happening in the fight. Dark Nights: Metal 5 is a lot like that. As readers we have been stuck in this nightmare world for so long that I can’t remember what the stakes are or really care about them. Continue reading