Justice League of America 1

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Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Justice League of America 1, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: Sometimes I’m a tough customer to please. When it comes to storytelling, I like to get my bearings on the landscape and characters, but I don’t want to be spoon-fed all of the important details. With regards to Justice League of America 1 it nails some subtle world-building but is less successful when handling the stars of the book. Continue reading

DC Round-Up: Comics Released 1/4/17

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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 Batman 14, Green Arrow 14, Midnighter and Apollo 4, Nightwing 12 and Shade the Changing Girl 4. Also, we’ll be discussing Superman 14 on Monday and Green Lanterns 14 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article containers SPOILERS!

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Supergirl 4

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Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Supergirl 4, originally released December 14. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Hey, why do we hate midichlorians so much? Y’know, the quantifiable micro organisms that live in bodies of Star Wars characters that help them communicate with the force. Do we hate it because it’s an explanation of something that was cool precisely because it was mysterious? Or is it that we hate the answer because it is inherently dumb? The answer is kind of a mix of both – I’m totally fine with unanswered questions if the wonder those questions inspire is fun all on its own. That quality — let’s just call it “wonder” — is something that I look for in Superman comics. I want to grin stupidly to myself and say “whoa, neat.” But that wonder is so fragile, and can be ruined with some inelegant attempt to explain the mysteries I’m letting into my heart. Unfortunately, Supergirl 4 is all answers for middling mysteries, going out of its way to over-explain even the most uninteresting questions.

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Midnighter and Apollo 3

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Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Midnighter and Apollo 3, originally released December 7th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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Mark: Throughout the first three issues of Midnighter and Apollo, Steve Orlando has proven his love for the obscure corners of the DC Comics universe by incorporating his favorite elements at every opportunity. The most successful of these moments are like Midnighter and Apollo 1‘s Subway Pirates cold open, and don’t rely on the reader sharing his same pool of knowledge to enjoy. Midnighter and Apollo 3 is the first time in Orlando’s work that I’ve felt on the outside looking in. It’s alienating in a way I wasn’t expecting, but maybe gives me a better understanding of why Midnighter remains such a niche character. 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

Namesake 1

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Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Namesake 1, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: I come from a large, mixed-race family. All of my siblings are adults now, and as everyone has scattered across the country to forge their own paths, one thing that hasn’t changed is our fierce loyalty to each other. When a family member needs help, the Mitchells circle the wagons. That’s the power of family.

The idea of fealty to family is central Steve Orlando and Jakub Rebelka’s Namesake 1. In the future, once every seven years Earth and Ektae overlap for a week of bacchanal. Humans and Sidhan mingle, party, and, of course, bone (luckily, Sidhan venereal diseases are only active during the alignment). Sidhan are humanoids with strange runes on their bodies and some of them have The Blood (the ability to wield the Typhic Force—magic on our world). Continue reading

Detective Comics 942

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Today, Michael and Ryan M. are discussing Detective Comics 942, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Michael: The “Night of the Monster Men” comes to a conclusion in Detective Comics 942. Though I haven’t been the biggest fan of this storyline, I’d argue that its resolution came too fast, too soon. After four issues of monster mayhem and catastrophe, Hugo Strange is defeated and cuffed as quickly as he arrived. Continue reading

Midnighter and Apollo 1

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Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Midnighter and Apollo 1, originally released October 5th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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Mark: The creative pinnacle of Midnigher and Apollo 1 for me is the moment Extrano makes an appearance. Extrano is one of those embarrassing gay characters introduced in the 80s. Limp wrists heavy with scarves, Extrano played the part of perfectly inoffensive gay best friend for everyone, called himself “Auntie,” and, don’t worry, contracted HIV (because of course he did). He may be the first openly gay superhero, but there’s a reason Extrano was shoved shamefully to the back of the comic book closet. Extrano was a character defined by his gayness, one note played over and over until he was inevitably given HIV, because what else are you going to do with a gay characters in the 90s but make him a victim of the gay plague? 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

Supergirl 1

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Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Supergirl 1 originally released September 7, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

“It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.”

Garden State

Patrick: I know, I know, I know – Garden State is a flick that’s ultimately too twee for it’s own good. But underneath all the cloying “you have to listen to The Shins!” moments and hackneyed beats of artificial quirk, there is a compelling universal truth. Concepts like “home” and “family” are so easy for the young to grasp, but they are nearly impossible for adults to hold on to. That’s because they’re both inextricably linked to our own personal origin stories, and you only get one of those in a life time. A superhero — especially one with as oft a rebooted history as Supergirl — runs the risk of trivializing the potency of that transition from origin to adult life, but ace writer Steve Orlando trots out countless examples of a better life on Krypton to genuinely sell Kara’s newfound loneliness and frustration. Couple that with Brian Ching’s Marvel-esque design work, and you’ve got one of the most sympathetic new series in DC’s stable. Continue reading