The Limits of Control in Action Comics 1004

By Spencer Irwin

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

“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and the two will be one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Mark 10: 7-8

I love the concept behind this bit of marriage/relationship advice, but the problem is that it’s, ultimately, just a metaphor; a couple can try to act as one flesh, but they’ll always be two different people with two very different sets of needs, and that can be a difficult thing to reconcile. In any close relationship the pressure to be on the same page at all times is great, and the temptation to try to control one another in order to reach that point can be even greater. Ultimately, though, you can’t control people, and especially not the people you love, no matter how close you are. That’s the lesson Clark learns in Action Comics 1004. Continue reading

Gratuitous Violence and Wasted Potential in Heroes in Crisis 1

by Spencer Irwin

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

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What is Heroes in Crisis actually about? The answer drastically changes my reading of this issue. See, as a murder mystery it works quite well — it doesn’t alleviate all my criticisms (which we’ll get into in a bit, believe me), but there’s interesting hooks in the form of which of the two prime suspects is the murderer, why they did it, and how the Trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman will react. As a murder mystery, Heroes in Crisis 1 is an enjoyable, if flawed, comic. But Heroes in Crisis has primarily been advertised and solicited as a more low-key, nuanced look at how superheroes handle trauma, and when judged by that metric, it’s far less successful. Continue reading

Justice League 7/Adventures of the Super Sons 2: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

Adventures of the Super Sons 2:Justice League 7

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

Spencer: No two people experience the same piece of media the same way. That’s actually the entire foundation of what we do here at Retcon Punch — we exist to examine the different ways our various writers interpret weekly comic books.  Two books released by DC this week dive into this theme as well — Adventures of the Super Sons 2 explores how the same stories led two members of the Gang down very different life paths, while Justice League 7 finds three very different people reacting to some harsh truths about the universe in very different ways. Both drive home the same point: our natures and preconceived notions often have as much to do with how we interpret media as the actual media itself does, for better or for worse, no matter what the creators’ original intent may be. Continue reading

No One is Infallible in Justice League 6

by Michael DeLaney

Justice League 6

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

The Justice League is often elevated to a status akin to the gods of myth: immensely powerful, iron-willed and nearly unstoppable. The Trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman is at the head of that pantheon of gods, with two veritable immortals and one mortal man who we consider incorruptible and infallible. With the epic cosmic stakes of Justice League 6, we are reminded that no one is infallible, and that a little humility might actually save the universe. Continue reading

Action Comics 1001: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

Action Comics 1001

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

Michael: The distinction between Superman’s two long-running titles, Superman and Action Comics, has never really been made clear. Besides the dollar and cents of it all, the two books exist simultaneously to give different creators the opportunity to tell their own ongoing Superman stories. But what happens when it’s the same writer plotting both books? Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 6 Circles Marionette’s Past as it Circles the Drain

By Patrick Ehlers

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

If I asked you to picture the single imagine that evokes Watchmen, what would you picture? Likely, you’re imagining the Comedian’s smiley face button, but I could also see an argument for Doctor Manhattan’s circular forehead logo. Both symbols are circles. I know that’s not exactly mind-blowing, but this is the level of visual rhetoric writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank are playing with in Doomsday Clock 6.

The series continues to slump along in much the same way it did last time we talked about it. This time, Marionette and Mime are the focus of the story, which really doesn’t do Johns or Frank any favors. Stripped of all but the most tangential references to the Watchmen universe, the creators are left with the tone and tools of the piece to tell a story that spans two tonally discrete universes. If that sounds like an inadequate set of tools to complete an impossible task, that’s because it is. Continue reading

Superman 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers

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

Spencer: One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen thrown around about Superman as a character is that he’s “too powerful,” that nothing can challenge a man who can quite literally juggle planets. There’s a bit of truth to this, to be sure, but it’s a narrow criticism, one that only takes into consideration physical challenges; the most interesting Superman stories are the ones that challenge him morally, ethically, or in ways that make his physical abilities useless. Superman 1 is such a story, an issue that finds the character at his most physically competent, yet feeling more lost and helpless than ever before.  Continue reading

Quantum and Woody 7 Traps Our Heroes In Perfection

by Patrick Ehlers

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

What do your fantasies look like? I’m not trying to ask a dirty question here. When your mind wanders and you start to imagine the ideal form of your life, what does it look like? What form does your imagination take? Are you able to view yourself in your perfect environment, like some sort of omniscient viewer? Are you giving an interview about everything you’ve accomplished? Or are you in your own head, looking out on your perfect life? How you express your fantasy to yourself is as revealing as what you fantasize about. Eliot Rahal and Francis Portela’s Quantum and Woody 7 finds the Henderson brothers trapped in idealized fantasy worlds that embrace tropes of genre and medium in equal measure. 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

The Man of Steel 3 Highlights Superman’s Great Compassion and Guilt

by Michael DeLaney 

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

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Any seasoned comic book reader — or really anyone who knows their pop culture — should know that you can never be sure that a character is dead unless you find their body. And even when they do find a body there’s the chance that it’s a clone, robot, time traveler, impostor, etc. While we haven’t found any bodies per se, in Man of Steel 3 it seems that Brian Michael Bendis has just killed…The Bottle City of Kandor. Continue reading