This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
And so the Guardians’ time as Nova Corpsmen seems to have come to an end as they finally root out the Raptor spies posing as Novas. Guardians of the Galaxy 150 wraps up the Nova arc while setting the stage for Infinity Countdown. Overall, it’s a little messy. I’ll say this for the issue though, it finally gives Ant-Man his due. Every now and then Ant-Man pulls out a show-stopping performance that makes you wonder “why doesn’t he do that ALL the time?!” Continue reading →
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 →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: What do you think of when you hear the word “sequel”? Do you imagine a story that deepens the themes established in the original (a la The Dark Knight or The Godfather Part II) or do you imagine a story that returns to the well more out of obligation than any artistic impetus (a la The Dark Knight Rises or The Godfather Part III)? Do you imagine a continuation of the original narrative, taking the characters in bold new directions, or do you imagine a barely disguised repetition of the original narrative, taking the characters in safe, predictable directions? While I try to keep an open mind, I’ve been around the block enough times to recognize that most sequels tend to rely heavily on nostalgia, carefully recreating situations to replicate the thrills of the original. Unfortunately, that phenomenon means even my disappointment in The Dark Knight III: The Master Race 6 all too familiar. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing DC Universe Rebirth 1, originally released May 25th, 2016.
Spencer: To me, one of the most interesting things about the mythology surrounding DC’s “Rebirth” initiative is that, despite its being touted as DC “canonically admitting that they screwed up the New 52,” DC didn’t take this opportunity to reboot or return to their old continuity. Instead, writer/creative director/all-around DC miracle worker Geoff Johns is using Rebirth to course correct their fledgling universe, making a concerted effort to turn away from the darkness that largely came to define the New 52 and instead embrace the ideas of love, hope, and legacy that DC was once famous for.
It’s an effort that warms my heart. I’ll admit to feeling maybe just the slightest, tiniest bit cynical (the upcoming “war” leaves a back-door open to restore the pre-Flashpoint continuity should Rebirth falter as well), but that barely matters. My favorite character in all of comics is back, and thus, I couldn’t be happier. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 4, originally released April 27th, 2016.
Drew: As much as I enjoy The Dark Knight Returns, I have to admit that it’s a pretty shaggy story — Batman takes on an entirely new foe in every issue (Two-Face, the Mutants, Joker, and the Government, respectively), and most of the conclusions people draw about the book’s maturity comes from parsing only one or another of those battles. How does your neocon reading of part 4 jibe with Bruce Wayne getting his groove back in part 1? How does your psychosexual reading of his relationship with the Joker fit in with the rest of the series (which continues well after the Joker dies)? For all the glib distillations of DKR, none of them actually capture the angularity of what I would argue is a decidedly episodic story. Those terse critics should rejoice, then, over DKIII, which offers a through-line so clear, even literary critics should be able to find it. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 3, originally released February 24th, 2016.
Drew: There are a number of reasons The Dark Knight Strikes Again didn’t attain the critical and cultural success of The Dark Knight Returns, not the least of which being the insanely high expectations of following up a genuine cultural touchstone, but I think the biggest might be what DKSA reveals about DKR. That is, while fans, critics, and the culture at large tend to believe DKR was all about injecting psychological nuance to superheroes, DKSA suggests that creator Frank Miller’s interests were ultimately in the excesses of the genre — any emphasis on psychology was incidental to Miller’s pursuit of bombast. That’s not an airtight argument, but there’s no denying that DKSA went even bigger, trading the psychology of Batman for the sociology of the Justice League. Those interests are still very much in play in DKIII, though perhaps ultimately to pare the cast down to the key players of DKR‘s final showdown. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Dark Knight III: The Master Race 1, originally released November 25th, 2015.
Drew: Under the subject of “staying on topic,” the Retcon Punch style guide reminds writers that any piece we write is a discussion of a specific issue of a comic, not a discourse on a creative team, series, or character. That’s a guideline that I stand by as something that keeps our discussions focused and open-minded — my opinions on any prior issues take a backseat to my reactions to this one. Indeed, DKIII might just provide a perfect example of why that focus is so important: we’d all love an opportunity to write about the legacy of The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, or the enduring symbolic potency of Batman, but that would hardly make for a satisfying commentary on this particular comic. Then again, DKR, while formally remarkable in many ways, is most interesting as a response to the Batman stories that came before it — it’s very much a reaction to that legacy and context. Moreover, it was such a watershed moment for superheroes that virtually every superhero comic since then has needed to reconcile with it. That legacy proves inescapable for DKIII, which might actually work to this issue’s benefit. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and (guest writer) Michael D. are discussing The Multiversity: The Just 1, originally released October 22nd, 2014.
Spencer: So far Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity has been chock-full of ideas and meta-commentary, but while the first issue was essentially a celebration of everything comics offer as an art form, The Multiversity: The Just1 explores much more critical, perhaps even cynical takes on the medium. Fortunately, it’s just as dense, thought provoking, and flat-out bonkers as the issues that came before. Continue reading →
Spencer: One of my favorite hobbies is explaining comic book storylines to people who don’t read comics (“Hey guys, did you know that the Justice League once fought a giant floating psychic island that shoots dinosaurs?!”). It’s always fun to watch their expressions, but it’s also an interesting reminder that comics, at their core, are goofy as hell. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m glad comics are finally being respected as an art form, and I wouldn’t be writing here if I didn’t love poring through comics and discussing their depths, but sometimes it’s just fun to turn off my brain and embrace the goofiness, and no story’s been better for that lately than Trinity War. It’s so much fun that I don’t even mind that big fat “to be continued” at the end—well, I don’t mind it that much…
Patrick: Did any of you guys ever play Warhammer? If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a table top war game where you assemble an army from your race of choice and battle against your friends’ armies. It’s the least pick-up-and-play game you could ever imagine – understanding the basic rules means reading a 100+ page manual, and keeping a cheat sheet with charts and tables with you at all times. And then there’s understanding your own army, for which you need yet other book completely dedicated to that race. Then you need the little metal figures to represent the members of your army (sold separately), and if you’re really hardcore you can paint them. Then you need a surface large enough to play on – one time my friends and I took a door off its hinges and used that when we were denied the dining room table. Ideally, this surface will be populated with trees and terrain and stuff like that. Setting up the Trinity War has felt an awful lot like setting up a Warhammer game. Everyone’s been reading extra books they don’t really want to read just so they can play in the big game. Now the event is actually here and I can’t believe I’m surprised that all the characters feel like pieces in a game. Continue reading →