Past and Present Trauma Collapse into One in Batman 54

by Patrick Ehlers

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

slim-banner

More than any other medium, comics have a rigidly prescriptive relationship with scenic transitions. Settings change on a page turn. Not every turn of the page will give the reader a new scene, but every new scene requires a new page. There are exceptions, of course. Creators can cut away to a quick one- or two-panel scene to provide context to a page. It’s also pretty common to run two scenes simultaneously on alternating panels on a page, like in Watchmen. But even in these cases, the scene or scenes at play are allowed to end at a page turn. With Batman 54, writer Tom King and artist Matt Wagner toss that conventional wisdom out the window, transitioning into and out of extended flashbacks part-way through the page. The result is a conflation of past with present, and of suffering with healing. Continue reading

Batman 50: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Batman 50

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

Drew: Bruce Wayne understands that his responsibilities as Batman demands sacrifice. He devotes his time, body, and earthly resources to his mission to fight crime, and generally takes that mission very seriously. All of which can look like he’s sacrificed his own happiness in order to be Batman. Or, more precisely, that his happiness is a necessary sacrifice for his existence. Batman’s drive, the argument goes, comes from his grief, anger, and sadness, so anything that blunts or dilutes those feelings weaken his mission. It’s a position DC Editorial staked out back in 2013, when Dan DiDio explained why Batwoman’s marriage could never happen, but it’s not necessarily a philosophy writer Tom King ascribes to. Indeed, King has argued that Batman’s happiness is a valuable source of drama, stating “There’s no conflict in having Batman be sad. There’s conflict in having Batman be happy.” That may mean King sees Batman’s happiness as only a temporary condition, but it’s obviously not out of the question. The point is, it’s a hotly debated topic, and one that King cleverly allows to play out in the pages of Batman 50. 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

Form Trumps Myth in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 37

By Patrick Ehlers

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

My Green Lantern fandom often feels like a relic from a time before I truly understood what I loved about comics. I love the limits of the medium — the way an artist has to imply light and sound and movement and time all on a still page which literally possesses none of these qualities. So much of a comic story, for me, is in how it is told, rather than what it’s telling. But Green Lantern is a myth-making franchise, and the moment-to-moment storytelling can often be measured by the twists and connections it makes to its own winding history. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 37 eschews that entirely, pulling one of Superman’s Big Bads into the ring for some refreshingly innovative visual storytelling. Continue reading

A Missed Opportunity in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 29

by Mark Mitchell

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

Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval have been weaving a story about fathers and sons during the “Fall of the Gods” arc, and while they still deliver an issue with the interesting character moments, deft balancing of Lantern personalities, and exciting action they have become known for, the narrative threads fail to fully come together in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 29. Continue reading

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 7

hal-jordan-green-lantern-corp-7

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 7, originally released October 26th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Have you ever gotten into an argument with a long-time friend? With that much history between you, it’s far too easy for whatever sparked that particular conflict to fall to the wayside as your argument instead becomes about every slight the two of you have ever inflicted upon each other. That’s exactly what happens in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 7. Hal and Sinestro’s grand battle for control of the universe is more of a grudge match between these former friends and rivals; the actual stakes matter less to Hal and Sinestro than themselves finally proving their methods and emotion of choice superior to the other’s. Continue reading

Batman Eternal 8

batman eternal 8Today, Spencer leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 8, originally released May 28th, 2014.

Spencer: Last time I wrote about Batman Eternal I praised how quickly the plot seemed to be coming together, but in the five issues since, things have slowed down dramatically. The end of issue three saw the genesis of a brutal gang war that threatened to rock Batman’s city down to its core, but the resulting conflicts haven’t looked all that more dangerous than any typical Gotham evening. There’s a lot of fun stuff going on in Batman Eternal 8, but these pacing issues sap much of the tension from the developments, leaving a final product that’s not quite as awesome as it should be. Continue reading

Talon 7-8

talon 7-8

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Talon 7-8, originally released April 24th and May 22nd, 2013. 

Shelby: We need to remember that the Talons are bad guys. I know, we’ve got Calvin here fighting the good fight against the Court, and we’ve got Mary working with the rest of the Birds; that makes it easy to forget that we first met the Talons as a sweeping wave of indestructible killing machines, hellbent on assassinating whomever they were pointed at. This title started out with Calvin’s unique position of being a Talon on the lam, a man with all the training needed, but unable to go through with the final process that would truly transform him into the Talon he was meant to be. In issues 7 and 8, all that is going to change; hold on to your butts, because things are getting complicated
Continue reading

Justice League 13

Alternating Currents: Justice League 13, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Justice League 12, originally released October 17th, 2012.

Drew: We’ve talked a lot about the five year rule here at Retcon Punch, and while we certainly have our gripes with how it affects continuity, I think we all understand why they did it. Giving every character some past allows them to maintain certain aspects of their pre-relaunch history, but does so without committing to anything specific. This gives writers a great deal of flexibility, without shutting the door for any future writes. Having a mysterious past also allows writers to pull out unknown details to add emotional weight to the proceedings. Doing this runs the risk of coming off as clumsy or cheap, but in Justice League 13, Geoff Johns provides an excellent case study in how to pull it off. Continue reading

Talon 0

Today, Patrick and (special guest writer) Pete Pfarr are discussing Talon 0, originally released September 19, 2012. Talon 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.

Patrick: I like the feeling of being in on the ground floor. Every fall, I make a list of new TV shows that I’m going to start watching from the pilot. That list always starts out slim but gets increasingly generous as we get closer and closer to shows returning to TV. I realize that most shows will fail within their first year, and many of those that last will not be very good (show biz, man: simultaneously fickle and not conducive to making a quality product). But it’s worth the risk if it means you can be a vocal supporter of something new. DC launched four “new” series this month — one a retread of Amethyst, another reviving an old Wildstorm team, and another re-introducing one of the weirder characters from DC’s past. Hardly new. But then there’s Talon…  Continue reading