DC Round-Up Comics Released 7/29/15

DC roundup3

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Michael, Spencer and Patrick discuss Batgirl 42, Gotham By Midnight Annual 1, Lobo Annual 1 and The Flash Annual 4.

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Michael: Have you ever noticed how the fifth Wednesday of a month always brings an odd grab bag of titles from DC? It’s typically full of books that are behind schedule and trying to catch up and the occasional Annual issue. So I guess it’s no surprise that this week’s DC offering is full of five Annuals in total. Let’s cover a few of them, shall we?

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The Flash 36

Alternating Currents: The Flash 36, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Flash 36, originally released November 26th, 2014.

Drew: There’s a lot of weirdness we accept in our comics — radioactive spider-bites, a dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys, even dudes who dress up like birds to support the dude who dresses up like a bat to scare bad guys — but we tend to think of the morality as fairly straightforward. Oftentimes it is — Superman fights for good, Dr. Doom fights for bad — but the weirdness can also raise some bizarre moral questions. Is time-travel inherently immoral? Exactly how icky is the prospect of a body-snatched romantic relationship? Somehow, writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen manage to find the overlap between these inherently comic-booky ideas in The Flash 36. Continue reading

The Flash 32

flash 32Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Flash 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.

Spencer: Speedsters aren’t generally known for their patience. Before the reboot, one of Wally West’s best known qualities was his impatience, and Impulse was the ADHD poster-child; over at Marvel, Quicksilver’s attitude problem canonically comes from the frustration he deals with daily when he’s forced to interact with people who move so much slower than him. My point is, Barry Allen’s methodical, patient lifestyle is the complete antithesis to most speedsters — to use a comparison this issue makes itself, Wally is a basketball fan while Barry’s a baseball fan. The more I read this issue, the more I realize that Barry is the kind of guy who genuinely enjoys slowing down because it means he gets to spend time with the people he loves. It’s what grants him more patience than other speedsters, but it’s also aggravating his greatest flaw; Barry cares so much that he’s trying to be everywhere at once, help everybody at once. It’s an impossible task even for the fastest man alive, and in the process Barry may just be driving away the people who make it worthwhile to slow down in the first place.

Oh, and he may also be tearing apart the space-time continuum. Oops. Continue reading

The Flash 31

flash 31Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Flash 31, originally released May 28th, 2014.

Patrick: Because I spend a fair amount of my time writing about superhero comics, I end up having a lot of conversations about reboots and continuity and “fixing” timelines. You’ll notice that we tend not to dwell on those sorts of things in the actual content of these pieces — we always try to focus on the 20 pages in front of us, and not the uncountable pages that came before — but I’m of the opinion that retcons don’t actually work. If DC were to wipe out the New 52 with the Anti-Monitor next week and launch the old DCU the week following, writers, artists, press and fans would all have the last 3 years of storytelling informing their views on the characters. It’s just like how Aquaman may not have a mini-trident for a hand right now, but that will always be part of who the character “is,” even if it’s not part of who the character “is right now.” But we’re all fascinated with those universe changing mechanics, which is how The Flash 31 upstages itself with a history-altering Future Flash, when the more important character work is happening right now. Continue reading

The Flash Annual 3

Alternating Currents: The Flash Annual 3, Drew and ScottToday, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash Annual 3, originally released April 30th, 2014.

…at the end of the day, the Flash is still the same tone as it was before. It’s still the same character, but kind of just reinvisioned.

Francis Manapul

Drew: The above quote isn’t about Robert Venditti and Van Jensen’s new run on The Flash — Manapul was actually speaking about the start of his own run back when I interviewed him in 2012 — but it might as well be. That a statement can be used to describe a new take on the character as well as the newer take that succeeds is is a universal truism in comics, but it also speaks to an innate truth about the Flash: he needs to move forward. Of course, Jensen and Venditti aren’t privy to the clean break that started Manapul’s run, and have thus needed to address Barry’s past as much as his future. Fortunately, they are also paying attention to this series’ history of meta-commentary, addressing their own creative baggage right on the page. Of all the things they could have ported from the previous run, this is my absolute favorite, injecting The Flash Annual 3 with a sense of rebellion.

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The Flash 30

Alternating Currents: Flash 30, Drew and ScottToday, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash 30, originally released April 23rd, 2014.

Drew: I lost a part of my innocence when Richard Harris passed away. It wasn’t an existential crisis brought about by confronting mortality, but the cognitive dissonance brought about by his role of Albus Dumbledore being filled by Michael Gambon. I’m sure for many young Harry Potter fans, that was the first time they were confronted with the notion that the identity of a beloved fictional character is so dictated by casting decisions, but looking at the differences between the two actors’ performances, it’s almost as if they were playing different characters. Harris imbued the role with a quiet, almost doddering sweetness, while Gambon’s take was notably sterner. Both takes are supported by the books, but it had never occurred to me before seeing Prisoner of Azkaban that an actor’s (or director’s) emphasis on certain traits could have such a profound effect on the final product. I found myself thinking those same thoughts as Robert Venditti and Van Jensen assert their own read on Barry Allen in The Flash 30.

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Green Lantern Corps 27

green lantern corps 27

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Green Lantern Corps 27, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Patrick: Fans of the Geoff Johns era of Green Lantern might consider Johns to be the architect of all conflict in the GL universe. It’s a regularly recurring conflict: basically, the past comes back to haunt the corps. This means a lot of fighting among the various corps (Blackest Night), fighting within the GLs themselves (Green Lantern War) or reckoning with some force responsible for their power in the first place (Volthoom, Relic). But all of this stuff stems from a prophecy that Alan Moore wrote decades ago – promises the eventual fall of Sodam Yatt, the destruction of Mogo, and Oa’s occupation by “demons.” We’ve spend tens of years reading those predictions into fruition, and it’s only now, as the Lanterns appear to have their own shit in order that they realize how utterly dissatisfied they’ve left the universe they swore to protect. For the first time since I can remember, that puts the corps up against a threat  that’s ideological, nuanced, and –most importantly — not magical. There’s no single domino they can topple to quash a universe in revolt against them. Continue reading

Green Lantern: Lights Out

Lights Out

Today, Mikyzptlk and Spencer are discussing Green Lantern 24, Green Lantern Corps 24, Green Lantern: New Guardians 24, Red Lanterns 24, and Green Lantern Annual 2 , originally released October 2nd, October 9th, October 16th, October 23rd, and October 30th, 2013, respectively. 

Mikyzptlk: Here at Retcon Punch, we try our damnedest to cover all the cool stuff that’s going on in comics. The only problem is there are only so many of us and a shitload of great comics. That being the case, things tend to fall between the cracks every now and then, as was the case for the Green Lantern-centered crossover event, Lights Out. With that said, it’s up to Spencer and I to give this event the Retcon Punch treatment it deserves. Lights Out serves as a the first big event in the GL books since the new creative teams took command. Ultimately, Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Justin Jordan, and Charles Soule deliver a story that seemingly picks up right where Geoff Johns and company left off, while shaking up the status quo enough to send our characters off in some new and interesting directions. Continue reading

Green Lantern Corps 23

Alternating Currents: Green Lantern Corps 23, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Green Lantern Corps 23, originally released August 14th, 2013.

Drew: When Scott (my younger brother) was in college, he inherited hosting duties for an event called “Wine Wednesdays,” where friends would get together to drink wine on (you guessed it) Wednesday evenings. Due to scheduling conflicts, the event had to move its regular meeting time to Tuesdays, and in the interests of alliteration, became known as “Taco Tuesdays” in spite of really just featuring the wine. That same year, he was living in an apartment his friends all called “Bear Snake.” Anyway, in a message to his friends informing him that this week’s Taco Tuesday would be held at Bear Snake, Scott thought it would be funny to replace all of the vowels with the letter “a,” such that the message read, simply: TACA BAAR SNAKA. The fact that that message could possibly convey that his friends should come to his apartment for wine on Tuesday amuses me to this day, but it’s actually quite common for shared knowledge and jargon to pile up in similar ways. Green Lantern Corps 23 achieves something approaching “TACA BAAR SNAKA” impenetrability, digging DEEP into recent Green Lantern history, delivering an issue that may be difficult for all but the most hardcore fans to follow. Continue reading

Green Lantern Corps 22

green lantern corps 22

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Green Lantern Corps 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.

Patrick: My little sister studied in Ecuador for a semester in college. She spent a couple weeks tromping around the rain forest and camping on a beach on the Galapogos and dropping her new camera into a river – y’know: normal stuff when you’re studying the biodiversity of one of the coolest places on the planet. Naturally, she came back with new perspectives on birds and insects and had a few anecdotes about hilariously adorable seal pups on the beach. But the part of the experience that she ends up talking about — and I trust the part of the experience that stayed with her the most — is just about the friends that she made while hiking the Forest in the Clouds. When I asked her about that, she shrugged and said “It turns out human beings are the most fascinating mega-fauna on Earth.” She was being flippant (as flippant as one can be while still using words like “mega-fauna”), but it’s an oddly profound statement: for all the wonders of the world, people are going to be the most interesting thing you encounter. DC’s galaxies are vast, and jam-packed with strange and wonderful things. Issue 22 of Green Lantern Corps features a lot of these wonders, but all without losing sight of the of the most interesting mega-fauna at the heart of it: John Stewart and Fatality.
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