This article containsSPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Doctor Aphra is a book built around taking familiar characters from the Star Wars universe and remixing them by removing their moral compasses. Chelli Aphra is the Han Solo who would have taken his reward at the end of A New Hope and never looked back as the Rebels attacked the Death Star. Her robot compatriots, BeeTee and Triple-Zero, are the lovable C-3PO and R2D2, but also they’re always looking for opportunities to murder. And Black Krrsantan? He’s always been a bit of a mystery, but Doctor Aphra Annual 1 revels in finally letting the audience in on his past. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 1, originally released April 30th, 2014.
Patrick: If The Superior Spider-Man had us all asking what it means to be a hero (and, by extension, what it means to be a villain), then The Amazing Spider-Man seems poised to ask the question of what it means to be Spider-Man. It is a surprisingly wide question, with seemingly hundreds of discrete answers. What’s it mean to be Spider-Man? Kaine will tell you one thing, Miguel O’Hara will tell you another thing, Peter Parker will tell you something else, and Doc Ock (may he rest in peace) probably wouldn’t dignify the question with a response. Y’see, there are a lot of Spiders out there, and even more Spider-fans; what we want and what we expect from Spider-Man is so varied that even an issue designed to celebrate the hero can’t pick a tone and stick to it. It’s a fascinating, if uneven (and possibly even fascinatingly uneven), exploration of Spider-Man. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing A + X 18, originally released March 28th, 2014.
Patrick: There was always going to be something artificial about the A + X conceit. For as much as it feels like they’re all good guys, so they should have no problem teaming up for a little BAM-POW superhero adventuring, there’s just too much baggage to sustain it for very long. As the series comes to close, it appears that A + X was a promise too heavy to be supported by such a fluffy, carefree experience. The final issue seems split on this opinion, simultaneously expressing how similar the two groups are while stubbornly refusing to find common ground between the two.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Fearless Defenders 9, originally released September 11th, 2013.
Taylor: Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Bros before hoes, sisters before misters. Men and women are two different species. Such platitudes have been woven into the fabric of society since the dawn of civilization. Given their age, you might find yourself uttering such phrases during awkward conversations in the lunch room at work because you know they will be accepted with little umbrage. However, that doesn’t make these seemingly innocuous phrases any less offensive or misinformed. While men and women are different in many respects, the truth is they share far more similarities than differences. Some might call this a progressive view, but in reality it’s just a logical one. With that being said, you would think Fearless Defenders, a title which seemingly strives to show that female superheroes are just the same as male superheroes, would champion the similarities between the sexes rather than exaggerate them. But is issue nine, which examines this idea, up to the task?
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Fearless Defenders 8, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Shelby: Another day in the life of the Fearless Defenders: tracking monsters, fighting crazy mystics, teaming up with alien parasites. All in a day’s work. It’s not all business as usual, with the whole Annabelle and Valkyrie sharing a body situation. While I’m intrigued by what that means for those two, and the rest of the team, I really found the art lacking; for the first time with this title I was really bothered by the way these awesome women are depicted. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 7, originally released July 31st, 2013.
Drew: Death is hard to relate to. By it’s very nature, nobody alive has ever experienced it, and people are bad at relating to things that aren’t walking, talking people (which is why we anthropomorphize everything from pets to brave little toasters). It’s no wonder, then, that comics are so notoriously bad at dealing with death — or at least treating dead as dead. Everyone from Superman to Captain America has cheated death, and while we’re often told that it’s “against the rules” to come back from the dead, characters that actually stay dead seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. These days, the death of a character is simply the starting point for the saga of the inevitable return of that character. Fearless Defenders 7 leans heavily into those expectations, but ultimately subverts them, compressing the “saga” into a single issue, and forcing some actual consequences for Annabelle’s death (and resurrection). Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Fearless Defenders 6, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Patrick: Hey guys: GENDER IN COMICS! If there’s one thing we get whipped into a frenzy about on a fairly regular basis over here at Retcon Punch, it’s the portrayal of women in superhero comics. And with good cause: not only is there a decades-long tradition of turning female characters into disposable subjects of the leers and catcalls of male readers, but the inequity between male and female characters continues to this day. When DC relaunched it’s line two years ago, the editors found a home for 4 different past male-Robins, but couldn’t be bothered to include Stephanie Brown in their ranks. Why? The same can be said about Earth’s Green Lanterns: Guy, John, Kyle and Hal were all zipping around the universe, but whither Jade? And even a series like Fearless Defenders, which in 6 issues has only featured one named male character, seems to be plagued with gender problems: occasionally-cheesecakey art; a hysterical, flakey lead; and now the ubiquitous woman in a refrigerator. But it is possible that we put too much responsibility on these all-women series to be paragons of gender equality? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 5, originally released June 5th, 2013.
Drew: Comics love engaging in their own history. Whether they’re rehashing origin stories, resurrecting campy villains, or just making winking nods to their own pasts, comics always find ways to reference their own histories. It makes sense — both creators and fans love comics — but what do you do when the history your referencing isn’t so charming? It’s no secret that comics don’t always have the most enlightened views when it comes to female characters, but what is a writer’s obligation to that history? Should they ignore it? Reclaim it? Embrace it? These are the weird questions Cullen Bunn is forced to address in Fearless Defenders 5, as he blows up the scope to comment on virtually all of Marvel’s female characters. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 1-4, originally released February 6th, March 13th, April 10th and May 8th, 2013.
Patrick: The premise of first four issues of Fearless Defenders is simple: Valkyrie was tasked with recruiting eight female warriors from Earth to serve as Shield Maidens of Odin, but she put off making the decision for so long that a handful of undead Doom Maidens have risen to take their place. Now no longer a matter of selecting who would make the best — or most cohesive — unit of Shield Maidens, Valkyrie ends up assembling a crew who can best be described as motley – composed entirely of women. This ends up being the series’ greatest strengths: no top-tier characters, no common theme connecting the cast and no expectations as to what this team is capable of or responsible for. Continue reading →