By Jonathan Edwards
I don’t understand this book. I was hoping this second issue would help it more closely resemble Image’s summary for the series, but it didn’t. Instead, it just doubles down on the half-baked conspiracy premise, and it tries hard to show just how edgy and satirical it is. Except, rather than actually being either of those things, it’s just assholes being assholes to one another for twenty-some pages, and we’re left with little to no character development or plot progression. But, the icing on the proverbial cake is that the book ends with issue #4. I mean, I knew it was going to be a limited series rather than an ongoing, but only four issues? That means we’re halfway through and without even a glimpse of how this is a “reboot of a comic book miniseries that has never existed.” At this point, I’m inclined to believe that the eponymous retcon is going to be revealed in the big "twist ending," but if that’s the case, why go ahead and mention it in all of the marketing?
We open with General Swan attaching his various mechanical prosthetics, and I guess his robot eye has a sentient Space Invader inside it. No, really. It’s in no way properly explained, but it does happen. Swan doesn’t do anything else noteworthy except eventually pass out or die or something. And either way, it’s hard to care. Brandon acts like he’s the big bad, and of course, that’s not true, but he does so little and is so unengaging that it feels like he’s only here as a scapegoat to pad out the paper-thin plot.
Speaking of Brandon, he knows that the police station he’s in is going to get attacked, and his dumb “Merry Sue” powers let him do pretty much whatever he wants. So, why does he decide to just sit there and try and convince Detective Case that it’s going to happen when the latter clearly doesn’t believe him? Couldn’t he, I don’t know, break out while making a big scene? Wouldn’t that show them that he’s no longer there as well as attracting enough publicity that the attack would be too difficult to pull off covertly? I mean, he could at least try a little bit harder than turning desk junk into a pair of glasses when that is written off as mere sleight of hand. All it does is showcase how much Retcon fails at being satirical. It just calls out the trope, in this case, plot convenience, and then thinks that means that using said trope is now clever. It’s not.
I was on the fence about the art last time, and it started to lose me here. It’s mostly fine, but there are a handful of moments where characters look distorted and/or inconsistent with the surrounding panels. However, it doesn’t happen consistently enough to work as a stylistic choice. As such, each time it happens sticks out like a sore thumb. Also, I have no idea why Nathan’s jacket is such a vivid orange. It’s that it looks bad per se, but it doesn’t feel like it’s serving much of a purpose either. It’s like the art is trying to be “quirky” just so people will notice it rather than to enhance and help tell the story.
The whole sequence of Detective Case taking Brandon of the police station is just plain bad. We meet the police chief who is absurdly persnickety to the point that he scolds other officers for swearing and himself uses minced oaths like “shoot” and “darn.” Then, one of the cops working with Case says that they need to get Brandon out of there because he has Ebola and “tried to rape a nun.” The chief is appalled, and it’s played like we’re supposed to be amused by his. But, that’s not funny. That’s how a normal person should respond to sexual assault. And yes, while that does also showcase just how dirty these cops are, there’s no reason to write the chief so uptight if that moment wasn’t meant to be humorous. Much like the attempts at satire, it’s just another thing that Retcon #2 executes poorly.
Don’t buy this, and don’t hold your breath for it to get any better. The great premise of Retcon has been all but completely squandered, and there’s no indication it’ll be pulled out of its death spiral anytime soon.
Writer: Matt Nixon
Artist: Toby Cypress
Letterer: Matt Krotzer
Publisher: Image Comics