Friday, April 20, 2018

Marvel's July previews reviewed

July is another month of the all-new, all-different, fresh start-having Marvel, and it doesn't seem like the plan is to do much of anything at all different. There will be three ongoing series newly re-launched with new creative teams--Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America and X-23--and all three are by writers who have been working with the publisher for some time, simply getting new assignments or taking on additional ones. There are three new limited series launching--The Life of Captain Marvel, Cosmic Ghost Rider and Death of The Inhumans--and pretty much the same deal.

The most outside-the-box creators working on Marvel comics that will be released in July--Ta-Nehesi Coates, Ed Piskor, Mariko Tamaki, Margaret Stohl--have all been working on Marvel long enough that it's not surprising to see any of their names here, on any of the projects they're involved with, really. Thus far, the C.B. Cebulski era at Marvel seems to be an extremely cautious, careful one, with no bold moves--the boldest being the undoing of past bold moves, like the cancellation of titles and the resumption of legacy roles by their originating characters--and a considered retreat towards the good graces of the oldest of the old school Marvel zombies.

The big event stories seem to be whatever's been going on with Thanos and the Infinity Gems for what seems like forever now, and the continuing build-up to Wolverine coming back from the "dead" by way of too many mini-series.

One genuinely exciting thing is that there is an incredible focus on the Fantastic Four--which, again, seems more backward-looking than forward-looking--with the months $1, "True Believers" line being completely devoted to FF-related reprints, and plenty of Fantastic Four collections showing up in the solicits.

Anyway, let's take a closer look, shall we...?

An alien invasion hits New York City and the only one who can stop it is…Spider-Man?! But that’s far from all you’ll find here – a revelation from the past puts Peter Parker’s job, relationships, and whole life in jeopardy! And if even that’s not enough, you’ll see a new roommate, new love interests – and a new villain! Spider-Man goes back to basics courtesy of Nick Spencer (SECRET EMPIRE, SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN) and the Marvel debut of RYAN OTTLEY (Invincible)!
ISSUE #1 – 356 PGS. /Rated T …$5.99
ISSUE #2 –
32 PGS. /Rated T …$3.99

Nick Spencer is a great comic book writer, and a very good choice for this book...albeit not one that I would have made, simply because it seems like too normal or safe a title for Spencer's sense of humor. Leaving nothing to chance, however, Marvel is shipping the first issue with eight variant covers. Eight! Jesus. (That's another thing that hasn't changed; a lot of the new #1s, even those that are just miniseries, have a half-dozen or more variants attached.)

Oh, and I am assuming that's a typo, and that issue #1 isn't actually 356 pages. If it isn't a typo, and that first issue really is 356 pages, well, suddenly $5.99 for a comic book seems like a real steal.

The Reavers are back, and they have a new weapon that only Havok knows about. It’s going to take a ragtag group of X-Men to save a world that hates and fears them! But after his villainous turn, can any of the X-Men really trust him? Can he blame them? Havok! Beast! Dazzler! Warpath! Colossus! It’s an all-new, all-different kind of X-Men story from the minds of Matthew Rosenberg (PUNISHER) and Greg Land (INCREDIBLE HULK)!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

A new era! Of a comic book that has only published twelve issues so far! Is it too new for a new era? Relax. How new can a new era of X-Men be when it's a handful of the same old characters, drawn by the same old artist and combating one of their same old threats...?

For over 70 years, he has stood in stalwart defense of our country and its people. But in the aftermath of Hydra’s takeover of the nation, Captain America is a figure of controversy, carrying a tarnished shield…and a new enemy is rising!
Who are the Power Elite? And how do they intend to co-opt and corrupt the symbol that is Captain America?
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

Oh thank God. It's been months without the relaunch of a new Captain America title!

Actually, given the writer, this one has the potential to draw an awful lot of eyeballs (Remember Coates' Black Panther #1?), and be pretty interesting. I honestly haven't much cared for Coates' run on Black Panther so far--I've only read the first two collections worth of it--which seems to be full of good ideas, but executed in a less than compelling fashion that can make the reading a bit of a slog. That said, Captain America is a very different book than Black Panther, and while both are somewhat defined by a nation, Cap's nation is a real one rather than a fictional one, and he doesn't have to play the sort of role within it that T'Challa does in Wakanda. So we'll see.

Cover by Geoff Shaw
Variant Cover by MIKE DEODATO JR.
Variant Cover by STEPHANIE HANS
Variant Cover BY MARK BROOKS
Frank Castle was the Punisher. A deal with the devil made him Ghost Rider. A deal with Galactus made him cosmic. A deal with Thanos made him…DEAD?!? Not to worry, he’s coming back, and he’s got a plan to make the universe a better place that’s going to lead him into an even CRAZIER adventure than he’s ever been in! Join hot new comic (and cosmic?) writer Donny Cates (THANOS, DOCTOR STRANGE) as he pushes his wildest creation past the breaking point!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

There's actually something somewhat appealing about the sheer craziness of this What If...The Punisher Was Ghost Rider, But Also The Silver Surfer, At The Same Time? Huh? What If THAT?!

That's Clayton Crain's cover for one of the infinite number of comics with the word "Infinity" in the title that Marvel will be publishing this year. Which one is it...Ah, Infinity Countdown: Champions #2. Seeing such a big image of Thanos looking smug here makes me wonder: Will we all be sick of Thanos by July, if we aren't already, that is...?

Variant Cover by FIONA STAPLES
Carol Danvers was just a girl from the Boston suburbs who loved science and the Red Sox until a chance encounter with a Kree hero gave her incredible super-powers. Now, she’s a leader in the Avengers and the commander of Alpha Flight. But what if there were more to the story? When crippling anxiety attacks put her on the sidelines in the middle of a fight, Carol finds herself reliving memories of a life she thought was far behind her. You can’t outrun where you’re from — and sometimes, you HAVE to go home again. But there are skeletons in Captain Marvel’s closet — and what she disCOVERS will change her entire world.
Written by best-selling author Margaret Stohl and drawn by fan-favorite comics veteran Carlos Pacheco, this is the true origin of Captain Marvel.
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

Huh. Carol Danvers is back in a new Captain Marvel book, but this one is just a miniseries, rather than an ongoing. The covers all look pretty nice, even if there are a lot more than necessary. That one is the Fiona Staples one.


...Man, Carol has to be sitting in so much bird excrement, huh?

Devin Grayson, Ryan North and G. Willow Wilson (W)
Irene Strychalski and Ramon Bachs (A)
Cover by Gurihiru
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL author Ryan North and MS. MARVEL writer G. Willow Wilson join MARVEL RISING mastermind Devin Grayson in an all-star escapade! Gamer girl Ember Quade has a secret — a power that lets her bring video games to life! But when her creations attract the attention of super heroes SQUIRREL GIRL and MS. MARVEL, the stakes hit a whole new level. Just what is Ember after? And can Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel prevent her pixelated projects from wreaking epic destruction? The next generation of heroes take the universe by storm in the third installment of MARVEL RISING!
56 PGS./ONE-SHOT/Rated T+ …$5.99

Squirrel Girl, Devin Grayson, Ryan North, G. Willow Wilson, Gurihiru...hey, I like all of those names! And the work with which they are associated!

A new life in a new town on a strange world. Everything has changed for the broken people once known as BEN GRIMM and JOHNNY STORM. But can they repair things before one of their oldest villains puts the nail in the coffin of THE FANTASTIC FOUR?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

That's a pretty good cover. With Fantastic Four coming back, I wonder what that will mean for this title...? Like, if there will still be a point in publishing it or not.

Lunella Lafayette is the smartest person in the Marvel Universe! So why can’t she unravel the genetic mystery that keeps swapping her brain with a 40-foot-tall terrible lizard?
She’s going to need to pull off her biggest science experiment yet to undo the curse! All without getting caught by her parents and teachers, of course!
Plus: The tragic past of Princess Fisk!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

I like this cover a lot too.

Dang, Becky Cloonan is killing it on these Moon Knight covers.

Having purple hair used to be an act of rebellion, but now Gert is just one of many. Which doesn’t sit well with Ms. Yorkes.
And she’s not the only one wrestling with who they are and what they want as Nico, Chase, Karolina and Victor all wrestle with their own identity crises…
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

Weird. I just started recent Cloak and Dagger collection, Cloak and Dagger: Runaways and Reversals, and the original Runaways team of Bryan K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona have a brief, few-panel sequence in which a somewhat similar point is made. The Las Angeles-born and raised teens are in New York City, helping track down the person who assaulted Dagger and put her in a coma, and there's a moment where Gert sees a few other girls that look almost exactly like her behind her, and someone comments on how maybe the reason she doesn't like NYC is that she feels less special there then she does on the West Coast.

Squirrel Girl and Kraven have had a nice day out as civilians, instead of their usual costumed identities! It was really straightforward and uneventful…
…is what we’d be saying if this was a way more boring comic, WHICH IT ISN’T! Instead we can say that Squirrel Girl and Kraven battled Mojo’s evil clone and saved the city from his deadly machinations. Then they all got arrested!
When Doreen Green and Sergei Kravenoff end up BEHIND BARS, can they be saved? Will they even make it to trial? And who will be their lawyer?
We can answer that last one: It’s obviously going to be none other than JENNIFER WALTERS, the incredible SHE-HULK!
Doreen behind bars! Kraven on the stand! And a conclusion to the trial that nobody will see coming! It’s all this and more in this particular Marvel comic!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

This is Marvel's best comic book ever, so I'm kind wrecked that it's changing in any way at all. That said, I understand that drawing a comic book takes way longer than writing a comic book, and it's certainly understandable that Erica Henderson might want to do some things that aren't Squirrel Girl at this point in her career, too.

And, honestly, if there was one artist they could choose to put on the book to make me not miss Henderson, it would be her fellow Jughead artist, Derek Charm. Having only read his Archie work and some Star Wars Adventures stuff he's drawn, I'm quite curious how he will take to the Marvel Universe in general, and Squirrel Girl in particular. Henderson redesigned the character's build in such a way to make her...different than she she had been drawn before (i.e. a buck-toothed Barbie doll), so in a post-Henderson Marvel Universe, I can't help but wonder if we'll see the character gradually gravitate back toward Barbie Doreen Green or not.

32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Wow, this sounds great.

X-23 #1 & #2
Cloned from a warrior, raised as a killer, Laura Kinney has gone through hell and come out the other side a hero. After a stint as the All-New Wolverine, she returns to her roots as X-23 to make sure no one ever has to go through the horrors she did. With her sister Gabby and their pet Jonathan in tow, X-23 forges her own destiny in this new series by Mariko Tamaki (HULK, HUNT FOR WOLVERINE: CLAWS OF A KILLER) and Juann Cabal (ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, ELEKTRA).
Issue 1- 40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99;
Issue 2 –
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Ugh. Nothing says "forges her own destiny" like adopting the letter and number designation you were assigned by the people who cloned you and mentally programmed you as your superhero name...!

So this just strikes me as baffling. Losing Tom Taylor is itself pretty terrible; he was a great writer who really transformed Laura Kinney/X-23 into an interesting and enjoyable character, something I don't think anyone has been able to do before, and, at the same time, introduced Gabby, which gave All-New Wolverine a supporting character and a cast without having to rely too heavily on X-people, as could be a problem with past books starring the other Wolverine. Also, Gabby is fun and funny.

Having to do a relaunch of All-New Wolverine also seems unfortunate, but then, it looks like they are screwing around with the character enough--new writer, new costume, new application of old codename, new title--that it seems more justified than a lot of Marvel relaunches of the recent past.

But man, I just don't know how on earth you justify her taking on the name X-23. Sure, OG Wolverine is coming back to life, but, um, so what? Laura can't keep calling herself Wolverine, and wearing a Wolverine-derived costume? Can't she be Wolverine and Wolverine go by "Logan," in the way that "Old Man Logan" went by "Logan" and his book was called Old Man Logan...? Can't there be two Wolverines, the way there are two Hawkeyes and were two Captain Americas, two Hulks, two Thors, etc...?

From the perspective of the publisher, one can kind of see how they might want to have a book called Wolverine starring the character the general, non-comics reading public thinks of when they hear the word "Wolverine"--although Laura was in the last Wolverine movie--but for the life of me, I can't imagine the in-story justification that would be used. That is, I can't imagine Laura wanting to go by X-23, nor can I imagine Logan wanting her to stop calling herself "Wolverine" so he can call himself that again.

There seem to be a lot of ways to address the issue of two Wolverines--including leaving Logan "dead" a bit longer; between Laura, Old Man Logan and Jimmy Hudson, I haven't had a chance to miss him yet--and that Marvel is choosing the absolute worst one. I don't have a lot of hope that Mariko Tamaki is the writer who is going to make this transition work, but I suppose we'll see.

The book does have Juann Cabal attached, and that is a definite bonus for any book.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

DC's July previews reviewed

Nice shorts, man! And wearing a belt to hold them up, that's really a good look for you. I can only really think of maybe one other guy that could pull that off. Now, about those cuffs...

So the biggest "event" of DC's July seems to be the launch of the Bendis era of Superman comics, following the Man of Steel weekly series he's writing with a bunch of great artists drawing an issue apiece. Additionally, the Justice League franchise seems to be growing (and growing way too fast, if you ask me, which you more or less did just by visiting my blog), and there is such an unexpected crossover that it makes Batman meeting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Archie seem obvious in comparison. Anyway, here's what jumped out at me, for good or ill...

art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON
Acclaimed writer Brian Michael Bendis’ new chapter for the Man of Steel and the world of tomorrow begins here! The devastating repercussions from the Man of Steel miniseries still reverberate as Metropolis enters a new age! The Daily Planet teeters on the brink of disaster! A new criminal element has made its way onto the streets of Superman’s hometown! The longest-running superhero comic of all time explodes off the page with art by fan favorite Patrick Gleason.
ON SALE 07.25.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
Includes a code for a free digital download of this issue.

So after his Man of Steel limited series ends, Brian Michael Bendis will be writing both Action Comics and Superman (the cover of which is at the top of the post). The solicitations for both Action Comics #1,0001 and Superman #1 are on the vague side, so it's not entirely clear to me at this point if the two books will have some form of "triangle"-style numbering, implied or otherwise, with a single narrative jumping back and forth between both books, or if Bendis will be telling two separate and parallel storylines in the two books (Or, God forbid, it turns into something like what he was doing with Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men, where he seemed to just write whatever he wanted with little apparent rhyme or reason). I can see the benefit of both strategies, honestly, but I'd certainly want to know the answer before I add either to my pull-list (I'm personally more inclined towards Action, as I prefer Gleason's art to that of Ivan Reis). I guess...we'll see...? (UPDATE: Actually DC editor Mike Cotton tweeted that they will be two separate stories, rather than chapters of the same story published in alternating issues of the two series. Twitter is such a convenient way to get information!)

Note that both books are going monthly, instead of publishing twice a month, and both will run $3.99 instead of their "Rebirth"-era price of $2.99. So instead of offering 80-pages of Superman comics for $12 every month, starting in July DC will be offering 40-pages of Superman comics for $8. Though the two main Super-books are now being increased in price by 33.3%, they will also now include a "free digital download," so I guess DC Comics pricing in mid-2018 will be similar to that of Marvel's a couple of years ago...?

I suppose that means I will end up trade-waiting these series after all. As excited as I am that a former Clevelander will be writing Superman and I kinda can't wait to see what Bendis' Superman comics will be like, I was already leaning toward trade-waiting since this is Bendis we're talking about, but $3.99/20-pages is my move-to-trade point for super-comics.

written by TOM KING
cover by MIKEL JANIN
It’s the wedding you never thought you’d see! The Batrimony is real as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are set to tie the knot in a can’t-miss, extra-length milestone issue that will reshape Gotham City. All their friends (and a few enemies?) will be party to a comic book coupling for the ages.
Superstar scribe Tom King officiates the sure-to-be-offbeat nuptials, joined by an all-star lineup of guest classic Bat-artists doffing their hats to the lucky couple in a series of pre-wedding flashback scenes sure to set the romantic mood.
ON SALE 07.04.18
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES

I do hope "and more" means Tim Sale and Kelley Jones, because it seems wrong to have David Finch, Mitch Gerads and even Rafael Albuquerque in there instead of those guys...

Anyway, I'm obviously really looking forward to this, as I have dozens of questions, many of which may or may not even be addressed in this issue. I'm a little disappointed that it's only 48 pages and not an 80-page giant, though.

This is the first of two issues of Batman shipping in July, leading me to believe it will keep it's double-shipping schedule. That said, Batman #51 is going to cost $3.99, as DC seems to be gradually gravitating to the Marvel-set price-point for super-comics. That's a shame, as I've enjoyed King and company's run in single, serially-published issues, and I'm not really looking forward to making the switch to trades for this title as well.

written by DOUG MOENCH
In these moody tales from the 1990s, Batman emerges from the shadows to battle corruption in Gotham City and face foes including Man-Bat, The Joker, the Penguin and more. These tales by the classic Batman creative team of writer Doug Moench and artist Kelley Jones include guest appearances by the Demon, the Spectre and Ragman. Collects BATMAN #536-552.
ON SALE 08.01.18
$49.99 US | 416 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-8129-8

Look at that cape! Look at it! It's like a parachute, but a few times bigger!

These comics are great. Both Moench's writing and Jones' art are acquired tastes, but I've long since acquired them (Moench's writing took me a bit longer to get used to than Jones' over-the-top art, which I loved immediately). As I've said a million times, this is my second-favorite Batman creative team (following Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle), and this is an all-around incredible run on the title. There literally aren't any bad issues in the run, although there were some that weren't as incredible as I had hoped base on the characters and the creators (That Joker/Demon story, for example; Etrigan seemed right up Jones' particular aesthetic alley, but I found his Etrigan wanting, particularly compared to the versions drawn by, say, John McCrea or Tom Mandrake).

If memory serves, The Penguin story is unusual in that it really fleshes out his early origin in a way that makes him seem a bit more of a tragic character, and both The Spectre and Ragman stories are pretty fantastic Batman-meets-the-supernatural tales. Those are both extremely compelling characters on a purely visual level, too, and Jones seemed to be having endless fun drawing them both.

Here, let's use this excuse to appreciate Jones' Spectre and Ragman:

I love how the rags are affecting one of Batman's giant, rabbit-length ears on that cover, too... One of the many virtues of Jones' Batman is how his ears moved.

That Spectre story ran at the same time that Batman (and the Joker) appeared in an issue of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's The Spectre. Both were pretty great. The former had Batman asking The Spectre about the fate of his dead parents, while the latter had the spirit of vengeance finally turning his attention on The Joker and it going rather sideways.

In this new collection from the 1980s and companion volume to BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT DETECTIVE VOL. 1, Batman and Gotham City are beset by “Ten Nights of the Beast” and the deadly post-Soviet villain known as the KGBeast. Then, Batman and Robin must project the city’s citizens from themselves and organized crime. Collects BATMAN #417-425, 430-431 and BATMAN ANNUAL #12.
ON SALE 08.15.18
$29.99 US | 320 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-8136-6

I've always liked that Todd McFarlane image of Batman. It's very weird, but I think it works. I like how McFarlane draws Batman as essentially a sentient cape: There's no body, no feet, no face. You have to look twice, and rather closely, but the only part of the figure that is not cape or cowl is Batman's right hand, grasping the woman. That means his arm is not folding his cape protectively around her; instead its seemingly moving in a wing-like fashion of its own volition.

McFarlane, like Breyfogle, also drew really good flocks of bats.

written by JOELLE JONES
art and cover by JOELLE JONES
The wedding night’s barely over, but Catwoman’s back on the streets, this time to expose a copycat who’s pulling heists around Gotham City. As Selina cracks the whip on her former criminal cohorts, she’s attracting unwanted attention from one of Gotham’s most dangerous groups. The mob? Nope. Try the GCPD. And as if the Bat-Bride didn’t have enough problems, don’t miss the debut of an all-new villain determined to make trouble for all nine of Selina’s lives. Don’t miss the start of an all-new monthly series written and illustrated by Eisner Award-nominee JoĆ«lle Jones!
ON SALE 07.04.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Hmm. I was a little taken aback by the announcement of this title. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a pretty good book. I've not read anything of Jones' that she's written--at least, not that I can think of off the top of my head--but her art has been consistently great in Batman. I'm a little bummed in that it means she will be leaving Batman, as she's only the second woman to ever draw Batman, and the first to have something approaching a run on the title. Although, because of the double-shipping, no one is really the "regular" artist on Batman anymore.

Speaking of which, even with Catwoman shipping monthly instead of twice-a-month, it's got to be a challenge for a single artist to keep up with that schedule, right?

Also, note the price. If the last try at a Catwoman ongoing failed at $2.99-a-pop, will making the book significantly more expensive really help improve sales? I have to assume that whatever benefits this attempt might have--Jones, increased attention due to the status quo change of the character--the fact that it costs 33.3% more than it did before will erase them. Or, at the very least, severely diminish them.

Captain Cold, leader of the Rogues, has been one of the Flash’s greatest foes since the start of the Scarlet Speedster’s crime-fighting career! Now DC has collected this unforgettable villain’s greatest battles in this new title that includes SHOWCASE #8; THE FLASH #150 and 297, THE FLASH #28 and 182 (1987 series), FLASHPOINT: CITIZEN COLD #1, THE FLASH #6 (2011 series) and THE FLASH #17.
ON SALE 08.22.18
$16.99 US | 160 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-7521-1

In my previous post, I mentioned a few of the DC title that Brian Bolland did covers for, and in so doing I had completely forgotten his run on the covers of The Flash, right at the beginning of Geoff Johns' time on the book. That's where the above image is from.

This seems to be an answer to those villain-specific Batman: Arkham collections of stories, and it is a very good idea, given what a great rogues gallery The Flash has. I'm also a little surprised it's taken them this long, given the prominence of some of these characters on the various CW TV shows. I'll cross my fingers for a Rainbow Raider and a Turtle collection, although I won't hold my breath for either.

Free college tuition for all Riverdale residents?! That’s the plan—after the town drains the wetlands that lie between it and Gotham City and then builds a new campus. The only snag? A certain botany-obsessed super-villain. When Poison Ivy enlists her bestie, Harley Quinn, to kidnap both Veronica Lodge, daughter of Riverdale’s most important citizen, and her friend Betty Cooper, she’s counting on some assistance—and the mayhem that ensues will probably work as well! This title collects the six-issue miniseries co-published with Archie Comics!
ON SALE 08.29.18
$24.99 US | 160 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-8033-8

I trade-waited this, as I was pretty certain I was going to like it, based on the fact that I like the work of all the creators attached. Did any of you read it? Was it good? 

That's Guillem March's cover for Harley Quinn. I wouldn't have expected March to do such a good Kirby pastiche, but, man, he drew the hell out of that Kirby-ized clown hammer and the Apokolyptian city-scape...

written by TIM SEELEY
art and cover by FREDDIE E. WILLIAMS II
Believing He-man and the Masters of the Universe defeated, a robotic impostor has seized control of Eternia—but not for long! After freeing his kingdom from this strongman’s rule, Prince Adam learns not everyone is pleased to see the pretender deposed—but Adam knows the value of freedom. So when heroes from another dimension ask his aid in deposing a super-hero turned dictator, he agrees. Teaming up with Batman against the Superman of the Injustice Universe, He-man and his new allies face dangerous and familiar enemies in a battle where no world is safe!
ON SALE 07.18.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | 1 of 6 | RATED T

Well this is...unexpected. A comic book mini-series in which the comic book adaptation of a video game based on DC Comics characters crosses-over with the comic book adaptation of a 35-year-old cartoon series based on a toy line.

Well, Seeley is a good writer, Williams is a good artist and it's not like this could possibly be any worse than 2013's DC Universe Vs. Masters of The Universe, which brought us...this:
That comic was inexcusably bad.

written by JAMES TYNION IV
From the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE! Earth’s magic once belonged to them. Now they want the magic back. But who exactly are they? It’s up to the new Justice League Dark to find out and stop this nightmarish new threat at all costs! After the events of NO JUSTICE, team leader Wonder Woman guides the misfit magic mix of Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Man-Bat and Detective Chimp against enemies too fantastic even for the Justice League. Plus, what awful things are coming through the Tree of Wonder? Dark days ahead…
ON SALE 07.25.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

So come July, there will be three different Justice League titles, one of which publishes twice-a-month. That's four issues a month, total, and they will all cost $3.99 instead of $2.99. That doesn't sound remotely sustainable, and despite the push the two secondary League books will likely receive from spinning out of the No Justice event, itself something of a spin-off of the very successful Dark Nights: Metal event series, and the potential boost that might come from riding the coattails of the Scott Snyder-written flagship Justice League, there's no guarantee the interest is actually going to translate to these books, which seem to be more Justice League books in name only. And also not be by Snyder. And also lack the Batman-focus of Metal.  Given how long it's been since the market could comfortably sustain three successful Justice League books--the first few years of '90s, I think?--this sounds a little insane to me, and I can't help but wonder if Snyder's Justice League might sell better if the magic and space-focused secondary books were just named something different, like Shadowpact and Legion or Omega Men or something...

As for the line-up, it's unusual, to say the least. As the first real magic-based Leaguer, Zatanna makes perfect sense, and Swamp Thing has had a long on-again, off-again association with DC's magic types, going back to Alan Moore's Crisis On Infinite Earths tie-in (which killed off Zatanna's dad, come to think of it). I've enjoyed the more straightforward superhero take on the character that has been a part of the recent-ish Justice Leage Action cartoon. I dig his beard and dreads, which give him a new look, although it has been pointed out that giving Swamp Thing a big, long beard makes him look a lot more like the writer he's most associated with.

Detective Chimp's inclusion among a magic-centric Justice League is a bit of a stretch, but given the prominent role he played in Shadowpact, he makes a certain degree of sense here.

I imagine that Wonder Woman is there to make it more Justice League-y, and certainly her mythological connection can be exploited to make her seem like the most magical of the Big Seven (I'm actually a little surprised they didn't use Captain Marvel Shazam, given how the character has been re-positioned as the magical superhero to further differentiate him from Superman pretty much since 2006 or so, but then I guess his time on the post-Flashpoint League was limited).

Man-Bat is a bit of a puzzle, though, as he's a scientist who turned himself into a were-bat through science. I imagine Tynion's use of the character here is akin to his use of Clayface in Detective--that is, the one character who doesn't seem to belong among the others.

art and cover by STJEPAN SEJIC
Spinning out of JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE! When a cosmic menace threatens worlds beyond our own in the Ghost Sector, it falls to a new Justice League team to answer the call to battle! Cyborg, Starfire, Green Lantern Jessica Cruz and an out-of-his-element Azrael head to deep space inside a commandeered Brainiac Skull Ship. But as these wildcard teammates try to stop Despero from slave-trading Coluan refugees, they discover something that nothing in the universe could have prepared them for: Darkseid…who says he’s there to help?!
ON SALE 07.11.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

This one is even weirder. The name seems to be taken from 1988 Jim Starlin/Mike Mignola comic Cosmic Odyssey, a kinda sorta New Gods/Justice League comic that is well worth reading if you somehow haven't done so already (and not just because it's Mignola drawing a huge swath of the DC Universe!). If you look at the cover of the first issue  (or the original collection, or the "Absolute" edition), you'll see the characters posed on it (or them) would make for a pretty interesting League line-up.
This has only two of those characters. Three, if you want to consider the Earth-born Green Lanterns all interchangeable.

That Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz, gives this League a bridge to the "real" one, as does the presence of Cyborg, who would appear to be the leader of the group.

Starfire certainly makes sense there, and between her and Cyborg, that makes this team as much a Titans team as a League team; maybe even more of a Titans team. She sure has bounced around a lot since Flashpoint, as DC has struggled to figure out what to do with the characters in  her "generation" (or is age group a better term for it). First she was with Jason Todd and Roy Harper in Red Hood and The Outlaws, then she went solo for the length of her own short-lived title, then she was the grown-up in the Teen Titans, and now she's a adjunct Justice Leaguer, I guess.

Darkseid is obviously a wild card, as in the new continuity he has essentially been not only a villain the biggest of the Justice League's Big Bads, and the threat they originally formed an alliance to face. I really like artist Stjepan Sejic's version of Darkseid there, too. Rather than making him stocky, he seems to have stretched him out, which, if maybe not the ideal way to draw the character, it certainly makes this depiction stand out from past one.

Azrael is presumably the post-Flashpoint version of the Jean-Paul Valley character who showed up in Batman and Robin Eternal and then Detective, where he briefly wore a version of the above costume. I have no idea what he's doing in the book, since he's never even met any of those characters, but I guess we'll find out. My guess? Batman wanted to get rid of him, so when Cyborg asked if he could borrow one of Batman's 57 partners to take deep into outer space with him, Batman suggested Azrael.

Holy crap is that creepy. That's the cover for New Teen Titans Vol. 9.

Come July, it will be Swamp Thing's turn to appear in what is honestly DC's best comic in which to enjoy the publisher's characters in their most classic iterations.

written by DAN ABNETT
cover by RYAN SOOK
Can anything stop the Metagene pandemic unleashed through the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE? The all-new Titans are on the case. Roll call: Nightwing, Donna Troy, Raven, Steel, Beast Boy and Miss Martian! But can even their combined might stand against new super-powered weapons of mass destruction birthed by the Metagenes? And (SPOILERS) how will the events of TEEN TITANS #20 come back to haunt the Titans? New enemies are out for blood in part one of “The Spark.”
ON SALE 07.18.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

At this point, DC's Titans franchise seems so broken, that I don't really feel much of anything regarding any of its many, many relaunches.

I thought the latest Teen Titans relaunch, in which Robin Damian Wayne basically press-ganged a handful of other characters into forming a team with him, had a lot of potential, and I liked the first arc of it. This looks like two of Abnett's current Titans team (Dick and Donna) have taken two of the Teen Titans (Raven and Beast Boy) and pulled two characters out of the late aughts at random (Miss Martian and Steel Natasha Irons). I'm not sure how any of them work post-Flashpoint and whatever ended up happening to Dick's peers as a result of whatever was going on in DC Universe: Rebirth (But I assume since Doomsday Clock is still going on, it's still a retcon in progress...?)

written by DENNIS O’NEIL, MIKE SEKOWSKY and others
In these stories from the late 1960s, Wonder Woman leaves her superpowers behind to become an ultra-mod, globe-trotting secret agent. With a new costume and a new attitude, Wonder Woman fights crime like never before! As secret agent Diana Prince, she takes on international crime with the help of her new mentor, the mysterious I Ching. Collects WONDER WOMAN #178-204, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #87 and 105, SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #93 and WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #204.
ON SALE 12.05.18
$99.99 US | 736 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-8529-6

I like this short-lived Catwoman costume, which was briefly featured in the last issue of Batman. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

I can dream, can't I...?

You've probably already seen this, right? It's a checklist of various tie-ins to the upcoming Batman event that writer Tom King has been working towards since somewhere around his second story arc on the "Rebirth" relaunch of Batman. The hero vs. villains one-shots, the titles of which all start with the words Batman: Prelude to the Wedding, didn't really sound all that promising to me upon their solicitation.

They are all written by Tim Seeley, who is a pretty good writer, they all have covers by Rafael Albuquerque, who is a very good artist, and none of the interior artists strike me as particularly poor ones whose work I might seek to avoid. They all just sound kind of...uninteresting. I'm not sure how many times and in how many different comic books we need to see Robin fight his grandfather Ra's al Ghul, you know? And besides, the stuff I am most interested in would be the stuff that Tom King will either cover in the Batman title proper, or will be left to our imaginations: Basically, all the non-fighting business involved in the wedding, like how characters react to their invitations, who brings who to the wedding as their date, where the ceremony will be, who's in the wedding party, that kinda stuff.

Anyway, when I saw the above checklist, it reminded me of how ho-hum the tie-ins seemed to me, and I got to day-dreaming. Some people write fan-fiction, and some of us--apparently!--write fan-fictive solicitations for DC comics.

For the creators I listed to make these more solicitation-like, I tried to choose ones that either currently work for DC and/or the Bat-office, have in the past, or conceivably might; other than that, I just picked creators I like a whole lot and who felt appropriate to me.

So here are the titles I wish were on that checklist, along with what I wish the solicitations for them were...

Written by SCOTT BEATTY • Art and cover by KELLEY JONES
Variant cover by DAN BRERETON
Interlocking Wedding Party variant by BRIAN BOLLAND
A successful marriage takes a lot of hard work, especially when one party spends nights in the skies and on the rooftops of Gotham, making passersby point and scream, "Aaa! A giant bat!" That's the point that Kirk and Francine Langstrom want to drive home during their dinner date with Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle as their own nuptials approach. But before dessert is served, Kirk is forced into a relapse by a villain who has found a way to use his Man-Bat serum for ill. (Well, even worse ill than Kirk did, as it's not like anything good ever came out of Man-Bat serum). It's Man-Bat, She-Bat, Catwoman-Bat and Batman-Bat vs the new and improved Otis Flanegan, Batcatcher!

Variant cover by LESLIE HUNG
Interlocking Wedding Party variant by BRIAN BOLLAND
As their mentor's marriage nears, Batman's two oldest protegees find themselves re-examining their own tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. Will either of them ever settle down, and, if and when they do, will it be with one another? Or are they always going to be just friends/allies in Batman's war on crime? As always, they are saved from having to ever really have that talk by a villain attack. The Scarecrow is back, and Gotham's master of fear has an entire arsenal of phobias at his disposal: Fear of heights! Fear of masks! Fear of fights! Fear of...commitment?

Written by EVAN DORKIN • Art and cover by STEPHEN DESTEFANO
Variant cover by KYLE BAKER
Interlocking Wedding Party variant by BRIAN BOLLAND
"BAT-MITE AND ROBIN WILL NEVER DIE!" What, you thought Batman was going to forever change his status quo by getting hitched to one of his oldest villains without the Caped Crusader's number one fan in all the Multiverse weighing in? Unfortunately for Bat-Mite, Batman's not in when he visits the Batcave, so he'll have to settle for the grimmest, grittiest Robin yet, Damian Wayne, who has even less time for imps that his dad does. World's Funnest writer Evan Dorkin and Bizarro Comics artist Stephen DeStefano join forces to present the first ever meeting of Bat-Mite and Damian! And if that's not enough, this issue includes the sure-to-be-worth-something-someday first appearance of...Cat-Mite...?

Written by PETER TOMASI • Art and cover by JOHN MCCREA
Variant cover by JIM BALENT and KEVIN NOWLAN
Interlocking Wedding Party variant by BRIAN BOLLAND
Hellhound and Catwoman go way, all the way back to "Catwoman: Year One". With the woman who ruined his life distracted by her upcoming wedding, it's the perfect time for Gotham's most deadly dog-themed mercenary to pay his old friend a little visit. In order to stop a deadly plot by the closest thing Catwoman has to an archenemy, Ace The Bat-Hound will have to go deep undercover. With Alfred Pennyworth, dog's best friend at his side, Ace is going to prove once and for all who's a good boy.

Written and drawn by PHIL JIMENEZ
Variant cover by KEVIN MAGUIRE
Interlocking Wedding Party variant by BRIAN BOLLAND
Crime doesn't take the night off to enjoy a fancy wedding and reception, so in order to make sure that Batman, Catwoman and the Bat-Family are free to take a night off, the Justice League comes to Gotham. But are even the World's Greatest Heroes enough to handle The Penguin and the Other Black and Whites, a riot at Arkham Asylum, a break out at Blackgate and every Bat-villain we could convince Phil to draw? Not if they want to enjoy the party, too, so they're going to need some back-up from the Teen Titans, the Titans, Red Hood's Outlaws and every hero who's ever teamed up with Batman that we could convince Phil to draw. It's everyone vs. everyone, as only Phil--and, okay, sure George Perez--could bring you!

...Okay, that's five, which is the number of sidekicks-vs-villains one-shot specials listed above, but Batman's got a big family, and that hardly scratches the surface of his allies.

So let's see...

Written by CHUCK DIXON • Art and cover by TOM GRUMMETT
Variant cover by JAMES HARVEY
Interlocking Bachelor Party variant by KEVIN WADA
Someone seems to have left Thomas Wayne Jr. off the guest-list, but he has plans to attend the wedding anyway. After all, he is Bruce Wayne's brother, from an alternate earth, once removed. As Owlman returns to this world's Gotham City, intent on infiltrating Bruce's life by day and Batman's life by night, Batman's second-greatest partner takes it upon himself to shut down Earth-3's evil answer to Batman. Owlman's going to need a sidekick of his own if he stands a chance against a sufficiently motivated and angry master-planner like Tim Drake. Good thing he's just recruited one--are you read for The Red Bat?

Written by KEITH GIFFEN • Art and cover by BILQUIS EVELY
Variant cover by TIM SALE
Interlocking Bachelor Party variant by KEVIN WADA
Drury Walker isn't just Gotham City's most notorious insect-themed villain. Of late, he's developed a rather weird habit: He enjoys eating clothing associated with Batman. Is it a form of pica, or is he just taking this whole moth thing way too far? (Er, even more way too far than he already has, of course). In either case, when he hears Catwoman Selina Kyle is engaged to marry Batman, Inc founder and financier Bruce Wayne, his mouth starts to water thinking of that delicious tuxedo and the sure-to-be-ridiculously-expensive dress. It's a once-in-a-life time meal, and as long as he strikes when Catwoman is out, who's going to stop him? A crusty old butler? Too bad Killer Moth didn't do his research, or he'd know that crusty old butler is ex-SAS, and is more of a killer than he'll ever be...

Written by MARC ANDREYKO • Art and cover by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Variant cover by J.G. JONES
Interlocking Bachelorette Party variant by SOPHIE CAMPBELL
Long ago, Kate Kane promised her then-girlfriend Maggie Sawyer that if her cousin Bruce ever gets married, then of course she'll take her to the wedding as her date. That was a few years and a bad break-up ago, though, and now that Bruce actually is getting married, Kate's not entirely sure Maggie even remembers the promise, or would actually hold her to it. The only way to find out, of course, is to ask, but that could be...awkward. Thank heavens Sawyer is so preoccupied trying to stop Magpie's latest crime spree in Metropolis that she's actually relieved to see her ex arrive in town dressed like a bat.

Written by KELLEY PUCKETT • Art and cover by DAMION SCOTT and KLAUS JANSON
Variant cover by JOHN ROMITA JR
Interlocking Bachelorette Party variant by SOPHIE CAMPBELL
"Best Man/Worst Man!" The so-called Gotham Knights have all been assigned a major supervillain to monitor in the days leading up to the wedding, and Cassandra Cain, The Black Bat, got a doozy: Bruce Wayne's former friend and Batman's perennial enemy, Two-Face. When it comes to the Bat/Cat nuptials, it's safe to say Two-Face has...mixed feelings. When he makes his move, Cass is there to take him out before he can even flip his coin, but Two-Face was anticipating having to take on all the Bats, and so he hired some muscle in the form of The League of Assassins. And not just a bunch of generic ninjas. No, the whole League. Like, everyone of them with a Wikipedia entry. There's only one Bat who could even hope to fight them all solo, and it's her name on the front of the comic.

Written by SCOTT SNYDER • Art and cover by DECLAN SHALVEY
Variant cover by CULLY HAMNER
Interlocking Bachelor Party variant by KEVIN WADA
It had to happen!

Written by JEFF PARKER • Art and cover by MIKE ALLRED
Variant cover by DAVID HAHN
Interlocking Bachelor Party variant by KEVIN WADA
As the scion of one of the oldest, wealthiest and most influential families in Gotham City history, Oswald Cobblepot expected to receive an invitation to the marriage of another scion of one of the oldest, wealthiest and most influential families in Gotham City history. Instead he was snubbed, while Wayne's hired help like Lucius Fox is invited. And why? Because of un-confirmed rumors that he may have consorted with criminals in the past? Should that really disqualify him from an invite, especially when the bride is a notorious cat burglar? Well, if Cobblepot's not invited, than The Penguin is going to crash. It's up to Luke Fox to don his BAT-tle armor and stop the one Batman villain who is always dressed for wedding.

Variant cover by RICHARD SALA
Interlocking Bachelorette Party variant by SOPHIE CAMPBELL
The Bat/Cat wedding is the social event of the century, at least among Gotham City's crimefighting vigilantes. Stephanie Brown assumes she will be going as Tim Drake's date, but lately he's been so distracted by trying to take down King Snake, the new crime lord trying to make in-roads in Gotham, and his army of enforcers The Ghost Dragons, that she worries he might miss the ceremony altogether. What's a girl to do, but take matters into her own hands and bring down The Ghost Dragons all by her self, by going straight at King Snake's lieutenant, Lynx. But little does Steph know that the one-eyed gangster has history with her on-again, off-again boyfriend.

Written by TOM PEYER • Art and cover by RAGS MORALES
Variant cover by BECKY CLOONAN
Interlocking Bachelorette Party variant by SOPHIE CAMPBELL
"Save The Date!" Being sane has never been a pre-requisite for being a Batman villain, but the date-obsessed Julian Day is even less so than most, and he's just launched what may be his most insane plot yet. He's threatening to steal the date of Bruce Wane and Selina Kyle's wedding, removing it from the calendar forever, unless he is paid the ransom of the entire Wayne fortune. Is this just Calendar Man being Calendar Man, or has he really found a way to exploit bleeding edge super-physics? And why does Harper Row have to deal with this, when she and Cullen have tuxes to rent and a wedding present for one of the richest men in the world to figure out? She's supposed to be in supehero semi-retirement, but perhaps catching Calendar Man before he hurts anyone and/or the time space continuum will make for an ideal wedding gift for Batman...?

Variant cover by BRET BLEVINS
So who has the honor of officiating the Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle wedding? Certainly not Deacon Blackfire, the one-time cult leader who once gave Batman and his then-Robin Jason Todd such a hard time, and not just because he's dead (not that death has stopped him from returning before, of course). When Gotham City's homeless population rises up and begins to march on Wayne Manor, site of the extravagant wedding of the city's richest man, claiming to be lead by their resurrected messiah figure, Gotham City's Avenging Angel is only too happy to discuss theology with long as he's holding a flaming sword in his metal claws, of course.

*I thought Magpie because she was the villain of the issue of Man of Steel that served as the post-Crisis first meeting of Batman and Superman, and therefore seemed like a good villain for any story involving crimefighters from Gotham and Metropolis. Given her affinity for shiny objects though, I guess a better use for the character in any wedding-related story would be to have her trying to steal the wedding ring, huh?

**Well, it's my daydream, so I'm going to just call her Black Bat instead of Orphan, since "Black Bat" is the second best codename for Cassandra Cain, after "Batgirl," whereas "Orphan" is maybe the absolute worst one. I'd change The Signal's name in here too, as I also hate that codename, except for the fact that the whole gag for his one-shot revolves around his name.

***Originally, this was gonna be AZRAEL VS CARDINAL SIN, using the New Blood character that appeared in 1993's Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #3 by Denny O'Neil, Mike Manley and company. The angel vs. priest thing is kind of appealing, and O'Neil created both Azrael and Sin, so there's that. But when I was trying to remember Sin's powers, I looked him up and saw that he had actually lost his powers at the end of that story--which I'm fairly certain I haven't reread since 1993--so I guess he'd be a rather lame villain. So then I naturally thought of the other evil priest character, and figured "The Cult" is more appealing in a title than "DEACON BLACKFIRE."

****Rossmo would draw the bulk of the issue, while Jones would draw the flashbacks to the events of the original series, Batman: The Cult. Kevin Nolwan would ink the pencils of both; he's a distinctive enough inker that you'd see his presence over both radically different pencil artists' styles. Also, how great would it be to get a single issue drawn by Rossmo and Jones, who draw the shortest Batman ears and the longest Batman ears, respectively...?


If you are unfamiliar with any of those creators I was daydreaming about, I'd be more than happy to introduce you to their work.Scott Beatty co-wrote Robin: Year One and Batgirl: Year One, and wrote "Nightwing: Year One" (he was big on Year Ones) and had a solid run on Batman: Gotham Knights, among a whole bunch of other stuff. Kelley Jones may or may not be one of the best Batman artists of all-time, but he is definitely the most awesome; after doing Batman covers around the time of "Knightfall," he was the interior artist for the Batman title from around #516 to #552 or thereabouts. Read everything of his you can find in trade, particular his collaborations with Dough Moench and John Beatty. Dan Brereton's Batman comics are mostly limited to some Elseworlds projects and works for other writers (Thrillkiller, Thrillkiller '62, Legends of the World's Finest), but he's also a writer. Check out all of his Nocturnals comics you can get your hands on, and, if you can find it, his Giantkiller series for DC; I think about that series just about every time I see an American-made giant monster movie. Brian Bolland is an amazing artist who is responsible for some of the best covers DC has ever published; in addition to runs as cover artist on Wonder Woman, Animal Man and The Invisibles, he handled the covers of Batman: Gotham Knights for a while, and drew the cover of 1989's Secret Origins Special #1, which is an all-time classic.Oh, and he also drew a Joker comic of some notoriety once. Devin Grayson is one of my all-time favorite Batman writers, and she showed a particular proclivity for Dick Grayson and his Titans peers. She wrote the first 32 issues of Batman: Gotham Knights, had a less creatively successful run on Nightwing and co-wrote JLA/Titans, one of the best non-Morrison JLA stories of the Morrison era. More of her work should be available in trade. Babs Tarr was the artist who helped make Batgirl good, and she's currently drawing Motor Crush for Image. She draws the best Babs Gordon, and a super-sexy Dick Grayson. Leslie Hung draws Snotgirl for Image. She is great at drawing sexy young people and fashion. Evan Dorkin has written and drawn so many comics, and all of them that I've read have been good. Best known for The Eltingville Club, Milk and Cheese and Dork, I thought of him here because his World's Funnest comic featuring Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite battling through the Multiverse lived up to its name. Stephen DeStefano is one of my favorite comics artists who doesn't much draw comics anymore (he does a lot of work in animation, and if you're interested in that field at all, I'd definitely recommend his Twitter). He drew Lucky In Love for Fantagraphics back in 2010, has done some Jingle Belle and Hellboy and SpongeBob Comics stuff, but I was thinking specifically of his framing sequence for the 2003 Bizarro Comics anthology. He draws both the best Bizarro and the best Mxy ever. Ever, I say! Kyle Baker has never written and drawn a comic that wasn't somewhere between really good and unbelievably great (some of the comics he's drawn but other people write though? Those can be hit-or-miss). For DC's superhero universe, he's the first person who made a Plastic Man comic work since, I don't know, the Golden Age? Check out his On The Lam and Rubber Bandits, if and when you can. He's also responsible for one of the most controversial Superman stories of all time ("Letitia Lerner, Superman's Babysitter"). Peter Tomasi is an editor-of-pretty-dang-good comics turned better-than-average super-comics writer, and his Bat-work has included a healthy run on Batman and Robin. John McCrea is one of my favorite artists, and is best-known for Hitman, with long-time creative partner Garth Ennis. He draws a pretty great Batman, too. Jim Balent spent a long time on the first Catwoman ongoing monthly, where he co-created the Hellhound character, before leaving DC to pursue his creator-owned book Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose. I used to really like his Batman and Catwoman art, but I didn't care for a recent cover he did for DC. I think if he had a solid inker, like Kevin Nowlan (one of the solid-est inkers!), his work would have the harder, more-present, more drawn look that I prefer. Phil Jimenez is the artist you call when you want a million heroes on the page. His most recent work for DC was the ill-starred "Rebirth" book Superwoman, but he also had a great run on Wonder Woman (including a very fun Batman crossover arc), wrote and drew Tempest, co-wrote and drew the aforementioned JLA/Titans and drew much of Infinite Crisis. His Vertigo series Otherworld is also worth a look. I always liked the way he drew Batman's cape. If I were able to assign anyone to Justice League, it would be Jimenez. Kevin Maguire is one of the all-time greatest Justice League artist, and is responsible for the iconic Justice League posed shot. You can find much of his work in the Justice League International collections, and he'll be drawing some Superman comics for DC soon. Chuck Dixon is one of the most productive, prolific and all-around best Batman comics writers of all-time. He has some pretty odious politics, though, and has taken on some pretty objectionable work in the last decade or so. If you read Batman comics anytime after, say, 1992 or so, chances are he created and/or redefined like half your favorite characters. He's currently wrapping up a Bane maxiseries with pencil artist Graham Nolan. Tom Grummett was the first artist on Robin. James Harvey drew We Are Robin #4, like two issues of Batgirl and...that's about it, really. At least as far as I can tell. He's super good, though and, along with Ian Bertram, who I didn't put in here anywhere, is someone who I hope gets to draw all the Bat-comics he could hope for. Kevin Wada seems to mostly work for Marvel, and I'm not sure if he's exclusive there or not. He's really good and drawing sexy dudes, sexy ladies and fashionable people in general; you should follow him on Twitter. Keith Giffen and Bilquis Evely are responsible for that weird "Sugar and Spike" feature that  ran in that weird Legends of Tomorrow anthology that had nothing to do with the TV show of the same name and was later collected as Sugar and Spike: Metahuman Investigations. You should check out that trade; I was obviously thinking about their story when it came to Killer Moth here. Tim Sale may be the best Batman artist to never actually have a run on Batman or Detective Comics; you should read all of his Batman comics, although if you're afraid of the name "Jeph Loeb" on the cover of some of the best-known stuff, you could always start with Tales of The Batman: Tim Sale. Sale, by the way, drew one of my favorite sequences in all of comics. Marc Andreyko had the garbage assignment of writing Batwoman after that book's creative team left in a huff. He also wrote Manhunter for DC, starring the Kate Spencer version of the character. (Confession: Every time I hear Andreyko's name, I think of that comic book title in the background of a panel of Brian Michael Bendis' Fortune & Glory. Sorry, Marc Andreyko! Blame Bendis!). Marguerite Sauvage is so good. She contributed to the first issues of DC Comics Bombshells, and drawn a lot of dynamite covers for DC, Archie and others. J.G. Jones drew the covers of 52, the series that first introduced the current Batwoman character. Sophie Campbell is one of my favorite comics artists, period. I like just about everything she's ever drawn, but would recommend you start with her Wet Moon and Shadoweyes series. She's a hell of a character designer, and, based on her Jem work, I'd love to see her dress the women of Gotham City. Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott are the writer and artist of the first Batgirl ongoing series, the one starring Cassandra Cain. Klaus Janson is a legendary artist in his own right, with an incredibly distinctive inking style I would love to see applied to Scott's pencils, out of sheer curiosity. John Romita JR drew "My Own Worst Enemy," the first story arc of the short-lived, post-Batman Scott Snyder series, All-Star Batman. I think he might have drawn a book or two thousand for Marvel Comics too. Scott Snyder wrote all the good post-Flashpoint DC Universe comics; he also wrote a damn good run on Detective Comics starring the Dick Grayson Batman, but no one ever talks about that anymore. Declan Shalvey drew the Duke Thomas back-ups in the first arc of All-Star Batman, and he knocked them out of the park; Shalvey's a person everyone should keep an eye on. Cully Hamner is drawing Batman and The Signal. Jeff Parker wrote many of my favorite Marvel Comics--Agents of Atlas, X-Men: First Class, Marvel Adventures Avengers--but the Batman work he is best-known for his Batman '66 (although he also drew 2003's Batgirl #38. Did you know that? I bet you didn't even know that). Mike Allred is one of the all-around best comic book artists there is and may, in fact, be the comic book-iest comic book artist. He was the cover artist for Batman '66, and drew the interior art for last year's one-shot special Batman '66 Meets The Legion of Super-Heroes. I first became aware of David Hahn's work through his book Private  Beach, but he's done a surprisingly wide variety of work for the Big Two since, including several Batman '66 stories. Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart co-wrote the New 52  Batgirl when it was really good, and I'm pretty confident they were going to introduce Spoiler into their version of the Birds of Prey (Stewart is also a hell of an artist). David LaFuente has done a bunch of work for Marvel and, more recently, Valiant; he drew Spoiler-centric passages of Batgirl Annual #3 and Batman Eternal. Richard Sala has never drawn anything Batman-related for DC, and is actually a long-shot here. He's one of my favorite artists though, and his areas of expertise include cute young girls, hideous monster men, and people in capes and masks. I don't want to tell you what to do or anything, but the absolute best use of your time and money right now would probably be to go to, search "Richard Sala" and buy a copy of everyone of his books (Peculia, Peculia and The Groon Grove Vampires, The Grave Robber's Daughter and The Hidden are among my favorites). Tom Peyer wrote the short-lived Hourman series, one of my favorite DC Comics that wasn't JLA or Hitman. Rags Morales drew Hourman. Becky Cloonan is a writer, artist and cartoonist who has the peculiar distinction of being the first woman to ever drawn an issue of Batman; she drew Harper Row's first appearance (Since then, Joelle Jones has had a run on Batman). Jim Starlin has written a billion comics, several hundred million of them for Marvel, but among his DC work was a late 1980s run on Batman and the prestige format mini-series Batman: The Cult. Riley Rossmo is one of the better artists to draw Batman of late; check out his work on Batman: Night of The Monster Men and Batman/The Shadow: The Murder Geniuses. Bret Blevins is an artist who drew many, many comics; when it comes to Batman business, he was the primary artist on Batman: Shadow of The Bat between 1993 and 1996 (and therefore during Jean-Paul Valley's stint as Batman) and, more recently, he drew the Harley Quinn: Road Trip Special in 2015.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Comic Shop Comics: April 11th

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2--Most Wanted (Marvel Entertainment) This trade collects the next four issues of writer Chip Zdarsky's new Spider-Man series, which here means issues #297-300, because Marvel. It is very much a continuation of the same story that was in the first volume, a feud between villain The Tinkerer and his brother Mason, with the former upgrading tech-based villains and the latter tech-based heroes, with Spider-Man and his kinda sorta sister Teresa caught in the middle, and it will continue into at least the next volume as well, as there's a turn in here that means Spidey and company will still be dealing with the outcome of The Tinkerer's machinations for at least a few more issues. As a superhero plot, it works just fine, and Zdarsky writes an excellent Spider-Man, although the first volume was much funnier, and contained more scenes written just for the sake of being funny and/or character work.

There's at least one pretty amazing image in here, a splash page drawn by the book's on-again, off-again artist Adam Kubert that demonstrates just how close the two brothers actually are. There's another image that should be pretty funny, but the way it's drawn and colored blunts the impact pretty severely (When Peter Parker needs to suit-up in an emergency situation, he's left with only a poorly-packed spare costume, which here means his black-and-white suit, but with the red and blue suit's gloves and mask).

I was a lot more impressed with the first volume than this second one, to the extent that I'm questioning whether this is a series I need to buy in trade or just borrow from the library. I wonder if the book might be better-served by an artist whose storytelling sensibilities are closer to Zdarsky's...and who can draw every issue of the series...?

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #92 (DC Comics) While I've been enjoying Scooby-Doo Team-Up immensely, it has been a long, long time since I've checked out the main Scooby-Doo comic. I decided this would be a good time to check in with it given that 1) I've been watching the second half of the first season of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo on DVD, putting me in more of a Scooby-Doo mood than usual, 2) There's not much on my comic book shop shopping list that's out this week (which has been occurring more and more lately, to the point where I will likely be revising this particular feature on my blog in the near future), and 3) That's a pretty intriguing cover, of the sort that can make a curious reader want to pick up the book just to see what exactly is going on (Even though I do find the image of Scooby-Doo wearing a mask of his own face somewhat terrifying).

The comic is still broken up into multiple stories, at least one of which is pretty clearly a reprint (although was still new to me). The cover story is written by Ivan Cohen and drawn by Walter Carzon and Horacio Ottolini. Mystery Inc are the guests of honor at "Sleuth Con International," which is basically just Comic Con for...mystery-solving, I guess. They are there for less than a page when they find that a crime has been committed--someone has stolen a collection of masks that they have pulled off of ghosts and monsters in the past. They find investigating difficult though, as they keep getting stopped by fans, so they switch clothes so they can blend in with the other cosplayers (Scooby, who has no one to change clothes with, dons a mask of his own face--Brr!).

It's a neat idea for a visual gag, but not terribly well-executed, I'm afraid. Like, Shaggy and Daphne should be swimming in Fred and Velma's clothes; Shaggy's baggy clothes should be tight-fitting on Fred, and Velma should be threatening to burst the seams of Daphne's tiny little purple number. Carzon doesn't do anything with the visuals though to make the wardrobe-swapping even noteworthy, and Cohen's story takes the path of least resistance from Point A to Point B, leaving plenty of jokes on the table. The one thing he did do that was kind of clever was putting "Old Man Carruthers", a former Scooby-Doo villain, as a reformed criminal, now exploiting the notoriety of his brush with Scooby and the gang to make a living off the convention circuit.

That's followed by a four-page story by Scott Peterson, Tim Levins and Dan Davis, a Shaggy-starring homage/parody of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," perhaps appropriate given that someone dressed like Poe plays a role in the lead story (Page three of the story is actually surprisingly dark, as Shaggy begins to wonder if his friends have all died, although the dialogue never makes a direct reference to death).

Finally, there's an eight-page story by Frank Strom and Scott Neely which is pretty clearly a reprint, as the second panel contains a banner reading "2009 International Surf Open."

I suppose the comic is okay, but I think it falls into a weird area where it's definitely not all-ages, but also a kid would have to be old enough to read fairly well to get much out of it. I suspect the window in which a kid is of the right age for the book is a particularly small one. Certainly when compared to Team-Up, which is a genuinely all-ages book.