Thursday, November 30, 2017

Comic Shop Comics: November 29th

Batman Annual #2 (DC Comics) Regular Batman writer Tom King is joined by a pair of above-par artists for this 38-page issue tying into his ongoing Batman-and-Catwoman-are-getting-married plot line. Lee Weeks, who collaborated on that super-weird Batman/Elmer Fudd Special, draws the bulk of this issue, with Michael Lark drawing the remainder (You know what's also weird? The bar and one of the characters from the Looney Tunes crossover show up briefly in this issue). Although the two segments are presented as a single story, they are pretty neatly divided into two completely different time periods...and maybe even dimensions/realities/continuitiverses.

The 30-page Weeks section is set "Near The beginning," and features Catwoman repeatedly breaking into the Batcave and Wayne Manor to get a rise out of Batman/Bruce Wayne, whose identity she seems to have sussed out almost immediately (this is in sharp contrast to the post-Flashpoint New 52 continuity, but increasingly DC seems to be pretending that the majority of the comics published between, say, 2011-2013 were never actually published. It fits in pretty well with King's ongoing narrative regarding the two characters' relationship, and Weeks' art is so far above the bulk of what DC publishes that it seems petty to even criticize the few weak points--like that panel where Catwoman looks like she jumped a half mile out of a window, for example.

I do wish Elizabeth Breitweiser's coloring was a little more clear, however, as I had trouble telling if Catwoman was wearing gray or purple or alternating costumes throughout the story. Or am I color-blind...?

The last eight pages, drawn by Lark and colored by June Chung, are just plain weird. This passage is set "later," and features elderly, gray-haired versions of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, as Bruce is diagnosed with some kind of chronic illness, and slowly sips towards death. The presence of their grown daughter Helena, a black-haired lady wearing a Batwoman costume, and Bruce's reference to an Earth out there where he "never got old...or married, or sick or anything," are pretty slap-in-the-face clear that this is an (original) Earth-2 story...or at least King's possible-future-that-will-never-come-to-pass that alludes to the original conception of Earth-2. Whatever; it's weird as hell. Nice to see some Lark art in a Batman-related comic book again, though!

Justice League of America Annual #1 (DC) I gave up on Steve Orlando's Justice League of America title after just a few issues--although I just caught up on the first chunk via trade, as discussed here--but there's one sure-fire way to get me to pick up a comic book: Have Kelley Jones draw it.

The over-sized issue stars just two of the current JLoA line-up, the pair you see on the cover. One is Lobo, whose ridiculous, over-the-top nature makes him a practically ideal subject for Jones' particular, peculiarly expressionist style (as he proved recently with the Lobo/Road Runner Special #1). The other is Black Canary, who, as a beautiful woman, isn't the sort of character that fits all that easily in Jones' style. But, as you can see from the cover, he does a remarkably good job on Canary, with only a few panels finding her drawn overly abstracted, or in a form of exaggeration that feels particularly off (Jones does seem to struggle with the tight, black booty shorts of her post-Rebirth redesign, however, as he draws them quite baggy and ill-fitting).

The plot deals with Lobo cashing in a particular favor that Batman has been using to entice him to work with the League: The location of the space dolphin home world. He has an old enemy who has been hunting the dolphins there, and, now that he finally has the location he's headed there to, well, frag them. But he can't do it alone, and so he convinces the Canary to come with. It is, therefore, essentially an extremely unlikely Lobo/Black Canary team-up, for the fate of the only thing Lobo seems to truly care about.

Because Lobo's foe turns out to be--spoiler alert--the second-to-Last Czarnian, that means he has the same regenerative powers as Lobo, which in turns means Jones gets to draw stuff like Canary literally screaming his face off, so that he spends a few panels with just a skull atop his body, and using her canary cry to blow off his hand, so that he spends a few panels with a tiny little baby hand, as it regrows.

The villain's final fate is gorier still, but in keeping with the "worse than death" non-deaths of many League foes, Lobo and Canary don't outright kill-kill him, although if given the choice, you might prefer an outright death-death over what befalls him.

Orlando continues to try and find depths to Lobo that aren't readily apparent--and, perhaps, shouldn't be there at all--but it's worth noting that he mostly pulls it off in this issue, and that Jones similarly manages the difficult aspects of the script, like a few pages of conversation between the leads here and there.

The alien environments--deep space, a wormhole through space, the dolphin homeworld and the bad guy's ship and technology--offers plenty of strange, extreme stuff for Jones to draw. Over all, it's a pretty fun issue, although if you don't like either Jones or Lobo--both of which can be acquired tastes--than it probably won't sell you on either of those things.

I read two other new comics that were released this week, but don't qualify for this column. The first was the new Mystik U by Alisa Kwitney and Mike Norton, which I found to be surprisingly good. Like, there's probably no regular reader of DC Comics who is as hard-to-please as I am, but I genuinely liked this, and thought they did a good job of introducing a rather radical new concept with several pre-existing magical characters while simultaneously grounding the new concept within current continuity (or a current continuity? The DC Universe' cosmology and history are pretty fucking messy. right now).

The other was this year's edition of DC's New Talent Showcase, which I'd like to devote a whole post to, as I did last year. In the mean time, I can say that I think it was all around much better than last year's, and it was never the slog to get through that last year's was at times.

Monday, November 27, 2017

These are some recent DC books I've read recently:

Batman: The Dark Knight--Master Race

The inherent weirdness of a Frank Miller comic without Frank Miller that saturated the individual, serially-published issues of Dark Knight III: The Master Race was only accentuated when reading the entire series start-to-finish in a single, slightly re-titled volume.

I know that Miller was technically pretty involved in the series, sharing a story credit with Brian Azzarello and providing extremely loose artwork for the mini-comics that appeared in the middle of each of the nine issues--which are here blown-up to full-size and appear between chapters of Dark Knight III--but it's pretty apparent that it was Azzarello who did the majority of the heavy-lifting. At the beginning, it's clear that some work is being done to make it feel like a Dark Knight comic, but that work only accentuates that it's not, that it's an homage, rather than Miller doing Miller and, increasingly as the series goes on, there are more of Azzarello's ticks evident in the scripting.

As for the overarching story, it seems to be set in the Dark Knight-iverse, but there's really not much to it. It's not a story about anything in particular, it doesn't really comment on anything and, in fact, its plot is so similar to one that could be occurring in the regular DC Universe that it already has occurred in the regular DC Universe to a certain extent. It is just a little too palpably an exercise in brand extension, and an apparent variant cover-generating machine (How many variants were there attached to this book? I don't know, but they were so numerous they appear in their own hardcover collection that Amazon is calling Batman: The Art of The Dark Knight: The Master Race--the words on the cover of the book say something different, however--and the solicitation copy says it includes over 150 covers).

What's been going on in the relatively short time that has passed since 2002's final issue of Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again...? Well, Batman is recovering from some particularly grievous wounds, so Robin-turned-Catgirl-turned-Batgirl Carrie Kelly is masquerading as him by wearing some kind of weird man suit. Wonder Woman is raising her and Superman's son, who she wears in a little papoose as she runs around the Amazon jungle, home of the Amazons, fighting monsters and shit. Superman has withdrawn even farther than he usually does in these alternate stories, having basically decided to just sit still in his Arctic Fortress of Solitude until he froze solid within a thick block of ice.

Given Miller's politics, the title of this third Dark Knight book might have have been responsible for a feeling of dread in many comics readers, but it turns out that the "master race" here isn't a race so much as a species: Kryptonian.

And the plot involving them is more or less pure pot-boiling superhero stuff. Lara, Superman and Wonder Woman's headstrong daughter, recruits The Atom Ray Palmer to help her free and un-shrink the microscopic Kryptonians living in The Bottle City of Kandor. These are lead by Quar, a psychotic, murderous cult leader who seeks to subjugate all of humanity and take over the world. So, not entirely unlike the year-long "New Krypton" storyline which found 100,000 Kryptonians freed from Kandor and flooding Earth with a whole people who had Superman's powers, but not necessarily his morals.

Lara sides with the Kandorians over her own parents, even going so far as to beat her dad bloody, and it is, as always, down to Batman to save the world. With the help of a rag tag group of allies, including Batirl, The Flash and eventually Superman and Wonder Woman, he does so. He dies at one point, but gets tossed into a Lazarus Pit and comes out young and vibrant again (There is of course a gross scene where the now grown-up Carrie sees the now youthful's Bruce's rejuvenated genitals).

And...that's it, really. Evil Kryptonians vs. Batman and some other heroes. Andy Kubert is the pencil artist with the tough, thankless assignment of trying to draw a Dark Knight comic, and it actually is sort of fun to see his attempts to approximate Miller art. It no doubt helps tremendously that he's working with DKR inker Klaus Janson.

I don't want to say anything too terribly mean about Miller's art--he pencils most of the interlude comics, although Eduardo Risso randomly draws one--as I understand he was in very poor health at the time but, well, the art is extremely rough, to the point where some of the extremely spare images lean towards the unintelligible, and there are strange inconsistencies that the inker, colorist and editor should have noticed and fixed (the placement of Batgirl's bat-symbols, for example).

In the end, what stuck with me about the book is some strong images throughout.

There's Wonder Woman's nipple, something you don't see too often, as she prepares to breastfeed her child. There's Green Lantern Hal Jordan losing his ring hand, and then searching for and ultimately recovering it (He is able to use the ring, but his hand just float around him, rather than attaching itself back to his arm at the wrist). There's the strange, goofy battle armor that Superman dons to protect him from the Kryptonite-seeded rain that Batman causes to fall over Gotham. There's Carrie Kelly's hot pink and yellow Batgirl costume (her final Batwoman costume is pretty nice, actually; it basically just reverses the black and gray portions of Batman's). There's the redesigned Hawks. And I still dig Miller's redesigns for The Flash and Wonder Woman, previously seen in Dark Knight Strikes Again.

Visually, there's a lot in here to interest the eye, particularly of a longtime DC Comics fan. Otherwise, though, there's little to it other than a superhero beat-'em-up with a handful of allusions to Dark Knight Strikes Again.

DC Super Hero Girls: Past Times at Super Hero High

I arched an eyebrow when this DC Comics/Mattel collaboration was first announced. Though I grew up with similar toy/cartoon/comics marketing vehicles like Masters of The Universe, G.I. Joe and Transformers, they seem incredibly cynical to me now, and it struck me as somewhat sad that DC felt the need to essentially create a girl-friendly version of their universe, as it was an indication of just how girl un-friendly the regular version was.

While the toys and cartoons generated by the premise--where DC's heroes and villains attend a high school where Principal Amanda Waller and weird faculty of bad guys and older heroes teach them a superhero-focused curriculum--I was naturally interested in how it translated to comics. As it turned out, quite well. The first original graphic novel, Finals Crisis, was actually a lot of fun, as were those that followed, Hits and Myths and Summer Olympus. All three were the work of writer Shea Fontana, who helped create the concept and recently penned a fill-in arc on DC's Wonder Woman arc, and artist Yancey Labat.

This fourth graphic novel, Past Times at Super Hero High, varies only in that Labat has two other collaborators on the art, Agnes Garbowska and Marcelo DiChiara. They are all working from some pretty strict style guides in terms of character design, so it's not exactly clear who draws which sections, but there are points where the art does feel a little off.

The plot for this particular adventure is essentially just The Magic School Bus in the DC Universe, which is pretty damn charming in its simplicity. Driving the school bus-shaped time machine for a field trip into the Jurassic Period is teacher Miss Liberty Belle, whose mouth Fontana fills with all kinds of old time-y slang. This Liberty Belle is presumably the original one, Libby Lawrence, and something of a time traveler herself. While Golden Age hero Wildcat is SHH's gym coach, Miss Liberty Belle at one points mentions not having had so much fun since "the Coolidge administration" (1923-1929).

Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Katana, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and token boy Beast Boy travel back to dinosaur times, where their bus breaks in half and Liberty Belle is abducted by a pterodactyl. Everyone eventually gets back to the present, but due to some meddling withe the timestream--Harley swiped a pterodactyl egg--their present has been altered so that now immortal caveman Vandal Savage is their principal, the kids based on villains are now all super-villainous and the field trippers have to figure out how to reset time.

That mostly falls to frenemies Batgirl and Harley, who travel throughout the past and to the future before bringing the pterodactyl egg, now a baby pterodactyl, back to its own time, where Harley offers a not-very-scientific theory regarding how her baby Bitey McPuddin'-Face prevented Savage from ever encountering his immortality-granting meteorite.

What remains most fun about this series, to me at least, is seeing the occasional deep cut show up, like Batgirl and Harley meeting the giant dalmatian-riding Atomic Knights in the future, or seeing Principal Waller when she was just a teen in the 1980s, sitting on a stoop listening to her boom box.

There are some fun dinosaur moments in here, like Beast Boy's attempts to blend in and preach harmony between predator and prey species, but it's worth noting that this isn't exactly an educational look at dinosaurs, as their depiction seems a few decades out of date. For the latest on dinosaurs in all-ages comics format, I can't recommend Abby Howard's Dinosaur Empire strongly enough.

Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists

The Steve Orlando-written Justice League book, which features Batman leading a rag-tag team of Steve Orlando's favorite characters and thus feels almost as much of a Batman and The Outsiders book than a League book, suffers in the same way that too much of his writing (and far too much of DC's post-Flashpoint output) suffers. It tries very hard to trade on nostalgia, on readers knowing, liking and caring who the individual members of the team are and therefore already being invested in their setting, their history and their villains, but it does so on the other side of a reboot that purposely erased all of that.

This is that worst-of-both-worlds problem I talk about all the time, and Orlando's solution seems to be to just ignore it. Maybe that is the best choice--after all, I think this is something like the third version of Lobo that has been introduced in the last six years, for example--but the end result is a comic book essentially just introducing a team and assuming you'll care about them, without putting any real effort into trying to convince you to care (and certainly the publisher has given us mixed signals, if they were, say, willing to wipe out The Ray and then replace him with a brand new character that no one likes or remembers and then just reintroduce the original shows that they aren't too terribly pro-The Ray, you know?).

While Batman has obviously been front and center in a whole slew of books since the reboot, and some of the other characters like Black Canary and Vixen have been knocking around, and even Lobo 3.0 and Killer Frost had a role in the Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad book that served as an intro this ongoing, other characters, like The Ray and The Atom, we're meeting for basically the first time (This new version of Ryan Choi appeared previously in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, while I don't think we saw The Ray until Justice League of America: The Ray--Rebirth #1...which is collected with three other character introduction one-shots and Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 in the collection Justice League of America: The Road to Rebirth).

From the pages of Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad Batman brings Killer Frost to the Justice League's original Happy Harbor, Rhode Island headquarters, which, um, shouldn't exist any longer, but still does for some reason (that was the last continuity). He then goes about recruiting a League that includes (a) Lobo, Black Canary, Vixen, The Atom Ryan Choi (he's initially looking for Ray Palmer, whose history post-Flashpoint I couldn't begin to make sense of) and The Ray, a new superhero protecting the city of Vanity (the setting of Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and company's short-lived Aztek: The Ultimate Man series).

Batman's rationale for needing/wanting a new League is waved at in passing a few times, but it's not terribly convincing. He basically says he wants a team that consists of real people, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people they are protecting, rather than gods. The make-up of his particular team, which include a couple of folks with god-like powers and one literal super-alien, seems to argue against that, however.

After the recruiting issue of Justice League of America: Rebirth #1--which, yes, is double-collected in both this and Justice League of America: Road To Rebirth--they fend off an extra-dimensional invasion of The Extremists, Giffen/DeMatteis era villains who are analogues to Marvel villains. Dr. Diehard has conquered a small, European country, and the League joins the resistance to help liberate it. By having the League do the sort of thing they explicitly avoid all the time, it raises the question of why they don't do this all the time. The question goes unanswered, though.

That's followed by a shorter story in which the team holds a press conference--sans Batman--and then go to liberate an American city that has been taken over by relatively obscure Wonder Woman villain Aegeus, an arms dealer who sells folklore-based super-weapons.

The art is kind of all over the place, with Ivan Reis pencilling the Rebirth special and the first and final issues of the four-part Extremists arc, while a pair of different artists, Felipe Watanabe and Diogenes Neves, pencil the middle chapters. The two-part Aegeus arc features fine art by Andy MacDonald, but it's in pretty sharp contrast to what it's following...and fails to sell a fairly silly scene that really needed to be sold hard to get over.

Like its sister book Justice League and all of DC's post-Flashpoint Justice League books, then, the latest iteration of JLoA isn't very good, but given it's weird line-up and Orlando's ticks, it is at least interesting.

Wonder Woman and Justice League America Vol. 2

When I discussed the first Wonder Woman and Justice League America collection, I speculated what might be in this one. It turns out they skipped the annuals, and stuck to just six issues of Justice League America--plus two issues apiece of Justice League International and Justice League Task Force, which means this trade collects the entire six-issue "Judgement Day" crossover between all three Justice League books, as well as a coda issue, that repurposes the "Funeral For a Friend" slug from the aftermath of Superman's fight to the death against Doomsday. It also concludes writer Dan Vado's time on the Justice League America title.

The first three issues are concerned with the JLA facing off against Dreamslayer of The Extremists yet again, while natural disasters rage the world over and spooky hints about the end of the world are related to heroes and readers: Darkseid writes off the planet Earth, Vandal Savage appears to the League to warn them and T.O. Morrow tries to tell Max Lord the end is near. Then "Judgement Day" begins in earnest, and it's all hands one deck, with the three Justice Leagues fighting one another, and other unexpected foes, as to the best way to proceed against "The Overmaster," a giant alien humanoid and world-ender who has landed his ship atop Mount Everest and announced the end of the world, saying that any move against him will only result in a lessening of the time left.

Because "Judgement Day" ran two issues apiece in all of the books, that means Vado and primary JLA artists Marc Campos, Ken Branch and Kevin Conrad pass the creative team baton on to writers Gerard Jones and Mark Waid and pencil artists Chuck Wojtkiewicz and Sal Velluto.

Visually, the book is very much of its time--1994. Campos is probably the weakest of the artists, and his anatomy features the worst of excesses, so that the women are all boobs and hips--in one early panel featuring the Leaguers in flight, Wonder Woman and Maxima are literally just busts, a limb or three extending from somewhere behind their boobs and heads--and the men universally ripped and wearing fabrics whose tightness fall somewhere between spandex and body paint, even the decidedly non-superheroic Max Lord and Oberon. Campos is at least consistent, but his work is so detailed and overly-inked that each panel just looks like a wall of unnecessary detail.

Sal Velutto, a very accomplished artist, has his own ideas of character design, one that marries the huge, heroic figures of the Silver Age League with the detailed musculature of '90s superhero art, but even that is inconsistently applied. Only Chuck Wojtkiewicz's art really ages gracefully. Thankfully he's the one who draws the climax, wherein an ad hoc group of some of the more powerful Leaguers--Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Captain Atom, The Flash, Fire, Booster Gold and Amazing Man try to take the Overmaster on hand-to-hand in his ship, while Blue Beetle races to figure out a way to shut it all down.

The story is probably best remembered for being the one that killed off  Ice--she spends this collection in possession of greater than usual powers and weird mood swings, before joining the Overmaster and, finally, betraying him--and it's true, there's not a whole lot to it other than that. There are some neat touches though, like T.O. Morrow looking at his checklist of things that will happen as the League seeks to reach Overmaster, and crossing off each event as it comes to pass (That was in a Waid-written issue).

This storyline and its epilogue were  followed by a Zero Hour crossover introducing Triumph as a founding Justice Leaguer who got knocked out of the time-stream almost immediately, and then the creative team of Gerard Jones and Chuck Wojtkiewicz take over Justice League America for the remaining 23 issues. If the Jones and Wojtkieicz issues all get collected, I think we could be looking at two more volumes of Wonder Woman and Justice League America. If the Zero Hour tie-in does, I don't know, maybe three more? It doesn't quite fit in with the rest of this stuff, though, and might makes more sense in a Justice League: Zero Hour collection, or with the Triumph solo series or Justice League Task Force.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I think it's always good to keep in mind who created what component of big superhero films like Justice League.

Spoiler alert: Starro The Conqueror does not appear in the film at all.
  • The Justice League of America was created in 1960 by Gardner Fox, although it was based on an earlier super-team he created with Sheldon Mayer in 1940, The Justice Society of America.
  • Superman and Lois Lane were created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Ma and Pa Kent were created by the pair the following year.
  • Batman and Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon were created in 1939 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Alfred Pennyworth was created by Kane and Don Cameron in 1939.
  • Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter
  • The Flash Barry Allen was created in 1956 by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, although he was a reimagined version of a character with that name and power-set originated in 1940 by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert.
  • Aquaman was created in 1941 by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. Mera was created in 1963 by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy.
  • Cyborg was created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
  • Steppenwolf, Parademons, Darkseid and Mother Boxes were all created by Jack Kirby as part of his "Fourth World" cycle of cosmic comics in the early 1970s.

The first appearance of Steppenwolf, left; note that his sweet hate, cape and giant ride-able dog do not appear in the new film.

The above gentlemen were responsible for originally creating all of the characters and concepts you see in the Justice League, but it's probably also worth noting that the particular iterations of the characters all seem to come from certain places, too.

For example, the film's version of Aquaman is the long-haired, bearded, grumpy version from the Peter David-written, 1994 series...mixed with the loud, boisterous version of the character from the 2008 Batman: The Brave and The Bold cartoon. While The Flash is named Barry Allen, he's young and inexperienced, needs to constantly eat and is aware of The Speed Force, like the Wally West of the immediate post-Crisis Flash comics. Batman, inexplicably, is an aging, grizzled, 20-year-veteran of crime-fighting, designed to resemble the version from Frank Miller and company's 1986 The Dark Knight Returns miniseries.

Pieces and parts are taken from all sorts of different comics, with even a small, gag moment like when Aquaman got tangled in Wonder Woman's lasso of truth and couldn't stop telling the truth out loud, having appeared in print first. Christopher Priest-penned short story in 1998's JLA 80-Page Giant #1 where the very same thing happened, for example.

That said, somewhat surprisingly, in terms of plot, the film struck pretty closely to presenting a newer, more Hollywood version of just two comics stories:

Justice League (2011) #1-#6 / Justice League Vol. 1: Origin by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Scott Williams and others: Apokolyptian Parademons invade planet Earth, necessitating seven superheroes--the very six in the film, plus Green Lantern Hal Jordan--to unite and repel the invasion. The newest and youngest hero, Cyborg, is himself created during the course of the invasion, with the help of Mother Box technology.

Earth 2 #1-#6 / Earth 2 Vol 1: The Gathering by James Robinson, Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott: Apokolyptian Parademons led by the ax-wielding Steppenwolf invade an alternate reality, attempting to conquer it and transform it into a new version of Apokolips. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman give their lives fending off the invasion, and a new group of heroes rise to protect the badly shaken world. Nicola Scott's helmet design for the villain is imported directly into the film.

Neither of those are particularly good comics, mind you, but having seen the film, it's pretty clear why they made some of the choices they did in order to introduce such a relatively wide variety of characters in as efficient a way as possible.

If you need suggestions for good Justice League comics to read, I would start with Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and company's JLA and keep reading until you hit the end of Mark Waid's run on the title. The Giffen/DeMatteis comics are pretty great, too, although perhaps a bit dated at this point and lacking the super-star power. The Alex Ross comics--2005's Justice with Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite and the just-published collection of all of his collaboration with Paul Dini, Absolute Justice League: The World's Greatest Heroes--are pretty great entry points, too.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Justice League doesn't really seem to enjoy reading DC Comics.

Many of this past week's DC Comics contained a two-page house ad promoting the DC Essential Catalog, which you can find at your comic shop, or online at It's designed to help sell DC's graphic novels and collections as gifts. Most of the ad consists of the above image by pencil artist David Finch, depicting the founding members of the New 52 Justice League, crowded around a pile of short boxes and graphic novels and reading in the snow in front of the Hall of Justice. The far right includes a checklist of the Top 25 collections and graphic novels on that "essentials" list, under the heading "DC Essential Graphic Novels 2018" (More on that in a bit).

What most struck me about the ad, however, is how downright unhappy the Justice Leaguers all look to be reading comics at all.

Granted, most people don't grin, smile or otherwise evince great joy while they are reading, but come on gang, aren't you trying to sell these dang things? It wouldn't hurt to at least fake some enthusiasm!

Here we see Superman and Wonder Woman, both standing up and reading--they both have super-endurance, so it may not be as uncomfortable for them to stand up and read as it would be for any of us--and standing incredibly close to one another while they do so. Each of them hold half of the book in one hand, and I have no idea who turns the pages, given that they are so close neither would be able to reach it with their other arm.

They are reading DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Superman looks pretty bored, while Wonder Woman either has a slight smile, or maybe that's just the way she did her lipstick. Perhaps Superman is bored, though; he can probably read each spread at super-speed, and then has to wait for Wonder Woman to catch up.

Green Lantern Hal Jordan is hovering above his teammates reading Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham by Tom King, David Finch and others. He seems to be the happiest of all the Leaguers, but I think there's a pretty good chance he's just faking it for the picture. After all, I'm not entirely sure that Hal Jordan can read.

The Flash is reading Watchmen over Batman's shoulder. He looks bored, but then, he probably is bored, given the speed at which he can read. He may be off fighting the Rogues in Central City, and just running back to the Hall of Justice to read a page every thirty seconds or so during the slow parts of the battle.

Cyborg, resting his huge mechanical bulk atop a pair of short boxes and no doubt crushing the contents within--so much for Near Mint!--is taking in Sandman: Overture. He looks pissed.

Aquaman has similarly tried to make himself comfortable by using the short boxes full of comics as furniture. They don't have either comic books or cardboard boxes in Atlantis, so perhaps his confusion is understandable, but I can't imagine his super-dense, well-muscled body is good for the boxes or the books within. If this scene continues very long, I imagine both he and Cyborg will fall through the collapsing boxes at some point.

Aquaman is frowning at the pages of Justice League Vol. 1: Origins, and I don't blame him! What has got him so upset about the book? Is he shocked at how casually Superman murders his foes? Is he appalled at everyone's New 52 costume redesigns? Is he missing his pal Martian Manhunter? Or can he just not believe his sideburns and necklaces in that story?

Finally, here's Batman's frozen scowl as he reads Watchmen. Does he hate the book? Or is he simply irritated that Flash is reading over his shoulder? Neither. That's the face he always makes; he's Batman, after all.

As for the top 25 books on the 2018 reading list, I was struck by how damn old so many of them are. From the 1980s you have Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, V For Vendetta and Batman: Year One. Of slightly more recent vintage is The Sandman Vol. 1: Predludes & Nocturnes which, of course, brings us into the '90s, when such books as Batman Adventures: Mad Love, Preacher Book One and Batman: The Long Halloween were published.

There are a handful of collections from The New 52 reboot/relaunch, including Justice League Vol. 1: Origin, Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls, Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood, The Flash Vol. 1: Move Forward and Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench. From the most recent publishing initiative, the "Rebirth" era, there's DC Universe: Rebirth, Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham and Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman.

I think Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race is the most recent publication on the list.

Many of those 25 are classics of the super-comic genre, and are therefore evergreens, but I found it somewhat striking that there are so many decades-old comics being promoted in that house ad, you know?

Of possible interest is the fact that of these 25 books,  two are drawn by DC co-publisher Jim Lee, three are written by the publisher's president and chief creative officer Geoff Johns, three are either written and/or drawn in part by Frank Miller and three are written by Alan Moore, whose Watchmen is currently being used as fodder for a DC Universe event story written by the company's publisher, very much against his will.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Comic Shop Comics: November 22nd

Detective Comics #969 (DC Comics) I'm a big fan of artist Guillem March's work, which is something I have likely said on this blog four or five thousand times before, so I was happy to see his cover here, showing the entire "Gotham Knights" team assembled next to one of the big, crazy gargoyles he seems to favor drawing (Too bad it's obscured by the unnecessary tag line, "United For The Last Time?"). I do so wish he was a regular artist on one of the Bat-titles.

This is the first issue of what feels like it could be the last story arc of writer James Tynion's run on the title, or at least the beginning of the last portion of his run, given the way in which it seems to be ramping up towards a summation of the run so far (Also, ever since they announced that Brian Michael Bendis would be joining DC, I just sort of assumed he would be taking over some Bat-titles, perhaps, given the pace at which he pumps out comics, both Batman and Detective. This is, of course, just an assumption on my part, but Batman is both the biggest franchise DC would have to attract him, and seems to fit within his area of interest, at least in terms of the crime sub-genre).

It is definitely my second-to-last issue of the series. As I've said before, buying a mediocre comic I only sort of half-like and then complaining about it on the Internet every other week makes me feel like a bit of an asshole. I'll catch up in library trade, eventually.

The issue is divided almost in half, with the first half focusing mostly on Stephanie Brown. She goes to visit Anarky Lonnie Manchin in Arkham Asylum--not sure why they're keeping him there of all places, but whatever--and then reunites with the back-from-the-dead Red Robin Tim Drake. From there, the narrative jumps ahead three weeks, and we see Red Robin's plan to use the 'Tec team--which he calls The Gotham Knights, a good name for a team that was unfortunately already used for various Gotham sporting teams over the years--to eradicate organized crime and super-crime in Gotham City.

Then Killer Moth--wearing a version of his original costume, rather than the odd gas mask he's been wearing since Flashpoint--comes up with a new version of his Batman-but-for-criminals racket, this one employing a team of super-villains, just as Batman and Red Robin have been using a team of vigilantes (the make-up of said team is pretty random and not particularly threatening, including as it does Mr. Zsasz, Firefly and The Ratcatcher, back in his old, Norm Breyfogle-designed costume rather than the dumb-looking one from Batman Eternal), which intentionally or not echoes a kernel of the plot from Alan Grant's "The Misfits" story arc from Shadow of The Bat.

Before the end, we see that Anarky is joining forces with The Victim Syndicate, one of the secret societies that Tyinon has been throwing at The Bats.

Joe Bennett pencils this issue, and Sal Regla handles the inks.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #32 (DC) Disclaimer: I am not an Atom Ant fan and, racking my brain, I don't actually have any memory of every having watched an Atom Ant cartoon, although it's quite possible I did. Therefore, this particular pairing doesn't really do anything for me personally, but regular writer Sholly Fisch and guest artist Scott Jeralds to a fine job of telling a story involving Scooby and the gang and a superhero who is also an ant.

This seems to be more of an Atom Ant story than a Scooby one--there's no real mystery to solve, and the monsters involved are actual monsters drawn in a style that is more likely Atom Ant's. It is, like almost every single issue of the series so far, professionally made and of a decent enough quality that anyone who can read should be able to wring some enjoyment out of it.

Snotgirl #8 (Image Comics) "The Boy Issue" focuses on the, well, the boys: Lottie's ex Sunny, Lottie's friend's horndog fiancee Ashley, fashionista-turned-police-detective John Cho and and Lottie's other friend's brother Virgil, who is here creepy as hell. Perhaps because of how self-contained it is, this issue struck me as one of the stronger and funnier ones.

While Ashley and Sunny intentionally--if reluctantly--hang out at a health club in this issue, the other character's cross their paths in what seems like it may or may not be coincidence. There is a lot of locker room talk, and some pretty good penis jokes. I may not be able to watch an episode of Power Rangers for some time without thinking of dicks, thanks to this issue.

Artist Leslie Hung does her usual incredible job on the art work, which spends a lot of time on something one rarely sees in comics: Genuinely hot guys, drawn hotly. Even in the manga I've read that has been devoted to boy-on-boy relationships, the depiction of those boys seems to be more pretty or cute than, well, all muscley and hunky, as it is here.

Lottie shows up for a key scene or two, but she seems confined to her house with allergies, so this is a Snotgirl comic in the fact that it shows the way so many other characters think about and talk about her.

If you haven't tried the series out yet, this might be a good one to sample. Sure, the storyline is a decent way along, but this is a kinda sorta done-in-one that gives a reader the flavor of the book and a decent sketch of the main character.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Marvel's previews reviewed

Three legendary BLACK PANTHER writers return to Wakanda! Don McGregor’s famous storyline “The Panther’s Rage” has become one of the most well-respected runs in comic book history. Now, the author who redefined Wakanda for a generation is back to expand the mythos! Bearing the heart-shaped herb that defines the Panther legacy, King T’Challa leaves his beloved country for a heart-wrenching mission in the streets of New York. Then: For half a decade, comics legend Christopher Priest made his mark on the Panther. The acclaimed writer returns with an all-new story – and with it, of course, U.S. State Department employee Everett K. Ross! And finally, no Panther history would be complete without Reggie Hudlin, author of more than 50 Black Panther stories, including the famed “Who Is The Black Panther?” Don’t miss the sequel to his “Black to the Future” story, featuring original artist Ken Lashley!
40 PGS./Rated T …$4.99

Well that seems like a pretty good idea for an annual: Gathering a trio of the better and/or better-known writers associated with a particular character for a special issue. I liked all those guys' Black Panther comics okay.

There is a lot of Black Panther content in this month's round of solicitations, which is in keeping with the way Marvel usually pumps out more potential movie tie-in material when a character gets a movie.

A recent Black Panther collection from Ta-Nehisi Coates' ongoing run crossed my path at the library the other day, and I was genuinely shocked to see a "4" on the spine. I would have sworn they were only on volume two or so.

Hulk Variant Cover by TBA
• Daredevil takes on the underworld single-handed as KINGPINS OF NEW YORK reaches a dramatic crescendo!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

You know, every month I read these solicits, my eyes fall on the one for Defenders, and I think to myself, "Ooh, Marvel has a new Defenders series...!" And then, a split-second later, I realize this Defenders series is based on Netflix's application of the name to a handful of their "street-level" heroes.

Now I know the publisher's "Legacy" numbering is almost completely arbitrary, so there's no point in asking, but I'll ask on Earth is Defenders only up to issue #10...? It seems like there have been at least ten Defenders relaunches since the first series...

DONNY CATES & Nick Spencer (W) • ROD REIS (A/C)
Trading Card Variant Cover by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER
The city of sin gets its biggest sinner yet. When Doctor Strange raises Las Vegas up from its destruction during SECRET EMPIRE, he inadvertently opens a big door for the embodiment of evil, MEPHISTO! The devilish villain takes the city for himself and sets his sights on the rest of the world. It’s going to take heroes from all over the Marvel Universe to defeat him, but there’s nothing simple about fighting the lord of Hell.
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

Hmmm...Secret Empire writer Nick Spencer is co-writing a miniseries that deals with the fall-out of a plot point from Secret Empire...? Weird. I wonder if this includes some plot points that couldn't fit into the series proper, or...what. Anyway, Spencer is a good writer, and I'm sure this will be interesting. I find the almost entirely random assemblage of heroes on that cover kind of intriguing.

• Doctor Strange bet on his ability to restore Las Vegas and got his prize — with some satanic strings attached!
• Now he’s going double or nothing to set things right.
• How did he get back to full power? And will it be enough when he’s gambling for his life?

32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Wow, Niko Henrichon is an inspired choice for a Doctor Strange comic. I am assuming this will look pretty nice. The cover seems to suggest that it will.

• It’s Falcon’s final showdown with the demon Blackheart, and the future of Chicago hangs in the balance.
• Can Sam Wilson’s spirit triumph in the face of
unspeakable evil?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Can Sam Wilson's spirit triumph in the face of unspeakable evil? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that yes, yes it can.

Survival of the Fittest Part 3
It’s JUBILEE vs. M-PLATE…vampire vs. vampire! Will the GEN X class be able to defeat MONET/EMPLATE and save the school? All this, plus: Witness a major milestone for Jubilee!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

A major milestone for Jubilee?! Based on the cover, I'm going to guess that completes her coursework and finally earns her MFA in dance.

ADAM WARLOCK IS BACK! Reborn from the realm of the dead, Adam has come seeking the Soul Stone…and the truth about what it did to Him! His guide through this Infinity Quest is none other than…Kang the Conqueror?!? Be there as Adam begins down the dark trail sure to lead him into the heart of the mystery of the Infinity Stones…
40 PGS./ONE-SHOT/Rated T+ …$4.99

"Infinity...Countdown"...? You guys sure you want to go with that particular title...? Because the word "Countdown" doesn't exactly have great connotations in super-comics anymore.

Daniel Kibblesmith (W) • Carlos Villa (A)
Variant Cover by GUSTAVO DUARTE
At long last, the dog has his day! Lockjaw spends most of his time defending the Inhuman empire alongside Black Bolt and Medusa. But when he gets a message that his long-lost litter mates are in danger, he’ll spring into action to save them! But wait – Lockjaw has brothers and sisters? Can they teleport? Are they Inhuman? Can they possibly be as gosh-darned cute as their big brother? All the answers are here! Get ready for an adventure worth fetching for!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

Well it's about damn time.

I am tempted to make a joke about the writer's last name in relation to the subject matter, but I am resisting, because I don't want to be mean. Er, mean-er than I already am, I guess.

I'm not a particular fan of the style employed on this Luke Cage cover, but Danielle's face there is awesome.

Cover by DAN MORA
• NECRODAMUS’ forces have disrupted the covenant and there’s HELL to pay…
• DAIMON HELLSTROM and SATANA are forced to cross a line they vowed never to again…
• Don’t miss the stunning climax to MARVEL LEGACY’S #1 limited series!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Er, wasn't this it the only limited series launched out of the "Legacy" initiative...? Or do they know that, and that's the joke...?

Are any of you guys reading this? Is it any good? I kinda sorta like all the characters involved...

Cover by
Spider-Man’s symbiotic sparring partner goes solo as he heads to San Francisco — but is he a deadly villain or lethal protector? Find out, along with the Punisher, Daredevil, Iron Man, Hulk, Darkhawk, Juggernaut, Spidey and more! Venom faces madness, vengeance and a bad case of separation anxiety — plus the ultimate symbiote showdown with the psychopathic Carnage! It’s a Brock-buster volume that could only be called a Venomnibus! Collecting VENOM: LETHAL PROTECTOR #1-6, VENOM: FUNERAL PYRE #1-3, DAREDEVIL (1964) #323, IRON MAN (1968) #302, DARKHAWK #35-37, VENOM: THE MADNESS #1-3, VENOM: THE ENEMY WITHIN #1-3, INCREDIBLE HULK VS. VENOM #1, VENOM: THE MACE #1-3, NIGHTWATCH #5-6, VENOM: NIGHTS OF VENGEANCE #1-4, SPIDER-MAN: THE ARACHNIS PROJECT #6, WEB OF SPIDER-MAN (1985) #118-119, SPIDER-MAN (1990) #52-53, VENOM: SEPARATION ANXIETY #1-4, VENOM: CARNAGE UNLEASHED #1-4 and material from SILVER SABLE & THE WILD PACK #18-19, plus Venom subplot pages.
1096 PGS./Rated T ...$100.00
ISBN: 978-1-302-9124-4

Whoever is responsible for coming up with the title of this particular Venom omnibus is my new favorite creator at Marvel. I'm fairly positive there's a market for a $100 collection of like every Venom story, but part of me hopes that Marvel only decided to publish this book at all so they could use that title...

Written by ED PISKOR
Penciled by ED PISKOR
Cover by ED PISKOR
Over six tumultuous decades, the X-Men have carved a singular place in comic book lore and popular culture. From their riotous birth in the ’60s, to their legendary reboot in the ’70s, to their attitude adjustment in the ’90s, to their battle against extinction in the ’00s, the X-Men have remained unquestionably relevant to generations of readers, the ultimate underdogs in an increasingly complicated world. Now, New York Times–best-selling author Ed Piskor (Hip-Hop Family Tree, Wizzywig) takes you on a pulse-pounding tour of X-Men history unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, an intricate labor of love that stitches together hundreds of classic and obscure stories into one seamless X-Men masterpiece! This volume also includes 1963’s X-MEN #1, masterfully recolored by Ed. Presented in the same dynamic, oversized format of the best-selling Hip Hop Family Tree! Collecting X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1-2.
120 PGS./Rated T+ …$29.99
ISBN: 978-1-302-90489-0
Trim size: 9x13

My eyes popped at the price of this thing, as this was a collection I was actually hoping to buy when it came out, but then I saw the trim size, which I guess explains the high cost. Now I'm curious if it is going to be printed at the same size as Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree books.*

Variant Cover by MAHMUD ASRAR
Variant Cover by ROB LIEFELD
Variant Cover by SKOTTIE YOUNG
Marvel Legacy Headshot Variant Cover by TRAVIS CHAREST
Trading Card Variant Cover by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER
The Hate Machine Part 1
JEAN GREY is back! Returned to a world she doesn’t recognize, the First Lady of the X-MEN gathers an unlikely team — NIGHTCRAWLER, NAMOR and LAURA KINNEY (A.K.A. ALL-NEW WOLVERINE) — to face an evil that threatens to tear down XAVIER’s dream by any means necessary!
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

Ooh! An all-new X-Men team! How exciting! That only happens 1-4 times a year!

This is a weird one. I'm pretty sure the last thing Marvel needs right now is yet another X-Men comic...I think this will be the fourth or fifth X-Men team book, and the third of which is designated by color...?

I'm just as sure that we don't need two Jean Greys running around the Marvel Universe, both of whom are now out of their home times and in worlds they don't recognize.

Like, I had a mock conversation with a friend the other day, regarding someone coming in to a comic shop and asking for the X-Men comic book with Jean Grey. It gets farcical really quickly, as you try to narrow it down from there.

The make up of the team as seen on the roster seemed both counter-intuitive--like, why isn't she on a team with some of her friends and loved ones, instead of such a random team--and a lot like Tom Taylor picked names out of a hat for it.

I'm a big fan of Namor in general, and think he should be on every Marvel team, but man, he seems as out-of-place here as he would on Bendis' Defenders or in The Guardians of Galaxy or Spirits of Vengeance. And I have no idea why he might be wearing green body armor. Did he lose his powers in Secret Empire or something...? Dude has so many costumes, and all of them look better than that...

*Although I suppose if I just read the solicits thoroughly before posting about them, I wouldn't need to wonder, as you'll see in the comments.

Monday, November 20, 2017

DC's February previews reviewed

Well, the first issues of Sideways and The Terrifics and the second issues of Damage and The Silencer--all books in some sort of ill-defined, artist-focused suite spinning out of Dark Nights: Metal--have all been re-solicited from January to February. That is undoubtedly a red flag of sorts, but I'm not sure if it is good news in the long run, meaning DC is making sure they've got their shit together with this mini-line of books, or if it's a bad sign, meaning there are already problems of some sort behind the scenes. I think it's safe to say that all of these books are going to have a fairly steep uphill climb to be successful, and some--like the Dan DiDio-written Sideways--seem dead-on-arrival, so, for DC's sake, hopefully the delay has to do with making sure they've got their shit together.

The other most noteworthy news from DC's February solicits seems to be that the publisher is doing a crossover of sorts between the DC Universe proper and Gerard Way's New 52 Vertigo imprint, Young Animal. The event will start with a 48-page, $5 JLA/Doom Patrol special, and then continue into four other one-shots, below...

Written by JODY HOUSER
Backup story written by MAGDALENE VISAGGIO
Backup story art by SONNY LIEW
“MILK WARS” part two! Mother Panic has discovered a Gotham City transformed. What happened to her family and friends? And who moved into Gather House, the religious school that scarred Mother Panic as a young girl? It’s Father Bruce, the orphan millionaire who decided to give back to society by filling the deep demand for sidekicks. So many Robins in need of a nest! Plus, part two of the Eternity Girl backup story!
ONE-SHOT • On sale FEBRUARY 7 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+

That's obviously a hell of a cover, and it's hard to go wrong with either Ty Templeton or Sonny Liew art--let alone both in one issue--but this seems an odd choice for a crossover. I mean, I read the first few issues of Mother Panic, and I recall Batwoman being in them. I'm pretty sure Batman at least had a cameo. Mother Panic is set in Gotham City, and what I assumed was the "real" Gotham City, so this doesn't really feel like a crossing-of-the-streams kind of thing in the way that, say, Batman/Sandman Mystery Theater might have, you know?

Backup story written by MAGDALENE VISAGGIO
Backup story art by SONNY LIEW
“MILK WARS” part three! Shade has been split into multiple parts, each representing a different mood, all in service to the perfect and beautiful Wonder Wife. But Happy Shade is starting to sense that not all is right in Wonderland, and she finds something strange staring back at her on the other side of the looking glass! Plus, part three of the Eternity Girl backup story!
ONE-SHOT • On sale FEBRUARY 14 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+

I hated Shade, The Changing Girl. I struggled mightily to make it through the first issue, but couldn't make it through the second.

That said, Mirka Andolfo is a great artist. I will certainly try again to read at least this issue of Castellucci's trade. Someday.

Written by JON RIVERA
Backup story written by MAGDALENE VISAGGIO
Backup story art by SONNY LIEW
“MILK WARS” part four! Swamp Thing has detected a disturbance in the Green, and his hunt for it has led him to RetCo headquarters. There he finds Cave Carson and his crew struggling against being assimilated into RetCo’s diabolical narrative. Is it possible for Swampy and Cave to destroy the organization from the inside? Plus, find out how their efforts help Eternity Girl in the final installment of her backup story!
ONE-SHOT • On sale FEBRUARY 21 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99

Hmm. Again, Cave Carson was basically a DCU book--Superman guest-starred!--so I'm not sure how exciting/interesting a selling point a DCU team-up special is. I suppose it's ironic that DCU-turned Vertigo-turned DCU character Swamp Thing is the character whose name is in the title, though...

Art by DALE EAGLESHAM and others
“MILK WARS” finale! As RetCo’s foundation shatters, the Young Animal teams come together with the Justice League and even more DC Universe heroes to finish the job. The only problem is, Milkman Man and RetCo still stand in their way. To right reality, the heroes of Young Animal and the DC Universe will have to unlock an outrageous power never before seen on any world!
This mind-blowing conclusion will establish new realities for all of the DC’s Young Animal titles. Look for the return of Cave Carson, Shade and Mother Panic next month!
ONE-SHOT • On sale FEBRUARY 28 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+ US • RATED T+

Not to be confused with JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1! Aren't comics grand...?

Story and art by various
Montage cover by JIM LEE
Join us for the 80th anniversary celebration of the most important comic book in American history: ACTION COMICS #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman! It’s an extraordinary party as we revisit stories from across the decades, featuring the debuts of not just the Man of Tomorrow, but also Supergirl, Brainiac, the Fortress of Solitude and more! See the work of generations of top writers and artists on the original superhero! Enjoy sparkling essays from literary wizards who have won Pulitzer Prizes and hit the bestseller lists, including Jules Feiffer, who relives his memories of when ACTION COMICS #1 first hit newsstands. Plus, a historical essay by guest editor Paul Levitz, and all one thousand ACTION COMICS covers presented on a special 30” x by 39.75” poster! And as a bonus, don’t miss a previously unpublished 1940s Superman tale believed to be written by Jerry Siegel with art by the Joe Shuster studio, salvaged fifty years ago and hidden away until now!
This new hardcover serves as a companion to the ACTION COMICS #1000 comic book coming in March!
On sale APRIL 11 • 384 pg, FC, $29.99 US

Eighty years ago, Action Comics #1 cost a mere ten cents. Today, Action Comics #1,000 will cost you $29.99. Talk about inflation!

Written by HOPE LARSON
Cover by DAN MORA
As the temperature drops even lower, Batgirl feels the pressure to find the maniac behind the worst blizzard that Gotham has seen in years! All signs point to the city’s latest villain turned hero: the Penguin. Could his efforts to help be a front for a greater crime in the making? What does his brilliant yet corrupt son, Black Sun, have to do with it? Find out in the thrilling conclusion to our wintry tale!
On sale FEBRUARY 28 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

Hey, have I ever told you guys how much I hate the fact that The Penguin has a son, and this son of a villain goes by the name "Black Sun"...? No? Well, it's a lot.

“Full Circle” part one! In addition to her vigilante life as Batgirl, Barbara Gordon also fought crime behind the scenes as Oracle. Now she’s taking it one step further—working to stop crimes before they happen. Her first target? Bringing down the Calculator’s intricate network of super-villains. Huntress and Black Canary are concerned she might be going too far, and it could put them all in the crosshairs when a new evildoer arrives to settle the score on behalf of the Calculator.
On sale FEBRUARY 14 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

Oh she did, did she? When, in the six months or so that she was unable to fight crime as Batgirl in the new, super-short DCU continuity?

And what's all this about stopping crimes before they happen? Haven't you read Civil War II Batgirl? Or, better yet, haven't you read reviews of Civil War II, Julie and Shawna Benson?

When our heroes leave the labyrinth, they must confront the horrors Black Adam has been committing against the people of Spain. There is a way to defeat him, but is it worth the price they must pay?
On sale FEBRUARY 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+ • DIGITAL FIRST

There's a scene in the last issue of this series depicting Batwoman hitting a baseball into a stained glass window of what looks like Captain Marvel. That's how I read it, anyway. I guess it wasn't The Big Red Cheese after all, but Black Adam. I guess that makes more sense. I think it was the squinty eyes in the window depiction that made me think of the Captain.

Written by LIAM SHARP
Art and cover by LIAM SHARP
Don’t miss the start of a new, six-issue miniseries written and illustrated by Liam Sharp (WONDER WOMAN)! When a Celtic god’s murder leads to a war between the fairy folk and a possible breach between worlds, Wonder Woman must find the murderer and keep the peace while Batman investigates strange occurrences in Gotham City. As Diana must turn to the World’s Greatest Detective for help, the two heroes quickly learn their cases may be connected.
On sale FEBRUARY 21 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

Huh. I'm not sure why they are rather randomly attaching "The Brave and The Bold" to the title of this it time to renew that copyright already? DC had previously randomly attached it to a JLA: Year One spin-off featuring Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Flash Barry Allen, and it always felt off to me.

Anyway, whatever they call it, I'm pretty confident this will be a pretty gorgeous looking trade paperback collection one day. Liam Sharp's too-short run on Wonder Woman was amazing looking, and the issue that had a few pages worth of a Justice League appearance left me eager to see him drawing more of the DC Universe.

Art and cover by GABRIEL HARDMAN
The newest Earth One original graphic novel presents an all-new origin for the Emerald Warrior!
Hal Jordan yearns for the thrill of discovery, but the days when astronaut and adventure were synonymous are long gone. His gig prospecting asteroids for Ferris Galactic is less than fulfilling—but at least he’s not on Earth, where technology and culture have stagnated.
When Jordan finds a powerful ring, he also finds a destiny to live up to. There are worlds beyond his own, unlike anything he ever imagined. But revelation comes with a price: the Green Lantern Corps has fallen, wiped out by ruthless killing machines known as Manhunters. The odds against reviving the Corps are nearly impossible...but doing the impossible is exactly what Hal Jordan was trained to do!
From co-writer and artist Gabriel Hardman (Invisible Republic) comes a soaring original graphic novel that takes a radical new look at the mythology of Green Lantern and provides a great entry point for new readers.
On sale MARCH 14 • 144 pg, FC, $24.99 US • 978-1-4012-7792-5

So far the Wonder Woman volume has been the only "Earth One" book I've really enjoyed, and I suppose it's well worth remembering that writer Grant Morrison didn't really do a whole hell of a lot of reinvention there; he basically just freshened up original writer William Moulton Marston's conception for the character, while Yanick Paquette drew it in a modern style.

That said, these tend to at least be interesting, if only to see what choices the particular creators make in seeking to refocus the characters to...well, I think the line has lost focus. Originally it was to be series of original graphic novels focused on a YA audience, but given how prevalent all of the characters chosen are, and that the New 52-boot similarly divorced them from their complex continuities and history, I don't actually know what the point of the "Earth One" line is.

Still, that doesn't mean this won't be interesting to look at as a sort of Just Imagine...Gabriel Hardman Creating Green Lantern comic...

“JUSTICE LOST” part five! Alone on the Watchtower, The Flash must find a way to save an astronaut drifting out into space. Meanwhile, Batman’s obsession with redeeming himself for two critical failures feeds a growing crisis of confidence in his leadership.
On sale FEBRUARY 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

“JUSTICE LOST” part six! An environmental disaster unites both Justice League teams as Cyborg faces the first test of his leadership while still being overshadowed by Batman. Meanwhile, the Green Lanterns struggle with internal conflicts while being recruited by a mysterious visitor for an unspecified deep-space mission.
On sale FEBRUARY 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Reminder: Christopher Priest, one of the best writers DC is currently cutting checks to, will be writing Justice League soon.

It’s the Justice League as you’ve never seen them before, with a lineup that includes Wonder Woman, The Flash, Black Canary, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and more! Led by Martian Manhunter, the “strike team” of fellow Justice League members are on a very special mission when Rafael Sierra and a group of rebels are planning to assassinate Sanobel President Enrique Ramos. Will they be able to work together and stop the rebels in time? Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE #1-12.
On sale MARCH 21 • 296 pg, FC, $29.99 US • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7796-3

Oh, cool! I was just talking about this the other night, when writing up some thoughts about Wonder Woman and Justice League America Vol. 2, which included the "Judgement Day" story arc.

The premise for this series was air-tight, and such that there's hardly any point in DC history where they couldn't be publishing some version of it. Full-time Justice Leaguer Martian Manhunter, who almost never has a book of his own to take up his time, leads mission/story arc-specific teams of League-affiliated superheroes on special missions. Each arc had a different writer, but all had the same artist in Sal Velluto.

The quality was kind of rocky--you'll get that with different writers every story--but, like I said, the concept was solid. Ironically, the book improved considerably when they abandoned that concept, and it instead simply became a third Justice League book, one in which J'onn devoted himself to training the younger and/or more inexperienced members of the team.

Let's see, the first 12 issues, huh? Then that means...

1.) A three-parter by David Michelinie featuring J'onn and Gypsy teamed with Aquaman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Flash Barry Allen and Nightwing

2.) A done-in-one featuring Lady Shiva

3.) A two-part "KnighQuest: The Search" tine-in written by Denny O'Neil, featuring Gypsy, Green Arrow and Bronze Tiger helping out then wheelchair-bound Bruce Wayne

4.) Peter David's two-part story in which J'onn shape-changes into a lady and leads an all-female squad

5.) A done-in-one written by Jeph Loeb that featured a handful of "New Blood" characters, including Loeb's own co-creation Loose Cannon

...and, finally...

6.) A three-parter in which J'onn, Gypsy, Black Canary, The Elongated Man and Hourman face off against racist super-group The Aryan Brigade

That's pretty much it for the original concept; after a few "Judgement Day" tie-ins and a Zero Hour tie-in issue, we get the #0 issue and the new iteration of the book, by writers Mark Waid and Christopher Priest.

Art and cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
“THE UNTOUCHABLE—FACE OFF”! In a flashback issue with art by Phil Jimenez, witness the second early encounter between Nightwing and the Judge, when Dick Grayson was a college student and a Teen Titan—a meeting that haunts him still.
On sale FEBRUARY 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Phil Jimenez art is always a good thing, but ugh that "R"...

Based on the fucked-up looking "R" for "Robin" symbol, I have to assume that neither Dark Nights: Metal nor Doomsday Clock will have fixed the DC Universe by the time this issue ships, so I have no idea when Dick Grayson found time to go to college and be a Teen Titan during the, like, four to five years that passed between the time his parents died and the time he became Nightwing. Maybe he attended college for, like, a semester, and then dropped out...?

Oh man, I sure hope that is the last we see of some of those costumes...!

I'll be honest, it's going to something of a struggle not to buy Trinity #18 when I see this cover on the stands in February...

Tales of Wonder Woman in the style of the Golden Age of Comics by Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek are collected at last! In these stories from the 1980s, Paradise Island is threatened by a mysterious Amazon known as Atomia! This title collects THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN #1-4, WONDER WOMAN #318 and a story from WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #2.
On sale MARCH 21 • 128 pg, FC, $16.99 US • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7795-6

I was not aware of the existence of these comics, but I sure as hell am going to buy this collection of them.

It’s hard being a monster…and even harder being a monster in love. Sparks will fly and hearts will be broken when the ghouls and ghosts of the DC Universe assemble to bring you the Valentine’s Day Special that no one saw coming!
PRESTIGE FORMAT • ONE-SHOT • On sale FEBRUARY 7 • 80 pg, FC, $9.99 US

They had me at "Kelley Jones," honestly.