Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Month of Wednesdays: January 2021


Batman Annual #5 (DC Comics) Although I've mostly abandoned serially-published super-comics in favor of trades, there are always exceptions, and this is one: It's drawn by the great James Stokoe, who I would argue is one of the very best comics artists working today (in addition to being one of my favorites), and an extremely unlikely candidate for an issue of the main Batman comic (How unlikely? Well, despite the fact that Stokoe provided all of the art for the issue, from pencils to colors, they slapped a cover by an entirely different artist on the front of the book, so it looks less unique and more like a standard Batman comic). 

Stokoe did not disappoint. His work is saturated with detail in a way that seems downright foreign to superhero comics now. Instead of manipulated photos of buildings or cars, he drew the hell out of a Park Row street front in the first panel, every brick seemingly drawn with pen and pencil and carefully shaded. In the last panel, as we see Batman soaring into the sun rising over the Gotham skyline, Sand tokoe draws some twenty skyscrapers crowd together, each full of windows and fire escapes and chimneys and signs and the design elements of buildings.   

It's definitely, totally, unabashedly Stokoe's work, from the curious but effective use of colors, to the grace note details like the face on Leslie Thompkins' teapot, from the the characters in the Mortal Kombat-esque video game that the protagonist plays, to the montage of Batman vs. Joker battles that suggests a half-dozen stories each as epic as "Joker War".

Stokoe is working with regular Batman writer James Tynion IV, whose work I sometimes have some concerns with, but who has been doing a pretty great job on his Batman run, from what I've seen of it so far (the major downside of his first arc, "Their Dark Designs", was the lack of a single artist to give the story shape, style and mood; here, a done-in-one annual, that's obviously not an issue). 

Stokoe's version of the title character appears a couple of times. First, as a sort of nightmare version during Leslie's recounting of the murder of the Waynes (yes, we see that again, but Stokoe's version is unlike any of the other dozens we've seen, as he draws flocks of bats pouring out of the exit wounds of Bruce's parents as they are shot), and then these flocks of bats all seems coalesce into a giant figure made of bats, with glowing red eyes. 

Batman appears briefly in two other scenes, talking to the other main characters. Stokoe's version of the character is a bit of a big, black triangle with two points at the top; he's all scalloped cloak, his mouth the only really human-looking part, and there's a suggestion of an armored helmet around his mask and cowl. His ears are pretty long too, somewhere between Breyfogle and Jones on the Sprang-Jones scale

Finally, during the montage of Batman vs. Joker encounters, we see him in a few more superheroic poses, and Stokoe seems to give him a big, Dark Knight Returns-like build, but, again, he's mostly exaggerated cape and horn-like ears. 

All in all, it's a take I quite like.

Stokoe's Joker is also pretty damn scary, centered on a smile that is just too damn big not only for his face, but for his own head, as if the mouth is from an entirely different, far larger person. 

Tynion's plot construction is fairly simple. Leslie is walking to her clinic through Crime Alley one night, narrating about the area and Batman's origin—tiresome to many of  us, perhaps, but necessary here, as Tynion is quite intentionally using it to parallel the origin of Clownhunter—and there she gets an unexpected, but not entirely unexpected, visitor. 

This visitor is Clownhunter, a teenage vigilante who is more Punisher than Batman (dude even talks about punishment in one panel) and who kills Joker henchmen with his bat-bat, a razor-sharp Batagrang Batman once gifted him tied to the tip of a baseball bat. 

Batman had given him Leslie's card, and he is there to get stitches and talk about the way the world doesn't seem to work, while recounting his origin.

 He was a fairly ordinary teenager until Harley Quinn, The Joker and their gang come into his parents pho restaurant one night. At meal's end, The Joker kills them with Joker gas, and tosses a $100 bill to young Bao, telling him, "Parents just get in the way."

Batman visits Bao at the crime scene, and promises to stop The Joker, but in the intervening years, Bao grows resentful, watching Batman catch The Joker again and again, but never actually stopping him by killing him, or, as he tells Leslie, finding some way to lobotomize him or paralyze him or "just something."

When "The Joker War" storyline unfolds, and gangs of clowns terrorize Gotham while Batman is missing (I'm trade-waiting Batman, so this is the first I've read of the Joker War), and people in clown masks start killing his neighbors, Bao throws together a costume and goes out to murder a clown. And then he keeps doing it, although we only see the one killing here.

Leslie seems pretty chill about his confession to multiple murders, but their conversation about the nature of the world, the effectiveness of violence, and human beings' capacity to change is all pretty engaging stuff, and probably would have seemed quite insightful to a teenaged Caleb. 

I have a few questions about the character still, including how on Earth he's so good at fighting, and why Batman and Leslie don't seem to be trying to get him help in the system given that he is, you know, a confessed serial-killer and both of them have objections to that sort of vigilante behavior, but maybe those explanations occurred in one of his other appearances I haven't caught up on yet. (As for the fighting, the first clown he kills, he basically sneaks up on and hits with his bat-bat before burning him alive with a his own Molotov cocktail. That's all fine and good. But, directly after that, he runs and leaps into a crowd of at least a half-dozen armed men and, well, killing whole gangs at once seems to require a bit more skill or training than playing violent video games, you know? Kid goes from zero to Punisher in the time it takes to turn a page).

But, those quibbles with the superhero story aside, this is a really beautifully rendered Batman comic, and one of the best-looking ones I've seen in a while. Here's hoping Stokoe gets to do more Batman work in the near future; I'd love to see him do something where he writes as well as draws, perhaps in an issue of Batman: Black and White or the upcoming Legends of the Dark Knight revival. 

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 5 (DC) The latest volume of early 1990s Batman comics collects Batman #466-473, plus the two issues of Detective Comics that make up part of four-part "Idiot Root" crossover. 

That's one of the two arcs included within, the other being writer Chuck Dixon and pencil artist Tom Lyle's "Shadow Box," a three-part direct sequel to their 1991 Robin miniseries, in which the villain King Snake is revealed to have survived his battle with Lady Shiva, and he and his lieutenant Lynx make a play for Gotham City's Chinatown.

That's a pretty interesting story to re-read now, considering just how many Batman comics Dixon would end up writing by the end of the decade, and it still holds up rather well, as does the late Lyle's artwork, inked by Andy Mushynsky and Scott Hanna. 

"Idiot Root" is the more interesting of the two, though, in large part because of how wild it is; with it's sci-fi elements, it's like nothing else in this book...or most other Batman comics. Written by Peter Milligan (a few months ahead of his own short run on Batman) with alternating chapters penciled by Norm Breyfogle and Jim Aparo, it finds Batman chasing a brutal serial killer named The Queen of Hearts to Rio De Janeiro, and stumbling upon something far worse than a madwoman who removes hearts with a power drill.

A doctor experimenting with a local hallucinogenic root psychically connected four of his patients, inadvertently creating a fifth personality that calls itself The Idiot and exists in "The Idiot Zone," the "place" people visit when ingesting the root...or the drug derived from it that the doctor  has created and is selling on the streets of the city.

If The Idiot can get strong enough, which it does by eating the minds of victims who have ingested the drug, he can cross over into the real world and become real himself, something he does at the climax, using the brains of people as portals, so that he bursts out of people's skulls (the comics are remarkably, even shockingly careful in their staging of these events, as Breyfogle and Aparo mostly draw reaction shots of those watching, the gore almost always appearing off-panel; I guess that's the difference between making comics that you can sell to kids in drug stores and making comics that only sell to adults in specialty shops. I am completely confident that the various instances of exploding heads would have been on-panel if this were being drawn today). 

Aparo and Bryefogle are among the all-time greatest Batman artists, although their styles are so different that they're something of a poor fit for alternating chapters of a single story (Breyfogle, obviously, draws all the weirdest, trippiest shit, although I think Aparo's more realistic, staid art has the benefit of drawing attention to any divergence from reality affected by The Idiot's powers). I'm also kind of glad this story is in here, as the pair of them sort of establish a style range, and Lyle's Batman falls directly in the middle of the poles they represent.

The rest of the book consists of done-in-one stories from the Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle team. 

The first of these is "No More Heroes," which is set at Gotham amusement park Heroworld, where the Dynamic Duo chase a couple of desperate criminals; meanwhile, a would-be sniper has set up atop a giant cowboy statue with plans to kill the gang members who hooked his brother on drugs (as is so often the case with Grant's comics, drugs are the greatest villain in Gotham City). Though this stars both Batman and Robin, it's one of my favorite Robin stories, and is perfectly representative of what makes this creative team so special.

Inker Rick Buchett joins them for "Of Gods and Men," Batman's red-sky tie-in to War of the Gods, in which Batman and Robin attempt to recover a special chalice from Maxie Zeus at the behest of Wonder Woman; aside from a few mentions of her and the appearance of a supporting character of hers (Oh, and a harpy!), it's basically just another done-in-one (The harpy seems a relative rare instance of something super or supernatural intruding upon the Batman comics of the era; it's always really weird when they do). 

Finally, there's "Requiem For a Killer," in which Batman tracks down the escaped Killer Croc, and finds him living fairly happily among a group of homeless people beneath the streets of Gotham. It's a pretty great "last" Killer Croc story, one of two I can think of, although of course it couldn't last, because what do you want, comics creators to create their own characters to use in their comics? 

All in all, this was the best $30 I spent on comics this month, even though I've read most of them already, the Aparo-drawn portions of "Idiot Root" being the only parts I had never read before.

The cover credits are interesting. Peter Milligan gets the top credit, having written four issues to Grant and Dixon's three apiece. From there they move to artists, with Breyfogle being the obvious choice, having drawn a full half of the book, but Aparo penciled just two issues to Lyle's three, and yet he gets the third credit.

Generations Shattered #1 (DC) DC once again turns to Dan Jurgens to un-fuck their continuity, for at least the third time following 1994's Zero Hour, which held for a time, and 2015's Convergence, which was all but ignored at the time it was being published. That DC needs to keep  un-fucking their continuity, and keep turning to Jurgens to help them do it, seems to point to problems. Basically, DC just needs to pick a continuity and stick to it, rather than the more-or-less constant state of reboot we've had over the course of the last decade (Just looking at these three Jurgens projects, it's worth noting the time that has passed between them, and that the rate seems to be accelerating).

It is may be unfair to pick on Jurgens here. He is, after all, simply the co-writer of the one-shot, along with Robert Venditti and Andy Schmidt (and he's one of the 15 pencil artists involved with the $9.99, 80-page issue). On the other hand, this is very Jurgens-y, prominently featuring Booster Gold and Skeets (two versions of each, actually), Waverider and even Dominus, and the basic plot seems so similar to Zero Hour that reading it, it suggested Zero Hour redux. 

Various parts of the familiar DC history are apparently being eaten by a white void that comes on like a wave. This is all part of a plan by a powerful villain to unmake all of creation and rebuild it to his liking. The villains have changed, but the imagery is identical, as are some of the bit players; I clearly remember Time Trapper, for instance, reflecting on the goings-on in Zero Hour, and here he does so for a panel as well. 

I...have no idea where this is going, and am, in fact, not even sure where it continues, but it offered a degree of old-school super-comics pleasures, not just in its execution and its revisiting of many, many familiar settings (most of them in passing) from various DC publishing eras, but also in the jam nature of its art. As noted, fifteen different art teams handle the art chores, changing just about every time a new time period is visited. It's obviously a bit of a visual mess, but it's a fun mess, and the nature of the narrative justifies the presence of so many teams. 

To combat Dominus' plan to reboot DC continuity for the seventeenth time, Old Man Booster Gold and Skeets, now in convenient gauntlet form, are setting out to recruit a special team (seen on the cover), but things go wrong almost immediately, with Booster dying and passing Skeets on to Kamandi. From there, the pair time-hop around plucking recruits from various continuities (First Appearance Batman, Green Lantern Sinestro, "Reign of The Supermen"-era Steel, etc), occasionally screwing up and needing to pick up substitutes, as when Kamandi accidentally saves Superboy Clark Kent from the 31st Century, rather than picking up Brainiac 5, or when they miss Superman from late 1980s Metropolis and have to settle for young Booster Gold.

A great deal of time is spent assembling the team from their various eras, after which point they fight Dominus' new Linear Men, all repurposed and brainwashed characters as various as Ultra-Humanite, Major Force, The Eradicator and so on, which they do in various time periods. Then, our heroes are all banished to random time periods. And, um, that's it. It's presumably to be continued in February's Generations: Forged #1 and...maybe elsewhere....? It certainly doesn't seem like a story that's half over. Rather this seems like the first part of a 3-6-part storyline.

But whatever. In the mean time, it was nice to see some semi-forgotten characters (look, there's The Hourman of the 853rd Century!) and the work of some great artists we don't see nearly enough from, like Kevin Nowlan and Rags Morales. 

Justice Society of America: The Demise of Justice (DC) This hardcover collects 1991's eight-issue Justice Society of America miniseries, an early attempt at a JSA revival that must have done its job well enough, as an ongoing JSA series was launched the following year. 

The series is notable for just how action-packed it is, as the plot that writer Len Strazewski comes up with seems to be a fairly simple, even flimsy one to sustain a series of this length. Vandal Savage uses Starman Ted Knight's new observatory to summon living constellations to Earth, and he then directs these energy giants to do away with the forces that power modern civilization: Electricity, radio and television waves and atomic energy. The Flash, Black Canary, Green Lantern and Hawkman attempt to stop the giants, first solo, then in pairs, and then, finally, as a team. Naturally, they are successful. 

And that's it, really.

Strazewski doesn't get too deep into the characters' backgrounds, origins or inner lives; the series manages to fill so many pages without ever seeming to slow or drag because so much time and attention is devoted to the superheroes engaged in their super-feats. The second issue, for example, finds Black Canary seeking to thwart a break-in at a Gotham museum, and about half of the issue is devoted to her fight with some thugs and Solomon Grundy. The issue, like the series, feels refreshing today, given how little space most super-comics writers afford for actual action. 

Art is provided by a relay team of pencil artists: Rick Burchett, Grant Miehm, Mike Parobeck, and Tom Artis (the covers are courtesy Tom Lyle). It's perhaps little wonder that Parobeck was chosen to draw the ongoing that followed in '92; while all of the art in this collection is strong, his work is head and shoulders above the rest, demonstrating a great deal more personality than is seen in the other chapters.

Speaking of that series, which I kinda wish was collected in trade already because as soon as I finished this I wanted to read that, this collection begins with writer Mark Waid's introduction that ran in the first issue of the 1992 series, a sort of introduction to the JSA and its members (five of whom don't actually appear in this volume, save for in a team photo Starman regards at one point).

There are also a pair of other "last" stories of the JSA. There's their actual last story, 1951's All-Star Comics #57 by John Broome, Frank Giacoia and Arthur Peddy, in which four of the world's greatest detectives disappear, and the JSA members must not only find them, but also solve four crimes they were meant to solve (The villain of the piece, interestingly enough, is called "The Key," but he's an entirely different The Key than The Key that the Justice League regularly fights). 

And then there's a retroactive last story from 1979's Adventure Comics #466 by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton set on what was then a pretty richly-developed Earth-2; in this, The Huntress tells Power Girl why the JSA disbanded in 1951, and although the blame is put squarely on Senator Joe McCarthy, he goes unnamed (but not un-drawn). 


Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren (Marvel Entertainment) Making new Star Wars movies featuring the original cast members reprising their roles necessitated setting these movies some decades after the end of Return of The Jedi, which of course meant there was now a huge gap in the Star Wars story to fill in, explaining how the setting went from Jedi's happy ending to a place of similar (too similar, if you ask me) conflict at the beginning of The Force Awakens. While some of the expanded universe novels, comics and, now, TV shows have filled in some of those blanks, what I have seen has dealt mostly with explaining how The Empire became the First Order, and the lives of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and especially Luke Skywalker have been barely touched upon, despite seemingly being the core of the saga. 

Well, this miniseries by writer Charles Soule and artist Will Sliney seemed like it was meant to address some of that, explaining how Han and Leia's son Ben Solo became the First Order's Kylo Ren, a story only alluded to in the the film trilogy in a flashback when Luke explains to Rey how he raised his light saber over a sleeping Ben one night, a night that saw the end of his dream of reviving the Jedi order.

Somewhat frustratingly, this slight four-issue miniseries doesn't give us a whole heck of a lot more than that. There are a few scenes of Ben as Luke's padawan (um, though I don't think they use that word; that word didn't outlive the clone wars, did it?), and flashbacks to Ben's time with some other students learning from Luke at the fledgling Jedi temple, but the bulk of the story is set in a present that begins with the movie's flashback; Luke is already buried under rubble, the temple is already in flames and Ben has to decide what to do next.

That's when a trio of other students, who were off-planet at the time, return and confront Ben. There's an argument and a brief battle, after which Ben leaves to figure out his next move, and the other three pursue him, seeking to either to learn what really happened, bring him to justice or kill him to avenge Luke, depending on the student. 

As for what Ben's next move is, it involves visiting with Snoke and then seeking out The Knights of Ren, a barely-there group that dress funny and sometimes follow Kylo Ren around  (and seem like a bunch of fucking dorks ) in the movies, but here are fleshed out as some sort of nihilistic gang that Ben seeks induction into...even eventually gains leadership of. 

What's here is all fine, but it's disappointing how little of it there is. There's still so much...story missing, just in the lives of the first trilogy's heroes after Jedi, and this story arc gives us a glimpse, but only the slightest of glimpses. There's also a degree of artificiality about it too, I suppose, as Soule pretty clearly has to write around the events of the new films, so that the three surviving Jedi don't even, like, confirm that Luke is dead or look for survivors among the burning temple, but take off after Ben immediately after he kicks all three of their asses, with no real plan other than to try again. 

Sliney's art is...awkward. I've some of his previous Star Wars work before, but here he seems particularly hampered by trying to make a young Ben Solo look as much like Adam Driver as possible, and he seems to be using adult Driver as reference, so there are all these images in which a too-big, adult-looking head rests on a slimmer, more child-like body. He would have been far better off just drawing a generic kind with long black hair than trying to reverse engineer a celebrity likeness into a teenage version of himself. 

The action scenes, of which there are several, are all of the frozen pose variety, so despite the fact that there are multiple light saber fights, the bits that are sometimes the most thrilling parts of the movies, they are here just static images, sometimes several following another.

I'm interested enough in Star Wars to have really wanted to read and like this, but it was ultimately a disappointment. Perhaps it will be the novels that will fill in the most intriguing blanks between the original trilogy and the newest one; that's certainly where the most and most interesting stories from that time period have emerged so far. 

Young Justice Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords
(DC Comics)
It would be a reach to say that the new Young Justice ongoing series began with a bang and ended with a whimper, but it's tempting. The series, which relaunched in 2019, did begin with a surprisingly strong and effective arc from writer Brian Michael Bendis, who has had vast experience writing popular superhero teams, but generally not doing so particularly well, and it does just sort of listlessly peter out with this volume's collection of issues #13-#20.

I'm obviously not privy to what happened behind the scenes, but it certainly seems like Bendis' workload was outgrowing his ability to keep up—which would explain the presence f co-writer David F. Walker on this series—and the narrative of these last seven issues certainly feels like the pair were given a particular issue count with which to wrap up everything they had planned for the ongoing,  which would explain why so many of the last few issues felt like a series of resolutions to storylines that might have been teased, but never quite played out in the book proper (Particularly the narrative strand involving Wonder Girl, a strand not touched upon since it was introduced in the first volume).

This reads, quite awkwardly, as the climax of the storyline of the previous volume...followed by almost a half-dozen different "final" issues, in which Bendis and Walker use their outlines for whole future story arcs as the bare bones of a bunch of epilogues, one for each of the main characters (save for Amethyst, with whom nothing is done in these seven issues, and Jinny Hex, who has a special one-shot coming up and will presumably tie-up her loose ends in the way that Bendis and Walker tied up those of the rest of the team).

It's all tremendously disappointing, but only because of how much promise the series had for the first year or so.

The book opens with Superboy once again marooned in another dimension, this time in the hollow Earth fantasy world of Skartarsis, setting of Mike Grell and company's old Warlord series, and Young Justice must once again unite to save him, this time calling in plenty of new recruits, including the rest of the heroes of the Wonder Comics "pop-up" line (the stars of Naomi, Wonder Twins and Dial H For Hero), but also Spoiler, Arrowette (who apparently still exists), on-again, off-again Teen Titan Aqualad and, for some reason, Sideways. 

It takes a few issues, but this massive, extended Young Justice line-up manages to rescue Superboy again and defeat the rouge STAR Labs program that put him through the wringer; it's an extremely annoying few issues though, as Bendis' tendency to have everyone talk alike gets worse the more characters are added and, for the most part, none of these new characters have a whole lot to add to the proceedings. There's barely enough for Amethyst to do to justify her presence among the seven heroes that made up the team in the first volume, and now the line-up has swollen to an even greater amount of mushily defined characters. 

After that, the various epilogues begin. There's a story explaining why Impulse is still Impulse, and though it takes many pages, its essentially the same reason why Superboy is still Superboy: He was temporarily not in the "real world" of the DCU during Flashpoint and similar reboots, and through time-travel, plane-shifting and the cosmic rejiggerings, he's pretty much lost (I skipped the New 52 Teen Titans because it looked like garbage, so I'm not sure if or how one reconciles the fact that there was a Superboy and a Kid Flash in that series separate and distinct from this Superboy and Bart Allen, but I guess I don't actually care; not if it means having to read those comics). 

There's an issue tying into the events of the Superman comics, which I wasn't reading, so it's not entirely clear what's going on, aside from the fact that Young Justice seems to have teamed up with the Justice League to do something in Metropolis, and this issue is devoted to the various YJ members talking to their League counterparts (Batman taking Tim Drake aside to tell him that his new "Drake" identity and costume is the worst atrocity he has ever witnessed, I assume, Teen Lantern chatting with Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl huddling, etc). 

There's an issue devoted to Spoiler and Drake taking on and taking down Cluemaster. There's an issue devoted to Wonder Girl's issues with the Greek pantheon. And then there's an issue where the core team returns to their Happy Harbor headquarters from the original Young Justice series, where Green Lantern John Stewart confronts Teen Lantern and Red Tornado gets re-added to the team. 

As for the various mysteries of how this team exists given Flashpoint's collapsing of the DCU timeline into a single generation of heroes, with just a five-year timeline, it's essentially that for various reasons, the characters all remember their "old" lives before the reboot/s, and they will all be apparently resuming them, as the last image is of the extended Young Justice line-up, the one that includes the other Wonder Comics heroes, at a  Happy Harbor cookout, Red Tornado flying above them all, and the words "Never The End!"

If the narrative in this volume is a mess, it's nothing compared to the artwork. There are four artists drawing these seven issues, and their styles very as much as Michael Avon Oeming's extremely simplified cartoony art (my favorite, and I kinda wish he drew all 20 damn issues of the series) and Mike Grell's extremely realistic art; for some dumb reason, the two co-draw the Warlord issues, for maximum aesthetic whiplash (Warlord's presence in this book a tall simply seems to be because Bendis or someone was a fan, and wanted to get Grell drawing the character again; there are way too may pages devoted to recapping the story of Warlord than is necessary in a Young Justice comic, especially given how little time the team actually spends with him and in Skartarsis). 

I'd be lying if I said I didn't like this, in large part because I am a fan of these characters and have been for about as long as I've been reading comics—they even put Drake back in his Robin costume by the end, because I am assuming DC heard the universal condemnation of "Drake"—but just because I love soemthing doesn't mean I can't tell where it falls down.

As is, this reads like a book that needed a stronger editorial voice whipping it into shape, narratively and visually, but, like I said, I suspect this was actually plotlines for another 12 issues or so all getting boiled down into whatever story beats Bendis and Walker could fit into the last half-dozen or so issues they had to wrap the series up. 


Batman Adventures: Robin, The Boy Wonder (DC Comics) This collection includes a half-dozen Robin-centric stories from older comics based on Batman: The Animated Series' cartoons (well, five Robin-centric stories, anyway), all of which hold up remarkably well. There are some familiar names among the contributing writers and artists—Rick Burchett, Chuck Dixon, Scott Peterson, Craig Rousseau—but the best of the bunch is probably Gabe Soria and Dean Haspiel's "Deathtrap-a-go-go," which is something of a tour of Batman's cartoon rogue's gallery (And if you're wondering what Haspiel's version of Bruce Timm's version of Batman looks like, that's it on the cover, and the answer is, of course, "pretty awesome"). 

The League of Super Feminists (Drawn and Quarterly) Ideally, Mirion Malle's slim graphic novel simply explaining concepts as various and complex as consent, intersectionality, privilege and representation should find its way into the hands of everyone. Or at least everyone in the comics industry. 

Super Mario Manga Mania (Viz Media) Don't read my review at Good Comics For Kids. Read Joe McCulloch's review at The Comic Journal. It's much more thorough and offers better context, in addition to being better written.  

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
Oddly enough, I had zero problem with writer Maggie Stiefvater and artist Morgan Beem making Abby Arcane a Black girl rather than a white woman, but changing her hair style did seem a bit too far to me; Abby's race might not be essential to her character, but the white hair with a single black streak in it is how I'd pick her out in a crowd of superhero love interests, I guess. Stiefvater and Beem take enormous liberties with the Swamp Thing character and stories in their Twin Branches, perhaps as many as any of these YA-focused DC books have done that don't also include a high concept in their reimagining (Take, for instance, Gotham High), but it made for a very intriguing read. Beem is awesome, and an artist we should all keep an eye on. 

The Wizerd Vol. 1: And the Potion of Dreams!
(Oni Press)
Michael Sweater and Rachel Duke's fantasy comedy is a blast. Don't sleep on it. 


David Spar said...

You'll be happy to know that No More Heroes is included in the hardback Robin: 80 Years of the Boy Wonder The Deluxe Edition hardback collection which was published last year. It's a real treat to see Breyfogle's art in the larger Deluxe format :)

kevhines said...

Not sure if you read the comments but I believe that JSA mini was a way to keep those artists working when the launch of the Impact comics line got delayed. That’s why it was spread out across a bunch of artists. After this ended Lyle moved on to Comet, Parobeck on to The Fly etc etc. then when that fizzled Parobeck got to do a JSA ongoing for far too brief a time.

Caleb said...

David, I am happy to hear that!

Kev, Thanks! That does explain that. I do read the comments, but, as you've noticed, it takes me a bit to get to them sometimes. There certainly aren't as many as there used to be.