Saturday, December 31, 2022

Marvel's March previews reviewed

February's Amazing Spider-Man variant showing Disney characters reenacting a Fantastic Four cover  wasn't just a, um, goof, apparently, as this months Amazing Spider-Man #21 puts Goofy at the center for the classic Hulk cover. 

I like the title of Clobberin' Time, a new five-issue miniseries beginning in March, but it seems like some of the covers do a better job with the logo than others, huh? 

When Gurihiru draws something, you don't ask, you just buy. In this case, you buy It's Jeff!, written by Kelly Thompson and starring the adorable little four-legged land-shark. 

Looks like Marvel is finally set to do something with the Predator license, aside from reprint Dark Horse comics. Predator #1 is by Ed Brisson and Netho Diaz.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the new Punisher skull logo lately? Or that Disney/Marvel gave up the original so easily without a fight? 

DC's March previews reviewed

The first collected volume of Batgirls is still languishing atop my to-read pile, but I do like this portrait-style cover for Batgirls #16

Here's this month's Brian Bolland portrait of a Batman rogue, courtesy of a variant for Batman—One Bad Day: Ra's al Ghul #1 by Tom Taylor and Ivan Reis. 

I was going to buy DC's DC's Legion of Bloom #1 anyway, because I buy all their 80-page giants, but man, putting Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man on the cover ain't exactly going to discourage me. 

I don't know what's going on with Ram V's Tec run, but the covers have been to die for. This one, atop Detective Comics #1070, is especially awesome.

Big Frank Miller energy on this cover for Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods #2, by the great Guillem March. Sadly, March is just doing covers on the series, not interiors. 

Multiversity: Harley Screws Up the DCU #1 by Frank Tieri and Logan Faeber is of interest mostly because DC felt the need to put the word "Multiversity" in the title, presumably indicating that this takes place...somewhere out in the multiverse, as opposed to the DCU. It's therefore not the DCU she's screwing up, so don't worry about that. I like this cover. 

Electric Superman powers, like in the comics from 1998! Val-Zod from the New 52  Earth-2 series Earth 2, from 2012-2015! Ultraman, from Earth-3! You know, based on the solicit for Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #1, the book doesn't sound too terribly new-reader friendly for a new #1. 

I mean, I might personally be okay—there's a bit about Jon Kent's backstory from the Bendis years which I missed mentioned in the solicit too—but this sure doesn't sound like it was designed for brand-new readers, or even readers of Jon's recent appearances in Superman: Son of Kal-El. That said, it's written by Tom Taylor, and that guy generally knows what he's doing when it comes to comics-writing, so I'm going to assume pains are being taken to make this a first issue that reads like an actual first issue. Art is by Clayton Henry, whose work I generally like. 

There's a pretty nice Captain Marvel image by Michael Cho—I mean, the costume is trash, but it retains enough of the original design to be recognizable, at least—on the cover of Superman: Lost #1 for some reason (Well, the some reason is there's a new Captain Marvel movie coming out next year that looks...well, it looks like the sequel to the first one, anyway, and a bunch of DC Comics have Shazam: Fury of the Gods variants on them). 

Superman: Lost is a new maxiseries written by the great Christopher Priest with art by his Deathstroke partner Carlo Pagulayan. That should be worth keeping an eye out for. In collected form. Next year. But hey, that's just me now; if  you read the single issues and dig 'em, do let me know. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

A Month of Wednesdays: November 2022


Crypt of Shadows #1 (Marvel Entertainment) I came to Marvel's Halloween-season anthology special just a little too late, reading it in November rather than October. Named for a short-lived, 1973-1975 Marvel horror anthology, this revival is about what one would expect: Short stories featuring Marvel super-characters that are all vaguely horror-themed. 

As you have likely deduced by now, such anthology specials constitute most of new comics diet; in fact, they're about the only comics I buy now that aren't trade collections. I was looking forward to this for that reason alone—it's been a while since I read a new Marvel comic book-comic—but I was also interested because of the presence of Man-Thing, seen on the variant cover I chose, and Adam Warren, a favorite creator who has been so involved in his own Empowered series that I haven't seen him do any work on anyone else's characters in what seems like forever.

Sadly, I was mostly disappointed with this $5.99, 40-page package, spending the majority of the time I was reading it in a state of mild confusion. (You can read a less wordy, more heavily illustrated version of this review of it in this Twitter thread.)

The book is "hosted" by Victor Strange, "brother of the dead doctor...condemned by misapplied magic to undeath in the half-world behind every mirror." He appears in segments written by Al Ewing and drawn by Ramon Bachs, each a one-page splash with an ornate frame around it to suggest we're looking at a fancy mirror in the titular crypt, "a sub-basement of sorts" to the Sanctum Sanctorum. 

Victor explains that his story is common knowledge to the adept and that "you can probably read about it on your phone." Indeed, an asterisk leads to a small box saying to look for Strange Tales Infinity Comic on the Marvel Unlimited App. As an old-fashioned luddite who only reads comics on paper, I of course didn't do that, so, as far as I'm concerned, Victor is just the guy who shows up every eight pages or so of this book to introduce the next story.

The first of these features some ordinary-seeming girl named Brielle, and is the work of writer Danny Lore and artist Karen S. Darboe. Brielle is on her way to a costume party when she happens upon two chatty strangers who are messing with a ghost. She stops them and puts the ghost at ease and then the story ends. It's not until I got to the last page of the book—not the story, but the entire book— that I got a hint as to who Brielle is; she's apparently Blade's daughter, based on the fact that a girl who looks like her appears in a box saying "And Bloodline..." (they never call her "Bloodline" in the story) "Will return...Bloodline: Daughter of Blade."

If this was an introduction to the character, it was a pretty lousy one, as it took an ad in the back of the book to explain who I was reading about. Based on the story itself, she's just a random girl who happened upon some magic and a ghost.

That's followed by "Werwolf By Moon Knight" by Rebecca Roanhorse and Geoff Shaw. It involves a werewolf who's not Jack Russel— I had read that Roanhorse was rebooting the premise, although I'm not sure if this is the new "Werewolf By Night" or just a random werewolf. Anyway, said werewolf and his friend are invited to a party at a fancy house, where the butler is a werewolf. The two werewolves fight until a luminous white Moon Knight, making a dramatic appearance in a window before smashing through it, intervenes to break it up. 

The bad werewolf resumes his human shape when defeated, and Moon Knight ties him to the gate around the manor with a sign reading "Dirt Bag." "I'll let the police take it from here," Moon Knight says to himself, as if the cops are going to find the guy and run his ID to determine he's broken the state laws against lycanthropy or something.

Next up is Morbius, who it's hard to take too seriously these days after the relentless drubbing the character has taken on Twitter for his movie, and a Vicki, who I have never heard of, but is introduced as "The daughter of the Darkhold". This story, by writer Chris Cooper and artist Ibrahim Moustafa, contains an asterisk referring to events from Darkhold: Pages From The Book of Sin #15, which a quick Internet search tells me came out in 1993. This is a story based on events from a 29-year-old comic book, then...? That poor choice aside, the last panel was fairly satisfying.

The most straightforward story in the collection follows, Chris Codon and Fran Galan's "Down Came The Rain," in which Elsa Bloodstone teams up with the Human Torch to de-monster-ize Spider-Man, who has become a Man-Spider during off-panel shenanigans. It's not great shakes, but at least I could make sense of it and it wasn't based on a comic from when I was a teenager. 

Finally there's the Warren-written-and-drawn "Endless Slaughter in the Infinite Swamp", in which Warren basically asks, "What if Laura Kinney met Man-Thing?" She does so, in this story, to recruit the shambling swamp monster for "that week's super-heroically desperate struggle to save the world and/or universe and/or the entirety of the infinite multiverse." 

As to the "What If...?", well Warren posits that Man-Thing's putrid stench would replicate Laura's "trigger scent", plunging her into a berserker rage, which would, in turn, trigger Man-Thing's response to negative emotions and he would attack her. Because they both regenerate from nearly any wound, the two would fight endlessly, And because they are in the Nexus of All Realities, they could fight longer than the Earth itself survived, and thus they would battle eternally.

Warren's overstating Laura's regenerative abilities—she ages, for example, and would die of old age somewhere long before year 1000 of their death-loop—but as for a Warren-illustrated answer to the sort of question that fans so like to ask of one another, what if so-and-so fought so-and-so, it's an interesting enough exercise. Far more interesting than everything that came before it, anyway. 

DC's Saved by the Belle Reeve #1 (DC Comics) In the DCU, there's a prison called Belle Reeve that  the Suicide Squad operates out of. That's the origin of the title of this comic, which is a pretty dumb joke and believe you me, if there's one thing I know it's dumb jokes (Again, I tweeted my way through this book, if  you'd like to see it reviewed in less wordy, more picture-y format). Title aside, the idea is an 80-Page Giant anthology of stories dealing with school in one way or another.

It's hard to pick a favorite—there are a couple of strong entries, including returns of a pair of canceled titles I used to enjoy—so let's just look at them all in order. Ready?

The first story is the return of Gotham Academy, reuniting the team of Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl. Entitled "Sophomore Year", it similarly reunites all the members of Detective Club, with the glaring omission of Olive, who has gone missing from school rather suddenly, and whose missing journal Maps is trying to find. It's odd that a story in an anthology like this would advance the plot of the ended series, but perhaps a revival is in the cards in the future, as it ends with the words "(NOT) THE END".

That's followed by "High School Lows", a Suicide Squad story by writer Tim Seeley and artist Scott Kolins, in which a very film-inspired version of the Squad—Harley, King Shark, Katana and The Weasel, looking exactly as he did in the film rather than the comics—are each given undercover assignments at a prestigious prep school by team leader Peacemaker. Thing go spectacularly badly, but the day is ultimately saved. 

Next up is a Super Sons story set a few years ago, back before Jon was hyper-aged and he and Damian were both classmates at West-Reeve prep school (There was also a Super Sons story set in the past in the Halloween-themed DC's Terrors Through Time 80-page giant; apparently the Super Sons premise is living on, even if not in the present DCU). This one is by former Super Sons writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Max Raynor. It's the first day of eighth grade for the boys, and they befriend Sydney, a non-binary classmate targeted by bullies.

That's followed by Dave Wielgosz-written, Mike Norton-drawn Green Arrow and Speedy story in which the latter is doing so poorly at school that the former grounds him from superheroics. It's a nice, fun story featuring the now little-seen superhero team and, set during the Silver Age of the Justice League and Teen Titans, it has plenty of guest-stars. I thought this and the Super Sons story were among the strongest entries in the collection.

Next is the return of Art Baltazar and Franco's Tiny Titans, wherein the Tiny version of the New Teen Titans visit Belle Reeve prison and meet the super-villains of the last Suicide Squad movie. Baltazar and Franco haven't missed a beat, and, were it not for the specific focus on specific now-famous characters like Peacemaker and Polka-Dot Man, this could easily have appeared in an old issue of the cancelled series. 

Black Lightning makes a welcome return in a short story by Brandon Thomas and Craig Cermak which focuses on high school principal Jefferson Pierce's time serving as President Luthor's secretary of education. The focus of the story is how he was able to serve a president who was, well, evil, and I was relieved Thomas didn't have Pierce answer that he was there because he was afraid someone worse would take the job if he didn't or that he was there to be an adult in the room; the Luthor presidency hits differently now that we've had an actual, unequivocal villain as a president here in the real world. Thomas does take something from the Trump administration, staging a scene in which Luthor does that thing Trump used to do at cabinet meetings, going around the table and having everyone take a turn praising him. Their arrogance is perhaps the only thing Luthor and Trump have in common; while both might be technically evil, Luthor as at least brilliant and a successful businessman and chief executive. Trump's not an ingenious super-villain, but more like the two-bit criminals that Superman used to toss around in the Golden Age. 

Next is an Azrael story by Dan Watters and the excellent Juan Ferreyra which contrasts the two forms of "education" the hero had, a normal-ish school education and "The System" mental programming that made him into his secret organization's avenging angel. Nice art on this one, although it felt weird reading about Azrael in 2022 to me, given how much I associate him with a particular era. 

Finally Andrew Aydin and Nelson Daniel present a story in which Dick Grayson asks Barbara Gordon to prom. This one had some fun bits, but it was also a bit of a mess. I'll allow that maybe Dick and Babs went to high school together—although I'm pretty sure she was quite older than him when originally introduced—but this story has Dick as Nightwing in high school, and that was obviously not the case. (There's also a bit of weirdness with a button that transforms their formal wear into superhero costumes that didn't really make sense to me).

Overall, this was a pretty fun collection, with far more good stories than bad ones. 

The New Golden Age #1 (DC) I suppose I should have known better than to buy a Geoff Johns comic in this, the year of our Lord 2022, but what can I say? I really like Golden Age characters, and Johns' old JSA run was, for the most part, pretty good comics that did pretty well by the tons of quirky characters it featured over the years. 

What I mostly took away from this $4.99, 36-page one-shot was a feeling of vaguely irritated exhaustion. See, they weren't kidding with the "new" in front of the "Golden Age." This isn't simply the original, post-Crisis/pre-New 52 Golden Age restored. It's...I don't rightly know, really. It seems to be, at least in one passage, that the old pre-Crisis Earth-2 continuity is restored, but now taking place in the current DCU, whatever it's official multiversal designation is now. This...raised some questions. Questions haunted my reading of it, really. 

When they talk about Wonder Woman being the JSA for decades, do they mean her mom Hippolyta, or do they mean an immortal Diana now? Does this mean she's been an active superhero longer than all of her peers? When we see Power Girl in 1976, does that mean she's been an active superhero for decades longer than, say, Batman and Superman? And what the ever-loving fuck is Ozymandias' cat Bubastis from the pages of Watchmen doing in this book...? Apparently, one of the two books spinning out of this special—Justice Society of America and Stargirl: The Lost Children—will have something to do with Johns' weird Watchmen fixation of the last few years. 

While the setting is so unsettled, the plot itself isn't too complicated. Throughout history, Doctor Fate, or various Doctor Fates, maybe from different Earths (who can tell?), are having disturbing visions of the future, involving missing children and a man just outside his/their psychic periphery vision. That's  Per Degaton, who is traveling through history and our the Multiverse and killing various Doctor Fates as he attempts to kill various JSAs, like one in the 30th Century; he's also stalking a Helena Wayne from ten years from now, the future child of future Batman and future Catwoman and herself a future Huntress and member of a JSA, probably (Which will add yet another Huntress to three or so that have been introduced since the New 52). 

Meanwhile, Rip Hunter's extended family is doing time stuff, and there's a page of Watchmen nonsense which meant nothing to me, as I skipped Doomsday Clock

There's some nice art in here, mainly from Jerry Ordway during the Golden Age sections, but there are ten artists credited all together. 

The main story is followed by a dozen pages that look like they're from Who's Whos, featuring art by Ordway and Nauck, and consisting of various Golden Age heroes, many of them new or not seen since their long-ago introduction. These are heavy on kid sidekicks, but there are some intriguing inclusions, like Golden Age Aquaman, Mister Miracle and "John Henry Jr.," the hood-wearing, hammer-wielding would-be vigilante glimpsed briefly in Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier

I suppose what's going on will be made more clear in the series that follow, which I may or may not read in trade, but at this point I find DC's navel-gazing regarding its own continuity more irritating than interesting, and wish they would just settle on a setting and go forward, rather than focusing on what's changed and how it's changed all the deamn time. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Reborn Vol. 5—Mystic Sister
(IDW Publishing)
Series writer and sometimes artist Sophie Campbell adds two more elements of the greater TMNT franchise to the long-running IDW narrative: the punk frogs from an episode of the original cartoon series and female ninja turtle Venus from the live-action TV show The Next Mutation

The two are, it turns out, related in a weird way. The frogs are here a group of punks visiting New York City when the mutagen bomb goes off, mutating them all into frogs. Venus was one of their number, but she is in the process of being surgically changed, Frankenstein-style, into something more closely resembling a turtle (Her name is here justified by the fact that, when we meet her, she has no arms, like the work of art she was named after).

That work is being done by a Mutant Town mad scientist, one who was mutated into a mouse but used his surgical skills to attempt to restore himself to something vaguely resembling a human being again, albeit it a scary-looking one. We find out he has been contracted by a mysterious employer to create mutant turtles, hence his work on Venus. The frogs, thinking the turtles had something to do with Venus' disappearance, attack them, leading to a conflict that carries through most of this volume.

There is also a substantial subplot involving Triceratons and Utroms that lost me a little bit, given that I haven't read so much of the series before Campbell took over. That said, it was easy enough to follow, and Campbell does a good job of introducing those characters and their conflicts in a way that even I could follow along with.

As is too often the case, too little of the artwork in this volume comes from Campbell herself, with a Pablo Tunica providing the vast majority of this volume, along with Ken Garing, Toni Gregori and Campbell, each of whom draw an issue apiece.

Kevin Eastman provides covers as always (as well as serving as story consultant), and there's one pretty great cover in which he inks Campbell's drawing of Venus. It's a fantastic image, one that fuses the two styles perfectly and encapsulates the best of the IDW era with the best of the Mirage era. I'd love to see a whole comic told with that particular division of labor someday; logistically, it probably wouldn't have worked, but that would have been the ideal art team for The Last Ronin. Maybe they will work together on a similar project some day. 


Dark Ages (Marvel Entertainment) If the best "What If...?" stories are those that can be boiled down to a sentence or so and fit into the "What If...?" formulation, well then, Tom Taylor and Iban Coello's Dark Ages is not one of the best "What If...?" stories. 

I guess you could phrase it as "What If...the Marvel Universe lost all electrical power?", but it takes Taylor quite a bit of doing to get there, including introducing a Morrison-like (Well, Kirby-like, I suppose, especially in design) ancient cosmic weapon and the sudden death of Doctor Strange...all told it takes much of the first issue to knock the power out.

And what's the world like when it's lost power permanently, thanks to the constant exposure of an EMP wave that no can seem to turn off? Well, that's not really the focus of the series, oddly enough. There's a four-year time jump, and the world seems mostly settled into a new status quo, with the superheroes running the free world from the seat of power in Wakanda and X-Men villain Apocalypse ruling all of Europe, with lots of familiar faces as allies, thanks to the influence of his henchman, The Purple Man.

Tony Stark, who lost part of his leg when the lights went out and he was in mid-flight, is kidnapped by Apocalypse's forces, and thus the heroes must launch a rescue mission to save him, an event that takes up most of the book's length. So it's pretty standard heroes vs. villains business, really.

This being an alternate future, however, Taylor is able to kill characters off with impunity, and this he does. He's also able to change things from the regular Marvel Universe, and he does this too by giving Spider-Man and MJ a spider-powered daughter and Black Panther and Storm a daughter of their own. 

If you've read any of the hundreds of pages worth of Injustice comics that Taylor has done for DC, or hiss DCeased for that matter,  this is pretty similar; an alternate version of a familiar universe in which anything can happen, with clever bits of dialogue that lighten up an otherwise bleak premise, and plot beats that appear to be the driver of the story, connective tissue added later to get from Moment A to Moment B. 

Coello's art is pretty great. It's well within the standard superhero spectrum, but he's able to draw powerful, dynamic figures in action as well as quieter character moments and everything looks equally great. There's a small degree of redesigning that seems to have gone into the project, as various characters have new, time-jump related costumes or looks, and/or are updated for the current state of affairs (like a steam-powered Iron Man suit of armor, for example). 

DC Vs. Vampires Vol. 1 (DC Comics) It takes two writers—James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg—to explore what, on its face, seems like the simplest of comic book concepts: Why not have DC's superheroes fight a bunch of vampires? 

The concept is made far more complicated, perhaps needlessly so, by a paranoid mystery element. After the world of vampires, which is apparently quite organized, decide to call off their truce with normal human beings, they launch an all-out, off-panel war against metahumans, figuring once all the super-people are out of the way the world is theirs. The thing is, they have infiltrated the Justice League and the meta-human world at all levels, so no one knows for sure who is actually secretly a vampire...despite Batman's attempts to test all of those he works with (which Tynion and Rosenberg cheat at anyway).

I'm not sure doing so much of the world-building off-panel, and presenting it info-dump style in a letter from Andrew Bennett to Batman, necessarily works for the best (despite the history of vampires and epistolary storytelling!), as we never learn, at least not in this first volume, why exactly heroes renowned for their iron wills would willingly join up with the vampires.

One of these turncoats is Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who I guess we've at least seen be seduced to the dark side during his Parallax phase before. The other is the so-called king of the vampires, another superhero turncoat who apparently took control of the vampire union somehow and initiated the current war. His reveal is a surprise—but, like I said, the writers have to cheat a bit to make it so—and as for his motivations, like Jordan's, they are a complete mystery. 

The action that's actually on the page, as opposed to summarized on it, is actually pretty strong, with Batman and Green Arrow becoming the focus and the two main vampire hunters among the heroes, most of whom are slow to accept that they have been infiltrated. There's a funny bit where GA reveals why he suspects Batman is really a vampire—i.e. everything about Batman, really—and a rather intense battle between the two normal heroes and the rest of the Justice League, who have been convinced by the real vampires that  Green Arrow and Batman are both vampires.

As big dumb superhero comics go, it's certainly big and dumb, but not too terribly satisfying. Reading it reminded me a lot of Injustice, in that it's a DCU-wide Elseworlds, one which the writers feel free to break various toys, since it's set in it's own partitioned off setting that doesn't affect anything else. 

Most of the art comes courtesy of Otto Schmidt, who is great at character work, but doesn't much bother with backgrounds or settings, giving the book a weird feeling like one is watching a stage play with minimalist set work. Simone Di Meo and Daniele Di Nicuolo also contribute a few passages, mainly detailing the also-infiltrated Suicide Squad's attempts to find The Joker, suspected of being the secret king vampire.

One fannish complaint? No way does that particular character take out Cassandra Cain that quickly, vampire-enhanced abilities or no. Even Red Hood lasts longer hand-to-hand against the character than Cass did, which is just silly.  

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (Drawn & Quarterly) Ducks is a long and serious work from a cartoonist known for short, silly works. The art style and the sense of humor are the same, though the subject matter is about as far removed from Kate Beaton's fare as a reader could imagine. Like what we've seen from her before, however, it's brilliant. It's a tough read, but well worthwhile. If I still did best of the year lists, Ducks would almost surely be on it. 

Mickey Mouse: The Pirates of Tabasco Bay
This Paul Murry-focused edition of Fantagraphics' Disney Masters library collects work from 1955-1957, all of which find Mickey Mouse and pal Goofy embroiled in one spectacular adventure or another, whether they are working as pilots, private detectives, railroad men or just trying to do a little fishing. The title story comes from a plan of Mickey's to stage a pirate raid reenactment to help prop up the economy of  a failing seaside town, a plan hijacked by Pete and turned into a real raid that the victims think is just a gag to play along with. The pair also discover a lost city, bust up an illegal uranium mining operation at an unusual ranch, get involved with a scientist who has invented a sort of super-magnet, save a railroad, bust a ghost and embark on an international stamp hunt that almost turns deadly for them. 

I could read comics like Murry's all day long, and, thankfully, Fantagraphics has made doing so easy with plenty of collections of his and his fellow Disney masters' work.  

Yokai Cats Vol. 1 (Seven Seas Entertainment)
Just like it says on the tin. Yokai Cats is a series of short, four-panel strips about various cats that all share the names and characteristics of one yokai or another. For the most part, their owners, or the people they interact with, don't seem too terribly shocked by their abilities and behaviors, but instead take them in stride. The faces of these people are never shown, we just see parts of them in each panel, giving us what is essentially a cat's eye view of the world. The focus is, of course, on the cats. There is, essentially, just one joke here, but it's well-told, and there are seemingly endless variations of it. 


Mayor Good Boy Goes Hollywood (RH Graphic) The second book in Dave Scheidt and Miranda Harmon's trilogy about a dog who is elected mayor of a small town is every bit as good as the first.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Marvel's February previews reviewed

This is a variant cover for Amazing Spider-Man #19, not an issue of the Fantastic Four, for some reason. Like all the Planet of the Apes-related images in this month's variant covers, it appears to be a crossover that exists in variant cover image only. And maybe that's for the best. 

I've gotta say, Donald looks weird wearing shorts with no shirt...I'm so used to him wearing a shirt and no bottoms that the opposite looks downright bizarre to me. 

Speaking of Planet of the Apes variants....

There's a lot of them. At least one seems to suggest a potentially interesting story (the Silver Surfer one), some put characters in iconic moments from the film series (Iron Man), and some just throw some apes into a picture with the stars. As with all of Marvel's non-Conan licensed comics of late, it doesn't look like they will be doing an actual crossover with the Marvel Universe and Planet of the Apes any time soon, they are just variants. That's fine, I guess; I'm not really enough a fan of PotA to find the idea of  Marvel heroes visiting that setting to be all that appealing. I'm much more interested in Predator stalking Spider-Man or Daredevil, though Marvel doesn't seem to be making that happen, either. 

I don't know their strategy with their licensed comics, but it seems to me to be more about depriving publishers like Dark Horse a lucrative license than it is for any grand financial investment on their part.

Interesting to note that the other licensed comics don't feature PotA variants, so there's no image of  an Alien popping out of Dr. Zaius' chest or Darth Vader chopping down apes on horseback. Even Marvel variants have their limits, I suppose. 

Nice, simple idea for a variant cover, executed nicely by Jan Bazaldua for Amazing Spider-Man #20

Should I recognize the people on this cover to Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #9 that aren't Cap, Fury or The Destroyer...? Like that guy who looks like a flying starfish, is that a classic Marvel character I'm just not hip to...?

The Punisher's new logo makes him look like a loser and a dork, but I'm not going to say it to his face. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

DC's February previews reviewed

I'm glad to see the name "John Henry Irons" appearing in the solicitation for Action Comics #1052 rather than just "Steel"; the thing I dislike about Natasha Irons-as-a-Steel is that it has a tendency to pull focus away from her uncle, and there have been time where it might have been nice to see John Henry appearing in a comic that he didn't because his niece was there instead. Ideally, creators like Action's Philip Kennedy Johnson, Dan Jurgens and Leah Williams can find ways for both heroes to be active as heroes. (I'm still not digging the jackets, although Nat can use one more than the others, as she doesn't usually rock a cape, and her design has thus always looked a little naked.)

The Killing Joke
-inspired Batman — One Bad Day: Clayface #1 by Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing and Xermanico looks like it will feature the Basil Karlo version of the character with the Matt Hagen  version's powers...The Newe 52 Clayface, then, rather than the pre-New 52 version of either character  (Karlo did get shape-changing powers during "The Mud Pack" storyline, but he also got Clayface III's burning touch, with the recent Clayface seems to lack). Anyway, here's  Brian Bolland's portrait-style image of the character which will serve as one of the variants. In Bolland's version at least, Clayface is one of Batman's most terrifying-looking villains. 

Collecting all three Batman/Spawn crossovers—the new one by Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo plus the two 1994 one-shots by Frank Miller and McFarlane and Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant and Klaus Janson—the  $29.99, 280-page hardcover Batman/Spawn: The Deluxe Edition seems like a pretty good way to collect all three crossovers. 

It's sort of odd they are all so short, though, isn't it? I understand why they did two publisher-specific one-shots in 1994, but I'm unsure why the latest one is just another one-shot as opposed to something more substantial. Surely the creative team and the pairing of the heroes would generate enough sales that one would think DC would want to sustain them for an entire miniseries, right...? 

I'm not sure what inspired the re-release of 2000's Mike Mignola-spearheaded Gotham x Lovecraft Elseworlds series Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham, but I remembered liking it an awful lot as it was originally released in a series of three prestige format issues.  I'd recommend it. 

Kelley Jones draws one of the covers for Batman Vs. Robin #5, featuring Batman and...Alfred....?  

Hopefully this means Alfred is coming back to life. I don't know exactly how he died other than Bane, but I've been patiently awaiting his return. Surely this Lazarus Planet business with resurrection juice spitting from the ground in volcanoes and touching down on land in storms would be a good-enough way to bring him back, right...? 

Although I know the creators involved—writer Marguerite Bennett, artist Meghan Hetrick—DC/RWBY #1 just makes me feel old and tired. 

The solicitation copy for Nightwing #101 says Dick gathers a group of friends to be the premier league in the DC Universe and moves their base of operations to Bludhaven: "Meet the new Titans!" Are they the guys on this variant cover? Because if so the New Titans look an awful lot like the old Titans, and seem to just be missing Tempest/Aqualad and Arsenal/Speedy...

Sandman Mystery Theatre Compendium One gives me exactly what I want in a format I don't want it: Matt Wagner and company's masterpiece back in easily accessible print, but in the form of one of those too-big-to-actually read books. This first of two collections will weigh in at 984 pages and include the first 36 issues of the series, plus an annual. I've never read the whole series in order, something I'd like to do in, say, a series of trade paperback collections, but, based on what I have read of it, I would highly recommend it. I'm just not sure the doorstop collection is the way to go. 

DC may have gotten a little carried away with variant covers for Joshua Williamson and Jamal Campbell's Superman #1, seeing as they solicited 10 regular variants, plus a one-in-25, a one-in-50, a one-in-75, a one-in-100, a one-in-200 and a special $7.99 "Phantom Zone foil variant", but I do kinda like the Nick Dragotta variant, shown above. Simple, but effective. 

Someone please talk me out of buying Whiz Comics #2 Facsimile Edition.