Thursday, August 29, 2013


This week DC's six-part, Justice Leagues crossover story concluded, and—well, "concluded" is maybe too strong a word, bringing with it certain expectations. I guess it would be more accurate to say that DC published the final part of the story labeled "Trinity War" this week, and it will continue in next week's Forever Evil #1, by the same writer and a not-terribly-reliable artist who hasn't had anything at all to do with "Trinity War".

I wrote about it for ComicsAlliance, and you can read the final installment of "Trinity War Correspondence" here. It's a tough comic to talk about without spoiling things, since this final chapter is pretty much nothing but "things" that are meant to be surprises, and would spoil with foreknowledge.

I may return to it at some point here at EDILW to give the story a more formal review, but, in general, it was Geoff Johns at his Geoff Johnsiest (which oughta tell you if it's something you'll love or hate, really), and while Johns' affection for remixing old stories and DC's turning the next phase into a theme month (and the attendant PR) sorta spoiled some of the big surprises (or at least made them awfully easy to see coming), I should note that while the major villain was exactly who he seemed to be and the story ended as it seemed like it most obviously would, I was still pleasantly surprised by the climax's connection to the title (as in, "Huh, I didn't see that coming").

And I was somewhat surprised (and disappointed) by the fact that it ended without actually setting up a new status quo; while "Villains Month" and Forever Evil promise a world without the Justice Leagues, they didn't end up inside/on the other side of the Box as I assumed they would when the folks inside/on the other side of the Box arrived.

If you've got the patience and money to drop on well-made big, dumb super-comics (these comics were a wretched.value at $4 a pop for a series of splash pages stitched together with exposition scenes containing verbiage to rival that of Bendis, particularly this last chapter), this was overall awfully adequate. All three art teams were solid, the writing was consistent between the various, Johns-lead writers, and as much as I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next, I reeeaaaalllly wish it was one of these art teams rather than David Finch who will be drawing what comes next (Especially after I spent some time this week reading some of his recent work in Batman: The Dark Knight Vols. 1-2).

For another, non-Caleb take, you can't beat Robot 6's Tom Bondurant.

Speaking of Geoff Johns and Robot 6, my contribution to the blog this week was a reading of the Grant Morrison-free Batman Incorporated Special #1 and how it compares to DC's send-off of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern.

I doubt it was entirely intentional, but the contents of that comic served a pretty perfect acknowledgment of what made Morrison's run on the character so special. I know Batman Inc is ending, but I sure as hell wouldn't mind occasional check-ins with these guys in a Club of Heroes annual or quarterly, preferably one drawn by and maybe written by Chris Burnham, whose Batman of Japan story is the over-all strongest (And preferably one that lets Cassandra Cain be The Black Bat again!).

And speaking of Batman, I wrote one other piece published elsewhere this week: A review of Batman Beyond Universe #1 at Good Comics For Kids. I never watched more than a handful of episodes of Batman Beyond (I liked the new costume, and Ace's inclusion), and hardly read any of the comics (maybe one from the original run featuring The Justice League of that era...?), but this struck me as really rather alright.

I especially enjoyed the back-up/back half featuring a Superman and Justice League story. This League now features the pre-New 52 version of Superman (only older; I hate his costume, but no more than I hate New 52perman's costume), Captain Marvel (who is still called Captain Marvel and still dresses like Captain Marvel), Barda and her husband Mister Miracle (I guess they don't age due to being gods of a sort...?). A lot of the other characters—Aquagirl, The Flash, Micron—also have pretty strong, sleek costume designs that made this maybe my favorite Justice League, and, thanks to "Trinity War," I spent the last few months reading all of DC's Justice League comics.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So exactly how long has DC been working on (and tinkering with) "Trinity War"...?

Here's a badly-scanned image of one of the four double-page splashes in today's Justice League #23, the climactic chapter of the "Trinity War" storyline:
Does the Ivan Reis-penciled image of Superman ramming a column into Green Lantern Simon Baz while Batman scampers about with Pandora's skull-shaped box and various Justice Leaguers all fight one another look familiar to you?

If so, then you've probably read DC's 2012 Free Comic Book Day offering DC Comics—The New 52 FCBD Edition, which included this four-page, gatefold image drawn by Jim Lee as part of Geoff Johns-written story:
(Or maybe you didn't, but remember seeing the image online at places like, oh, Robot 6 or ComicsAlliance, to randomly pick to comic book blogs I contribute to).

I think there's a couple of significant differences worth pointing out, aside from the fact that the Reis image from the mid-2013 JLA #23 is only two pages and includes about ten more heroes than the four-page, early 2012 image from Lee, some of which may hint at things that have changed about the story and the comic books it played out in during the year and a half or so since the two artists drew the two images.

1.) Lee didn't draw the one that appeared in JLA #23; I wonder if, in 2012, DC expected Lee to still be drawing Justice League by the time "Trinity War" reached its climax? Because he only lasted about two story arcs (the initial six-issue origin story and "Teh Villain's Journe"), with some fill-in issues between them.

2.) The sheer number of heroes involved has grown considerably; it looks like the original image reflected a fight between two rather than three Leagues (Deadman is the only member of Justice League Dark in the Lee image), and the Justice League of America line-up might have consisted of different characters at one point (Of the JLoA, Katana, Catwoman, Steve Trevor, Stargirl and Martian Manhunter are all missing).

3.) Mera is in the Lee image, but doesn't appear at all during "Trinity War" for about a two-panel cameo, including her appearance in the Reis image. That's not Mera in the Reis image, though; it's Martian Manhunter who apparently decided to take Mera's form to sneak up on and clobber Aquaman rather than just, you know, turning invisible. I assume the scene was written to explain Mera's presence in the Lee image.

When Justice League first launched, it seemed like Mera was one of the characters who were supposed to join the team shortly after the first arc: She appears on the cover of the first issue of the series, along with Deadman, a male version of The Atom that has yet to be introduced into The New 52, Element Woman, Hawkman and a female character identified in interviews as Will Eisner's Lady Luck, whom I don't think has ever appeared yet either.
Of those, only Element Woman actually joined this team. (Mera's the floating female head in the lower right corner; the one that's wearing a vaguely crustacean-looking tiara).

Of course that cover image, which was used on two of the eleven variant covers for Justice League #1, also featured an earlier version of Wonder Woman's redesigned costume that didn't actually make it into any of the comics either.

4.) The Jim Lee image features an obviously male version of The Atom, while The Atom who would join the Justice League and appear in the Reis version was female and had a fairly different costume, which allowed her long hair to flow out the back of the cowl.

5.) Captain Marvel/Shazam's costume in the Lee image—that is Cap and not Black Adam, despite the colors—is wearing a not final version of his redesigned costume. The one in the Lee image has the more traditional collar instead of the hood that he would ultimately end up with.

6.) Superman's looking awfully healthy in that Lee version, rather than as gray as he does in the Reis version. In fact, looked-at completely out of context, the Reis version looks like it could be depicting Bizarro in a backwards Bizarro costume.

7.) Released in May of 2012, the Lee image was the first appearance of both Green Lantern Simon Baz (who debuted in September 2012's Green Lantern #0) and the New 52 version of Vibe (Justice League of America's Vibe #1 launched in February of 2013).

Clearly Johns has been working on this storyline for quite a while, and had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen at the end, at least in so far as a few key elements of the action were written in one form or another quite a long time ago (Batman having the box, everyone fighting regardless of team affiliation, Deadman attempting to possess Shazam, Superman smashing the new Lantern with a column).

And just as clearly a lot has changed since Lee put pencil to paper to draw that gatefold image teasing "Trinity War."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Take that, foot!"

So, any idea what Natasha's doing here, exactly? Other than apparently trying to shoot herself in the foot? Check out the background. Is she falling off a building? Or did he jump off a an off-page ledge or open window in order to kick that "/1" while shooting herself in the foot or...?

At least Captain America had the good sense to just stand there and pose in his Dr. Pepper ad, rather than trying to kill himself for some soda ad money.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Comic shop comics: August 22

Batman '66 #2 (DC Comics) There are two stories in this second issue, both written by Jeff Parker. The cover story features art by Ty Templeton, one of my favorite artists and one whose work I see way too infrequently. As the cover alludes to, it features the rather natural team-up between The Penguin and Mr. Freeze (The latter of whom I don't even remember ever appearing on the show, but then, my most recent memories of the show are over 20 years old at this point).

Freeze has created a gigantic iceberg to block traffic in and out of Gotham Harbor, and it's been declared the independent nation of Penguinia by "that Pompous Prince of Perilous Plots, The Penguin," who rules it as Emperor Penguin. It's part of an elaborate extortion scheme—if ships want in or out, they have to pay his toll—that also guarantees him a certain degree of safety from the police and the local vigilantes. Templeton's Burgess Meredith as the Penguin is so spot-on it's a little on the disturbing side, while the other characters all appear slightly more generic, looking like Batman and Robin rather than Adam West and Burt Ward, if that makes sense.

It's followed by a piece drawn by Jonathan Case, featuring a character I assume is from the TV show that I have no memory of, Kathy Kane kinda sorta appearing as Batwoman, and a new (?) villain. There's also a pretty incredible hallucination scene in which Robin expresses frustration with Batman for going out on a date with a girl instead of hanging with him (sexual jealousy, or anger at Batman for breaking the golden "bros before hos" rule?), Chief O'Hara as a leprechaun and, um, these panels:
As with the first issue, I was struck by how much of the tone of the TV show (that I remember) and how much of the characters and their voices are retained, while Parker and company take full advantage of the medium to present the sorts of special effect heavy sequences that never would have made it onto the show, due to either their prices, the lack of technology to pull them off, or the all-around danger to stuntmen.

Aside from the soon-to-be-canceled-in-favor-of-a-direct-to-trade format, this is the only Batman comic book I'm reading in comic book form at the moment. And I'm totally okay with that; this is good stuff. I hope it's also super successful, enough so that someone at DC realizes there may be a market for superhero comics that are fun and funny (Oh, I read the first issue of Batman Beyond Universe too; that was pretty good. I didn't really enjoy the title feature much—that was always my least favorite Batman cartoon—but the back-up featuring the Justice League Beyond, which consists of the "real" versions of Superman, Barda, Mister Miracle and Captain Marvel, was pretty great).

Classic Popeye #13 (IDW) Three stories in this issue (Four if you count the prose "A New Port!", which I don't, because I never read 'em—Prose? What am I? A college perfesser?): Popeye, Olive and Wimpy sail for Gold Island under the direction of a man so afraid of ghosts he lives in a locker, the same trio (plus Swee'pea) encounter Gopher People out west and, in the final story, Pappy tries to take advantage of Wimpy's mooching in order to avoid work, and this time Wimpy comes out on top. Of the three, the first was my favorite, as I love the way Sagendorf draws ghosts, and, since "spiricks" are among the only things Popeye's afraid of, there's always a little extra tension when they're around, as they can present a conflict he can't just punch his way out of.

Daredevil #30 (Marvel Entertainment) My only real disappointment with this issue was the identity of the person sitting behind the desk in Matt Murdock's office, who he said in the cliffhanger ending of #29 was the last person he thought would ever take a job with him. I was kind of hoping it was going to be The Silver Surfer (who was the announced guest-star for this issue), because I think The Silver Surfer would really add something to the tired old courtroom drama, or perhaps Namor, because Namor is awesome in almost any role, but I don't think we've yet had the opportunity to see him be awesome in the role of an attorney. At the very least, I thought it might be Jen Walters, AKA She-Hulk.

But no, it's just that ADA gal from the earlier issues that went on a date or two with Matt Murdock and then lost her job because hanging out with Daredevil is bad a life choice.

The other surprise for me was a line of narration Daredevil gave upon finding himself in the same room as The Silver Surfer:
It's the Silver Surfer. An alien adventurer with the "power cosmic." And that is the extent of my knowledge because this is the closest I've ever stood to him.
I was sorta surprised to hear that simply because they're both fairly prominent Marvel characters who have supported more than one volume of a series a piece before, and they've been around a while now (DD since 1964, SS since 1966). I just sort of assumed everyone in the Marvel Universe knew everyone else at this point. It's really rather remarkable that their remain combinations of long-lived Marvel characters who have yet to have their own fight-and-then-team-up issues yet.

And that's basically what this is. A strange alien seeks asylum with Matt Murdock, asking him to take him to The Avengers before his pursuer, The Surfer, can find him.

Waid and Samnee do their usual neat effects with DD's radar vision, and explore Silver Surfer's senses in similar ways, and Samnee's depiction of the two characters fluid, graceful movements as they swing, fight, fall and fly all over the clean, urban environment's of New York City is simply beautiful comics art (No wonder Samnee's credited along with Waid as "storyteller" rather than simply as artist this issue).

Legends of The Dark Knight #11 (DC) This issue is one, big, 30-page DC comic book written by Paul "DC Is In The Toilet Right Now" Jenkins, whose Batman writing I just experienced and found pretty wanting just the other night. I'm actually pretty surprised DC published this. book at all, given how outspoken Jenkins was about the state of the publisher. That, and there's not really compelling reason to publish it: It's not very good at all, it's a completely generic inventory story that no one really needed to read and the artist Omar Francia isn't an artist on Jenkins' level whose work screams to be seen.

I have this on my pull-list at my local comic shop though, and don't really pay attention to what's going to be in it each month (it's one of DC's digital-first titles), so every time I get an issue it's like Russian roulette—I never know what I'm going to get (That's where the comparison to Russian roulette stops, however).

So this is a Batman Vs. Calendar Man story, which one would think would be a reason for celebration, because Calendar Man is the best, but this is not the Calendar Man we know and love from comics like Batman: Shadow of the The Bat #7-#9 ("The Misfits," by Alan Grant and Tim Sale) or Batman: The Brave and the Bold #19 (Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones' "Final Christmas"; you remember, it's the one where Batman and Adam Strange accientally invented Christmas through time travel and cosmic coincidence).

Rather, this is a a Calendar Man kinda sorta based on the Tim Sale designed version that appeared in he and Jeph Loeb's Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory, the dumpy, coy, bald guy with the abbreviations for the months tatooed in a ring around his head (The same version has been appearing in those weird advertorial strips DC has in the back of a lot of their books now, those "Channel 52" features, for some reason).

I don't like him. That design made perfect sense in those comics stories, as Calendar Man's only appearances were inside his cell at Arkham, and he didn't have access to his costume. But here he's on the outside, and rather that donning his awesome costume, Jenkins and Francia have him as nothing more than a bald thug with an idiosyncratic tattoo. It's an Arkham video game or Christopher Nolan movie version of the character, and it's not anywhere near as awesome as a guy in red pajamas with a calendar for a cape and a pretty sweet cowl.

His scheme is to teach the people of Gotham City about the importance of the historical date of The Fourth of July, by hijacking a fireworks display at a Gotham Knights baseball game and blowing people up with fireworks or something (Oh, also, I guess he's a terrorist now...?). He does don a blue coat and Uncle Sam hat for this portion, but, eh, there's no improving on his original costume, you know. Batman's plan to stop him, meanwhile, is to fly a giant bat-shaped plane into the stadium, jump out of it, and beat the living shit out of him.

The story opens with a quote from Kurosawa's Rashomon, and then proceeds to bite off the that premise of telling the same story from different angles, changing it subtley in each point of view, a riff already done in a Batman story (The "P.O.V." episode of Batman: The Animated Series). I didn't like that episode all that much, either. But I did like it better than this.

I was pretty curious about this given my dislike of Knight Terrors, which Jenkins co-wrote along with artist David Finch (and which apparently suffered from near-constant editorial interference), but even in this comic, in which Jenkins is the only credited writer and I can't imagine any editors were all that invested in it, given the continuity-free nature of the book, this Batman story was pretty lame too.
I wasn't crazy about Francia's artwork. In addition to his take on Calendar Man, his Batman was of tehe heavily-armored, man-tank variety, with gauntlets that look like Transformer forearms, an dhis civilian characters tend to all have a roughly computer-animated look to them that made me feel slightly nauseous.

Whe DC eventually publishes it's Greatest Calendar Man Stories Ever Told collection, I don't think this story will deserve inclusion.

Saga #13 (Image Comics) Hey, I resemble that remark!

SpongeBob Comics #23 (United Plantkton Pictures) James Kochalka, Joey Weiser, Gregg Schigiel, Nate Neal, David Degrand, David McGuire and Israel Sanchez are among your contributros this ish, with Sanchez providing the most dramatic departure from the look and style of the show (those are a few panels of Sanchez's story above).

Friday, August 23, 2013


This week at Robot 6 I reviewed two original graphic novels, neither of which are really "novels" and both of which deal rather broadly with the rather broad topic of science.
The first of these is Margreet de Heer's Science: A Discovery in Comics, which is sort of like the entire 500's section of your local public library, ultra-condensed into a book of colorful cartoons (It reminded me quite a bit of Action Philosophers, particularly in tone and most particularly in the longer strips devoted to important scientist figures, but I haven't really read anything exactly like it...although de Heer has done two other books on similarly broad subjects, so I suppose those might be a lot like it).

Above is one of my favorite panels, the last from a strip on Galileo. I don't know if the point was to illustrate the mummified finger of Galileo eternally giving everyone the finger or not, but that's how I took it. That's probably the gesture I'd go out with, were I him. That book should be widely available next month.

The other book was released a few months back, I believe, and that is Darryl Cunningham's excellent How To Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing The Myths of Science Denial. That one is a pretty amazing-looking, easy-to-read book, and I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed it, with even the chapter on subjects I found much less interesting (homeopathy, chriopractic) than others (climate change, fracking) proving to be just as compelling in Cunningham's hands.

And hey, look! There's an accidental cameo from Bizarro World!

For Las Vegas Weekly I reviewed March: Book One, a little book about the Civil Rights movement by sitting congressman John Lewis (a first), his staffer and co-writer Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, whose work is as superb as always (I actually forgot how great Powell was until I started reading this thing). Oh, and there's a blurb from President Bill Clinton, which may also be a first—wait, wait, I think President George W. Bush was blurbed on the back of an Ultimates hardcover. Dumb jokes aside (Please note: I had an even dumber joke I didn't use), you can read my brief review of March here.

Personally, I was really struck by the inclusion of that MLK comic book in the narrative—a comic that was briefly in the news during the first, more hopeful uprising in Egypt for the role it played—given the form of the narrative, and how graphic novels are the comic books of today. It's just a neat historical parallel or echo, I think.

This week I also wrote the fifth—and second-to-last!—installment of "Trinity War Correspondence" for ComicsAlliance. Artist Mikel Janin drew perhaps my favorite single image of the entire series so far in Justice League Dark #23.

A few quick things about the series so far that I haven't gotten into in those pieces, as they are more focused on recapping than criticizing (Although there's not a whole lot to criticize; it reads like a big Geoff Johns JSA or Green Lantern arc—that particular brand of big, fun, awesome/idiotic that Johns has so perfected, and all the things that irritate me about the story are mostly incidental ones, like Captain Marvel being Shazam, wearing a hood and being an insufferable brat, Dr. Psycho not looking like the awesome H.G. Peter version, Black Orchid wearing a suit of armor made out of red cabbage, Amanda Waller being skinny, and like that).

First, the artwork has been pretty close to superb, the weakest bits being maybe some of the Doug Mahnke pages inked by whichever of his six inkers doesn't ink him as well as the other five. This is notable because the main series has three different pencilers, and, I don't know, seven or eight inkers. DC generally has a pretty hard time finding artists who work good, work fast and whose work meshes well, but they're doing much better than average on this series, if you ask me (And I was kinda surprised, as I really, really disliked the art in Justice League Dark in the first issue, which I believe was also Janin; I disliked it so much that I dropped the book after trying out just that first issue). The tie-in art has been much less strong, but I don't know how much that will ultimately matter; I can't imagine they will ALL be collected together, although the Constantine tie-in was important enough to get recapped at the beginning of this fifth chapter.

Second, I really, really, really like the logo for the series. The three pillars, one standing straight, the other two leaning in each direction, kinda sorta forming a "W" for "War," but also suggesting the three hash marks of counting the members of a trinity. The books and the tie-ins really jumped off the shelf to me, visually, and I even liked the way they're labeled, with the main series getting chapter numbers, and the tie-ins labeled "tie-ins."

Third, there's been a whole lot of trinities in this book—three Justice Leagues, three temporary "new" Justice Leagues assembled from the ranks of those three as goals slightly shifted, three League leaders (Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman) three members of the "Trinity of Sin" (Pandora, Phantom Stranger and The Question) and three eyes in the skull-shaped box. There's been considerably less war, though; I think we've had maybe three actual fights, only two of which were between League factions, and they were more in-line with, say, fist fights or, in the last case, a bar brawl or bench-clearing sports team fight than, you know, a "war" of any kind. But then I suppose "Trinity Conflict" doesn't sound quite as dramatic, does it...?

Finally, this thing is crazy expensive. This week's chapter, Justice League Dark #23, for example, was $4 for 23 pages (and nicer coverstock, which seems to be mainly how they're justifying no longer holding the line at $2.99), with five of those 23-pages devoted to full-page splashes. The cheaper Pandora tie-in ($3 for 20-pages, regular cover stock) was a particularly quick read, thanks in part to all of it's splashes and lack of incident (like, five things happen in those 20-pages, but the construction of this issue might have been somewhat forced into treading water, as it was set during a particular chapter of "Trinity War," and couldn't move past it and risk giving away the ending).

Looking over the checklist, there are six official chapters at $4 a pop ($24 bucks), a prelude and four tie-ins at $3 a pop ($15), for a grand total of $39. Maybe that doesn't seem like a whole lot for a crossover story, but, as this progressed, it's become clear this entire event is really just a prelude event for Forever Evil.

In conclusion, trade paperbacks and libraries are awesome.

But enough about me.

Here are two links to pieces at Robot 6 I particularly enjoyed.

First, Tom Bondurant's column, which looks like it took an awful lot of research to come up with a pretty good guesstimate of the editorial structure of DC Comics as of right now. It's kinda fascinating how many people are involved with editing DC Comics at the moment, particularly when there are so many incidents where it looks like no one is in charge (of which Bondurant brings up a few). Editing, like, coloring and lettering, are elements of super-comics making one tends not to notice at all unless they are really, really bad or really, really great and, in the case of editing, sometimes it takes years and years to even notice the impact an editor might have had.

Bondurant puts the current map of who does what maybe into historical perspective, mentioning important and influential editors that have left their mark on characters, franchises and the medium in general. I certainly noticed when Denny O'Neil left the Batman books. And I think I realize now why the Jeph Loeb books I thought were the best of the many he's written in his long career were edited by Archie Goodwin. And why Mark Millar's writing got worse and worse when he left DC for Marvel, got so popular at Marvel there was no point in saying no to him and got worse still when he started doing his own creator-owned stuff.

Anyway, give Bondurant's piece a perusal. It's weird to think that I don't really feel or notice any editorial presence at DC Comics right now on any of the books, beyond a vague feeling that no one's really in control of anything, and that it is bad, but in a face-less, name-less sort of way; like, all of the many aggrieved artists and writers who have left the company recently, or continue to work for the company but have grumbled about it here and there, just talk about "editors" or "editorial," not particular ones.

Finally, here's a rejected proposal from Bobby Timony for a pretty sweet looking, all-ages Wonder Twins comic, another candidate for DC's Rejected Proposals Cavalcade comic, or the book on the subject of rejected comics proposals that I really think someone should write (as discussed in this previous links post).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

So who exactly is the target audience for Marvel's comics?

I have a hard time telling, based on the juxtaposition of these two ads on the very same page of Daredevil #30, one for a prose novel series about serial killers promising a "grittier, bloodier" sequel, another for a children's cartoon appearing on a Disney cartoon channel.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Some notes on Batman: The Dark Knight Vol.1—Knight Terrors

Like Batman Inc, Batman: Dark Knight was a newish Batman title that launched shortly before the New 52 relaunch of the entire line, resulting in there now being two volume ones of the series, distinguishable only the "The New 52!" slug near the title of the second volume one. Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 1: Golden Dawn is the first volume one, while Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 1: Knight Terrors is the second volume one.

I'm not entirely positive how much of the first volume one carries into the second volume one (with Batman Inc, so much did that the second volume one was really more of a volume two). There do seem to be some sub-plots picked up already in process (Like an Internal Affairs officer named Forbes investigating Commissioner James Gordon for illegally colluding with the vigilante Batman, and also going after Bruce Wayne, who post-Batman Inc has announced he's Batman's financier.)

•The majority of this book is drawn and co-plotted by David Finch, scripted and co-plotted by Paul Jenkins and inked by Richard Friend. When Dark Knight was first announced, it was to be a sort of vanity book for Finch, his chance to do whatever he wanted with Batman, as both writer and artist. That lead to scheduling difficulties, and more and more creators came on to help. At present, DC is still publishing the book, but Finch is neither writing nor drawing it any longer.

•First line of the book: "Fear is a cannibal that feeds upon its self." Is that what Paul Jenkins meant when he said DC was "in the toilet right now?"...?

•Good thing Finch was working with a professional and experience writer though; imagine how much worse that line, and the whole goofy, overwrought speech that follows, could have been if the artist wrote it himself.

•Pages 2 and 3 of the first issue is a two-page splash page showing Batman swinging on a Batline over Gotham City, essentially the same basic image that's on the cover, only bigger. Each Finch-drawn issue of the series collected in this volume, it turns out, contains a similar two-page spread of a not terribly significant image (Two-Face punches Batman, Batman punches Superman, Bane punches Batman, etc).

•When the IA officer first confronts Bruce Wayne, he makes fun of the speech that served as narration for the first scene: "I heard your speech tonight, Mr. Wayne," he says. "Would've thought a man of your stature could afford better writers." Well, at least Jenkins realized what crap writing the first few pages of script were...

•Bruce Wayne is called away from a social/philanthropic event by a break-out/riot in Arkham Asylum (Fun fact: This very plot point occurred in the first issues of both Batman and Batman: The Dark September 2011). What's different about this one is that the in-mates are all gigantic and muscley, as if they've been caught in a Gamma bomb blast with Dr. Bruce Banner.

•In the Asylum, we get our first look at the new villain White Rabbit:
Her costume? A mask with bunny ears, a pair of panties with a bunny tail attached, a corset, thigh-high high-heeled boots and long gloves. I'd say she was wearing the uniform of a Playboy bunny, but I'm pretty sure her outfit is even more revealing and less-suited to super-villainy than what Playboy bunnies wear.

•Throughout the riot, Batman is seeking Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, who must be the most dangerous villain still in the Asylum (The Joker had his face skinned off in Detective Comics #1, which was released the same month as this issue). Here's what Two-Face looks like now:

•If you're wondering where all the other Gotham heroes are while hulked-out Arkham inmates are flooding out of the asylum and into the city, the next issue contains a montage checking in with them. Nightwing and Robin are fighting The Ventriloquist I (Who is apparently alive in The New 52U; he uses the corpse of a police officer as a ventriloquist's dummy when Scarface gets damaged). Batgirl is fighting Mr. Zsasz. Batwoman is fighting The Cavalier. And The Birds of Prey are fighting The Clock King, seen here "clocking" Black Canary:
Look, his costume hasn't changed a bit! Is Clock King the only DC character other than Catwoman whose costume was completely un-touched during The New 52 redesign?

Batman, meanwhile, is following a lead to The Joker, who has taken over a train.

•Okay, this doesn't seem very Batman-like at all:
Not only does he not save the dude by Bat-grappling his legs and pulling him down, he doesn't even gesture or say "Down, fool!" or anything.

•Inside the train he finds a hulked-out Joker, which reminds me of one of those Arkham videogame tie-in books I read, wherein The Joker was made gigantic and super-strong on the drug "Titan."

"Eait till the get a load of me," The Joker says, quoting himself from the 1989 Batman movie.

•Nevermind, it wasn't The Joker after all, but Clayface pretending to be The Joker. Just like in "Hush" when we thought that maybe Jason Todd was still alive, but it was actually just Clayface posing as him. This story arc is a lot like "Hush" in that it is full of breif, not-always-necessary appearances by various characters, who seem to be here mostly because Finch wanted to draw them.

•"I've never seen anything this complex," Batman tells Alfred, while analyzing a sample of the mysterious Titan-like chemical. "Its composite structure is based on Scarecrow's fear toxin but it acts differently...instead of sending you into a paralysis of fear, it somehow makes you fearless."

Being a good butler, Alfred bites his tongue and refrains from suggesting Batman google Detective Comics #571, the Mike Barr/Alan Davis classic wherein The Scarecroew develops a toxin that instead of sending you into a paralysis of fear, somehow makes you fearless.

•I probably say this about twice a week now, but this may be the most completely insane thing I've ever seen in a DC comic book:
Alfred brings two ice cream cones to Batman while he's working on the Bat-computer. Cones. Look how weird that is. How did he get them from the kitchen to the Bat-cave without melting? Where the dishes and tray? Batman takes his, but doesn't eat it. Just walks off-panel with it, and is next seen in the cockpit of the Batplane. Where did his ice cream go?

This more than attempting to write a scene of Batman sitting down may be why Jenkins was hounded off the title, although I'd have to see the script. It may be that Jenkins just wrote about Alfred bringing in ice cream, and it may be Finch's fault for drawing ice cream in waffle cones instead of in rich-people silver cups with long spoons.

•And finally, The Scarecrow appears...
...quoting a Sandman ad from 20 years ago...
but it's okay, as that ad was quoting T.S. Eliot.

•"Why don't you ask Batman for help?" Forbes snidely asks Gordon over the phone, when the latter complains about what dire straights the city is in. "I told you, I don't know what you're--" Gordon starts.

But there is a big spotlight on top of Gotham City Police Department Headquarters that creates a Bat-symbol on the night sky over Gotham City, commonly referred to as "The Bat Signal," because it is meant to signal Batman for help.

That's a pretty good clue that there's some form of collusion between the city police and Batman, right?

•The sixth issue is where the creative team starts to see some fiddling, and they'll all fal away (at least temporarily) before the end of this collection. In this issue, Paul Jenkins is credited as sole writer and Finch loses his "co-plotter" credit, while Joe Harris gets a credit for "dialogue assist."

•The seventh issue is called "The Final Curtain," and turns out to be the end of a story arc...although none of the conflicts really see resolution, beyond the defeat of one of the second or third villains to claim to be the mastermind behind everything (See? It's "Hush"-like). Jenkins and Finch both return in the creative capacities they held at the beginning of the book.

•Bane's Venom now basically turns him into the Hulk. In addition to making him so big that he's got several feet in height on Batman and his fists are the size of Batman's head, he can also leap several stories high.

•Bane talks about taking over the city by releasing all the maniacs in Arkham, which is basically the plot of Knightfall, only here instead of giving them firearms upon release, he's given them the Scarecrow/Venom toxin that make them fearless and turn into Hulks.

•He also mentions having broken Batman's back, which one might think would mean "Knightfall," "Knightquest: The Search," "Knightquest: The Crusade" and "KnightsEnd" are all still in-continuity, except they rather explicitly can't be, as you'd have to subtract Barbara Gordon from them, rearrange Robin's costume and—I assume—completely remove Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael/Batman II from the proceedings, which was kind of the whole point of the exercise.

In other words, like most of the stuff kept in-continuity, some of the events of that storyline are considered in-continuity, but not how they happened, and not the stories/comics themselves, so it's another example of a big DC event (Superman's death, Blackest Night, etc) that still happened, but differently than readers think it did, and how it differed exactly is known only to some folks behind the scenes at DC, if they choose to think about it enough to know it anyway.

Which is that "Worst Of Both Worlds" aspect of the New 52 I find most frustrating; it's not a real reboot, and it's not not a reboot, it's just a whole bunch of stuff changed seemingly arbitrarily and at random; a series of universe-wide retcons that punish both new readers for their lack of knowledge and long-time readers for their knowledge, while rendering the whole backlist suspect. Indvidual trades can be enjoyed on their own, but shouldn't be thought of as part of a bigger, wider story, which is, of course, the main selling point of the DC universe line of comics.

•Batman ends his battle with Bane by throwing a Venom antitdote into his mouth and then shoulder-blocking him off a cliff to the land spine-first on the rocks far below, where he's carried off to sea by the waves. Batman doesn't lift a finger or shoot a grappling hook to prevent Bane's likely death.
Meanwhile, the super-fast Flash, standing right next to Batman at the time the Dark Knight attempts to murder his enemey, makes no move to, like, run at super-speed down the cliff, create an aircurrent to slows Bane's fall and then kicking the living shit out of him at super-speed and run him to a prison cell before Bane even realized he was falling.

•Issue #8 is a fill-in issue, written by Joe Harris and drawn and co-plotted by Ed Benes. Perhaps it's the inking by Rob Hunter and Jack Purcell, or that Benes provided less-full pencils than usual, but this is the best Benes art I can recall reading. Batman looks human in his physique, and there aren't any women in it. Maybe Benes should always and only draw Batman comics, as the best Benes art I've ever seen from him has always appeared in Batman comics. That, or work with Hunter and Purcell all the time?

•At first it seems a continuation of the story that I guess ended in the previous issue, as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum appear in it and are they are both giant, Hulk-like brutes now instead of the diminutive little round fellows they were before, but, as it turns out, that's just how they are in The New 52.

•It's mainly an inconsequential done-in-one, with the main narrative progression involving Gordon's conflict with Forbes (Here, he has to see a psychiatrist).

•The final issue of the collection is another fill-in, or perhaps the start of a new writer's arc, but it's a tie-in to "The Night of the Owls" crossover with the main Batman title, so as good a place as any for a fill-in. That writer is Judd Winick.

•An undead-ish Talon assassin for the Court of Owls makes an assassination attempt and, while he suceeds, he gets pretty fucked-up in the process (getting tasered and shot in the forehead with a handgun), before Batman shows up and kicks him out a window that's so high that when he hits the pavement he liquifies and goes "SPLORCH." He must have some crazy regenerative powers, because by the time Batman gets to the street, the Talon is pretty much reconstittued and has fled, evading capture by the World's Greatest Detective.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Marvel's November previews reviewed

Just as night follows day, my reviews of Marvel's solicitations inevitably follows my reviews of DC's solicitations. For the whole shebang, check out Comic Book Resources. For just the parts of the shebang that jumped out to me as particularly interesting for one reason or another, read on...

An AMAZING new era for the X-Men starts here! Ever since his Nightcrawler’s death in X-MEN MESSIAH COMPLEX, the X-Men have been without their heart and soul. After learning that their friend may not be gone after all, it’s up to WOLVERINE, STORM, BEAST, ICEMAN, NORTHSTAR and FIRESTAR to find and bring back the fan favorite fuzzy blue elf! Super star artist ED MCGUINNESS (HULK) joins master X-Writer JASON AARON (WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, X-MEN: SCHISM) to bring you the most exciting comic on the stands!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Yes, this is exactly the comic the world need more than any other right now—a new X-Men comic. Huzzah! Why, it's been months since the last new X-Men comic, X-Men, launched!

That is a pretty great creative team though, but I've gotta ask—What's Firestar doing hanging out with these guys? Is she a mutant? Or is she just there to lend some credence to Marvel assigning the book the "Amazing" adjective, as with her and Iceman both on the team, they have both of Spider-Man's Amazing Friends in the cast? And if if that is the case, why not just call the book Nightcrawler and his Amazing Friends, The X-Men...?

THE MAN BEHIND THE IRON (MAN) MASK REVEALED! (Definitely more than meets the eye…)
With the Vision’s teammates in turmoil, what’s a telegenic techno-being to do? Why, make the morning show rounds of course!
And S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Monica Chang does it. Yes…IT. We can’t believe it either.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

Man, with a solicit like that, there damn well better be a sex scene in this issue...

The more Mike Allred art at Marvel, the better, as far as I'm concerned. This is a variant cover for Captain America: Living Legend, by Andy Diggle and Agustin Alessio (not Mike Allred, whose contribution is one swell cover).

“Monsters Stink!”
Daredevil finds himself wrapped up in an adventure that will send his life spiraling out of control as we head into next year’s 50th Anniversary…and the end of everything Matt Murdock holds dear!
32 PGS./Rated T …$2.99

If you add a mummy, a werewolf, a Frankenstein's monster or a Dracula to any comic book, you automatically improve it's awesomeness. And Waid and Samnee's Daredevil was already pretty awesome.

I'm really surprised mummies haven't had their turn in the spotlight yet, at least not in the same way that zombies and even vampires have. Instead of launching a new volume of Mighty Avengers, Marvel should really be releasing Mummy Avengers, a series about how the original Avengers line-up were stuck back in ancient Egypt and when they died they were mummified and then, thousands of years later, they were resurrected to...Aw, forget it. No one cares about my Mummy Avengers pitch...

FF #14
Matt Fraction & Michael Allred & Lee Allred (W)
It’s the eve of the Future Foundation’s war with Latveria and the FF are readying for battle!
But so is Doom the Immortal Conqueror -- and the Council of Dooms!
What’s happening in Old John Storm’s head? I mean, what’s UP with that guy, anyway?
32 PGS./Rated T …$2.99

Hmmm...needs more Allreds...

Oh Hawkeye, you never disappoint, do you...?

ISSUE #16 - TDA (A)
ISSUE #15 - Time Travel Variant by MIKE DEL MUNDO
The final stand against the CHRONARCHISTS!
The HULK returns to present-day--but WHICH Hulk?
And whatever became of BRUCE BANNER?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Earth’s scientists look to Bruce Banner to solve a problem Hulk can’t smash!
Which of Banner’s assistants will make it out alive – and unchanged?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Wwwwwait, why would Marvel even to bother more than one cover if one of those is either a Hulked-out Lincoln (Or the Hulk, disguised as Lincoln, smashing puny John Wilkes Booth?

Adam Kubert does the old superheroes-raising-the-flag-Iwo Jima-style for his cover to Infinity #6. The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America...I thought those guys were all super-strong? Why can't one of 'em lift that flag all by themselves...?

TONY STARK has returned from space with a vision of a better world.
Who is his secret ally? What is his secret resource? Who on Earth would stop him?
The MANDARIN is dead. He died at the end of Fraction’s run. There’s probably a reason why we’re mentioning it.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Is Iron Man a Spaceknight now? That's kinda cool, but Tony, Spaceknight just doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Rom, Spaceknight, does it...?

Well, I like the looks of Marco Rudy's cover for he and Matt Kindt's Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #2. I suppose all that black space will be filled in with the title and credits before the book ships.

Ditto Paolo Rivera's cover for Brahm Revel's Marvel Knights: X-Men #1.

Phil Jimenez (w) Phil Jimenez (A/C)
Inked Variant COVER by Phil Jimenez
An all new arc by superstar Phil Jimenez! (NEW X-MEN, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Wonder Woman)
On an annual safari in the African veldt, Wolverine encounters a killer that will take him halfway across the world.
Wolverine returns to Madripoor to deal with some family business.
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

Anthology titles with rotating creative teams should always be $2.99! Like, I would really like to read a Wolverine comic by Phil Jimenez, but there's no way I'm paying $4/22 pages for it! And I probably won't buy the trade, either, if it's collected with material by other creators I'm not interested in reading work from. So the only way I'm going to read this now is a way in which Marvel gets no money from me—borrowing whatever trade collects it from the library some day.

Bad Marvel! Bad!

X-Men 50th Anniversary Variant by TBA
With the world on the brink of viral apocalypse, Logan and Kitty Pryde face down the Thirteen Ninjas of Sabretooth’s Hand!
And that’s not all – enter Lord Deathstrike and the Silver Samurai!
It all comes to a head with one final moment that will change the face of Wolverine – forever!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

Change the face of Wolverine forever, huh? He's going to grow a mustache, isn't he?

The Young Avengers versus “The Young Avengers”. The stakes? What have you got?
Loki’s scheme reaches its final twist. Expect the team’s jaws to just hit the floor and lie there, twitching for the rest of the comic.
A tempting offer for Noh-Varr may get an arrow through his head. Other romance based drama too, as kissing is the new planetary extinction event.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

Oh, if only the last line of this solicit were true...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

DC's November previews reviewed

Well once again I completely missed the release of th Big Two solicitation information, and am only just getting to covering it days later than usual.

What jumps out at me the most this month is that the latest big event in the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman series is, like "Night of the Owls" and "Death of the Family" is spreading outside of its home book and generating plenty of tie-ins all across the Batman line of books (which compromises most of DC's New 52 line; with 14 of the 50, in-continuity, DCU titles shipping in November).

It's easy to see why DC is gung-ho about doing this, as the all of the secondary Bat-books always see a pretty significant boost from these tie-ins, even if their story value is extremely limited (The handful of "Night of the Owls" tie-ins I've read, for example, were all identical in plot: The book's hero fights a Talon Assassin to protect a high-profile target).

There are a few unusual things about the "Zero Year" tie-ins though. First, they're spreading far, far beyond the Bat-Family of books, with Action Comics, Green Arrow, The Flash and even the usually space-based Green Lantern Corps featuring tie-ins.

More unusual still is the fact that it's set during Batman's first year of crime-fighting—actually, the last issue I saw just had the bat-through-the-window scene in it—and Batman seems to be the first active superhero in the New 52U. So those tie-ins are the adventures of future Flash Barry Allen before he becomes The Flash, future Green Lantern John Stewart before he becomes a Green Lantern, and so on. The tie-ins to the younger hero's books, like Nightwing and Red Hodd and The Outlaws and Batwing are even weirder, as they are just little kids during these events. (Oh, and as Tom Bondurant pointed out in his Robot 6 column this past week, there's actually more tie-ins to the Batman storyline "Zero Year" this November than there are tie-ins to Forever Evil, a linewide event/crossover series).

The specific plot-line involves The Riddler as the big bad, setting off a black out in Gotham City. Too bad DC went with a mathematically impossible five-year timeline for the New 52U, rather than the 10-12-year timeline of the old DCU, as this year is actually the 10-year anniversarry of that huge black out that knocked power in New York City out for a while.

In addition to expecting a goose in sales for those titles involved, there may be something practical in the inclusion of so many titles from outside the Bat-family, as it gives them something to do while Forever Evil is going on. From what we know so far, Forever Evil seems to have something to do with the Justice Leagues dying (or, more likely, ending up in a different universe, perhaps Earth-3 or inside Pandora's Box) and the villains inheriting the Earth, which would wipe a lot of heroes off the grid for a bit, so stories set during the past is a decent work-around.

It's somewhat unfortunate though, as November sees the releases of the 25th issues of much of the New 52 (i.e. the original launches that haven't been cancelled), and that's the sort of milestone number issue that super-books used to do something big and noteworthy in to commemorate/celebrate. It is for Batman of course, which looks like it will have an embossed cover (sigh) and a $5 price tag (siiiigh), but for, say, Flash and Action, they're merely tying-into and feeding off the big Batman anniversarry event.

Also worth noting this month? The price tags, with a lot more $4 books than in months previous.

So let's start noting things, shall we? For the full soclicits, you can see 'em here at Comic Book Resources.

Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by AARON KUDER
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
This BATMAN: ZERO YEAR tie-in features the reintroduction of a major character! A cocky young Superman battles the forces of nature to save Gotham City, while a woman from his past tries to do the same thing on a smaller scale. But both are headed for a collision course...

That's a nice cover, and a pretty good creative team.

Now see, this book is saying it's 40 pages for $4, but there's no mention of a back-up...are Pak and Kuder really doing a 32-page story (with eight pages of ads), or are there 12 pages of extra ads, or...what...? The math doesn't seem right,doesn't it...?

On sale NOVEMBER 27 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Join comics’ finest talents as they celebrate The Man of Steel himself: Superman! First, in a story written and illustrated by Eisner Award-winner David Lapham, Superman discovers a mysterious new cult that worships him as a god! Then, the Last Son of Krypton squares off against Darkseid and visits a very special fan, brought to you by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton!

I'm pretty sure I've read about Superman discovering new cults and religions that worship him as a god like, at least six times now.

Holy Audrey Hepburn, Batman! Is that pixie-cut Barbara Gordon...?

Well, at least one good thing has come out of the New 52boot...

Cover by OLLY MOSS
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 48 pg, B&W, 3 of 6, $4.99 US • RATED T
It’s another spectacular selection of adventures by some of comics’ top talents, with tales of The Dark Knight by Lee Bermejo, Marv Wolfman and Riccardo Burchielli, Rian Hughes, Damion Scott, and Paul Dini and Stephane Roux.

This is going to be the DC book getting the most rave reviews from the most serious comics credits this fall. The name that jumps out at me most there is Damion Scott, an artist whose work I love (and was what originally drew me to the excellent first half or so of the Batgirl series that starred the Cassandra Cain version of the character. His art has only gotten quirkier since then (as seen in that odd Raven miniseries DC published not so long ago, and in his issue of Solo), so I'm eager to see him drawing Batman again.

Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
When the new Toymaster uses a secret, potentially deadly element in his new video game, the characters created by players manifest in real life! The ultimate fighting game results—and a world-wide network of players must team up to create the most powerful, skilled Super Heroes imaginable with one goal: To kill Batman. Can Superman come to the rescue before the game claims its victim? Find out in this amazing issue that’s printed in a special horizontal storytelling format.

Okay see, this is what I wondered/worried about when DC first announced Batman/Superman as a Greg Pak/Jae Lee title. What they really meant is that the first story arc is a Pak and Lee one. Replacing Lee, at least for the nonce, is Brett Booth, and artist whose work I just can't get used to.

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Cover by ED BENES
On sale NOVEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
At long last, the identity of Skeletor’s dark master is revealed! Can the combined forces of the Masters of the Universe and the Justice League withstand the power of his dark magic?

John Constantine. And He-Man. In the same comic book. Raise your hand if you ever thought you'd see that happen. Okay, now put your hands down, liars.

Written by MATT WAGNER
Art and cover by JOHN K. SNYDER III
On sale DECEMBER 11 • 160 pg, FC, $14.99 US
The classic adventure is back in print! Dr. Pieter Cross uses his scientific genius and acquired wealth to assume the identity of vigilante Doctor Mid-Nite. As Doctor Mid-Nite, he swears to protect the downtrodden from the vermin that prey on them. But in order to fulfill his mission, he must take down an evil criminal triumvirate bent on profiting from the demise of his city.

Hey, this is a fine comic book and all, the one that introduced a new version of the Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite that bore a much closer resemblance to the original than did the short-lived Dr. Mid-Nite II, and a character that would later play a major role in the the JSA revival that bore a roster composed by throwing together all of the various, independently-created legacy versions of original JSA-ers. As the only real superhero doctor, he played a pretty prominent role not only in the pages of JSA and its successor title Justice Society of America, but in many other titles as well.

DC did recently de-create the character in the New 52-boot though (Like the other Dr. Mid-Nites, he just plain doesn't exist anymore, and I don't think they've even introduced a new verison of him in Earth-2 yet, but I could be wrong about that), so I'm not entirely sure why they've decided to make this book newly available again, as it's sort of a dead end into the DC line of super-comics.

Check it out! According to Francis Manapul's cover for Flash #25, the book is literally a "red sky" tie-in to "Batman: Zero Year"....!

Written by MATT KINDT
1:25 B&W Variant cover by MIKEL JANIN
As the world adjusts to its new status quo, Col. Steve Trevor and A.R.G.U.S. go on the offensive to stop the rise of evil! The first obstacle in Trevor’s path? Deathstroke!

The story no one ever wondered about or wanted to see! Trevor vs. Deathstroke! Can Trevor really take him? (Come on, no, of course not; even in what looks like it's a Steve Trevor book with a more saleable title than Forever Evil: Steve Trevor, which would give Trevor home-book advantage.

I give up. What's being thrown at Green Lantern on this cover...?

Art and cover by BERNARD CHANG
On sale NOVEMBER 13 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
A BATMAN: ZERO YEAR tie-in! When The Riddler throws Gotham City into total darkness, a young Marine named John Stewart is deployed as part of the peacekeeping measures. But he gets much more than he expected when he must deal with the costumed chaos known as ANARKY!

Wwwwaiiit a minute..."ANARKY" as in Anarky...? The brilliant, politically and philosophically motivated anti-Robin created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle in 1989, when Batman was between Robins? That Anarky?

Because I love that character, and if he's really playing as big a role in the next Batman animated series as I've heard he might, it would make sense for DC to reintroduce him.

But in a "Zero Year" story, meaning he predates pretty much every DC superhero, including the first Robin, with only Batman, Superman and maybe Green Arrow pre-dating him ..? One of the New 52U's oldest heroes or villains is a teenager...?


Almost as weird as him showing up in GLC instead of one of the 14 Batman comics DC publishes now.

On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
This bombastic debut issue features art by award-winning illustrators including Darwyn Cooke, Sam Kieth, Tony S. Daniel, Paul Pope, Walter Simonson, Art Baltazar and others—but will any of them measure up to the exacting standards of the Clown Princess of Crime? Don’t miss the thrilling return of Harley Quinn in her own monthly series!

Well, I like—no, love—the work of five of the six artists working on thie special first issue of the new volume of a Harley Quinn comic, so I'll almost definitely be checking at least this issue out.

I don't know who's going to be drawing the monthly series, although it would be nice if Conner drew every other arc and switched off with someone like Cameron Stewart or Rick Burchett or someone whose style isn't incompatible with hers. I guess we'll see, but I'm fairly sure it won't be an artist I'm overly enthusiastic about, as DC has fairly few of them on their payroll these days, and those they do are busy.

Well, Guillem March would be pretty great for this, depneding if it's going to be more Batman: The Animated Series or more Batman: Arkham video games, and I don't see him doing anything other than covers in November.

Conner sure makes the new design work pretty well on that cover, and I think it has a lot to do with the colors, as the black and red aren't as dilluted by effects as they usually look when I've seen New 52 Harley previously...

Written by TOM TAYLOR
On sale NOVEMBER 13 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Lobo invades the world of Injustice in “The Main Man Among Us.” When Superman’s world was cruelly taken from him, his retribution was swift. But one of the perpetrators is still out there, and her freedom gnaws at him. But The Man of Steel can’t spend time tracking down one person—not when the entire world needs him. So he enlists the help of Lobo, one of the greatest bounty hunters in the universe, to track down a now super-powered Harley Quinn!

The plot of this sounds really stupid, even for an alternate dimenson type of story where Superman turns evil. He'd still do things like that himself rather than hire bounty hunters, wouldn't he? I only read the first issue, but I got the impressions Superman went all King of the World because he wanted to be even more in control and more proactive than he was before.

I do like that Ryp image on the cover though, particularly the texture of it. Kinda wish he was drawing this whole series, which I suppose I'll catch up on in library trade some day...

Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Rumors of a giant bat-creature bring Scooby and the gang on the run—but Batman and Robin are already on the trail of their old foe, the monstrous Man-Bat. Before long, the crooks behind a fake bat-creature will come face-to-face with the real thing…with the good guys caught in the middle! Don’t miss the start of this new, bimonthly miniseries!

Miniseries? This oughta be an ongoing. When not teaming-up with Batman and Robin, he could team with Dyno-Mutt and Blue Falcon, Space Ghost, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and the dozens of other mystery gang and superhero characters WB should own the rights to. But Batman and Robin, most of the time.

Is it weird to admit that this is the book I am most excited about in DC's offerings this month, even edging out Batman: Black and White...?

Written by MATT KINDT
On sale NOVEMBER 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
A FOREVER EVIL tie-in! A villain from the early days of The New 52 has taken over Belle Reve, and he’s formed the Reverse Suicide Squad! But who—or what—is the Reverse Suicide Squad? Harley Quinn is about to learn the hard way that Power Girl is one of its members…

You know if Matt Kindt was the original Suicie Squad writer instead of its—what, fourth? Sixth?—and Jason Pearson were the interior artist instead of just the current cover artist, I might have happily bought read and enjoyed 25 issues of Suicide Squad by this point...