Starman. Even after everything else Robinson has done, even after the flat-out embarrassment of Cry for Justice, Starman has endured as a shining example of many of the best things serialized superhero comics can offer. Jack Knight remains a memorable creation, and the book Robinson built around him stands up well, even to this day. But, for whatever reason, it’s a feat Robinson has never been able to repeat. With The Shade, a 12-issue mini-series launching today, Robinson returns to Opal City and to the morally ambiguous former villain he popularized.
I read 19 comics in December, and these were the best.
By now, many comic fans have heard the news – Geoff Johns announced on Twitter (and was backed up by Cully Hamner and others) that DC is trying to develop a live-action BLUE BEETLE TV show, and they have the test images to prove it. Now, as Johns assures us, this is in no way a done deal. These images aren’t final, no real casting has been done – it’s purely in theory mode.
But given that Blue Beetle was, for its 3 year run, consistently one of the strongest titles published by any company, this is worth getting excited about. If you want to see more images, or read Johns’ full announcement, head on over to Superhero Hype…
- Cal Cleary
For those that hadn’t heard the news: Detective Comics #860, the final, fabulous issue of Batwoman’s origins, was also the final issue of collaboration between Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III. In fact, Batwoman herself only has a few short months remaining, with David Hine launching a two-part arc continuing his story about the rebuilding of Arkham Asylum with #864. And while Rucka and Williams III have stated that they are interested in and are fighting for a Batwoman ongoing, for now, it seems like the character’s brief, critically acclaimed time in the spotlight may be coming to a close as DC attempts to wrap up its surprisingly bold moves on their flagship titles. This issue, launching an arc titled “Cutter”, sees Williams replaced by the talented Jock and Batman largely taking over from Batwoman, though Rucka remains as writer, and Hamner stays on art duties for Renee Montoya’s back-up feature.
Jock occasionally tries a little too hard to mimic Williams’ style, and while he achieves a surprising amount of success, he just doesn’t have Williams’ eye for memorable, creative scene and structure. He does seem, however, to have inherited Williams’ rather stiff action segments. Still, he proves a surprisingly apt replacement for Williams. While he doesn’t help raise the quality of one of Rucka’s more mundane scripts up, the pair nonetheless work well together, and suggest that Detective Comics is in good hands for now.
The back-up continues to run along the same, lengthy story as we continue to deal with the fall-out of Renee’s recent attacks on the mob. With Tot and the Huntress at her back, the Question deals with the assassin who trailed them, leading to some questionable decision-making (and characterization). Rucka and Hamner both display confidence, here, though the need to set-up the next part of the conflict and the cramped environment play to neither creator’s strengths. Like the main feature, the work is quality, just not up to the level to book has led us to expect.
- Cal Cleary
Detective Comics #859
“Go” continues with this issue, and it’s even better than the last. While it lacked the emotional gut-punch of Kate’s family’s fate, it in many ways surpasses the previous issue. Following Kate from college through her relationship with Renee Montoya, part two of “Go” briefly examines the very real preposterism of the army’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies and how easy it is to get lost after you leave school without knowing what to do, all while intermingling it with the continuing story of the Crime Bible, even introducing a nice twist in the proceedings.
After being kicked out of West Point when she’s revealed to be gay, Kate finds herself with nowhere to go. Rucka treats the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy seriously, as it deserves, and illustrates the bigotry of the policy. From there, the book moves quickly through Kate’s fall as, directionless, she becomes a wealthy layabout, a hedonist unable to stick with anything she does until a chance encounter in an alley suggests that she might have some way to use her skills after all.
It is hard to review this comic issue by issue, at least when it comes to the art – while the quality of Rucka’s story may vary from month to month, J.H. Williams III remains consistent as one of the industry’s strongest talents. Along with colorist Dave Stewart, Williams gives the book a unique, exciting visual style that never fails to please. This issue is no exception in that regard.
The back-up remains solid, introducing another supporting character for Renee to bounce off: the Huntress. Rucka smartly continues his first story, building his entire back-up run into a lengthy thriller and giving it the feel of a longer book. Hamner’s art is quite well, and while the issue doesn’t give him as much opportunity as normal to show Renee in motion, which has become a pleasure to watch under Hamner’s pen, he does an excellent job at the book’s longest action sequence.
- Cal Cleary
Detective Comics #858
Detective Comics #857
Boring introduction! I read 21 comics in September, and these were the best.
5. Green Lantern #46
Hey, Green Lantern is great again! We know Mahnke’s art is going to blow our minds, but Johns pulled his weight too, delivering the gore he’s so fond of. There was a lot of progression here, featuring a fight that’s been brewing for a long time. Sinestro and Mongul’s conclusion is not only drawn well, Johns gives each baddie a fun monologue, dripping with a bit of truth. Indeed, for a brief time, Johns made me believe that Mongul could actually win. Loud, bloody, and just the kind of cosmic fun that Johns wants you to have.
4. Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant Size
It all ends. It was the worth the wait, but for Millar’s part of it, this issue played out exactly how you’d expect, which would’ve been a dull experience, except for the reason we’re all here: Steve McNiven. Just about every panel in here is iconic, ready to be framed on your wall. No matter what silly cliché Millar wrote, McNiven made it sing. However, the writing’s not all bad. This issue pays great tribute to Wolverine’s character as a whole, blending his Western and Eastern ways together. So, even on that corny, Lone Wolf & Cub-inspired last page, I smiled.
3. Detective Comics #857
Another conclusion, what can I say? Those are usually great issues. Alright, Rucka’s opening Batwoman arc hasn’t had as much substance as I’d like, but something we can all agree on is the talent of Williams. We haven’t seen Kate’s origin yet, but she’s already a fully-developed character, mostly due to Williams himself. That continues here, of course, as Williams gets to render some dazzling stunts, with Kate jumping from plane to plane, kicking her way to Alice. Speaking of Alice, this issue delivers a twist with her that I didn’t see coming at all, and it was telegraphed, even on the cover. The twist works, not only to shock us, but as a brilliant window into Kate’s past.
2. Dark Reign: The List – X-Men
I read most of these specials, and this is probably the only one that’s actually a one-shot. Fraction doesn’t conform. This isn’t about political nonsense or the status quo. Fraction gives us the simple tale of revenge, and it works very well. A great deal of that credit goes to Alan Davis. He makes this absurd, spandex-clad medium lyrical. Consider the scene at the end, with Namor, Osborn, and the Sentry. In Davis’ hands, this simple scene becomes a grand confrontation between legends. Superman and Luthor could easily replace Namor and Osborn, and Sentry’s inclusion is the icing on the cake.
1. Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus
I, like many of you, wasn’t very impressed with this crossover. Fraction’s characterizations were still superb, but the plot seemed to contain nothing but buildup. Well, that all culminated with Exodus, and what a culmination. The epic battle between teams is there, with almost every character utilized. Deals with the devil, an old New Avengers callback, and a new status quo makes this the most explosive comic of the month, and the best too.
I’ve been doing these for a little while now and they always seem to be popular. So until people stop reading them, I’ll probably keep doing them. For those who are new, here’s what you can expect. I go through the latest DC solicits and add my (sometimes snarky) commentary.
I actually skipped the November solicits because Blackest Night took over the majority of the DC books. One of my problems with Blackest Night (and I have many) is that the story is already getting repetitive. We’ve seen the same couple of scenes repeated ad infinitum. When you go through the solicits and every book has the same basic premise (Hero A comes into contact with Dead Person B!) it gets boring. I couldn’t stand the thought of writing up all of those Blackest Night tie-ins, so I took a month off.
December is really no different. So I’m going to be more selective about which books I include in this write-up. And some books will no boubt be lumped together. That way, I don’t bore you with the same entry 15 times. (I’ll only bore you with it once – ba dum dum.)
Now that I’ve set the comedic bar at a level I can reach, let’s look at what DC will be offering in December:
Blackest Night Books
BLACKEST NIGHT #6
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
The secrets of Nekron are revealed as darkness consumes the DC Universe.
Everything else: TOP SECRET.
BLACKEST NIGHT continues! John Stewart comes face to face with his greatest failures, the planet Xanshi and his wife and fellow Green Lantern, Katma Tui. Plus, what does Fatality truly want with John?
These solicits are a little light on details. But that’s a good thing in my book. My concern is that from the details that are included in the solicits, it sure doesn’t sound like a whole lot has happened from Blackest Night 0 up to Blackest Night 6. Doesn’t it sound like we’re in pretty much the same place we’ve been in from the start of this thing?
Also, did you see that Ed Benes is drawing GL 49. You know what that means? Fatality butt floss on every page! Plus, zombie cleavage I would think.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #43
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art and cover by Pat Gleason & Rebecca Buchman
Red rain falls! As the Black Lanterns continue their reign of terror and chaos on Oa, things go from bad to worse when a horrible loss for the Green Lantern Corps results in Guy Gardner becoming so enraged that he becomes a Red Lantern! And hell breaks loose as the Central Power Battery faces an attack from the newly arrived Black Lantern Corphans!
I split this one out from the other BN books for a couple of reasons:
- Something happens!
- An angry Guy Gardner is a good thing.
Yes, it kinda sucks that they went and spoiled this development a full 3 months before it happens. But at this point I’m pretty glad to see any sign of forward plot movement from Blackest Night. So I’ll take what I can get.
Also, I’ve seen a lot of Guy fans complaining about this already. Come on, guys! You know this isn’t going to last any longer than when Kyle got possessed by Parallax. And that was the single coolest thing to happen in the Sinestro Crops War storyline. So you should just be grateful that Guy is getting a spotlight.
Turing into a Red Lantern sure beats the one-panel “death” Jeph Loeb gave Guy in “Our Wolrds at War”. It pretty much guarantees Guy’s going to be around at the end of Blackest Night. But those close to Guy (whose deaths might push Guy into a rage) better watch their backs.
Blackest Night Mini-Series
BLACKEST NIGHT: THE FLASH #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Scott Kolins
The Flashes of Two Cities – Barry Allen and Wally West – battle the undead Rogues. Will the legendary speedsters be able to handle the Black Lantern Rogues’ revenge? Plus, witness the resurrection of Barry’s greatest enemy, the Reverse Flash in this hyper-speed miniseries event reuniting the fan-favorite FLASH creative team of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins!
BLACKEST NIGHT: JSA #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Eddy Barrows & Ruy José
The mystery men of yesterday are back and they seek the hearts of their new counterparts! It’s Mr. Terrific vs. Mr. Terrific, Dr. Midnite vs. Dr. Midnite, Sand vs Wesley Dodds! Can the new generation of heroes survive the rise of the Black Lantern JSA? Find out in this all-new miniseries from original JSA co-writer James Robinson and rising star artist Eddy Barrows (BLACKEST NIGHT: SUPERMAN)!
Fan-favorite writer Greg Rucka returns to chronicle the adventures of the Amazing Amazon in the DC Universe’s darkest hour! Black Lantern Maxwell Lord has risen and he seeks revenge and retribution for his murder at the hands of Diana. Look for unexpected changes to await Wonder Woman in the course of this series as she plays a major role in the War of Light against the Blackest Night.
I had pretty low expectations of the first batch of BN tie-in mini-series. And so far, they have met or exceeded by expectations. BN: Superman actually had a pretty strong first issue. But it seems like you can skip all three and not miss anything. And Tales of the Corps was an embarrassing money grab. DC should be ashamed of that one.
This crop of tie-ins seems a little more promising to me. I was a fan of the Johns/Kollins run on Flash and I liked the first 2/3 of their “Rogues Revenge” mini-series. So while “Rebirth” isn’t to my liking, I expect I’ll like BN: Flash okay as long as Johns can keep the retcons to a minimum.
The stand-out to me promises to be BN: Wonder Woman. I know Rucka was upset he never got to deal with the fallout from the death of Max Lord. Now, it looks like he’ll get that chance even if it years a few years late. Plus, you’ve got Nicola Scott. Nicola Scott + Wonder Woman is worth my $3 every time.
ADVENTURE COMICS #5
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jerry Ordway; co-feature art by Francis Manapul
Concluding the 2-part BLACKEST NIGHT tale of Superboy-Prime! The Black Lanterns have forced Prime to face his deepest and darkest fears, but what – and who – are they? And how will Superboy-Prime strike back after this devastating attack?
Plus, Conner Kent faces off with Superman’s greatest enemy in an exciting co-feature by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul. That’s right: Superboy confronts Lex Luthor!
I’m truly torn on this one. On the one hand, I’ve been enjoying Adventure Comics so far. On the other, I’m really sick of Johns’ take on Superboy-Prime. The end of Legion of Three Worlds totally crossed a line for me and I was hoping not to see the character again for a while. But Johns just can’t seem to stay away from him. On the upside, I’m looking forward to the Conner/Lex confrontation.
BOOSTER GOLD #27
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art and cover by Dan Jurgens& Norm Rapmund
Black Lantern Ted Kord is out for blood in this BLACKEST NIGHT tie-in issue! Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes joins forces with Booster Gold in an attempt to take down Black Lantern Ted Kord once and for all. But the battle will have consequences for the Blue and the Gold, and Booster and Beetle’s lives will be forever changed!
This is another tough one. This issue definitely fits into the “Hero A comes into contact with Dead Person B” formula I talked about earlier. And there’s no way I won’t be sick of that by the end of the year. And DC has already gone to the Ted Kord well at least one time too many since killing him off in Countdown. But still, I really like Booster Gold. I feel like Jurgens does a great job with the book and I’d like to see it get some attention. Hopefully Jurgens can rise above the formula and deliver one of the better tie-ins to this event.
TEEN TITANS #78
Written by J.T. Krul
Art and cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
An unexpected BLACKEST NIGHT team-up! Ravager has sworn to kill her father Deathstroke. But what happens when they’re forced to fight side-by-side against their dead friends and relatives? Will they kill each other before the Black Lanterns do?
Remember when Titans was the goose that laid the golden eggs? Well, DC totally killed that goose. (I think that goose may even be a Black Lantern!) This franchise is in a tail spin and DC doesn’t seem to know what to do to pull out of it. I’ll give you a hint, DC, a Deathstroke/Ravager issue is NOT the answer.
On the upside, I don’t see Sean McKeever’s name anywhere on this comic book. Therefore, I will buy it on principle.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #40
Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mark Bagley & Rob Hunter
The JLA can’t escape the BLACKEST NIGHT! Faced with the continuing threat of the Black Lanterns, Zatanna, Vixen and the rest of the team confront their pasts when fallen friends and foes return for blood!
I can’t be the only one who finds Bagley’s cover to be hideous, right?
I recently posted an article about the new JLA line-up. Interesting to see Vixen and Zatanna featured so prominently after not being included in the official line-up. I guess the rumors that Robinson’s team will be super-sized are true.
As I said in my article, I really can’t muster up any excitement for Robinson’s JLA after 3 issues of Cry for Justice.
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel & Sandu Florea
While Black Mask and his Ministry of Death struggle to maintain control of Gotham City, The Dark Knight sets his sights on Kittyhawk – a young thief pivotal to the outcome of Black Mask’s gang war. But will a powerful adversary thought long dead spoil all of Batman’s plans? Guest-starring Oracle and the Penguin!
Not too much to say here. I’m having some trouble keeping up my enthusiasm for Batman with the back-and-forth writing from Winick and Daniel. I mean, these are two of my least favorite writers in comics these days. Black Mask and Penquin both feel over-used these days. And I’m enjoying them more in Dini’s Streets of Gotham.
DETECTIVE COMICS #860
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III; co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Batwoman’s origin story concludes here! In “Go!” part 3, Kate Kane becomes Batwoman and goes after a terrorist cell in Gotham, but all does not go according to plan. Plus, in the present, Kate confronts her father about her supposedly dead sister!
In the co-feature, the Huntress joins The Question in her quest to track down the leaders of the human trafficking ring. But finding them – and bring them to justice – will be harder and more dangerous than either hero thought!
Confession time: I’m a behind on this title. But I love the art on the book. Rucka’s writing hasn’t completely won me over to Batwoman yet. But maybe I’ll feel differently once I catch up. I am looking forward to seeing the Huntress and the Question though!
BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM #7
Written by Paul Dini; co-feature written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs; co-feature art by Jeremy Haun
Paul Dini returns to STREETS OF GOTHAM as Batman and Robin uncover a sinister plot involving dozens of Gotham City’s young runaways. Is Arkham Asylum escapee Humpty Dumpty at the center of the scheme – or is he just the tip of an even more dangerous iceberg? Guest-starring Abuse and Zsasz!
And in the Manhunter co-feature, now that Kate has finally tracked down Two-Face, she’s ready to confront him for the hit he ordered on Gotham’s former D.A. But their confrontation is not going to go the way she planned!
I haven’t gotten around to writing up a review for Streets of Gotham, but I have been keeping up with the book and mostly enjoying it. I wasn’t thrilled with the 60′s-TV show-worthy bad guy, The Broker. But if you’re going to do the character, last issue was about as good of a story as you could possibly tell. I am enjoying watching Dini re-invent Mr. Zsasz. And I am enjoying the build-up in the Manhunter back-up to the inevitable showdown beteen the former DA of Gotham and the new sheriff in town.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott
Cover by Phil Noto
It’s Bat vs. Bat in “Core Requirements” part 1! As Gotham City burns, the new Batgirl comes face-to-face with Batman and Robin, who are anything but happy about her running around with a bat-symbol on her costume. Batman confronts Oracle as Damian confronts Stephanie in the ultimate Bat-family feud.
My favorite thing about this series so far is the Phil Noto covers. And I think this is Noto’s best cover yet. But the first two issues were pretty mediocre. And it’s not promising that the solicit for this issue reads an awful lot like the one for the first issue.
In all honesty, if the next issue is a marked improvement over the first two I am unlikely to be here for issue 5.
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #7
Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March
Catwoman takes charge as the other Sirens fall victim to their most dangerous challenge yet!
Does the text for this solicit even matter?
Hey, I like Catwoman’s boobs as much as the next guy. Depending on who the next guy is, I may like them more. I’ve got a healthy collection of Jim Balent’s boobtastic run on Catwoman to prove it. But even I got sick of this bad girl retread after the first couple of issues.
Can this book really be written by the same guy who is writing Streets of Gotham? Maybe there are two Paul Dini’s. One of them worked in animation and wrote Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham. The other guy wrote Countdown and this.
It’s the best explanation I can come up with.
SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #4
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
While everyone wants something from Metropolis’ first Super Hero, Superman must fight his first Super-Villain – someone who wants everything – the Parasite! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor turns his attention toward The Man of Steel…
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank continue their bold reinterpretation of the origin of The Man of Steel for the 21st Century!
Geoff Johns can hand in a blank script for all I care. I’m on board this mini-series for Gary Frank’s art. As I said in my review of the first issue, the art pushes all my Superman fanboy buttons.
ACTION COMICS #884
Written by Greg Rucka; co-feature written by James Robinson & Greg Rucka
Art by Pere Pérez; co-feature art by CAFU
When Lois tries to run the story that will clear Flamebird and Nightwing once and for all, she finds herself blocked at every turn. With the world’s anti-Kryptonian sentiment escalating to a near-frenzy, not even being General Lane’s daughter will keep her safe!
Plus, to the shock and horror of Flamebird, the problems with Nightwing’s uncontrolled aging reach a critical juncture! and in part 6 of the new co-feature, Captain Atom squares off against his old adversary Major Force just as some troubling memories start to resurface – one word: Monarch!
I’m not loving the Anti-Krypton story that seems to be taking hold of the Superman books post Codename: Patriot. It just feels like watered-down X-Men. Are you really going to cover any new territory here? I don’t think so.
As I mentioned in my review of the latest issue, the Captain Atom back-up is just getting tiresome. The word “Monarch” does nothing to improve my outlook on that subject.
Written by James Robinson
Art by Fernando Dagnino & Raúl Fernandez
Part 2 of Man of Valor! Metropolis gets a chance to see the new Mon-El in action. But now the stakes are raised even higher and the action escalates as Mon finally goes mano-a-mano against the Parasite! This is a battle that’s been brewing since Mon’s emergence on Earth and now it explodes into the streets and skies of the city.
Plus, with Mon-El’s secret identity publicly known, how will the Science Police react to him now that they know he’s been living among them all this time? All this plus the return of Natasha Irons and the fate of Steel!
I’ve actually enjoyed most of Robinson’s run on Superman. But even I have to admit that the pace has been somewhat slow. Some issues have felt like padding. But this issue looks like it will finally advance some long-dangling plot threads. And that’s good – as long as they aren’t tied up as sloppily as the Codename: Patriot finale. That was a stinker.
SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #10
Written by Greg Rucka & James Robinson
Art by Pete Woods
New Krypton is a planet so fresh, it’s experiencing countless things for the first time. Its first spring. Its first blooms. Its first birth of a child. And now its first homicide. When an important figure in Kandor is murdered, the suspect seems obvious to everyone but Superman. But can he make Zod or the Council believe this is more than an open-and-shut case? And can he uncover the real killer in time to save the life of the accused? It’s a dark mystery, but R.E.B.E.L.S. star Adam Strange arrives in time to help find answers…even though the truth may blow apart the civilized trappings of Kandorian society in the process.
This action-packed arc leads all the way to the series’ final issue, which itself sets the stage for huge happenings in the DC Universe next summer!
The other Superman books have their charms. But I can certainly understand why fans would be disappointed in them some times. World of New Krypton, on the other hand, always delivers. Next to Secret Six, it is the book I look forward to the most from month to month. I’ll be sad when it’s over!
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Matt Camp
Uh-oh! The Silver Banshee is back in Metropolis! This time she’s after an artifact that could finally break her family’s eternal curse. When Inspector Mike Henderson gets involved, Supergirl is pulled into the conflict! Meanwhile, Lana Lang’s mysterious condition takes a turn for the worse. Will the Girl of Steel be able to save her only two human friends? Join fan-favorite writer Sterling Gates and guest artist Matt Camp (SUPERMAN: SECRET FILES 2009, Zero Killer) to find out!
I hate to say it, but the usually reliable Gates/Igle team has hit a bit of a speed bump with the last couple of issues. Crossovers into Codename: Patriot and Hunt for Reactron have pushed the book slightly off track. Hopefully, now that those crossovers are in the past, the team can get back to delivering very good (maybe even great) Supergirl stories.
Hey! Where’s Igle?
WORLD’S FINEST #3
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle
The Toyman has crafted the ultimate killing machine to protect himself from the Kryptonian menace, and Oracle has sent Supergirl and Batgirl to stop it. But when Supergirl faces off against the Kryptonite Man while the new Batgirl takes on Catwoman, they both find themselves in over their heads.This looks like a job for…
Oh, here he is.
This solicit sounds good enough to me. So, I’ll use this space to address something that has been bugging me. With no Birds of Prey book, I’m not sure what Oracle’s role is in the DCU. She just seems to be all over the place. Is she running The Network, mentoring Batgirl, or just setting up random operations like this one? I don’t know. But I’d really like to see her concentrate on setting up a regular group of operatives like what she had in Birds of Prey.
I really miss that book!
GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY #27
Written by Andrew Kreisberg
Art by Renato Guedes & Jose Wilson Magalhaes and Mike Norton & Bill Sienkiewicz
First up: “Five Stages” part 3! Cupid and Green Arrow team up against Black Canary and Green Arrow (?!) just as the mysterious soldiers of Cobalt make Star City their own battlefield!
And then in the co-feature: Just where did this mysterious second Green Arrow come from? And how is Cobalt connected to his recent past?
Every month, when the solicits come out, Green Arrow/Black Canary is one of the first things I look at. It’s not because I am anxiously awaiting hints of what is to come on the book. It’s because I desperately hope that DC will replace Andrew Kreisberg.
Every month, I am disappointed.
And then I see Cupid on the cover and I can barely contain my fanboy rage. Please, DC, do something about this book!
The Justice Society struggles to pick up the pieces after the team’s devastating break up! Regrouping at a new, temporary home base, the smaller team reflects on the recent infiltration of their ranks and how they can protect themselves from another such attack in the future! And why is the new Dr. Fate acting so weird?
An all-new ongoing series! The Justice Society spin off group struggles to pull itself toward some semblance of order after the JSA’s devastating split! New home base, new training methods, new villains – all bringing the JSA All-Stars face-to-“face” with one of their greatest villains again – for the first time! Join writer Matthew Sturges (JUSTICE SOCIETY, JACK OF FABLES) and artist Freddie Williams II (ROBIN) for a new chapter in the JSA legacy.
Well, the cast is definitely big enough to support two books. So, this seems like a no-brainer to split the team. I don’t know if I’ll follow both books or not.
POWER GIRL #7
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art and cover by Amanda Conner
A blast from the past! The alien Vartox has come to Earth to claim a wife—and her name is Power Girl! PG may have wanted a boyfriend, but not quite like this! The fan-favorite team of Palmiotti, Gray and Conner craft another winner!
I’m a big fan of Amanda Conner’s art. And I feel she is the perfect artist for Power Girl. But the writing team of Palmiotti and Gray always leaves me feeling underwhelmed. This book is a great book to thumb through at the comic shop for the art. But reading it sometimes feels like a chore.
I appreciate the light tone and the art. I just wish the writing were a little more interesting.
SECRET SIX #16
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Peter Nguyen & Doug Hazlewood
The supremely powerful and infinitely dangerous Black Alice returns and she’s decided she wants to be a member of the Six – even if someone has to die to make room!
Of all the books coming out in December, this is the one I’l looking forward to the most!
And yay Black Alice!
Boo no Nicola Scott!
WONDER WOMAN #39
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan
This is it! The secret behind Wonder Woman’s new power and the true meaning of the Olympian are revealed right here!
It’s an all-out action issue as Diana faces an old foe with a hideous new face!
I’m still hoping Gail Simone can make me love her Wonder Woman as much as I love Secret Six. This issue sure sounds like a winner. You know I’ll be there.
(But odds are Seventh Soldier will beat me to the punch when it comes time to write a review.)
Written by Mike Johnson
Art by Angel Unzueta & Wayne Faucher
Spotlight on Donna Troy! What happens when a young twenty-something woman feels like she grew up too fast and deprived herself of a twenty-something kind of life? As Donna ponders this, the Fearsome Five continue their Titans revenge streak. They picked the wrong time to do it…
Seriously, if you’re not going to do anything with this book, just cancel it and spare us all the trouble.
It’s relatively rare that the paneling in a comic – not the pencils, not the colors, but the layout itself – can make me sit up and take notice. And yet, every month, J.H. Williams III uses the layout of Detective Comics in strange and interesting new ways to move the story along without letting it get bogged down by his somewhat stiff action sequences. Sequences like the fight between Alice and Batwoman that is paneled within the small confines of their flowing capes gives Detective Comics #857 a visual dynamic that more than makes up for whatever shortcomings the book may have.
Rucka doesn’t manage quite as well as an out-of-left-field late-game twist hurts the book a bit. While he continues to do fine work on the main feature, the brief Question back-up he does with Hamner generally features more focused writing. In this issue’s main story, Kate and Alice come head-to-head after the kidnapping of Colonel Kane. Master plans are revealed, secrets come out, and, unfortunately, there’s significantly more flash than substance to the conclusion of “Elegy”. Despite all that, however, Rucka’s work on the title is still more than competent. No matter how much the Alice story slipped by the end, Rucka still used the opportunity to begin fleshing out Kate’s backstory and supporting cast, two things the character desperately needed.
The issue was more than just a showcase for Williams, however, as Hamner steps up in the 8-page Question back-up feature and brings some of his best work to date. A pair of brief sequences in particular stand out, the first coming as Renee breaks into a well-guarded mansion and the second featuring her daring escape. The art is dark and slightly cartoonish, but it’s also fluid and lifelike in a way very few running scenes are in comics. Though there appears to be no thematic or literal crossover between the two parts of Detective Comics, the Question back-up has quickly become a worthy piece of one of DC’s most entertaining, visually dynamic packages.
- Cal Cleary
It is a strength of Detective Comics that Greg Rucka’s writing manages to match the excellent art of J.H. Williams III every step of the way. The pair continue to flesh out Kate Kane, the myserious Batwoman, in small chunks amidst a rousing action story as she faces off against the Religion of Crime and their new leader, Alice. The story isn’t particularly complex, but it combines action and exposition better than any number of recent comics I’ve read.
It should come as no surprise that the art is fantastic: Williams remains one of the top talents working today. It isn’t just his art that works – alone, his figures can occasionally be too static, unable to come alive on the page the way a lot of the best comic art does. He combines solid artwork with excellent panelling and a gift few other artists share for crafting arresting images that work well . Working together with colorist Dave Stewart, Williams has hit the jack-pot on this book.
Meanwhile, despite following up in Williams’ wake, Hamner continues to bring a stark simplicity to Rucka’s Renee Montoya back-ups. The art is more traditional, and less memorable, in every way, but it plays to Hamner’s strengths and definitely shows some progress from his days on Blue Beetle. The action is well-handled and smooth, and his varied designs for Renee work perfectly.
Two issues in, and Detective Comics looks like it just might be DC’s strongest relaunch in quite some time. Though the focus will undoubtedly be drawn away in the coming months as “Blackest Night” chugs on, this is definitely a title everyone should try out. Clever, gorgeous and action-packed, Detective Comics #855 is a remarkably strong title. Not flawless, but Rucka and company have definitely breathed new life into one of DC’s flagship books.
- Cal Cleary
It’s that time again! Boy, June went quick. We’re halfway through 2009? Wow. Anyway, I read 19 comics in June, and these were the best.
5. Invincible #63
I hate putting this at number five, but this comic is hindered in a monthly format. There is no good jumping-on point. You have to read the whole thing, and rating one issue is like judging twenty minutes of a movie. That said, this is an emotional issue. I’m sure it’s no secret by now that a major character dies. Hell, it was already pretty obvious if you looked at the cover of Invincible #64, but even so, this is one of the best Invincible issues. And that’s saying something.
4. Detective Comics #854
Even if this issue would’ve been terrible, I would’ve forced my brain to like it. Thankfully, to preserve what little respect I have as a comic critic, this actually is a great issue. Greg Rucka finally gets a chance to define his Batwoman, and he doesn’t waste a panel. We’re not going to get the official origin until the next arc, but even after one issue, I know a good deal about what makes Kate tic. But what really makes this comic special is the pure brilliance of Williams’ art. The co-feature is the icing on the cake.
3. Batman and Robin #1
June was a great month for comics. Want proof? The new Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely comic wasn’t the best of the month. How the hell did that happen? Ok, I do wish this comic had more depth and weight, like Morrison’s earlier Batman work, but other than that, this issue is near-flawless.
2. Astonishing X-Men #30
Ellis’ first Astonishing X-Men arc finally concludes. Was it good? You bet your ass it was. I can almost guarantee you I’ll think of it in January, when I post the best stories of the year list. Ellis, in just one arc, has already done a few things. First and foremost, he’s provided possibly the greatest characterization of the X-Men ever. They’re all real characters. They all have their own unique voice. Second, Ellis has taken the X-Men to the perfect genre, sci-fi. I want my X-Men to occupy the realm of science, instead of the done-to-death, political commentary genre. And this first arc was not only sci-fi, it was a mystery too!
1. Uncanny X-Men #512
This issue is a done-in-one. So, yes, it does have an advantage in this format, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t deserve this spot. This issue is a done-in-one, time-travel adventure, filled with science, mutant history, originality, and humor. It’s also wonderfully rendered by the great Yanick Paquette. Is that not enough? Well, then I’ll also mention that this is one of the few comics that nearly brought me to tears. It’s good readin’.
So there it is! Agree? Disagree? Please, let me know!
Detective Comics, the title for which DC Comics is actually named, is no longer headed by Batman, at least not for now. No, for the next few months, Detective Comics will be led by the mysterious Batwoman. It’s a risky move, but if Detective Comics #854 is any example of what we can expect from future issues, it’s one that should work very, very well.
Introduced in 52, Batwoman drew a lot of ire from a lot of fans as being just another token minority character (in this case, a lesbian). That said, her appearances as a supporting character in the interesting relationship between Vic Sage and Renee Montoya didn’t exactly give her too much screen time in which to flourish, and the complaint came at a time when DC was introducing a rush of new characters to the scene, almost every one of which was met with similar complains. Despite constant promises for the last three years that the character would be fleshed out in her own mini, DC (perhaps) smartly waited until now to do so. A mini starring a female character is a risky proposition at best in today’s market. But put that same character headlining in their oldest title in place of the missing Batman? Well, we’ll see how that works out… but it’s certainly brought the character back to the spotlight in a big way.
So, now that Kate Kane is there, how does she fare? Quite well! To no one’s surprise at all, Rucka delivers a quality opening issue working with J.H. Williams III, one of the most talented artists in comics. The pair offer up a tense, action packed issue that fulfills the promise to begin fleshing out Kate Kane as a character while continuing the ongoing saga of the Crime Bible. A new villain is introduced, and a supporting cast is started. Not a bad beginning for a character who was, coming into the issue, largely a blank slate. There is one worrying moment in the issue, dealing with a potential motivation for Kate, in which it is hinted that Kate has the most trite origin imaginable for a modern female hero, but the remainder of the issue is of such high quality that I am willing to wait and see where Rucka takes this.
The real star here, though, is Williams and colorist Dave Stewart, who’ve given the book a rather haunting look in its frequent contrasts of white, red and black and its absolutely stellar panelling. By now, you’ve likely all seen the preview pages that have been posted on every comics site in existence. Suffice to say, the entire issue lives up to that level of quality with ease. It’s very nearly worth the price of admission to see the art alone.
The second part of the book – and the reason for the dreaded $3.99 price tag – is the backup feature, this one also by Greg Rucka. Cully Hamner (Blue Beetle) is given the unenviable task of following up on the JH Williams III main feature, but he does an excellent job in giving Renee a physical personality and sense of style that easily could have gotten lost in the shortened page count. The story is brief and compelling, every bit as good as the excellent backup from Streets of Gotham. It’s a more-than-worthy addition to an excellent first issue.
- Cal Cleary