We’re back! I’m sorry for the long hiatus. We missed two weeks due to website issues stemming from our brand relaunch. (Have you checked out our sister sites Ms En Scene, Bookmarked and Sidequest yet?) Then we took a week off in boycott due to DC employing noted sexual harasser Eddie Berganza, after the stories about him went to the mainstream press. Ironically, DC fired Berganza just two days after we announced our boycott, so it was short lived.
…However, due to publication timelines, his name is still on some books. This week the only book that carried his name was Action Comics. We will let you know every week what books are still listing him as an editor, in case you don’t want to buy them.
Finally, we missed a week due to internal scheduling issues, but we’re giving you both last week and this week at once.
With that housekeeping out of the way, we have a large slate of books this week, and that’s with me not reviewing Looney Tunes or Scooby-Doo Team-Up this month because I was pressed for time. There are spoilers ahead, even for the already-reviewed Doomsday Clock. This week’s Royalty goes to Batman: Creature of the Night, for continuing a tradition started by Superman: Secret Identity.
Batman: Creature of the Night #1
Kurt Busiek (Writer), John Paul Leon (Artist), Todd Klein (Letterer) – DC Comics
Kurt Busiek wrote what is considered among many to be one of the greatest Superman stories of all time in Superman: Secret Identity. It’s about a young man in “our” world who shares his name with the world’s greatest hero, and it perfectly encapsulates the Man of Steel. So when it was announced that Busiek was going to write a spiritual successor with Batman, I was excited. Busiek did not disappoint. The story of young Bruce Wainwright, avid Batman fan and orphan, is gripping and dark. John Paul Leon’s art is sufficiently moody, and perfectly fits the atmosphere of the book. The Batman of the story seems to be a physical manifestation of young Bruce’s hopes and desires and he looks every bit the terror that an eight year old would dream up to enact his vengeance.
Action Comics #992
Dan Jurgens and Rob Williams (Writers), Will Conrad (Artist), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
Superman is in an existential crisis, because his father is not who he thought he was. The problem I have here is that Jor-El isn’t Clark’s father, not really. Jor-El provided genetic material, but Jonathan Kent raised him. Superman’s genetics don’t make him who he is, his heart does. And Jonathan and Martha Kent are who built that heart. I was touched by Bruce checking in on his best friend. It was refreshing that not even his existential crisis stopped him from saving lives, even if it drove him further down the rabbit hole of “can I actually save the world” that Jor-El sent him into. The end with Clark using the Cosmic Treadmill and the seconds too-late arrival of Booster Gold was unexpected and delightful.
Astro City #49
Kurt Busiek (Writer), Brent Anderson (Artist), Pete Pantazis (Colorist), Comiccraft (Letterer)
In a week where the most anticipated release was a book with a very political message, this is the book that really delivers on that idea. I’m not as familiar with Astro City continuity as I am with DC continuity, so I don’t know if Earthpride is a new group for this issue, or an established group already, but they are a timely villain with very striking imagery. The idea of Resistor, a peaceful hero just looking to protect others by inhabiting the bodies of people who shared that value is a wonderful idea. An idea that gains more relevancy in that the Resistor gets more powerful when more people share that belief.
Hope Larson (Writer), Chris Wildgoose (Penciller), Jose Marzan Jr. and Andy Owens (Inkers), Mat Lopes (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
Hey look, the same week that we get the Nightwing book where he’s okay with killing, we get another receipt to add to the pile of “Dick Grayson would never go that far.” This Nightwing and Batgirl arc was a lot of fun, and while I don’t ship Dick and Babs, I love when they work together. I’m still going to get a little mad every time I see flashbacks to Dick’s time as Robin and he’s wearing pants, but it’s something I’m getting used to. I thoroughly enjoyed Dick sleeping on the air mattress even though Babs offered him the option to share her bed.
Batman Beyond #14
Dan Jurgens (Writer), Phil Hester (Penciller), Andy Parks (Inker), Michael Spicer (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer)
That… was unexpected. The whole issue hinting at Matt taking over the mantle of Robin, just as Terry is finally accepting his role as Batman was a great red herring for the surprise ending we got. I was going to make a joke about how a Royal Flush without a queen or a ten is just an ace high, but apparently a high card is all this group needed. While it came as a shock in the issue, in hindsight Ace breaking Terry over his knee was pretty well foreshadowed. The references to Bruce’s lifelong back problems from Bane, and Barbara insisting that he sway Terry from his path because he’s “in a chair” both gave us good hints of what was to come.
Blue Beetle #15
Christopher Sebela (Writer), Scott Kolins (Penciller), Tom Derenick (Inker), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer)
I came into this arc expecting road trip hijinks with a group of kids. What I didn’t expect, but really should have, was that it would turn into a horror book. Sebela is an excellent horror writer, and he makes this story fun, frightening and engaging. Kolins and Derenick help extend the creepy atmosphere. I am slightly disappointed that the spooky abandoned hotel that the kids stayed in didn’t have some sort of unsettling theme. I don’t expect clowns, but some sort of disturbing gimmick would have been a fun nod to Sebela’s own history.
Detective Comics #969
James Tynion IV (Writer), Joe Bennett (Penciller), Sal Regla (Inker), Jason Wright (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer)
I have to admit, I was very angry at the beginning of the issue when I found out that Timothy Drake still had not called his girlfriend to tell her he was not, in fact, dead. You are smarter than this, Timothy. You know that Steph holds grudges, why would you do this? And then we got the actual reunion, and I forgave him for his bad decision. Just that one, though, because there are many. Bennett’s pencils for those two pages were incredible, especially the panels capturing Steph’s facial reactions to seeing Tim. And I’d be remiss to not mention the absolutely beautiful cover by Guillem March and Tomeu Morey.
Doom Patrol #9
Gerard Way (Writer), Nick Derington (Penciller and Cover), Tom Fowler (Inker), Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist), Todd Klein (Letterer)
I’ll admit, seeing a character in a Doom Patrol comic wearing a Teen Titans cartoon Beast Boy shirt made me smile. That is a stellar meta-reference, and I am always here for those. It was a heckuva kiss for Casey and Terry, resulting in parachute deployment. It’s kind of heartbreaking to see Lucious get recruited by the Brotherhood of Nada just as his parents reconcile. I didn’t know who the original Brotherhood of Dada were, so I looked it up, and boy howdy, are they out there. This series continues to be weird as heck.
Doomsday Clock #1
Geoff Johns (Writer), Gary Frank (Artist), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
I covered a lot of my thoughts about Doomsday Clock over here in the spoiler free review. I do want to talk about a couple of the things that would be considered spoilers though, so if you want to avoid those, just read the spoiler free review. First, I’m very glad that it’s not the real Rorschach. I’d have felt really cheated if he had somehow been brought back to life. My theory is that the new Rorschach is the son of the psychiatrist from the original series. I do love the idea of the Mime and his invisible or nonexistent weaponry. I still have no idea which it is.
Gotham City Garage #4
Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzig (Writers), Aneke (Artist), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
I don’t think I ever expected to read the word “douchebag” in a non-Vertigo DC Comic. I certainly didn’t expect to read it out of the mouth of Dick Grayson, no matter the universe. That was a weird feeling. Some of the panel layouts in this issue were really confusing to read in the print version of the comic. I suspect that they worked much better in the digital comic, especially if you use the guided view mode. “Don’t mention it, saving people’s kinda what I do” should be a universal constant for Supergirl.
Harley Quinn #32
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (Writers), Bret Blevins (Penciller), John Timms (Inker), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
I still don’t know what the deal is with the continuity of this book. And this issue actually made the questions worse. Is it sometime in the future? It has to be if she’s no longer in the Suicide Squad and has a deactivated brain bomb, right? I still have zero emotional attachment to this book. I don’t care that Mason died. I was bored with this storyline and its villains. I’m glad this arc is over, and I’m glad that we’re getting a creative team change soon. Maybe when that happens, we can have a book that makes me laugh.
Imaginary Fiends #1
Tim Seeley (Writer), Stephen Molnar (Artist), Quinton Winter (Colorist), Carlos M. Mangual (Letterer)
I’m a big fan of horror comics when they’re done right. This book is a great example of doing it right. It’s a terrifying premise: what if our imaginary friends were real? What if they were emotional parasites who used you to hurt others? The characters we’re introduced to in this first issue are compelling, and the imaginary fiend that Agent Li is partnered with is absolutely terrifying. A black and red spider woman with a penchant for knives and murder is a thing made for nightmares. I’m glad its not the last book I read at the end of the night.
Justice League of America #19
Steve Orlando (Writer), Hugo Petrus (Artist), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
My first issue of JLA that wasn’t related to the “Death of Superman” was JLA #16 by Grant Morrison. For that reason Prometheus will always be close to my heart, and one of my favorite villains when he’s utilized correctly. It’s clear to me that he’s also close to Steve Orlando’s heart, because this story is one of the best Prometheus stories I’ve ever read. It has some callbacks to his first appearance, and it has him as the master strategist he should be. The art is a little bit inconsistent in the issue, but the coloring choices are pretty spectacular. I especially liked the broken blood vessel in Canary’s eye.
Nightwing: The New Order #4
Kyle Higgins (Writer), Trevor McCarthy (Artist and Cover), Dean White (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
I still feel like I might give this book a little more leeway if they actually showed us what happened to cause this world. I probably still wouldn’t like it, but at least maybe it could give me some understanding of why this world exists. I will say that I liked this issue a little more than the previous three, but not by much. Dick is still very much not the Dick Grayson I know and love. I hate Kory’s look. Kory isn’t Kory without her giant head of hair. My favorite part of the issue was the memories of Dick and Kory’s time with the Titans. Those were beautifully illustrated.
Suicide Squad #30
Rob Williams (Writer), Philippe Briones and Wilfredo Torres (Artists), Adriaono Lucas (Colorist), Pat Brosseau (Letterer)
Not much happened this issue. We got lots of fighting, and some exposition, but really this issue didn’t move the plot forward much at all. The art in the main story is serviceable, but pales in comparison to the art in the backup. The backup really conjures a Silver Age feel with the art, like Wilfredo Torres is channeling Darwyn Cooke or Doc Shaner. It both fits the story and looks fantastic. Silver Age styling with modern techniques is one of my favorite things. I find it hilarious that after a year and a half of stories, only one member of this incarnation of the Suicide Squad has died, and it turns out that didn’t even happen.
The Demon: Hell is Earth #1
Andrew Constant (Writer), Brad Walker (Penciller), Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Chris Sotomayor (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer)
This is an interesting take on the story of Etrigan, going with a very psychological horror vibe. It’s odd to me that we get two good horror books starting the month after Halloween. The child of the visions is both adorable and creepy at the same time, which makes her all the more unnerving. I don’t know that I like a non-rhyming Demon, but it’s nice that they referenced that he gave it up. Having Jason Blood be the one to haunt Etrigan’s waking moments is a nice twist on the traditional story.
The Flash #35
Joshua Williamson and Michael Moreci (Writers), Pop Mhan (Artist), Ivan Plascencia (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer)
I’m much more interested in what’s going on at Iron Heights than I am in the Negative Flash story. Though I really hope that’s not Kristen’s body. We really don’t need a fridging, book, thanks. I deeply enjoyed the quiet scene between Wally and Iris. Giving them such an emotional connection is a good move for this book. Barry is lacking in personality, so maybe his side characters can provide enough of that to keep the book interesting. It seems like the book is trying to do two main arcs at the same time, with the Iron Heights stuff and the introduction of Raijin. It makes me wonder if they’re going to evenly split time, or if the Raijin plot will drop to the back burner for now.
The Hellblazer #16
Richard Kadrey (Writer), Davide Fabbri (Penciller), Jose Marzan Jr. (Inker), Carrie Strachan (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer)
To start, the man on the cover looks nothing like John Constantine. On the opening page, I was a little disappointed that we can’t see the Ben & Jerry’s that’s immediately behind John. I do really enjoy when books are set in the Bay Area, it makes it fun to recognize locations. This book was all over the place though–not locations, that is, but in terms of what was going on. I really don’t understand what is happening with the fake demons, and the coven came out of nowhere. The “Thank You Killer” targeting fake gods is an interesting plot, though.
The Kamandi Challenge #11
Rob Williams (Writer), Walt Simonson (Artist), Laura Martin (Colorist), Clem Robins (Letterer)
Simonson is the artist I have been waiting for the most on this book. Simonson remains one of the best artists to ever follow Kirby. While he has his own style, he is also perfect at capturing the feel of a Kirby drawn book, and that was evident here. The machines were Kirby machines, the effects were full of crackle, the scope went from big to cosmic. Rob Williams told a perfect story to work with Simonson’s strengths. This entire issue had a very space opera feel, and was a lot of fun to read.
The Ruff and Reddy Show #2
Howard Chaykin (Writer and Cover), Mac Rey (Artist), Ken Bruzenak (Letterer)
Timely that DC publishes a book that references sexual harassment the week after dealing with the skeleton in their own closet, by name of Eddie Berganza. He was still firmly entrenched in his position when this book got sent to the printers, but now he’s not. Ironic however, that it comes from one of the other controversial people working at DC, Howard Chaykin. Much like the first issue, most of the jokes in this one fall flat. Especially groan-worthy is the “Fonzi Scheme” pun. The only thing that really elicited a chuckle out of me was the name of the comic convention being “Wicked Planet” as a nod to “Wizard World”.
Teen Titans #14
Benjamin Percy (Writer), Khoi Pham (Penciller), Trevor Scott, Vincente Cifuentes and Norm Rapmund (Inkers), Jim Charalampiois and Blond (Colorists), Corey Breen (Letterer)
Welcome to the family, Kid Flash, have a Corona. Er. A Kool-Aid. Sorry, had to make that joke with the title of this issue. This issue was a lot of fun, until it was a personal attack on my feelings. I enjoyed watching the Titans work as a cohesive team under Kory’s leadership. Damian and Wally making their peace felt natural for both of them. Damian’s crush on Emi is adorable. And then we get the very, very rude last page. TIMOTHY DRAKE, TELL YOUR FRIENDS THAT YOU ARE ALIVE. For such a smart boy, Tim sure is dumb sometimes (lots of times).
Wonder Woman #35
James Robinson (Writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (Penciller), Ray McCarthy (Inker), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Saida Temoforte (Letterer)
We are five issues into James Robinson’s run on Wonder Woman, and I’m wondering when we’ll start seeing him treat her with the respect he promised. I say this because for the third time in five issues Wonder Woman appeared on fewer than ten pages of her own book. This time, we get two pages of Diana, again both in flashback and both without dialogue. I don’t read Wonder Woman to read about Jason or Hercules or Darkseid. I read Wonder Woman to read about the most well-known female superhero in comics. I read Wonder Woman for the hero who is the brightest part of the DC movies. Five issues into Robinson’s run, and we have 100 pages of story. Wonder Woman has appeared on 49 of those pages. I’m including a chart for reference, because it angered me so much. Do better, Mr. Robinson.
Aquaman Annual #1
Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Writer), Max Fiumara (Artist), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
This book was rough. Having gotten used to Stjepan Sejic on art duties for Aquaman, jumping style to Max Fiumara was a jarring shift. The faces of characters were inconsistent, and often ill proportioned. Fiumara’s style probably works better on something like a horror book, but for general superhero fare it takes your attention in a bad way. This is especially evident when we break from the dream sequences, and see the bits of the story that are horror themed, it’s just a shame that the main plot is so superheroey. I did appreciate another hero falling prey to a Black Mercy though, that devil plant has provided some of my favorite Super-stories.
Batman Annual #2
Tom King (Writer), Lee Weeks and Michael Lark (Artists), Elizabeth Breitweiser and June Chung (Colorists), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
There’s one thing Tom King’s Batman run has done exceptionally well. That thing is getting me to care about the Batman and Catwoman relationship in a way I never had. This issue is no exception to that. The two stories take place at opposite ends of the timeline, one at the very beginning of the relationship, and one at the very end. The first story is lighthearted and fun, and the second is somber and peaceful. Both Lee Weeks and Michael Lark do a stellar job of conveying the emotion in these stories, and it was really nice to see Lark back on a Batman story.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #33
Robert Venditti (Writer), Tom Derenick (Breakdowns), Jack Herbert (Penciller and Inker), Jason Wright (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
One thing I’m a little tired of in the Green Lantern mythos is the revolving door of “All the Guardians are dead except Ganthet (and maybe Sayd), no wait they’re babies, no wait they’re adults again, no wait they’re all dead after all.” There’s only so many times you can tell the same story and not have it feel old. The new twist of bringing the Controllers back in at least adds a bit to the narrative. I also very much enjoyed the youthful enthusiasm of new Lantern, Somar-Le, and John’s dig at Guy Gardner.
Injustice 2 Annual #1
K. Perkins, Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato (Writers), Marco Santucci, Jamal Campbell, David Yardin and Pop Mhan (Artists), J. Nanjan, Jamal Campbell and David Yardin (Colorists), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
Hey look, a Wonder Woman story with an actual honest focus on Wonder Woman! What a novel idea. Kat Perkins does a great job of fleshing out the events to happen in this universe’s Diana’s life to put her on the path we’ve seen in the Injustice games. While I greatly dislike that version of Wonder Woman, at least we get to see why she’s like that. Having Steve Trevor be a German double agent is kind of a master stroke. I appreciate that for this Wonder Woman centric story, Taylor handed the reigns over to a woman writer, something that’s too few and far between on Wonder Woman stories.
Justice League of America Annual #1
Steve Orlando (Writer), Kelly Jones (Artist), Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer)
Kelly Jones is an artist with a very unique style, a style that only really works with certain characters or certain types of stories. He’s a master of horror and moody comics, but his superhero work can be hit or miss. His anatomy is often very exaggerated, as evidenced by some of his Batman covers with out of control abdominal muscles. One character I’d say is a perfect fit for him is Lobo. So when it came time to tell Lobo’s story, he was an inspired choice. What wasn’t so great was making it a Black Canary team-up. Jones doesn’t really work for Canary. This made the artwork of this book jarring, as we would get great panels of Lobo, followed by one that pulled me right out of the story with Dinah. The story itself was fantastic, I just wish the art could have balanced it better.
Mystik U #1
Alisa Kwitney (Writer), Mike Norton (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
I really enjoyed this comic. The idea of a DC Universe version of Hogwarts, staffed by some of the greatest sorcerers in comics is one that pretty much had me intrigued from the pitch. Mike Norton’s art is great, and reminds me in a good way of WicDiv (Maybe that’s just because Sebastion looks like Baphomet). June is by far my favorite of the characters, and her look as Enchantress is just pure fire. All the little cameos really made me happy too, from Cain and Abel to Frankenstein. I can’t wait to see where this book is headed, and I have to say between Supergirl: Being Super, Batman: Creature of the Night and Mystik U, DC is knocking it out of the park with these prestige size books.
Super Sons Annual #1
Peter J. Tomasi (Writer), Paul Pelletier (Penciller), Cam Smith (Inker), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Carlos M. Mangual and Travis Lanham (Letterers)
Okay, this was absolutely delightful. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Super-Pets, and this story perfectly summed up why. This was the type of story you got all the time in the Silver-Age, but have rarely seen since. Even with almost no real dialogue, Tomasi, Pelletier and Smith are able to make this story interesting and fast paced. I also never thought I’d ever see a superpowered Streaky the Supercat again. Now to bug Steve Orlando for Streaky to show up in Supergirl. I also really want to know what happened between Krypto and Streaky to give them such bad blood! Maybe we can find out in Super Sons Annual #2.
You’ll note that I did not include New Talent Showcase 2017 in the reviews— mostly because a short review wouldn’t be fair to that sort of anthology. I will say I did enjoy the book, and that I look forward to what these creators will bring to future comics. That’s it for this week and last, and again, sorry about the long wait between columns!