The only big news of this month’s DC Pubwatch is that G. Willow Wilson is leaving Wonder Woman with October’s issue #81, giving us four more issues under her pen. Set to replace her for at least a six issue arc is Steve Orlando, who wrote issues #51-55 of the series before Wilson came on. I’m sad to see Wilson go, and as much as I love Orlando, it feels like another wasted opportunity to have a woman writer come onto the book. With that, we head to this month’s reviews, where, as always, there will be some spoilers.
Dial H For Hero #6
Jordan Gibson (colors), Scott Hanna (additional inks), Sam Humphries (writer), Joe Quinones (art and cover), Dave Sharpe (letters)
I have deeply loved this series, and probably this issue the most. The whole series came together with a very good theme. Dial H has been about inspiration on multiple levels. On a story level, it has been about Miguel’s inspiration to be a hero from Superman, and in turn to inspire others in this issue. Inspiration can be cyclical: as you draw it from others, they can draw it from you. On a more meta level, the book has been about creative inspiration. The origins and appearances of the heroes spawned from the H Dial give us insight to the influences on the creative team, and that’s where Quinones shines, effortlessly mimicking styles of other creators old and new. In this issue alone, I saw references to Matt Groening, Al Plastino, Babs Tarr, Erica Henderson, and many, many more. Quinones reminds me of Jon Bogdonave, who was also a master at changing styles, and who is one of the most influential artists in my life.
AndWorld Design (letters), Jordie Bellaire (colors), Cecil Castellucci (writer), Carmine Digiandomenico (artist and cover), Ivan Plascencia (cover)
Building off Scott’s run on Batgirl, which stripped Babs of her tech fortune and completely took away the Burnside ties, Castellucci is working on building her back up. I don’t know how I feel about the patched-together “punk” costume, but I do know that it’s better than the monstrosity that Sean G. Murphy designed, so that’s something. While I don’t like severing the Burnside connection, it really hasn’t been part of the book since Rebirth, and maybe it’s time to completely snuff it out. I like the idea of turning Oracle into a self-serving AI, and I look forward to where Castellucci and Digiandomenico take this arc.
John J. Hill (letters), David Marquez (art and cover), Alejandro Sanchez (colors and cover), Joshua Williamson (writer)
Alright, I’m in. I’m still not sold on the six infected heroes (even more so because two of them are my favorites, and it is yet another “pure hero goes evil” story for both of them), but I did enjoy this book. It truly reminded me a lot of the vintage Loeb Superman/Batman series, which was the highlight of Loeb’s career to me. The thing that hearkened back to that the most was the alternating narration boxes that show us how much alike Batman and Superman are, but how ultimately different as well. Williamson has consistently been one of the best writers of the Rebirth era, so let’s see what he does with this.
Rain Beredo (colors), Stefano Gaudiano (inks), Trevor Hairsine (pencils), Yasmine Putri (cover), Tom Taylor (writer)
Putri’s horror movie variants have all been fantastic, but this one with the Titans is by far my favorite. I also love the heart of this series, especially with the Kent family. And Alfred giving Damian the cowl, telling him his father would be proud of him. I’m not crying, you’re crying. And holy crap that ending. What could possibly come next? Guess we’ll see in September.
Harley Quinn #64
Sami Basri (artist), Sam Humphries (writer), Jessica Kholinne and Hi-Fi (colors), Guillem March and Arif Prianto (cover), Steve Wands (letters)
Talk about some tonal whiplash. While the ending of this issue was a complete tonal shift from the rest, and honestly completely unexpected, it is a twist that hit me right where I didn’t expect. The rest of the issue was a bunch of tongue-in-cheek snippets of Harley rejecting Apex Lex’s offers over and over, complete with a Scooby-Doo spoof, but the end was the most heartfelt and emotional thing I’ve ever seen in a Harley Quinn comic. Sam Humphries, you brilliant bastard, you got me.
Justice League #30
Jorge Jimenez (art), Francis Manapul (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), Alejandro Sanchez (colors), Scott Snyder (writer), James Tynion IV (writer)
Here we go, the beginning of the Justice/Doom War and the culmination of two years of Justice League stories. As I said at the beginning of Snyder’s run, the Justice League is at its best when the stories are big, grandiose and epic. That’s where Morrison excelled, and it’s where Snyder is killing it as well. Between the opening premonition of defeat and the establishing shot of all the new deputized Leaguers (SUPERGIRL!!!!!), Jimenez’s art also shined in this issue. And while I think the two big twists at the end would have been bigger payoffs if the Justice Society twist hadn’t been spoiled by solicitations, they were still incredible.
Lois Lane #2
Simon Bowland (letters), Paul Mounts (colors), Mike Perkins (art and cover), Greg Rucka (writer)
I really loved the opening of this issue with “The Perspective,” the DC Universe’s very own version of “The View.” It was a poignant deconstruction of that type of talk show, and how we overblow the lives of celebrities, because we don’t believe they deserve the privacy we maintain for ourselves. Lois understands that her life is on display due to her fame, a thing that must be a bit tough for a reporter who frequently has to blend in and disappear. I think my biggest problem with this series is the fact that even in a world with Superman and Wonder Woman, the migrant camps still exist, and aren’t immediately deconstructed, but I suppose that wouldn’t make for a good story to build out.
Martian Manhunter #8
AndWorld Design (letters), Steve Orlando (writer), Ivan Plascencia (colors), Riley Rossmo (art and cover)
I wasn’t expecting this issue to hit me as hard as it did, but it was the most human issue of Martian Manhunter yet. Specifically, the way Orlando depicted some of the struggles of being bisexual alongside the struggle of being openly queer in a small conservative town both resonated deeply with my own personal history. I know the pain that comes with people who are supposed to love you saying things that they may not know are hurtful, as happened to Meade with her lover in this issue. As most of the book has been J’onn’s story thus far, this issue focusing on Meade and John was a nice change of pace.
Wes Abbott (letters), Oclair Albert (inks), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Joe Prado (inks and cover), Ivan Reis (pencils and cover), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover)
I’ve been waiting for the Legion of Super-Heroes to make their return since the beginning of Rebirth, and while this wasn’t the way I expected it to happen, this was an amazing way to do it. Having the climax of Bendis’s opening story lead to the founding of the United Planets from the mind of Jon Kent is an utterly brilliant move, and having it be that which ties this Superboy to the Legion is perfect. His father’s childhood inspired the original Legion, so it’s only fair that Jon gets to inspire the Legion of the twenty-first century.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #2
Clayton Cowles (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colors and cover), Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (art and cover)
This series continues to be every bit as delightful as I had imagined it would be when it was announced. The sheer comedic genius of both Fraction and Lieber is on display on just about every page. The idea that Jimmy Olsen literally stumbled into a Pulitzer is brilliant, and the way it was illustrated sold the scene. And despite not advancing the mystery of the dead “Jimmy Olsen” much at all, the book didn’t even feel like filler. I think my favorite gag in the whole issue (sorry Pawquaman) was Superman saying he can convince anyone to buy him a hotdog, only to be eating one a few panels later. I have a feeling this series will be one that remains a staple of my shelf to go to whenever I need cheering up.
Action Comics #1014
Batman Universe #2
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #4
Black Mask #1
Detective Comics #1009-1010
Doom Patrol: Weight Of The Worlds #2
Event Leviathan #3
Freedom Fighters #8
Justice League #29
Justice League Dark #14
The Dreaming #12
The Flash #76-77
The Terrifics #19
Wonder Woman #76-77
Batman And The Outsiders #4
Batman Beyond #35
Books Of Magic #11
House Of Whispers #12
Justice League Odyssey #12
Superman: Up In The Sky #2
The Green Lantern #10
Titans: Burning Rage #1
Wonder Woman: Come Back To Me #2
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters), Tony S. Daniel (pencils, inks and cover), Mikel Janín (pencils and inks), Tom King (writer), Tomeu Morey (colors and cover), Norm Rapmund (inks)
I’ve learned over the past two years not to trust a word King says at SDCC. Last year he misled us on what Heroes In Crisis would be. This year he joked about how when he proposed his “master plan” for his Batman run, Bendis had told him that maybe over twenty-five issues of pure suffering might be a bit much on the readers—and how he learned that to be true, and that things were going to start getting better for Batman. As we learned this month, that was a bald-faced lie. King knows how to write two things, and that’s depressed characters and torture porn. This issue was purely the second, and continues the path of poorly written destruction King has torn through the DC Universe.
Batman: Curse Of The White Knight #2
AndWorld Design (letters), Matt Hollingsworth (colors and cover), Sean Murphy (script, art, and cover)
Oof. This issue was mostly just boring. It’s the same tired “take everything from Batman, have him go on the run” story that we’ve seen two dozen times before, often by better writers. And certainly by better artists. Even ignoring the bad costume designs, one page shines on a level of bad art. When Batman visits Harley, she’s laying down, and her shirt is obviously extending down her full torso. When she stands up there’s a massive pregnancy bump, and her shirt is only covering her breasts. Because that’s totally how pregnant anatomy works.
Red Hood: Outlaw #37
Steve Firchow (colors), Scott Lobdell (writer), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Kenneth Rocafort (art and cover)
Oh boy, this book became even more problematic in a hot second. Seriously, Lobdell, with everything in the news right now, you really thought it was cool to have a teenage girl AND a literal (albeit genius) baby pine over an adult man? Holy crap, that’s as tone-deaf as I could have ever imagined. Rocafort’s art does no favors to that aspect of the story either as both characters are very much stylized to be as sexy as possible, and I think I’m going to throw up now.
Teen Titans #33
Bernard Chang (cover), Sean Chen (pencils), Adam Glass (writer), Rob Leigh (letters), Marcelo Maiolo (cover colors), Ivan Plascencia (colors), Norm Rapmund (inks)
This is exactly what I don’t want from a Teen Titans book. For me, the thing that makes the Titans special as a team is that they’re a family. What Damian has put together here, and what they have subsequently devolved into, is as far from a family as we can get. Almost nobody on the team trusts or even like each other, and they only work together because they have to. On top of that, we get the recycled plot of Identity Crisis all over again with Djinn wiping villain memories. Can’t wait for that to blow up spectacularly.
Superman: Year One #2
Danny Miki (inks and cover), Frank Miller (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils and cover), Alex Sinclair (color and cover), John Workman (letters)
Can’t have a Frank Miller comic without starting it with some immediate misogyny, am I right? Just within the first five pages, I had so many problems with this book. Clark joining the military was always going to be a dumb idea, and that is hinted at when they give him the buzz cut. Apparently cutting his hair isn’t heat vision-only yet, but it’s still tough. Makes me wonder how they’d give him his immunizations and do blood draws. Didn’t think that one all the way through, did you, Frank? And I am absolutely disgusted by the idea of Superman gleefully shooting guns. That makes for two supremely tone-deaf comics in one month—great job, DC.
And of course, just like the misogyny to open the book, it also wouldn’t be a Frank Miller book without a bit of Islamophobia, would it? Gotta have Islamic terrorists for Clark’s first mission as a Navy Seal. Sure, Clark doesn’t kill any of them, but his squadmates sure do, and Clark gets discharged because he didn’t. Even after the poorly thought-out military plot is over, a mere halfway through the issue, nothing improves. Instead, now we’re saddled with a boring Lori Lemaris and Atlantis story, which really didn’t have to be a full sixth of what is supposed to be the “definitive” Superman origin. Oh and not only that, but let’s throw threats of incest into the mix with Lori’s dad too, cool cool cool. Can’t imagine why I was ever leery of Frank Miller writing a Superman origin; he’s doing so great with it.
The Solicitation Situation
GREEN LANTERN #85 FACSIMILE EDITION
written by DENNIS O’NEIL and JOHN BROOME
art by NEAL ADAMS, DICK GIORDANO, GIL KANE, and JOE GIELLA
cover by NEAL ADAMS
In this award-winning tale from 1971, Green Arrow discovers that his former sidekick, Roy Harper, is hooked on heroin! Plus, Sinestro tries to exert mental control over Hal Jordan in a story originally published in Green Lantern #11!
ON SALE 11.20.19
$3.99 US | 48 PAGES
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1
written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
art and cover by RYAN SOOK
card stock variant cover by JIM CHEUNG
card stock variant cover by RYAN SOOK
blank variant cover
Welcome to the 31st century! Inspired by the acts of and lessons learned from the greatest heroes of all time, the Legion of Super-Heroes have gathered together to stop a galaxy from repeating its past mistakes. The greatest lineup of heroes in comic book history returns with new, fresh, and reader-friendly stories!
Eisner Award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis reteams with master artist Ryan Sook (Action Comics) for one of the most ambitious mainstream comic books ever created! Why have the Legion of Super-Heroes broken the cardinal rule of the United Planets and inducted Jon Kent, a.k.a. Superboy, into the Legion? What are they hiding? And what does it have to do with Aquaman’s long-lost trident?
ON SALE 11.06.19
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FLASH FORWARD #3
written by SCOTT LOBDELL
art by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
cover by EVAN “DOC” SHANER
variant cover by INHYUK LEE
The rift between the Multiverse and Dark Multiverse is growing wider, and evil dark energy is threatening all the planets in its path! It’s up to Wally West to journey to these worlds and purge them of this darkness, but the greater darkness is that from within. The destruction has now found its way to Earth-43, where Roy Harper is the world’s premier vampire hunter, and Wally’s only hope of surviving…
ON SALE 11.20.19
$3.99 US |3 OF 6 |32 PAGES
Ugh. I’m going to hate this so much, because Lobdell can’t write either Wally or Roy worth a damn, and Booth’s art is decidedly not for me… but look at that Doc Shaner cover. I will probably even buy this issue, rip the cover off and frame it. Unless you make a print of this cover, Doc, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.
DC POSTER PORTFOLIO BY JOSHUA MIDDLETON TP
art and cover by JOSHUA MIDDLETON
The next DC Poster Portfolio spotlights the breathtaking artwork of Joshua Middleton from variant covers for Aquaman, Batgirl, and more!
Printed on heavy card stock at a big 12 by 16 inches, the pages of the Poster Portfolios are easily pulled out and are suitable for framing.
ON SALE 02.12.20
$24.99 US | 12” X 16” | 42 PAGES
That wraps up our August books and the look forward to November. Come back for next month’s DC Pubwatch when I’ll undoubtedly gush about Legion of Super-Heroes: Millenium.