The biggest news of this month’s DC Pubwatch is the further expansion of the Black Label line with another addition to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight canon (why?!), and Daniel Warren Johnson’s Wonder Woman: Dead Earth. We also got news of James Tynion IV’s “Year of the Villain” spin-off tied to the Infected and the Batman Who Laughs. It was also announced that the Brian Azzarello and Emmanuela Lupacchino Birds of Prey book would not be a main-line DC Universe book after all, but instead would be moving to Black Label. I still don’t think Azzarello is the correct writer for this book, but I’m glad it won’t be in continuity at least.
Lastly for news, this past Saturday was “Batman Day,” and with it came the announcement of the creative team taking over Batman with issue #86 when Tom King leaves. James Tynion IV returns to Gotham to write the book, while Tony Daniel and Danny Miki also return to the land of infinite gargoyles as the art team. There are worse creative teams for sure, but I was kind of hoping for some new blood, rather than people who have already done so much with the Bat.
This month was an embarrassment of riches for DC, and it was more difficult than normal to settle on just ten top books. It was a surprisingly good month for Superfamily books, as six of them land in my top ten. As always, spoilers ahead for the best and worst of this month’s offerings.
Gabriela Downie (letters), Stjepan Šejić (story, artist, and covers)
I really enjoyed Harleen more than I ever thought I would. I expected just another Harley Quinn origin, this time accompanied by very pretty Šejić artwork, but what we got was a lot deeper than that. This entire first issue was actually the lead-up to her first professional encounter with the Joker, colored by the fact that she had met him on the streets before. More than just a thing of Quinzel’s daydreams, the Joker in this case was a thing of her nightmares. Šejić’s Joker is vile, and every bit the awful villain we know he is, but also, he’s beautiful in a way you rarely see the Joker depicted. I hate that Šejić made the Joker so damn attractive, but it also makes the story infinitely better. This is a charismatic, beautiful force of personality and it’s not hard to see why even someone as smart as Quinzel could be duped into falling in love with him. Šejić’s panel layouts are also brilliant, leading to a very visual story, and one that exceeded all my expectations.
Action Comics #1015
Brad Anderson (colors), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Szymon Kudranski (artist), David Marquez (cover), Alejandro Sanchez (cover), Dave Sharpe (letters)
The best part of this book was watching Superman as he interacted with a scared teenager just learning her powers. He was compassionate and helpful, just what Naomi needed as she came to terms with her new reality. She’s terrified and excited, and Superman takes the time to calm her down and relate to her, which is exactly what I want Superman to do. Likewise, Batman’s initial interaction with Naomi is perfectly in character for him. It was a bit weird seeing Naomi drawn by someone other than Jamal Campbell and while Kudranski did a fine job, there were times that she appeared older than she did in her own book.
Batman Universe #3
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Nick Derington (art and cover), Carlos M. Mangual (letters), Dave Stewart (colors)
The thing that strikes me most about this comic is how fun it is. Fun is not a word I typically associate with Batman comics, but it’s clear that this entire creative team is having as much fun with this story as they can. The fact that this is one of the Walmart First books works perfectly, and is the polar opposite of what King and Kubert are doing with their Superman book. The other thing I loved about this issue was Derington and Stewart’s Bruce Wayne. He is so perfectly exhausted, and the bags under his eyes make this the most human Batman has ever felt for me.
Lois Lane #3
Simon Bowland (letters), Paul Mounts (colors), Mike Perkins (art and cover), Greg Rucka (writer)
We got a morsel dropped for us of what is going on with the two Questions, but the answer remains for another day. What shined about this book is how well it played the downtime moments. The only action in this issue was supplied by Vic and Renee, and that was only a brief interlude in the rest of the story. Rucka and Perkins captured an intimate moment between Lois and Clark better than almost anyone I’ve ever seen, and really were able to portray just how fallible and human Clark can be. And the final scene had me laughing about as hard as most of the gags in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen do.
Marc Andreyko (writer), Julio Ferreira (inks, pages 12-13), Scott Hanna (finishes), Kevin Maguire (art and cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), Eduardo Pansica (pencils, pages 12-13), FCO Plascencia (colors), Chris Sotomayor (colors and cover)
All in all, this was an extremely satisfying end to Andreyko’s first arc. The arc helped Kara to examine her past and her loss, and come to better terms with her grief than she ever has been able to in the past. Andreyko’s story allowed her to release the anger she had been holding on to and focus on moving forward. As always, Maguire’s art was seamless, and his expressions were immaculate. That said, as much as I liked this issue, it just makes me dread what’s coming even more. I’m so tired of evil or angry Supergirl stories, and this issue would make you think we’re past that if you hadn’t read solicits to know what’s up next.
Marc Andreyko (writer), Julio Ferreira (inks), Jesus Merino (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), Eduardo Pansica (pencils), FCO Plascencia (colors and cover)
We were blessed with two issues of Supergirl this month, and both of them were very good. Kara dives from one event to another as she goes from the Unity Saga to Leviathan. Truly, I feel like this issue is the final nail in the “Lois is Leviathan” theory’s coffin. That theory hinged on there being no bodies left in Leviathan’s wake, and in this issue we see that that’s not the case. It’s heartbreaking to see Kara deal with the loss of yet another parental figure, but I’m glad she still has Jeremiah.
Oclair Albert (inks), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Brandon Peterson (art), Joe Prado (inks and cover), Ivan Reis (pencils and cover), Evan “Doc” Shaner (art), Dave Sharpe (letters), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover)
I wrote in more detail about why I loved this issue over at Comics Beat.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #3
Clayton Cowles (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colors and cover), Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (art and cover)
Super-Dickery returns as Clark Kent makes a joke about his best friend watching someone die a horrible death! Jimmy, no, sorry, “Timmy” Olsen buries himself?! Timmy Olsen steals a shovel! A porcupine man kills an attorney, by accident! Jimmy Olsen eats a bunch of Mexican food to make a fake chain for his hostel! All this, plus a man driving off a cliff—and more! How could you resist this comic? Seriously, everyone needs to be reading it, and I’m not going to tell you to again. Okay that’s a lie, I’ll likely tell you nine more times.
Wonder Twins #7
Stephen Byrne (art and cover), Mark Russell (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters)
Wonder Twins continues to be an unexpected delight, and Mark Russell continues to move up my list of favorite writers. He continues to introduce exceedingly bizarre characters to this series that shouldn’t work, but that you connect with anyway. In this issue it was Repulso, and it was so nice to see him get to play “Strategho” with Jayna at the end of the issue. I’m also in love with the idea that every “reporter” for LexNews has to be bald to remain employed, ya know, like every woman who works for Fox News has to look like a clone of Ann Coulter at a different age.
Wonder Woman #79
Pat Brosseau (letters), Scott Eaton (pencils), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors), Wayne Faucher (inks), Jenny Frison (cover), Jose Marzan Jr. (inks), G. Willow Wilson (writer)
Remember when Tom King told SDCC that he needed twenty-five issues to break down Batman before he could build him back up? Well, Wilson did what Tom King only wishes he could do, and in only three issues. Wonder Woman’s “Year of the Villain” story is probably the best of the tie-ins so far. Wilson has broken down Wonder Woman in a very believable way, stripping her of her weapons, her ethos, and her loves. With love dead, what does Wonder Woman fight for? We got that answer in this issue, but at the end we were still left with a completely shattered heroine, and only a sliver of hope for what’s to come next.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #5
Books Of Magic #12
DCeased: A Good Day To Die #1
Detective Comics #1011
Dial H For Hero #7
Doom Patrol: Weight Of The Worlds #3
Doomsday Clock #11
Event Leviathan #4
Freedom Fighters #9
Gotham City Monsters #1
Harley Quinn And Poison Ivy #1
High Level #6
House Of Whispers #13
Inferior Five #1
Justice League #31-32
Justice League Dark #15
Justice League Odyssey #13
Legion Of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1
The Dreaming #9
The Flash #78-79
The Green Lantern #11
The Terrifics #20
Wonder Woman #78
Year Of The Villain: Lex Luthor #1
Year of the Villain: Riddler #1
Young Justice #8
Batman And The Outsiders #5
Batman Beyond #36
Detective Comics #1012
Harley Quinn #65
Red Hood: Outlaw #38
Teen Titans #34
Titans: Burning Rage #2
Wonder Woman: Come Back To Me #3
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #3
AndWorld Design (letters), Matt Hollingsworth (colors and cover colors), Sean Murphy (script, art, covers)
Murphy continues to court the edgy anti-PC crowd, and what better way to do that than to have the Joker make a coat-hanger abortion “joke”? This month’s D and F grade books are in stark contrast to the A and A+ books. In Superman: Up in the Sky’s case, it’s parallel and opposing Batman Universe and Lois Lane. In this case, it’s divergent from Harleen. While Harleen told a much more human and intimate story, and showed us the type of charismatic monster Joker has to be, Murphy’s Joker is one that I can’t imagine anyone ever falling in love with. To tell a Harley and Joker story and make it believable, you have to thread his awfulness with the ability for Quinzel to be able to live in a state of denial, and Murphy can’t do that subtlety.
Batman vs Ra’s Al Ghul #1
Neal Adams (writer, artist, colors, cover), Clem Robins (letters)
This book may be one of the most confusing books I’ve ever read, and that’s coming from someone whose favorite series of all time is Crisis on Infinite Earths. Adams throws us into the deep end without any exposition, just a Gotham that’s in ruins, and an unconnected-to-anything Editor’s Note pointing us to Cataclysm and No Man’s Land. Between story elements that make no sense (why would a police commissioner visit a foreign country’s nuclear disaster, and how would they have any power to force regulations on their own planets?) and Adams’ often confusing layout decisions, this book is very hard to follow. Maybe the coming issues will make things clearer, but for now this book is a mess.
Laura Allred (cover colors), Mirka Andolfo (art), Joëlle Jones (cover art), Arif Prianto (colors), Saida Temofonte (letters), Ram V (story)
My big problem with this book has permeated several books this month, and that’s a lack of communication between editorial teams. In this case it’s the use of Gentleman Ghost in two books set in different parts of the world in the same week. He showed up here to help Catwoman, but also was in Hawkman. The same editorial team, Jaime S. Rich and Harvey Richards, work on both books, so this is definitely something that should have been caught. Even more obvious was a discrepancy between Harley Quinn and Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (one of which is also edited by Rich), where in one book Harley is constantly turning down Lex Luthor’s numerous offers, while in the other she’s lamenting that Ivy got an offer and she hasn’t. If you’re going to do big sprawling crossovers like “Year of the Villain,” you need to have a firmer editorial hand than that.
Flash Forward #1
Brett Booth (pencils), Luis Guerrero (colors), Scott Lobdell (writer), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Norm Rapmund (inks), Evan “Doc” Shaner (cover)
It’s a seriously rough time to be a fan of the original Teen Titans. Roy is dead. Donna has been Jokerized. Dick is Ric. Nobody knows or cares what’s going on with Garth. Worst of all is Wally. The beacon of hope for the DC Universe got turned into a mass murderer in Heroes In Crisis, but now he’s getting the shortest of all sticks with this creative team. I’m not shy about my distaste for Lobdell’s writing, and I’ve never been a fan of Booth’s art, but they’re really both at their worst with this book. The storytelling is messy, and the art more so. There is not a panel in this book where Wally West is actually recognizable, even when he has the costume on. Couple that with bringing in one of the most boring parts of another book that was continually at the bottom of my list (Tempus Fuginaut from Sideways), and we have a recipe for disaster. But the covers are beautiful, and I’m angry about that.
Superman: Up In The Sky #3
Brad Anderson (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters), Sandra Hope (inks), Tom King (writer), Andy Kubert (pencils)
This is the issue I’d been dreading since the Up In The Sky books were announced to be getting ported over to comic shops. Not having a Walmart near me means I missed this issue there, but definitely heard about it. It’s also jarring that this and Lois Lane #3 came out the same week, because everything Rucka did right with Clark’s protective nature and playing it as a fault, King did wrong. While it’s true that Clark worries about Lois, he’s also confident in her abilities, and wouldn’t be as torn apart as he was in this issue. King and Kubert deliver twelve pages of Lois getting killed in over-the-top, detailed ways, and Superman panicking. While he does care for her and want to protect her, he would never be this crippled that an investigative journalist didn’t answer her phone. It’s a shame that in a month full of great Superfamily books, this one also saw print.
The Solicitation Situation
HARLEY QUINN: VILLAIN OF THE YEAR #1
written by MARK RUSSELL
art by MIKE NORTON
cover by AMANDA CONNER
blank variant cover
Harley Quinn hosts “Villainy’s Biggest Night” as the DCU’s most dastardly gather at the Hall of Doom to do what they do best: congratulate themselves! But one villain has a secret plan, fueled by years of being overlooked by his peers, and the burning desire to receive the praise he so rightly deserves… Don’t miss out on a one-of-a-kind comic book experience, with the winners decided by you, the fans! Who will be crowned DC’s Villain of the Year? Go to dcvillainoftheyear.com for more information!
ON SALE 12.11.19
$4.99 US |40 PAGES |FC |DC
SUICIDE SQUAD #1
written by TOM TAYLOR
art by BRUNO REDONDO
cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
blank variant cover
Task Force X—nicknamed the Suicide Squad—unites some of the DCU’s unlikeliest villains for its bloodiest series yet! The Squad’s new mission is to neutralize a new group of international super-terrorists known as the Revolutionaries—and not everyone on either side will make it out alive! But when the U.S. government’s most deniable team of do-badders realizes that the surviving Revolutionaries will be joining the Squad, all hell breaks loose! Who can Harley Quinn and Deadshot trust when their new teammates are the very people their crew was assigned to kill? The Suicide Squad doesn’t just need to worry about surviving their next mission… now they have to survive each other! The acclaimed Injustice creative team of writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo reunite for the wildest incarnation of the Squad ever seen!
ON SALE 12.18.19
$4.99 US | 40 PAGES
Likewise Tom Taylor can also make me care about anyone, and then hurt me with that ability. Giving him a canon book where the cast is literally meant to be disposable is terrifying, and I’m not at all ready for what he’s going to do to my poor heart.
THE INFECTED: DEATHBRINGER #1
written by ZOE QUINN
art by BEN OLIVER
cover by VIKTOR BOGDANOVIC
Donna Troy is a hero. She fought alongside friends, led the Titans into battle, and buried more friends in the line of duty than she cares to remember. She’s strong, she’s brave, she’s one of the fiercest warriors on the planet…and she’s the Batman Who Laughs’ next target for infection! Spinning out of the events of The Batman Who Laughs and Batman/Superman comes the story of a hero who is done with bringing peace to a world that cannot be trusted with it. A woman who’s past has been her greatest adversary, and whose newly awakened dark side is ready to burn it all down and forge a new destiny. No more peace. Only… Deathbringer!
ON SALE 12.04.19
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
Under other circumstances, this would be a book that I’d be looking forward to. I loved Zoe Quinn on Goddess Mode, and I LOVE Donna Troy, but I’m not looking forward to any part of the Infected story line. We’ve had enough “Pure” heroes go evil story-lines to last me a life time, and frankly the fact that two of the six infected heroes are among my ten favorite heroes of all time makes me utterly sick.
BATWOMAN/SUPERGIRL: WORLD’S FINEST GIANT #1
Includes new stories plus classic reprints!
ON SALE 12.04.19 | $4.99 US | FC | 96 PAGES | DC
(No cover image available at time of press)
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH BATWOMAN AND SUPERGIRL COMICS FOR WALMART. YES. CAN’T WAIT.
BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS: TRANSFERENCE TP
written by DEVIN GRAYSON and JEN VAN METER
art by DALE EAGLESHAM, PAUL RYAN, ROGER ROBINSON and others
cover by BRIAN BOLLAND
A horrifying crime attracts Batman’s attention and forces him to revisit the ghosts of his past as Oracle, Nightwing, and Robin attempt to help him solve the mystery! Batman engages in a psychological war with a stronger, smarter-than-ever Hugo Strange, but the aftermath of this battle will be a nightmare from which Batman and his associates may never recover. Collects Batman: Gotham Knights #1-12.
ON SALE 01.01.20
$29.99 US | 304 PAGES
That’s it for September’s DC Pubwatch! Join me next month, as I’m sure things will get spooky just in time for Halloween.