Welcome to the November DC Pubwatch. It was a really light news month in terms of DC related goings on, with the biggest news being the untimely passing of Stephanie Brown (the best Batgirl, fight me) creator Tom Lyle. His family is struggling with the unexpected expenses, so help out if you can. Without further ado, let’s get to the month’s books. As always, some spoilers within.
Wonder Twins #9
Stephen Byrne (art and cover), Mark Russell (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters)
Mark Russell does it again, consistently surpassing my expectations with how good and relevant this book is. This book earned a spot on this month’s list of top books with one Superman exchange: “You don’t understand, Superman. These refugees are in our country illegally.” “So am I.” This is exactly the kind of thing I want from superhero comics. It also did a good job of interrogating colonialism and how you need to acknowledge the missteps your countries are built upon. Wonder Twins is a standout comic each month, and I was happy to see Stephen Byrne’s return to the book.
Batman Universe #5
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Nick Derington (art and cover), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Dave Stewart (colors)
Batman Universe continues to be the absolute best of the books converted from the Walmart books. And while this issue was an absolute romp, it also made me extremely depressed. After over a year, we finally got to see Nightwing being Nightwing again, but it’s not in his own book, it’s in a new reader-friendly, continuity-free story. I’ll take what I can get, but I want more of this, and less of Ric Grayson. I’m also sad that this story is wrapping up next month. I sincerely love every time Bendis gets to play in Gotham, and hope this is just the start of a beautiful friendship between Bendis and the Batfamily.
Far Sector #1
Deron Bennett (letters), Jamal Campbell (art and cover), N.K. Jemisin (writer)
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book since it was announced. Jamal Campbell is one of the most talented artists in the business right now, and he shines on this book. His character designs are wonderful and alien, and his colors are gorgeous. My favorite of those designs are in the alien race called the @at. They are so wonderfully techy and beautiful at the same time. Jemisin sets up a wonderful story, set far away from most DC books, and different from most Green Lantern stories. I like that there’s obviously something not quite right with Mullein’s ring, and am excited to see what might be wrong with it. Check out Wendy Browne’s full review of the first issue here.
John Constantine, Hellblazer #1
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Aditya Bidikar (letters), Aaron Campbell (art), John Paul Leon (cover), Simon Spurrier (writer)
Oh my god, I love Nat. I do hope she sticks around to be a supporting character in this book. I’m also more deeply enjoying this book more than I’ve ever enjoyed Constantine books. Even the classic Vertigo series didn’t grip me as much as this book is. Its scratch art style is sometimes jarring, but for the most part fits the tone of the book real well. This book is worth the price of admission just to see Constantine get cancelled by a bar full of hipsters. Get ye’ a vape, John Constantine.
Lois Lane #5
Simon Bowland (letters), Gabe Eltaeb (colors), Mike Perkins (art and cover), Greg Rucka (writer)
Rucka’s Lois continues to excel at the quiet moments. The way he dives into what it means to be a journalist in this age where people are misinformed and untrusting of her profession. Her conversations with both the person on the plane and the source in Washington were extremely good explanations of how these things work. That said, the action sequences with Renee were spectacularly depicted by Perkins. On the subject of Perkins’ art, I absolutely adore the twinkle of mischief he catches in Lois’s eyes. It’s a perfect fit for her.
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Kevin Maguire (pencils), Paul Mounts (colors), Joe Prado (cover), Ivan Reis (cover), Dave Sharpe (letters), Alex Sinclair (cover)
We finally get some hint as to what is going on with the offer Lex gave to Lois, but still don’t know much. While I’m hesitant about this whole “Truth” storyline (because it was already done just a handful of years ago), the conversations between Clark and Lois and between Kal and Kara in this issue give me a bit of hope that it will be handled better this time. I’m definitely saving the panel of Kara asking “You? Shock!” for personal use. That said, while I liked the story in this issue, if feels like to me that Paul Mounts wasn’t the right choice to color over Maguire. There are many times where the art just doesn’t work for me, and having seen Maguire on Supergirl the last several months, I’m hesitant to say that it’s his pencils or inks that were off. The pages of his original art I saw were such tight pencils that I don’t think they even needed to be inked.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #5
Clayton Cowles (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colors and cover), Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (art and cover)
God, this book. It is absolutely my most anticipated book every month, regardless of what may be coming out. And I say this as someone with severe Batman fatigue, but if Matt Fraction could write him forever, I’d buy Batman forever. Bwoocy Hungy indeed. The prank war between Batman and Jimmy is everything I didn’t know I needed. I also really appreciate bringing back Dex-Starr to tie back to the Leviathan Rising one-shot that was the first Jimmy story for this team. I also think Metamorpho maybe optimistically over estimating pawn shop values. Be sure to read Kate Tanski’s interview with Fraction and artist Steve Lieber for some great insight.
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis #1
Brad Anderson (cover), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors), Rob Leigh (letters), Aaron Lopresti (pencils), Matt Ryan (inks), Lee Weeks (cover)
Okay, this was good. Really good. I have my problems with the original Infinite Crisis, and this had similar tonal problems, but overall, it’s a fantastic alternate take on the event. For a while it looked like this was going to be a kinder version of that Crisis, but man, did it take a turn. What made it work so well is that it all seemed to happen organically. These seemed like the right order of events to lead Ted to doing exactly what he did. So far, there are two of these Dark Multiverse stories I’d love to see more of, and two that I was fine just reading the one issue we got.
The Dollhouse Family #1
M.R. Carey (writer), Jessica Dalva (cover), Peter Gross (layouts), Todd Klein (letters), Vince Locke (finishes), Cris Peter (colors)
Vertigo may be officially dead, but its spirit lives on. Part of that is getting together the classic Vertigo team of Carey and Gross who contributed much to the golden era of the imprint with their runs on Lucifer and The Unwritten. Todd Klein’s letters also helped with that nostalgic feel, and they were an amazing fit for the book. This felt more like a classic Vertigo book than anything I’ve read recently, and it gave me a wonderful sense of dread. The book is light on the surface and at the beginning, but with a darkness just hiding underneath. The darkness slowly infests the story, until the brilliant cliffhanger on the last page.
Wonder Woman #82
Pat Brosseau (letters), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors), Jenny Frison (variant cover), Scott Hanna (inks), Kieran McKeown (pencils), Steve Orlando (writer)
While I enjoyed Steve Orlando’s first regular issue back on Wonder Woman, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that once again the only women on the book are variant cover artist Jenny Frison and associate editor Brittany Holzherr. While it’s wonderful that a woman is on the editorial team for the book, I hope for more women artists during this run. That said, I did like how connected to the DC universe at large this issue felt, from Jayna teleporting Diana’s belongings in, to both Steel and Wonder-Woman (from New Super-Man) helping her in her quest to take down Cheetah. And the last page was an incredible place to end the issue. I’d also like to point out that while I was disappointed there weren’t more women on the creative team, Jan Duursema is coming on with February’s issue #85.
Action Comics #1017
Basketful of Heads #2
Batman Beyond #38
Batman: Creature of the Night #4
Dial H For Hero #9
Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #5
Event Leviathan #6
Freedom Fighters #11
Gotham City Monsters #3
Harley Quinn #67
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #3
He-Man And The Masters Of The Multiverse #1
House of Whispers #15
Inferior Five #3
Justice League #35-36
Justice League Odyssey #15
Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Martian Manhunter #10
Supergirl Annual #2
The Flash #82
The Infected: King Shazam #1
The Infected: Scarab #1
The Last God #2
The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1
The Terrifics #22
Titans: Burning Rage #4
Young Justice #10
Books of Magic #14
Detective Comics #1015-1016
Green Lantern: Blackstars #1
Justice League Dark #17
Metal Men #2
Red Hood: Outlaw #40
Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Blackest Night #1
Teen Titans #36
The Batman’s Grave #2
The Dreaming #15
The Flash #83
Wonder Woman: Come Back To Me #5
Batman and the Outsiders #7
Clayton Cowles (letters), Bryan Hill (writer), Adriano Lucas (colors), Jonboy Meyers (cover), Cian Tormey (art)
I’m really disappointed with how this series is turning out, but I shouldn’t be surprised after all the delays it had getting to print in the first place. One wonders if it might have been better had it launched right after Hill’s Detective Comics run ended. I’m really just kind of tired of this X-Force light plot, complete with knockoff Cable, and ready for something new and different. However, I am interested in what the deal with Signal is at the end, with only being able to see darkness. I’d also like to note that the cover credits are incorrect as Soy and Gandini did not work on this issue.
Batman vs. Ra’s Al Ghul #3
Neal Adams (writer, artist, colorist, cover), Clem Robins (letters)
We are now three issues into this series and I still have no idea what is going on. The art was fantastic for most of this issue, but the plot was so mangled it seems like hamburger. All the pretty artwork in the world can’t save a story as meandering as this. The dialogue also remains delightfully ridiculous and bad. At one point, Adams has Tim Drake say out loud, “Catwoman?! Well happy birthday to me!” and I just can’t see that being something Tim would really ever think, let alone say out loud. Dick, maybe. Jason, assuredly. Tim? Nah.
Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1
AndWorld Design (letters), Matt Hollingsworth (colors and cover), Klaus Janson (art), Sean Murphy (writer and cover)
As with the entire White Knight line, to me it feels like this was a somewhat well-intentioned story that fails to hit the mark and winds up being severely problematic. The problem with this issue is that it works very hard to humanize real Nazis, and that is something that is incredibly dangerous in today’s political climate. It’s clear when reading the back matter of this issue that wasn’t the intent, but without the benefit of that afterward, that’s not how it comes across. And with Murphy’s track record on the series, I’m not prone to giving him much leeway here. Janson’s art is definitely a step up from Murphy’s, though, so at least there’s that.
Flash Forward #3
Brett Booth (pencils), Luis Guerrero (colors), Scott Lobdell (writer), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Norm Rapmund (inks), Doc Shaner (cover)
The whiplash from the beautiful Doc Shaner covers to the Brett Booth interiors remains incredibly jarring on this series. With any other creative team, I would have been eager to devour this issue from the moment I saw the cover. Wally and Roy have always been two of my favorite characters, and the chance to see them together again would be almost irresistible. Almost. Booth gives us an Arsenal that is completely unrecognizable from the one we saw on the cover. I’m really sad that lackluster sales of this book will be used as a reason Wally can’t have his own book, when it’s completely due to the pitiful creative team and not the character.
Superman: Up In The Sky #5
Brad Anderson (colors and cover), Clayton Cowles (letters), Sandra Hope (inks), Tom King (writer), Andy Kubert (pencils and cover)
Why is this comic so dreadfully boring? It’s supposed to be Superman hunting through the cosmos for a missing girl, and yet, each chapter of this story is only minutely, tangentially related to that overarching plot. We keep getting weird one-shot stories that seemingly have nothing to do with Superman’s search for Alice, even though King keeps trying to tell us they do. Everything that Batman Universe has done to be accessible and fun, Superman: Up In The Sky has done the opposite. It’s hard to follow and a boring story. I said I’ll be sad to see Batman Universe end, but quite the opposite for this book. Give me something new for Superman in these specials soon, please.
The Solicitation Situation
THE FLASH #750
“THE FLASH AGE” BEGINS!
written by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON, GEOFF JOHNS, MICHAEL MORECI, MARV WOLFMAN, FRANCIS MANAPUL, and others
art by RAFA SANDOVAL, JORDI TARRAGONA, SCOTT KOLINS, STEPHEN SEGOVIA, DAVID MARQUEZ, BRYAN HITCH, FRANCIS MANAPUL, RILEY ROSSMO, and others
cover by HOWARD PORTER
1940s variant cover by NICOLA SCOTT
1950s variant cover by GARY FRANK
1960s variant cover by NICK DERINGTON
1970s variant cover by JOSÉ LUIS GARCÍA-LÓPEZ
1980s variant cover by GABRIELE DELL’OTTO
1990s variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
2000s variant cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
2010s variant cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
blank variant cover available
Beginning: “The Flash Age”! The story we’ve been building toward since issue #50 comes to a head! While a supercharged Speed Force wreaks havoc on Barry Allen’s life, a new threat appears on the horizon in the form of the deadly Paradox. Destined to destroy the Flash’s legacy, Paradox sends his herald, Godspeed, to trap the Flash family! Plus, in this special anniversary issue: tales from across the generations of super-speedsters by an all-star lineup of writers and artists!
ON SALE 02.26.20
$7.99 US | 80 PAGES
Another anniversary issue. These are always fun, and I hope that this means Jay, Wally and Bart all get stories in this too. Also can’t wait to see the Nicola Scott Jay Garrick cover.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #40
written by ROBERT VENDITTI
art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
cover by BRYAN HITCH
card stock variant cover by ARTHUR ADAMS
The next chapter for comics’ premier superteam begins! An unexpected arrival from the stars brings a dire warning to the Justice League: A new breed of conquerors is on the march. Led by Superman’s nemesis Eradicator, a genetically engineered, super-powered strike team has come to subjugate Earth. To aid the Justice League, Batman makes the unprecedented decision of enlisting an ancient, unrivaled power, which calls into question who, exactly, is in charge. With the League on unsure footing, will they be ready to save the world?
ON SALE 02.05.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
CARD STOCK VARIANT COVER $4.99 US
FC | DC
Venditti seems like a safe, but kind of lackluster choice to follow Snyder on the book, and I’m really not a fan of Mahnke’s art, so I’m hesitant about this new era.
DOLLAR COMICS: GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH #1
written by GEOFF JOHNS
art and cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
Hal Jordan’s 2004 comeback begins!
ON SALE 02.12.20
$1.00 US | 32 PAGES | FC | DC
This and the Flash Rebirth one also announced in this month’s solicits both seem like big misfires on the part of DC Comics. I don’t ever want to see this artist’s work with a DC logo again. On that note, I’m not including the cover for that reason.
DMZ COMPENDIUM VOL. 1 TP
written by BRIAN WOOD
art by RICCARDO BURCHIELLI, BRIAN WOOD, KRISTIAN DONALDSON, NATHAN FOX, and DANIJEL ŽEŽELJ
cover by BRIAN WOOD
Welcome to the second Civil War. Manhattan is now a demilitarized zone, separating the United States of America and the Free States of America. Five years into the war, journalist Matty Roth arrives in Manhattan as an intern photographer—and soon becomes the only source of news from the DMZ. DMZ Compendium Vol. 1 collects DMZ #1-36.
ON SALE 03.25.20
$59.99 US | 840 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-77950-435-7
DC BLACK LABEL
Speaking of misfires… YIKES. Dark Horse finally officially cut ties with Wood recently, after numerous allegations of sexual harassment and grossery. This seems like a really bad time to rerelease one of his books.
Anyway, that’s it for this month’s goings-on in the DC Multiverse. Come back next month for an end of year wrap-up.