Happy holidays from the DC Pubwatch! As we reach the end of the year, I want to reminisce a little bit. Over the course of the year DC published 729 books, of which I gave an overwhelming majority A’s or B’s. For the most part, other than a few books that missed the mark, it was a good year for DC Comics on the storytelling front.
The biggest news from the DC offices this month is an editorial transfer for Jessica Chen. She’s been a driving force on the Superbooks as an associate editor, and she’s moving over to the Bat Office as a full editor. Congratulations, Jessica, on a well-deserved end of year promotion! I’ll miss you on DC Superbooks.
Lois Lane #6
Simon Bowland (letters), Gabe Eltaeb (colors), Mike Perkins (art and cover), Greg Rucka (writer)
This was an extremely emotional, extremely heavy issue focused on mourning. It showed us what it feels like to mourn a parent, even one you weren’t particularly close to. While the scenes set in the present, during and after the funeral, were powerful, it’s the flashbacks that truly gutted me. Whether it was a rebellious punk Lois, or one that was a new mother; all of those interactions between Sam and Lois were so human and raw, they made the whole comic seem much more intimate. Especially during the funeral sequence, Perkins’s art really drove home Lois’s grief, and the whole issue was a very nice break from the main story of the book.
Detective Comics #1017
Brad Anderson (cover), Fernando Blanco (art), Tony S. Daniel (cover), John Kalisz (colors), Travis Lanham (letters), Tom Taylor (writer)
Well, this was a welcome surprise. I apparently had not paid enough attention to solicits to know that Tom Taylor was doing a fill-in issue of Detective Comics, and that made it all the more enjoyable because it was unexpected. It was a brilliantly crafted one-off issue, that looked at a part of Bruce that is so often ignored. People focus on the good that he does as Batman, and often purposefully underplay the good he does as Bruce. There are lots of issues that exist in his history that are like this one, where he focuses on the positive things he can do as Bruce Wayne that he can’t as Batman. While no billionaire is outright good, Bruce Wayne is less bad than many we have in our real world.
Doomsday Clock #12
Brad Anderson (colors), Gary Frank (art and cover), Geoff Johns (writer), Rob Leigh (letters)
I almost can’t believe that it is actually real. Over two years after the first issue, in what was supposed to be one year ahead of every other DC book series, and the rest of the DC universe has moved on without it. Doomsday Clock was supposed to be the book that reintroduced the Legion and Justice Society to the world, and yet both those things actually happened before the book wrapped. That said, despite the problems caused by its delays, Doomsday Clock actually stuck the landing pretty well. The biggest contribution it has to the DC canon is going to be the sliding timescale, and it being the first on page appearance of the coming Earth 5G. Also, the singular panel of Earth 1985 made me very happy, for reasons.
Harley Quinn: Villain of the Year #1
Amanda Conner (cover), Hi-Fi (colors), Paul Mounts (cover), Mike Norton (art), Mark Russell (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters), YOU, the fans (voters)
If anyone else had been attached to write this book, I think I would have been much less interested in it, but you put Mark Russell’s name on something and I’m immediately more interested. And he didn’t prove me wrong here, either. Russell once again turned a silly concept into something phenomenally fun. Everything about the issue was a blast, from Lex Luthor’s “In Memoriam” being the time he stole forty cakes, to Harley’s changing outfits and hair styles, to the actual fan votes. As a longtime Legion of Super-Heroes fan, I’m a sucker for fan votes, and in the digital age, its easier than ever. I’m disappointed in many of the results, but that’s like any other election, I guess.
Legion of Super-Heroes #2
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters), Ryan Sook (pencils, inks, cover), Wade Von Grawbadger (inks)
This is exactly what I’m looking for in a Legion comic, between characters, action, and a little bit of political intrigue. Sook’s character designs and art in general are fantastic in this issue, and it is so refreshing to see the Legion actually made to be diverse, as it should be 1000 years in the future. It’s also really nice to see a version of Ultra Boy who isn’t a fratboy jock, because that’s been the character’s personality much too long. My only complaint is that I’m going to need to print out an Interlac alphabet, because mine is rusty, and I want to translate everything (even if it’s only “HEADLINES”).
Bengal (cover), Jody Houser (writer), Tom Napolitano (letters), Cris Peter (colors), Rachael Stott (art)
Okay, fine. I’m on board with this Infected storyline. I was hesitant and even angry when it was announced, but the individual character stories have won me over, save for Hawkman’s part of the story, and that’s mostly because I don’t care one way or another about him. This Supergirl issue is particularly excellent, in showing her fighting the infection as much as she can, and still working towards being a hero. I also appreciate that as Marc Andreyko’s run on the book has ended, the creative team has transitioned to a majority female creative team. Counting editor Jessica Chen, only letterer Tom Napolitano and cover artists Bengal and Derrick Chew are men. That’s a welcome breath of fresh air that happens too infrequently in comics focused on women or girls.
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Joe Prado (inks and cover), Ivan Reis (pencils and cover), Dave Sharpe (letters), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover)
I talked about how important this issue is over at Comics Beat.
Superman: Up In The Sky #6
Brad Anderson (colors and cover), Clayton Cowles (letters), Sandra Hope (inks), Tom King (writer), Andy Kubert (pencils)
Credit where credit is due, King and Kubert actually stuck the landing on a book that had been utterly miserable and boring in its middle chapters. I actually gave the opening chapter of the story my highest grade when it was still Walmart exclusive in September 2018. After the last few installments though, I never thought this series would hit the high point it started at, but it turns out that when King is actually working on telling the main story, it remains good. For the first time in four issues, Superman felt like Superman again, especially during the flight home with the little girl. Also, shades of Action Comics #252 (first appearance of Supergirl) with him just leaving the girl at an orphanage. If every King story could understand its characters as well as this issue did, I’d be much happier with his output.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #6
Clayton Cowles (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colors), Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (art and cover)
The plot thickens! In fact, multiple plots thicken! As does Dex-Starr’s blood vomit. I truly did not actually expect Jimmy’s wife to show up in this book again. I’m excited for her return to the main plot (if you can call it that) in coming issues. Meanwhile: Jimmy almost gets shivved! A convict gets the third degree! Batman likes the theater! The Batmobile lost a wheel (and Jimmy got away)! Lex Luthor doesn’t want Jimmy dead?!? The coitins is ruined! And Superman trusts his best pal to solve things on his own, and doesn’t want to know where he is. What a good friend.
Wonder Twins #10
Stephen Byrne (art and cover), Mark Russell (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters)
I’m really, really going to miss this book when it’s done. Russell continues his hit streak with this issue, focused on rebuilding friendships, but also touching again on social issues. In particular we have Lex News using a white person to be a diversity correspondent and the institutionalized racism that exists within many police forces. On top of that is a good critique of companies that use the “We’re family” culture to try to guilt their employees into doing more than they should. There are only two issues left of Wonder Twins to wrap up, but wherever Russell and Byrne land next, I’m sure to follow.
Basket Full of Heads #3
Batman Universe #6
Doom Patrol: Weight of the World #6
Far Sector #2
Gotham City Monsters #4
Harley Quinn #68
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #4
Inferior Five #4
John Constantine: Hellblazer #2
Justice League #37-38
Justice League Odyssey #16
New Year’s Evil #1
Suicide Squad #1
Superman Smashes the Klan #2
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: The Judas Contract #1
The Batman’s Grave #3
The Dollhouse Family #2
The Flash #84
The Infected: Deathbringer #1
The Infected: The Commissioner #1
The Last God #3
The Low Low Woods #1
Wonder Woman #83
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #1
Young Justice #11
Batman: Last Knight On Earth #3
Green Lantern: Blackstars #2
He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #2
House of Whispers #16
Joker: Killer Smile #2
Metal Men #3
Teen Titans #37
The Dreaming #16
Titans: Burning Rage #5
Wonder Woman: Come Back To Me #6
Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #1
Year of the Villain: Ocean Master #1
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters), Jorge Fornes (art), Mikel Janín (cover), Tom King (writer)
This issue gave us Thomas Wayne’s motivation, but it really seemed kind of predictable. What really aggravated me about this issue was the creepiness factor in part of the story. It’s revealed that on his Earth, Thomas Wayne got into a relationship with Selina Kyle. You know, the woman who is the same age as his son. Which he actually references in the script. Just, why? What purpose does this serve? I will be very glad when Tom King’s Batman run ends with the next issue. This has been a very long, mostly not great run, and it’s time to move on to something new.
Batman and the Outsiders #8
Clayton Cowles (letters), Veronica Gandini (colors), Bryan Hill (writer), Tyler Kirkham (cover), Nei Ruffino (cover), Dexter Soy (art)
It’s been a bad month for books by Bryan Hill, at least in terms of how much I’ve liked them. While not as outright unreadable as Fallen Angels, Batman and the Outsiders continues its downhill slide. It doesn’t feel like Hill knows what he really wants to do with these characters beyond his Detective Comics arc. One thing Hill does know, is that he really wants to write Cable. Between Fallen Angels and this, he has both a Cable analogue and Cable himself, and neither are much more than set dressing with guns. The other thing this book has in common with Hill’s X-book, is needless death to motivate characters. In this case, it’s not dead babies, which is a slight improvement, but it is a fridged woman, so yay.
Flash Forward #4
Brett Booth (pencils), Luis Guerrero (colors), Scott Lobdell (writer), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Norm Rapmund (inks), Doc Shaner (cover)
So this is probably the best issue of this series, but that is a bar so low an ant could step over it. The art remains hideous, but at least this story with an alternate universe version of Linda was interesting. I didn’t expect much from this series and it’s barely living up to even my minuscule expectations. It just seems like a completely pointless book that thinks it’s going to be more important than it is. In reality is is Dan DiDio continuing to hamstring legacy characters he doesn’t like, by giving the book to a sub-par creative team, and likely blaming the fans when it doesn’t sell well. However, this is my favorite of the Doc Shaner covers for this series.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #5
Andworld Design (letters), Matt Hollingsworth (colors and cover), Sean Murphy (writer, artist, cover)
Love that this issue is titled “Batgirl” but she’s almost not even in it. We get a single panel of Babs in a wheelchair at her dad’s funeral. I guess that’s good enough to name the issue after her, huh? We also circle back to the completely broken concept this whole universe is built on with Harley’s superpills and magical Joker cure. It’s just tiring, and played out, and the parts revolving around Azrael are just boring. I will say that I really do like Murphy’s iteration of the Az-Bats murder armor. It looks completely terrifying, like that character should. Somehow, we still have three issues left in this series, and I wish it would end sooner.
The Solicitation Situation
ROBIN 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR #1
written by MARV WOLFMAN, CHUCK DIXON, DEVIN GRAYSON, TIM SEELEY, TOM KING, JUDD WINICK, JAMES TYNION IV, AMY WOLFRAM, ROBBIE THOMPSON, ADAM GLASS, PETER J. TOMASI, and more!
art by TOM GRUMMETT, SCOTT McDANIEL, MIKEL JANÍN, KENNETH ROCAFORT, FREDDIE E. WILLIAMS II, JAVI FERNANDEZ, NICOLA SCOTT, DUSTIN NGUYEN, ANDY KUBERT, FRANK MILLER, and others
cover by LEE WEEKS
1940s variant cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
1950s variant cover by JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
1960s variant cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
1970s variant cover by KAARE ANDREWS
1980s variant cover by FRANK MILLER
1990s variant cover by JIM CHEUNG
2000s variant cover by DERRICK CHEW
2010s variant cover by YASMINE PUTRI
blank variant cover
DC Comics celebrates Robin the Boy Wonder’s 80th anniversary in style with an all-star creative team representing each iteration of the iconic character across eight decades of history! From the high-flying adventures of Dick Grayson to the tragedy of Jason Todd, the enthusiasm of Tim Drake and the arrogance of Damian Wayne, the persistence of Stephanie Brown and the rebelliousness of Carrie Kelley—the mantle of Robin has been worn by many, but always represents one thing: a hero.
ON SALE 03.11.20
$9.99 US | 96 PAGES
Hey look Marvel! You don’t have to assign something an arbitrary anniversary legacy number (that it didn’t earn) just to celebrate a big anniversary! Anyway, the talent in this book is FILLED with my favorite creators of all time: Wolfman! Grayson! Winick! Scott! Grummett! McDaniel! GIMME.
DOLLAR COMICS: BATMAN #428
written by JIM STARLIN
art by JIM APARO and MIKE DeCARLO
cover by MIKE MIGNOLA
The death of Robin!
ON SALE 03.11.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES | FC | DC
Offered to coincide with ROBIN 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR #1
LOL let’s celebrate Robin by reprinting his brutal murder.
DC End of Year Awards
It’s the end of the year, so how about some end of year awards for DC?
Mark Russell (Wonder Twins, Year of the Villain: Riddler)
Mark Russell has quick become one of my favorite writers. His work this year on Wonder Twins and Year of the Villain: Riddler was relevant, funny and told good fun stories.
Jamal Campbell (Naomi, Far Sector)
Campbell’s style is so sleek and smooth, and every book he touches is gold.
This book was a complete surprise for me. I never expected it to be as good or socially conscious as it was. A book about throwaway joke characters from a 1970s cartoon doesn’t deserve to be this good.
Honorable Mention: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen
I’m not going to give awards for the worst, but rest assured I will hate Heroes In Crisis with my dying breath.
I hope you enjoyed this end-of-year DC coverage, and look forward to seeing what 2020 brings for us.