Happy New Year! And with the New Year come big changes to several DC titles. Some long runs have concluded, and new eras are starting (and even Doomsday Clock has finally ended!). Without further ado, let’s get into the DC Pubwatch for January 2020. As always, the reviews may contain spoilers.
There were no real big announcements this month from DC, but we did get two more 80th Anniversary specials revealed. To go with Action Comics #1000 and Detective Comics #1000 over the last two years we’re getting a continuation of that theme this year. Wonder Woman #750 came out this month. The Flash #750 hits shelves next month and a Robin 80th Anniversary Special in March. To go with those in April we see two more: Catwoman 80th Anniversary Special and Joker 80th Anniversary Special. There are a few more characters that debuted in 1940 I could see as big enough to carry their own special, so I expect Green Lantern and Shazam to get their own announcements soon, and possibly Lex Luthor and the Justice Society too.
Also sort of getting announced this month was a Catwoman book from Sean G. Murphy and Blake Northcott. Northcott is best known as the person who tried to get herself hired immediately after Chuck Wendig was taken off a Star Wars book in 2018. Murphy is best known for trying to remain “apolitical” to attract a certain demographic, and also made waves this month by saying editors should have degrees in film or English to be able to do their jobs; while also saying that “liking comics& having strong opinions on PC culture within Star Wars isn’t enough qualification” (sic). He since deleted those tweets, and tweeted a longer thread trying to explain what he “meant,” but his dog whistle seemed pretty clear to me. There’s been no official DC announcement of Murphy and Northcott’s book, and frankly I wouldn’t mind if it vanished into the ether.
Wonder Twins #11
Stephen Byrne (art and cover), Mark Russell (writer), Steve Wands (letters)
In this issue, Russell tackles the idea that”good ol’ days” nostalgia can be an excuse for bigotry with exquisite precision in this book. Due to a computer reinforcing time before technology ruled our lives, a tiki torch-wielding mob is exploited by a billionaire would-be-politician. That may be a little too on the nose, but it’s a dual indictment of such nostalgia fueled bigotry and of our personal reliance on technology. The threat of big tech dominating our lives for the sake of convenience is very real, and all too easy to ignore. I’m really going to miss this series when it ends next month, but I’m excited to see what’s next for Byrne and Russell.
Batman Beyond #40
Wes Abbott (letters), Sean Chen (pencils), Dan Jurgens (writer), Sean Parsons (inks), Chris Sotomayor (colors), Lee Weeks (cover)
This is the highest grade that this series has ever gotten from me, and it was unexpected to say the least. Even as a kid of the 90s, I don’t have a whole lot of passion for Batman Beyond, and truly saw no need for multiple ongoing series to spin out of that animated series. But this Batwoman Beyond arc has been thoroughly engaging with its mystery of who is behind the cowl. I won’t spoil that here, but I did figure out who it is about midway through the issue. And with this reveal, I finally feel a bit more invested in this future.
Daphne Byrne #1
Piotr Jablonski (cover), Kelley Jones (art), Rob Leigh (letters), Michelle Madsen (colors), Laura Marks (writer)
When the Hill House books were first announced, this is the one I was most excited for. It’s also the one we’ve had to wait the longest to launch. My excitement was for one reason: Kelley Jones. I’ve talked about how I don’t like him as a Batman artist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like him. When he’s doing surreal horror, there is almost nobody better. His art is creepy, unreal and off-putting, and that is the perfect style for this book. While the art drew me into this book, the story kept me enthralled. There is a subtle creep just off the margins that just sits in the marrow of your bones. All the Hill House books have been stellar, but this and Dollhouse Family are the stand outs.
Dial H for Hero #11
Jordan Gibson (colors), Sam Humphries (writer), Joe Quinones (art and cover), Dave Sharpe (letters)
Once again, Quinones blew away my expectations. Throughout this series, he’s been expertly mimicking the styles of other famous artists, and this issue provided us with the creme de la creme. The opening of this issue takes us to Apokalips, and who else could you mimic in the Fourth World other than the King himself? In a thing out of my wildest daydreams, Quinones brought us a five page sequence that shows us what it may have looked like had Kirby been able to draw “Reign of the Supermen.” It’s loud, dynamic and bombastic in all the ways that make Kirby’s work so special, and it made the issue a wonderful experience.
Harley Quinn #69
Sami Basri (artist), Guillem March (cover), Ivan Plascencia (colors), Arif Prianto (cover), Mark Russell (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters)
I wrote about how Mark Russell keeps surprising me at Comics Beat.
Joker/Harley Criminal Sanity #2
Jason Badower (art), Kami Garcia (writer), Edward Kurz, MD (consultant), Francesco Mattina (cover), Mike Mayhew (art), Richard Starkings (letters), Mico Suayan (art)
I wrote about how this comic is 100% my thing at Comics Beat.
Legion of Super-Heroes #3
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Travis Moore (pencils and inks), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Ryan Sook (pencils and cover), Wade Von Grawbadger (inks)
Was I a little worried about Damian Wayne coming to the future? Yes. Was I a little excited about it all the same? Yes. Should I just learn to trust Brian Michael Bendis? Yeah, probably. Mostly I was worried about Damian taking too much page time, and that’s not at all what happened. He’s little more than a MacGuffin, a relic that unlike Superboy doesn’t belong. Yet another reason for Jon to finally do his orientation. And after the disastrous version of the character that brought down two seasons of Supergirl, its really nice having a Mon-El I can like again.
Oclair Albert (inks), Andworld Design (letters), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Julio Ferreira (inks),Danny Miki (inks), Joe Prado (inks and cover), Ivan Reis (pencils and cover), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover)
The aftermath of last month’s big reveal begins with a wonderful scene between Clark, Lois, Jimmy and Perry having to work out the details of employing Superman as a journalist. Just because his identity has been revealed doesn’t mean that Clark is going to retire from journalism, but it does mean having to approach things differently. I loved that Clark intentionally leaves typos in his work as an act of marital solidarity. I truly think Bendis is at his best on the Superman books when dealing with these intimate moments, and it’s definitely aided by Reis’s art.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #7
Clayton Cowles (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colors and cover), Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (art)
The multiple personalities of Jimmy Olsen! Jimmy wins at hide and seek! Jimmy needs a stuffed tiger! Jimmy’s not getting his deposit back! Jimmy gets off his lazy butt and gets a job! Jimmy befriends the help! Cub reporter Jimmy Olsen grabs the scoop of a lifetime! The Olsen siblings take a road trip and bemoan the lack of Superman’s help with traffic. Jimmy moves to Opal City. Jimmy moves out of Opal City! Nobody can say Jimmy wasn’t warned about the coitans. Last but not least, will Jimmy ever get divorced? All this and more in the first Jimmy Olsen issue of the new year!
Wonder Woman #750
Wes Abbott (letters), Vita Ayala (writer), Deron Bennett (letters), Marguerite Bennett (writer), Brian Bolland (cover), Tamra Bonvillain (colors), Laura Braga (art), Pat Brosseau (letters), J. Scott Campbell (cover), Elena Casagrande (art), Vicente Cifuentes (inks), Olivier Coipel (cover), Clayton Cowles (letters), Colleen Doran (art), Gabriela Downie (letters), Bilquis Evely (art), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors), Ramona Fradon (pencils), Jenny Frison (cover), Kami Garcia (writer), José Luis Garcia-López (art), Sunny Gho (colors), Shannon Hale (writer), Dean Hale (writer), Phil Hester (pencils), Hi-Fi (colors), Bryan Hitch (art), Sandra Hope (inks), Adam Hughes (cover), Joëlle Jones (cover), Jim Lee (cover), Rob Leigh (letters), Mat Lopes (colors), Emanuela Lupacchino (art), Laura Martin (cover), Jesus Merino (pencils), Joshua Middleton (cover), Travis Moore (art), Tomeu Morey (colors), Trish Mulville (colors), Amancay Nahuelpan (art), Tom Napolitano (letters), Steve Orlando (writer), Ande Parks (inks), George Pérez (cover), Ivan Plascencia (colors), Jay David Ramos (colors), Joshua Reed (letters), Riley Rossmo (art), Greg Rucka (writer), Nicola Scott (art), Liam Sharp (art), Dave Sharpe (letters), Gail Simone (writer), Alex Sinclair (cover), Scott Snyder (writer), Mike Spicer (colors), Mariko Tamaki (writer), Scott Williams (cover)
Woof that’s a lot of creators. I wrote about this monumental issue in full detail over at Comics Beat.
Action Comics #1018-1019
Basketful of Heads #4
Detective Comics #1018
Detective Comics Annual #3
Dial H For Hero #10
Far Sector #3
Freedom Fighters #12
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #5
John Constantine: Hellblazer #3
Justice League #39
Lois Lane #7
Martian Manhunter #11
Suicide Squad #2
The Batman’s Grave #4
The Dollhouse Family #3
The Dreaming #17
The Flash #86-87
The Last God #4
The Low Low Woods #2
The Qustion: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2
The Terrifics #24
Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #2
Young Justice #12
Batman Beyond #39
Books of Magic #15-16
Detective Comics #1019
Gotham City Monsters #5
Green Lantern: Blackstars #3
He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #3
House of Whispers #17
Justice League Dark #18
Justice League Odyssey #17
Metal Men #4
Red Hood: Outlaw #42
Teen Titans #38
The Flash #85
The Terrifics #23
Titans: Burning Rage #6
Batman and the Outsiders #9
Clayton Cowles (letters), Veronica Gandini (colors), Bryan Hill (writer), Tyler Kirkham (cover), Nei Ruffino (cover), Dexter Soy (art)
This book reads a lot like a DC version of Fallen Angels with better art. Soy and Gandini are the high points of this series, with Hill’s writing dragging it down. He’s using similar themes of harnessing anger here, and doing it slightly better than he is over at Marvel. In the same vein though, it does feel like he’s writing characters to fit his plot rather than to fit their actual canonical personalities, much like over in Fallen Angels. For a book that I had been very excited about, it’s amazing how quickly that excitement turned into dread.
Flash Forward #5
Brett Booth (pencils), Luis Guerrero (colors), Scott Lobdell (writer), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Norm Rapmund (inks), Doc Shaner (cover)
A filler issue in a filler mini-series, this issue served almost no point. Really the only thing this issue did was to remind Wally, and thus the readers, of how much he’s lost and how far he’s fallen. We get good quiet family moments with Linda, Iris, and Jai, but they serve almost no point as Tempus strips them away again. Thankfully, this series is not much longer for this world, but I’m scared of its promise to be “an ending in every way you can imagine.” But honestly, no Wally West is better than the Wally we’ve gotten in the aftermath of Heroes in Crisis.
Justice League Dark #19
Brad Anderson (colors), Nathan Fairbairn (cover), Raul Fernandez (inks), Rob Leigh (letters), Alvero Martínez Bueno (pencils), Yanick Paquette (cover), James Tynion IV (writer)
While Tynion’s Justice League Dark run started strong, it’s been fizzling out for me for awhile now. Neither it nor Justice League Odyssey have kept my interest like Justice League itself has. The biggest issue with this book is one that I’ve pointed out for Tynion before, where he just likes his dialogue a little too much. The unwieldy word balloons make it so you can’t let your eyes rest on Martínez’s art long enough to appreciate it, and that’s a shame, because the art really is good. There’s so much text in this issue that my eyes just kind of glazed over as I read. Maybe the new creative team coming onto the book can spark some life into it.
Red Hood: Outlaw #41
Scott Lobdell (writer), Rex Lokus (colors), David Messina (art), Dan Mora (cover), Troy Peteri (letters)
So here’s the thing about this comic. It was completely and utterly forgettable. I forgot to write my review of it the week it came out, and then sat down to write and couldn’t remember anything other than that it had been dull and boring. I had to grab it off the shelf just to give it another look. I will say that the first page made me spit take and many of my friends need to clip it out and put it in their scrap books, as Jason Todd is kissing Artemis with the caption of, “So this happened. But it was nice. For a girl.” Good job Jason Todd slashers, you’ve won.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #6
Andworld Design (letters), Matt Hollingsworth (color and cover), Sean Murphy (script, art, and cover)
How many filler issues does this series need? It is a perfect example of bloated storytelling, where a story that could have been easily condensed into a handful of issues is spread to an eight issue series where nothing really happens. I shouldn’t say nothing happens this issue though, because Murphy’s first crappy portrayal of mental illness is shot and killed. That’s right the titular “White Knight” of Murphy’s “White Knight universe” is dead and gone. We still have two issues to finish up the super boring Azrael storyline though, so yay.
The Solicitation Situation
THE LAST GOD SOURCEBOOK #1
written by PHILLIP KENNEDY JOHNSON and DAN TELFER
art by RICCARDO FEDERICI, KAI CARPENTER, JARED BLANCO and others
card stock cover by KAI CARPENTER
To look upon the Book of Ages is to know the world of Cain Anuun’s past, present, and perhaps even its future. Long believed to be the first text ever recorded, the Book of Ages contains the most complete history of Cain Anuun’s peoples and their gods.
Welcome to the official sourcebook to the world of The Last God, detailing the rich history of its peoples, locations, schools of magic, a bestiary of the creatures found throughout Cain Anuun, and much more.
In this amazing one-shot, writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson joins forces with Dan Telfer (dungeon master of the Nerd Poker podcast) to bring you 5E compatible content for playable races, subclasses, magic items, monsters, and more that you can use in your favorite tabletop role-playing game, accompanied by epic illustrations by Riccardo Federici and Kai Carpenter, as well as new maps and illustrations from master cartographer Jared Blando.
In this “Book of Ages, you’ll find everything to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the world of Cain Anuun, while also giving tabletop gamers everything they need to build campaigns and adventures within The Last God.
ON SALE 04.29.20
$4.99 US | 40 PAGES
FC | DC BLACK LABEL
The RPG nerd in me is extremely happy about this. I’m more of a Pathfinder fan these days, but it should be easy enough to convert.
written by JODY HOUSER
art by RACHAEL STOTT
cover by CARMINE DI GIANDOMENICO
card stock variant cover by DERRICK CHEW
Free of the infection and reeling after the events of Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen, Supergirl crash-lands in an area being devastated by a catastrophic storm. Suffering from a series of hallucinations and memories of her past, Kara struggles to keep her mind clear enough to save the people she swore to her cousin she’d protect. She’s got a lot to prove after endangering Smallville and all its inhabitants. Will she be able to save everyone including herself? Or is this the end for our hero?
ON SALE 04.22.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
CARD STOCK VARIANT COVER $4.99 US
FC | DC
Thankfully the Infection storyline will be wrapped up soon, if only DC could do the same with the Ric Grayson story that’s been going on for two years now.
THE DREAMING #20
written by SIMON SPURRIER
art by BILQUIS EVELY
cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
The unbelievable finale of Simon Spurrier and Bilquis Evely’s Sandman Universe epic is here! The citizens of the Dreaming make their final play against the artificial intelligence that seeks to replace them with cold rationality…and the fate of Dream is revealed!
ON SALE 04.01.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | DC BLACK LABEL
Looks like Spurrier’s run on the book got extended a couple months, and that when Wilson and Robles take over it will be a new series rather than continuing on.
BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER VOL. 4 TP
written by ALAN GRANT
art by NORM BREYFOGLE, JIM FERN, and others
cover by NORM BREYFOGLE
This new collection of 1990s Batman stories includes the earliest days of Tim Drake as Robin, with Tim risking it all when Batman and Vicki Vale are captured by the Scarecrow. As Batman decides whether he is ready to fight crime with a partner by his side once again, Commissioner Gordon rekindles an old flame. Then, Batman heads west, as the murder of an old friend leads him to San Francisco. Collects Batman #455-465 and Batman Annual #15.
ON SALE 05.20.20
$34.99 US | 328 PAGES
Finally this series continues. I’m loving this late 80s and early 90s Batman run.
That’s a wrap for the DC Pubwatch for January 2020. Come back next month for Flash’s big anniversary, along with a fresh new look for the Justice League.