DC Pubwatch – February 2020

DC Pubwatch – February 2020

OH, BOY. It's not often that I have industry-shaking news to report in a Pubwatch, but just as I was sitting down to write for February, the biggest news of the industry hit. Dan DiDio is no longer at DC. He joined the company in 2002 as vice-president of editorial, eventually becoming co-publisher with Jim

OH, BOY. It’s not often that I have industry-shaking news to report in a Pubwatch, but just as I was sitting down to write for February, the biggest news of the industry hit. Dan DiDio is no longer at DC. He joined the company in 2002 as vice-president of editorial, eventually becoming co-publisher with Jim Lee in 2010. In his time at the DC editorial, he headed many initiatives, both successful and not, most famously, the New 52. His editorial reign saw the returns of Silver Age staple characters like Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, and Kara Zor-El. It’s also an era that has been plagued with misdirections. It has been overly dark and violent and has been a rejection of many things that I love about the DC Universe. For all his faults, DiDio was a very good manager who was more than willing to redirect any fallout towards himself and that is a quality that can be necessary for the minefield that is this industry. For good or ill, it’s a time of massive change for the company, and we can only speculate what this means for future events like Generation 5.

A+

Superman Smashes the Klan #3
Janice Chiang (letters), Gurihiru (art and cover), Gene Luen Yang (writer)

Superman with Roberta and Tommy - February 2020

This book was so powerful and yet one of the most readily accessible Superman stories you can tell. Superman stories don’t need to be a slugfest between the Man of Steel and someone of equal physical power, his heroism can be shown just as well from confronting all too human evils. We saw two very distinct sides to the evil of racism in this issue. You have people like the Grand Scorpion who actually believe in race superiority and will do anything to advance that cause, but at the same time, you have people like the Grand Imperial Mogul who are just grifters monetizing the blind bigotry of the former. Both are equally dangerous and evil, even if the latter doesn’t actually perform the atrocities he encourages. The idea that combating racism is what encourages Superman to finally embrace the differences that make him more powerful than any human, is extremely poignant. Check out Adrienne Resha’s review of the first issue.

A

Amethyst #1
Gabriella Downie (letters), Amy Reeder (writer, art, cover)

Amethyst walking through Gemworld - February 2020

This book is absolutely beautiful. The art is my main draw to this book, as I don’t have a lot of connection to previous Amethyst stories, but Reeder’s art has been a favorite of mine for over a decade. She does all the art for this book, including the vibrant and bright colors that make the pages pop. As someone who knows next to nothing about the character, this book was a fantastic introduction to the character. My one question is where this falls in line with the continuity set up by the Bendis Young Justice arc.

Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P.
Eddy Barrows (art), Chris Burnham (art), Nathan Fairbairn (colors), Eber Ferreira (art), Sumit Kumar (art), David Lafuente (art), Travis Lanham (letters), Rex Locus (colors), Adriano Lucas (colors), Tom Napolitano (letters), Diogenes Neves (artist), Marcio Takara (art), Peter J. Tomasi (writer), James Tynion IV (writer)

Alfred looking down on a brooding Batman - February 2020

Man, that creative team’s almost as big as Wonder Woman # 750’s! I wrote more about this issue at Comics Beat.

Dial H For Hero #12
Jordan Gibson (colors), Sam Humphries (writer), Joe Quinones (art and cover), Dave Sharpe (letters)

Miguel and Summer holding hands plummeting through the Heroverse - February 2020

So ends the artistic tour de force that was Joe Quinones on Dial H for Hero. Once more the constantly shifting art styles made this book a visual delight. Watching Quinones mimic famous styles has been an ongoing treat for this entire series and this issue we got references to E.C. Segar (creator of Popeye), John Romita Sr., Walt Disney, and Carmine Infantino. Seeing Quinones flow easily from one style to another has been absolutely astonishing to watch, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. While the writing wasn’t always the most interesting thing about this book, the art lifts it to a must-read almost every month.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3
Jason Badower (art), Kami Garcia (writer), Edward Kurz, MD (consultant), Francesco Mattina (cover), Mico Suayan (art), Richard Starkings (letters)

Harley emerging from Joker's mouth - February 2020

God, I love this book. Even with the drastic art shift that happened in this issue, it still completely has me in its thrall. I love everything about this book more than I ever expected. The details of how forensic psychology works are more on point than I’ve ever seen in a comic, and that fully drives my interest. I’m also deeply interested in the modus operandi of the Joker’s kills in this book. I love the idea of modeling all of them after famous works of art, and it has an undeniably creepy result. I do hope the original flashback artist comes back for future issues though because the art styles were so vastly different in this issue.

Legion of Super-Heroes #4
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Wade Von Grawbadger (inks), Mikel Janín (pencils and inks), Travis Moore (cover), Dave Sharpe (letters), Alex Sinclair (cover), Ryan Sook (pencils)

The three founding members of the Legion in front of their own faces - February 2020

I love this slightly different take on the forming of the Legion, with little hints to the personalities of each founding member. We have an Imra desperate to be her own person, and not part of a collective like everyone else on Titan. We have a Garth who is shyly poking out from behind his much more confident and boisterous sister (I LOVE THIS AYLA, THE EMBODIMENT OF FIGHT ME). Finally, we have Rokk the Jock, just trying to make his overbearing father proud. I want to see the rest of the story, but it’s fun to be in Jon’s shoes and discovering it as he does.

Superman: Heroes #1
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Simon Bowland (letters), Clayton Cowles (letters), Gabe Eltaeb (colors), Nathan Fairbairn (colors), Matt Fraction (writer), Scott Godlewski (art), Bryan Hitch (cover), Steve Lieber (art), Kevin Maguire (art), Paul Mounts (colors), Mike Norton (art), Mike Perkins (art), Troy Peteri (letters), Greg Rucka (writer), Alex Sinclair (cover),
Andy Troy (colors)

Superman holding his glasses while looking down on all the DC heroes - February 2020

Yet another book with a gazillion creators that I reviewed for Comics Beat.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #8
Clayton Cowles (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colors and cover), Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (art and cover)

King Jimmy scaling Gorilla City Tower - it was a whole thing

Reign of the Subparmen! Grotesque cyborgs! Shiny man-children! A totally radical kid! Mister Adult Man! Julian Olsen continuing to be the absolute fucking worst! Jaime Olsen and his perfectly coifed hair! Disappearing car parts! That sweet Olsen Bump! A marital dispute! Jimmy’s last trip to Gorilla City! Where he turned into a giant, mindless dude, tried to kidnap a lady, and climbed a building. It was a whole thing. Gorilla CNN! A cat that Jimmy didn’t get rid of! A cat that vomits rage napalm, in fact! Jimmy’s wife’s new beau shouting for his space wife!

The Dollhouse Family #4
M.R. Carey (writer), Jessica Dalva (cover), Peter Gross (layouts), Todd Klein (letters), Vince Locke (finishes), Cris Peter (colors)

Two creepy creepy dolls

This book remains the absolute best of the “Hill House” line. It’s bone-chilling and harrowing, leaving readers unsettled and disturbed. The demons depicted in the opening pages look like they came directly from nightmares, especially the one that was nothing but eyes and mouths in rolling flesh. But those demons pale in comparison to the horrors that Alice feels as the Dollhouse steals away her daughter to make her whole again. Only she’s not really whole, now, is she? There’s an element of a monkey’s paw to this story, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Wonder Twins #12
Stephen Byrne (art and cover), Mark Russell (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters)

Jan and Zayna taking a selfie

Wonder Twins was my favorite comic of 2019 and for good reason. It has consistently been one of the sharpest, snappiest and most nuanced books on the shelf, with beautifully rendered art to go with the wonderful scripting. This is sadly the final issue, though the cover hints at a possible continuation. Said cover is fantastic too, with scribbles on it to invoke a high school yearbook. This wasn’t the strongest issue of the series, in that it was a lot of wrap up, but it still had more heft to it than most books out right now. I’m going to miss these goofballs and their bizarre rogues gallery, and only hope that the cover’s tease isn’t cruelly untrue.

B

Action Comics #1020
Aquaman #57
Basketful of Heads #5
Batgirl #44
Batman #89
Batman Beyond #41
Batman/Superman #7
Daphne Byrne #2
DC Crimes of Passion #1
DCeased Unkillables #1
Far Sector #4
Gotham City Monsters #6
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #6
He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #4
John Constantine: Hellblazer #4
Leviathan Dawn #1
Lois Lane #8
Martian Manhunter #12
Nightwing #69
Plunge #1
Shazam! #11
Suicide Squad #3
Supergirl #39
The Batman’s Grave #5
The Dreaming #18
The Flash #88
The Green Lantern Season Two #1
The Low Low Woods #3
The Terrifics #25
Wonder Woman #751-752
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #2
Young Justice #13
Superman #20

C

Batman #88
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #7
Books of Magic #17
Catwoman #20
Detective Comics #1020
Harley Quinn #70
Hawkman #21
House of Whispers #18
Joker: Killer Smile #3
Justice League #40-41
Justice League Dark #20
Justice League Odyssey #18
Lucifer #17
Metal Men #5
Red Hood: Outlaw #43
Teen Titans #39
The Last God #5
Titans: Burning Rage #7
Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3

D

Batman and the Outsiders #10
Clayton Cowles (letters), Veronica Gandini (colors), Bryan Hill (writer), Tyler Kirkham (cover), Arif Prianto (cover), Dexter Soy (art)

Ra's and his team looking down on a defeated Outsiders

A slow-moving, boring mess of a book, the only thing that makes this an easier read than Fallen Angels is that it has better art that’s actually easy to follow. Even the art has shortcomings, however, specifically where the colorist is concerned. Ignoring 81 years of continuity and the DC Style Guide, Gandini for some reason gives Bruce Wayne brown hair rather than his traditional black. A small error to be sure, but one that should have been caught by editorial, given how prominent a character Bruce Wayne is. Also, I’m very tired of “Not Cable” and just want to never think about him again.

Batman vs Ra’s Al Ghul #4
Neal Adams (writer, art, colors, and cover), Clem Robins (letters)

Batman fighting monsters behind Bruce Wayne and Ra's

Speaking of confusing messes, somehow this book gets more and more bizarre with each passing issue. Suddenly we have Batman Olympics, a Batman who is not Bruce Wayne in a magic dimension (but is totally the body of Bruce Wayne), and 16 long lost family members of Deadman. We have Ra’s and Bruce buying part of each other’s companies, but it wasn’t really Ra’s it was a robot. We have a demonic Batman who everyone says looks like a bat, but he really doesn’t look anything like a bat. We have the words “monkey boy” appear on page at least a half dozen times. Worst of all, these plot threads don’t seem to really touch each other at all.

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey Book One
Amanda Conner (writer, art and cover), John J. Hill (letters), Paul Mounts (colors), Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Alex Sinclair (cover)

Harley laying on a wall above Montoya, Dinah, Cass and Helena

This was nothing more than a 33-page lewd joke. On top of that, the half-titular characters barely appear in this book. Huntress is on seven pages. Cass Cain is on two. Renee Montoya is on one. Dinah? Dinah’s nowhere to be found. We do have five pages of Harley hitting on Power Girl though, so I guess that’s something. Truly all this book serves to be is a continuation of Palmiotti and Conner’s Harley Quinn run, when the writers that have come after them were already continuing the same run. It wants to be canon, but only in a very specific sense while ignoring everything that’s happened since the pair left the book.

Justice League #39 (RETRACTION)
Juan Albarran (art), Hi-Fi (colors), Jorge Jimenez (art), Tyler Kirkham (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), Arif Prianto (cover), Daniel Sampere (art), Alejandro Sanchez (colors), Scott Snyder (writer)

The Justice League falling into an abyss

In last month’s Pubwatch, I gave this book a B, giving it the benefit of the doubt. You see, the book ended abruptly, but other critics and I thought maybe our review copies were cut a little short due to the abruptness. This happens occasionally to prevent spoilers from leaking out, and this was a big enough issue where that could be the case. Sadly, that’s not what happened and over two years of set-up ended with an anti-climatic “Follow this story into the next big event!” I feel cheated and vastly disappointed, enough so to retract the previous grade.

F

Flash Forward #6
Brett Booth (pencils), Luis Guerrero (colors), Scott Lobdell (writer), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Norm Rapmund (inks), Doc Shaner (cover)

Wally West holding the earth - February 2020

Good god, what the fuck did I just read? Who in the absolute fuck thought this was a good idea? That’s where this shambling mess of a comic ended up? Are you kidding me? Do you think the majority of Wally’s fans are utterly stupid, Dan [note: this review was written before DiDio’s exit from the company, but maybe we angry Wally fans can take some small credit]? Is that it? That we’d be willing to accept whatever table scraps you’d throw at us? God, I feel disrespected by this comic. We wanted Wally back, we didn’t want Wally to become some bizarre cross of Metron and Doctor Manhattan. This is one of the absolute stupidest series I’ve ever read in my life and I wouldn’t wish it on my least favorite character, let alone one of my favorites.

The Solicitation Situation

DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL #1
written by SCOTT SNYDER
art by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
card stock foil cover by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
Batman variant cover by DAVID FINCH
Superman variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
Wonder Woman variant cover by STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU
1:100 variant cover by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
Black and white party variant cover by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
blank variant cover

Get ready for the earth-shattering encore! The legendary team behind Dark Nights: Metal and Batman: Last Knight on Earth take center stage and reunite for one last tour.
When the Earth is enveloped by the Dark Multiverse, the Justice League is at the mercy of the Batman Who Laughs. Humanity struggles to survive in a hellish landscape twisted beyond recognition, while Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman have all been separated and fight to survive. Unleash the beast and let the head banging begin!
ON SALE 05.13.20 | CARD STOCK COVERS
$4.99 US |  1 OF 6 | 32 PAGES
FC | DC
This issue will ship with five covers. Please see the order form for details.

Wonder Woman with a chainsaw, Batman on a cycle with a scythe, Superman with long hair and armor

Not terribly excited about this, but it looks like this is probably what will provide the actual kickoff to the next chapter of the DC Universe. Maybe it will also provide some closure for Snyder’s Justice League run.

GENERATION ONE: AGE OF MYSTERIES
The march toward DC’s future begins here!
By an all-star team of writers and artists!
In May, DC launches a series of special one-shots that detail the history of the DC Universe starting with the debut of Wonder Woman, DC’s first superhero, and leading all the way to a bold new era unlike anything you’ve seen before. before. It starts on Free Comic Book Day with Generation Zero, and continues in May with Generation One—with each subsequent month seeing a new one-shot spotlighting the next generation of DC’s super-heroic legacy.
The secret history of the DC Universe unfolds before us as seen through the eyes of Wonder Woman, Lucius Fox, King Faraday, and more!
What is the previously undocumented “big bang” of the heroic age? What was the real reason behind the Justice Society’s retirement? Which hero of the Golden Age makes a shocking transformation into its greatest villain? The answers set up the boldest DC storylines ever told in this, the first of five one-shot issues that chronicle the history of the DC Universe and lays the groundwork for excitement yet to come!
ONE-SHOT
PRESTIGE FORMAT
ON SALE 05.27.20
$5.99 US | 48 PAGES
FC | DC

Blank Red cover with the Generation One logo

Speaking of that next era of DC Comics, the journey to Generation Five starts with Free Comic Book Day in May with Generation Zero by Scott Lobdell (ugh). A little concerning that the writers laying the groundwork for this next evolution of the brand are five cis-straight-white men, despite their pedigrees. The one-shots for each generation are written by Brian Bendis, Dan Jurgens, Andy Schmidt, Robert Venditti, and Joshua Williamson while being drawn by Doug Mahnke, Bryan Hitch, Mikel Janín, Ivan Reis, David Marquez, and more. Just kind of feels like more of the same.

GREEN LANTERN 8OTH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR #1
written by GEOFF JOHNS, MARIKO TAMAKI, PETER J. TOMASI, JEFF LEMIRE, ROBERT VENDITTI, DENNIS O’NEIL, SINA GRACE, CHARLOTTE FULLERTON, RON MARZ, JAMES TYNION IV, and others
art by IVAN REIS, FERNANDO PASARIN, DARRYL BANKS, MIKE GRELL, RAFA SANDOVAL, and others
cover by LIAM SHARP
1940s variant cover by NICOLA SCOTT
1950s variant cover by MATT TAYLOR
1960s variant cover by DOUG MAHNKE
1970s variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
1980s variant cover by DAVID FINCH
1990s variant cover by PHILIP TAN
2000s variant cover by IVAN REIS and OCLAIR ALBERT
2010s variant cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
blank variant cover
In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil could ever escape their sight! The Green Lanterns are celebrating 80 years of keeping the DC Universe safe. Join us to see tales of all of the universe’s most legendary Green Lanterns: Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jessica Cruz, Simon Baz, and appearances from other cosmic favorites! A legendary lineup of creators including Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Jeff Lemire, Ivan Reis, and others will be keeping the galaxy glowing bright!
PRESTIGE FORMAT
ON SALE 05.20.20
$9.99 US | 96 PAGES
FC | DC
This issue will ship with 10 covers.
Please see the order form for details.

A generations of Green Lantern cover by Nicola Scott with Alan, John, Hal, Guy, Kyle, Simon, Abin Sur, Jessica, Sinestro and Teen Lantern

I’m very happy that they did not include Ethan Van Sciver in this despite his contributions to the character. I’m also thrilled that Nicola Scott is continuing her series of “Through the Ages” covers, albeit sad that she didn’t do one for the Flash.

BATGIRL #47
written by CECIL CASTELLUCCI
art by ROBBI RODRIGUEZ
cover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI
variant cover by TERRY DODSON and RACHEL DODSON
Knock knock!
Who’s there?
The Joker.
The Joker who?
The Joker who’s here to have a nice chat with Barbara Gordon!
Don’t miss this devastating tie-in to “Joker War”!
ON SALE 05.27.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | DC
This issue will ship with two covers.
Please see the order form for details.

Joker bringing "flowers" to Batgirl

UGH. Let’s revisit Barbara Gordon’s trauma AGAIN. Why not? Not like we’ve done THAT before, right?

CATWOMAN #23
written by SEAN MURPHY and BLAKE NORTHCOTT
art by CIAN TORMEY
cover by SEAN MURPHY
variant cover by WOO-CHUL LEE
Even Catwoman needs a break from the city sometimes! Featuring a story by Eisner Award winner Sean Murphy (Batman: White Knight) and the DC debut of co-writer Blake Northcott (Vampirella), join Catwoman on this two-part story as she leaves for the jungle to blow off some steam in the best way she knows how…stealing the world’s largest diamond from an annual super-secret supervillain auction, of course!
ON SALE 05.13.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | DC
This issue will ship with two covers.
Please see the order form for details.

A brokeback Catwoman with a Panther

Speaking of UGH. This creative team discourages me at every turn. Neither Northcott nor Murphy inspire any confidence in me, and the fact that they are getting the mainline Catwoman title makes me sad. I was hoping it would be in the White Knight universe so I could ignore it. Hopefully, it’s just this one two-part story.

SUPERGIRL #42
written by JODY HOUSER
art by RACHAEL STOTT
cover by CARMINE DI GIANDOMENICO
card stock variant cover by DERRICK CHEW
Deemed a threat by the U.S. military, Supergirl is now a wanted villain! General Corvid has come for our hero—and she won’t give up until Kara’s gone for good. Meanwhile, the superstorm rages stronger than ever, while hundreds remain helpless against it. Can Supergirl prove that she’s the hero the people once believed her to be? Or will she let everyone down—including herself? Find out in the pulse-pounding series conclusion!
ON SALE 05.27.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
CARD STOCK VARIANT COVER $4.99 US
FC | DC
FINAL ISSUE
This issue will ship with two covers.
Please see the order form for details.

Supergirl getting shot at with bullets bouncing off.

I feel like I’m being a real downer with this month’s solicits, but c’mon. Maybe if you let writers and artists explore what makes Kara special instead of diving into another year of dark, angsty or downright evil Supergirl stories, maybe then you could get a series to last longer than 45 issues.

May certainly looks bleaker than I’d like, but February was very good, and I have hope for change in the future of DC Comics. We’ll see what next month brings.

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