DC PUBWATCH: Quarantine April Edition

DC PUBWATCH: Quarantine April Edition

Oof. Most of the month, there have been no new comics, which makes it pretty difficult to write about the new comics I'm enjoying and not enjoying out of DC's stable. As quarantine continued into April, the shipping of new comics by Diamond was halted. When the whole industry relies on a monopoly to get

Oof. Most of the month, there have been no new comics, which makes it pretty difficult to write about the new comics I’m enjoying and not enjoying out of DC’s stable. As quarantine continued into April, the shipping of new comics by Diamond was halted. When the whole industry relies on a monopoly to get books to shops, the whole industry goes sideways when that single distributor can’t do that job. That monopoly might be over, though, because DC has enlisted two new distributors (run by Midtown Comics and DCBS) to help them get some product to the stores that are still able to do curbside and delivery. Not every retailer was happy about this, because they view those shops as competitors, but I’m of the mind that new comics in this trying time are a good thing, period.

I’m going to editorialize a little about my thoughts on the state of things, so bear with me. In Quarantine April, the world has screeched to a halt. Movie theaters are closed. Comic shops are offering limited services. Gatherings are prohibited. Conventions across the country, including San Diego Comic-Con have postponed or canceled. TV shows have halted production. Movies have delayed releases, and also suspended production. My favorite competition show, Ink Master canceled their finale, because it was going to be a live finale.

Very soon entertainment is going to be in short supply because everything is paused. Comics are a rare exception to this. Comics don’t require people to connect physically. Sure if you want physical copies there are a couple of points in the chain that need people in a location, but to actually put comics out? Writers can write from home, and most do. Likewise, artists, colorists, and letterers all mostly work from home. Editors typically work in an office, but there’s no part of that job that really requires that. PR people can work from home too. Comics could pump out digital content like none other, in a time when new entertainment is desperately needed.

We have been in quarantine through April, and May looks to be much the same. Let’s get new content in the hands of the people clamoring for it and work on helping other parts of the industry without sacrificing the whole thing. Let’s keep creators working so that they can still pay their bills in these uncertain times. As an industry let’s come up with ways to help struggling comic shops too, but not at the expense of the creators who will suffer when they get pencil down orders.

So as I said above, DC is working on getting new content out there. They’re expanding their digital-first line, and putting out a small number of new comics to shops every week through the new distributors. Diamond says they’ll be able to resume business on May 20th, so that maybe when we start getting a more robust line as well. DC is also moving comic releases up a day to Tuesday going forward, so the first new comics in a month came out on April 28. Only three print books were released in Quarantine April, with two more reprints as well, so rather than my standard grading practice, everything this month gets an “A” just because it’s there.

A+

Batman Giant #4

Ryan Benjamin (pencils), Jeremy Cox (colors), Richard Friend (insks), Tom Lyle (art), Steve Orlando (writer), Troy Peteri (letters), Mark Russell (writer), Alex Sinclair (colors)

Batman and Nightwing fighting Harley Quinn

The two new stories in this issue of Batman Giant were a Batman story by Mark Russell and Ryan Benjamin and a Nightwing story by Steve Orlando and the recently passed and legendary Tom Lyle. The Batman story is a fun chase story with a little twist to the ending and a little more humor than we usually see in Batman comics. I stand by my statement that I’d love Russell to get a shot at ongoing Batman.

The Nightwing story really shines: It’s good Dick Grayson Nightwing and not Ric Grayson (how is that still a thing?) and it feels like a thematic sequel to one of my all-time favorite Batman stories, Batman: Year Three. Having Tom Lyle on art was a nice bonus.

A

Daphne Byrne #4

Sam Wolfe Connelly (cover), Kelley Jones (art), Rob Leigh (letters), Michelle Madsen (colors), Laura Marks (writer)

A skeleton on display with two fused skulls

While Hill House is not my favorite imprint, I do love the aesthetic of Daphne Byrne. The story is unsettling and creepy, but the art ventures into the grotesque. I’ve said before that this is the type of book that Kelley Jones is perfect on, and I stand by that statement. Keep him off of superheroes, but give him all the horror books he wants to do until the end of time. Both the worm scene and the ripped flesh bits are greatly unnerving, and I love it.

The Dreaming #20

Simon Bowland (letters), Bilquis Evely (art), Nathan Fairbairn (cover), Mat Lopes (colors), Yanick Paquette (cover), Simon Spurrier (writer)

Stained glass of Daniel

As this chapter of The Dreaming closes, it does so much in the same way it began, with well-constructed storytelling and breathtakingly beautiful artwork. Evely is always a master, but on The Dreaming, she has been able to absolutely flex on all other artists in comics. There’s been an ethereal quality to this book that makes it feel like you’re actually visiting the realm of dreams. Everything from this 20 issue run was neatly tied up in this issue and left this world in a great spot for G. Willow Wilson and Nick Robles to take their crack at it.

There were no solicits released in Quarantine April, so there will be no Solicitation Situation this month, but hopefully, we’ll have a return to normalcy in May. Stay safe and healthy, and attack that backlog of things you’ve been meaning to read.

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