Hi, friends! June just kinda flew by, didn’t it? But also it seemed to last forever too, right? In the June 2020 DC Pubwatch, we are almost back to a sense of normalcy in a small way with the number of books releasing being similar to pre-quarantine days. The biggest piece of DC news this month is their decision to completely cut ties with Diamond Distribution in the United States.
I think this is good for the industry in that it breaks up the longstanding monopoly that Diamond had on distribution, and will hopefully empower other publishers to look at what might be more reliable options. The other big news that relates to DC is that allegations surfaced that Warren Ellis has groomed women in the industry over the years. Ellis was involved in two recent projects with DC, the most notable being The Batman’s Grave mini-series. Issue seven of that series came out this month, and no word has been said about future issues. Ellis’s other project, a story for Death Metal, has been scrapped. Now on to our monthly reviews!
Batman: Secret Files #3
Vita Ayala (writer), Jordie Bellaire (colors), Deron Bennett (letters), Victor Ibanez (artist), Phillip Kennedy Johnson (writer), Sumit Kumar (artist), Rob Leigh (letters), John Paul Leon (artist), Carlos M. Mangual (letters), Guillem March (cover), Tomeu Morey (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), Troy Peteri (letters), Ivan Plascnecia (colors), FCO Plascnecia (colors), Riley Rossmo (artist), Alejandro Sanchez (colors), Mariko Tamaki (writer), Andie Tong (artist), James Tynion IV (writer), Dan Watters (writer)
This is honestly what I want to see more of from DC. Anthology-style books where you can have multiple creative teams deliver short pieces about a specific character. It’s a great way to showcase newer talent and give some space to marginalized teams. Vita Ayala’s story in this was a delight, mostly because it’s always nice to see Cheshire. And of course, even in this format, you can have additions to an ongoing narrative which is what Tynion’s story did. But the best story of the lot was by Dan Watters and John Paul Leon, with their really poignant take on both gun violence and police militarization, that came out specifically when it needed to be seen most.
Action Comics #1022
Brad Anderson (colors and cover), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Klaus Janson (cover), Danny Miki (inker), John Romita Jr. (pencils and cover)
Man, did this issue make my heart sing. It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Superboy, and getting to dive into how he exists in this current continuity was great. It was wonderful seeing the big brains of the DC Universe all together and none of them really being able to hash it out. It was fantastic having Jon and Brainy in the present day, and I can’t WAIT for Brainy to meet Kara. Having Ma and Pa Kent recognize Conner was a very heartwarming touch and filled me with joy. Bendis has been absolutely killing it on any book featuring a character with an “S” on their chest, and this was no exception.
Gabriella Downie (letters), Marissa Louise (colors), Amy Reeder (writer, artist, and cover)
This issue is joined by longtime friend of WWAC (and sometimes contributor) Marissa Louise on colors! And while I loved Reeder coloring herself for the first two issues, Marissa’s colors make the whole book pop. I especially love how she colors Amethyst’s hair with its ombre. There’s also some very bright work on sound effects that make them look like they’re popping off the page. Amethyst is turning into a fun fantasy epic, and I eagerly await more.
Far Sector #6
Deron Bennett (letters), Jamal Campbell (art and cover), N.K. Jemisin (writer)
Much like Watters’s story in the Batman Secret Files issue, this story is coming out at exactly the time when it needs to. Specifically, this issue focuses on the ramifications of police violence on protestors, and whoo boy, does that resonate right now. It covers a government official stepping down in the wake of ordering police violence, and on how that echoes to Jo’s past. Once again systems seem to be failing her, and hopefully this time she can solve the problems from within.
Green Lantern 80th Anniversary Super Spectacular
Oclair Albert (inker), Mirka Andolfo (artist), Andworld Design (letters), Darryl Banks (artist), David Baron (colors), Cullen Bunn (writer), Chriscross (writer and artist), Gabriela Downie (letters), Gabe Eltaeb (colors), Gary Frank (artist), Sina Grace (writer), Mike Grell (artist), Luis Guerrero (colors), Hi-Fi (colors), Geoff Johns (writer), Lovern Kindzierski (colors), Rob Leigh (letters), Doug Mahnke (artist), Carlos M. Mangual (letters), Ron Marz (writer), Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie (writer), Tom Napolitano (letters), Dennis O’Neil (writer), Steve Oliff (colors), Fernando Pasarin (artist), Ivan Plascencia (colors), Arif Prianto (colors), Josh Reed (letters), Ivan Reis (artist), Rico Renzi (colors), Clem Robins (letters), Rafa Sandoval (artist), Liam Sharp (cover), Dave Sharpe (letters), Alex Sinclair (colors), Mariko Tamaki (writer), Jordi Tarragona (inker), Peter J. Tomasi (writer), James Tynion IV (writer), Robert Venditti (writer), Ramon Villalobos (artist), Wade Von Grawbadger (inker), Steve Wands (letters)
I talked about my favorite stories from this special over at Comics Beat.
John Constantine: Hellblazer #7
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Aditya Bidikar (letters), Aaron Campbell (artist), John Paul Leon (cover), Simon Spurrier (writer)
Man, what a sick and twisted world Spurrier writes for our pal John, eh? Campbell and Bellaire deliver a visceral atmosphere for this story, where you can almost feel the gore dripping from the page, and you can taste the grime of the streets and fish markets that John is walking. It’s dark, it’s messy, and it’s everything we should want or expect from a Constantine story. The idea of harvesting fish meat from mermaids is obscene and disgusting and exactly the kind of thing I expect Constantine to be neck-deep in investigating. The last page of the disfigured mermaid is likely to give me nightmares for a week.
Mike Atiyeh (colors), Rob Leigh (letters), Jeff Loveness (writer), Brandon Peterson (art and cover)
This issue was an unbridled delight. While it was just a fill-in issue on a book plagued with delays, it was absolutely everything I want from Shazam! stories. Billy teamed up with Batman to fight the Scarecrow and talk about their mutual alligator man foes. In the end, it was about a little boy who never got the chance to grow up and another little boy who is doing his very best to be as grown-up as he possibly can. Bruce gets to teach Billy that it’s okay to just be a kid now while he has the chance. And yeah Billy, it does totally count as a team-up.
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Kevin Maguire (artist), Joe Prado (cover), Ivan Reis (cover), Dave Sharpe (letters), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover)
This issue cut between two stories: Superman fighting Mongul in an all-out slugfest in space, and Lois getting questioned by the FBI. The space brawl was incredibly paced and illustrated by Maguire, with every punch and throw looking dynamic and brutal. Just an A+ depiction of a slobber knocker. The scenes with Lois on the other hand were subdued and emotional. Maguire has always excelled at capturing emotion in faces, and this issue was no exception to this. There is both sass and anger in Lois’s faces throughout that very few artists could capture as well as Maguire did.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #11
Clayton Cowles (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colors and cover), Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (art and cover)
PENULTIMATE ISSUE! Jimmy gets help from old pals! The Porcadillo tells all! Who is the mysterious boss? Paper hats and Olsenograms! Metamorpho as a suit! Metamorpho’s face as undies? Jimmy Olsen’s Joker gang returns! The Replacement Jimmies return! The Fall-Off Family is together again! Doctor Fate and Gorilla pilots! An alien gets his ass kicked by a blue cat! Julian Olsen versus Lex Luthor in the Slaptropilis in Metropolis. I dunno, nothing really rhymes with Metropolis. Jimmy imagines himself as both Wonder Woman (again, he’s too good at this not to be trans I don’t make the rules) and Guy Gardner! And Flash? And Spider-Man?! Is that legal, can he do that?
Young Justice #15
Wes Abbott (letters), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Gabe Eltaeb (colors and cover), Scott Godlewski (artist), John Timms (artist and cover), David Walker (writer)
The gang’s all here! Young Justice, Spoiler, Artemis, the Wonder Twins, Miguel, Summer, Naomi, Sideways, and even Gleek all show up at STAR Labs to help Superboy. They all team up to fight some monsters and uncover a little about their pasts, and then head their own separate ways, under the implication that they’re all a team now, and when needed they’ll get back together. Conner heads off to the Hall of Justice to meet up with Superman, as a wonderful intro to the House of Kent arc.
Batman Beyond #44
Daphne Byrne #5
Dark Nights Death Metal #1
John Constantine: Hellblazer #6
Justice League Dark #22-23
Justice League Odyssey #21
Legion of Super-Heroes #6
Lois Lane #11
Suicide Squad #6
The Batman’s Grave #7
The Flash #756
The Flash Annual #3
The Low Low Woods #6
The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3
Wonder Woman #756-757
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #3
Batman: The Smile Killer #1
Books of Magic #20
Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular
Detective Comics #1022
Harley Quinn #73
House of Whispers #21
Justice League #46-47
Metal Men #7
Nightwing Annual #3
Red Hood: Outlaw #46
The Flash #755
The Green Lantern Season Two #4
The Joker: 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
Batman and the Outsiders #13
Clayton Cowles (letters), Bryan Hill (writer), Gleb Melnikov (artist), Ivan Plascencia (colors)
This is probably the biggest argument against decompressed story-telling I’ve ever read. We are thirteen issues in and almost NOTHING has happened. It’s boring, it’s drawn out, and I just wish they’d move in another direction already. But no, we’re going to have another six issues of the team rebelling against Batman, and fighting Ra’s Al Ghul. You know, just like the previous twelve issues. Get some new blood on this book or cancel it, DC, because it’s consistently one of your worst.
Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #2
Amanda Conner (writer, artist, and cover), John J. Hill (letters), Paul Mounts (cover), Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Alex Sinclair (colors)
It’s an absolute shame that DC not only waited too long to publish books that could capitalize on the Birds of Prey movie, but that both of the books that are meant to capitalize on the move are fucking terrible. While this one isn’t quite as bad as Azzarello’s (that’s a low bar), it’s still dull and fails to capture any of the magic of the movie. The humor is absolutely juvenile, and not in a fun way, and Amanda Conner while a perfectly serviceable cover and pin-up artist is not great at story-telling. The only thing I will give this book is that Harley actually gets to be bisexual in it, and that’s a rare occurrence in the comics these days. Also, this issue has one of the absolute worst drawn Nightwing asses I’ve seen in my life.
Strange Adventures #2
Clayton Cowles (letters), Mitch Gerads (artist and cover), Tom King (writer), Evan “Doc” Shaner (artist and cover)
Man, this book feels like it has a lot to say but actually doesn’t say much of anything. It feels like King’s definition of a smart man is just a guy who endlessly answers pointless trivia questions, while his idea of a good man is one who lies about war crimes. It almost feels like it wants to interrogate the horrors of war, but is not successfully doing so, and especially putting as the protagonist a war “hero” who lies about his deeds makes for a bad situation. It’s a story that I’d like told, but I don’t think King is far enough away from it, nor far enough away from his unconscious biases to tell it.
Birds of Prey #1
Brian Azzarello (writer), John Kalisz (colors), Emanuela Lupacchino (artist), Trish Mulvihill (colors), Joe Prado (cover), Ivan Reis (cover), Alex Sinclair (cover), Steve Wands (letters)
As bad as Conner and Palmiotti’s book is at least it’s not this.
BATMAN: THE JOKER WAR ZONE #1
written by JAMES TYNION IV, JOHN RIDLEY, and JOSHUA WILLIAMSON
art by GUILLEM MARCH, DAVID LAFUENTE, JAMES STOKOE, and others
cover by BEN OLIVER
card stock variant cover by DERRICK CHEW
ONE-SHOT | ON SALE 09/29/20
$5.99 US | 48 PAGES | FC | DC
CARD STOCK VARIANT COVER $6.99 US
Gotham City is a battleground as The Joker takes over the Wayne fortune and wages a street war against the Dark Knight and his allies! Enter the “war zone” with short stories featuring characters like Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and Luke Fox and see how they’re fighting back in a city under siege! Also, the brutal full debut of the mysterious new anti-hero known as Clownhunter!
SPOILER AND CASS AS BATGIRL! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #9
written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
art by ARTHUR ADAMS, BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, JIM CHEUNG, NICK DERINGTON,
MICHEL FIFFE, GARY FRANK, JENNY FRISON, MITCH GERADS, MIKE GRELL, JAMES HARREN, TULA LOTAY, EMANUELA LUPACCHINO, DAVID MARQUEZ, KEVIN NOWLAN, JOE QUINONES, IVAN REIS, JOHN ROMITA JR., RILEY ROSSMO, NICOLA SCOTT, RYAN SOOK, GENE LUEN YANG and others
cover by RYAN SOOK
variant cover by ANDRE ARAUJO
ON SALE 09/29/20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES | FC | DC
Continuing a very special two-part comics storytelling event! The United Planets have found the Legion of Super-Heroes guilty of crimes against the galaxy, and it’s up to our young heroes to prove their innocence! Featuring an all-star cast of artists, this issue will feature a surprise 1,000 years in the making! Long live the Legion!
Man, the Sook cover for this is incredible, and the talent on this two-issue arc is ridiculous.
NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS VOL. 5 HC
written by MARV WOLFMAN, PAUL LEVITZ, GEORGE PéREZ, ROY THOMAS, and others
art by EDUARDO BARRETO, ERIK LARSEN, PAT BRODERICK, KELLEY JONES, and others
cover by EDUARDO BARRETO
ON SALE 11/24/20
$99.99 US | 744 PAGES | 7.0625” x 10.875” | FC | DC
The New Teen Titans era reaches the finish line in the fifth massive collection of the historic 1980s series! This omnibus collection of Marv Wolfman’s celebrated run includes the climactic stories before The New Teen Titans relaunched as The New Titans. See the final battle between the Titans and the Hybrid, Starfire framed for murder by Wildebeest, Mother Mayhem giving birth to Brother Blood’s “Blood Child,” and Hammer and Sickle targeting Red Star for death! Collects The New Teen Titans #32-49, The New Teen Titans Annual #3-4, Tales of the Teen Titans #91, Secret Origins #13, Secret Origins Annual #3, and Infinity Inc. #45.
This finishes off the New Teen Titans before the title switched to just New Titans, but there’s still 75 issues to collect, which means I hope we get three New Titans omnibuses to finish the set.
That’s it for the June edition of DC Pubwatch, be back here next month for the roundup of SDCC at home and July’s books!