This is an interesting month for DC news and solicits because most of DC’s January books are going to be part of Future State. This is a two-month line-wide detour into possible futures of the DC universe. The important things to note are the breaks from the standard 20-page monthly book. Many of the books in the upcoming slate are anthology style. Pricing is set at essentially $1 for every eight pages, ranging from $3.99-9.99. The other important thing is that the creative lineup is very diverse, and includes a handful of younger talent. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the future of the DC Comics brand. Hellblazer #11 is my pick of the month this time around, just narrowly edging out last month’s pick.
John Constantine: Hellblazer #11
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Aditya Bidikar (letters), Aaron Campbell (art), John Paul Leon (cover), Simon Spurrier (writer)
So Waking Hours does get unseated from the top spot, but by another “Sandman Universe” book, and another book that has been consistently great. Reading this issue I got angry all over again about how this series is ending thanks to a stupid virus and lackluster efforts by certain governments to curtail it. This is fitting because this issue of Hellblazer is an absolute indictment of the British Tories. An ancient being from British folklore, Rawhead-And-Bloody-Bones has taken a role in British Parliament. He’s a creature that feeds on fear, and he found a perfect spot as a leading member of the Tories, specifically stoking fears of the other. He explains how well-fed this kept him until the focus of the party shifted from stoking fear to stoking pride, and how he’s discovered a greater evil afoot, and now needs John to rescue him and perhaps the whole country.
Aneke (art), Jordie Bellaire (colors), Becca Carey (letters), Cecil Castellucci (writer), Mick Gray (inks), Scott Hanna (inks), Emanuela Lupacchino (pencils), Joshua Middleton (cover), Trish Mulvihill (colors), Marguerite Sauvage (art), Wade Von Grawbadger (inks)
Much like last month’s Catwoman #25, this issue sort of plays with an anthology format with three stories all written by Cecil Castellucci but with different art teams. One interesting thing to note with the creative teams on this book is that for once, an issue like this is predominately NOT men. The only three men in the credits are all inkers on the first story, embellishing Lupacchino’s pencils. Every other creator on the book is a woman, and that’s really nice to see for once on a woman-led solo comic. The stories are also really good at setting the stage for the future. This is the final issue of this series, but threads are lain for things to come. CW’s new Batwoman was introduced in one of the stories along with a more politically active Barbara Gordon. Future stories are set up in the second. And the third? That’s the most interesting for me, because it lays the groundwork for what could be a new Birds of Prey with Babs back as Oracle, and Black Canary, Huntress, and the Batgirls as her operatives.
Clayton Cowles (letters), Jorge Jimenez (art and cover), Tomeu Morey (colors and cover), James Tynion IV (writer)
Wrote about this issue as the climax of the Joker War at Comics Beat.
Clatyon Cowles (letters), Guillem March (art and cover), Tomeu Morey (colors and cover), James Tynion IV (writer)
So I said in my longer review of Batman #100 that I was excited for what Joker War was setting up for the future of the Batman family, and we got our first glimpses of that in both Batman and Catwoman this month. What Tynion is setting up for the coming year in Batman is the most I’ve been excited for a Batman book since Tynion was on Detective. Promising us a breakaway from the Batgod that has only gotten more and more ridiculous since Morrison started the concept in JLA in the late 1990s. The near future of Batman is going to be a more Lo-Fi grounded take, and I can’t wait to see this.
Laura Allred (cover), Fernando Blanco (art), Joëlle Jones (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), FCO Plascencia (colors), Ram V (writer)
Most of the Batman line of books this month fired on all cylinders. I am much less surprised at the quality of Catwoman though than I was at the quality of Batman. The last issue set the stage for Ram V’s run, and this issue just continued to lay the fantastic groundwork for what I hope is a long run. Ram continues to build Selina’s supporting cast, this time introducing us to rivals and enemies. Everything he’s setting up looks to pay off in fantastic ways. Blanco’s art is also fantastic, bringing a noir vibe to the book in a similar vein to Gotham Central.
Justice League #54-55
Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors and cover), Daniel Henriques (inks – issue #55), Tom Napolitano (letters), Robson Rocha (pencils – issue #55), Liam Sharp (cover), Dave Stewart (cover – issue #54), Joshua Williamson (writer), Xermanico (arti– issue #54)
The Doom Metal arc of Justice League is much better than I expected it to be, which holds true for most of the tie-ins to Death Metal. What makes this more interesting to me than a lot of the main plot of the event is that this arc served as a Titans reunion of sorts. We get to see Nightwing, Starfire and Cyborg together again, and that’s always nice. Also, Starfire’s mohawk look is absolutely fire (both figuratively and literally), and I’d be really very okay with her keeping this look past this event.
Justice League Dark #27
June Chung (colors), Nathan Fairbairn (cover), Rob Leigh (letters), Amancay Nahuelpan (art), Yanick Paquette (cover), Ram V (writer)
In the first issue of this arc setting up the final battle with team villain the Upsidedown Man, Ram V wastes no time raising the stakes. Last issue left John Constantine in rough shape, and he’s no better in this issue, but lordy that’s just a hint of whats to come. Wonder Woman takes the witching power again from Circe, in theory corrupting her soul even more. Swamp Thing sacrifices his body to change the laws of nature within Upsidedown Man’s domain. Kent Nelson sacrifices his whole being into a final shot at the villain, and Zatanna figures out the real way to defeat him through her words, leaving us with a cliffhanger panel of absolute body horror.
Andworld Design (letters), Ronan Cliquet (art), Nick Filardi (colors), Dan Jurgens (writer), Travis Moore (art and cover), Alejandro Sanchez (cover)
FINALLY. God, what an absolute slog this book has been for the last 25 issues. The Ric and Dicky Boy eras of Nightwing have been an absolute nightmare for fans of the first Robin, and I’m excited to put these terrible two years behind us. I loved the wink and nod to title this issue “Who Is Dick Grayson?” in homage to the various stories featuring his best friend Donna Troy, and it was nice seeing her involvement in Dick’s finding of himself. Unlike the other post-Joker War issues this month, this one was mostly set during that event rather than in the aftermath of it. I truly hope that after Future State we see a new team come onto the book, to fully kickstart a new direction.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3
Simon Bowland (letters), Mat Lopes (colors), Nick Robles (art), Marcio Takara (cover), G. Willow Wilson (writer)
This book is an absolute masterclass of storytelling. All three tales being told are interesting and unique, each giving us different emotional journeys. The three different stories also allow Robles and Lopes to play with their style, changing to match the tone of each. For the Lindy portions, the art is crisp and bright, but able to convey emotion when needed. For the Ruin sequences, the colors take a cooler tone overall (with some bright bursts of warmer colors for Jophiel’s origin and Puck’s arrival) to evoke a deeper moodiness and melancholy. For the small bits featuring Dream, the style shifts to a more abstract and starkly contrasting composition. Everything works so well in concert with each other, and unsurprisingly this remains one of my most anticipated books every month.
Action Comics #1026
Batman Beyond #48
Dark Nights: Death Metal: Rise of the New God #1
DCeased: Dead Planet #4
Detective Comics #1028
Far Sector #8
Legend of the Swamp Thing: Halloween Spectacular
Legion of Super-Heroes #10
Suicide Squad #10
Teen Titans #46
The Flash #763
The Last God: Songs of Lost Children #1
Wonder Woman #764-765
Young Justice #19
American Vampire 1976 #1
Batman: Three Jokers #3
Dark Nights: Death Metal Robin King #1
DC The Doomed and the Damned #1
Detective Comics #1029
Justice League Odyssey #25
Metal Men #11
Red Hood: Outlaw #50
The Batman’s Grave #11
The Flash #764
The Green Lantern: Season Two #8
Honorable mentions to both Three Jokers and Robin King which may have been bad, but were less bad than everything down here, so congrats on not quite making this cut.
Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #1
Andworld Design (letters), Katana Collins (script and story), Matt Hollingsworth (cover), Sean Murphy (story and cover), Matteo Scalera (art), Dave Stewart (colors)
Sigh. I despise this universe. Every single book in this world has been an absolute trash fire. Of course, this one is no exception to that now well-established rule. This is a highly insulting book, causing me to curse within the first two pages. You see, our “hero” of the book, she blames herself for creating the Joker, because she actually met him when he was still Jack Napier, and she was but a stripper dancing her way through med school bills. And of course, the reason she blames herself is that his rage was unleashed when a drink was spilled on her. I can’t with good conscience recommend anything by Murphy, or anything from this line of comics.
Batman and the Outsiders #17
Clayton Cowles (letters), Veronica Gandini (colors), Bryan Hill (writer), Tyler Kirkham (cover), Arif Prianto (cover), Marcio Takara (art)
It’s sad to see such a strong concept and diverse team get absolutely wasted on a series that didn’t have much to say at all. None of the characters are really in a different place from where they started, with maybe the exception of Cassandra. But even that is messy and does a disservice to the great story from last month’s Joker War Zone issue, in that this is Bruce explicitly telling her to be who she wants to be whether that’s a Bat or something else, so giving her retroactive permission to put on the Batgirl costume. Also, this puts timelines in view and it’s hard to see where in the midst of Joker War this could all fit at all. The real answer is that it can’t.
Dark Knights: Death Metal #4
Greg Capullo (pencils and cover), Jonathon Glapion (inks and cover), FCO Plascencia (colors), Scott Snyder (writer)
This issue was about as satisfying as a wet fart. After the incredible work that was done last month in the Multiverse’s End and Speed Metal tie-ins, I was hoping for a bit more payoff in this issue. I was hoping to see a bit more of each of the Crises that were being visited, but nope. Almost nothing of Crisis on Infinite Earths, just white space-eating Batman. A little more of Final Crisis with demon Darkseid’s throne and cameos from Cass Cain Batgirl and crop top Supergirl. The most we see is of Infinite Crisis and Superboy (who looks nothing like a boy) Prime’s multiverse tower. But nothing that’s been done so far mattered, because it was exactly what the Batmanhattan Who Laughs wanted, and now he’s the Darkest Knight. I’m just really tired of this era of DC Comics and ready for whatever’s next to start.
Strange Adventures #6
Clayton Cowles (letters), Mitch Gerads (art and cover), Tom King (writer), Evan “Doc” Shaner (art and cover)
Right out the gate in this issue, we get nailed with racism and war crimes with Alanna and Adam shooting members of a peace delegation unprovoked just because they had the audacity to speak another language. But really, other than that casual racism and subtle war crime, this is probably the least awful issue of this series? I know that’s not saying much, but it’s what I got. This issue was less offensive than it was boring, and still drives home that King doesn’t care about writing any of these characters, he just wants them as blank mouthpieces for his story and opinions.
Clayton Cowles (letters), Jorge Fornes (art and cover), Tom King (writer), Dave Stewart (colors)
See my review.
Future State: The Next Batman #2
“The Next Batman” written by JOHN RIDLEY
“The Next Batman” art by LAURA BRAGA
“Batgirls” written by VITA AYALA
“Batgirls” art by ANEKE
“Gotham City Sirens” written by PAULA SEVENBERGEN
“Gotham City Sirens” art by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO
cover by LADRÖNN
card stock variant cover by STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU
ON SALE 1/19/21
$7.99 US | 64 PAGES | 2 OF 4 | FC | DC
CARD STOCK VARIANT COVER $8.99 US
In this second Future State: Batman chapter, wearing a mask in Gotham City is now a crime—and when it’s compounded with murder, it can be a shoot-on-sight offense! Batman is on the trail of a murderous couple but quickly finds that all is not as it seems…and finds himself in the firing line of the Magistrate and their Peacekeepers! The gritty, street-level adventures of the new Dark Knight continue!
Also in this issue, Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown find themselves in a prison where the Magistrate throws heroes and villains alike! What no one knows, though, is that Cassandra was sent there with a mission…
And in a story of the Gotham City Sirens, some girls just want to have fun—so what do you do when you find Gotham City in turmoil and overrun by Cybers? You go shopping, of course! Join Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and a new Siren on a gal’s night out. They’re on the town, looking for trouble…and finding it!
I know that for many the big draw of Future State: The Next Batman is Ridley and Braga’s main story, but for me the big draw is Batgirls. I talked about how much I wanted this concept after War Zone, and I’m happy to see it in some form here. The cherry on top is that it’s written by one of my favorite writers. Vita Ayala is a gem in the industry and I’m so happy they’re getting this shot.
Future State: Nightwing #1
written by ANDREW CONSTANT
art by NICOLA SCOTT
cover by YASMINE PUTRI
card stock variant cover by NICOLA SCOTT
ON SALE 1/19/21
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES | 1 OF 2 | FC | DC
CARD STOCK COVER $4.99 US
Batman is gone! Now, Nightwing has taken on the mission of keeping the citizens of Gotham City safe from the Magistrate. But to do that, he’ll have stay one step ahead of the Magistrate! And you know things have gotten bad in Gotham when the safest place for Dick to hide out is the abandoned Arkham Asylum! When Nightwing gets a visit from a mask claiming to be the new Batman…does he fight like one? Pick up this dark peek into the future by writer Andrew Constant and artist Nicola Scott to find out!
NICOLA SCOTT DRAWING NIGHTWING’S ASS AGAIN. THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS.
BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS: CONTESTED
written by DEVIN GRAYSON and CHUCK DIXON
art by ROGER ROBINSON, JOHN FLOYD, and LEONARDO MANCO
cover by BRIAN BOLLAND
ON SALE 2/23/21
$29.99 US | $39.99 CAN
296 PAGES | FC | DC
The eclectic early millennium stories of Batman, Nightwing, and the extended Bat-family continue as Dick Grayson returns to his acrobat roots to take on the criminal sister duo, Double Dare! Then, Batman calls Aquaman for a favor, Scarecrow unleashes his fear toxin in Arkham, and Superman pays a visit to Gotham City! Collects the lead stories from Batman: Gotham Knights #14-24 and #29.
I am so glad that this series is finally getting collected, and this second collection of Gotham Knights brings us closer to one of my favorite Batman stories of all time getting collected.
FUTURE STATE: SUPERMAN: WORLDS OF WAR #1
“Superman: Worlds of War” written by PHILLIP KENNEDY JOHNSON
“Superman: Worlds of War” art by MIKEL JANíN
“Midnighter” written by MICHAEL W. CONRAD and BECKY CLOONAN
“Midnighter” art by GLEB MELNIKOV
“Black Racer” written by JEREMY ADAMS
“Black Racer” art by SIYA OUM
“Mister Miracle” written by BRANDON EASTON
“Mister Miracle” art by VALENTINE DE LANDRO
cover by MIKEL JANÍN
card stock variant cover by RICCARDO FEDERICI
ON SALE 1/19/21 | $7.99 US | 64 PAGES
1 OF 2 | FC | DC
CARD STOCK VARIANT COVER $8.99 US
This monumental Future State title features four big stories! First, Clark Kent is gone, leaving a Superman-shaped hole behind. People gather in Smallville to celebrate their hero, little realizing that he is across the galaxy helping others. Superman has gone to Warworld, where he fights as a gladiator in the deadly pits of Mongul. But this is Superman we’re talking about—and his idea of a victory does not line up with the expectations of Mongul’s hordes!
Meanwhile, on the other side of Warworld, other agents are at work, struggling for a better life. Shilo Norman, the man known as Mister Miracle, has ridden a Boom Tube across the cosmos from Metropolis to finds himself at odds with an entire planet!
At the same time, Midnighter, the greatest fighter from Earth, is punching his way through a whole mess of trouble. He’s on the hunt for a new energy source deadlier than Kryptonite. His goal: to shut it down before it gets unleashed on an unsuspecting universe.
On top of that, the Black Racer, a girl raised in the slums of Warworld to be one of its top competitors, turns betrayal into a crusade to fight for the freedom of others like her.
After the extremely jingoistic take he gave us on Captain America, I can’t say I’m terribly excited about Johnson’s Superman. Also not thrilled about a Superman in exile.
FUTURE STATE: KARA ZOR-EL, SUPERWOMAN #1
written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
art by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
cover by PAULINA GANUCHEAU
card stock variant cover by ALEX GARNER
ON SALE 1/12/21
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES | 1 of 2 | FC | DC
CARD STOCK COVER $4.99 US
Kara Zor-El, Superman’s hot-tempered cousin, has finally found peace and purpose away from Earth and its heroes. Now known as Superwoman, she watches over the Moon and the refugees from across the galaxy who have congregated there. But all of that is about to change when a spaceship piloted by a runaway alien crash-lands and turns Kara’s world upside down! Does this fugitive come in peace? Or does this arrival bring war to our hero’s front door?
Not terribly thrilled about Kara abandoning Earth again, but I am excited about the character growth to move past being Supergirl.
That said, Future State as a whole looks promising to me, especially the focus on more anthology-style books. With that and how they did Catwoman #25 and Batgirl #50, I could see that being pretty standard for the line moving forward. Hellblazer #11 was absolutely amazing this month, so come back next month to see if the series finale wraps everything up with a nice little bow.