Happy Thanksgiving! The big news this month from DC was the official promotion of Marie Javins to Editor-in-Chief. This is the role I have wanted for her for years, and she’s the perfect person to shepherd DC into the next decade. Congratulations, Marie, on a well-deserved promotion. In sadder news, the people affected by the layoffs earlier this year had their final days at the company this month. So many great people and my heart goes out to all of them for whatever is next on their journey. John Constantine: Hellblazer #12 repeats as the best book the month, in its sadly final issue.
John Constantine: Hellblazer #12
Jordie Bellaire (colors), Aditya Bidikar (letters), Aaron Campbell (art), John Paul Leon (cover), Simon Spurrier (writer)
“Constantine, you unbelievable shit!” God, what a fucking book. Spurrier, Campbell, and everyone else who helped on this twelve-issue run have made probably the most perfectly distilled run of Constantine comics in existence. Bringing back characters and ideas from early in the run, this finale perfectly encapsulates everything that made this era of Constantine special. The dialogue as always is absolutely perfect for John, I particularly liked “Bollocks, arsepiss and bollocks.” The art by Campbell was messy, grotesque, and violent, a perfect fit for a messy, grotesque, and violent soul like John’s. In the end, the price of this series was to leave us wanting more, and as John said repeatedly, “The price is always higher than the prize.” I’ll miss you, you right bloody bastard.
Clayton Cowles (letters), Carlos D’Anda (art), Jorge Jimenez (cover), Danny Miki (inks), Tomeu Morey (colors and cover), Carlo Pagulayan (pencils), James Tynion IV (writer)
Tynion’s new direction for Batman continues to be fresh and exciting in a way we haven’t seen for the book in years. This new take has higher stakes for Batman and continues to build toward the future of the book. Seeing Babs continue to work in the role of Oracle and actively question if that’s actually a better spot for her than as Batgirl is wonderful and seeing her back to giving Batman sass through his earpiece was even more so. Ghost Maker is already a better addition to Batman’s cast than either Punchline or Clown Hunter, and I’m excited to see more.
Fernando Blanco (art), Jenny Frison (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), FCO Plascencia (colors), Ram V (writer)
I wrote more about the fun things Ram V is doing to reinvigorate this book over at ComicsBeat.
Detective Comics #1030-1031
Bilquis Evely (art and cover), Rob Leigh (letters), Mat Lopes (colors and cover), Peter J. Tomasi (writer)
The art is what really made these issues something special. Evely remains one of the most talented artists in the business, and Mat Lopes keeps delivering stellar color on every project he’s involved with. It’s fitting that the colorist for The Dreaming and a past artist of The Dreaming open this issue with a nightmare sequence, that really feels as though it would fit in the world of that book just as easily as it does in the pages of Detective. Evely brings an almost Tim Sale look to these issues, but a little crisper and more defined. We continue the plot threads of the anti-vigilante movement in Gotham and Batman’s missing casebook, and Tomasi gets to do what he does best with the Bat-books which is the interplay between Bruce and Damian. We also get a surprising villain brought back into the fold, in a way that is more interesting than anything that’s been done with him recently.
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #6
Jason Badowar (art), Kami Garcia (writer), Edward Kurz, MD (consultant), Annette Kwok (colors), Francesco Mattina (cover), Comicraft’s Tyler Smith (letters), Richard Starkings (letters), Mico Suayan (art)
This series continues to be a shining example of what Black Label can be. It delves into super dark and mature themes without dovetailing too far into trauma porn like some other Black Label series have tended to do, and provides a completely different take on characters from what is seen traditionally. Both main characters are deeply fleshed out with real flaws and real motivations. The immensely unsettling climax of this issue and the terrifying cliffhanger is going to stick with me until we get to issue #7 in two months. I am very excited to sit down and reread this whole series in one go when it wraps.
Andworld Design (letters), Ronan Cliquet (art), Nick Filardi (color), Dan Jurgens (writer), Travis Moore (cover), Alejandro Sanchez (cover)
Lord, it is so nice to have the Ric and Dicky Boy eras of Nightwing over. I remain amazed that somehow, someway, the Octopus Jason Todd era of Nightwing has been dethroned for the worst run on the character ever. Dick is 100% back to form here, quipping and acrobatically fighting with the best of them. Cliquet does a fantastic job showing Nightwing’s fighting style and captures him dynamically at every turn. The last splash page is a thing of beauty. He also gives us fantastic emotions as Dick breaks things off with Bea. It’s very nice to see Nightwing crying, in a way that most hyper-masculine characters in comics aren’t allowed.
Mirka Andolfo (art), Gabriela Downie (colors), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors), Sam Johns (writer), Yasmine Putri (cover), James Tynion IV (writer)
LISTEN. I am as surprised as you are about this entry. I truly was not expecting to like it, because the character of Punchline definitely fell flat for me during Joker War. But what we got in this issue was a lot more real and insidious than just the sadistic Harley Quinn she’d been in past issues. This issue built a lot on a theme of how corrupting media can get its hooks into people, even people you don’t expect and lead them down paths that are not expected. Making Punchline an influencer who had what started as a seemingly benign podcast makes her more dangerous in the long run, and Tynion and Johns really drove home how dangerous things like YouTube algorithms can be. The one thing I will complain about here is the lack of research by Tynion on something. Gotham City is canonically in New Jersey, and New Jersey is one of the few states that has abolished capital punishment. So, having the judge say that Gotham is in a death penalty state either screws up Gotham’s continuity or screws up New Jersey’s.
Red Hood #51
Tony Akins (pencils), Stefano Gaudiano (inks), Shawn Martinbrough (writer), Dan Mora (cover), Paul Mounts (colors), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters)
Am I hallucinating? Both Punchline AND Red Hood make my top ten for the month? Wild. But then this is the first time in a decade that Jason’s main book isn’t written by a sexual harasser and all-around bad writer, so who knows, it’s a bold new era. Martinbrough spends this issue doing for Jason what Ram V has done for Selina over in Catwoman. He gives him his own setting within Gotham and builds it out with an interesting new cast of characters. I’ve not been this excited for something with the Red Hood as a star since Judd Winick was writing the character.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #4
Simon Bowland (letters), Mat Lopes (colors), Nick Robles (art), G. Willow Wilson (writer), Jeremy Wilson (cover)
Once again, this comic is just an absolutely perfect ride from beginning to end. Starting with Jeremy Wilson’s surreal and haunting cover, down to the last detail of Simon Bowland’s lettering. This book could easily be used to illustrate exactly how to craft a comic book. We got a “Director’s Cut” of Strange Adventures, but this is the book that actually deserves that treatment. Mat Lopes’s color work continues to be phenomenal, especially the pastel psychedelia of the trip to the World’s End. And Nick Robles is an absolute saint for putting Heather into a THOT TOPIC shirt. Update: The Thot Topic shirt was in the script, and a facsimile can be purchased here.
Action Comics #1027
DCeased: Dead Planet #5
Justice League #56-57
Justice League Dark #28
Suicide Squad #11
Teen Titans #47
The Green Lantern: Season Two #9
The Other History of the DC Universe #1
Wonder Woman #766-767
Young Justice #20
American Vampire 1976 #2
Batman Beyond #49
Dark Nights: Death Metal #5
Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs #1
Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #2
Legion of Super-Heroes #11
Sweet Tooth: The Return #1
The Flash #765-766
The Last God #10
Dark Nights: Death Metal Infinite Hour Exxxtreme! #1
Dan Brown (cover), Becky Cloonan (writer), Denys Cowan (pencils), Andrew Dalhouse (colors), Kyle Hotz (cover), Sam Humphries (writer), Tyler Kirkham (art), Rob Leigh (letters), Rags Morales (art), Arif Prianto (colors), Dave Sharpe (letters), Bill Sienkiewicz (inks), Chris Sotomayer (colors), Frank Tieri (writer)
This thing was a sunk ship before I even opened the issue. The title of the book is overwrought nonsense. The main characters of the book are edgy holdovers from the early nineties as well. The lead writer of the book is also an edgy holdover from the nineties. So, guess what this issue is? It’s an edgy for the sake of being an edgy book that belongs in the nineties. People often talk about women writers and how “too online” they are with their writing, but they don’t have a Batman referencing the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as a place he went to train, so I think they’re better at it than Frank “Fight Me” Tieri. The Cloonan and Humphries portions of this book were significantly better than the first chapter, but they still involved Lobo and Loboized Batman, so I couldn’t really find myself caring.
Strange Adventures #1 the Director’s Cut
Mitch Gerads (art), Tom King (script), Evan Shaner (art)
Who asked for this? Like really, who said this is what I need, the black and white art with the script pages. I already made my feelings abundantly clear on what I thought about this issue, and that hasn’t changed after seeing the virgin art or the actual script. The actual script in which Tom King uses the sentence “Sheets or the bottom of the panel cut off the naughty parts” (Which isn’t actually the case in the art, it’s just heavily shadowed). The one nice thing I can say about this is that the Shaner pages without words are very pretty to look at and would actually make fun coloring pages. The Gerads pages are also pretty, but less easy to use as coloring pages due to how he renders things.
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman Hush #1
Sergio Davila (pencils), Philip Kennedy Johnson (writer), David Marquez (cover), Ivan Plascencia (colors), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Alejandro Sanchez (cover), Dexter Soy (art)
This was a shambling mess of an ill-thought-out comic. It’s like they decided to expand the Tales from the Dark Multiverse line without putting thought into why certain stories need such a take. In the long run, Hush is not a good comic. Hush isn’t even really an important comic in continuity. Sure, Tommy Elliot has stuck around, and sure the book laid the groundwork for Judd Winick’s much better “Under the Red Hood”, but the only long-term notable thing about Hush was that it was the start of Jim Lee drawing mainline DC books. This doesn’t even have that, because while Soy is a fine artist, he’s no early 2000s Jim Lee.
Batman: White Knight presents Harley Quinn #2
Andworld Design (letters), Katana Collins (script and story), Matt Hollingsworth (cover), Sean Murphy (story and cover), Matteo Scalera (art), Dave Stewart (colors)
So, one of the hallmarks of Murphy’s “White Knightverse” is that the REAL Harley Quinn is the one that was in the Batman cartoon of the nineties and everything that’s happened in the past two decades has been a fake Harley that isn’t his precious fap fantasy. The most insulting of these little nods happens in this issue with the reveal that Ivy and Neo Joker (fake Harley) are living together. “Don’t worry, the REAL Harley isn’t gay, just the fake Harley! Our fap fantasies are safe and secure friends!” It’s even more insulting when “Real” Harley reacts to that revelation with a stereotypical homophobic response. “La la la I don’t wanna hear about icky gay romance.” Don’t worry fanboys, YOUR Harley, the “REAL” Harley only likes penis, and serves as a baby machine for your favorite pasty-faced psychopath. It’s only the “FAKE” Harley who likes vagina (nevermind that the Harley of the cartoon is the one that first showed interest in Ivy). Your fap fantasies remain safe forevermore in the White Knightverse. Fuck off forever Murphy and Collins.
Clayton Cowles (letters), Jorge Fornés (art and cover), Tom King (writer), Dave Stewart (colors)
Man, FUCK this book. I didn’t expect it to get better from the first issue certainly, but I didn’t expect it to continue to just shit on the legacy of Steve Ditko in every way it possibly could. This time we found out that Not Ditko was really radicalized because he was an incel. No really, that’s the reason he does his first murder. He murders the husband of the woman who spurned him decades ago. He also created a “Not the Question” character who looks EXACTLY like the Question, and who’s nemesis uses the stupid “hehe you preach tolerance but you’re intolerant of my intolerance so really you’re just as bad as me” bullshit that we see so often as a false equivalency. Again as RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS CURRENTLY THREATEN TO START A NEW CIVIL WAR OVER THEIR CHOICE OF PRESIDENT LOSING, TOM KING IS BOTH SIDES-ING TO CAPITALIZE OFF OF THE SHITTIEST PEOPLE IN COMICS FANDOM.
Two F’s for the month but you know what? They both deserve it. Let’s dig into the Solicits for February, shall we?
FUTURE STATE: SUPERMAN OF METROPOLIS #2
- “Superman of Metropolis” written by SEAN LEWIS
- “Superman of Metropolis” art by JOHN TIMMS
- “The Guardian” written by SEAN LEWIS
- “The Guardian” art by CULLY HAMNER
- “Mister Miracle” written by BRANDON EASTON
- “Mister Miracle” art by VALENTINE DE LANDRO
- cover by JOHN TIMMS
- card stock variant cover by INHYUK LEE
- ON SALE 2/2/21
- $5.99 US | 48 PAGES | 2 OF 2 | FC | DC
- CARD STOCK VARIANT COVERS $6.99 US
- Braincells, the advanced offshoot of the diabolical Brainiac, continues to lure Jonathan Kent down the wrong path—but things go from bad to this can’t get any worse when it appears it has also taken some manner of control over Supergirl! If the Kryptonians clash, nothing will be able to protect the bottled city of Metropolis!
- Meanwhile, inside the bottle itself, the Guardian is doing everything he can to stop the city from destroying itself from within, while Mister Miracle has discovered the trail of a strange signal that he doesn’t realize will take him to Warworld.
Okay but I love this Supergirl costume. Not a fan of yet ANOTHER mind-controlled/evil Supergirl story, but the costume slaps.
GENERATIONS FORGED #1
- written by DAN JURGENS, ANDY SCHMIDT, and ROBERT VENDITTI
- art by BRYAN HITCH, MIKE PERKINS, BERNARD CHANG, PAUL PELLETIER, and others
- cover by LIAM SHARP
- variant cover by GARY FRANK
- ONE-SHOT | ON SALE 2/23/21
- $9.99 US | 80 PAGES | FC | DC
- Dispersed through time by the villain Dominus, our ragtag team of generational heroes—featuring 1939 Batman, Kamandi, Superboy, Steel, Starfire, Sinestro, Booster Gold, and Dr. Light—must find a way to restore the timeline…and what they ultimately discover is something far, far greater. You’ll have to read it to believe it as time dies…and generations rise!
Man, this cover really brings me in on a book I really didn’t care about. So much of my childhood and my favorite events are represented here.
WHO’S WHO OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC
- written and illustrated by VARIOUS
- cover by GEORGE PÉREZ
- ON SALE 4/13/21
- $150.00 US | 1,320 PAGES | FC | DC
- ISBN: 978-1-77950-599-6
- The series fans demanded is collected at last! Who’s Who began in 1984 and ran through the 1990s, cataloguing every character, good or evil, in the DC Universe, from Abel to Zyklon and beyond—with copious detail on powers, origins, and other key facets of each character. Illustrated by a wide range of top artists from the Golden Age of comics through the 1980s indie comics scene, Who’s Who was a feast for the eyes and the ultimate guide to the denizens of the DC Universe. Collects Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #1-26 (1985), Who’s Who Update ’87 #1-5 (1987), Who’s Who Update ’88 #1-4 (1988), plus material from these 1989 annuals: Action Comics Annual #2, Batman Annual #13, Blackhawk Annual #1, Detective Comics Annual #2, Doctor Fate Annual #1, Green Arrow Annual #2, Justice League Annual #3, Secret Origins Annual #3, Swamp Thing Annual #5, The Flash Annual #3, The New Titans Annual #5, The Question Annual #2, and Wonder Woman Annual #2.
I hope this sells well enough to elicit a new Who’s Who series. I’d love an update.
Anyway, that’s it for this month! Go have some turkey and stuffing, and lament the ending of John Constantine: Hellblazer with issue #12.