Happy New Year! In a tumultuous year, DC still managed to put out some fantastic books, including the December output. My favorite book of the year, surprising nobody, was Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, but Wilson and Roble’s The Dreaming: Waking Hours made a strong case, including December’s #5.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #5
Simon Bowland (letters), Mat Lopes (colors), Nick Robles (art), Tiffany Turrill (cover), G. Willow Wilson (writer)
“There’s nothing more ridiculous than a sad nightmare.” Dora from the previous Spurrier and Evely run of the book makes a wonderful appearance in the final issue of the first arc of this wonderful series. And once more, every single aspect of this book shines: from Wilson’s incredible story and dialogue to Robles’ beautiful pictures to Lopes’ wonderful colors. But again, one of the absolute shining stars of this series is Simon Bowland’s letters. The different textual styles for different characters, the amazing haloed balloons of Angel speak, the way every character has their own texture and feel just from letters alone is something remarkably special. Bowland is without a doubt one of the best in the business and I love to see the tricks he pulls out of his bag each time. Seeing Ruin’s true nightmare form in contrast with his normal beautiful self was a wondrous experience, and despite being a Cthulhilan horror, he remained quite sublime. He maintained his cool coloring full of purples, blues, and teals, and became the prettiest tentacled monstrosity I’ve ever seen. And I have to say the exchange on the second to last page gave me chills. This first arc was a perfect story from beginning to end, and I can’t wait to buy the trade to read it again and again. It will sit right by my Absolute Editions of the original series.
David Baron (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters), Christian Duce (art), Jorge Jimenez (cover), Alvaro Martinez (art), Danny Miki (art), Tomeu Morey (cover), Carlo Pagulayan (art), James Tynion IV (writer)
This was a really satisfying conclusion to the first arc of the new status quo. Things have definitely shifted, but it’s not clear just yet by how much. But this issue did a fantastic job of demonstrating a more down to earth Bruce, who is fighting for a city and people that he cares deeply for, and who believes that most people are redeemable. We see that in both his interactions with Harley as well as with how he treats Ghost Maker and Clown Hunter. This is less Bat-God the uncaring and more of what I want from a Batman book.
Batman Annual #5
Derrick Chew (cover), Clayton Cowles (letters), James Stokoe (art), James Tynion IV (writer)
Much like last month’s Punchline special, James Tynion did what I thought was impossible and made me care about a superfluous original character from “Joker War,” this time working magic with Clownhunter. It builds on the new status quo to emphasize how important Dr. Thompkins will be going forward. With Alfred gone, she’s going to have to serve the moral compass role that the butler once did. I’m incredibly excited about the direction of the entire Batman line going into the new year, and hope it takes pointers from both the Superman books of the 1990s and the X-Men books of today to keep everything neat and tidy.
Fernando Blanco (art), Jenny Frison (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), FCO Plascencia (colors), Ram V (writer)
And just like that Selina has claimed her turf and made a big statement. In this issue she said she was out to “steal the show” and damn right, she did. She does a fantastic job of putting all of her rivals on the ropes, some more permanently than others. By the end of the issue one rival is completely out of the picture and the other two are severely hamstrung. I especially loved the Strays pulling a Home Alone™️ on the mob. The cliffhanger that is left dangling to be picked up after Future State is absolutely brutal.
Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last Stories of the DC Universe #1
Andworld Design (letters), Ronan Cliquet (art), Nick Filardi (colors), Dan Jurgens (writer), Travis Moore (cover), Alejandro Sanchez (cover)
In a special Christmas issue, Jurgens turns the plot on its head by making the story not about punching a bad guy but understanding the circumstances that led to the crime. It’s an argument that rears its head on twitter about once every four months: why doesn’t Bruce Wayne just spend his money to help Gotham rather than punching Joker? This will be another example to give when it comes up again, of all the times he has done just that. In this issue Dick Grayson convinces Bruce to house an entire homeless encampment and gets a woman her job back after she was laid off for profit reasons.
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Danny Miki (inks), Joe Prado (cover), Ivan Reis (pencils and cover), Dave Sharpe (letters), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover)
As I’m writing this DC Solicits for March have not come out yet, and while we know some of the things happening after Future State in other corners of the DC Universe, we don’t know yet what the Superman family of books are going to look like. If, as rumored, this is Bendis’s last issue of Superman, it’s a very high note to go out on, especially the interview narration by Lana Lang. If this is the end of the Bendis era, I feel like there is more good to it than bad, and overall I’m very happy with what has been done. Update: It is indeed the end of the Bendis era, and I’m sad to see it go.
Action Comics #1028
Brad Anderson (colors and cover), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Klaus Jansen (inks and cover), John Romita Jr. (pencils and cover), Dave Sharpe (letters)
I’m going out of alphabetical order here, because I didn’t want to put this review in front of the one for Superman. As with that issue, this is Bendis tying up the last of his run, and handing the keys off to the next team. It’s bittersweet, because I want it to continue, but also acknowledge that DC handing the title to fresh blood is something that is important too. Mostly, I would love to see more of his Kara and Brainy interacting, so I hope there’s more of that to come in Legion. The one thing I do wish is that he’d have had a better artist in his tenure on Action, as Romita was consistently the weakest part of the book.
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1
David Marquez (cover), Steve Orlando (writer), Mike Perkins (artist), Troy Peteri (letters), Andy Troy (colors)
I’ve been chomping at the bit for this issue since it was announced. Steve Orlando is one of my favorite writers in the game, and Crisis on Infinite Earths remains one of my favorite stories of all time. Even with my high expectations, I was not disappointed by the story. Orlando does a fantastic job of playing with the legacy fo the DC universe, a thing he’s always had a talent for. He also puts in just enough nods to the original Crisis to get me weeping like a baby about Kara Zor-El and Kara Zor-L. The only thing I would have liked more is if the artist for this issue was someone closer in style to George Perez, because that’s the only thing that felt out of place. Mike Perkins is great on noir and horror things, but isn’t the right fit for superhero epic.
Batman Beyond #50
Batman: Black and White #1
DC’S Very Merry Multiverse #1
Detective Comics #1032
Far Sector #9
Red Hood #52
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods #1
Teen Titans #48
Wonder Woman #768-769
American Vampire 1976 #2
Black Adam: Endless Winter #1
Dark Nights Death Metal: The Last 52: War of the Multiverse #1
Dark Nights: Death Metal #6
DCeased: Dead Planet #6
Detective Comics #1033
Jinny Hex Special #1
Justice League #58
Justice League Dark #29
Justice League: Endless Winter #1-2
Metal Men #12
Superman: Endless Winter Special #1
Sweet Tooth: The Return #2
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Dark Nights Metal #1
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1
The Batman’s Grave #12
The Flash #767
The Green Lantern: Season Two #10
The Last God #1
Batman White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #3
Andworld Design (letters), Katana Collins (script and story), Matt Hollingsworth (cover), Sean Murphy (story and cover), Matteo Scalera (art), Dave Stewart (colors)
Truly, this issue was less terrible than the previous two, so the biggest problem is that the series itself is just unnecessary. White Knight was bad enough on its own, and with each consecutive addition to its universe it just gets more and more self-important and bloated. That coupled with how Sean Murphy’s internet presence is, makes this series insufferable no matter how improved one issue may be over the others. It doesn’t help with the reveal that Detective Quimby is a creepy stalker in regards to Harley Quinn, but hey if that’s the most offensive thing Murphy and Collins are going to put in this issue, I’ll take it.
Clayton Cowles (letters), Tom King (writer), Clay Mann (art and cover), Tomeu Morey (colors)
The biggest problem with this book is how messy it is with its time jumps. It is constantly shifting between the past, the present, and the future, and especially in regard to the past and the present it is not easy to tell the difference because Mann is not an extremely varied artist. Frequently you had multiple time jumps on each page and some of them did not work at all. Specifically, there is a transition from the present to the past where the frantic hunt for a missing boy turns into a rooftop make out session without warning, and without clear detail of the time shift. The only thing I truly appreciated in this issue was the knowledge that Helena Wayne is queer.
Dark Nights Death Metal: The Secret Origin #1
Ryan Benjamin (art), Rain Beredo (colors), Richard Friend (art), Ian Herring (colors), Hi-Fi (colors), Geoff Johns (writer), Rob Leigh (letters), Adriano Lucas (colors), Francis Manapul (art), Jerry Ordway (art), Paul Pelletier (art), Joe Prado (cover), Norm Rapmund (art), Ivan Reis (cover), Alex Sinclair (cover), Scott Snyder (writer)
Have you ever read a co-written story where you can just feel the disdain the two writers have for each other? If you haven’t, this issue might be a treat. It is abundantly clear when Johns is writing what he feels about the current era of DC books, and the fact that he’s using his self-insert Superboy-Prime to do it just makes it all the more cringe-worthy. After years of developing the character into an absolutely irredeemable monster, it’s telling that on his way out of the DC spotlight Johns does indeed redeem Prime and gives him a happy ending that he doesn’t really deserve. Bring on Future State and what lays beyond, please.
Clayton Cowles (letters), Jorge Fornés (art and cover), Tom King (writer), Dave Stewart (colors)
One thing that rings true of all three Tom King books sitting here in the bottom this month (and let’s be honest, most Tom King books in general), is that instead of building compelling mysteries of their own merit, King employs writing tricks to intentionally make the stories more confusing at every turn. That continues to hold true as he tries and fails to mimic Alan Moore in Rorschach. This issue was less overtly offensive than the previous two but does continue to play the “both sides are the same and have the same kinds of nutcases” card that he has the previous two issues.
Strange Adventures #7
Clayton Cowles (letters), Mitch Gerads (art and cover), Tom King (writer), Evan “Doc” Shaner (art and cover)
Adam Strange does more war crimes! WOOOO! Can’t get enough of the war crimes, that Adam Strange feller! So glad Tom King just completely gets that Adam Strange should always be a war criminal! Just absolutely pitch perfect characterization there, Tom! But it’s OKAY for him to do war crimes, because he was tortured. Oh and it’s fine that he killed the irate fan (which we find out this issue he did in fact do) because the fan was clearly a scout for the Pykkts. Like yeah, clearly Tom King’s Adam has severe PTSD, and is unwell, but if this is the kind of thing Tom King expects PTSD to do to people, I’m worried.
As last month had two “F’s” and none of the books this month were abundantly terrible, I’m not giving any this month, Happy Holidays DC!
Infinite Frontier #0
- written by SCOTT SNYDER, GEOFF JOHNS, JAMES TYNION IV, JOSHUA WILLIAMSON, GEOFFREY THORNE, PHILLIP KENNEDY JOHNSON, BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, BECKY CLOONAN, MICHAEL W. CONRAD, JOËLLE JONES, and TIM SHERIDAN
- art by JOHN TIMMS, HOWARD PORTER, JOËLLE JONES, JORGE JIMENEZ, ALITHA MARTINZEZ, DAVID MARQUEZ, STEPHEN BYRNE, JAMAL IGLE, DEXTER SOY, RAFA SANDOVAL, ALEX MALEEV, JOHN ROMITA JR., and others
- wraparound cover by DAN JURGENS and MIKEL JANÍN
- card stock variant cover by JOHN TIMMS
- ONE-SHOT | ON SALE 3/2/21
- $5.99 US | 64 PAGES | FC | DC
- card stock variant cover $6.99 US
- The next phase of the DC Universe begins here! Dark Knights: Death Metal presented the darkest threats of the Multiverse. DC Future State revealed what may lie ahead. Now it’s time to look into the Infinite Frontier of the current-day DC Universe.
- In Gotham City, The Joker jolts citizens awake with an attack even the Dark Knight never expected. In Brazil, a young woman discovers her destiny and her connection to the Amazons. In Belle Reve, Amanda Waller plots an invasion of Arkham Asylum. In the far reaches of space, Mongul dreams of galactic domination, while the Green Lantern Corps hosts a summit of its greatest enemies. At the Hall of Justice, the League joins forces with Black Adam. Beyond the mortal world, Wonder Woman settles into a new role in the godsphere. And somewhere in the DC Universe—it’s the return of Stargirl, in an all-new tale written by Geoff Johns!
- This oversized, all-star issue kicks off the next great era of storytelling and excitement as top writers and artists reveal what’s next for the World’s Greatest Heroes and opens the door to some of the greatest stories of 2021.
A new era starts! Let’s hope there are less empty promises this time around than were given to us in Rebirth.
Superman Red & Blue #1
- written by JOHN RIDLEY, WES CRAIG, BRANDON EASTON, DAN WATTERS, and MARGUERITE BENNETT
- art by CLAYTON HENRY, WES CRAIG, STEVE LIEBER, DANI, and JILL THOMPSON
- cover by GARY FRANK
- variant cover by LEE BERMEJO
- variant cover by YOSHITAKA AMANO
- PRESTIGE FORMAT | ON SALE 3/16/21
- $5.99 US | 40 PAGES | 1 OF 6 | FC | DC
- This new series presents fresh new visions of the Man of Steel in his two signature colors of red and blue! Around the world, everyone knows that when they see a red and blue streak in the sky, it’s not a bird…it’s not a plane…it’s Superman.
- To start things off, Academy Award-winning writer of DC Future State: The Next Batman John Ridley joins artist Clayton Henry (Batman/Superman) to tell a story of Clark Kent as he confronts a villain who still haunts him, in a story that shows what Superman can mean to a whole country. Then, Brandon Easton (DC Future State’s “Mister Miracle”) and Steve Lieber (Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen) take readers to the streets of Metropolis to show how one hero can mean so much to an individual in pain.
- Plus, writer/artist Wes Craig (Deadly Class) tells a tale of Superman’s early days and the man who inspired him to become the hero he is today! And Marguerite Bennett (DC Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman) and artist Jill Thompson give us a tale of teenage Clark Kent, while Dan Watters and Dani, the team behind Coffin Bound, bring us an outlandish fable about what happens when all colors are stolen!
This is exactly the kind of thing I want to see more of! A Green Lantern: Green, Black & White would also be really cool.
Superman’s Greatest Team-ups HC
- written by MIKE W. BARR, CARY BATES, E. NELSON BRIDWELL, GARY COHN, GERRY CONWAY, STEVE ENGLEHART, STEVE GERBER, DAN MISHKIN, DENNIS O’NEIL, MARTIN PASKO, and LEN WEIN
- art by MURPHY ANDERSON, RICH BUCKLER, DICK DILLIN, DON HECK, JIM STARLIN, JOE STATON, CURT SWAN, ALEX SAVIUK, RICK VEITCH, and others
- cover by GIL KANE
- ON SALE 4/6/21
- $49.99 US | $65.99 CAN | 400 PAGES | FC | DC
- ISBN: 978-1-77950-486-9
- The greatest Superman team-up tales from the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths era of the late 1970s and 1980s are collected in hardcover for the first time! In these stories from the pages of DC Comics Presents, the Man of Tomorrow faces evil with the help of heroes including Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Mister Miracle, Batgirl, Black Canary, the Flash, and even Santa Claus and…Clark Kent? Collects DC Comics Presents #5, #9-10, #12, #14, #19, #28, #30, #35, #38-39, #45, #50, #58, #63, #67, #71, and #97.
Interesting that this is being collected this way, in such a hodge podge of issues. They’re all from DC Comics Presents which was the Superman team-up book of the Bronze Age, like Brave & Bold was the Batman team-up book. But while that series gets straight forward collections in order, DC Comics Presents gets a single hardcover with things seemingly picked at random?
Anyway, that’s a wrap for 2020, have a happy and safe new year!