DC PUBWATCH: April 2021 Edition

DC Pubwatch - October

April showers bring May Milestone comics! Surprising nobody, The Dreaming: Waking Hours #9 continues to be the cream of the crop, but surprising everyone, including me, The Joker #2 was actually my second favorite book of the month.

The News

One of the biggest pieces of news this month for DC was that the first issue of the Batman/Fortnite crossover sold like absolute hotcakes. Stores sold out of this book remarkably fast, which was only a surprise to be people that don’t get the cultural zeitgeist, as Fortnite is about the hottest a brand can get these days. I’m an old and don’t get the appeal, but I’m happy so many do. I’m even happier that this is getting comics into the hands of young kids who might not otherwise be reading them. That’s the exciting thing about this crossover. It’s not something aimed at me, but it is aimed at the next generation, and if it makes any of them more interested in DC comics? That’s a win.

Other news this month is the launching of the DC Horror imprint. Now, as a horror fan, I’m actually really excited about this announcement, but also feel like I need to take a little bit of time to clarify things that I saw a lot of people misunderstanding on Twitter after it was announced. It’s true that DC did just have the Hill House imprint that focused on horror, and they have Black Label that can touch on those same themes. So what makes this different? Well, Black Label is just for mature themes, so while horror can find a home there, the line is not dedicated to that genre. Hill House was dedicated to horror, but it was also very specifically curated by Joe Hill, running titles that Hill himself wrote or decided fit with the idea of what he wanted the small line to be. It was a great line, but it was focused on one person’s ideas of horror, and not as broad as the new imprint is. One thing that excites me a lot about this announcement is that Marie Javins specifically referenced DC’s history of horror books, with House of Mystery and House of Secrets those two books paved the way for horror in the post-Comics Code world, and I really hope that one of the things this imprint brings is relaunches of those books as anthology series.

The last bit of news this month is the announcement that June’s Superman #32 is the final issue of the series, and for the foreseeable future, the last issue of Superman to come out. There have been a handful of times in the last 80 years that DC hasn’t published a monthly book with that title, but they’ve always been very short, as part of special events. Both Byrne and Bendis’s Man of Steel mini-series pre-empted the title for a couple of months. Likewise, so did Convergence and Future State. But this is the first time in many decades that it doesn’t seem like there’s a plan to continue that book, as it is being replaced by Superman: Son of Kal-El in July. Truly the end of an era.

Highlights

The Dreaming: Waking Hours #9
Simon Bowland (letters), Matt Lopes (colors), M.K. Perker (art) Nick Robles (art and cover),  G. Willow Wilson (writer)

Ruin getting intimate with a Minotaur in grayscale over pinks and reds

Right from the start, Nick Robles’ cover for this book is remarkably sensual, giving a strong hint of what we’ll find within the pages as we continue our venture into the lust-fueled realm of the fae. And truly, what greets us in the opening pages is exactly that, with Heather and Ruin being fed fruit by the denizens of the fae while in varying states of undress. The theme of the issue though is escaping from your history. This theme is what snaps Heather out of the lust-fueled daze she’s in, as she snaps into a flashback that is beautifully illustrated by M. K. Perker in stark contrast to the softer art of Robles in the rest of the issue. This flashback shows us the moment Heather chose her true name, as a direct message to both sides of her family that she was the end of the line. Once again, Wilson writes the trans character in this series with such power and agency, and the entire flashback resonates deeply to me as a trans woman who had to decide whether or not to keep my family name or just start over. In the end, I made the opposite choice that Heather did, but it’s still a scene with such emotional weight that it helps to drive the series forward.

Grade: A+

The Joker #2
Mirka Andolfo (art, backup), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors, backup), Sam Johns (writer, backup), Ariana Maher (letters, backup), Guillem March (art, lead story and cover), Tomeu Morey (cover), Tom Napolitano (letters, lead story), Arif Prianto (colors, lead story), James Tynion IV (writer, both stories)

Gordon Holding a Joker Card while Batman looms in the background - The Joker #2 cover

I’ll admit, when The Joker series was announced, I was annoyed. I’ve grown to hate the character. He’s overexposed, he’s edgy for the sake of being edgy, and most stories that can be told with him have at some point been told already. But when the first issue came out, my expectations shifted. This isn’t a Joker book, not really. Sure he shows up for a bit each issue to drive his portion of the plot forward, but really this is a morality play starring Jim Gordon. This is a man who has had his life destroyed by the Joker at every turn. It’s a criminal that a career cop was never able to put away for good. A criminal that shot and paralyzed his daughter, before torturing both mentally and physically Gordon himself. A criminal who killed Gordon’s second wife as she rescued a baby. The Joker has truly been wretched to Gordon for longer than any of us care to remember. The first issue of the series sets up our plot, and The Joker #2 builds on it, along with providing us some fantastic moments between Jim and Barbara as he reveals to both her and Batman that he knows at least that much about them. He’s too good a detective not to after all. This marks the third time Gordon has found out about his daughter’s nocturnal pursuits, both of the previous times erased in reboots. He knew Pre-Crisis, and Babs told him just before Flashpoint, but now it’s current canon as well.

Grade: A

Rorschach #7
Clayton Cowles (letters), Jorge Fornés (art and cover), Tom King (writer), Dave Stewart (colors)

Eyes in an old cassette tape player

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the book that’s living exactly down to my expectations for it. Much like Joker, this series is titled after an overused, played out, and misunderstood character. Unlike that other book though, this one doesn’t salvage itself by redirecting the focus of the book. In addition, it continues to be monstrously offensive. While the first issue made clear that the first Rorschach in the book was Steve Ditko, but Arrendtian not Randian, King at least changed the name of that deceased creator for a level of plausible deniability. In this issue he introduces Frank Miller, in both name and look, as the newest Rorschach, a man who made his fame on “The Dark Fife Returns” and was radicalized by the squid attack much like Miller in real life was by 9/11 and started writing extremely hateful bile about Muslims. In addition to Miller, King utilizes Shazam family scribe and Supergirl co-creator Otto Binder as yet another radicalized conspiracy theorist comic creator, going so far as to reference Binder’s real-life tragic loss of his daughter in a car accident as an inciting incident. This is absolutely sickening to me, and feels down right nasty coming from the man who is writing the series for the character that Binder created.

Grade: F

Grades

A+

The Dreaming: Waking Hours #9

A

Action Comics #1030
Batman #107
Batman: Urban Legends #2
Catwoman #30
Crime Syndicate #2
Nightwing #79
Suicide Squad #2
Superman #30
The Joker #2

B

Batman Black & White #5
Batman: The Detective #1
Batman/Superman #17
Detective Comics #1035
Far Sector #11
Harley Quinn #2
Justice League #60
Robin #1
Superman Red & Blue #2
The Swamp Thing #2
Wonder Woman #771

C

American Vampire 1976 #7
Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul #6
Man-Bat #3
Sweet Tooth: The Return #6

D

Green Lantern #1
Teen Titans Academy #2
The Flash #769

F

Rorschach #7

Solicitation Situation

Superman and the Authority #1

  • story by Grant Morrison
  • art by Mikel Janín
  • cover by Mikel Janín
  • ON SALE 7/20/21
  • $4.99 US | 40 PAGES | FC | DC
  • 1 of 4
  • card stock variant cover by Bryan Hitch
  • US $4.99
  • 1:25 card stock variant cover by Jen Bartel
  • US $4.99
  • Sometimes even Superman finds a task almost impossible. Sometimes even the Last Son of Krypton needs to enlist help. Some tasks require methods and heroes that don’t scream “Justice League.” So Clark Kent, the Metropolis Marvel, seeks out Manchester Black, the most dastardly of rogues, to form an all-new Authority tasked with taking care of some business on the sly. Not only will Black know the right candidates for the team, but if Superman can make him behave himself and act in service of the greater good, then he’ll prove literally anyone can be a hero! They’ll have to move quickly, however, as the Ultra-Humanite forms his own team to take out the Man of Steel.
    This new limited series helps launch an all-new Superman status quo, setting up story elements that reverberate across both Action Comics and Superman: Son of Kal-El in the months to come. And not only is Superman putting together a superstar team, but it takes superstars to tell the tale: Grant Morrison (The Green Lantern, All-Star Superman) and Mikel Janín (Batman, Future State: Superman: Worlds of War)! Superman at a computer with profiles of the Authority behind him

Grant Morrison is one of the best Superman writers, whether it was in their JLA run, their Action Comics run, or the seminal All-Star Superman. I’ll always look forward to Morrison’s voice on Superman, and this is no exception. The team they’re building in this book is also a very exciting team, with lots of great characters and concepts.

Batman: Urban Legends #5

  • story by Chip Zdarsky, Matthew Rosenberg, Meghan Fitzmartin, and Marguerite Bennett
  • art by Eddy Barrows, Marcus To, Ryan Benjamin, Belén Ortega, and Sweeney Boo
  • cover by David Finch
  • perfect bound
  • ON SALE : 7/13/21
  • $7.99 US | 64 PAGES | FC | DC
  • variant cover by : Tyler Kirkham
  • variant cover by : Mimi Yoon
  • Red Hood: Meet Cheer, the villain behind the insidious Cheerdrops altering the citizens of Gotham. When confronted with a man responsible for taking the lives of so many, including Tyler, the kid Jason Todd swore to protect, will Red Hood be able to stop himself from taking vengeance for a whole city?
  • Grifter: Through four chapters of blood, bullets, and Batman, the true reason for Cole Cash emerging in Gotham City reveals itself at last…but it’s not what you think!
  • Tim Drake: Tim is determined to find his friend Bernard, who was taken by a Chaos Monster before his very eyes. But this case is different from any Tim has taken on before, and the cracks are starting to show.
  • Batgirls: Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are just two teenagers breaking into Wayne Manor so they can play some video games. But when Oracle gives them a mission, the Batgirls suit up and head to an abandoned arcade to investigate.

Stephanie Brown stretching and Cassandra Cain crouching

I’m an obvious mark, and have been clamoring for more Batgirls content for months, and thus am really excited for Marguerite Bennett to write this story, and the art that Sweeney Boo has been posting has been fantastic.

Superman Red & Blue #5

  • stories by Judd Winick, G. Willow Wilson, Brandon Thomas, Mark Buckingham, and Daniel Warren Johnson
  • art by Ibrahim Moustafa, Valentine De Landro, Berat Pekmezci, Mark Buckingam, and Daniel Warren Johnson
  • cover by Amanda Conner
  • ON SALE: 7/20/21 $5.99 US | 40 PAGES | FC | DC
  • 5 of 6
  • card stock variant cover by Art Adams US $5.99
  • card stock variant cover by Miguel Mercado US $5.99
  • prestige format

There’s no dog in the Multiverse quite like Superman’s real best friend, Krypto!
Join us this month for an epic retelling of Superman’s canine companion’s origin story, along with four additional tales about the Man of Steel, including one that proves that even in his secret identity Clark Kent is just as super. While Superman is known for his larger-than-life heroism, in this issue we tell the story of a delicate infant rocketed through the unforgiving universe! Also, meet for the first time the man rescued by Superman more often than anyone else in the Multiverse. And follow Pa Kent as he learns what it really means to be the father of a superhero.
You won’t want to miss the penultimate issue of this star-studded anthology celebrating the Man of Steel!

Superman delivering a Wiener cart to an eager Krypto

Happy birthday to me! This month’s edition of Superman: Red & Blue has a story by one of my all-time favorite writers (Judd Winick), illustrated by a man who draws a wonderful Superman (Ibrahim Moustafa). This is going to be probably the highlight of the whole series for me.

Absolute Fourth World By Jack Kirby Vol. 2

  • story by Jack Kirby
  • pencils by Jack Kirby
  • inks by Mike Royer and others
  • cover and slipcase by Rian Hughes with
spot art by Jack Kirby
  • ON SALE 12/14/2021
  • Hardcover
  • $150.00 US | 824 PAGES | FC | DC
  • 8 1/8″ x 12 ¼”
  • ISBN: 978-1-77951-333-5

In the 1970s, after decades shaping the Marvel Universe, Jack “the King” Kirby made a much-publicized move to DC Comics, where he was given full creative freedom to build something unprecedented: A sweeping multi-series saga featuring new worlds, instantly iconic new characters, and rich new mythologies that he called “the Fourth World.” Rediscover the worlds of Apokolips and New Genesis in this large-scale reprint of Kirby’s grand opus!
This second of two Absolute volumes collects Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #146-148, The Forever People #7-11, The New Gods #7-11, Mister Miracle #7-18, Jack Kirby’s New Gods (Reprint Series) #6, DC Graphic Novel #4: The Hunger Dogs, and Jack Kirby’s lost tale “On the Road to Armagetto” (published at full size for the first time ever), along with a brand-new foreword by Tom Scioli, a gallery of Kirby pencils, never-before-collected essays from Kirby and Mark Evanier, and more!

Slipcase and book for Absolute Jack Kirby Fourth World

For the longest time, Kirby’s Fourth World was one of my big blind-spots as a DC fan. Sure I knew the characters, how could I not, they pop up everywhere from Morrison’s JLA to Superman: The Animated Series, but I’d never read the Kirby stories. The Omnibus editions went out of print faster than I could afford them, and it’s not really something I wanted to read digitally. Enter last year’s Absolute Fourth World by Jack Kirby vol. 1. I love Absolute Editions. They’re massively oversized, and for certain artists like George Pérez they just make the pages pop. The same is true for Kirby. A few weeks ago I finally sat down with that first Absolute Edition, and plowed through it in a single weekend, cursing myself that I’d have to wait for December to finish. So clearly this is the most highly anticipated book of the year for me.

That’s it for the first full month of Spring, come back next month to see if The Joker can continue to deliver beyond issue #2.

 

 

Cori McCreery

Cori McCreery

Cori is a life long comic nerd residing in Northern California. A life long Supergirl and DC Comics fan, she is the DC Comics Beat Reporter for Women Write About Comics.
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