Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meanwhile...

This week at Good Comics For Kids I have a review of Fred's Cast Away on the Letter A, the first offering on Toon Books' new sub-imprint Toon Graphics, and the first of their planned collection of the late French cartoonist Frederic Otohn Aristedes's adventures starring the young man Philomen.

And at Robot 6 I have a review of Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew's The Shadow Hero, which turned out a hell of a superhero comic, a great use of the genre to make broader points, a typical Yang comic in its successful synthesis of a variety of tones, a nice meditation on the identity issues that dominate much of Yang's writing and an excellent showcase for the remarkable skills of artist Sonny Liew.

What I did not have this week is a post on Every Day Is Like Wednesday last night.. That's because I went to the shop for the first time in three weeks yesterday, and good God did I get a huge haul of comics, including several graphic novels. I did get them all read before going to bed last night, but I didn't write about 'em yet. So expect a "Comic Shop Comics" column...tomorrow night, if everything goes according to plan.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego #1

I generally loathe the very concept of having issue numbers with decimal points in them, something Marvel has indulged in quite a bit over the past few years and DC flirted with during their weird "Villains Month" last September, but this book actually seems like one in which an issue number with a decimal point in it would actually work. That's because in its format, style, tone and even some of its marketing, Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego #1 reads a lot like Harley Quinn #0; think of this as Harley Quinn #0.1.

As such, it promises many of the same pleasures, but also many of the same pitfalls and, unfortunately, there are fewer pleasures here than in the #0 issue, but much more time spent in the pitfalls, as the book becomes quite quickly overtaken by weird in-jokes, many of which feature various DC comics executives and creators, appearing in scenes in which the jokes are sometimes at the expense of the people who buy and read DC comics. That's sort of weird, right?

As with every issue of the New 52 version of the Harley Quinn solo comic, it is written by the husband and wife team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with the former providing the cover: Here a wraparound cover in which we see Harley running past a line of DC cosplayers and stereotypes (Because this is a DC comic, all of the comics characters represented by cosplayers, merchandise and background noise—note the Kaley Cuoco Power Girl movie poster between Harley's pigtails on the cover—are either DC characters, or generic character-types. Similar to the way that Warner Bros' direct-to-DVD Scooby-Doo: Mask of The Blue Falcon was set at a comics convention where the only superheroes in existence seemed to be ones from Hanna-Barbera cartoons, a gag that worked a bit better for the Scooby movie, given its higher level of ridiculousness).

The artwork, as that in the #0 issue, comes courtesy of a sort of all-star jam line-up, although it's worth noting that, despite a higher page count, there are fewer stars involved in this issue, and many of them boast a much lower wattage. Paul Pope kicks everything off with a four-panel first page in which Harley leaps into a two-page splash title page, laughing "HA HA!!" in Pope's hand-writing in a little, Pope-shaped dialogue bubble. It's only a page, but yeah, he certainly qualifies as one of "the GREATEST ARTISTS of ALL TIME!" mentioned on the cover (What? No "comics" qualifier between "greatest" and "artists"...?).
From there, though, the caliber of creator slips. EDILW favorite Damion Scott and Robert Campanella contribute five pages, Amanda Conner herself draws three and Stephane Roux two and from there the line-up consists of creators I'm much less familiar with: Javier Garron, John Timms, Marco Failla and Dave Johnson (plus four different colorists!).

The premise is that Harley has traveled to SDCC with some of the characters that live in the building he runs in Coney Island; I'm not sure what exactly their business is, but I think it has something to do with old-school carnie folk, and they're here to sell merchandise of some kind (I didn't make it very far past the #0 issue of the Harley Quinn monthly, before the mixture of poor humor and aggressive, desperate joke-making turned me off; it's fine to tell lame jokes and to fail to be funny constantly—I'd be a hypocrite to suggest otherwise!—but in Harley Quinn those lame jokes are always delivered with an off-putting confidence bordering on arrogance, a sort of wackiness or zaniness produced by writers who crack their knuckles, sit down at the keyboard and announce, "Okay, let's write some wacky and zany stuff!").

Harley's con invasion is broken up into days, so under the banner of "Day One: Tuesday" she and friends arrive, and we get the first instance of a running gag that will be repeated every few pages. Harley will see someone in the crowd and say, "Oh my God! It's that--" and in a string of off-center, no-spaces verbiage she will rattle off some long, complicated back-story to the person's career or stuff they are famous for, before ending with, "I love that guy!"
If you're reading the comic, and not just this review of it, then I hope you liked that gag. Because you'll be seeing a lot more of it. A lot more.

It's in the hotel that night that she shows her friend Queenie her portfolio, which features her own superhero creation, "Hurl Girl," who is "a superhero that up-chucks her way out of any situation." This accounts for Conner's interior work, three pages of black-and-white comics featuring the character; turns out Harley draws a lot like Conner, only slightly rougher.

Later, she hijacks a truck of DC Comics clothes and gives them away to the homeless, and beats up and nearly murders a waitress at "Rude Rick's Hateful Hideaway," one of those mean-on-purpose places.

On Day Two, John Timms takes over the art (I really like his sharp lines and angles, and he's got a great style, but oh boy does his Harley costume suddenly shrink dramatic, compared to what Scott had her wearing in the previous sequences).

Here we get our first DC Comics cameos, as Harley approaches "Katie Kubert, DC Editor," who Timms draws in a more illustrative style (ditto the other real people). She suggests Harley talk to Bob Harras, DC's Editor-In-Chief regarding a portfolio review, and when Harley asks how she can ever thank Kubert, the editor responds "When you are rich and famous, hire me out of this soul-sucking job."

  • Ha ha it's funny because...working for DC is horrible...?


  • To illustrate how terrible the job is, she's show to be surrounded by three fans asking innocent if inane questions about DC Comics plot points, scheduling and creators.

    Gross! DC fans! Is there anything a DC Editor hates more?

    Unfortunately for Harley, Bob Harras is talking to Batman, which is...weird. I don't know if this is meant to be the "real" Batman or just someone dressed like Batman, but Harley, who is, remember, the "real" Harley, says it's Batman, and while she is an unreliable narrator, this Batman is drawn like Batman might be drawn—big, muscular, square jaw, cool suit—so...I don't know.

    Harley pantses Batman in order to make Batman look bad and show her portfolio to Harras (who, luckily, doesn't get any dialogue, so he doesn't come across like an asshole, like a lot of the other folks Palmiotti and Conner include). It doesn't work, but we do see that Batman–or a guy who dresses like Batman—wears boxers with Harley Quinn on them under the suit (apparently the utility belt doesn't actually hold his pants up?).
    How one wears boxers with skin-tight spandex pants, I don't know, but there's got a be a lot of bunching and chafing going on in Batman's nether regions. Explains the scowl, I guess.

    Thrown out for that, Harley tries a variety of hijinx to get back in, and eventually stumbles into a room of guys dressed up like The Joker, at which point she breaks the fourth wall...
    ...and comes out of the room on the next page, her hair a mess, saying "Yeah, yeah, I know none of them was the real Mistah J... ...But I hadda make sure."

    The fake Jokers, meanwhile, are all drawn with their lipstick smeared al over their faces and their hair tousled—so she apparently just smooched them all. Don't use that much imagination!

    Day Three, drawn by Marco Failla, finds Harley partying with a limo full of Harley cosplayers, all of whom are dressed as different versions of her. They say they want to go out for a night of mayhem, but, not realizing that Harley's the real Harley, they turn out not to be ready for her brand of mayhem.

    Day Four brings us more DC cameos and in-jokes, including the bizarre one I ranted and raved about the other day. Dan DiDio is being interviewed in front of a television camera, and the interview consists of him rambling a bunch of jokes that seem to be at his own expense...
    ...but then there's that weird bit about editorial oversight, and I'm not even sure I get it. In the previous panel, they were taking something absolutely real and true—DC's dumb September events with gimmick covers that proved hard and expensive to create, according to DC—and exaggerating it for comedic effect.

    But then, in the next panel, he's talking about how they're launching a new line with no editorial input, just creators going crazy and doing what they want (that is, how most of the comics that aren't produced by DC, Marvel and some part of a few other publishers' lines are produced), but that's not an exaggeration of something true, but the exact opposite of the current situation.

    So while the sequence starts out by making fun of DiDio, it then seems to pivot to having DiDio making fun of...DC Comics readers? Again?

    And then there's the weird swipe at Marvel, in which Harley Quinn, currently starring in a book that is basically just DC's answer to Deadpool's recent success, laments that they "aren't looking for anything new or original."
    And then the day closes with a brief, un-embarrassing cameo by Geoff Johns...
    What's with the hat, I wonder? Has Johns got a little bald spot going? If so, just shave your head, man! Embrace baldness! It's very freeing!

    Day Five, and it's time for a Jim Lee joke! Jim Lee—also wearing a baseball cap!—reviews Harley's portfolio in a six-panel sequence, in which thoughts race through her head in very wordy thought bubbles, as Lee silently looks at her work and she tries to guess what he's thinking, growing angrier and angrier until he says something nice at the end, and she skips away, overjoyed.

    This lead to my favorite gag in the comic, a reference to Stan Lee: "I could give a crap his dad created all those other comic characters for that other company!"
    Doesn't hurt to kiss the boss' ass now and then, I guess.

    And then we finally, finally get to the final pair of gags, on Day Six. Handsome actor Steve Amell is talking to a group of fans—I don't watch Arrow, so I didn't recognize him with his shirt on until the dialogue offered a clue as to who he was—while a security detail that looks like Secret Service keep them at bay. Harley charges through the crowd, screaming about how she simply has to get this guy to sign her autograph book and when Amell offers, she pushes him aside to approach, "Bruce Timm! My hero!" She fawns over Timm and Paul Dini, her creators, before trying to get her hands on a copy of Batman Adventures #12, her own first comic book appearance.

    The dealer will sell it to her for "about three hundred bucks," which, wait, is that how much those are going for? Because I'm pretty sure I've got one in a long box in the tomb-like structure of longboxes in my ancestral home. Do I really have a comic book that might actually be worth some amount of money?

    I hope so. This Harley Quinn special, on the other hand? I wouldn't all it "worthless," as there are a few gags that land, there's some great art, and it offers the always welcome opportunity to see Paul Pope and Damion Scott in action, but it's not what I'd call a fine comic book.

    Or even a Very Good or Good one. Maybe Fair/Good...? Or Fair? Let's go with Fair/Good.

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    Review: Robin Rises: Omega #1

    The opening page of Robin Rises: Omegan #1, a one-shot special kicking off the next storyline in the Peter Tomasi-written, Batman and Robin series, recaps the events of Mike Barr and Jerry Bingham's 1987 graphic novel, Batman: Son of The Demon, as narrated by Batman and drawn by the art team of pencil artist Andy Kubert, inker Jonathan Glapion and colorist Brad Anderson.

    The next seven pages recap events from Batman and his dead son Damian's life. It's a very thorough recap, basically brining any new readers attracted by the #1 or the promise of an "event" (the dead Robin Damian returning to life, as the title all but promises) up to speed, but it covers a good eight years worth of storylines. While meant to be a recap, it reads more like a required reading list.

    Following the quick recap of Son of The Demon, it then references the events of various comic books collected in Batman and Son, Final Crisis*, the pre-New 52 Batman and Robin Vols. 1-3, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne (all written by Grant Morrison), the post-New 52 Batman and Robin Vols. 1-4 (written by Tomasi), Batman Vol. 2: Death of The Family (Snyder) and Batman, Incorporated Vol . 2: Demon Star (Morrison again).
    That sure seems like a lot of reading to have to be familiar with before the story of this particular comic even really gets going, and more are referenced during the comic, with Batman touching a magical gem that allows him to remember the events of Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Crossworld and the new Justice League that was formed during the aftermath of Forever Evil mentioning the events of Justice League Vol. 1: Origin.

    Now, because the eight-page review of the entire history of Damian Wayne was so damn throrough, one really need not have read or be super-familiar with all of those storylines to read this comic to understand and even enjoy this comic. After the recap, it is really nothing more than a big fight scene, given import by its players and the way it is explicitly linked to the previous eight years worth of Batman comics—or at least a single thread of those comics.

    But I'm having a hard time recalling a comic book that made so many references to so many other particular trades before.

    After all of that summary, which Andreson colors in a slightly gauzier manner, to give the scenes a fuzzier, dream-like quality designating them as flashbacks, pages 10 and 11 of the 40-page comic shows a two-page spread, in which Batman offers his final sentence of narration for the book—"Which brings us here, to the Himalayas...where it seems fitting that this all end in the snow"—and a character soon identified as New God Glorious Godfrey and the forces of Apokalips (identifiable as such by the presence of the Jim Lee-redesigned Parademons of Justice League amid the guys in battle armor) face off against a small army consisting of Batman, Ra's al Ghul, Frankenstein, Damian's great dane Titus and Ra's al Ghul's Man-Bats and ninja warriors. Two weird, black vaguely ancient Egyptian hover-coffins float at the feet of Ra's; these are the coffins of Damian and Talia al Ghul.

    After four pages of parley, in which Godfrey informs them that he's come for "the original chaos shard" which can "amplify energy like nothing else in the universe and defy physics," and concludes that Ra's has hidden the shard inside Damian's coffin, the two forces fight.

    For the rest of the issue.

    Normally, that would seem pretty dull and excessive, but American superhero comics so rarely show action of any kind lasting longer than a few panels or a splash page, it's actually sort of refreshing seeing a battle scene given a few dozen pages to breathe, even if the number of participants means the set-piece is still a little too heavy on the posing, and a little too light on the panel-to-panel sequential action. Still, nice to see Kubert get a chance to draw so many characters and so damn much fighting.
    The battle is particularly brutal, with Batman being the only really good guy in it, and even he chops the arms off of Parademons and repeatedly stabs them in the eyes with the pointy wing of a Batarang.
    The cannon fodder characters are dispatched with haste left and right, and Frankenstein has his arm ripped off, because of course he does (I'm not trying to be funny here, but I have honestly lost count of how many times Frankenstein has lost his arm this summer).

    During the course of the battle, Ra's gets blasted with a laser weapon and he and Talia's coffin both fall into a deep crevasse, and are seemingly lost. Batman grabs ahold of the disputed crystal, just long enough to recover his memories of the events of Crossworld, and, well, read the last panel:
    Godfrey takes the crystal and the coffin, and is about to pop a cap in Batman's cowl when the Justice League shows up to join the fray.

    Wonder Woman, Captain Cold, Lex Luthor, Cyborg, Aquaman and Captain Marvel Shazam wade into the battle, and all proceed to start murdering the forces of Apokolips like it was five years ago all over again:


    Worst of all is Aquaman, who reprises his sharks-eating-Parademons trick with killer whales here, but adding a terrible joke: "You obviously don't come in peace-- --but feel free to leave in pieces!"
    Shut up, Aquaman.

    Oh, and if you're wondering what a pod of orcas is doing anywhere near the land-locked Himalayas, well, join the club.
    Maybe there's a secret Sea World run by Yeti beneath the ice in somewhere around there...?

    I suppose it's kind of silly to question such things in a book like this, where Frankenstein is teaming up with Batman and an immortal warlord to fight extra-dimensional invaders over a power crystal, but, well, when there's this much fantastic going on, you want the real-world stuff to be, you know, real. I'd say this is almost as bad as Wolverine finding a polar bear in Antarctica to kill and skin just so he could wear a polar bear skin for a few panels of Avengers Vs. X-Men, but then, that was a Marvel event comic, and this is a minor, book-specific storyline, so it won't be read and therefore noticed as much.

    Wait, what the hell was I talking about before I started google the range of orcas and maps of the Himalayas...?

    Oh yeah, so then Cyborg is able to Boom Tube away all of the Apokaliptian soldiers who weren't killed already, but Godfrey has Damian's coffin and the crystal when he steps through one of the portals.. Batman's set to pursue, but Shazam pulls him away from the closing Boom Tube, and then Batman proceeds to yell at him while punching him in the face for three panels, and then, when Luthor says something, Batman punches him too.

    The guy just lost the body of his son, but even still, Batman seems a little high-strung. I kind of wish Cap would have flicked him and sent him reeling a few feet back into a snowbank or something. Instead, Cyborg breaks it up with an "enough."

    The book ends with Batman pointing at the Justice League and screaming at them in a red-ringed dialogue bubble.
    The story then continues in Batman and Robin, where Tomasi will be joined by his regular artistic collaborator, Patrick Gleason.

    Kill-happy Justice League, punch-happy Batman and the out-of-place killer whales aside, it's pretty nice, big, stupid, melodramatic stuff, provided you know enough to follow along.

    And, if not, well, the first eight pages or so sure gives you plenty of homework you need to do to catch up. Then you can come back and read this issue in context.


    *The panel referencing Final Crisis simply has Batman narrating "I died" with an image of an Omega Beam—not in a pair, but just a single one—angling around the panel before striking Batman in the temple. The next two panels summarize the events of Morrison's Batman and Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne, which, frankly, is awfully odd. Final Crisis isn't, or at least shouldn't be, continuity after the events of Flashpoint.

    Or, to use the in-story rationale for the New 52 reboot, it still happened, but after Reverse-Flash, Flash and Pandora messed with the time-stream, with Pandora merging "New Earth" with the WildStorm Universe and some version of a Vertigo Universe into a new, altered timeline, no one should remember the events of
    Final Crisis. As far as we know, Batman and the heroes of Earth have encountered Darkseid exactly once, in the pages of the first story arc of Justice League.

    Also unexplained? Damian's age. It doesn't seem to matter too much here, as there's no explicit reference to how long Batman has been active. In the New 52, he's been around about seven years or so now—The Zero Year, the five years between the first
    Justice League arc and Batman #1 and 'TEC #1 and so on, plus the one year between 'TEC #1 and Death of the Family—whereas Damian was conceived at some point during that time, and would now be about 11 years old if he were still alive.

    I
    think we're supposed to assume Talia used some kind of super-science to accelerate his aging, even if that makes no sense at all, because otherwise, the Batman with a seven-year-career having an 11-year-old son breaks the very, very fragile and hard to take seriously New 52 timeline. But, like I said, there's no explanation here, despite all the explanations given in the first chunk of the book, and, read without thinking about the reboot at all, it doesn't really affect this particular comic book.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Marvel's October previews reviewed

    After years of heroes-fighting-heroes being the motivating factors of Marvel's big event series (from House of M, Civil War, "The Initiative," World War Hulk, Avengers Vs. X-Men), it looks like Marvel's upcoming Axis event/series will be a more old-fashioned, bunch-of-good-guys-vs.-a-bunch-of-bad-guys sort of conflict. And, based on the publisher's solicitations for what it plans to ship and sell in October of this year, it looks like it will be big, sprawling, and hard-to-figure-out-what-to-read, as was the case with Avengers Vs. X-Men, Original Sin (which included a companion series called Original Sins and also some issues with decimal points in their issue numbers) and, to a lesser extent, Infinity (I recently tried reading Johnathan Hickmans' Avengers books, and made it through the first three volumes of Avengers just fine, but had to quit half-way through New Avengers Vol. 2: Infinity, because I had no idea what the hell was going on—Infinity apparently began off-page somewhere in the middle of the run of single issues that volume was collecting).

    I think the main series wil be the one called Avengers & X-Men: Axis, but there's also "companion" series Axis: Revolutions, and few short miniseries entitled Axis: (Insert Name of Character Here), and then a bunch of tie-ins from regular, ongoing series that do not have the word "Axis" in their titles (Deadpool #36, Loki #7, Magneto #11, etc). From the plot descriptions, it seems as if the storyline will be an expansion of that from Avengers & X-Men: Axis writer Rick Remender's first story arc of Uncanny Avengers, in which the Red Skull sticks Charles Xavier's brain in himself somehow in order to...make people hate mutants more than usual, or something like that.

    There are, as always, a bunch of variants for, like, every series, but the one that intrigued me the most were those called "Hasbro variants," as I have no idea what those might entail (Hopefully Marvel action figures posed atop My Little Pony toys). There are also "Deadpool 75th" and "Stomp Out Bullying" variants mentioned in a lot of solicits.

    So what can we expect from Marvel come October? Let's take a look...



    AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #1 (OF 9)
    RICK REMENDER (W) • ADAM KUBERT (A)
    Cover by JIM CHEUNG
    ...
    ACT I: THE RED SUPREMACY
    • The Red Skull has exploited the gifts of the world’s greatest telepath to broadcast pure hatred across the globe. Now, born of the murder of Charles Xavier, World War Hate has begun.
    • Tony Stark discovers a secret truth that will upend not only his life, but also the lives of everyone he cares for.
    • Can The Avengers and X-Men finally unite? Would their combined strength be enough to hold back the darkness of the Red Onslaught?
    • Magneto murdered the wrong man, releasing the greatest evil the Marvel Universe has ever known. Now Rogue and Scarlet Witch are all that stand in its way.
    40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99


    As with Age of Ultron, it looks like the series will kick off at a decent price point, before reverting to the $4 for 20-22-pages price point of the average Marvel comic. I like the term "World War Hate," and that this book seems to be shipping quickly, either on a weekly or weekly-ish basis.

    Now, what on earth is The Red Skull wearing here...?


    AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #2 (OF 9)
    RICK REMENDER (W) • ADAM KUBERT (A)
    Cover by JIM CHEUNG
    ...
    ACT I: THE RED SUPREMACY
    • The heroes of the Marvel Universe storm the beaches of Red Skull’s Genoshian Reeducation camps. What they discover within will lead to a bleak new era.
    • The revelation of Tony Stark’s dark secret promises to shatter the fragile alliance between A and X.
    • The all-new Captain America pays a terrible price.
    • Nova’s attempt at solving the crisis leads to disaster.
    • Magneto betrays his alliance to join an army of evil.
    32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


    The new Captain America, ex-Falcon Sam Wilson, pays a terrible price? Noooooooooo! Not Redwing!


    AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #3 (OF 9)
    RICK REMENDER (W) • LEINIL FRANCIS YU (A)
    ...
    ACT I: THE RED SUPREMACY
    • With the heroes lost, the world’s fate lies in the hands of the vilest syndicate known to man.
    • Scarlet Witch is forced to join Dr. Doom, the man who unleashed her power to cause M-Day, or she will watch those she loves most die.
    • The return of one of the Marvel Universe’s great villains!
    • An Avenger quits, a heart is broken, and the world as we know it is gone.
    32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


    That first bullet point reminds me of Forever Evil.

    I really like Jack O' Lantern's design, although I don't think I've ever read a story in the character in it that I liked.


    I really like Javier Rodriguez's cover for this new Axis: Hobgoblin miniseries, and am excited to hear that he's providing interior art as well. The writer he's paired with, however, is "Robot Chicken writer Kevin Shinick," which I guess means it's written by a comedy writer with no sense of humor...?

    Or did that show get better after the first terrible, terrible, terrible season...?

    The mini is only three over-priced issues long, so I assume it will ultimately end up collected along with another book or two, in something like Axis: Carnage and Hobgoblin.


    Marco Rudy's cover for the first issue of the unfortunately titled Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier kinda freaks me out a little.


    DEATH OF WOLVERINE: THE LOGAN LEGACY #1 (OF 7)
    CHARLES SOULE (W) • OLIVER NOME (A/C)
    ...
    • Wolverine—the greatest X-Men ever—is dead!
    • With this mutant powerhouse now permanently out of the picture, various factions of both good and evil are scrambling to fill the void left by Logan’s death!
    • Will Wolverine’s Legacy be shaped by heroes who valiantly fought alongside him …or by those villains treacherous enough to have challenged him over the many years of his long life?
    • The answers will be revealed in this special 7-issue limited series that spins directly out of the mega-popular DEATH OF WOLVERINE!
    • This series will feature unique solo adventures of several instrumental figures in shaping Logan’s Legacy: X-23, Sabretooth, Daken, Lady Deathstrike and Mystique!
    32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


    Ha ha, they said "permanently"...!


    DEATHLOK #1
    NATHAN EDMONDSON (W) • MIKE PERKINS (A/C)
    ...
    “Enemy of My Enemy”
    • After Michael Collins, there was Henry Hayes
    • A medic who travels to war zones to heal the wounded, he has no idea that when he’s in the field, he’s activated by a mysterious group and becomes the ultimate weapon of assassination and war: DEATHLOK
    • From the writer of BLACK WIDOW and THE PUNISHER comes a new take on the iconic cyborg character making waves on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


    It is weird that one of the Big Two direct market publishers is releasing a solo series starring a black man identified as "the iconc cyborg character," and that the publisher is Marvel and the character Deathlok, rather than DC and Cyborg, right?

    It's not just me...?


    GUARDIANS 3000 #1
    DAN ABNETT (w) • GERARDO SANDOVAL (a/C)
    Cover BY Alex Ross
    ...
    • Dive right into the action as the original Guardians of the Galaxy—Vance Astro, Yondu, Martinex, Starhawk and Charlie-27--try to save the future universe from the menace of the Badoon.
    • But what happens when the Guardians discover something behind the Badoon…something even worse than they could have ever imagined?
    • The very future itself is in danger, and the only possibility of salvation relies on the shoulders of this ragtag, bombastic group of underdogs. Thrown together by fate and fighting against intolerable oppression, how can they even hope to survive the first issue?!
    32 PGS/Rated T+…$3.99


    If you would have told me as recently as January that, by the end of this year, Marvel would be publishing four Guardians of the Galaxy-related ongoing series (GoG, Rocket Raccoon, Legendary Star-Lord and now this), I would have told you that you were a crazy person.


    HAWKEYE #22
    MATT FRACTION (W)
    DAVID AJA (A/C)
    • Hawkeyes vs. Tracksuits. Final Round!
    32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


    Oh good, so it's not canceled after all. It is too goddam expensive though. Goodbye Hawkeye! It was fun while it lasted, back when you came out on some sort of schedule, and were reasonably priced at $3 per issue!


    One lady I work with is super-into the old-school, '90s-era cartoon X-Men, but the only Marvel comic she's currently reading is Ms. Marvel. She will occasionally ask me questions about the goings-on in the wider Marvel Universe, since she doesn't spend her life on the comics Internet like I do. You know, why doesn't Wolverine have his healing factor anymore, why can't Rogue be in Uncanny Avengers and X-Men at the same time, if Wolverine can simultaneously be in Uncanny Avengers and Wolverine and The X-Men and Amazing X-Men (and Avengers and...well, you get the picture), that kind of thing.

    I honestly cannot wait to have a conversation about why there's a giant bulldog with a mustache and a tuning fork sticking out of his head in October!!!


    THE SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN #16
    NICK SPENCER (W) • STEVE LIEBER (A/C)
    • STILL NOT still not canceled!
    • GANG WAR rages on at its rageful-iest.
    • The Sinister Six versus EVERYONE!
    32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


    "STILL NOT still not canceled" is a a pretty good tag-line. Maybe they should swap out "The Superior" for "The Still Not Canceled" in the book's title...?

    I read The Superior Foes of Spider-Man (despite the too-expensive $3.99 price tag, because I think it's actually good enough a read to pay 33% extra for), I'd read The Still-Not-Caneceled Foes of Spider-Man.

    My favorite part of the book is how they never, ever, ever fight Spider-Man.


    THANOS: A GOD UP THERE LISTENING #1-4 (of 4)
    ROB WILLIAMS (W)
    NEIL EDWARDS, PACO DIAZ, IBAN COELLO (A)
    Covers BY DUSTIN NGUYEN
    • At the close of INFINITY, Thane discovered he was the son of Thanos and that his touch was death. • Now, accompanied by the constantly whispered advice of the Ebony Maw, he wants to discover his father’s history, and his own future.
    32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T+ …$3.99 (EACH)


    Oh shit, the God up there listening is Thanos? Man, that makes Are You There God? It's Me Margaret seem like a very different story now...


    WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #10 & 11
    JASON LATOUR (W) • ROBBI RODRIGUEZ, JASON LATOUR, JIM RUGG, James Harren, Kris Anka & more (A)
    Cover by MAHMUD ASRAR & MARTE GRACIA
    THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF WOLVERINE
    • The X-Men mourn as one of their own is finally put to rest.
    • As a reporter digs further in Wolverine’s past, what will be uncovered as the X-Men retell their favorite personal adventures and Wolverine stories
    • Some of the industry’s best and brightest lend a hand to say farewell in these two jam-packed issues: Robbi Rodriguez, Jason Latour, Jim Rugg, James Harren & more.
    ISSUE #10 - 40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99
    ISSUE #11 - 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99



    Please be advised: Jim Rugg is drawing the X-Men. At least a little.

    Saturday, July 19, 2014

    Spider-Man is a go-go head.

    My 22-month-old nephew was in my bedroom at my ancestral home this morning, and spotted this little Spider-Man toy I bought on a whim from a vending machine in a movie theater lobby a few years ago. He immediately pointed at it and exclaimed "Go-go," his word for a basketball, which is one of his favorite things in the world.

    When he was handed the toy, he handled it curiously for a few moments, seemingly unsure what to make of Spider-Man's body. His older sister grabbed it, snapped the head in half (the toy came in three parts), removed the body, and then re-snapped the head back together.

    Seeing this, my nephew's eyes lit up and he clapped with excitement, "Go-go!" He then proceeded to carry Spider-Man's perfectly round head around the remainder of the visit, clutching it in one hand and a small plastic ball in the other. Both of these he threw to various family members and tried (and failed) to catch when they threw them back to him,

    Obviously, the toy design has purposely exaggerated the size of Spidey's head in relation to his body, but I guess I never realized just how much Spidey's head looks like a basketball until today.

    Friday, July 18, 2014

    Meanwhile...

    I reviewed the first volume of Hiro Mashima's new (to the English language and U.S. markets) Monster Soul for Good Comics For Kids. Mashima's the guy who did Rave Master which I tried and wanted to like (because of the art), but couldn't get into, and Fairy Tail, which I made it about four volumes into, liking it a bit more, but it fell by the wayside on account of there being, like, a million awesome comics being published all the time these days. I liked it okay; I would read another volume, but don't think I'll be following it as its released, as I'm currently doing with, say, Animal Land, Cage of Eden, Flowers of Evil and Yotsuba&!.


    I reviewed Noah Van Sciver's Youth Is Wasted for Las Vegas Weekly. That's a pretty great collection. I really like that guy's comics, and there's an introduction by current Sinestro artist Ethan Van Sciver (Noah's brother). I know comics are likely only a part of their lives, but, since I know them both exclusively through their comics work, I have a hard time imagining them, at, like, Thanksgiving dinner or whatever. In my head, Noah Van Sciver looks like drawings of him I've seen, whereas Ethan Van Sciver looks like Barry Allen in his Flash costume in my mind's eye.

    Among the stories included are that awesome two-page one about a 19th-century cartoonist, from which the above two panels are taken, and several rather remarkably long, serious, affecting stories, which may come as a surprise to those that know Noah Van Sciver mainly from his gag comics linked-to online.

    Finally, I reviewed Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years for Robot 6. I found them both fairly fascinating, but, in both cases, more so as windows into how DC perceives and promotes the history of those characters right this moment, and as sorts of conversation pieces; fans will find themselves engaged in perhaps somewhat heated, subconscious dialogues with the books, regarding what stories, what creators and what takes are included, and which are not. I hope to pick them apart more exhaustively here in the near future, more along the lines of "Ha ha, look at this funny panel!" and linking to reviews of some of the suggested content more than anything as formal as I what I wrote for Robot 6.

    ************************

    Another new book that came out this week that I did not review was the new Teen Titans #1, the relaunch of the relaunched and rebooted Teen Titans that debuted in September 2011 along with the rest of the New 52 titles and was then canceled. Presumably for marketing/sales purposes, as this roster is almost identical to the previous one, and there's a new creative team attached.

    I just read it last night, and I did so under strange circumstances. I was at a friend's house, and we watched an episode of Teen Titans Go! on DVD ("The Date," written by none other than EDILW favorite Sholly Fisch!). I took the DVD set home with me, and watched a few more episodes. Then I read Teen Titans #1. And then I watched a few more episodes of Teen Titans Go!.

    Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    The cartoon was surprisingly funny, reminding me of the generally excellent Teen Titans cartoon from a few years back, cut with a Cartoon Network original and/or old-school Adult Swim cartoon. I know DC has a comic based on the cartoon being published at the moment, and I'm sure it does well enough, but while I was watching that and reading Teen Titans, I kept thinking to what Boom has done with Adventure Time in terms of comics.

    I'm still a little bewildered by the New 52's 180-degree spin from the popular and recognizable versions of the Teen Titans characters seen on that show. Raven, Robin and Beast Boy are on the new Teen Titans line-up in Teen Titans...sorta. Robin is actually Red Robin and looks nothing like the Robin in the cartoons (and he doesn't even have a staff!) and Raven...man, I don't know what's up with New 52 Raven.

    I read the new issue though, and that's more than I can say for any issue of the previous volume (I did suffer through the few issues included in the The Joker: The Death of The Family mega-collection of all the tie-ins to the Batman story arc, and, man, it was rough). I did so because I like the writer and artist well enough to not look away in horror when I see their names.

    It was okay. I didn't like it a third as much as Chris Sims did, and he's generally a pretty smart, insightful guy whose opinions and comics assessments often align with my own though, so I suppose your mileage may vary. It didn't do anything to correct the aesthetics problem of the title, and the cover, like the advertising campaign, really seems to be coming from the desperate, insincere place of a middle-aged uncle trying to be cool to relate to the kids.

    They do a decent enough job of introducing some of the characters and their powers, but, given that this was more-or-less my first exposure to all of these various characters in this New 52 context (save Red Robin), there was still a lot I didn't know, get or understand, like what Wonder Girl's powers are, for example, or how they work.

    I was also surprised that the Titans seemed to kill their foes left and right, or at least to express extreme apathy as to whether they did or not (Oh, and there's a Mr. Power and a Mr. Black who work at STAR Labs, the latter of whom uses British slang—they're not meant to be and Manchester Black, are they...?).

    ********************

    Speaking of Sims, I enjoyed this post, and completely concur with the headline. Given the circumstances under which they asked Ramon Perez for a pitch—it was apparently Zuda-related—I suppose it makes sense that his awesome looking (and sounding) The Adventures of Mister Miracle & Big Barda pitch went down, and, as Sims notes, it's not exactly like Perez has had a bum career or anything these last few years. In reality, it seems like more of a loss for DC, who one would think would be all over a series they could promote as "from the critically-acclaimed, Eisner-winning creator of Jim Henson's Tale of Sand."

    I don't really get the publisher's stance on continuity, either; they have that New 52 line thing going, but they do publish a bunch of superhero stuff outside of the DCU/New 52, mostly kids stuff and digital-first series, and then there's those weird "Earth-One" branded OGNs, so a it's not like it would have been impossible to print a Ramon Perez Mister Miracle & Big Barda series or original graphic novel.

    Since the publisher's relaunch, the characters' only appearances have been in Earth 2, and it looks like they will play a role in the dark, dystopian, kill-y weekly series, New 52: Futures End. They both also appeared in recent-ish Justice League Beyond stories, too; those were really good.

    *********************

    Finally, did you read Tom Bondurant's analysis of DC's October solicitations yet? It is, as usual, better than mine. But then, Tom generally knows what he's talking about, and thinks before he starts typing. Me? Not so much. goog

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    Good God, that's some chutzpah.

    The above is a two-panel sequence from this week's Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego #1, a new one-shot by regular writing team of the surprise-hit Harley Quinn monthly series, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (the issue is drawn jam-issue style by nine different artists, although the above panels come from artist Dave Johnson's pages).

    The premise of the comic, in brief, is that that Harley and her supporting cast are visiting CCI to sell merch, and she is using the opportunity to shop her portfolio of sample pages around (she's created a comic book character called Hurl Girl, which Conner draws). In punchline of the above joke is apparently that DC's direct market and superhero IP rival Marvel Entertainment doesn't pay as well as DC does (I guess...? It's one of the many inside baseball jokes that are so inside I think you actually have to work for DC to get, appreciate or care about them), and, of course, that "They," which would be Marvel, "aren't looking for anything new or original."

    That hopefully good-natured slam comes in a comic book about a once-serious violent psychopathic comic book character now played for laughs invading a comic book convention (as in Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Kevin O'Neill's 1993 Lobo Convention Special #1), a character created by in 1992 by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, and currently being used in her second ongoing series by Conner and Palmiotti as DC's answer to Deadpool, a crazy, anarchic character who hears voices, frequently breaks the fourth wall, and is portrayed as silly and comedic in her own book, but seriously outside her own title.

    Excusing the fact that DC's current editorial strategy is re-do and re-mix pre-existing characters, costumes and even stories as part of their New 52 initiative, I think it's worth noting the recent bibliograpies of the writers making fun of Marvel's unwillingness to try something "new" and "original."

    Conner's most recent work for DC prior to co-writing and providing covers for Harley Quinn was working on a prequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' 1986 Watchmen, over the very loud and very vociferous objections of the original author, featuring Moore and Gibbons creations inspired by superhero characters from the 1960s, created by a bunch of other creators.

    The much more prolific Palimiotti's recent output for DC has consisted mainly of a very long run with co-writer Justin Grey on Tony DeZuniga and John Albano's 1972 Jonah Hex character, which, as it neared its cancellation, included a Booster Gold/Hex team-up that followed the pairing of the characters by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz in 2007 and a Hex-thrown-into-his-future storyline that followed the same premise that Michael Fleisher-written Hex series from 1985.

    He and Gray also wrote a bunch of miniseries based on Grant Morrison's reimaginings of the Golden Age Freedom Fighters characters and took over the Batwing title starring a legacy version of Morrison's re-creation of a black Batman originally conceived by Frank Robbins and Dick Giordano from a 1973 issue of Batman. They are currently writing a character dubbed "G.I. Zombie," whose name echoes that of the 1962-created Robert Kanigher co-created character G.I. Robot, and who is a monster serving in the military, like the characters of J.M. DeMatteis/Pat Broderick 1980-created Creature Commandos.

    It's also a fucking zombie comic. Launched in 2014.

    I'd like to think that Conner and Palmiotti were being ironic in their Marvel diss, that they were lampooning DC and themselves rather than taking a crack at their main competitors, as a quick survey of the output of the two publishers features a very, very, very wide gulf in terms of quality, originality, relevance, vitality and, of course, variety. DC mostly publishes New 52 comics which, with few exceptions, all look alike and share a very similar tone, whereas Marvel's output includes incredibly quirky books like a Mike Allred-drawn Silver Surfer, that All-New Ghost Rider, a superhero-humor-comic-that-is-actually-funny She-Hulk, sad-sack super-crime comedy The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and books like Hawkeye, Daredevil, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel.

    I don't want to get into a Marvel vs. DC thing here, but Conner and Palmiotti apparently do, and for anyone at DC to be trying to troll Marvel in 2014 for being adverse to anything new and original is, well, crazy-sounding.

    Like I said, I would like to think they weren't serious, but those panels immediately follow this weird-ass one, in which Palmiotti and Conner have Dan DiDio making fun of the frequent (constant?) complaints from fans and ex-DC creators that DC is just way too involved in dictating stories and interfering in the creative process in a way that is weird, random, unwelcome and unproductive and, obviously, usually results in pretty shitty comics:
    I think the DiDio in the comic is meant to be making fun of the idea of letting creators go crazy and do what they want on their books, but that actually sounds kind of awesome, doesn't it?

    The reason DC doesn't do that, DiDio's avatar seems to say, is that they won't sell more than a thousand units, which seems pretty contrary to much of the available evidence of auteur-style/creator-driven comics in the direct market that outsell a great deal of DC's output (Walking Dead, Saga, anything written by Mark Millar no matter how terrible it is), the general success of Marvel's current editorial model in relation to that of DC's (which almost always has a greater share of the market than DC's comics, and produces many more positive reviews) and even in-[DC's]house evidence, with DC's consistently best-selling comic being the one where Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo do whatever they want with Batman, and other outliers like Geoff Johns' Green Lantern franchise or Grant Morrison's Batman Inc being exempted from "New 52" continuity, save for a costume-tweaking here or there.

    They're pretty damn weird jokes to be sharing a page, with creators Conner and Palmiotti arguing in favor of strict editorial control of books and that sales are the best metric of success in one panel, and then arguing in the next to panels that Marvel isn't willing to try new and original ideas like DC is.

    I hope to discuss the book further and at greater length in the near future, when I get some time to review-review it, but, in the meantime, I wanted to at least stop and point at the unbelievable chutzpah of the Conner/Palmiotti writing team. This doesn't seem to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black so much as the pot calling the good china black.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    DC's October previews reviewed

    Halloween is in October, so it seems to be an appropriate month for DC to include "monster variants" of many of their titles. These are just what they sound like—images of the title characters depicted as monsters of one kind or another, like the above Flash cover by Ryan Ottley, which, like the Marvel Zombies comics, depicts a superhero as a zombie. Some of the others are a lot more inspired, to the point that I really like them, and would love to read comics in which the interiors matched the titles (That's how Archie's awesome Afterlife With Archie series began it's life actually, a Francesco Francavilla-drawn zombie cover of an Archie comic that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the publisher decided was so awesome it needed a comic to go with it).

    Beyond that, October looks like an interesting month at DC, with a few new titles launching (two of which are Batman-adjacent titles, of course), and a few new creative teams coming aboard, like the already quite-celebrated-by-the-Internet Batgirl team. DC's also launching a third weekly series, which, impossible as it seems, actually looks less interesting than Futures End, and the never-ending Green Lantern crossovers will now involved The New Gods, which is...well, it's something (I've noted before, in relation to the announcement of the new and not-yet-canceled Infinity Man and The Forever People title, how odd it is that DC has been reintroducing the New Gods characters quite haphazardly in a half-dozen different titles by different creative teams, with little apparent coordination).

    Here's a link to the complete solicitations, and my own slightly-belated assessment of them is, of course, below.


    ARKHAM MANOR #1
    Written by GERRY DUGGAN
    Art and cover by SHAWN CRYSTAL
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    When catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum, where will Gotham City house the world’s most dangerous criminals, and when inmates are found murdered, what is Batman prepared to do in search of justice? Arkham’s madness comes home in ARKHAM MANOR! A bold new series brought to you by the mad minds of Gerry Duggan (Deadpool, Nova) and Shawn Crystal (Deadpool, Wolverine and the X-Men).


    One of the first suspension of disbelief problems I had with the Batman line of comics when I first started reading them as a teenager had to do with the fact that Arkham Asylum was so easily and frequently escaped from. The Alan Grant-written storyline "The Last Arkham" from the initial issues of The Shadow of The Bat introduced the new character of Jeremiah Arkham and featured a brand-new, upgraded, high-security version of Arkham that was meant to be practically escape-proof (which heightened the mystery element of the fact that Mr. Zsasz seemed to be able to be killing people on a nightly basis while locked away in the asylum).

    "Well," I thought, "That should take care of that; I guess the writers will just have to be more creative about what happens to the villains at the ends of each story from now on, as they can't keep getting dropped off and sprung from Arkham each story arc any more."

    I was so young and foolish then. Since then, of course, Arkham has become even easier to escape from, since writers and artists are (understandably) more hesitant to create new villains for Batman, and the increase in the number of Batman titles means the same pool of villains must be dipped into repeatedly, sometimes within the same month for different titles. (Also hard on the old suspension-of-disbelief? The fact that none of these guys ever gets executed, or at least sentenced to death, or, hell, killed by a police officer or a drone-launched missiles. In the New 52, not only is The Joker a mass-murderer with hundreds of deaths to his name, but so too is Harley Quinn, The Scarecrow and even The Mad Hatter, whose plots have involved large-scale, terrorist-like attacks).

    I used to wonder why billionaire Bruce Wayne didn't devote his wealth, even if it took all of it, to building an impregnable Arkham Asylum and, later, wondered why Batman didn't just take some of his vilest villains into permanent custody himself in the Bat-cave. I imagined a story in which Batman would call on Mister Miracle to help him build an completely escape-proof cell in which to keep The Joker indefinitely in the Bat-cave; given Batman's willingness to break so many other laws, surely kidnapping a mass-murderer to prevent him from murdering again would be the sort of ethical line Batman would have no problem crossing, right?

    This...isn't really that story, but it sounds close enough to be interesting. I can't tell from the image or the solicitation if this is meant to be in-continuity (in-new52ity) or not, as it sounds like the premise for a limited series or an Elseworlds/Imaginary Story type of thing, rather than an ongoing.


    BATGIRL #35
    Written by CAMERON STEWART and BRENDEN FLETCHER
    Art by BABS TARR
    Cover by CAMERON STEWART
    MONSTERS Variant cover by KEVIN NOWLAN
    On sale OCTOBER 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    Barbara Gordon is no stranger to dusting herself off when disaster strikes… so when a fire destroys everything she owned, she spots the opportunity for a new lease on life — and seizes it! Following the rest of Gotham’s young adults to the hip border district of Burnside, Barbara sets about building an all-new Batgirl… and discovers all-new threats preying on her peers! It’s a re-invention of Batgirl from the boots up, by the incredible creative team of Cameron Stewart (BATMAN INC.), Brenden Fletcher (WEDNESDAY COMICS), and rising star Babs Tarr!


    As I said last week, this sounds like the exact sort of solicitation we should have read in like June of 2011, in reference to the relaunched and rebooted Barbara Gordon: Brand-new awesome-looking costume, exciting creative team featuring talented creators who weren't working on DCU ongoing monthlies during the years immediately preceding the reboot (I never quite understood the implied "These comics suck, we need to restart them all, and have the exact same people who were making the sucky ones make the new ones" argument of the reboot), one of whom is an up-and-coming, rising star who most DC readers will be meeting for the first time here.

    And, as I also said the other day, better late than never.

    I am amused by the fact that Babs' comic book will now be drawn by an artist also named Babs.

    As everyone's already seen and gushed over Tarr's cover, here's the monster variant, by the almost always reliable Mr. Kevin Nowlan:
    It's basically just Batgirl's original costume, only with nowhere for her voluminous red hair to stick out the back of the cowl. Those vampire fangs look hella goofy, though.


    BATMAN #35
    Written by SCOTT SNYDER
    Backup story written by SCOTT SNYDER and JAMES TYNION IV
    Art by GREG CAPULLO and DANNY MIKI
    Cover by GREG CAPULLO
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 8 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    From the superstar creative team that brought you a new start to the Caped Crusader comes the story that could end him. Be there in October for the biggest, deadliest and most epic story yet from writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo – “Batman: Endgame” begins here!


    For the sake of Batman, the Batman line, Batman fans, DC Comics and me as a reader of good Batman comics, I hope the title of this story arc and the fact that this is the "biggest, deadliest and most epic story yet" from the creative team doesn't signal the departure of the Snyder/Capullo team any time soon. I may be mistaken, but I believe that come October, they will be the only creative team still working on their title since September of 2011, when all of the DCU comics relaunched (Well actually, come November; the last issue of the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman ships in October, although it's worth noting that Wonder Woman has had many more fill-in artists on a much more frequent basis then Batman has yet needed).


    Chris Burnham's "monster variant" for Batman and Robin, featuring the title characters as mummies, is easily the coolest thing in this month's solicitations, and it's a damn shame it's only a cover. Admit it; after looking at that image, you want to read Batman: The Dark Pharaoh Returns as bad as I do, don't you?

    Or wait, maybe that's Egypt's member of Batman, Inc. and his sidekick, Robin the Ba Wonder...?


    BATMAN ETERNAL #30
    Written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV, RAY FAWKES, KYLE HIGGINS and TIM SEELEY
    Art by FERNANDO PASARIN
    Cover by CLAY MANN
    On sale OCTOBER 29 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    The last time Deacon Blackfire took control of Gotham City, Batman nearly died...How will the city fare now that he wields unspeakable power?

    "The last time"...? Seriously? Tim Drake's entire career as Robin has been retconned out of existence, along with Cassandra Cain, Oracle and Spoiler, but fucking Batman: The Cult is still in continuity...? Really? (Or is this just in reference to something in some New 52 Bat-title I missed...?)


    Jon Bogdanove's monster variant cover for Batman/Superman #15 imagines the World's Finest team as a pair of superhero, crime-fighting werewolves.

    The actual content of the comic book apparently involves Lord Satanus, Catwoman and Lois Lane, but eh, I think I'd rather read a comic book about Superman and Batman as werewolves, thanks. Can someone make that happen somewhere, please...?

    BATWOMAN #35
    Written by MARC ANDREYKO
    Art by GEORGES JEANTY
    Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
    On sale OCTOBER 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
    The new storyline “Batwoman and the Unknowns” starts now with new artist Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)! Batwoman is neck-deep in danger with her new allies Ragman, The Demon, Clayface and Red Alice! What is going on and how did Batwoman end up here? Find out beginning in this issue!


    I've been mostly ignoring this book since the creative team got kicked off it (and, it's worth noting, I didn't think the book was very good while they were on it, even if it was pretty and weird looking), but I do so love Ragman, one of my all-time favorite superhero costume designs, and I'm awfully fond of various versions of The Demon (though not the New 52 one introduced in the pages of Demon Kngihts, which looks to be the one being used here), so this has me curious.

    That's a hell of a cool cover by Rafael Albuquerque, too...


    CATWOMAN #35
    Written by GENEVIEVE VALENTINE
    Art by GARRY BROWN
    Cover by JAE LEE
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
    ...
    Meet Selina Kyle – Crime Boss of Gotham City! Spinning out of events in BATMAN ETERNAL Selina has accepted the family mantle and embraced her true criminal side, but is Gotham City ready for her reign? And with the Cat away, who’s the stranger haunting the empty rooftops of the city? Don’t miss the start of a bold new direction for Selina Kyle by the new creative team of novelist Genevieve Valentine and Garry Brown (Five Ghosts, Iron Patriot).


    All that cover is missing is a little dialogue bubble above the cat saying "Lying."

    This is the most intersting sounding new direction for Catwoman in...forever? At least since she's had her own title she's been a thief with a heart-of-gold/sometime-vigilante, so having her return to crime and villainy, even if it's a softer, lesser-of-two-evils kind of thing, as this solicitation and the goings-on of Batman Eternal seem to suggest, sounds interesting.

    Like Batgirl, this seems like another case where this is the sort of team and direction that would have made more sense with a rebooted Catwoman #1 in September 2011, not the start of Creative Team #3 (giver or take a team) on Catwoman #35 in October 2014, but, again, better late than never....


    DEATHSTROKE #1
    Written by TONY S. DANIEL
    Art by TONY S. DANIEL and SANDU FLOREA
    Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
    Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
    The DCU’s deadliest assassin stars in his own ongoing series by writer/artist Tony S. Daniel! See him as never before in this explosive new series, with one surprise after another as we see Slade Wilson in the fight of his life!


    Well, the one positive of DC's trying to keep 52-ish monthlies in print, despite the fact that the market couldn't support that many DCU titles, was that it meant the publisher could keep throwing out unlikely-seeming characters and concepts in new books that, even if they were swiftly canceled, allowed them to try something different and/or to renew whatever trademarks or copyrights are associated with them.

    I was sorta hoping we'd see Shazam, Plastic Man, Kid Eternity, All-Star All-Star Squadron and Robin, The Boy Wonder, Angel and The Ape featuring Zauriel and Congorilla, The Red Bee, The Legion of Super-Pets, Club of Heroes, The Forgotten Heroes, The Wonder Twins and Cave Carson before they started re-launching books from the first wave of New 52 titles that were canceled, but whatever, DC's re-launching Deathstroke, one of the first 52 books of the New 52, canceled not really all that long ago. This time Tony Daniel's writing and drawing it, so maybe that will prove more salable than having Rob Liefeld attached...? Maybe...?


    EARTH 2: WORLD’S END #1
    Written by DANIEL H. WILSON, MARGUERITE BENNETT and MIKE JOHNSON
    Art by ARDIAN SYAF, JORGE JIMENEZ, EDDY BARROWS and PAULO SIQUIERA
    Cover by ARDIAN SYAF and JAIME MENDOZA
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 8 • 48 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times best-selling author of Robopocalypse and Robogenesis, delves into the world of EARTH 2 for the start of a new weekly series that will see the origins of a world much like the New 52 Earth, but yet so different. A world that saw its greatest heroes die – and new ones take their places. A world where Superman became it’ greatest villain, and a man named Zod seeks to save it, along with Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash and other heroes. A world they can only save from the forces of Apokolips through great personal sacrifice! Death and destruction will follow each week, and you’ll never know who will live and who will die! It all begins with this extra-sized debut issue!


    So here's DC's third weekly series, set on Earth-2, which, as that cover and the solicits for the first few issues will clue you in even if you haven't been paying attention to the title, bears less and less resemblance to the original Earth 2 conception, and has become more and more of an Elseworlds Justice League story.

    Note the second-to-last line: "Death and destruction will follow each week, and you'll never know who will live and who will die!" I thought that was, like, all the DC comics now...?

    Judging from this first batch of solicits, it looks like the writing team will all be involved with writing each issue, and each issue will feature multiple artists, which makes it different from both New 52: Futures End and Batman Eternal.


    GOTHAM ACADEMY #1
    Written by BECKY CLOONAN and BRENDEN FLETCHER
    Art and cover by KARL KERSCHL
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    WELCOME TO GOTHAM ACADEMY! Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by...like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange is the students!

    Like, what’s up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what’s the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman MAPS is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?!


    GOTHAM ACADEMY is a new, monthly teen drama set in the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham City, with new characters and old plus a secret tie to Gotham’s past…


    If this lives up to the promise of Batman comics + teen drama/high school comedy, then this promise to be the most exciting comic book in DC's line. To me. Until they publish a Chris Burnham Batman-and-Robin-as-mummies comic, anyway.


    Jan Duursema's "monster variant" for Grayson. I honestly didn't recognize her work here, it's changed so much since DC/TSR's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, my gateway comic book.


    GREEN ARROW #35
    Written by ANDREW KREISBERG and BEN SOKOLOWSKI
    Art by DANIEL SAMPERE
    Cover by BRYAN HITCH
    On sale OCTOBER 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    Welcome new series writers straight from the hit TV show Arrow! Ollie is trying to put his life together after the grueling events of “Broken,” and finds himself back in Seattle on a mission from a mystery woman. Who is she – and what’s next for Green Arrow?


    What's next for Green Arrow? I don't know. Probably another new creative team in 8-12 months, the way that guy's title seems to go through creative teams.


    HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1
    Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
    Art by JOHN TIMMS
    Cover by AMANDA CONNER
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 29 • 48 pg, FC, $5.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    We have to warn you, readers: This issue stinks! Seriously! Like, unpleasant odors are literally in the story! In this first-ever HQ ANNUAL, take a trip to Harley’s home of Coney Island in a groundbreaking “scent-ticular” issue, featuring actual, honest-to-gosh smells. This issue comes polybagged to contain the stench.


    I have mentioned before that DC's latest take on Harley Quinn, as exemplified in her own title rather than Suicide Squad, is basically a sexy, scantily-clad, lady version of Marvel's Deadpool, right? Here's...what are letter are we on now?...Exhibit E.

    Artist John Timms is one of the several artists who contributed to this week's mostly-bad Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International special (which I'll discuss at greater length in the near future); he's pretty good, and his Harley is probably the most overtly sexy of all the Harleys in the issue, wit the smallest, tightest depiction of her costume.


    EDILW favorite Guillem March's cover for Justice League Dark Annual #2, the solicitation for which reads, in its entirety, "The JLD team struggles to contain the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets when both take human form!" So that's what's going on in that image.


    I haven't really liked Justice League United, like, at all, but here's the October issue's monster variant, courtesy of EDILW favorite Kelley Jones.


    KLARION #1
    Written by ANN NOCENTI
    Art and cover by TREVOR McCARTHY
    1:25 Variant cover by FRAZER IRVING
    On sale OCTOBER 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    Klarion the Witch Boy makes his New 52 debut and stands for the forces of chaos in this new ongoing series!


    Klarion the Witch Boy! See, that's the kind of title it's nice to see DC throwing out there for a year before it gets cancelled, instead of the second attempt at a Deathstroke title in three years.

    This appears to be Ann Nocenti and Trevor McCarthy's version of Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving's version of Jack Kirby's character, so, um, I have no idea what to expect.


    THE NEW 52: FUTURES END #22
    Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO, JEFF LEMIRE, DAN JURGENS and KEITH GIFFEN
    Art by PATRICK ZIRCHER
    Cover by RYAN SOOK
    On sale OCTOBER 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
    How will the world react to discovering the identity of the masked Superman?


    Hmm, the cover seems to suggest Captain Marvel Shazam in the Superman suit, but he looks enough like Superman that he wouldn't really need a helmet like that, would he...?


    SUPERMAN #35
    Written by GEOFF JOHNS
    Art and cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON
    ...
    On sale OCTOBER 22 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
    ...
    The hit SUPERMAN run by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. continues with “THE MEN OF TOMORROW” Chapter four! Superman and Ulysses are still dealing with the traumatic revelations of last issue, but the hunt for The Machinist must continue before his would-be-victims fall into his hands. But what happens when the two heroes learn the truth behind The Machinist and the cost to stopping his mad plan?


    What's that? The Machinist?

    Surely Superman's not going up against this guy...
    Is he?