Saturday, July 22, 2017

Marvel's October previews reviewed

October will be a pretty big month for Marvel, as it is the beginning of their "Legacy" initiative, which, I confess, I don't quite understand.

Some of it is merely cosmetic, like the return of character boxes in the upper left-hand corners, where they used to help readers tell which comic was which when most comics were shelved on grocery store spinner racks.

They are also doing special variant covers, which are basically "cover versions" of previous famous covers, that will be recognizable to fans, like the Ben Caldwell cover for America #8above, an homage to the 1966 John Romita Amazing Spider-Man cover (Although, if we're being honest here, you have to be a pretty hardcore fan to really "get" all of these. For my part, I recognize many of the poses and the characters who appeared in the original images, but I couldn't tell you, like, which particular title, or the number of which particular book, the covers reference; I actually had to do some Googling to see what year that ASM cover was from, and if it was Steve Ditko or John Romita who drew it).

And then there's the numbering, which I don't get at all. Cognizant that the diminishing returns of relaunched books with new number one issues on an increasingly regularly basis have now gotten so diminished, they are actually a negative rather than a positive, Marvel has decided all (well, most) of their books again...? Only this time with a completely randomly high number that is essentially meaningless (Well, it's not completely random, there is a nonsensical method in which, say, to get to the numbering for Incredible Hulk, they add up all the issues of all the previous Hulk series. Which...isn't really how issue numbers work on comic books).

But those cover-versions of covers are hardly the only variant covers! The solicitations list the following types of variants:
Design Variant
How-To-Draw Cariant Cover by Chip Zdarsky
Jack Kirby 100th Anniversary Cover
LH Variant
Legacy Headshot Variant
1965 T Shirt Variant
Trading Card Variant
Now not every issues will have all six types of variants, but most of the books seem to have between one and four of 'em.

Finally, the books will also feature "Primer Pages," which sound like they are meant to be something between the "Previously In..." prose synopses you find in many Marvel comics and trades, and those two-page origin stories that ran in the back of DC's 52 series. Of all of this business, these seem like the only things that might actually entice a new reader to try jumping-on to any of these books.

Which books? Well books like these, of course...

LH Variant Cover by KRIS ANKA
DAKEN, the enigmatic son of Logan, has been kidnapped and it’s up to the ALL-NEW WOLVERINE to find him. But when the trail leads Laura, a genetic clone of the original Wolverine, back to the FACILITY where she was created and tortured, she will find new horrors waiting for her. Who are the ORPHANS OF X and what do they have in store for the children of Logan? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and art by Mark Bagley!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Perhaps the All-New Wolverine can find Daken's shirt, while she's at it!

This sounds...the exact opposite of what I thought we would be getting after I finished the most recent All-New Wolverine trade. It really seemed like Taylor was ready to move on, and let the character move on, from all this facility and cloning and torture business.

Cover by ALEX ROSS
LH Variant Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
Following the events of GENERATIONS comes the long-promised clash between the Avengers and the Champions! The countdown has started as the High Evolutionary, a twisted scientist determined to create a better world at all costs, sets the Earth on a collision course with destruction! The Avengers and the Champions are ready to meet this threat — but will their first cataclysmic clash deter them from Changing the World? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I do so love when Mike Allred draws superheroes...!

This Avengers vs. Champions story could be fun, and the two teams look surprisingly well-matched at this point. I really like when Marvel teams fight one another like this, and it's not, like, such a big deal it needs a line-wide event, just an issue or two or four of Marvel heroes hitting one another.

It will never happen, but one of my dream Marvel movies would be an Avengers/Defenders War using some iteration of the MCU's current line-ups, with maybe Namor thrown.

CABLE #150
ED BRISSON (W) • Jon Malin (A)
Cover by JON MALIN
LH Variant Cover by ROB LIEFELD
The time-traveling mutant known as Cable has made it his one-man mission to preserve all of time itself. But when a disturbance in the timestream sends Cable back to the recent past, he’ll find a mutant killer he won’t be able to handle alone. Cable’s led teams of X-Men before and he’ll have to turn to some old allies and new friends to stop this deadly threat. Get ready for the newer New Mutants! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and art by Mark Bagley!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I like "Newer Mutants" as a story title, and I think it would be an even better title for the series. I'd be much more likely to read a Newer Mutants or Cable and The Newer Mutants series than I would a Cable series.

Personally, I've grown to prefer the black costume, but Marvel neglected to ask for my input on the matter.

Cover by JESúS SAIZ
Sam Wilson – winged warrior, avian Avenger and one-time sentinel of liberty – takes to the skies again, reborn and recommitted as the fighter for freedom, THE FALCON! Engaged in an all-new assignment while training his new partner THE PATRIOT, Sam Wilson soars high and sees all. But Sam’s new mission finds him on a collision course with an enemy way out of his weight class—the demonic BLACKHEART! Writer Rodney Barnes (THE BOONDOCKS) joins artist Joshua Cassara (SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND) to challenge Sam Wilson as never before! From the stratosphere to the streets, the Marvel Universe now has a high-flying hero circling above them ready to strike! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and art by Mark Bagley!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Hrrm. Well, I can't say I like the idea of Sam Wilson giving up the shield and title of Captain America to return to being The Falcon; that seems like a major step backwards for the character, personally, and I'm not sure how it can be spun or sold within the comics so as to make it seem like a positive choice for Sam Wilson (Writer Nick Spencer often presented Wilson's being Captain America as a real pain in the ass, but more in a burden-I-proudly-bear than a God-I-hate-my-job kinda way).

This also has a domino effect to it, as new character Joaquin Torres had taken up the name of the Falcon, so if Sam takes the name back, what becomes of Joaquin...?

Unless...that's not Joaquin on the shield/hoverboard cover, is it? There's already a character named The Patriot, from Young Avengers (although I haven't seen him in so long, maybe he's dead at the moment?), but I don't think that's him; if it is, then they gave him a much, much worse costume than the one he usually rocks.

Of course, they've given Sam a much worse costume, too. The red and black color scheme is perhaps preferable to the red and white (or the green!), but the cape feels off. I think I'd prefer that, if he must quit being Captain America, he just kept that costume with a red and black color scheme, taking the star and other American signifiers off it.

Also, in some of those images it looks like The Falcon's penis has long red wings.

HULK #11
JEN WALTERS here, asking you to kindly pre-order your copy of HULK #11…or else I’ll come into your shop and rip up all of your issues of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1! That last-page reveal won’t be so revealing when it’s in shreds on the floor…What? No, I’m not deflecting. Yes, the events of the last arc WERE challenging, but I’m fine…Listen, I just told you, I AM FINE. If you keep asking me, you’ll make me mad…and you won’t like me when I’m mad…
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

So, um, what on earth is going on with Marvel's She-Hul/Hulk book, exactly? I was surprised and confused by this post , which indicated that Marvel was either changing the name of the book back to She-Hulk, or, at the very least, were collecting it in trade under She-Hulk rather than Hulk. Either way though, isn't the numbering remarkably low for the publisher's dumb-ass "legacy" initiative? I guess they folded all the (He-)Hulk book numbers into the new Incredible Hulk book, but, at the very least, shouldn't this Hulk book take on the numbering of all the various She-Hulk series there have been over the decades? Or is it excused for some reason?

Don't get me wrong, I think just-not-relaunching-constantly is a better method than randomly-adding-hundreds-of-issues-from-other-series, but it seems like Marvel is applying their legacy numbering rather haphazardly. Shocking, I know.

SINA GRACE (W) • Robert Gill (A)
ICEMAN, one of the most powerful mutants within the Marvel Universe, discovers his powers and his outlook on life evolving. He needs to lead the charge with a team who stand proudly by his side in the war to “protect those who can’t protect themselves.” Hercules, Ghost Rider, Black Widow, Darkstar, and Angel re-unite with Marvel’s fearless frozen fighter setting ICEMAN on an all-new path. As more unexpected enemies emerge, can Bobby mature into the warrior he’s destined to become? Hope he survives the experience! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

While I've certainly read plenty of comics featuring various Avengers and X-Men teams, it was the other Marvel teams I always had more affection for, teams like The Defenders and The Champions, with their ad hoc line-ups that don't make any sense at first glance...and never make more sense even when you read the comics they star in.

So I'm actually kinda jazzed about this story arc. I hope these Champions meet the other Champions at some point, too.


You know, I'm genuinely kinda surprised that Iceman is still wearing a red-and-black onesie. I know it won't last forever, as so few superhero costumes ever seem to, but that one was so dumb-looking I expected it to have a very, very short shelf life.

Tony Stark has vanished! The mystery deepens as Stark friends and foes must decide, finally, who will wield the power of Iron Man! All the contenders are in position, and all the armor is polished. There can only be one Armored Avenger! The path to the most startling Iron Man story ever begins here! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

So, Battle For The Cowl, but with Iron Man...? Oh wow, I'm sorry I even typed that sentence, because the very thought of it depresses me. Well, it can't possibly be that bad; Bendis is a better writer than Battle's Tony Daniel, and Caselli's a better artist than Battle's Tony Daniel.

I remain completely fascinated by what age Jessica and Luke's daughter Danielle is supposed to be, as she is constantly sliding up and down the spectrum between newborn and toddler, depending on who is drawing her.

This is David Mack's cover for Jessica Jones #13, by the way. So in terms of "Legacy" numbering, they seem to have left this book alone too, and not factored in the Alias issue numbers.

After the earth-shattering events of issue #23, Moon Girl needs a new partner! Lunella takes three candidates for a test drive, but who will be the lucky hero to become her newest sidekick? Guest stars galore! Ghost Rider! Daredevil! The X-Babies!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

I say Daredevil, because at least he's got a "devil" in his name. Otherwise, she should probably just go shopping around the Savage Land or Mole Man's kingdom; surely there are other dinosaurs and/or Kirby-created monsters she could team-up with.

By the time the Punisher was born in Vietnam, Frank Castle had already become a dark legend of the battlefield. Stories about him were told in whispers, if at all. Now the legendary Punisher team of Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov (PUNISHER MAX, FURY MAX) brings the first of those stories to light: the tale of Frank Castle’s first command, and his first kill. Don’t miss this epic new series!
32 PGS. (EACH)/MAX/Parental Advisory …$3.99 (EACH)

Huh. Garth Ennis. Back on The Punisher. I didn't expect to see that. I'm not unhappy that I did, though.

Variant Cover by KEVIN WADA
The RUNAWAYS are back, but are they ever, ever, ever getting back together? Did Chase and Gert’s love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional land mines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?! And should we be more worried about those, or about the shadowy scientist watching them from a distance?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Maybe I'm shallow, but what I'm most worried about is the presence of their dinosaur.

Wait, is Old Lace not hanging out with The Runaways anymore? Because, if not, Moon Girl is looking for a new dinosaur pal...

A dead angel. A silver bullet. A kept promise. For ages, the war between Heaven and Hell raged in the unseen corners of society, both sides in delicate balance that could topple if the right weapons were in the wrong hands… When an undercover angel is murdered, Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, must find the killers and punish them…But this time he won’t do it alone: A deadly team must rise from the darkest depths of the Marvel Universe to form an unholy alliance – HELLSTORM! SATANA! BLADE! They are the SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I like all these characters, so I'll look forward to this miniseries in trade. I'm not crazy about Daimon's street-clothes look here, though. No one has designed or drawn Daimon in a suit as well as Nick Dragotta in the apparently-forgotten 2011 miniseries Vengeance (Which, I should take this opportunity to remind you, is the best thing ever).

LH Variant Cover by CHRISTIAN WARD
Legacy Headshot Variant Cover by MIKE MCKONE
The U.S. Avengers have a new mission—to find their missing teammate! Squirrel Girl, Red Hulk, Iron Patriot, and more head into outer space to find Cannonball! The search leads them to strangest planet of all…Glenbrook, U.S.A.! Home — and fiefdom — of Ritchie Redwood, America’s best loved teen! What shocking events will lead the U.S. Avengers to uncover the secrets of the seemingly idyllic planet of Glenbrook whose teenagers keep disappearing? And how will this lead them to Cannonball? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I've totally lost track of Ewing's ongoing Avengers adventures since the conclusion of his New Avengers, but I'm looking forward to catching up. This sure looks awesome.

Oh my God look at Venomized Rocket!!!!

Real quick on that Plastic Man-related announcement.

So a couple of Twitter posts eventually lead me to something official about Plastic Man's return to the DC Universe proper, from which he has been MIA since Flashpoint and The New 52 reboot (not counting, of course, an appearance in a group shot in Dan Jurgens' short-lived Justice League International, what sure as hell looked like the start of his origin during the 2013-2014 Forever Evil event and that cryptic cameo in Dark Days: The Forge #1).

It appears Plas will be part of a Fantastic Four analogue team called The Terrifics, along with super-genius Mister Terrific, Ben Grimm-like Metamorpho and the sometimes invisible girl from the Legion of Super-Heroes, Phantom Girl. That likely explains Plas' terrible-looking new costume, which is meant to be a sort of uniform that echoes that of Mister Terrific's current costume.

Allow me to go on record as hating the new Plastic Man costume. He's got one of the all-time great, there's-really-no-way-to-improve superhero costumes, but that hasn't stopped DC from redesigning anyone else's costume in the past six years, so why exempt Plas? The thing is, Plas' color-scheme is so tied to powers that changing him out of it sorta screws it up. After all, Plas' essential gag is that he can use his fantastic shape-changing powers to turn into pretty much anything, but that anything is always red, black and yellow. Characters in the comics usually don't notice, or don't notice right away, but it's a visual signal to the reader.

Now, I've never actually understood the ins-and-outs of Plas' costume, and how it seems to change with him, since he wasn't wearing it when he was doused in those stretchy chemicals or anything, so perhaps there's a very, very easy fix to this, and Mr. Terrific will just discover some unstable molecules he can use to make a new costume for Plas. We'll see. Maybe. (I honestly didn't like a single one of Jeff Lemire's DC super-comics so far, so depending on who's drawing this, I'm somewhere between completely indifferent and mildly curious about this, and if it were, say, The Elongated Man or Offspring* there instead of Plas, I wouldn't even be mildly curious.) Anyway, seeing that it's just a team uniform, than I suppose it makes some sort of sense for him to wear it rather than his traditional red.

I do kinda like the chutzpah of DC attempting to do a Fantastic Four-like book during a time that Marvel has either given up on the franchise, or are at least giving it a good, long rest until they come up with a new take, which I have to imagine a lot of folks at Marvel are thinking about more-or-less constantly. Seeing Plastic Man on "The Terrifics" reminded me of an idea I used to think about back when I was a youth.

I spent an inordinate amount of time daydreaming as a teenager and in the first few years of my twenties, as that was when I was spending large amounts of time in classes, where one's mind is almost constantly wandering. I remember thinking about a Plastic Man-lead team of former Leaguers that added up to an FF analogue team: Plas, Metamorpho, Firestorm and Gypsy. They would have been The Plastastic Four.

Then my mind wandered to an official DC/Marvel Fanastic Four/Justice League crossover, back when the two publishers could and would still crossover (Their crossovers had calmed down at that point, I think, but the JLA/Avengers one hadn't yet been published). This would have been titled JLA/FF:, with the subtitle of either The Plastastic Four, The Fanplastic Four or The Fantastic, Plastic Four.

The plot, as I remember daydreaming it, would have been that Doctor Doom had developed some new weapon with which he hoped to finally defeat the FF, and he was traveling through alternate dimensions, battling alternate versions of the Fantastic Four to "practice" before taking on the genuine article. He arrives in the DC Universe and targets the Challengers of The Unknown, and he has them on the ropes when the JLA intervenes to save the day.

By that point, Mister Fantastic has figured out what Doom was up to, and the FF also arrive in the DCU to stop him. Overwhelmed by the small army of superheroes, some of whom he's never seen the like of, Doom is defeated. The two teams socialize a while, and when Mister Fantastic expresses how much there is to learn from this new universe, the League invites him to say for a while. Plastic Man volunteers to travel to the Marvel Universe, so that the FF won't be short-handed or long-limbed, to which everyone agrees to a sort of pan-dimensional, foreign exchange student kind of situation.

It quickly becomes apparent that the FF got the short end of the stick though, as even though Plas has Mister Fantastic's powers, he doesn't have his brains or leadership ability. The League, on the other hand, couldn't be happier with their new recruit, who proves an invaluable addition to the League. And Reed is having the time of his life, comparing notes with the DCU's super-scientists, exploring that universe's most fantastic settings and phenomena and even developing theories as to why the two universes share so much in common, but in slightly altered fashion.

The ongoing gag would be that the FF can't wait to get rid of Plas, and are ready to call the exchange off almost immediately, while the League wants to hang on to Reed as long as possible, and Reed's so wrapped up in science stuff--and the luxury of not having to be so responsible for his team, and referee Ben and Johnny's constant fights, that he doesn't want to go least, not right away.

I wasn't reading any Marvel Comics at all back then, so mostly what I knew of Marvel's characters came from cartoons, reading books about comics history and comic shop osmosis, so I didn't know that Reed and Sue had a child (or was it two at that point?), which I guess would complicate that particular story, as Reed's ability to tune out his wife and teammates when he's into some gnarly new science stuff becomes kind of a dark quality when applied to his children (Although I suppose maybe even Franklin and/or Valerie woulda been into having Plas in the Baxter Building instead of their real dad? Plas seems like he would be a lot more fun for a little kid to play with, anyway).

Anyway, that's the sort of stuff I used to think about when I shoulda been taking notes on a lecture. Luckily, I was an English major, so most of my tests were essay ones on things we had to read.

*Although I suppose it's possible that that is Offspring, perhaps posing as his dad, isn't it...? With the Multiverse coming in and out of play,
and the fact that the DC heroes are aware that someone stole ten years from their timeline, it's hard to count on what will be continuity months into the future. Either
Metal or Geoff Johns' Superman Vs. Watchmen thing could always return or re-reboot current DC continuity in some way.

Friday, July 21, 2017

DC's October previews reviewed

Cover by BENGAL
Trapped in the Dark Multiverse, Batman must face his greatest fears!

Written by FRANK TIERI
As the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL rock the DC Universe, the creatures of the Dark Multiverse stand ready to invade our world! How can the World’s Greatest Heroes stop a horde of deadly beings that appear to be powerful nightmare versions of familiar figures? Find out in these special tie-in issues!

As the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL rock the DC Universe, the creatures of the Dark Multiverse stand ready to invade our world! How can the World’s Greatest Heroes stop a horde of deadly beings that appear to be powerful nightmare versions of familiar figures? Find out in these special tie-in issues!

I confess to being both a little confused and a little annoyed by the way this event is taking shape, as it seems to consist almost entirely of one-shots. I suppose that could mean that everything other than the Dark Nights: Metal mini-series proper is unimportant/optional, but somehow I doubt that (two of these above books, for example, are written by the co-writers of the Metal prequel issues, two of which have been published so far, and both of which were also marked "#1.")

Of course, DC did provide the following house ad/checklist in all of their books this week:
That's kinda helpful, I suppose, but I don't know, I get the feeling there are gonna be a lot of those that I'm not going to want to read, based on the books they appear in or the creators involved. We'll see.

Looking at the three solicited above, I'm sure what Lost could be, but the other two look like villain versions of the last round of solicitation' one-shots in which there seemed to be Batman versions of various Justice League heroes. The Batman Who Laughs is a pretty great title, and Rossmo is a hell of a Batman artist. As I'm not really a fan of Tieri, Daniel or Doomsday, The Devastator, on the other hand, looks pretty skip-able. Or will they be collected in the trade? Is this an event I should trade-wait? I don't like the Marvel-pricing on these, and since I'm not sure how to read the event yet, maybe I will end up reading it in trade next year...?

•Written by DAN ABNETT
•Art and cover by STJEPAN SEJIC
•“UNDERWORLD” part five! Desperate to penetrate the supernatural barrier surrounding Atlantis, Mera enlists the help of an ex-Atlantean magician: Garth, the Titan known as Tempest! But Aquaman’s former protégé has sworn off his mystical practices, and the magisters of the Silent School don’t take betrayal lightly. Meanwhile, as Arthur and Dolphin fight off both the armies of the Drift and Krush’s criminal empire, Vulko discovers that which the former will need to take back his throne…something forgotten!
•On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I tried about an issue and a half or so of artist Stjepan Sejic's Aquaman, and as gorgeous as it looks--in fact, I'm unsure of a time when an Aquaman monthly has looked so good--I just couldn't get into the story. It's set in Atlantis, involves Atlantean politics and palace intrigue and societal woes and, well, the retcons, deaths and resurrections, the sinkings and risings, the legacy passing down and up, the reboot--I've not only lost track of all that since the Peter David-launched 1994-2001 series concluded, but I have also apparently lost interest. I think I would have been more into this if it were set on the surface world, or at least wasn't so wrapped up in the rebooted, rectonned and rejiggered Atlantis, but I found myself looking at the pictures appreciatively, but losing interest every time I took in a few lines of dialogue.

The current Aquaman is perhaps a perfect jumping-on point for new readers, but I'm afraid I'm just not invested in the Atlantean national story as I was 15 years ago.

Written by PETER DAVID
Art and cover by ESTEBAN MAROTO
At last, the epic history of one of DC’s most iconic characters is collected! Chronicling generations of Atlantians, this epic saga reveals why Atlantis sank in the Great Deluge, tells of the ancient war between undersea cities and much more!
On sale NOVEMBER 1 • 328 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” • $49.99 US

Speaking of which...! This is a miniseries I had been trying to track down for quite a while at one point, and had wished DC would have released in trade. I started reading Aquaman with 1996's Aquaman #26, and then started following the series forward through new releases of monthly issues, and backwards through back-issue bins. This 1990 miniseries was one of the few chunks of the Peter David version of Aquaman that I could never completely track down; I probably read four issues of it, and not in the correct order. I guess I'm a little surprised DC is releasing this, if only because it would seem that it is no longer canon. Aquaman's real father being the ancient Atlantean sorcerer Orin, for example, or Kordax presenting a vision of what could and would happen to Aquaman if he pushed his telepathic powers too far to dominate others, no longer seem to be at all relevant.

That's okay, though. If I'm not reading New 52 Aquaman anymore, then the one from the David-launched volume of Aquaman and the Grant Morrison-written JLA comics can still be my Aquaman, and this trade will remain relevant to that version of the character.

•Written by TOM KING
•Art and cover by JOELLE JONES
•“A DREAM OF ME” part 1! Following his marriage proposal to Catwoman, Batman leaves Gotham City on a quest of renewal and redemption. As he travels and fights, he encounters members of his family—each disturbed by Batman’s journey, each ready to stand in his way, each ready to push back against Batman’s stubborn determination to evolve into something better than a superhero.
•On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Oh hey, look! A lady! Drawing an issue of Batman! That doesn't happen very often. What is this, the second issue in 77 years...?

The basic plot sketch here reminds me of that from 2013's Batman and Robin #19-23, where Batman was met and challenged by a different member of the Bat Family in each issue as he went about a lunatic quest to resurrect Damian from the dead, so I guess we'll how similar they end up being. If nothing else, it will inevitably have different members of the Bat Family involved! I'm a little intrigued by what Batman considers "better than a superhero" too...

While investigating the murder of a Gothamite, Batman identifies his prime suspect as Lamont Cranston…but there are two problems with that. One, Batman is not aware of Lamont’s alter ego as the master detective known as the Shadow. Two, and more importantly, Cranston seems to have died over half a century ago! The Shadow was a major influence of the Batman himself and now appears in this incredible six-issue miniseries.
Collects BATMAN/THE SHADOW #1-6 and a story from BATMAN ANNUAL #1.
On sale NOVEMBER 22 • 168 pg, FC, $24.99 US

I'm trade-waiting this, in part because of the price point and in part because the Tim Sale variant covers looked so good that I didn't want to buy the single issues when I could just wait for the trade and presumably get all the Sale variants in the back. I was a little surprised that the first issues of this didn't sell better than they did, at least according to available sales estimates because A) The first issue was really, really good and B) It's Batman, by Scott Snyder and, Shadow crossover or no, it appears to be in continuity...why isn't it selling as well as Snyder's Batman was...? Were people reading that book for the Capullo art more than the Snyder or the Batman...?

I was a little surprised to see this get a sub-title, but then I do believe a second Batman/Shadow crossover has already been announced.

Written by SEAN MURPHY
Art and cover by SEAN MURPHY
Variant cover by SEAN MURPHY
In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City. He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the “Clown Prince of Crime” but “white knight”? Never. Until now…
Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as “Jack,” sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman!
Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero—and which the villain?
On sale OCTOBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 7, $3.99 US • RATED T+

Sean Murphy is a hell of a Batman artist, so this should be worth taking a look at, regardless of whether the plot is intriguing or how well Murphy handles the script.

There's already a very, very minor Batman villain named The White Knight--I think he's only had the one appearance, in that one Batman and Robin story arc where we learned that Batman can shoot the tips of his ears off like little missiles--but I guess that's just the subtitle of this series, and not the name this good guy version of The Joker will be going by.

Written by MIKE W. BARR
Collecting a Batman classic in hardcover for the first time! A close friend of Bruce Wayne introduces him to Rachel Caspian, and the two quickly develop a romantic relationship. But in the midst of love, Rachel’s father decides to come out of retirement as the Reaper, Gotham City’s first vigilante!
On sale NOVEMBER 22 • 176 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” • $29.99 US

Confession: I have never actually read this story. I've long had the impression that, despite the title, it was more-or-less murky in terms of Batman's official continuity, and it definitely seems like the whole Batman-flirted-with-firearms-early-in-his-career aspect has been long ago retconned away.

I find the cover of this particular collection interesting, as it features Alan Davis art rather than that of Todd McFarlane. Is that, perhaps, a reflection of how much the heat of one-time red-hot artist Todd McFarlane has diminished over the decades? Because, for the longest time, whenever I heard anyone discussing this particular series, it was always in the context of "The Batman story that Todd McFarlane drew."

Clayface is on the loose! How can Wonder Woman protect Cassie Sandsmark, Donna Troy and their friends and family from danger if Clayface can disguise himself as anyone in the camp—including Wonder Woman herself?!
On sale OCTOBER 18 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

The current iteration of Bombshells, which I'm still reading regularly, has gotten a little stale, particularly as Bennett has seemed to stop trying to tie it to the specifics of the war and instead gone off on some (admittedly charming) tangents. So I'm kind of looking forward to this next iteration, which looks like it will be a bit more focused on particular characters and particular storylines, rather than the sweeping cast of characters that Bennett has been juggling. I'm also looking forward to Sauvage returning to the Bombshells-iverse after a way-too-long absence. And I'm actually even looking forward to seeing Donna Troy, given how cool her Bombshells costume looks. Why, I can't remember the last time I liked a Donna Troy costume that much! Maybe...War of The Gods...?

Team Allred's Bug comic is another promising looking miniseries that I've been anxiously trade-waiting. Look at that cover for its final issue. Damn, Mike Allred...

Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art and cover by MAURICET
From man to man’s best friend! Mutt has undergone a shocking transformation and unstabilium is to blame! Can he and Dick find a cure back home in the United States? Or will Air Force General Harrier personally make sure the guys are grounded for good? Meanwhile, the president holds a very important press conference…trust us, you won’t want to miss it!
On sale OCTOBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, 2 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

When this was first announced, all I saw was the above cover image and the headline and, before even clicking through to see who the creators were, I thought to myself, "The only way I would possibly be interested in reading this comic book is if Garth Ennis were writing it..."

And it turns out he is! I guess when I see airplanes in a comic book, I just naturally think of Garth Ennis...?

Sculpted by DAVE CORTES
Aquaman and Mera, first couple of Atlantis, are portrayed in this romantic new statue designed by Pat Gleason, illustrator of their epic adventures in Sub Diego and beyond.
Limited Edition of 5,000
Measures Approximately 16.32” Tall
$250.00 US • On Sale FEBRUARY 2018
Allocations May Occur

I don't normally have anything at all to say about DC's non-comics offerings in their solicitations, but this statuette caught my attention simply because I rather vividly remember the cover that it is based on. The reason?
Gleason seemed to have forgot to draw the bottom half of Aquaman on the cover.

My best guess was that his legs were behind him, and that he was meant to be swimming up behind Mera in a horizontal position, but that doesn't really square with the way his upper body was drawn.

An all-new, all-creepy one-shot set in the DC Universe—just in time for Halloween! Martha Kent fights for her life against a creature from a spacecraft that lands in front of her farmhouse. A young woman is possessed by the spirit of a murderous Amazon warrior. The last surviving member of the Justice League faces down a horror beyond imagining. All these and more are what happens when the most exciting new voices in contemporary horror fiction are paired with the talents of some of the greatest artists in the DC firmament! And if that isn’t enough to scare you, there’s Keith Giffen, too.
ONE-SHOT • On sale OCTOBER 25 • 80 pg, FC, $9.99 US • RATED T+

Not being much of a prose fiction reader, I can't tell you whether or not "the most exciting new voices in contemporary horror fiction" really are the all that exciting or not, but I really love the work of artists Rags Morales and Bilquis Evely, and that's a hell of a Kaluta cover, isn't it?

It's hard to believe we're at the point where an 80-page giant really costs $10; at that point, they really should just go ahead and take out the ads, add a spine and sell it as an original trade paperback. That's the price of the first volume of an Image series, and just about what you would pay for a manga volume these days.

Written by NEAL ADAMS
Art and cover by NEAL ADAMS
“Journey into Death” part one! When we last left Deadman, the true story had barely begun! Deadman’s death was unsolved, and his fate was intertwined with that of his parents and siblings. Even the Dark Night Detective couldn’t solve the mysteries of Boston Brand’s fantastic secrets! Now, Batman is back, confronting Deadman about who was really behind his death. Was Boston Brand’s assassination a test for the League of Assassins? Why does Batman think Ra’s al Ghul was involved? And why does Deadman need the help of Zatanna, Phantom Stranger, Dr. Fate and the Spectre to defend Nanda Parbat?
ADVANCE SOLICITED • On sale NOVEMBER 1 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6

Based on Neal Adams' recent Batman and Superman mini-series, both of which I started reading but just couldn't force myself all the way through, I think it's safe to assume this will be somewhere between rather weird and completely bonkers.

Glow-in-the-dark covers are, incidentally, the only cover gimmick I ever actually liked.

Variant cover by DAN PANOSIAN
A new series inspired by the DC Collectibles statue line! It’s been decades since Governor Lex Luthor turned Gotham City into a modern utopia, saving his people from the devastation that made the rest of the continent a wasteland. But his city isn’t paradise for everyone. If the Lexes network misfires, and a citizen wakes up and steps out of line, the Bat and his minions are brutal in restoring the status quo. So when young Kara Gordon, whose ridealong tech has never functioned optimally, rushes headlong into the Freescape, she’s shocked to find Gotham City Garage—where new friends might become family, if she lives long enough.
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+ • DIGITAL FIRST

Gotham City Garage strategist Barda Free is determined not to let the new kid slow them down. But when her team rolls into trouble in Clayface Valley, will Kara be the only thing standing between them and sudden death?
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+ • DIGITAL FIRST

Part of me sees this and thinks, "A comic book series based on some dumb collectible statuette line? Who wants that?" But then another part of me reminds that first part that I just finished reading my 31st consecutive issue of DC Comics Bombshells. (And before that, there was Ame-Comi Girls, which had a few bright spots, but wasn't actually all that good, and I'm pretty sure I dropped it well before it was canceled.)

I know almost nothing about these, other than they involve motorcycles. I just went to Google Image, and all I saw were the Wonder Woman one, and then ones featuring Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. It looks like Harley has hyenas riding in a sidecar? That's kinda cool.

I'll try it, and hope it's more along the lines of Bombshells than Ame-Comi Girls.

•Art and cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL
•Variant cover by MIKE GRELL
•“THE TRIAL OF TWO CITIES” part one! With the Ninth Circle crippled by Green Arrow and the Justice League, the Emerald Archer returns to a Star City ripe for a resistance. But Ollie Queen has one pesky thing to deal with first: his trial for murder!
•On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC • $2.99 US • RATED T+

What? Now Green Arrow is on trial for murder? Geez, what is with these archery-based superheroes and their murder trials?

Free college tuition for all Riverdale residents?! That’s the plan—after the town drains the wetlands that lie between it and Gotham City and then builds a new campus. The only snag? A certain botany-obsessed super-villain. When Poison Ivy enlists her bestie, Harley, to kidnap both Veronica Lodge, daughter of Riverdale’s most important citizen, and her friend Betty, she’s counting on some assistance—and the mayhem that ensues will probably work as well!

DC Comics and Archie are proud to present the adventure of a lifetime for all these best pals. Their hijinks are brought to you by the real-life team-up of Paul Dini (HARLEY QUINN) and Marc Andreyko (WONDER WOMAN ’77), with art by Laura Braga (DC BOMBSHELLS)!
On sale OCTOBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T

Well this is...unexpected. If DC and Archie Comics were going to do another crossover, their last being 2010's Tiny Titans/Little Archie by the Tiny Titans team of Art Baltazar and Franco, one might expect them to do something more obvious, like Archie Meets the Teen Titans or Justice League/Super Teens or, my preferred pitch, Archie Andrews and Jimmy Olsen pulling a prince-and-the-pauper thing for a Superman crossover.

Of course, the fact that this isn't an obvious crossover makes it infinitely more interesting than a Batman/Archie crossover might be (But admit it: You'd like to see Bruce Wayne and Hiram Lodge comparing financial portfolios and Alfred and Smithers in a butler battle). There's not a whole hell of a lot to go on so far, of course, but I like Amanda Conner's cover a whole lot, and feel pretty confident that a writing team like Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko could pull this particular comic off as well as anyone. Braga's a hell of an artist, although I have to admit that, stylistically at least, I woulda preferred someone with a bit flatter, more Dan DeCarlo-esque, old-school Archie art-iness in their design sensibility (If it were up to me and it weren't impossible, I'd kinda like Derek Charm to draw all Archie comics).

I'm somewhat bemused to hear that Riverdale is apparently a suburb of Gotham City. Apparently two cities famous for not being located in any particular state are in the same state, whichever state that might be.

Written by RENAE DE LIZ
Art and cover by RENAE DE LIZ and RAY DILLON
In the beginning there was only chaos. But Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, saw a better future—and eventually her daughter would be destined to bring that new world to life! Before her ultimate fate unfolds, though, Diana of Themyscira must learn the important lessons of an Amazonian childhood!
On sale NOVEMBER 15 • 288 pg, FC, $19.99 US

This is the comic I recommend to any fans of the Wonder Woman film who are so enamored of it they want to try reading a Wonder Woman comic. Sure, this is set during World War II rather than World War I, but then, no Wonder Woman comics are set during WWI, really; that's one of the things that made the film so distinct. This is, however, an excellent comic book, completely self-contained and broadly features some of the same characters and situations of the film.

That DC included a "Vol. 1" in the title gives me hope--perhaps groundless hope, but hope nonetheless--that despite what has been said publicly, De Liz and DIllon will get to make more Wonder Woman comics featuring this version of the character (I would love to see their Wonder Woman teaming up with Plastic Man and/or the Justice Society of America, for example; Plas appears on the cover of a comic book in, like, one panel of the series, and I believe there's a verbal mention of the JSA).

Spoiler alert: She's foe.

Written by RAY FAWKES
After a failed mission to raid a tomb in the Israeli Desert, war veteran Rory Harper is plagued by the death of his partners. As Rory battles his guilt back in Gotham City, he discovers that what was in that tomb has followed him home, and it’s about to change his life. But as Rory begins his journey, an evil is invading Gotham City, and it wants what he’s discovered. A hero is born in this visionary reimagining of the Ragman mythos by writer Ray Fawkes and artist Inaki Miranda!
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T

Ragman is one of those superhero characters that I really like a whole lot for rather superficial reasons--his name, his costume, his powers, his milieu--even though I would be hard-pressed to point you towards any particular stories featuring the character that are actually really great comic book stories.

With only an image and a few sentences of text, it's hard to speculate much about this comic, but if that cover image is any indication, he won't be wearing the Joe Kubert-designed costume, but...just mummy-like wrappings? (Based on that image, it looks like that could be a redesign of The Unknown Soldier, Negative Man or Hush, rather than Ragman.) It seems like the Jewish mysticism angle might be gone, although there is mention of a tomb in "the Israeli Desert," so maybe it is Jewish mysticism that makes, like, a direct flight from Israel to America, without a stop in Prague, or anywhere else in a Jewish/European tradition? Finally, the protagonist has a different surname, but then, maybe that is part of the story.

Like I said, hard to speculate. I'm not filled with much confidence though, and this looks like the sort of reboot-for-reboot's sake of, say, The New 52's Ray or Human Bomb rather than, say, the Grant Morrison-written reboots of Animal Man or The Doom Patrol.

We'll see. Someday. In trade. From the library.

(I do like that Guillem March cover, though; I'd be a lot more interested if March were doing the interiors too. Other good Ragman artists? Kelley Jones, who drew a pretty great Batman/Ragman crossover during his run with Doug Moench on Batman, and John McCrea, who briefly drew Ragman in a Day of Judgement-related special.)

Taking place after the events of BATMAN: DARK VICTORY, this epic tale recounts the beginning of Dick Grayson’s career as Robin, the Boy Wonder. The devious Two-Face is very interested in recent reports that Batman now has a teenage sidekick. Indeed, Bruce Wayne has taken young Dick Grayson under his tutelage as Robin the Boy Wonder! Alfred Pennyworth is unsure if the inclusion of Dick Grayson into Batman’s nightly adventures might not end up in a disaster, but the butler cannot deny the positive influence the lighthearted boy has on his master Bruce Wayne.
Collects ROBIN: YEAR ONE #1-4.
On sale FEBRUARY 21 • 208 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” $34.99 US

Just a reminder, if you have somehow managed to never read this story, you should, as it's really rather great. It's Dick Grayson's post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint origin story as Robin, by Chuck Dixon, who is probably history's greatest Robin writer, and Scott Beatty, who collaborated with Dixon on the similar Batgirl: Year One. The art, by the way, is dynamite, as you can see from the cover image. I'm not sure that this hardcover is the best way to read the story, as DC published a Batgirl/Robin Year One collection a couple of years back that would have given you two great stories for less than the price of this collection, but, again, if you haven't read this, you totally should.

I always found it amusing that DC used this title, though, as Robin: Year OneBatman: Year Three in terms of telling the story of how Dick Grayson became Robin and, to a certain extent, Batman: Dark Victory, which is actually even name checked in that solicit. (Dark Victory, please recall, contains my favorite two pages of Jeph Loeb's comics-writing career.)

Art by MAC REY
Variant cover by MAC REY
In the Golden Age of television, Ruff and Reddy were on top of the entertainment world…until the world turned, and they were forgotten. Now, Ruff is a washed-up television actor. Reddy is a clerk in an upscale grocery store. Can a hungry young agent convince the two one-time partners to make a comeback—and convince the world that it wants to see the famously infamous dog-and-cat comedy team back in the spotlight? Don’t miss it if you can!
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

So a few months back DC did some pretty weird crossover series involving some pretty random DC characters (Booster Gold, Adam Strange, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, The Suicide Squad) and some equally random Hanna-Barbera characters (The Flintstones, Jonny Quest and others from the Future Quest comic, Space Ghost, The Banana Splits). They were...odd, but one thing they all had in common was fairly strong lead stories and fairly poor back-ups, featuring dark, adult-focused reboots of the stars of various Hanna-Barbera cartoons, mostly in the spirit of the "Hanna-Barbereboot" suite of books (all but one of which have been canceled). Each of those back-ups ended with a "To Be Continued," but it was unclear where. Well, this looks like it will be the first of them to get it's own series.

I...don't hold out much hope for it, as this pair of characters was so obscure I had to Google them to figure out who the fuck they were. So, um, good luck with that DC! I'm sure having Howard Chaykin, who is currently cresting a wave of goodwill and positive PR, attached will help sell four dollar comics featuring a dark, gritty take on those barely-remembered characters immensely...!

Written by K. PERKINS
“SUPERMAX” part two! It’s a clash of incredible power as Superwoman and Supergirl struggle to contain the might of Maxima! But with Maxima’s origin revealed, and a startling new villain looming on the horizon, do our heroes actually need to save Maxima…or be saved by her?
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

Honestly, every time I read a new batch of DC Comics' solicits, I expect to see this one with the words "FINAL ISSUE" in there somewhere, but it's still going.

Here's a pretty great Suicide Squad cover by Stjepan Sejic. Sadly, he's just providing the cover, while someone else handles the interiors.

Cover by DAN MORA
“HARD TARGET”! Still recovering from the events of DARK DAYS: METAL, the Teen Titans decide they need a day off…but their plans are soon interrupted when the one and only Green Arrow demands that his younger sister Emiko join the team! Are the Teen Titans about to get a new member? Or will Emiko Queen be Damian’s undoing?
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I really like that cover, and I'm really rather looking forward to seeing Andolfo draw the Titans. I'm not terribly excited about the prospect of Emiko Queen showing up, as Green Arrow is another character, like Aquaman, that I've lost pretty much all interest in after the Flasphpoint rejiggering (I have noted the art on Green Arrow has been pretty superlative since "Rebirth," however, and I do like that GA grew his beard back). So I don't really know and/or care who Emiko Queen is. That said, DC's super-teen teams--be they the Titans or Young Justice, in comics or in cartoons--traditionally have an archer on the line-up, so I suppose it must make some sense to at least consider some teen archer from Green Arrow's corner of the DCU.

“DARK DESTINY” part three! The Pandora Pits’ secrets start to be revealed as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman team with Constantine, Deadman, Zatanna, Red Hood, Artemis and Bizarro to attempt to close off the pits forever, but the dark energies are starting to corrupt the heroes.
On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

This is another DC comic I keep expecting to hear is canceled. The main selling point of the book, I thought, was the artwork by Francis Manapul, and if he's not attached, then I'm not sure what the attraction is to a book that stars one-half of the current Justice League line-up.

“CHILDREN OF THE GODS” part two! Wonder Woman must find out who is targeting Zeus’ children before their sights are set on her! What kind of monster has the power to murder a demigod?!
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

“TIMES PAST” part one! Grail, the daughter of Darkseid, has been on a quest to restore her father to his full power and glory after the events of Darkseid War! She must challenge children of the gods to steal their energy for the almighty Darkseid. Will any hero of myth be able to withstand her onslaught?!
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

I question the wisdom of tying the next Wonder Woman arc directly into the long-past (and now mostly irrelevant!) "Darkseid War" of Justice League, but it looks like the best places to read comics featuring Wonder Woman will be those set outside the DCU proper (Bombshells United, for example, there's that Gotham Garage that may or may not be any good, and I just saw on Twitter there will be more Wonder Woman: Earth One OGNs).

I don't care for Hitch's cover. I mean, it's cool that she stole Hercules' lion hat, I guess, but it looks like she killed the hell out of those various mythological monsters, and I'm not a big fan of a Wonder Woman who kills the hell out of everything constantly.

Art by H.G. PETER
In these Golden Age tales that introduced Wonder Woman to the world, Diana heads into adventure and battles the evil of German operative Paul Van Gunther, the god Mars and more in stories from the pages of ALL STAR COMICS #8, SENSATION COMICS #1-14, WONDER WOMAN #1-3 and COMIC CAVALCADE #1.
On sale NOVEMBER 22 • 392 pg, FC, $24.99 US

Now here's the really good Wonder Woman stuff...! I'll have to consult the volumes of Wonder Woman Chronicles I have to see if I actually already have all of these in a different format or not--and yeah, it's kind of irritating that DC dropped the Chronicles format just to start over with a new format--but whether I end up needing this on my bookshelf or not, Marston and Peter's entire body of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics should be readily available to new readers for, well, forever, really (Ditto the original, Golden Age comics starring Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel and Plastic Man).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Comic Shop Comics: July 19th

Archie #22 (Archie Comics) Jeez Mark Waid and Pete Woods, why are you guys trying so hard to make me cry while reading an Archie comic? They didn't quite get me there, but it sure wasn't for lack of trying. The majority of this issue is devoted to the various loved ones of The Person Who Was Injured In The Car Accident, loved ones as close as parents and as distant as school principal Mr. Weatherbee, remembering particular instances that demonstrate to them just how much they love The Person.

It should come as no surprise that the cliffhanger from the previous issue, in which The Person flatlines, turns out okay, and the doctors are able to revive The Person, but it ends with another dramatic cliffhanger, when The Person asks, "Why can't I feel my legs?"

And then there's seven pages of ads for Riverdale. Did you know there's a TV show based on Archie Comics called Riverdale? Well, there is.

I thought the cover of this issue kind of ironic, with the phrase "Everything changes" on it. Archie Comics' most defining characteristic is, after all, that nothing ever really changes for its characters and their setting. I mean, it was only 22 issues ago that the line had a major shake-up and relaunch, and even then, the changes weren't so dramatic as to completely reinvent the basic, essential characters or web of relationships between them, you know?

Anyway, I'm far more interested in the comedy Archie books (Jughead, Josie) than the dramedy ones (Archie), but after the rather rocky first chapter of this arc, Waid and Woods have been doing a pretty dang incredible job.

Batman #27 (DC Comics) There have only been two chapters of "The War and Jokes and Riddles" so far, so it seems a little early to take a break for an "Interlude," but that's where we've arrived, with "The War of Jokes and Riddles Interlude: The Ballad of Kite Man Part 1," by regular writer Tom King, guest pencil artist Clay Mann and a trio of inkers, including Mann himself.

King's fascination with Kite Man, who has at least cameo-ed in every single arc King has written since the "Rebirth" relaunch 27-issues ago, has been one of the more charming aspects of the series. Here, in this story set sometime near the end of Batman's new, post-Flashpoint "Year One" era, we get to see the origin of Kite Man, and I'm afraid it sort of drains the humor out of the character, as King must naturally give him a dark origin story (It's not quite as bad as what the Bat office did with Calendar Man, though)>

Charles Brown (Get it?) is a minor, down-on-his-luck Gotham City criminal who specializes in aerodynamics and, for reasons never made clear, always wears the same blue suit. He apparently worked with The Joker to designs The Jokermobile, and was the only one of that particular crew The Joker didn't kill. That's what leads Batman to bully Brown into establishing first contact and then a meeting with The Joker, in the hopes that Batman can then swoop in and collect The Joker.

The Riddler has also heard of the meeting, and so he kidnaps Brown and bullies him into revealing the whereabouts of the meeting as well, threatening the life of Brown's beloved son to get him to cooperate.

The meeting is a bit of a clusterfuck, although what exactly happened isn't the least bit clear--there's just a two-page spread in which we see The Joker stalking off with Brown, while Batman fights The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Killer Croc and Solomon Grundy in the background. One imagines this will be explained when the interlude is over, and King gets back to the story proper?

Meanwhile, The Riddler has pre-emptively murdered Brown's innocent young son (in this storyline's, like, third major act of completely un-Riddler-like behavior--is he a Skrull or what?) on the assumption that Brown would betray him, which pushes Brown to become a superhero and join The Joker's "side" in an attempt to get vengeance on The Riddler. This argument is laid out by the Frank Miller-like technique of television pundits arguing about news in Gotham City constantly in the background--I guess there's like a CNN devoted specifically to covering Gotham City...?

The art's okay, and the last page is pretty great, but I don't think the world really needed the dark, secret origin of Kite Man any more than it needed violent serial killer Riddler. The very idea of the city's supervillains picking sides like this is also an ongoing spot of complete weirdness, especially since they are picking the side of either a chaotic serial killer/terrorist who is almost definitely kill them (and is not a team player of any sort, rarely if ever teaming up with anyone, and generally no more than one other bad guy at a time...and usually Lex Luthor at that) and a methodical, ingenious thief who is now being presented as just as vicious as The Joker. If this were The Penguin or Luthor (or hell, Two-Face or Bane or Hush, just so long as it's a rational actor with incredible resources and some form of interest in the actual gains of a gang war) hiring these guys to fight Falcone or a traditional, rational actor with a reason for engaging in a gang war at all, then I guess it might be more plausible, but in this interlude we see a bunch of villains having already taken one side or another, but no real justification has been given as to why they've chosen one violent lunatic with no real ability to make it worth their while over the other.The two generals in the crime war should have something to offer their soldiers, something of so much value that they would get involved at all, and, in many cases, it would have to be a lot more than just money, which most of them are perfectly capable of stealing on their own.

So far, the only justification given is that from the Frank Miller-style Greek chorus of TV punditry:
We're supposed to have leadership. We're supposed to decide. We want safety, someone has to win. So pick a winner. We want The Joker gone, we help The Riddler. We want The Riddler gone, we help the damn Joker!
Again, maybe this will be explained when we get out of the interlude and back to the story proper--we did see The Joker threatening The Penguin to be his lieutenant and The Riddler lying to get Poison Ivy on his side earlier--but, at this point, the villains seem to be taking sides simply because that's the premise of the story arc King has come up with, not because he's made it part of the story. But thus far, this story has been incredibly unsatisfying; King's strings are far too visible, and it all seems too artificial to be immersive.

Sadly, this issue does not include a variant cover by Tim Sale, but instead has one by Tony Daniel, and Daniel's features not Kite Man, but Batman posing on a scary gargoyle. It's too bad; I'd really like to see a Sale version of Kite Man. The sole virtue of the Sale variants on Rebirth Batman has been seeing Sale draw modern characters, and those we haven't already seen his often quite idiosyncratic versions of in his past Batman work.

Batman '66 Meets The Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC) This is the first of DC's Batman '66 comics I've read since Adam West passed away and it is admittedly a little uncomfortable, particularly because artist Mike Allred--who here actually provides all of the interior art as well as the cover art, the latter of which he has been contributing to these comics as long as DC has been publishing them--is so adept and marrying recognizable celebrity likenesses with his own style.

That aside, this is the exact Batman '66 comic I've been waiting for since I saw Allred's very first cover. Well, not the Legion of Super-Heroes part, obviously (that is actually a little out of left field), but an all-Allred issue, cover as well as interiors (Well, actually, I wanted it to be very Batgirl-centric, and she only has a few panels in this issue).

So Lee Allred, Mike Allred and Laura Allred have the Dynamic Duo holed up in the Bat-cave, using the Bat-computer to track their foe Egghead. When who should appear but a half-dozen Legionnaires--the ones on the cover there--who have journeyed back from the year 2966 to recruit the greatest teenage superhero of all-time to help them capture Universo, who is on the loose in the 20th century. And bears a rather striking resemblance to Egghead.

It turns out that this is only a one-shot special, rather than a miniseries, which is the format the Batman '66 material has taken since the monthly was canceled. I was at first a little surprised and a little disappointed by this, as more Allred art is better than less Allred art, but this length actually works pretty well, giving the creators just enough room to work in as many characters from both settings as they want, at least in cameo form (the rest of the LOSH and the Legion of Super-Pets appear in the skies in the background of one panel, for example).

It's a lot of fun, and I say that as someone not overly enamored of the Batman '66 milieu and actually rather repelled by the LOSH in general. Near the end, when Robin says that it might have been fun to join a group of fellow teenage superheroes, Batman points out there are probably some teenage superheroes right there in the present that he could hang out with, which Robin says sounds like a "titanic" idea.

I don't know of Team Allred will follow through with a Batman '66 Meets The Teen Titans or not, but it certainly suggested a new way forward for DC's use of the characters. If the latest model was miniseries teaming them up with the stars of other live-action TV shows, maybe the next one should be teaming them up with various '66-iterations of other DC superheroes.

DC Comics Bombshells #31 (DC) In this issue, it's the secret origin of Killer Frost, and the secret origin of Supergirl, which is different from the origin of Supergirl, which we've already seen. This new origin ties her pretty directly to Faora and Krypton, and we learn how Faora has been behind pretty much all of the various villains the various Bombshells have faced off against up until this point in the series. There's really a sense of writer Marguerite Bennett winding things down now, in preparation for the already announced next iteration of a Bombshells comic.

Nightwing #25 (DC) This over-sized twenty-fifth issue seems to be the conclusion of the "Blockbuster" arc, or at least a turning point in in Nightwing's fight with Blockbuster, as the villain has fairly successfully used Nightwing to take out Tiger Shark's operation for him.

Also, Dick Grayson finally gets a job! But it's too late; Shawn has dumped him for his...unwillingness to get a job doing menial labor...? I never really got this part of the arc, which, as I've said before, seems more like the kind of plot point for a different super-comic starring a different superhero, not the one who grew up in an obscenely generous zillionaire's mansion.

The "tiger sharks" were cool.

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat Vol. 3: Careless Whisker(s) (Marvel Entertainment) I still have one more issue of those collected in this third and final trade of Kate Leth and Brittney Williams' all-around superlative title yet to read, and I'm actually kind of reluctant to do so, as it means that I will no longer have any more issues of their Patsy Walker to look forward to.

It's too bad. This was one of my favorite Marvel comics of the last few years (with Unbeatable Squirrel Girl being the other one) , and, in my humble opinion as a semi-professional comics critic, it was also one of the better Marvel comics of the last few years.

I understand Leth is leaving comics-scripting behind in the near-future, but I do hope Marvel finds something for Williams to draw for them on a regular basis. Preferably whatever the hell she wants. In a perfect world, it would be Jubes, as Williams and Leth have been maybe the only creative team to really make the weird-ass current version of Jubilee work, by having her embrace her weird, disparate elements--mutant, X-Man, superhero, single mom, vampire, etc.

Superman #27 (DC) Scott Godlewski is the guest-artist for what may be the single preachiest comic book I have ever, ever read. After a frankly weird scene where Superman falls asleep while flying home one night--I could have sworn I had read in various '90s Superman comics that he doesn't need to sleep, he just does it out of habit and to feel human--Lois Lane decides to rent a mobile home so the family can spend the Fourth of July holiday driving around the country and learning shit.

Check this out:
If you thought, "God, shut up Lois!" at any point during that, then you will hate this issue, as the entire issue is like that. The pages showing the Super-Family spending time together or doing normal-ish, family-on-vacation stufff are just bridges between history lessons like the one above. Also covered is the meaning of the famous "COEXIST" bumper sticker, the horror of Word War I, the bravery of the founding fathers in signing the Declaration of Independence and, in a fairly cringe-inducing scene, Clark and company inviting a paralyzed Iraq war vet to join them for dinner and, when the hostess balks, Clark gives a very respectfully-delivered public-shaming to her about how vets rule. The dinner changes the man's life! He even gets offered a job as a dish-washer!

Now, as cynical an asshole as I may be, I don't necessarily disagree with...let's see...anything at all that either Clark or Lois say in this issue, but holy hell, did writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have to convey it in the form of a lecture? Superman is already Superman, and super-comics work with blunt force symbology; you can share broad, treacly, impossible-to-argue-with political sentiments in a way that can be, you know, entertaining. At the very least, they could have tried to do less telling and more showing.

That said, it wasn't any less entertaining than another issue of Superman and Superboy fighting Manchester Black, I guess; I actually had fun yelling at the characters in the comic to shut up, so, you know, there's that.