By Taylor Pechter — Death is a fact of the universe that most of us fear. We fear it for ourselves or for our loved ones, and at our lowest moments, we maybe even wish it on those we hate, be them real life figures or characters on TV. Death, however, is much different in the comicbook landscape, much less…Read More
By Zack Quaintance — At the risk of sounding repetitive, this first Wednesday of the month has really morphed into a monstrosity of great new comics. So much so that I’ve once again extended our usual top five picks to six. Hey, more content’s a good thing, right? Anyway, I could have also easily extended it to seven or eight or nine. It really pained me to cut great titles for this upcoming Wednesday like Doomsday Clock #9, Immortal Hulk #14, and Justice League #19.
But I figure pretty close to most everyone has their mind made up about those comics at this point, so why not shed some light on lesser-known books that are still in their early stages? I’m thinking specifically here of the creator-owned comic Self/Made, which continues to shock me with the high quality of both the its stories and ideas. It’s really turning into something special, the type of book I find myself reading toward the top of the stack each week and coming away shocked at where the story seems to be headed.
Anyway, on to the comics!
Top Comics to Buy for March 6, 2019
*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Die #4 (read our full review!)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
"FANTASY HEARTBREAKER," Part Four-Our heroes reach the civilization of Glass Town and do what heroes have always done upon reaching civilization. As in, go to the pub. As it's DIE, you can guess people don't exactly get happy drunk.
Why It’s Cool: We’ll have a more detailed and thoughtful review of this comic later this week, but let me just say here that this is the best issue yet of a series that has been fantastic from its start. This is the smoothest and most immersive issue of Die so far, which I attribute to the previous three issues having done such great work toward familiarizing us with these well-realized characters. With so much of that work behind the story now, the creators are free in this comic to really hit some deep (and troublesome in the best way) emotional beats. Don’t miss this issue; don’t miss this book.
Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1 (of 5)
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
ENTER THE AGE OF X-MAN!
In the Age of X-Man, when you break the law, you aren't sent to just any prison. You're sent to the Danger Room...a penitentiary filled with the roughest and meanest mutants that don't fit into X-Man's utopia. They each have a reason for being there. And they're all ready to kill each other. But that's about to change, because the newest prisoner just arrived...Lucas Bishop!
Why It’s Cool: It’s a great combination of concept, creators, and character, with those respectively being the well-conceived and intricate Age of X-Man alternate universe, writer Vita Ayala (one of our favorite rising stars within the industry), and Bishop, always an underrated (if convoluted) X-Man. Seriously, Ayala has just been doing fantastic work lately, be it their superhero book for Valiant Livewire, the creator-owned Submerged, or the installment of the recent Marvel Knights mini-series that focused on T’Challa. These have all just been stunning comics, and we’re expecting nothing less from the Prisoner X miniseries, which follows Bishop into the underbelly of what is shaping up to be an Orwellian faux-utopia of an alternate universe.
Green Arrow #50
Writers: Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
Spinning out of the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE and HEROES IN CRISIS! When a black ops organization discovers Green Arrow's long-held secret-a mysterious weapon in the form of a box, given to him by the Justice League-they'll deploy their top undercover agent: Black Canary! On opposite sides of this festering secret, Green Arrow and Black Canary will clash as only two lovers can-by aiming straight for the heart! A mystery six months in the making, the box that can destroy the Justice League will be opened...and the Emerald Archer's world will be forever changed. This extra-sized anniversary issue of Green Arrow's life isn't just ending...it's burning to the ground!
Why It’s Cool: This if the finale of one of the quintessential Rebirth books, and it’s also what is quite possibly the last book headlined by the Emerald Archer that we’re likely to get in sometime, what with DC Comics very public intent to keep its publishing line at the slightly reduced level we’ve seen in recent months. The writing team of Kelly and Lanzing are perhaps the best choice for this job too. As I believe Kelly outlined fairly recently online, the duo had a fairly elaborate plan for a 50 issue run that would get to the core of one my personal favorite characters. We’re obviously not getting that, but look for them to give us a truly epic send off that packs in as much action and as many of their ideas from that outline as is feasible. Savor it, too, I know I will. Also, we’ll (sort of) get an answer to the question from No Justice, the natural one that came up when J’onn gave Ollie a box he said was capable of stopping the entire league...
The Green Lantern #5
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Publisher: DC Comics
"Blackstar at Zenith!" Hal Jordan has abandoned the Green Lantern Corps to join the Blackstars! But to do so, he'll need to convince their leader, Countess Belzebeth, and pass an initiation test. Which means he must survive a series of trials on the vampire planet Vorr, whose entire population wants to feast upon him! It's cosmic goth at its bloodiest...with a cliffhanger that's even bloodier!
Why It’s Cool: This run has been fantastic from start to finish, and this issue keeps it going. As promised by the creative team before the book even launched, The Green Lantern has been a series of quisi self-contained space cop procedurals. This issue builds on all that has come before while telling yet another compelling story built upon some of the key qualities and continuity bits that define Green Lantern. Also, as anyone who follows artist Liam Sharp will surely attest, the detail and imagination in the artwork he’s previewed for this comic has just been astounding, somehow even better than the tremendous heights he’s reached in earlier chapters. Think about it too long, and it will blow your mind as thoroughly as Morrison and Sharp seem hell-bent on doing.
Writer: Mathew Groom
Artist: Eduardo Ferigato
Colorist: Marcelo Costa
Color Flats: Mariana Cali
Letterer: A Larger World Studios’ Troy Peteri
Publisher: Image Comics
"THE 'TA-DA' MOMENT": Amala has made it to our world-and she is distinctly unimpressed. What's a girl with a new robot body and some pent-up rage to do? Paint the town red.
Why It’s Cool: Simply put, because this is the best comic I’ve read in I don’t know how long that rushes head first at the central questions of life itself. That’s maybe being a little dramatic, but this really has quickly turned into a story with a lot to say about creation. In this issue, we also get some really clever interplay between characters that’s analogous to that between child and parents, plus a tour de force visual journey through a near-future version of Sydney, Australia, along with the now-standard breakneck plotting that’s come to define the book. This is yet another major surprise from Image Comics in the past year or so that more readers should be talking about. I get that you might not be familiar with these creators, but you’re doing yourself a disservice by sleeping on this book.
A Walk Through Hell #8
Batman #66 (read our full review!)
Blossoms 666 #2
Cemetary Beach #7
Doomsday Clock #9
The Dreaming #7
Giant Days #48
Immortal Hulk #14
Justice League #19
Paper Girls #26
Red Sonja #2
Uncanny X-Men #13
Young Justice #3
Check back to the site later this week for reviews of Astro Hustle #1, Batman #66, Uncanny X-Men #13, and more!
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.
By Zack Quaintance — Yes, San Diego Comic Con is more about movies and TV than it is about comics, but! That doesn’t mean there aren’t still some pretty cool comic announcements happening the week of/during the con (some of which I got to be in the room for!). These are, of course, announcements about real printed comics, dozens of which are somehow written and drawn and shipped to small businesses across the country each week (which is all pretty crazy if you think about 2018 and the media landscape long enough).
With that in mind, we’d like to take a quick look today at 10 (plus one extra) of the coolest comic announcements to come out of this year’s con, ranked below in a fairly random order...let’s do it!
10 Coolest Comic Announcements
Electric Warriors Mini Series by Steve Orlando and Travel Foreman
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November 2018
More Info: Diplomacy and Death via the Electric Warriors
Why It’s Cool: DC has essentially given Steve Orlando—one of its best writers when it comes to capturing the beauty to be found in obscure bits of continuity—and Travel Foreman—a visionary comic artist if ever there was one—a fairly-open canvas to do with what they will. This canvas—Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster future—is inherently Kirby-esque (seeing as he created it) and now we’ll get what is likely to be complex and surprising take on it spread through six issues. Sign me up.
Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics and Berger Books
Release Date: March 2019
More Info: G. Willow Wilson to Write for Berger Books
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of visionary science fiction, have you seen the cover for G. Willow Wilson’s forthcoming Berger Books comic, Invisible Kingdom? Phew. The art is something, and the solicit evokes Dune-esque ideas of exploring the intersection of religion and commerce (presumably without all the stuff about how “spices” can expand one’s mind). Wilson is a thoughtful and attentive writer, and a take like this edited by former-Vertigo heyday editor Karen Berger is very cool indeed.
Release Date: October 2018
More Info: News from Marvel's X-Men Panel
Why It’s Cool: The X-Offices have tapped a super eclectic bunch of writers to do X-Men Black, a weekly series this October in which each issue centers on a different villain. It’s a pretty cool move to have Chris Claremont writing about Magneto one week, noted Maggott aficionado Leah Williams doing Emma Frost the next, and Scott Aukerman (Hot Soccermom) of Comedy Bang Bang on Mojo the next. Pretty cool indeed, especially as it seems to be leading a revival of Uncanny X-Men in November…
Gail Simone Overseeing Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime
Publisher: Lion Forge
Release Date: Simone seems to be hard at work on this already
More Info: Gail Simone Discusses Being Named Architect of Catalyst Prime
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of cool oversight gigs, how about Gail Simone becoming the architect of Lion Forge’s still-nascent Catalyst Prime Universe? Cards on the table, I’d been contemplating jumping off this line after the former architect, Joseph Illidge, left for Valiant earlier this year, but now with Simone at the wheel I’ve scratched those plans and re-upped my excitement for this concept.
Donny Cates ‘Showrunning’ a Marvel Knights Commemoration
Release Date: November
More Info: Donny Cates and Team to Commemorate Marvel Knights’ 20th Anniversary
Why It’s Cool: Speaking yet again (last time, I promise) about cool oversight gigs, Marvel announced that big ideas/bigger personality writer Donny Cates would be “showrunning” an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its classic (for my generation, anyway) line of Marvel Knights properties, which back in the day told prestige TV-esque stories about characters like Daredevil, Moon Knight, and Black Panther. Joined in this effort will be an exciting new guard of Marvel writers that includes Matthew Rosenberg, Tini Howard, and Vita Ayala. Cool!
The Laphams doing ‘The Lodger’ for IDW’s Black Crown
Publisher: Black Crown via IDW
Release Date: October
More Info: Shelly Bond Announces Laphams Book on Black Crown
Why It’s Cool: From its inception, Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint at IDW (which has an aesthetic I describe as slightly drunk at a DIY punk rock show) has seemed to promise edgy and interesting comics, and the first batch was, indeed, strong. The second batch, however, is shaping up to fully capture Bond’s vision, starting with Euthanuats and continuing now with The Lodger, which is from the Laphams, a husband and wife duo behind the modern noir classic comic Stray Bullets.
Green Lantern by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November
More Info: Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp to Take Over Green Lantern
Why It’s Cool: It’s Grant Morrison writing a cosmic book in the DC Universe, which alone would be cool enough to make this list, but, hey, it’s also Liam Sharpe on art! And his early work looks like an insane prog rock album cover. This, friends, is going to be epic.
Aquaman by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: TBD (I think? Info seemed scarce on when…)
More Info: DeConnick and Rocha Take Over Aquaman
Why It’s Cool: I couldn't find a release date, but Kelly Sue DeConnick writing Aquaman in time for the character's spotlight via a new movie is super cool. DeConnick is an exciting and polished comic writer, perfect for pushing Arthur in new directions after Dan Abnett’s safe and slow-moving take on the character.
Vision by Chelsea Cain, Marc Mohan, and Aud Koch
Release Date: November
More Info: Marvel’s Mic Drop Moment at SDCC
Why It’s Cool: Chelsea Cain is coming back to Marvel, in spite of a harassment campaign that resulted from a character wearing a pro-feminism t-shirt in a book about a strong female secret agent. Groan. But it’s good to see Cain back! Her last book for Marvel, Mockingbird, was a complex puzzle box of a story about Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, one that incorporated interesting character and relationship developments for its lead. Tom King’s Vision is an impossible act to follow, but it will be cool to see Cain, Marc Mohan, and Aud Koch tell their own story with everyone’s favorite Marvel android.
Shazam! by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November
More Info: Shazam Comic Announced by Geoff Johns
Why It’s Cool: Geoff Johns’ take on Shazam in the New 52 might have been a bit polarizing (I liked it well enough), but circumstances now seem right for him to tell a very cool Shazam story. He’s returning to writing as a main focus and is presumably fired up to do so. Plus, holy cow of all the new art dropped at SDCC, I think Dale Eaglesham’s Shazam piece is my favorite.
Plus One More
Mars Attacks! by Kyle Starks & Chris Schweizer
Release Date: October 2018
More Info: Dynamite Relaunches Mars Attacks
Why It’s Cool: Kyle Starks, whose Rock Candy Mountain is quite possibly the funniest comic ever, is now collaborating with Chris Schweizer on a Mars Attacks story. Yes, please.
Although the stories and good work of DC Rebirth are likely to continue, today’s release of Damage #1—the first book of DC’s fresher initiative, New Age of DC Heroes—marks a next phase for the publisher, similar to how the New 52 segued into DC You.
There are plenty of questions about this new phase, including whether the books will last, whether the superstar artists will stay past the early issues, and whether the publisher is forgetting that Rebirth succeeded by paring down and simplifying its line. These discussions are likely to continue long into the coming weeks and months, but, in our opinion, what they boil down to is whether DC is risking throwing away what worked in Rebirth for the sake of newer books.
With that in mind, we think it’s important to look at what worked best in Rebirth. The New 52 was unwieldy and inconsistent, and by the end of its run it sold poorly and failed to generate even passing interest in some of the greatest characters in comics.
Part of why DC Rebirth became such a critical and commercial success was that it took a long view and went back to basics, rehabilitating the universe and the publisher. Our list today looks at which characters and books benefited most from this. You won’t find Batman or Justice League, or any of the handful of other books that were doing just fine at the end of the New 52. No, what we’re discussing is which heroes and titles went from dysfunctional and forgotten, to books we now look forward to each Wednesday.
Superman / Action Comics
Superman is a great place to start. I was enjoying some of the work being done with the character toward at the end of New 52 by creators like Greg Pak and Gene Luen Yang (whose excellent New Super Man would be on this list if it wasn’t entirely new), but a problem was that Superman had undergone too major of a reimagining at the start of the New 52. Basically, of all the characters in the DC Universe, it was easiest to think of New 52 Superman as something entirely separate from the character we’d known.
Perhaps most frustrating was the loss of his romance with Lois, foundational as it was to the mythology for so many fans, both in comics and the mainstream. Considering this alone, it’s no surprise to me that bringing back the pre-Flashpoint Superman, as well as his family, has been foundational for Rebirth. That move sums up the initiative’s back-to-basics approach, as well as its deliberate decisions to preserve old continuity that had seemingly been lost (ahem, like red-headed Wally West).
Lastly, while I know others have consistently cited differences in quality between Superman and Action Comics, I haven’t seen that. I think Superman opened stronger, and that Gleason and Tomasi are a great team, but Action has also done some interesting things under one of the best Superman writers of all time, Dan Jurgens. I don’t separate them much in my head, not the way I do Batman (solo book) and Detective Comics (team book), even though I know Superman generally focuses on Clark and his family. Don’t @ me, I like it all!
Super Sons being next gives us a natural transition, because half of this two-hero team didn’t even exist at the start of the New 52 (that half being the current iteration of Superboy, Jonathan Kent). To be blunt, I love all things Super Sons. This book takes the classic Batman-Superman dynamic and boils it down into volatile and childish pre-teen form (is Damian 13 now? hey! stop being a stickler, you’re losing sight of what matters). It does a great job with humor and the heart strings, and Jorge Jiménez’s art here is among the best in superhero books right now, if not THE best.
Super Sons pulls double duty, appealing to what I’ve long seen as the two sides of the comic fan coin: kids looking for escape, and adults looking for escape from the pressures of having kids, or, in my personal case, preparing to have kids. With this book, you get all the teen hijinx, and you get characters you grew up with, Batman and Superman, in the background learning to be dads. This is a really special book, and I’m far from the first to say this, but I hope Brian Michael Bendis taking over writing duties on Superman soon does not disturb this title.
Green Arrow is an odd book when discussed in the context of Rebirth, as it kept the same writer from the New 52 and still seemed to undergo a significant increase in quality. My theory is that Benjamin Percy, a fantastic novelist and short story writer (who I actually was lucky enough to meet at a writer’s workshop several years ago and can attest that he’s also a nice guy), took over Green Arrow so late into the New 52 run, that Rebirth was practically on the horizon, about 18 months away, thus limiting what Percy was able to do at that time with the title. Also, when Percy came onto Green Arrow, the book was in a weird place, having been forced into a closer approximation of the CW show Arrow, which, love it or hate it, is a far cry from the Oliver Queen of the comics. My suspicion is that he wanted to go straight back to basics all along, but was told to save his ideas.
He’s said in interviews that he wanted to bring back Ollie’s relationship with Black Canary and was told to wait, which corroborates my theory. In the early days of Rebirth, Green Arrow was described by many as the biggest surprise, but I think if you read Percy’s very first (and best) New 52 arc, you see all the qualities that have made the new book such a success, ie the cultural commentary, the distinct sense of place, the top-notch villainy. The only thing that seems to have changed in Rebirth is the guidance and backing from editorial, which kudos to DC for recognizing what it had and not dumping Percy off the book just to stir up some hype.
Green Lanterns / Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps
The Green Lantern concept is almost tailor-made for today’s comic market, particularly the idea that holders of the ring are members of an ancient intergalactic police force, which allows DC to bring in new Lanterns without a major deal being made about honoring legacy or whatever. That concept, however, wasn’t being used effectively enough toward the end of New 52, with the Green Lantern corner of the universe being dominated almost exclusively by Hal Jordan.
Both of the Lantern books in Rebirth are among my absolute favorites in the line, and they take arguably the biggest risks in concept. Baz and Cruz as rookie Green Lanterns is certainly a new one, while Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Feels so grandiose and liberated, so creatively untethered that it at times reads like it was written by a bunch of comic fans sitting around saying, dude you know what would be awesome? And I mean that as a huge compliment. Both Sam Humphries and Robert Venditti have done awesome work with the Lanterns, and Tim Seeley’s stuff after trading Nightwing to Humphries for Green Lanterns has been promising as well, particularly his early characterizations of Simon and Jessica, the latter of whom has quickly become one of my favorite Lanterns.
Deathstroke by Christopher Priest is one of those books that has been so good it’s hard for me to write about without sound like—excuse my language—a kiss ass. After a convoluted start (which paid off for careful readers, I can attest to that after revisiting it for this piece), Priest has elevated this book to a rare place for superhero fiction. Deathstroke feels at once accessible and complex, rooted in the new continuity of the character as well as his past with the Teen Titans while at the same time also pushing forward with fantastic new ideas, like Defiance.
I read an interview where Priest, who was essentially out of monthly comics when he got the call for Rebirth, said that for a long time he used to get calls from DC or Marvel asking him to write a character, one that was always a person of color, and he would refuse them. Priest told CBR that somehow overtime he’d gone from being a writer to being just a black writer. When DC called to ask him to right Deathstorke, he had to double check and ask them if the character was black. When they said no, he said keep talking.
And for us fans, it’s a great thing they did. Priest, who’d been out of monthly comics for almost a decade, is now writing Justice League, arguably DC’s biggest book behind Batman. This anecdote about Priest, and the incredible stories that have grown from it, is really encouraging as this new initiative moves forward. It suggests DC is determined to recognize and reward good work, and to also hold onto its talent. The rise of Priest’s stock within the company in lieu of one of the best solo Deathstroke stories of all-time shows that the publisher seems to have learned from some of its past snafus with talent, as well as from some of its stumbles with managing its books, and that it is now hyper aware of what it has to learn from past mistakes. It is indeed a new age at DC.