Category Archives: Reviews – DC

Scoop

Lois Lane #1
“Enemy of the People, Part One”
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover artists: Perkins (regular)/Jenny Frison (variant)
Editor: Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

Of this week’s new releases, the first I read was The Walking Dead #193, given the buzz about it being the final issue of the series. It impressed, and I figured it would be the best new book I’d read this week. And then I turned my attention to the DC titles in my pile. I was even more impressed with Superman: Up In the Sky #1 and pleased I finally got a chance to read one of the Wal-Mart exclusives that have only been available in the United States up to this point. 

And then I read Lois Lane #1.

It’s powerful, resonant and relevant. It’s incredibly grounded in our reality, but at the same time, it’s a delightful fantasy for those with a passion for journalism. It’s one of the better takes on the profession I’ve seen in comics, and the only thing about it that disappointed me was the realization that it’ll only run for 12 issues. Greg Rucka not only delves into the importance of the news media here, but also offers a touching and novel examination of Lois and Clark’s relationship.

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A Walk in the Clark

Superman Year One #1
Writer: Frank Miller
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: John Workman
Cover artists: Romita & Miki (regular)/Miller (variant)
Editor: Mark Doyle
Publisher: DC Comics/DC Black Label imprint
Price: $7.99 US

Frank Miller’s importance to comics can never be ignored or forgotten. The only influence from the 1980s that equals his is like Alan Moore’s. However, I think it’s safe to say that Miller’s work in more recent years pales in comparison with his groundbreaking efforts from three decades ago. Still, I couldn’t help but be curious about this latest project, so I decided to peruse its pages. The good news is that this is much better than Holy Terror; there’s no sign of the twisted perspectives that marred that graphic novel. To my surprise, the biggest liability of Superman Year One is that it’s just so… standard. We’ve seen material like this time and time again with retellings of Superman’s early years, and I just didn’t find anything novel in this book. Thirty years ago, this would have been heralded as a poignant interpretation of the kid who would become the Man of Steel, but so many other creators have already told stories such as this one — and they’ve done it a little better, more often than not.

Hungry, Hungry Heroes

DCeased #1
“Going Viral”
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Trevor Hairsine, Stefano Gaudiano & James Harren
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Cover artists: Greg Capullo (regular)/Francesco Mattina and Yasmine Putri (variants)
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

(Note: I started writing this review the week the comic was released, but I got significantly sidetracked. I figured I’d begun, I might as well finish.)

DC seems a little late getting into the 21st century zombie craze, and by “a little late,” I mean ridiculously late. I honestly wasn’t going to delve into this latest event book, but one thing changed my mind: two proper nouns on the cover. Tom Taylor has impressed repeatedly with his super-hero genre work. I was thoroughly impressed with X-Men Red, and I’m really enjoying Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man now. But the clumsily titled DCeased just doesn’t scratch the same itch, as it’s pretty much devoid of the charm, relevance and strong characterization that one normally finds in the writer’s work.

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Specs in the City

Man and Superman 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist/Cover artist: Claudio Castellini
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Editors: Brian Cunningham, Peter Tomasi & Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $9.99 US

This is another one of those instances for which I’m thankful that I have a savvy comics retailer from whom I buy my comics, because he brought this book to my attention. I hadn’t heard about it at all, when I looked at it on the shop shelf last week, I hesitated at dropping 10 bucks on it. But the manager at the shop said writer Marv Wolfman had proclaimed it to be his best Superman story, and that the collection of the previously unpublished four-part story was already sold out at the distributor level. So I decided to take a chance on it, despite the fact that I already have far too many comics and graphic novels – both read and unread – cluttering my house.

I’m pleased I did. Wolfman – who had a solid run on Adventures of Superman in the late 1980s – wasn’t exaggerating when he dubbed this his best Super-story, and that’s because it’s not a tale about the Man of Steel. It’s about Clark Kent, and it’s powerfully resonant and relatable. The only aspects of the writing that kept this from being perhaps Wolfman’s greatest oeuvre was the thinness of the conspiracy plot and the depiction of journalism. But those weaknesses were minor as compared to the strength of the characterization and universal tone of the rest of the book.

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You’re Only Young Twice

Young Justice #1
“Seven Crises”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: DC Lettering
Cover artists: Patrick Gleason (regular)/Amy Reeder, Derrick Chew, Yasmine Putri, Jorge Jimenez and Evan Shaner (variants)
Editor: Mike Cotton & Andy Khouri
Publisher: DC Comics/Wonder Comics imprint
Price: $4.99 US

One of my favorite super-hero comics is 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, which explored just about every corner of DC’s multiverse, and therefore, just about every character and facet of the publisher’s extensive continuity. But the ultimate purpose was to simply that continuity, to streamline its properties to offer a more accessible product to readers. DC has done so on other occasions since, notably its New 52 relaunch that tried to establish a tighter timeline for its super-hero universe. I completely understood those goals, but as a longtime reader, I rather love DC’s history, and honestly, it was the complexity of the parallel-earths concept that helped to hook me on the genre when I first discovered comics in the late 1970s. With Young Justice, writer Brian Michael Bendis makes it clear that there’s a new approach at play: to turn the long history into an asset, to make use of the interconnectivity of the characters, and to revive or to reshape that extensive continuity.

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Objection to Objectifications

Heroes in Crisis #4
“$%@# This”
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover artists: Trevor Hairsine (regular)/Ryan Sook (variant)
Editor: Jamie S. Rich
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

While Tom King’s scripting and pacing continues to obfuscate the plot purposefully, this stands out as the most interesting chapter of this event book thus far, exploring emotionally poignant and ethically challenging ideas. However, this also stands out as the most irksome and disappointing issue in the limited series due to a couple of visual choices that objectify strong female characters. This struck me as a major step backward in a genre that’s slowly been evolving, in general, toward a more progressive approach. The most egregious instance of gratuitous sexualization in this issue threatens to blind the reader from the more nuanced and mature notions that King examines here, and it completely detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story and characterization. I felt completely let down by the creators here.

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Say Uncle

Freedom Fighters #1
“Chapter One: Death of a Nation”
Writer: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inks: Eber Ferreira
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Deron Bennett
Cover artists: Barrows (regular)/Ben Oliver (variant)
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

I’ve been obsessed with DC’s Golden Age characters, as well as others from the era it acquired from other, now-defunct publishers over the years, such as the Quality characters, such as Uncle Sam, the Human Bomb and the rest of the lineup that DC rebranded as the Freedom Fighters in the 1970s. When DC reintroduced the characters in one of its annual JLA/JSA crossovers of the time, they were on Earth-X, fighting against the Nazis, who’d won the Second World War. After DC did away with its multiverse with Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, the Freedom Fighters just became another group of WWII-eras, taking away that unique mission. With a one-shot during the Multiversity not long ago and now with this new limited series, DC has clearly seen that the characters work better in that alternate-universe setting. Despite my interest in Golden Age super-heroes, what drew me to this comic was news that it featured another hero, a different kind a hero: a real-life one whom writer Robert Venditti had incorporated into a tale of resistance and horror that made a lot of sense. Though I’m a little late to the game, I’m realizing that Venditti is a skilled and powerful creative force in DC’s stable, and I’m definitely going to be paying closer attention for his name on future projects as well.

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Good Cop, Green Cop

Martian Manhunter #1
“A Prisoner”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Deron Bennett
Cover artists: Rossmo (regular)/Joshua Middleton (variant)
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

DC has clearly decided to embrace the title character once again, not only placing him in the spotlight in its new Justice League but giving him another shot at an ongoing title. What drew me to this was Riley Rossmo’s art, and his weirder, more exaggerated style suits the alien, shape-shifting nature of J’Onn J’Onzz nicely. I didn’t know what to expect from Steve Orlando’s plot; he’s been a hit-and-miss writer for me. He definitely took me off-guard with his take on the character, exploring him as a much darker, broken figure than we’ve seen before. This isn’t the pure-of-heart vision of the Martian Manhunter with which long-time genre readers would be familiar. Instead, this is the story of a man seeking redemption for past sins. It’s intriguing and challenging, but the creative team might have been a little too successful when it came to capturing and conveying alien culture, physiology and perceptions.

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Ragnarockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

DC Nuclear Winter Special #1
Writers: Mark Russell, Collin Kelley & Jackson Lanzing, Steve Orlando, Jeff Loveness, Tom Taylor, Mairghread Scott, Paul Dini, Phil Hester, Cecil Castellucci and Dave Wielgosz
Pencils: Mike Norton, Giuseppe Camuncoli & Cam Smith, Brad Walker & Drew Hennessy, Christian Duce, Tom Derenick & Yasmine Putri, Dexter Soy, Jerry Ordway, Phil Hester & Ande Parks, Amancay Nahuelpan and Scott Kolins
Colors: Hi-Fi, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Nathan Fairbairn, Luis Guerrero, Yasmine Putri, Veronica Gandini, Dave McCaig, Trish Mulvihill, Brian Buccellato and John Kalisz
Letters: Deron Bennett, Clayton Cowles, Tom Napolitano, Steve Wands, Dave Sharpe and Josh Reed
Cover artist: Yanick Paquette
Editors: Alex Antone & Dave Wielgosz
Price: $9.99 US

DC certainly made this year’s holiday special stand apart from previous ones with a post-apocalyptic theme. It’s an odd choice, but for longtime DC readers, it’s a fun and interesting divergence from the norm. However, newer readers or those with only a passing familiarity with DC lore, this could make for some confusion, as there are some deep cuts that might leave the uninitiated scratching their heads. Ultimately, this is as diverting and entertaining as most super-hero holiday specials have been in the past, but not particularly memorable either.

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Rotten to the Corps

The Green Lantern #1
“Intergalactic Lawman”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Cover artists: Sharp (regular)/Frank Quitely (variant)
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

It was just a matter of time before writer Grant Morrison turned his attention to the Green Lantern mythos. He’s left his marks on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and even the Flash, so GL was a logical step for his next project with an icon of DC super-heroes. When the project was announced, I was pleased. While I thoroughly appreciated Geoff Johns revitalization of the property several years ago, I’d lost interest in the Green Lantern Corps more recently. I expected Morrison would offer something decided different with his take, and he does — but then again, he doesn’t. The writer’s script is an odd one, somewhat inaccessible — not in terms of plot, but language. Everything about this bit of storytelling feels alien, which may be the point, but the result is there’s little with which the reader can connect… not even its human hero.

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Crisis Mismanagement

Heroes in Crisis #1
“Part 1: I’m Just Warming Up”
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover artists: Mann (regular)/J.G. Jones, Francesco Mattina, Mark Brooks & Ryan Sook
Editor: Jamie S. Rich
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

In a short time, I’ve come to have incredible respect and faith in the writing abilities of Tom King, but even more than that, I know that when editor Jamie S. Rich is involved in a project, it’s one that’s worthy of my attention, one that will entertain and even challenge me. Unfortunately, I fear they stumbled a bit with this opening chapter, which focuses far too much on keeping the reader guessing what’s going on rather than telling a story. It also relies heavily on the gimmick of killing off heroes — both obscure and a little better known. Mind you, while King’s script has confused me, it’s also intrigued me, and my disappointment with this disjointed first issue is tempered by my hope for clarity and inventive plotting from a proven creative team.

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The Joke Killing

Batman: Damned #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover artists: Bermejo (regular)/Jim Lee (variant)
Editor: Mark Doyle
Publisher: DC Comics/DC Black Label imprint
Price: $6.99 US

DC announced new imprints and publishing initiatives earlier this year that would bring different formats and content to its readers, and its Black Label branding appears to be a home for more mature super-hero genre storytelling. Basically, we get a strong Batman story from accomplished writer and DC mainstay Brian Azzarello and meticulous crafted, realistic artwork from Bermejo, whose career highlights have also been at DC. Honestly, this new imprint wasn’t all that necessary for the mature-readers content, but it does serve a purpose: to isolate this story from regular DC continuity. Azzarello plays around with some other characters from DC’s supernatural stable, and some of the new spins on these familiar figures were as intriguing as the plot of a Batman broken by his past and his forgotten sins.

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Flea-Market Finds: 1st Issue Special #11

Ist Issue Special #11
“Code Name: Assassin”
Writers: Gerry Conway & Steve Skeates
Pencils: Nestor Redondo & Frank Redondo
Inks: Al Milgrom
Cover artist: Mike Grell
Editors: Gerry Conway & Paul Levitz
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: 25 cents

1st Issue Special was an odd series from DC, featuring a different property — sometimes new, as was the case with this issue, and sometimes established — with every new issue. This particular issue was notably weird, as the execution is so clumsy. This vigilante anti-hero follows a lot of the archetypal elements that one finds in such characters, but this is such a watered-down version of a revenge story that it leaves the reader scratching his or her head by the end of this unfinished 1976 story. I was entertained as I read this issue, mind you, but only for the unintentional amusement of such awkward writing.

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Send in the B Squad

Suicide Squad Annual #1
“For the Wicked, No Rest”
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Colors: Jason Wright
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Cover artists: Paul Pelletier & Mick Gray
Editors: Katie Kubert & Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

As a longtime fan of the Suicide Squad concept that John Ostrander introduced in the late 1980s, I was absolutely elated with this self-contained story. However, this was far from a perfect Suicide Squad comic, as it was highly inaccessible and featured interpretations of characters that really didn’t stay true to the characters’ histories. I was of two minds about this annual, but ultimately, I came away pleased. I hope that DC takes the same approach with future Suicide Squad annuals, using them to introduce alternate teams and to stay true to the dangerous and fatal appeal that its title would suggest.

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The Girl with the Arachnid Tattoo

Pearl #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Colors: Gaydos (main story)/Patricia Mulvihill (“Citizen Wayne”)
Letters: Joshua Reed (main story)/Janice Chiang (“Citizen Wayne”)
Cover artists: Gaydos (regular)/Alex Maleev (variant)
Editor: Michael McCalister
Publisher: DC Comics/Jinxworld imprint
Price: $3.99 US

To say that I was highly anticipating this latest creator-owned project from Brian Michael Bendis would be an understatement. I was thrilled to hear that Bendis’s move from Marvel Entertainment to DC Comics wouldn’t bring his creator-owned material under Marvel’s Icon imprint to an end. While I’m champing at the bit to see Scarlet resume soon, the promise of Bendis re-teaming with his Alias/Jessica Jones collaborator on a new female protagonist was exhilarating, given my fondness and appreciation for Jessica, both in comics and in streaming TV. Pearl definitely boasts the sort of relatable humanity yet riveting darkness that makes so much of Bendis’s writing so engrossing, but it was more than a confusing at times. I’m definitely intrigued, but I didn’t quite connect with this story as much as I thought I would.

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