This week saw the return of Batman Incorporated, a series that was cut short when DC Comics launched the New 52 initiative but was allowed to wrap up its plotlines in the Leviathan Strikes one-shot–effectively becoming our last view into the previous DC continuity. Or was it? Batman survived the rebirth of the universe fairly intact, and now with the relaunch of Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn, we get a glimpse at some of the dangling plotlines from that series–as well as some great new moments, like the introduction of Bat Cow.
How did folks feel about the relaunch? Here’s a round-up of just a few reactions from around the web:
David Pepose, Newsarama: “While Scott Snyder might bring the grit back to the Dark Knight, Grant Morrison is all about bringing back the flash. Six months after the last installment of Batman Incorporated, Morrison and artist Chris Burnham show that they’ve still got it, bringing action, mystery and suspense to this dark, pop-infused take on Gotham City.”
Bobby Shortle, Talking Comics: “I’m going to put this out on front street, Batman Incorporated #1 is a horrible ‘first issue’ of a comic book. I’m not saying it’s a bad book, because in fact it has several fantastic moments, but as an inaugural outing it does more to confuse than to welcome in new readers. Perhaps constant readers of the franchise will decry this review because they are perfectly happy to not have to sit through an expositional recount of events they have all ready consumed, but to them I say, ‘I think you are missing the point.’”
Vertigo has produced a number of one-shots that harken back to various DC anthologies of yesterday, dusting off titles like Strange Adventures and The Unexpected and giving them a modern Vertigo flavor. The latest is Mystery in Space, which includes sci-fi stories by creators like Mike Allred, Kyle Baker, Ann Nocenti, Ming Doyle, Andy Diggle, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Ramón F. Bachs and many more.
Like most anthologies, there are hits and misses. Here are some overall opinions on the collection; if you’re curious what people thought about each individual story, I recommend heading over to the reviews by Multiversity Comics, Martin Gray or Comics Bulletin.
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Mystery in Space #1 has a beautiful cover by Ryan Sook, evoking celestial wonder. As for the rest of the book, the only wonder is that someone thought it was fit to publish as a $7.99, 80pp giant. For while the revived Silver Age one-off hosts a few decently written and drawn stories with an intriguing idea or two, much of the material proved a slog to get through.”
Jason Clyna, Broken Frontier: “Vertigo’s new Mystery in Space anthology is so much more than a loose collection of stories. Several of these unconnected tales boggle the mind, break the laws of physics, and challenge humanity’s concept of reality. Over the course of more than 70 consistently gorgeous pages, Duane Swierczynski, Michael Allred, Andy Diggle, and many more tell their own short stories that will satisfy fans of both science fiction and quality storytelling.”
Spoiler’s Warning: This post contains potential spoilers for both the Avengers movie and Avengers Assemble #3.
Marvel followed the release of their big blockbuster Avengers movie with the third issue of Avengers Assemble by the team of Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, Danny Miki and Paul Mounts. The book features an Avengers team that mirrors the one from the film fighting a revamped version of their classic foes The Zodiac.
“I believe Tom [Brevoort] came to me and said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a book out that had these characters in print. Because you’re involved in what’s going on in the creative committee, you’re probably the perfect guy to do it,” Bendis told CBR back in February. “[I thought] what we need is a book like this in continuity that matters, that’s really huge.”
The timing couldn’t have been better, as issue #3 reveals the big bad behind the Zodiac, which mirrors events in the Avengers film. But how is the comic itself? Here’s a round-up of reactions from various folks around the web:
DC Comics released four of the six “New 52 Second Wave” titles this past week, making it hard to choose what to focus on this week … so I figured I wouldn’t. Instead, here are round-ups of reviews for all four titles: Earth 2 #1 by James Robinson, Nicola Scott, Trevor Scott and Alex Sinclair; Dial H #1 by China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, Tany Horie and Richard Horie; World’s Finest #1 by Paul Levitz, George Pérez, Scott Koblish, Kevin Maguire, Hi-Fi and Rosemary Cheetham; and G.I. Combat #1 by J.T. Krul, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Ariel Olivetti and Dan Panosian.
Keith Callbeck, Comicosity: “The multiverse returns! To fanfare or dread, depending on how you feel about pre-Crisis DC. But this is not your parents’ Earth 2. Completely reimagined by James Robinson, the creator most responsible for bringing the JSA back to the DCU with his series Golden Age, this Earth 2 is a world recovering from war. The story feels like a really good Elseworlds book (which Golden Age was as well) and not a What If…? type tale, though that element exists.The heroes of Earth 2 have existed for much longer than the five years of Earth Prime. When the parademons attack, paralleling the first arc of Johns’ Justice League, it is a much more mature Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman there to battle them.”
The pulp character has known what evil lurks in the hearts of men since the 1930s, with his adventures being chronicled over the years in radio dramas, pulp magazines, television, movies and comic books. Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and even Archie Comics, among others, have published comics starring the character, with Dynamite being the latest. So what did folks think about this latest rendition of the character? Here’s a sampling of reviews from around the ‘net:
Alex C. Lupp, The Comic Age: “Ennis and Campbell get the flavor just right, and that’s a big reason why I enjoyed this comic-book. It’s perfect to get lost in that noir image of the late 1930s. The issue starts with an overview of the atrocities committed by Japan in China during the 1930s and 40s. This is all narrated by the Shadow, and is our introduction to the character. In a few short pages the action switches to New York, and we get to see him in action as he masterfully takes down some thugs.”
Auburn Slavec, Giant Killer Squid: “Am I surprised at the amount of blood? I shouldn’t be, right? It is Garth Ennis. He’s not known for tip-toeing around death, violence and destruction. Tonally, the book just feels so much like the radio program, the adult themes throw me off. Now, art-wise, I think they nailed it. I really, really like Carlos Lopez’s colors; especially during the sequences with The Shadow. Aaron Campbell’s art, specifically his inks, are terrific. The amount of detail he is able to convey through shadows is impressive-particularly in the backgrounds. And I like his Margo. I look forward to reading more Margo.”
This week brought the debut of a new creator-owned comic from Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones, the creative team behind DC’s Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade and SLG’s Little Gloomy. While the duo have made a name for themselves doing kid-friendly titles, Danger Club #1 is definitely not for kids. The comic’s premise is that all the world’s superheros left for space a few months back to battle an alien threat, leaving their sidekicks behind to fend for themselves. Things fall apart, to say the least.
So what did folks think of the first issue? Here’s a round-up of opinions:
Erika Peterman, Girls Gone Geek: “Writer Landry Q. Walker sets a fast pace and doesn’t waste a lot of time with setup or character introductions. This is an efficient, action-packed story that makes the most of the comic’s premise. Left to their own devices, a bunch of agitated, powerful youngsters are fighting among themselves, jockeying for position and abandoning their ideals. With apologies to The Who, the kids are not alright. I’m thinking ‘Lord of the Flies,’ only with teleportation, giant robots and sonic blasts. Walker has created quite an interesting cast of characters to develop.”
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Eric Jones won me over from the start with a fun flashback-style recap/history page seemingly torn from a comic we haven’t seen yet that leads into this story we hold in our hands. That page is two panels, drawn a little more cartoonishly by Jones and colored by Michael Drake to invoke the feel (and darn near smell) of an older comic recently rescued from its bagged and boarded prison. It also acts as a nice contrast to the hyper-detailed modern-day tale that follows.”
Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Aaron, two of the five writers of Marvel’s upcoming crossover series Avengers vs. X-Men, gave folks a taste of what’s to come this week with the release of the crossover’s zero issue. Each writer told the story of a pivotal character from their respective franchise, both drawn by Frank Cho, as Aaron focused on Hope Summers and Bendis turned his attention back to the Scarlet Witch for the first time in many years.
There has been a lot of hype and some pretty big expectations from this series so far, so how did this first taste do in the “whet my appetite” department? Here’s a round-up of opinions:
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “Avengers Vs. X-Men #0 contains two stories: one starring the Scarlet Witch with the other starring Hope Summers. Both are used to succinctly introduce the characters forming the center of the crossover, explaining who they are and their current status quos. Rather than being simple recaps, these stories also move their stars forward, offering a piece of new information or new development in their lives you can’t get anywhere else. Whether you’re a fresh reader or an existing fan, you should feel equally satisfied with this issue.”
DC Comics kicked off their New 52 reboot last August with Justice League #1, putting two superstar creators–who also happen to be members of the company’s management team–on their flagship team title.
Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee told a six-issue story about how this new version of the League came together to fight Darkseid and an invasion from Apokolips a few years back. That story ended a month ago, and this month brings a new chapter and a guest artist to the comic, as Johns teams with Gene Ha for a story that gives longtime Wonder Woman supporting character Steve Trevor a role with the League. Also of note in this issue is the beginning of a back-up tale featuring the New 52 debut of Shazam!
So what do folks think about the League’s jump to the present day? And what about the Billy Batson back-up? Here’s a round-up of what a few people thought …
“The Villain’s Journey, Prologue”:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “With Justice League #7, Geoff Johns and guest artist Gene Ha jump the series forward to the present day and I’m sure most readers will be saying, ‘It’s about time.’ Reading this comic, I can understand why and it makes me wish we’d started at this point all along. Thanks to a lack of ‘this is how they all met,’ we end up with a much zippier pace. A threat raises its head, the Justice League shows up and quickly defeats it. Each plot point is hit quickly and effectively and then the story moves forward. Johns also shows us how the different members are getting along with one another and longtime Wonder Woman supporting character Steve Trevor is given a larger role as well. As the new addition to the line-up, Cyborg’s position within the League is well-defined, in some ways taking the spot that Oracle had in Grant Morrison’s JLA. It makes more sense to have him on the team now, and it’s nice to see him working out without either dominating or fading into the background of the comic.”
This week saw the return of Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Runaways, Lost) to comics, as he and artist Fiona Staples (North 40, Mystery Society, Done to Death) team up on Saga. Announced at the San Diego Comic-Con last year, it’s been one of the most anticipated comics coming out this year for many fans. But how does it measure up to the anticipation? Fairly well, based on the reviews. Here are a few of them:
Jason Clyma, Broken Frontier: “Saga marks the highly anticipated and long awaited return of Brian K. Vaughan to the world of comics; a return that is sure to have set expectations at an astronomically high level. Not only does the creator of amazing works such as Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina surpass these expectations, but his space-opera shatters all fears and doubts. Despite being only one installment in, Saga is written with such painstakingly organized detail, with a scope sure to be larger than the size of a whole galaxy, and with such memorable and likeable characters that it is destined to rival the most beloved science fiction universes.”
Grant McLaughlin, The Weekly Crisis: “Simply put, this is great comics. Vaughan’s razor-sharp character work (and wit!) is on full display throughout as he slowly introduces us to a varied cast of characters, including our lovable (and deeply in love) leads, Alana and Marko. As mentioned above, in true Romeo and Juliet fashion, one is from the Landfall forces while the other fought for the Wreath. And of course, their love made them want to leave the awful horrors of war behind and start life anew. But like any good story, the war isn’t terribly accommodating and won’t let them get out so easily.”
The latest member of the Fables family came into the world last Wednesday, as Fairest #1 by Bill Willingham, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Andrew Dalhouse and Todd Klein. The book promises to explore “the secret histories of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, Snow White, Rose Red and others.” The first story arc picks up where Fables #107 left off, as it focuses on Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty after she is stolen away by the goblin army.
So what do people think of this latest spinoff of the popular and long-running Fables franchise? Here’s a round-up of a few reviews …
Alex Zalben, MTV Geek: “By gobsmacking, of course, I’m referring to the plot of the issue: a thief we haven’t seen in a good long while picks up a jar we may have forgotten about, and sets in search of a lady or two who have been trapped by goblins. Much smacking of said gobs ensues… Though mostly by one of the most bad-ass wooden puppets you might ever hope to meet. And all of this involves characters or ideas that have been seeded throughout Fables the past few years, but one of the beauties of the book (beyond, you know, Sleeping Beauty) is that Willingham provides easy entry for even the newest reader.”
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “There’s no denying this is a Fables spinoff. One has to be familiar with a fair bit of continuity from the mother title to figure out where the characters are in this story and what their deal is (especially Oakheart). I haven’t read Fables in a while, but fortunately, what I remember from before I stopped following the book was enough to pick up on the appropriate and required references here. Of course, not everyone will be privy to the same backstory from Fables. Of course, one could argue DC expects only Fables readers to pick up Fairest, but limiting one’s expected readership to an audience within an established audience seems like it would be setting the bar far too low. Willingham’s script really could’ve used more exposition.”
Reviews for the Extreme Studios reboot title Glory have been hitting the internet for awhile–Caleb reviewed it here more than a month ago–and this week finally saw the book hit comic shops. Written by Joe Keatinge with art by Ross Campbell, Glory #23 has little to do with the previous 1990s Glory comic, and yet has everything to do with it, as Keatinge and Campbell’s approach wasn’t to toss everything out and start over, but to pick up with and add on the character’s previous origin and history … and then spin her off in a completely different direction.
On paper, this isn’t a comic that should work–although Keatinge has a lot of comics coming out this year, he’s still relatively new to the game, and Ross Campbell isn’t the first, or fifth, or even 100th artist I’d ever think of drawing a revival of a 1990s bad girl version of Wonder Woman. And yet the beauty is that it does work, as Keatinge and Campbell have created something really awesome here. But don’t take my word for it; check out what others have been saying about the return of Glory:
Edward Kaye, Newsarama: “Much of the issue is spent introducing readers to the character and recapping some of her past adventures. One thing that will be immediately noticeable to longtime Glory fans is that her origin tale has been tweaked a bit, so where in the original story she was born as the result of an alliance between the Amazonians and their demonic rivals, she is now the product of a union between two warring alien races. Other than that, her back-story matches that outlined in the original series, and even acknowledges the events that took place in Alan Moore’s very brief revival of the series.”
With Thief of Thieves #1, which hit stores this past Wednesday, Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) introduces the television “Writer’s Room” concept to his Skybound imprint, as he teams with Nick Spencer (Morning Glories, Iron Man 2.0) for a story about a thief who wants to retire. The heist comic features the artistic talents of Shawn Martinbrough (Black Panther, Luke Cage Noir) with colors by Felix Serrano.
So did Thief of Thieves manage to steal the hearts of reviewers? Here’s a sampling of what some of them thought about the debut issue:
Iann Robinson, CraveOnline: “If the sometimes stale and repetitive superhero genre has you down, then Thief Of Thieves could be right up your alley. The story is a simple one. Take a master thief named Redmond, a charming loner who is the hero to so many in the underworld. Open the comic with him masterminding a brilliant heist. Add in a beautiful assistant who wants him and creates enough sexual tension to make our hero uncomfortable. Then sprinkle in an upcoming job being bankrolled by a criminal mob type. The whole thing is behind schedule, off budget and people are getting antsy. So what does Redmond do? On the very last page he announces he’s quitting forever.”
This past week saw the release of Winter Soldier #1, as Ed Brubaker once again brings Bucky back with the help of Butch Guice, Bettie Breitweiser and Joe Caramagna. The ongoing series stars the former Captain America and Black Widow in kind of a Mr. and Mrs. Smith-like team-up book. An espionage thriller, the comic launches out of the revelation that the Russians created other Winter Soldier-like sleeper agents and features something I never thought would be a divisive plot point among readers–a gorilla with a machine gun. Isn’t that one of the universal truths in comics, that gorillas = awesome, and gorillas with machine guns = super awesome? Here are a few opinions on that, as well as the overall book itself …
Jesse Schedeen, IGN: “Darkness, espionage, and spycraft are all elements that essentially drained out of Brubaker’s Captain America series with the relaunch, to the detriment of that series. Luckily, these elements are all the prime focus of Winter Soldier. If you miss the grittier Captain America stories of 2005-2010, this book has exactly what you’re looking for.”
Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics: “…Winter Soldier is taking a mostly more-serious, grounded tone… but still reveling in all of the craziness that the Marvel Universe offers, like talking Communist gorillas, or cyborg Prime Ministers. I like that he’s taking established Marvel villains like the Red Ghost and his Super Apes and keeping their same spirit alive, but at the same time making them feel a bit more dangerous, for lack of a better word. The overall grounded feel for Winter Soldier doesn’t exclude the fantastic, it just makes them fit better into the book’s particular world view.”
In a now-deleted interview on Newsarama, Brandon Graham made some unflattering remarks about current Catwoman writer Judd Winick, noting, “It’s okay. DC’s not calling me anyway.” Which is kind of a shame, because after seeing the direction Graham went with Prophet, it would be fun to see him get his hands on Kamandi, OMAC or the Fourth World characters at some point and go nuts.
In any event, Prophet #21 sees Graham and artist Simon Roy give the 1990s Rob Liefeld/Stephen Platt comic an Extreme makeover, and they absolutely go nuts and have a lot of fun reinventing the book. So what did folks think of it? Here’s a smattering of reviews from around the ‘net:
Mark “Bad Man” McCann, Bad Haven: “This book carries on the numbering (#21) and indeed the legacy of a character born of the 90′s Image artist’s boom era, but sensibility wise this is an entirely new creature, that is if anything grounded firmly in a sort of euro indie. While Graham cites John Buscema’s run on Conan as one of his prime influences for the tone of this futuristic tale, with a scope that’s truly broader than the first issue can fully encapsulate (but not by much) it also has a feel of the work of Jodorowsky and Moebius at their collaborative best.”
Fatale #1 arrived on Wednesday, created by the Criminal and Incognito team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, with colors by Dave Stewart. The supernatural crime story features a modern-day reporter who “stumbles on a secret that leads him down the darkest path imaginable” — into a world of dames and demons.
Brubaker and Phillips have proven to be one of the best teams working in comics today, so this one comes with some high expectations. Did it meet them? Here are a few opinions from around the internet:
David Brothers, ComicsAlliance: “Crime and horror are two genres that don’t generally associate with each other, although they do share a few similarities: sudden bursts of violence and an exploration of something that is wrong at the deepest level. Fatale is more crime comic than horror comic, but it’s the horror touches that make this issue such a treat to read. It succeeds because where crime comics zig, horror comics zag.”
Alan David Doane, Trouble with Comics: “The first-person narration of main character Nicholas Lash feels comfortable and intimate, but the strange things that begin to happen to him unfold so quickly that you’re as disoriented as he is by the way the world turns out from under him. As he immerses himself in a story-within-the-story in the form of a previously unknown manuscript brought to him by a beautiful and mysterious woman who may be much more than she suggests. The scenes depicted from the manuscript really give Phillips a chance to show what he can deliver, as we get a luminously noir scene-setting city street depiction so detailed and visually stunning that it’s also called-out for the issue’s back cover illustration. We see truly creepy thugs reminiscent of The Strangers in Dark City or The Gentlemen in the “Hush” episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but by way of Herge’s Thomson and Thompson. Visually witty but still filled with horror and dread.”