"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Dark Horse has announced a hardcover collection of Bowery Boys, the webcomic by writer Corey Levine and artists Ian Bertram (Detective Comics, Batman Eternal) and Brent McKee (Outlaw Territory).
Debuting in 2013, the coming-of-age adventure is set amid the political corruption, gangs and xenophobia of antebellum New York City, where immigrant Nikolaus McGovern rallies a crew of street youths after his father is framed for murder.
Collecting the first five seasons of the webcomic, Bowery Boys: Our Fathers will be release in August.
As the average price of serially published, traditional-format comics has risen sharply over the past few years, I’ve gradually turned into a trade-waiter, my pull list shrinking to such a meager size that many Wednesdays I’ll skip what was once a religiously observed weekly pilgrimage. It’s not worth a trip to the shop for one or two books, after all, so I’ll sometimes wait three weeks or so, allowing for a sizable stack to build up.
This was one such week, and I left the shop with a pretty good haul, about $45 worth of 14 comics, including a mess of DC weeklies, a pair of Marvel comics, a trio of high-quality kids titles, the latest issue of a locally produced horror series, a Batman/Green Hornet crossover and an issue of one of IDW’s many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics.
My pull list is now so small and carefully cut that I rarely encounter a book I don’t like any aspect of (generally, when I do buy a comic I have negative feelings about, they’re generated as much by disappointment as anything else). The flip-side is that because I take relatively few chances as a consumer (as opposed to a critic; as a critic, I read pretty much anything with panels on paper that I find in front of me), I’m rarely pleasantly surprised by what I bring home.
This week, I read one comic that was so good that I was genuinely taken aback by its awesomeness; I was surprised and super-excited. I wanted to stand up and shout “Yeah!” but I was in a coffee shop at the time. I wanted to high-five the artist, but he wasn’t within arm’s reach. I wanted to scrap what I was planning to write about in this space today and champion the book instead. I wanted to take the opportunity to say, “Hey everyone! Stop what you’re doing and read this comic right now!”
While DC Comics sacrificed some bragging rights in 2011 when it rebooted its superhero line, even the never-before-renumbered Action Comics and Detective Comics, one consequence of relaunching TEC was that it was only a matter of time — 26 months, to be exact — before the company got around to publishing a new Detective Comics #27. And that the second Detective Comics #27 would see release during the 75th year of Batman’s career, well, all the better.
The first Detective Comics #27, published in 1939, was, of course, the first appearance of Batman. The anthology’s cover was surrendered to an arresting image of a spooky man in tights, wearing a bat-mask and sporting huge bat-like wings, scooping up a gangster in a headlock while swinging in front of the yellow field above a city skyline. “Starting this issue,” the cover trumpted, “The Amazing and Unique Adventures of The Batman.” Inside, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s pulp- and film-inspired detective hero cracked the “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and the amazing and unique adventures begun therein have yet to cease.
DC has honored that milestone in various ways over the years, with notable celebrations including Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg’s 2003 Elseworlds one-shot Batman: Detective No. 27, and 1991’s Detective Comics #627, in which the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle and Marv Wolfman/Jim Aparo creative teams did their own takes on “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and both the original story and a 30th-anniversary version by Mike Friedrich and Bob Brown were reprinted.
This week brings Detective Comics (Vol. 2) #27, and another opportunity to celebrate that original issue, and Batman’s 75th anniversary, which DC does in a 90-page, prestige-format special issue — essentially a trade paperback with some ads in it — featuring contributions from the writers of all four of the main Batman books of the moment and about as strong a list of contributing artists as a reader could hope for.
Oliver Twist meets Occupy Wall Street. That’s the most succinct way to describe the burgeoning comic series Bowery Boys by Ian Bertram and Cory Levine, and after years of it being hinted at online it’s now found a soapbox to tell its story: online for free.
Last week, the duo announced it will serialize the Bowery Boys graphic novel with three pages a week online at BoweryBoysComic.com beginning July 4. Described as “A New York Story,” Bowey Boys is set in 1850s Manhattan, where a group of young men try to reach the brass ring of the American Dream but face obstacles such as political corruption, street gangs, labor unions and rampant racism. At the center of this is Nikolaus McGovern, the only son for a God-fearing union leader who’s in deep over laborer’s rights, and the paths he crosses with politicians, businessmen and entrepreneurs. But in addition to that story, a big draw here is the art by Ian Bertram, a recent graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Here’s a four-page sample of Bowery Boys:
After posting last week about New York’s SVA magazine Ink, I discovered a unique project by one of the artists, Ian Bertram, and writer Cory Levine called Bowery Boys. Described by the authors as a coming of age story about four young men growing up in mid-19th century lower Manhattan, the creators are currently shopping it around to various comic publishers.
“I had recently read an article about how 19th century New York lacked a public sanitation system and garbage would be piled literally chest-high in the streets, and it led me to pitch Ian on a story set against an urban backdrop of the filth and congestion of lower Manhattan in that era,” Levine told CBR. “My thought was that the richness of his line work would really bring the setting to life, and the detail with which he draws would pave the way for the readers to immerse themselves in a period piece.”
Although Bowery Boys was written before Occupy Wall Street existed, it’s inspired by the very same elements even though the setting is over a hundred years apart.
“Bowery Boys definitely tries to tap into the cultural/political zeitgeist, and without affirming or dismissing the OWS movement specifically, it certainly acknowledges that an increasingly loud racket or rabble is demanding our attention and there is merit to that noise.”
Here’s a look at the cover and the first five pages of the series, although the duo plans to have it colored before publication.