JH Williams 3 Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s December: New homes for the holidays

Required reading

Required reading

DC Entertainment may not have planned it this way — “planning” being something with which DC may be only tangentially familiar — but I doubt its high-ups wanted to release these December solicitations the Monday after what had to be a pretty rough weekend.  When you’ve just had to deal with a celebrated creative team walking off a fairly successful book — citing “editorial interference,” and reminding people that the character’s original writer also left after increasing frustration with DC — you might not want to follow that up by calling attention to all the other changes coming before the end of the year.

And don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of Batwoman and “sucky personal life” talk before we’re done. Solicits first, though …


If the first week of Villains Month is any indication, a good bit of the decimal-point issues will feature stories set in the early stages of the Crime Syndicate’s takeover. This wasn’t that apparent from the September solicits, and subsequent months also appeared light on explicit crossovers. December is about the same, with Teen Titans dropping out of the crossover lineup, and Pandora and Phantom Stranger joining the three Justice League books, the three Forever Evil [Colon] miniseries, and Suicide Squad.

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Women of Action | Batwoman

Women of Action is an experiment exploring superhero series starring and named after women. Which are worth supporting, which aren’t, and why?

Batwoman (by Amy Reeder, who is also awesome)

Batwoman’s blessing and its curse is its stunning art and design by JH Williams III. I know it’s weird to call it a curse, but in my case, when every mention I hear about a comic begins and ends with the art, it gets me wondering about the story, and not in a good way. Pair that apprehension with a start date that got pushed back several times and I was downright skittish, so it took me a while to check out Batwoman. I probably never would have except for my decision to read more comics starring and named after female superheroes.

I don’t know why more people don’t mention the story in Batwoman (well, I do – see: The Art – but the story’s still not mentioned as much as it should be), because it’s amazing. Williams’ contribution to the comic is more than imaginative page layouts and long, flowing hair. Everyone knows that he’s also a co-writer, but I’m not talking about that either. It’s how the mood of the comic perfectly matches the gothic, spooky tone of the ghost story that Williams and other co-writer W. Haden Blackman chose for their introductory arc. It’s one thing to say that comics are a mixture of story and art; it’s quite another thing to see those two elements work together as well as they do in Batwoman.

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Food or Comics? | Char-broiled Chase

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

DMZ #72

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d reverently pick up the big release of the week: the final issue of DMZ, #72 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Wood and Burchielli have done something special here, and I easily see the series taking its place next to Preacher and Transmet as Vertigo (and mature comic) staples. Next up I’d get a dose of a new Vertigo series, Spaceman #3 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99); Azzarello and Risso definitely zigged when most thought they would zag, and in this shaking off of the long shadow of 100 Bullets they’ve created something decidedly unique and spellbinding. Next up I’d get another DC book, this time All Star Western #4 (DC, $3.99); I’ve really enjoyed Palmiotti and Gray taking Jonah Hex into the big city here and opening up the world and heroes of these tumbleweed times, and I’m excited for the new back-up featuring a literal firebrand of a female. Finally, my last book on a $15 budget would be Avengers: Children’s Crusade #8 (Marvel, $3.99); I could write a whole article on how the schedule’s affected this book, but despite all that what we’ve got is a great story. Despite all the delays, I’m apprehensive about the final issue because it’ll probably be the last we’ll see of Allan Heinberg in the Marvel U for a long time.

If I had $30, I’d thank the yuletime gods and pick up the vibrant new issue of Haunt, #20 (Image, $2.99). I don’t know what’s in the water at Image, but they’ve orchestrated a series of recent inspired and left-field revamps of their books: Casey/Fox on Haunt, the upcoming Keatinge/Campbell on Glory, Graham/Roy on Prophet. Next up I’d get Top Cow’s Artifacts #12 (Image/Top Cow, $3.99); I admit coming onto this series late, but thanks to a plush assignment I was able to tear through the past two years of Top Cow comics and found I really enjoyed their current event book. After I read and re-read that book, I’d get a double-shot of Marvel with Captain America & Bucky #625 (Marvel, $2.99) and FF #13 (Marvel, $2.99); love what the writers are doing here, but the recent choices by editors for their new artists have made both these books even more enticing for me. Juan Bobillo drawing Hickman’s scripts on FF especially gives it a creepy vibe I’d love to see more of. Speaking of art, my final pick for this final week of the year would be the artistic tour de force of Flash #4 (DC, $2.99); Manapul and Buccellato are really showing their stuff, providing story to enable Manapul to do some of the most dynamic and heart-wrenching work of his career. In the back of my mind I’m worried what happens when Manapul needs a break from drawing: much like finding an appropriate artist for J.H. Williams 3 to rotate with on Batwoman, a suitable second for The Flash will be hard to come by.

My splurge this week is the under-the-radar collection Broadcast TV: Doodles of Henry Flint (Markosia, $19.99). I’d buy an art book by Henry Flint on face value alone, but from the limited previews I’ve seen of the book online it’s something far, far more unique. These are off-hand doodles Flint’s done in his spare time over the past five years, but I’m not talking about quick sketches: “doodles” as in ornate mind-benders where Flint literally doodled his heart out. Once I get this in my merry hands, I’ll be going over it with a fine tooth comb, magnifying glass and anything else I can find.

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Food or Comics? | Arroz con Archaia

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

20th Century Boys, Volume 18

Chris Arrant

If I only had $15, I would only be buying one title this week: 20th Century Boys, Vol. 18 (Viz, $12.99). Sorry Americanos, but Naoki Urasawa is delivering a gripping, sprawling drama that most other books can’t live up to. Wait, I’m wrong – I’d buy two comics with a $15 budget this week; I’d snag the $1 The Strain #1 (Dark Horse, $1) for the price point and Mike Huddleston. I’ve read the novels, but for $1 I can’t miss sampling at least the first issue.

If I had $30, I’d be thankful to double-back and first get Uncanny X-Force #18 (Marvel, $3.99). This issue, the finale of the “Dark Angel Saga,” has been a long time coming and I’m excited for the writing, the art and the story itself; and I can’t forget colorist Dean White, sheesh he’s good. After that I’d pick up my usual Walking Dead #92 (Image, $2.99) and then try Ed McGuinness’ new work in Avengers: X-Sanction #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’m a big fan of McG’s work, but also realize just how different he is than the standard Marvel (or mainstream super-hero) artist in general. I’ve loved his storytelling sense since Mr. Majestic, and will pick up most any of his work without knowing much about the book itself. Next up would be James Robinson & Cully Hamner’s The Shade #3 (DC, $2.99). I’m surprised DC hasn’t done more marketing for this book, especially considering it’s a character who’s never held a series before; they’ve done little-to-any marketing to define just who the character is, relying on his ties to a lesser-selling series that ended ten years ago (no matter how good it was). Getting off my soapbox: those that have been reading The Shade know it’s good. After that I’d round it off with the best looking comic on shelves, Batwoman #4 (DC, $2.99).

If I was to splurge, I’d double-up my J.H Williams 3 fix with the final volume of Absolute Promethea (DC/ABC, $99.99). Although I already own these issues in singles, getting it over-sized and in hardcover is a treat. I’m hoping it also includes some production art or process sketches – I’m a nut for that.

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Looking at DC’s move to expand artists into writer/artists

Although Marvel currently seems to outpace DC in terms of large-scale talent relations (which DC seems to be aiming to fix), DC has a long history as a proving ground for creators starting a new chapter in their career as well as giving the break to some of the industry’s biggest talents like Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns. And recently, the stalwart NYC-based publisher broke with previously established rules to encourage a burgeoning crop of artists turned writer/artists.

Up until recently, individuals doing both writing and art duties simultaneously was relegated to special “outside the DCU” projects like Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, Ben Caldwell’s “Wonder Woman” strip in Wednesday Comics and a large majority of Frank Miller’s DC work. Whether that’s to avoid potential delays from relying on one person to keep the deadlines of a series, or from some contractual issues from one person being the primary creator of a book — which I remember both Evan Dorkin and Mike Allred referring to once. Regardless, it’s uncommon… or it used to be.

In 2010, DC began actively promoting several of its artist to write their own material with artist Tony Daniel both writing and drawing arcs in Batman and recently hired artist David Finch to write & draw a new series titled Batman: The Dark Knight – reportedly one of the reasons Finch jumped from Marvel. And arguably one of the biggest promotions is J.H. Williams III taking over the writing chores of the Batwoman character for her eponymous new series from former collaborator Greg Rucka. And curiously enough, this is all occurring under the auspices of the Bat titles which are under the purview of editor Mike Marts.

With the competing war to get the talent heating up like no time before, could these moves by DC be away to combat Marvel’s upper hand in the sales charts while also trying to find the next Frank Miller? We hope so! Many of today’s biggest writers started out as artists — Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Ed Brubaker and Rick Remender, to name a few. But what artists would you like to see write their own comics?

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