From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

The DC Guy Returns…From BEYOND THE GRAVE!

Cover to The Mighty #9, art by Dave Johnson

Cover to The Mighty #9, art by Dave Johnson

Hello. Here’s your least favorite procrastinator, back with more looks at the DC side of comics. Here it comes!

Action Comics #883 – By Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and Pere Perez

Action Comics is still good, but suffers slightly with the absence of Superman. Eric Trautmann comes aboard this issue as a co-writer, and brings a sharper sense of character with the analysis of what drives Nightwing and Flamebird, as well as what keeps their newly blossomed relationship alive. With the World of New Krypton story slowly coming to an end, the Super-titles are going to ramp up and we’ll see these characters on a bigger scale across the DCU. That’s a good thing.

Batman #692-693 – By Tony Daniel

Tony Daniel doubles up on the writing and art chores on the solo Batman title, and calls back to some Batman fans’ knowledge of continuity by bringing in some antagonists that haven’t been seen in awhile. From the first issue, Daniel brings back the Falcone crime family, which hasn’t had a presence in the mainline Gotham since Miller’s Year One, and even mentions the Reaper from a story Todd McFarlane did in the early 90’s that I thought was erased from continuity! So, since we’re only two issues in, I’m cautiously optimistic about Daniel’s run, but so far, it’s lacking some of the better character chops and isn’t nearly as unique as Morrison’s work.

Batman/Doc Savage Special #1 – By Brian Azzarello and Phil Noto

This book was awesome! Setting up a new DC world where no super powers exist, classic Pulp character Doc Savage is the “Superman” of this world and Batman, at least for now, carries guns. This one-shot sets up a forthcoming mini-series starting in March, but also has great characterizations of an early-20’s Bruce Wayne and a Batman that hasn’t quite carved a niche yet. If First Wave is as good as this opening shot was, then it’s definitely something the grim and gritty fans will be able to look forward to in confidence.

Batman and Robin #6 – By Grant Morrison and Philip Tan

The best Batman book on the shelves, Morrison wraps up his “Revenge of the Red Hood” story in style, with a chilling new villain and a happy ending for a confused young sidekick. Philip Tan’s artwork is still appropriately moody for Gotham City, coming off the page with just as much mood and angst as the streets of  San Francisco in The Maltese Falcon. Cameron Stewart, of Seaguy fame, comes aboard for the art next issue for a story entitled, “Blackest Knight.” Hmm..I .wonder…what is that about?

Blackest Night #4 – By Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

DC is still doing the event thing better than anyone else right now, and that’s mainly due to the talents of this creative team. Johns makes terribly tense moments between former friends out of thin air, and Ivan Reis gives such a tone of heroism for the characters that are the important mainstays of the JLA, and a great tone of horror to the newly resurrected Black Lanterns. Johns is very good at showing these Black Lanterns as abominations; perversions of the images of the heroes’ former friends (or enemies). With the end of this issue and the big bad standing revealed, Blackest Night is in a very good place right now, and it doesn’t look like that’ll change moving into the second half of the story.

Detective Comics #858 – By Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Rucka and Williams set out to tell the origin story of Kate Kane, and while the story and motivations are strong, the artwork steals the show yet again. Williams renders the past very different from the present; the past in this issue isn’t given the lighting and dimension that we’ve become accustomed to, almost as if our memories of our own pasts can’t maintain the dimension of the world as we experience it now. When the present is explored, there’s the typical fantastic work of Williams showing up again. It made the story easy to follow and makes it look like we’re in for some fun.

Green Lantern #47 – By Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Picking up where Hal Jordan leaves the events on Earth in the main Blackest Night story, the leader of the Indigo Tribe and Hal are gathering the leaders of every Corps in order to fully combat the Black Lanterns. This issue in particular gave great moments between the Black Lanterns and Atrocitus, and made me root for the Red Lanterns, which I never expected to do. It’s a great book! READ IT!

Justice League of America #38 – By James Robinson and Mark Bagley

James Robinson begins his run on JLA with Mark Bagley of Ultimate Spider-Man fame, and the first issue is nothing special. Robinson has to pick up the pieces from the remainder of Dwayne McDuffie’s run and the pieces put down in Len Wein’s run. We’ll see how it goes forward, as Robinson roster for the team looks promising, but the first chapter of the story isn’t the best work we’ve seen from Mr. Robinson. It’s probably not his fault, though. Oh, and the art is Mark Bagley, so his distinct style is well represented.

The Mighty #9-10 – By Peter Tomasi, Keith Champagne, and Peter Snejberg

Here is the best book you’re not reading! Tomasi and Champagne play with the concepts of heroism, authority, control, and perception in a masterful book that has allegorical ties to Superman along with metaphorical ties to how we live our lives. Snejberg’s art along with Dave Johnson’s covers are great sights, making the visceral reality of how super powers can tear up a human body truly unsettling images. Look at the cover to #9. Need I say more?

Red Robin #6 – By Chris Yost and Marcus To

Chris Yost amps up the quality of the book by having more tense interactions between Tim Drake and the League of Assassins. This issue features some reaction from Tim in the aftermath of the Blackest Night: Batman series by Peter Tomasi,  and also features the debut on the series of new penciller Marcus To. I think he’s better suited to the tone of the book, his style is cleaner and more defined than his predecessor. This book is entertaining, but I’m wondering at this point what effect it will have, if any, on the return of Bruce Wayne.

Secret Six #15 – By John Ostrander and J. Calafiore

Gail Simone takes a break this month, and a writer she greatly admires, arguably DC’s most celebrated Suicide Squad writer, takes a look at Deadshot and how he deals not only with his insanely homicidal tendencies, but how he also deals with loss in his life. He seeks advice and discovers he’s having separation issues with everyone from his father to Batman, and resists the urge to outright murder on multiple occasions. A great character study and frankly, a present surprise from DC this month.

Superman #693 – By James Robinson, Fernando Dagnino, and Raúl Fernandez

Robinson moves the overarching New Krypton story in a good direction with a recruiting drive by General Lane to Mon-El, and the Man of Valor doesn’t react well. The double-team on the artwork is clean and well rendered, and we get some great moments with the Guardian. Superman is a good book to be reading, and I imagine the tension will get even higher as we speed toward the conclusion of New Krypton.

Superman: Secret Origin #2 (of 6) – By Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

This. Book. Rules. Reinterpreting an iconic story not only in comics, but in American mythology, this explores the young Superboy’s relationship with the Legion of Super-Heroes, and delves deeper into the villainous psychosis of one Lex Luthor. Gary Frank’s artwork continues it’s timeless Andrew Wyeth-like quality with the sepia tones of Smallville and even the advanced tones of the 30th century given a similar quality. It also hints at future moments in Superman stories, and manages to whet the appetite for further adventures of the current Man of Steel. Great book.