Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – DC Comics (2017, Q1)

Recommendations for the New Comic Reader is exactly what it sounds like — the posts where I recommend current ongoing comics to new readers, mostly based on the current or most recent arc. I focus heavily on the series being new reader friendly, so if the latest masterpiece of Grant Morrison’s isn’t here, you know why. I’m mainly concerned with what I myself am reading, but will occasionally recommend something people have told me or I’ve heard is good, if I feel it bits (these recommendations will be clearly labeled).

DC’s output has finally levelled out a bit, with the Rebirth titles being frequent enough that I can now determine quality more accurately, so quite a few things have dropped off this list. At the same time, both the Young Animal imprint and the rebooted Wildstorm universe have been establishing themselves, and have been mostly excellent, so they easily fill in for the series that I wouldn’t recommend. Join me after the break for my comic recommendations for new readers based on Q1 of 2017.

Continue reading “Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – DC Comics (2017, Q1)”

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Batwoman: Rebirth #1 Review

Written by Margurite Bennett and James Tynion IV
Art by Steve Epting
Colours by Jeromy Cox
Published by DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99 USD

I don’t think  its wrong to say that Batwoman has stumbled a bit over the last few years. Her solo stories in Detective Comics and Batwoman started strong, but then J. H. Williams III wasn’t allowed to marry Kate and Maggie Sawyer and rage quit the series, and DC rushed to find a replacement lest they take their time and screw up their precious numbering, and the result was Marc Andreyko’s thoroughly disliked run. After petering out, Batwoman would be banished to comic book limbo, only making occasional guest appearances in larger Bat-stories like the two Eternal series, and even then she barely did anything. But then she got tied closer to the Bat-family in James Tynion IV’s mostly good Detective Comics run, and they decided to launch another Batwoman ongoing under up-and-coming writer Marguerite Bennett (AnimosityBombshells). Since a lot of people probably aren’t familiar with Batwoman’s history — since she was barely affected by the 2011 reboot — this Rebirth one-shot could have been used to catch new readers up on her backstory, while also setting up new stories. It only does the latter well. Continue reading “Batwoman: Rebirth #1 Review”

Super Sons #1 Review

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Jorge Jimenez
Colours by Alejandro Sanchez
Published by DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99 USD

Peter J. Tomasi is a writer who has always excelled at sentiment. From the restless Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner in Green Lantern Corps to the father-son dynamic in Batman and Robin, to the more recent, and different, father-son dynamic in Superman, it’s clear Tomasi has an affinity for pulling at the heart strings in the superhero genre. Super Sons is Tomasi taking a stab at writing boyhood adventures, and, to nobody’s surprise, he knocks it out of the park. Super Sons #1 is a really fun comic about two boys and their budding friendship doing what boys their age do, only with more capes and fighting and less parental supervision. Continue reading “Super Sons #1 Review”

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap

Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
Colours by Marcelo Maiolo
Published by DC Comics
Cover price $2.99 USD

Review and Recap is where I give a quick review of a comic, usually less in-depth than my regular reviews, before recapping it and adding some commentary here and there. Obviously spoilers abound in the commentary section. Anyway, here’s my Review and Recap of Justice League of America: Rebirth #1.

The Review:

The name ‘Justice League of America’ hasn’t had much luck in the last few years. Geoff Johns’ series seemed to exist solely to tie-in to his Trinity War and Forever Evil events, and Bryan Hitch’s version was so unremarkable that I’ve heard nobody speak of it outside of maybe one scene and bemoaning its numerous delays. But third time’s the charm, right? Surely Steve Orlando can take a team of B-list, Arrowverse-friendly characters (and Lobo) and finally give the name something worth a damn, right? Apparently, yes. Thanks to a clear mission statement for the team and motives for its cast of interesting characters, Justice League of America is off to a promising start.

The story is fairly straightforward — Batman recruits his Justice League. But Orlando does a good job clearly giving reasons for the characters (well, most of them) to join, while also setting up the various team dynamics. It’s nothing remarkable, but there’s a lot of potential for future stories set up, and the various relationships are interesting and set up well. The team’s mission statement, according to Batman, is to be a team that people can know and be inspired by, as opposed to the gods of the Justice League. It’s a good idea, and would mostly work if it weren’t for the presence of Batman himself, who has a secret identity, a mythic quality to him and is a Leaguer. That aside, the set-up is very well done while maintaining a good pace.

Something that helps the issue is that its characters, none of whom could be considered A-list aside from Batman, are fair game for whatever Orlando wants to do with them. Unlike the cast of Justice League, most of the cast of Justice League of America don’t have any other ongoing comic that their development is reserved for. Steve Orlando is free to develop his characters how he sees fit, so it’s much easier to get emotionally invested in the characters, rather than just the plot. It might be my cynicism, but as it is, it’s far more likely that I’ll be invested in whatever happens to Lobo in this series than Barry Allen and Jessica Cruz dating in Justice League, since I know there’s no Lobo ongoing that’s more important and already has a love interest for him.

Ivan Reis’ art is mostly good, with his usual flair for lighting and expressive faces for the most part. However, it feels a bit rushed, whether that be some more ill-defined faces or just rushed inking from Joe Prado and/or Oclair Albert. While it’s by no means weak — Reis, Prado and Maiolo are still a treat — the art is just not quite up to the standards I have for this art team.

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 is a superhero comic with an interesting cast with interesting relationships and a great art team. While its B-list cast could’ve been a hindrance, Steve Orlando knows how to get readers invested. If this issue and the previous one-shots are any indicator, Justice League of America is shaping up to be the Justice League comic worth reading.

4/5 – Very Good

Join me after the jump for the commentary! Continue reading “Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap”

My Future Comic Projects for Geoff Johns (Rantings)

I don’t think it’s out of line to say that Geoff Johns is one of DC’s biggest name creators. He, along with David S. Goyer, brought the Justice Society of America to a new generation of readers. He had a run on The Flash that many consider second only to the beloeved Mark Waid run. He reinvigorated and redefined the Green Lantern franchise. He updated Aquaman for modern audiences (though Peter David sort-of did that before him). But he also has blatant preference for the Silver Age. Infinite Crisis was, although an enjoyable story, a way for him to restore quite a few Silver Age things to canon. He made Legion of Super-Heroes lore confusing with the “Retroboot” Legion (basically the original Legion but with a timeskip). He sort-of ruined the Flash franchise with The Flash: Rebirth (it’s only slightly recovered with the return of Wally West). Then killed off beloved new characters with Blackest Night, an event that seemed to exist partly to kill off modern characters. Then he screwed up the entire DC Universe with Flashpoint… though that was editorially mandated, and he then proceeded to sort-of fix with DC Universe: Rebirth #1. So Johns has a shaky history, despite being DC’s “big gun”.

But he vanished for a while. After finishing his Justice League run (about half of which I haven’t read), Johns moved on. He was focusing more on TV shows and movies. It seemed like he came back just to fix what he was forced to break, and that would be the last we’d here from him… or not.

Yes, Geoff Johns is returning to comics. And while I’m cautiously optimistic about this, given the mixed results of his writing, I can’t say I’m not at least somewhat looking forward to Johns’ return. For all his faults (Silver Age boner, excessive violence, unsubtle leaning on the fourth wall), Johns loves superhero comics, big scope stories and using continuity in (mostly) respectful ways. He’s the kind of writer the DC Rebirth initiative is perfect for. And while I’m sure his comics work will in some way involve the Watchmen plotline from the Rebirth line, I have little doubt he will also be taking on another project. And here are what I hope or predict they will be. Continue reading “My Future Comic Projects for Geoff Johns (Rantings)”

Trinity (2016) #1 Review

Written by: Francis Manapul
Art by: Francis Manapul
Colours by: Francis Manapul

I’m just going to stay straight out the gate that if you’re a fan of Francis Manapul’s art, then get this issue. With Manapul in control of both the story and art, Trinity really allows him to let loose, even more so than he did on The Flash. That’s not to say the writing is bad, because it’s actually great. It’s a heartwarming exploration of DC’s big three characters and their relationships, but tackled in an interesting way. Continue reading “Trinity (2016) #1 Review”

Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – DC Comics (2016, Q3)

So I’ve been planning to do a kind of “new reader” piece for a while now. In fact, I have been working on something for a while now focused on the history of a specific character and their significant stories and whatnot. But it’s taking tons of research and I can’t see it being that regular a thing. I’ll try my hardest, but it’s definitely not something I can do often.

But I really want to write a kind of guide to help people get into comics every now and then. As in ongoing series, not just older stories. And it’s also something that can be done regularly, what with the frequent relaunches Marvel and DC seem to love. And what better time than now, with DC’s Rebirth having had enough time to cook that a series’ quality can be determined (as long as they retain the same writers, and to a lesser degree artists, that is)? Of course, this will mostly be from what I read, but will also include series that I’ve heard are good from fans and friends. To make it perfectly clear, I’ll make sure to mention how I know the series is good. Since this will be focusing on new readers, I won’t be recommending the thicker reads like Black Panther, the stories that don’t hold your hand at all like Batman, or series with over a certain number of issues even though I enjoy them. I was going to just make one list, but it was huge, so I’m separating these by publisher. Anyway, here we go. This list is arranged in descending order (most recommended to least), and series I don’t read myself will always be at the bottom.

1

Wonder Woman
Currently on issue 6 + one special issue (Rebirth one-shot)

Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman is the comic that will make you like Wonder Woman. The story isn’t that important: Diana is trying to find Themyscira after finding out that her New 52 origin is a lie. What’s great about the series is that its characterisation of Diana as a compassionate, patient and loving person who’s still willing to fight when things call for it. The plot is interesting though; it introduces a decent villain, a cool subplot featuring Steve Trevor that ties into Diana’s quest, and makes great use of Cheetah. And all that is finished off with some great mythic elements that always elevate any Wonder Woman story.

At least that’s the plot of the odd numbered issues. The even numbered issues tell the “Year One” story, which is basically what Diana’s probably going to learn herself. It’s essentially a modernised version of her Post-Crisis origin, wherein pilot Steve Trevor crashes on Themyscira, and Diana escorts him back to “Man’s World”. However, since there are foregone conclusions, Rucka doesn’t waste time detailing them, instead focusing on smaller emotional scenes that didn’t get much focus the first time around, before focusing on his own story. It ties in neatly with the odd numbered issues as well.

The art for both stories is phenomenal. Liam Sharpe’s thicker lines and strong eye-work given Diana a real sense of strength. Nicola Scott’s Wonder Woman looks younger and much more naive, with a dorky innocent smile across her face. Both artists nail backgrounds, posing and expression, and are honestly just great. And Rucka knows when to cut back and let the art tell the story, or just add layers to a scene.

If you want to get into Wonder Woman, now is the time. I cannot recommend the current Wonder Woman run enough. It’s easy to get into but still has depth.

Note: The Rebirth special is pretty irrelevant and kind of just outright not good. It’s just an issue long statement that Diana’s confused about her origins. You can safely skip it. Continue reading “Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – DC Comics (2016, Q3)”