There was a lot to be wary of when Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia's "Batman: Zero Year" was announced. The most obvious reason was that it was the story that was set to replace my all-time favorite comic, Batman: Year One, going back to cover ground that had been stomped into concrete by one of the most influential stories of all time. Even the name was a response to Year One, and the expansion of what Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli had done so elegantly in four issues to a full year of comics felt like it could've easily been symptomatic of the trend towards decompression that drags everything out for the bookstores. Why sell one hardcover when you could sell three, right?
At the same time, I liked what Snyder and Capullo had been doing on Batman enough that I was looking forward to reading it, and from that first shot of Batman on a dirtbike, something that I am genetically hardwired to love on sight, I was hooked.
This week, the final issue came out, and while we're still too close to it to really tell how well it'll stand the test of time, what I know right now is that I love it, and there's a good chance that it'll end up not only as my favorite version of Batman's origin, but as one of my favorite comic books of all time.
As much as I love Batman, and I think the record will show that I love Batman a whole heck of a lot, I haven't really been looking forward to sitting down and cracking open the new Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years hardcover. Last year's Superman anniversary hardcover was a disaster of revisionist history, 300 pages that would have you believe that one of the world's greatest superheroes did nothing for seven and a half decades but cry. With that in mind, I had no idea what DC Comics was going to do with Batman. If you'd asked me to bet on it, I would've put good money on a prediction that they'd craft a narrative that acknowledged Batman only as a scowling vigilante, consumed with vengeance and every bit as crazy as the villains he fought.
But it turns out I didn't have to worry. The Batman hardcover is exactly what it says it is -- a celebration of Batman across different eras, with a roster of stories that highlights one of the character's true strengths: How well he works across different kinds of stories.
Welcome back to Original Spin, the unofficial recap of the Marvel comic event Original Sin, by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato -- which probably feeds in to the Marvel comic event AXIS, and somewhere in all that we'll get a lady Thor and a black Cap, and that will be very exciting. Black Captain America!
In the meantime it's still dude Thor and white and surprisingly Irish Captain America, and you have to read all these other comics that aren't the ones they're talking about in USA Today. Ugh, comics are dumb. So, to catch you up; the Watcher got shot and someone did it, and black Captain America isn't in this comic but we're desperate for attention.
This week, Chris and Matt talk about how Robin Rises Omega #1 by Peter Tomasi and Andy Kubert should be great, but falls short, possibly because it's a victim of its own marketing. Then, we talk about how Life With Archie #36 by Paul Kupperberg and Pat & Tim Kennedy is really enjoyable despite some weird tics. Then, we discuss the cool new sci-fi anthology, 2299, edited by Dylan Todd.
If you've been reading ComicsAlliance for any length of time at all, you've probably already twigged to the fact that I tend to like really weird comics. Whether it's obscure Golden Age oddities, the Ninja training manuals that were sent to comic book stores in the '80s, or the pouch-filled excesses of the '90s, that's what I love to read. And in three solid decades of reading comic books, I've rarely seen one as weird as The Fox.
Even though it had some of the biggest names in comics involved -- drawn and plotted by Dean Haspiel with scripts by Mark Waid and J.M. DeMatteis -- the miniseries seemed to slip under the radar for a lot of people, and to be honest, I can see why. It's a strange story about a strange character that most people aren't too familiar with. Now that it's out in paperback, though, it's easy to pick up and read -- and you should, if only because it's even stranger when you read it all together.
Months before it even came out, this week's Teen Titans #1 was off to a pretty rough start. Not only did it have the stigma of being one of the few "New 52" comics to be canceled and relaunched in the three years since DC's line-wide superhero reboot, alongside last week's New Suicide Squad, but criticism over Kenneth Rocafort's cover sparked a controversy that would've drowned out the actual content no matter what the content of the issue was. And really, that's kind of a shame.
Teen Titans #1 isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a solid story of teenage superheroics, and like so many of the recent launches from DC, it feels like the type of thing that the New 52 should've been doing all along. If it just didn't look like it does, it'd be great.
Bryan Lee O'Malley's first graphic novel since he concluded the Scott Pilgrim series in 2010, Seconds is a book about second thoughts, second chances and second helpings. It's also the book in which O'Malley is setting up his second act as a cartoonist. The first Scott Pilgrim book came out almost exactly ten years ago; six volumes and a movie later, that franchise has defined O'Malley's public image. That kind of early, extended success can be a trap for an artist, especially when it's with a project as self-consciously game-changing as Scott Pilgrim. The bigger the audience, the more it demands more of the same.
Seconds is unmistakably the work of O'Malley's singular voice: it's a romantic comedy with magical elements and some witty fourth-wall breaking, drawn in a manga-derived style with big-headed chibi characters. But it's also a very different sort of book than he's drawn before: not a bildungsroman like Scott Pilgrim (or his earlier Lost at Sea), but a fable about a woman who's pretty much got her life together already, trying to undo her mature errors. It's virtuosic in a lot of ways, but one of its many charms is how casual and low-key it seems.
This week, Chris and Matt are oddly surprised by the (possible?) commentary found in New Suicide Squad #1 by Sean Ryan and Jeremy Roberts. Then they like how Armor Hunters #1 by Robert Venditti and Doug Braithwaite hits the big event-comic notes without being contrived. And finally, they discuss a couple of DC's digital-comic offerings: Scooby Doo Team-Up #5 by Sholly Fisch and Dario Brizuela, and Bat-Manga #1 by Jiro Kuwata.
Wonder Woman has been quite the topic of conversation of late, thanks to the news that the popular and critically-acclaimed Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang creative team would soon be leaving her title after a three-year run to be replaced by the already controversial team of Meredith Finch/David Finch -- who have already made some troubling statements in simply trying to promote their run -- and the news that Gilbert Hernandez will bring his talents to the character for Sensation Comics.
While we were all talking about the Finch family, feminism, and the premier female superhero in comics history last week, we may have missed the fact that DC Comics just published an excellent Wonder Woman comic, one that cherry-picked elements from her most popular iterations (her weird-but-awesome Golden Age persona under the guidance of her creators, the Lynda Carter TV show, Super Friends) and presented them in dismemberment-free, all-ages comic that could be enjoyed by anyone from the littlest girl to the oldest old man. A comic book that was both fun and funny, and had just a touch of good old comic book insanity.
I was excited for Ms. Marvel from the moment it was announced. I reblogged it, retweeted it, called my mother about it, chatted it up at my local comic shop. But secretly, I was more than a little certain that it would suck in all the usual ways. Sure, the cover was splashy, and sure, I was hearing good things about G. Willow Wilson. But I was girded for — and expected — twenty or so lackluster issues before cancellation.
The first issue came out, and it was good. Really good. It was bright and fun and electric with personality in every way a comic can be, from its color palette to its ending splash. Still, though, I was unconvinced — fantastic first issues have given way to mediocrity before.
But the second issue was great. And the third. And the fourth. And with the fifth issue and the first arc completed, I feel that I can finally let out the breath I've been holding and say that Ms. Marvel is truly wonderful work.
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