A more appropriate name for DC Comics' Convergence event, at least the miniseries that will accompany the main series for two months next spring, may be "Nostalgia Trip."
DC has been rolling out titles and creative teams for the 40 planned series week by week. The first batch focused on the publisher's pre-New 52 continuity. The second focused on the 1990s (including WildStorm), and the third seemed to center on the 1980s.
The fourth and final group of miniseries, which DC announced Tuesday, covers a much wider time period: All of DC's pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity. And there's another twist: They all take place on defined and listed alternate Earths which existed before the company's last line-wide reboot in the 1980s.
Marvel’s recent relaunch of Moon Knight saw the white-clad vigilante pare things down to a bare minimum as he stalked the streets by night, taking down gangs, gunmen, and anything else that posed a threat to innocent people. In the hands of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, the character was reinvented, stepping away from past characterizations to form a new identity. Across just six issues the creative team stamped a brand on the book that may mark how people approach the character and concept from here onward.
From The Dead collects the entirety of Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire's run on the book. It features a series of deft action sequences, and builds a convincing new world for Moon Knight to walk in, though Ellis's sparse and low-key scripts effectively cede the floor to the artists, allowing penciller Shalvey to create that world and colorist Bellaire to establish the tone. The series is a methodically structured exercise in comics storytelling, with Shalvey excelling in his depiction of a run-down, black and white world of straggling criminals.
Most comics tend to have a high-concept fueling them; some twist which reveals the characters live in a heightened world where readers can’t predict what will happen next. The rules keep changing, and that’s how we define the characters we read. The cast of Fables could have anything happen to them in each issue – their capacity to endure the fantastical is one of their central traits. By contrast, the first issue of Vertigo's new eight-part miniseries The Kitchen is set in a totally real, unfiltered world, where the characters and setting feel authentic and full. The central trait of this series is that is starts from such a relatively unremarkable premise and does so much with it.
From Ollie Masters, Ming Doyle, and Jordie Bellaire, The Kitchen surprises from the concept on. This is kitchen-sink drama, the type Michael Gambon and Julie Walters might’ve appeared in twenty years ago, but with an updated, contemporary sense of space and character. Rather than the typical angry young man, here we have three very angry women. Set in the wilds of Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s, the ice in their hearts and fire in their fists promises that something's eventually going to crack.
Having been one of the creators who saved superhero comics in the 1990s, it can be difficult to think of Kurt Busiek as anything other than a superhero comic writer. But between all of his high-profile runs on big Marvel and DC books and undisputed classics Marvels and Astro City, Busiek has frequently played in the fantasy genre with great results. If you've never read The Wizard's Tale, Arrowsmith, or his run on Conan, you've been missing out on an aspect of Busiek's all-world talent that shouldn't be overlooked, and it's time to getcha life right.
Created by Busiek and Benjamin Dewey (I Was The Cat), Tooth & Claw is a fantasy about the end of magic, a mythical hero, and a dog-boy named Dunstan. And somehow, given all those words I just typed, it's also a dark Mature Readers comic about the suddenness and finality of death.
You probably haven't heard since they haven't really been making a big deal of it, but this year marks the official 75th Anniversary of Marvel Comics. Sort of. It actually marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Marvel Comics #1, which introduced the world to the Human Torch and paved the way for the company that would eventually become the modern Marvel Comics which really came about in 1961, but you know what? That's a good enough reason for a party.
To that end, this week saw the release of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration, an anthology that caught my eye mostly because it features legendary and still hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Bruce Timm adapting a Captain America story written by Stan Lee in 1941, and that is definitely something that I want to read. But with 55 pages in the anthology, there's a heck of a lot more in there besides, including the return of Alias by the original creative team of Bendis, Gaydos and Hollingsworth, and essays by comics journalists including our own Andrew Wheeler, making this one of those rare anthologies where it's all pretty good stuff.
I consider myself to be a pretty big Flash Gordon fan, but when you get right down to it, I only really like one very specific version of that character: The one from the amazing 1980 movie where he takes down Ming the Merciless while rocking out to Queen. I love that movie to pieces, but it's a very specific kind of love that doesn't necessarily transfer to other version of the franchise. Every time Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov make their perennial return to the comics page, it always leaves me pretty cold, and even though I'm the biggest possible fan of Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, and Jordie Bellaire, there was a part of me that expected that the new series from Dynamite would end up doing the same thing.
And then I read the issue where Ming orders Flash to fight to the death in a gladiatorial battle against an army of beast-men, and Flash straight up gets in front of a space camera to cut a Stone Cold Steve Austin promo about how he's going to tear their horns off and choke them out with their own tails, and I realized things were going to be just fine.
When you consider the entire history of Magneto, it's pretty ridiculous. He's been assumed dead at least half-a-dozen times; he's probably flip-flopped from villain to hero more times than that; and he's been resurrected as both a Nelson-haired clone (millennials: Google "Nelson band" to get how funny that is) and a star-headed Taoist. Mistakes have been made with the character; mistakes so big that the character's retcons and course-corrections have diminished his stature, leaving readers to wonder; Just who the hell is Magneto?
In Marvel's Magneto, by Cullen Bunn, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Javier Fernandez, and Jordie Bellaire, that question is finally getting a good answer.
If you tell me that there's a new comic out from Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire, then you have my attention, but if you follow that up by telling me that it could be accurately described as "Conan meets Kamandi," that's when I start just throwing money in random directions hoping that it hits someone who can hand me this book. It's a bad strategy for buying things, but it's just too hard to wait for November and the release of Tooth and Claw #1.
Set in a brutal world of violence and magic, Busiek and Dewey's Tooth and Claw was announced at Image Expo during San Diego Comic-Con. The book is billed as a "world-building fantasy" focused on a society of animal people that's coming apart at the seams, and as you can see from the new pages Image released this week, it is absolutely beautiful.
Each week, ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims and Matt Wilson host the War Rocket Ajax podcast, their online audio venue for interviews with comics creators, reviews of the books of the week, and whatever else they want to talk about. ComicsAlliance is offering clips of the comics-specific segments of the show several days before the full podcast goes up at WarRocketAjax.com on Mondays.
This week, Chris and Matt start off by gushing about Grayson #2 by Tim Seeley, Tom King, and Mikel Janin. Then, they do pretty much the opposite to Genius #1 by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman and Afua Richardson. Then, it's back to gushing about Moon Knight #6 by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire!
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, awnd some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it is awesome.
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