Doctor Strange is a second-tier character in the Marvel pantheon, but he's making the leap to the big leagues thanks to the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. To help get you up to speed with the character, we've compiled a list of ten of the best Doctor Strange stories ever published. These are the stories that will introduce you to his major foes and his main supporting cast, and get you acquainted with all the many great talents that have worked on the character over the years.
Mike W. Barr
Of all the strange transformations Superman has undergone in his 78-year history, none has been quite so derided as the year where his familiar costume and powers were replaced with a blue and white "containment suit" and a tenuous relationship with electricity. But that raises the question, was it really all that bad? Two decades later, we want to find out, so ComicsAlliance is taking a look back at the Electric Blue Era of Superman to find out not just what worked, but if anything worked. This is... Electric Bluegaloo.
This week, we finish the 1997 annuals with more letters about how much readers hate the new costume, a guest appearance in this column from Mike W. Barr, and the shocking return of... Super-Chief?!
As you've probably already heard, there's a Suicide Squad movie on the way, and that means that the spotlight is once again falling onto some of DC's most ruthless villains-turned-government operatives. But in addition to longtime Squad mainstays like Deadshot and Harley Quinn, one other character is getting ready for a turn on the big screen: Katana, the modern samurai created by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo for Batman and the Outsiders.
To that end, DC has announced Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Katana and Deadshot, a double-sized six-issue miniseries featuring two stories, including a new adventure with Katana and the Squad taking on Kobra by Barr and artist Diogenes Neves. To find out more, I spoke to Barr about creating Katana, returning to the character after so long, and how he thinks she's going to fit in with her new team.
This week, DC has a pretty big sale on Comixology called "Gotham's Finest," focusing on Batman's supporting cast, and it's a bit of a weird one. For one thing, it looks to be primarily themed around 1999's No Man's Land crossover, the massive story of a functionally post-apocalyptic Gotham City that has been ravaged by an earthquake, and the Officer Down event from 2001 that saw Jim Gordon shot by an unknown assailant.
That doesn't mean it's bad --- a lot of those stories are good, and Scott Snyder and Jock's Black Mirror is something you definitely want to get if you don't have it already --- but it does mean that they're asking for a pretty big commitment. If you've only got a single dollar burning a hole in your pocket and you're looking for a great read, though, there's one comic you need to get immediately: 1984's Batman Special #1, "The Player On The Other Side."
My earliest encounters with transgender characters came in Vertigo comics in the mid-90’s, especially Wanda in Sandman and Coagula in Doom Patrol. Wanda dresses a bit like a drag queen (and dies a tragic death), and Coagula is a sex worker, but they both felt like real people, which is not how I’d ever previously been encouraged to view trans people in any medium. Growing up, reading comics has always played a role in my understanding of my own identity and worldview. I certainly wouldn’t say comics had an effect on my gender, but they definitely affected my understanding of gender.
Recently, I’ve been wanting to look back farther than Wanda and Coagula and the mid-90’s. Amidst recent discussions of trans representation in comics, I’ve found myself thinking about what preceded trans characters in comics, before there was any chance of them existing.
Here's a weird thing about this career that I've found myself in: A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a few disparaging remarks about one Andrew Bennett, the weepy star of DC's I... Vampire, and the next day I got an email from one of my childhood heroes asking, jokingly, what I thought of the Andrew Bennett story that he'd done in the pages of Brave and the Bold. The writer was Batman: Year Two's own Mike W. Barr, and the issue in question was BATB #195, where he and artist Jim Aparo sent Bennett on a team-up with the Caped Crusader to deal with a sudden wave of vampire crime in Gotham City. To be honest, it's really one of those perfect superhero comics for Halloween. It's fun, it's exciting, and as you may have guessed, it's more than a little weird.
Largely because it takes the World's Greatest Detective to figure out that all this vampire crime might have something to do with Gotham's newest business, Club Dracula.
Okay, so there's good news and bad news. The good news is that ComiXology is having a massive sale on Batman comics, and has knocked a bunch of them down to 99¢ each, which means that you can grab some great stories on the cheap. The bad news? Since this whole thing is in honor of Batman's 75th anniversary, they've put 750 comics on sale, plus a handful of graphic novel collections. All things considered, that's a pretty good problem to have, but still, that can be pretty overwhelming.
Fortunately, we're here to help. As the World's Foremost Batmanologist, I've sifted through the sale to bring you safe bets for what you should be grabbing during the sale. Assuming you've got the obvious ones -- like The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One and the recent runs by Morrison, Snyder, and Capullo -- here's what to grab next!
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.
With a run on Detective Comics in the late ’80s that includes some of the best Batman stories of all time and other work that includes Son of the Demon and the co-creation of Batman and the Outsiders, it’s no exaggeration to say that Mike W. Barr is one of my all-time favorite writers. Recently, he returned to Batman alongside artist Tom Lyle for a three-part tale of Batman, Robin and deathtraps in DC’s digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight, and ComicsAlliance decided to mark the occasion with an extended interview about his long history with Batman.
Today, continuing from part one, Barr talks about the creation of Batman and the Outsiders, The Maze Agency, and his new Legends of the Dark Knight story.
With a run on Detective Comics in the late '80s that includes some of the best Batman stories of all time and other work that includes Son of the Demon and the co-creation of Batman and the Outsiders, it's no exaggeration to say that Mike W. Barr is one of my all-time favorite writers. Recently, he returned to Batman alongside artist Tom Lyle for a three-part tale of Batman, Robin and deathtraps in DC's digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight, and ComicsAlliance decided to mark the occasion with an extended interview about his long history with Batman.
Today, in part one of the interview, Barr discusses Son of the Demon, the importance of Robin, and his views on whether or not the Batman should kill his enemies.