I noticed a pretty cool trend that DC Comics has started, they’re putting out trailers promoting the release of some of their high profile graphic novels. Scott Snyder, current writer of the DC Comics series Justice League, is not only one of the best writers in the comic book industry, he’ also cemented his status as the definitive Batman the writer of the 21st century so far. His Batman run with artist Greg Capullo (2011-2016) is among the best work ever done with the character. Snyder and Capullo’s collaboration on stories like The Court of Owls, Death of The Family, and Dark Nights: Metal are modern day classics. It was out of Dark Nights: Metal that one of Snyder and Capullo’s most terrifying creations was born… The Batman Who Laughs.
On an alternate Earth in The Dark Multiverse, The Joker finally does something so terrible that Batman snaps and kills him. Unbeknownst to Bruce, Joker had created a toxin that would be released from his body at the moment of his death, infecting the person who killed him and turning them into the next Joker. As he succumbs to the toxin, he systematically kills his friends and family, wiping out The Bat-Family and The Justice League with cruel, brutal efficiency. Eventually he destroyed his world and moved on to others, preying on The Multiverse. Superman once described Batman as “The most dangerous man on Earth”, the Batman we know and love can take on someone as powerful as Superman, but he’s still holding back, there are lines he won’t cross. Now imagine someone with all of Bruce’s skills, abilities, and genius, completely devoid of any kind of morality, who is willing to cross any line to achieve his goals. That tactical mind, but with none of Bruce’s compassion and empathy. He would be the ultimate enemy. The apex predator of The Multiverse. Because a Batman who laughs… is a Batman who always wins.
Our Bruce Wayne first encountered The Batman Who Laughs during the crossover event Dark Nights: Metal. It took Batman teaming up with The Joker just to stand a chance in a fight against The Batman Who Laughs. His fate was left somewhat ambiguous at the end of Metal, until it was revealed in Justice League #8 that Lex Luthor had The Batman Who Laughs locked up below the Legion of Doom’s headquarters (Lex frees him at the end of the issue, now free to pursue his own agenda, this leads directly into the BATMAN WHO LAUGHS miniseries).
I read each issue of this series as they came out, now that it’s collected in this nice, hardcover graphic novel, I can’t recommend it enough. With art by Jock who worked with Snyder on the excellent Batman: The Black Mirror, this is a must read for Batman fans. I’d also say that this works very well as a standalone story. So if even you haven’t been following any of the other books I’ve mentioned in this article, you can pick up the graphic novel and still understand and enjoy the story. Not only is this an excellent Batman story, it’s also one of my favorite comics of the year. BATMAN WHO LAUGHS gets my highest recommendation. BATMAN WHO LAUGHS is now available at your local comic book store, Barnes & Noble, ComiXology, and wherever comics are sold. Check out this cool promo:
It’s been a while since I’ve written an article on comic books. As I’ve often said, one of my main goals at World’s Best Media has been to be an advocate for comic books. To champion comics as a beautiful, thought provoking, worthwhile literature. Like all mediums, comics books and graphic novels can run the gamut from complete garbage to transcendent pieces of art. To use television as an example, for every “Big Bang Theory” (ugh) to masterpieces like “The Wire” or “Game of Thrones”. As we head into Spring with Summer around the corner, DC and Marvel are gearing up for some high profile books from their top writers and artists to tell big event stories. Think of it like the comic book world’s version the Summer Blockbuster Season at the movies. This year is no exception and even after years of reading comics for a couple of decades now I still get excited. (Jesus Christ! Wait a second. When did I do ANYTHING “decades ago”?! When did THAT happen?! Time is a cruel mistress, I suppose)
In this article I’m going to give you folks a look at some of the coolest comics DC and Marvel have hitting stands over the next couple of months. There are some pretty damn cool books here and like I said I never fail to get excited about the Summer Comic Book Events.
However, it can be difficult to get into comics especially if you’re a newcomer. So even if this’ll be your first time picking up a comic book or you’re a lapsed fan comings looking to get back into comics, I have something here that I think will help you out. * if you’re a comic book readers and understand the basics, you can skip right ahead to out Spring/Summer Comic Book Preview. Otherwise…
Here’s a quick refresher: New to Comic 101. This will help you appreciate some very sick new comics and graphic novels coming out this spring and summer when they hit stores and Apps. If you’ve seen a Marvel movie, for example, and are trying to decide where to start, it can be intimidating. No is much is I love Marvel, DC Comics is much better at making comic books accessible to newcomers. They tend to make their stories available in simple, easy to grasp formats. They tend to publish their graphic novels as individual stories that you can pick up like a regular novel and understand without having read anything else about the character (more or less). Then you can go out and grab another story featuring the same character and (more or less) be able to follow along. There might be some confusion here and there about small details, but that’s why god invented Google. Let’s say you’ve read one or two Wonder Woman or Superman graphic novels or collected editions, as you begin to read more, you start to understand when stories take place in a a books history, the overall continuity of a character or universe, the best writers and artists. Basically you start to become a comic book reader.
As I’ve explained in the past, what we call graphic novels are really mostly collected editions which are just collections of individual comics that make up one larger story, in easy to read book/graphic novel form. DC seems to really understand that graphic novels and collected editions are incredibly important because they help draw in new readers. Right now drawing in new readers is by far the most important priority of every comic book publisher.
Now, without further ado…
2019 SPRING/SUMMER COMIC BOOK PREVIEW
DC’S YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1 (One-Shot)
Release Date: 5/1/19
Writers – Brian Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder, & James Tynion IV
Artist- Jim Cheung, Alex Maleev, & Francis Manapul
Cover- Greg Capullo
This is the must buy comic book of the season. This special one shot is made up of three separate stories from DC’s top writers and artists. Each of the three stories serve to set up the major story arcs and plot points in DC‘s biggest books, featuring their most prominent characters. With a theme like “Year of the Villain“, these stories feature some of the most dangerous and deadly threats that have been brewing in books like Justice League, Action Comics, Batman and more all year. Threats like The Batman Who Laughs, the terrifying and powerful secret society/terrorist group Leviathan, and Lex Luthor’s continuing quest to unlock the secret cosmic powers of the Universe with his Legion Of Doom. Considering the wild cards at play here, expect some big surprises and shocking reveals in this book. Plus, you can’t beat the rock bottom price of $0.25. This book is a good jumping on point if you have been a DC Comics reader in the past and want to start reading them again. This is a MUST READ. Below we have some fantastic art, each of whch accompanies the different stories in this book
Doomsday Clock #11
Release Date: 5/22/19
Writer- Geoff Johns
Artist- Gary Frank
Man, this great fucking series. Don’t listen to the haters. What’s interesting is Doomsday Clock is kind of a microcosm of all superhero comics. It’s a big gimmicky “Event”, it’s a crossover, it’s messes with classic characters and stories that were previously viewed as untouchable sacred cows, surprise character returns, there are big deaths, surprise resurrections, RETCONING! You find each of those thing a lot in superhero comics. However, none of that takes away from the fact that Doomsday Clock is a fucking incredible comic book. In fact, It’s one of the best books currently being published. When the story was first announced, it was presented as a story that would’ve been about a sort of battle for the soul of the DC Universe. With Superman‘s hope and optimism versus Dr. Manhattan’s cold, inhuman, rationalism. While that still seems to be an element of the story, it quickly became apparent that this story was really a Watchmen sequel. Some fans will always be against the idea of a sequel to Alan Moore’s superhero masterpiece, but I am of the opinion that if there has to be a sequel to Watchmen, this is the best one we’re going to get. It’s a fantastic story that feels both very true to the world Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created all those years ago as well as the DC comics universe. The art by Gary Frank is beyond phenomenal. I have no idea where the story is going to end up and that’s one of the things I love about it. At the time of writing this, issue # 10 will have been published, With the penultimate chapter (Issue #11) of this saga hitting spinner racks in May. With the grand finale following issue #11. Will we finally get the epic confrontation between Superman and Dr. Manhattan that the series seems to be inexorably heading towards? I’m sure there’s going to be at least some confrontation, but what kind…. I don’t know, but I can’t fucking wait to find out.Though we’ve seen a lot of delays on this series, it seems to be getting back on track with a pretty regular shipping schedule.
Batman: Last Knight On Earth
Release Date: 5/29/19
Writer- Scott Snyder
Artist- Greg Capullo
For nearly a decade, writer Scott Snyder has become the definitive Batman storyteller of his time. Frank Miller had the 80’s, the 21st-century belongs to Scott Snyder. Snyder has often told the story of, how when he was first starting out on the New 52 Batman and how he asked legendary writer Grant Morrison for his advice on writing Batman. Morrison himself had his own successful Batman run and wrote the classic Batman graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On A Serious Earth. Morrison told Snyder that the key to writing Batman is to write him as if he created the character himself. Morrison then asked Snyder if he knew HIS version the beginning or “birth” of the character and the ending or “death” of the character. Snyder followed this advice and his story about Batman’s birth is the excellent Zero Year story. Now we’re getting Snyder’s story about Batman’s “death” or the last story of Snyder’s Batman with Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1. It if Scott Snyder is telling his version of the last Batman story, there can be only one artist to draw the book, and that is of course Greg Capullo.
His New 52 Batman run with artist Greg Capullo Is probably in the top two or three best Batman runs of all time, if not number one. A massive part of that book’s success was his collaboration with artist Greg Capullo. Not all comic book artists and writers work this way, but the right artist and writer come together who are an absolute perfect match, you get magic. That Batman run would not have been the masterpiece it is had Snyder not worked with Capullo on the book. There are several more, but it’s more rare than you’d think. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s work on Preacher together comes to mind as a similar example of what you get when you put the right creative people together.
This three issue prestige format miniseries follows Bruce Wayne waking up in Arkham Asylum; young, fit, and very much sane. Without any memory of how he got there or what has happened before, he finds himself in a post apocalyptic, ruined DC Universe. With a frozen, severed, but very much alive Joker head as his only companion, Batman begins in his trek across what was once the DC Universe he knew, to you find the answers he needs. Considering the pedigree of the talent involved in this project and what phenomenal Batman stories they’ve already told, I’m going to say this is one of the Top 3 absolute MUST BUYS of the summer.
The Flash: Year One
Begins in issues #70 and #71
Writer- Joshua Williamson
Artist- Howard Porter
Release Dates: 5/8/19 & 5/22/19
I’m actually really looking forward to this one. I don’t read The Flash on a monthly basis, but I check it out every once in awhile and Joshua Williams is a great writer. May kicks off the first two issues of The Flash: Year One. There’s not a whole lot to say with this one. It’s pretty much all in the title. I’m a sucker for a good Year One story and we haven’t receive one of those for Barry Allen before. The art is phenomenal. The creative team is excellent; Williamson had been putting out some good Flash stories since DC REBIRTH and Howard Porter is an all time great Flash artist. If you like The Flash TV series or you dig The Flash in general, I’d say this looks like a pretty sure bet for a great book.
Superman: Leviathan Rising Special #1 (One-Shot)
Release Date: 5/29/19
Writers- Brian Michael Bendis
This is a special prelude to the next comic book event, I’ll be talking about below….
Release Date: 6/12/19
Writer – Brian Michael Bendis
Artist- Alex Maleev
LEVIATHAN is rising. Seemingly out of nowhere, intelligence agencies, terrorist groups, cults, some of the most powerful organizations in the DC Universe are taken out by a powerful secret terrorist society, Leviathan. A.R.G.US. Headquarters (DC’s version of SHIELD) is destroyed in a powerful and mysterious blast, the terrorist group Kobra Cult, The D.E.O. (The government organization Supergirl works with if you watch her show on The CW), and more, all destroyed. This story has been building up in the Superman books for the past few months and it was only recently revealed that the Leviathan storyline would have a larger affect on the DC Universe.
A few years ago, in an attempt to take the Batman concept global, Bruce Wayne started Batman Inc. An organization in which Batman and Wayne Enterprises would give vigilantes who had been inspired by Batman, in cities all over the world, access to Wayne Tech resources and technology. Batman was going global. As part of their very twisted and fucked up love-hate relationship Talia Al-Ghul, daughter of The Demon’s Head, Ra’s Al-Ghul, mother to Damian Wayne, Son of Batman; created a terrorist organization called Leviathan specifically to counter Batman Inc., it’s not clear how much, if any connection this Leviathan has to the previous one, but there appears to be some. The books leading up to this have been a lot of fun and I like how Bendis seems to be opening up the story into the larger DC Universe. You should be reading all of Bendis’ Superman books right now, so definitely check this one out as well. Event Leviathan will be a 6 Issue miniseries that Bendis has described as more of shadowy thriller than a typical huge, bombastic event comic. I’d definitely recommend checking out Action Comics also written by Bendis which looks like it’ll be a key tie-in book. Action Comics is great anyway so you should definitely be reading it, event or no event. In fact Action Comics by Bendis vol.1 hits comic book stores on 4/3 and it get my highest recommendation.
Superman: Year One
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Release Dates: 6/19/19, August, & October
Like many comic fans, after train wrecks like The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder, I found myself thinking “What the FUCK happened to Frank Miller?”. Where was the man who gave us Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns? The answer, as far as I was concerned as a comic reader, was that he was long gone. The Frank Miller we knew was no more.
Now all of a sudden he’s giving Superman the Year One treatment after years of being a longtime, vocal Superman hater. What to make of all this? Hmmmm…
Well, unlike many of you, I kind of loved The Dark Knight III The Master Race. So, are we seeing a Frank Miller comeback? Well, one good piece of work does not a comeback make. Even if we all agree that The Dark Knight III The Master Race was a very good Batman/DC Universe miniseries, a big caveat comes along with giving Frank Miller any points in the comeback column from this project. There’s a big metaphorical asterisk next to Frank Miller’s name on this book. TDK III was co-written with Miller by the very talented Brian Azzarello and the book was drawn by the legendary Andy Kubert. I strongly suspect that Frank Miller’s contribution to that book consisted of some variant covers, the brief back up stories at the end of each issue, and giving his input to the very broad outline of the story. While Azzarello was responsible for truly writing the issues. However, I could be wrong, who knows?
Now having said all that, will I be reading Superman: Year One? Absolutely. I am a complete sucker for a Year One story and John Romita Jr.’s art looks fantastic. That’s got to be worth the price of admission alone. Even if it’s garbage, it’ll be beautiful garbage. Also John Romita Jr. handling art duties on this miniseries tips things positively in the book’s favor a little. The first of the three prestige format issues will be released on 6/19/19, with books two and three being released in August and October.
I’m a pretty optimistic guy when it comes to my pop-culture. I want it to be good. That’s why I enjoyed The Dark Knight III The Master Race so much, I allowed myself to be open to enjoy it. However, though John Romita Jr.’s art is definitely a huge draw. Hopefully, he’ll be able to help Miller tell a solid Superman story. This miniseries has been described as being Frank Miller’s story, unlike the collaborative nature of TDK III. Basically, he doesn’t have the help he did on his last major project to catch him when he falls. I have great respect for Romita Jr., then again Jim Lee produced some of his best work on All Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder and look how that turned out. Finally, even though I’ll definitely be picking up at least the first issue of this series, I have come to the conclusion that this is going to be a shit show. Everything I know about Frank Miller makes me think Superman: Year One is going to be another massive, flaming, Hindenburg-like failure from the once great Frank Miller. I’ll be the first to tell you how happy I am to be wrong on this one.
I hope you enjoyed my spring/summer comic book preview and as always thank you for reading! This article focused on DC Comics exclusively. DC does a better job of Marvel than putting out accessible, more or less self contained, easy to explain event books and mini series. So if you enjoyed this preview and you’d like to see what Marvel Comics has cooking for the spring and summer, please comment below
So there you have it, a lot of exciting comics coming out over the next few months. Word has it there are some even bigger things coming on the horizon and this is all just from DC Comics! I’ll probably write up a similar article highlighting Marvel’s spring and summer comics to check out this year. Comics are an incredible medium. So, whether you’re reading single issue comics, waiting for the collected editions, reading them on your tablet, or going to your local comic book store, as long as you’re supporting the medium, that’s all that matters.