It’s been an open secret in the world of comic books that The Joker knows, and has always known, that Bruce Wayne is Batman. He just doesn’t care. It wouldn’t be funny for him to sneak into Wayne Manor in the middle of the night and put a bullet in Bruce Wayne’s head while he’s sleeping. It’s Batman who he’s interested in, Batman is his playmate. Well after years of teasing it looks like The Joker is finally going to pull the ripcord on pretending he doesn’t know that Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same man. He’s finally going to play that Ace up up his sleeve. This awesome art from Jorge Jimenez gives us a little preview of things to come in the upcoming Joker War storyline. It certainly looks like The Clown Prince of Crime is not holding back.
To add another interesting wrinkle to the story, The Joker’s got a new girlfriend and her name is Punchline. The Joker and Harley has been consciously uncoupled for several years now, with Harley Quinn leaning more into hero than villain territory these days. So it looks like Mister J. has moved on to a woman who is more interested in keeping up with his bloody, homicidal antics. We’ve only seen a little bit of Punchline in the current Batman comics, but expect her to play a bigger role as we get closer to Joker War. Here’s more beautiful art by Jorge Jimenez, who designed Punchline, so you can get a better look at the character and how she is different from Harley Quinn.
Joker War will be written by James Tynion IV, the current writer of DC’s monthly Batman comic. Tynion’s been doing excellent Batman work at DC for several years now, on books like Detective Comics and his current run on Batman. He also worked closely with Scott Snyder, arguably the greatest modern Batman writer, on Snyder’s Batman books as well as co-writing multiple issues of Snyder’s recent run on Justice League. This storyline has been teased for awhile now and we’ve been treated to sneak peeks at The Joker while he’s planning his masterpiece.
As you can see in the images below, any doubt about how much knowledge The Joker really has about Batman and his family, is quickly erased…
Because of the national health crisis, there haven’t been any new monthly comic books shipped to vendors over the last few weeks. Regular comic book distribution to Comic Book Store‘s and apps like ComiXology, is expected to begin again in mid-May, in a few weeks. So the release dates of storylines like Joker War, that were supposed to start at the end of April or the beginning of May with Batman # 95, No loolike a late May or early June beginning for the joker war. Fortunately however long it takes, things will get back on track. This is definitely going to be a big story for the Batman franchise so look for more coverage when Joker War begins in late May or June. I know I’m excited!
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For a few weeks now I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a semi-regular article about some of the coolest graphic novels, Blu-rays, books, and more to come on the market that genre fans like myself and my readers would be interested in checking out. These are all products that I’ve personally purchased and can vouch for their quality. I buy stuff like this all the time and I thought it could be a fun way for me to share with my readers some of the cool stuff available (which I throw away my hard earned money for) that they might also want to check out themselves. So if you guys dig this new article, please let me know in the comments or on social media and maybe we’ll start making Paul’s Picks a semi-regular thing. So let’s get into it!
Batman Beyond: The Complete Series Special Edition Blu-Ray
I absolutely love “Art of…” books. I love seeing how so much of the creative process takes shape over time. Especially in genre storytelling, you get to see different versions of how some of film and television’s most iconic characters or locations could have looked at various stages of planning. It’s like looking in at an alternate earth’s version of your favorite movies. The very best “Art of…” books really spark your imagination and make you wonder what might have been. You get to see some of your favorite stories rendered beautifully by some incredibly gifted artists.Regardless of how you felt about the show’s final season, from across The Narrow Sea to Beyond The Wall, this is a beautiful and comprehensive book. It features locations, characters, battle designs, and so much more. I was really looking forward to this one. I had high hopes for this book and I wasn’t disappointed. You can find it here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Art-Game-Thrones-Insight-Editions/dp/1683835336/ref=sr_1_1?crid=142XJ4INWO4NS&keywords=the+art+of+game+of+thrones&qid=1573701366&sprefix=The+Art+of+ga%2Caps%2C136&sr=8-1
Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Omnibus Vol.1
When they began their partnership with Batman #1 during DC’s New 52 initiative, not many would’ve predicted that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo would go on to become one of the all time great writer/artist teams in the history of comics. Least of all Snyder and Capullo themselves. In fact the duo disliked one another so much at the beginning of their partnership that Snyder demanded to DC that one of them be taken off the book. Luckily cooler heads prevailed and after working together for a few issues, they fell into a groove. Now the duo with the rough start consider one another best friends, even brothers. It shows in their work because their run on Batman is one of the best in the character’s long history. This collection includes issues #0-33, starting stories like the now famous Court of Owls and ending with the epic Zero Year. This is also where the writer/artist team also began their unsettling work on The Joker, with the chilling horror tale Death of The Family, included in this volume. Snyder and Capullo add new and exciting elements to The Caped Crusader’s mythology, while reinvigorating iconic characters and offerings a fresh and insightful look into the mind of Bruce Wayne. The volume isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s worth every penny. This volume is an example of what the very best Batman stories are all about. Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Omnibus is The Dark Knight and his world at it’s very best. This comic book collection get my highest recommendation. You can find it on Amazon right here (*Make sure you check the alternate sellers under more buying options for cheaper prices on this product): https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Scott-Snyder-Capullo-Omnibus/dp/1401298842/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2EO5JZS7JTJR2&keywords=batman+by+snyder+%26+capullo+omnibus&qid=1573698863&sprefix=Batman+by+sny%2Cmovies-tv%2C452&sr=8-1
*When you comes to shopping on Amazon, I always recommend checking out the new and used alternate sellers, listed under Amazon’s price on every product page. Often you can find new, or next to brand new, versions of the item you’re looking for, well below the listed Amazon price.
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:
I’m a massive comic books fan. Every week I read my Must Read comics on my tablet and I go to my favorite comic book store, The Hall of Comics In Southborough, MA, to get all of my graphic novels (More on The Hall of Comics below). There are a lot of great comics being published right now, but my favorite writer by far is Scott Snyder. His 50 plus issue run on Batman with Artist Greg Capullo is without question the best Batman run of this generation. Anytime Snyder and Capullo come together, they make magic. Stories like The Court Of Owls, The Death of The Family, Zero Year, and Dark Nights: Metal are all modern classics. Of course, there’s also Snyder’s incredible introduction to the world of The Dark Knight, The Black Mirror (as fantastic as that story is, it wasn’t with Artist Greg Capullo). Now, after putting their stamp on Batman’s origin in the excellent story Zero Year, they’re closing the circle by telling their version of the final Batman story: Batman: Last Knight on Earth. The miniseries is a 3-issue prestige format book, shipping bi-monthly under DC’s Black Label, with Issue #1 coming out on 5/29/19. DC’s Black Label was created for their best writers and artists to tell stories that are the best of the best. If Zero Year was their Batman: Year One, Batman: Last Knight on Earth is their The Dark Knight Returns. Below is the official synopsis from DC Comics:
Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum. Young. Sane.
And…he was never Batman.
So begins this sprawling tale of the Dark Knight as he embarks on a quest through a devastated DC landscape featuring a massive cast of familiar faces from the DC Universe. As he tries to piece together the mystery of his past, he must unravel the cause of this terrible future and track down the unspeakable force that destroyed the world as he knew it…
From the powerhouse creative team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the team that reinvented Batman from the emotional depths of “Court of Owls” to the bombastic power of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, DC Black Label is proud to present the bimonthly, three-issue miniseries BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH, published at DC’s standard comic trim size.
This could be the last Batman story ever told…
Snyder and Capullo NEVER fail to deliver a spectacular Batman story and this one doesn’t look like it will disappoint. With the book’s 5/29 release date right around the corner, DC put out a trailer for Batman: Last Knight on Earth#1, to get people hyped for the event miniseries. Check it out below:
We also have some great interior art from the book, released by DC Comics. These pages are from Issue #1:
Below we have the cover for issue #2 of the 3-issue miniseries, which hits stands on 7/31/19.
You have to give Snyder and Capullo credit because they’re certainly swinging for the fences on this one. I love how this series looks batshit insane. This book looks nuts in the best possible way and it is this month’s pick for Must Read Comic Book!!!!!!
Earlier in the article I mention the comic book store The Hall of Comics in Southborough, MA. I just wanted to take a minuet to sing their praises and why you should check them out if you’re in the Boston area. Whether you’re a long time comic book reader, a lapsed fan who wants to get back into comics, or someone who’s never picked up a comic before, but you love superhero films and don’t know where to start, the guys at The Hall of Comics will hook you up with anything you need. Not only do you feel welcome when you walk in the door, but they also have awesome special events like Midnight Release Parties, INCREDIBLE Cosplay appearances, and their coolest events are when they frequently have some of the best comic book writers and artists in the business come by for signings and meet and greet with the fans. As I mentioned in one of my recent podcasts, I had the chance to meet and chat with iconic comic book artist Bob Layton and it was a wonder full experience. So, if you want to check out Batman: Last Knight On Earth (you’d be crazy not to) and you’re in the area, The Hall of Comics is the place to go! You can check out their website right here: https://thehallofcomics.com
Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1 (of 3) hits stands on 5/29/2019
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.
Tonight the final season of Gotham premiered on Fox and honestly I was very excited to watch it. It’s hard to believe that this is the same show that just a few years ago had some of the absolute worst superhero writing on TV.When Gotham began, it was more or less a shittier Smallville, with proto-versions of Batman’s rogues gallery popping up each week for Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon to deal with. It was a shame because the show was very well cast and all the actors were perfect in their roles. Since the very first episode, Ben McKenzie has made a great Jim Gordon (he was also the voice of Batman in the animated film adaptation of Batman: Year One). Many of the great Batman stories are also great Jim Gordon stories, so it was very important for them to get this character right.
We even got to see a part of Bruce Wayne’s life that is very rarely explored, the years immediately following the murder of his parents. David Mazouz is easily one of the most compelling live action versions of Bruce Wayne we’ve seen. He conveys Bruce’s dark, brooding intelligence without ever sounding like a whiny brat. With excellent actors memorably playing classic Batman characters like Alfred, The Penguin, The Riddler, Selina Kyle and more, the series felt like a frustrating waste of great talent. Terrible writing hamstrung what could otherwise have been an excellent take on the Batman mythos.
About halfway through Season 3, specifically the mid-season finale, something fundamentally changed about the show for the better. I think there are two big reasons for this and one of them was how the series began to use Bruce Wayne. First of all, David Mazouz had grown up enough that he was just old enough to start becoming more crucial to the action going on in the story. Pretty much from the pilot on, Bruce has slowly been learning important skills that would become crucial on his journey to becoming Batman. Season 3’s mid-season finale saw Bruce being taken hostage at a circus by Jeremiah Valeska. If you’re not familiar with Gotham, Jeremiah (played by Cameron Monaghan) is basically their version of The Joker, and a damn good one too. The episode culminated with a show down in a hall of mirrors between Bruce and Jeremiah, where Bruce comes very close to killing Jeremiah. The whole episode was pretty great and I found myself watching the rest of the season once the show returned from it’s hiatus. You started to see Bruce take a more active role as a vigilante even though he wasn’t dressed like Batman.
The second reason the series changed for the better in my opinion, was because it stopped being a bad prequel series, building up to some day in the future where we get to see Bruce put on the Batman costume in the last 5 minutes of the final episode. In the same way that Smallville was entirely built around the show teasing Clark eventually putting on the Superman costume, that we only see him wear for about three seconds in the series finale. Instead, Gotham became more of an Elseworlds Batman story. I think it’s the smartest thing the show could’ve done because they took the mythology and made it their own. They were no longer slaves to the mythology of the Batman comic books. They allowed their story to be an alternate take on the mythos. This choice gave the show its own identity. It also made it more exciting for the audiences because things weren’t necessarily going to play out exactly as they had in the comic books. As a result the back half of Season 3 was a hell of a lot of fun and frankly I love Season 4. One of the reasons I love the show Krypton on Syfy is that the show isn’t a prequel, it’s more about the DC Universe’s past being changed by time travel. Changing Krypton‘s history, changes the history of the entire Superman story and by extension the entire DC Universe.
So coming into this final season, which was going to be drawing from classic Batman stories like No Man’ Land and Zero Year (In fact this episode’s title is “Year Zero”), I was pretty psyched to see what they were going to do. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed.
After the events of last season, Gotham has been completely cut off from the outside world. The bridges are down in the city and it’s been 87 days since Gotham was officially declared a No Man’s Land by the US government. Unfortunately, not everyone who wanted to had the means to leave the city before it was cut off from the rest of the world. Children, families, innocent people have been trapped in a city that has become an almost post-apocalyptic dystopia. Gotham’s been carved up into territories, with different factions controlling different neighborhoods. Penguin Control City Hall and the surrounding area. He’s also the only person in the city manufacturing bullets for guns, which are more or less currency in the city. Scarecrow, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and other villains have also carved up their own peace of the city.Somewhat ominously, Jerimiah Valeska hasn’t been seen since the beginning of No Man’s Land. I have a feeling he’s waiting to make his own suitably dramatic entrance.
The only part of Gotham City for the average citizen who’d been left behind is the area controlled by the GCPD. Gordon with Bullock and Lucius Fox by his side, are not only leading what’s left of the GCPD, they’re also protecting and feeding hundreds of refugees and supplies are running out. A lot of this is straight out of some iconic Batman storylines, so as a longtime Batman comic book fan this is cool to see.
Fortunately, Bruce Wayne and Alfred decided to stay behind as well and Bruce is doing everything he can to get supplies smuggled in. Not only to the people suffering in the city, but medicine for Selena Kyle as well. She was shot in the stomach at point-blank range by Jeremiah in the season finale last year and unless something drastic is done she could be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of her life. Of course this heavily weighs on Bruce, who blames himself for her condition.
Part of the fun of this season is seeing how close Bruce is to becoming Batman, even though he isn’t ready yet. There’s an early scene where Bruce takes down a bunch of thugs trying to steal medical supplies. The power has gone out, so he uses night vision goggles courtesy of the Lucius Fox to take them out one by one, in very Batman fashion. However, just when it looks like he’s saved the day, the lights come back on, the night vision goggles blind him, and the thieves get away. This is an important scene because it shows us that while Bruce is well on his way to becoming The Batman that we know, who could’ve easily taken down a group of bad guys in a situation like this, but he’s not quite there yet. He’s still making crucial mistakes and he still has much to learn. It’s important the series didn’t just suddenly turn him into Batman over night. Bruce’s journey throughout the series has felt earned. Based on his training it makes perfect sense for him to be exactly at the level he’s at now.
The episode largely sets up the status quo for the season and puts the pieces in play for things to come. We know things are going to get a lot worse before they get better because the episode opens with a flash forward to No Mans Land Day 391 and shows Gordon, Bullock, The Penguin, The Riddler, and the rest of the GCPD fending off a full blown siege by… someone. For Penguin and The Riddler to be teaming up with Gordon, it must be a pretty serious common enemy.
All in all I really enjoyed this episode and considering that it was mostly set up, I have a feeling once the story really gets going this has the potential to be a fantastic final season for Gotham. I couldn’t help but love the scene when Gordon and Bruce were standing on the roof of the GCPD together. With Gordon shining a spotlight on the sky to give people hope, foreshadowing so many of their interactions in the years to come. As Bruce walks away at the end of the scene, Gordon ask him if he regrets staying behind in Gotham, Bruce replies “No. You?”. Jim Gordons smiles and says “Hell no”. Am I looking forward to the rest of Gotham’s Final Season? Hell, yes.
There are a lot of great comics hitting the stands this fall so I wanted to highlight some of the best books to look out for in my 2018 Fall Comic Book Preview! This’ll be a 2 or maybe 3-part series, with Part-1 focusing on DC COMICS and Part-2 focusing on MARVEL. Comic Books are an amazing storytelling medium and there are a lot of great jumping on points for new readers in the books featured here. So don’t be afraid to go to your local comic book store or ComiXology on your tablet to give these comics a try. You may be surprised how much you like what you’ll find. Without further ado, here are some of the DC COMICS to keep an eye out for…
Writer: Brian Azzarello Artist: Lee Bermejo Release Date: 9/19/18
This 3-issue miniseries is part of DC’S new Black Label, using their most talented writers and artists to tell exciting and edgy stories without necessarily worrying about continuity. You’re going to see DC’s Black Label pop up more than once in this article because some of the most interesting upcoming stories are being published under that label, so stay tuned.
Batman: Damned follows what happens after The Joker is killed and Batman himself may or may not have been the one to finally put an end to The Clown Prince of Crime. What follows is a story about Batman teaming up with John Constantine on a trip through the supernatural side of Gotham City.
This is definitely a book to be very excited about. The prospect of Batman finally just offing The Joker is interesting enough on it’s own, but throwing John Constantine into the mix and a trip into the supernatural corners of the DC Universe makes this even more fun.
The creative team of Azzarello and Bermejo have given us great stories like Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and Joker, which were both fantastic graphic novels. So make sure this at the top of your pull list when it hits shelves. THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS
Writer: Scott Snyder
Release Date: November
The Batman Who Laughs was arguably the breakout character from the Dark Nights: Metal event miniseries. He was a version of Bruce Wayne from an Earth where he finally killed The Joker. But at the moment of his death, The Joker’s released a gas concocted specifically to turn the person that killed him into the next Joker. Not only did The Joker win by finally getting Bruce to cross his (very, very blurry) moral line of not killing him, but the gas essentially turned Bruce into The Joker.
A Batman retaining all his knowledge, skills, and intelligence, but mixed with The Joker’s lack of empathy, sick psychopathic behavior, and evil was a true nightmare. This essentially made The Batman Who Laughs the apex predator of the Dark Multiverse. As The Batman Who Laughs, he was the most dangerous being on his world and systematically killed everyone and everything on his world in the most twisted way imaginable.
By the end of Dark Nights: Metal, he was still in play and fans have been wondering when he’d rear his rictus grin again. This miniseries sees The Batman Who Laughs teaming up with another dark alternate reality Batman, who’s been described as Bruce’s second worst nightmare of what he could have become. This Batman got a hold of the gun the night his parents were killed and gunned down Joe Chill. He would grown up to become a gun toting, killing machine. Basically, Batman combined with The Punisher.
I feel I should point out that Scott Snyder has probably been my favorite comic book writer for quite awhile now. I haven’t enjoyed some of his newer work as mush as say, his Batman run. However, Snyder re-teaming with Jock on a Batman story will be something to behold. Their work on the modern classic Batman story The Black Mirror is one of the best Batman stories ever told. So, my excitement isn’t quite where it would normally be, but I’m still looking forward to this one. Not much else is known about this miniseries except that it will draw heavily from Snyder’s roots as a horror writer, with Snyder saying this book has some of the most twisted, terrifying stuff he’s ever written. With the characters involved and the creative team, it’s a must read when it comes out in November. I can’t wait to see what nightmares The Batman Who Laughs has in store for the DC Universe.
HEROES IN CRISIS
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Release Date: 9/26/18
Tom King is fucking killing it lately. He first caught my attention with his incredible Vision miniseries over at Marvel. Now, King had the unenviable task of following Scott Snyder’s legendary Batman run when he took over the book with Batman Rebirth #1. But goddammit, King is giving Snyder a run for his money, where he’s crushing it on Batman right now.
This new story HEROES IN CRISIS is a apparently a very personal project for King. Superheroes and the people around them, have to deal with some very fucked up situations. Not dealing with mental health issues like PTSD or the death of a loved one can be unhealthy and dangerous. Much like real life soldiers coming home from war and having to deal with challenges of having seen horrible things and what that does to a person’s psyche. As a former member of the CIA, King knows all about the challenges our soldiers coming home after war have to endure. In the DC Universe, heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have created a place where heroes and people in their community can get the help they need, in a facility called The Sanctuary.
The story revolves around some unexpected deaths and unexpected killers at The Sanctuary. CRISIS is a loaded word in DC Comics, but this seems more like Identity Crisis than Final Crisis. Little bread crumbs and references to The Sanctuary have popped up in several DC books over the past few months. A good example being the original Wally West being sent to The Sanctuary at the end of Flash War after the emotional roller coaster he goes on in that story. DC released these covers depicting iconic and traumatic moments in DC comics history. Supposedly incidents like this are the reason The Sanctuary was created. The idea is that The Sanctuary has been a part of the DCU for longer than readers have known, dealing with physical and psychological trauma these heroes has endured over the years.
I’m really curious to see what King does with this story and I like the idea of a DC event being more of a psychological thriller than a multiverse ending mega crossover.
JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH
Writer: Scott Snyder/Dan Abnett/ James Tynion IV
Artist: Francis Manapul/Howard Porter/Fraser Erving/Jorge Medina
Release Date: 10/31/18
This story will run through both Justice League and Aquaman, picking up story threads from each book. This 5-Part story involves the origins of Atlantis and introducing a new pantheon of gods into the DC Universe. It sounds like this story will highlight big changes to the mythology of Aquaman. Similar to the huge changes we’ve seen play out with The Flash and Green Lantern in Justice League, with concepts like “The Still Force” and the “Ultraviolet Spectrum” being introduced. Since Scott Snyder came onto the book, Justice League has been excellent, so at least the JL chapters of the story stand to be pretty good.
The last time JL and Aquaman crossed over was in the “Throne of Atlantis” storyline and that was a great read. On the other hand, I don’t like crossovers where I’m required to pick up a series I don’t read (in this case, Aquaman) to follow the entire story. One the other hand I’m hearing some rumbling about some cool and interesting stories in Aquaman’s future, so this may be a good time to jump onto the book. So, this gets a cautiously optimistic thumbs up from me.
THE GREEN LANTERN
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Release Date: 11/7/18
Grant Morrison returning to write a monthly superhero book is something to be celebrated. His Green Lantern book will focus on Hal Jordan and really lean into the idea that the Green Lanterns are “space cops”. The book is supposed to have an almost police procedural feel to it. Hal is a cop working a beat, but his beat is the crazy alien worlds of deep space. Apparently Earth isn’t part of the story at all. This is solely Hal, doing Green Lantern, space cop work in the farthest reaches of the universe. With Grant Morrison writing and Liam Sharp drawing, that sounds fucking spectacular!
*(Keep an eye out for more updates!)
Thanks for reading and make sure to check out Part 2 where I’ll be looking at MARVEL’s big comics coming out this fall!
Have you ever wanted to pick up a comic book or graphic novel, but didn’t know where to start? Well you’re in luck! Because on this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, Uncle Paul recommends some of the BEST graphic novels to read if you’re COMPLETELY new to comics!
With all of the superhero movie in theatres, deciding what comics to read for the first time can be intimidating. Especially when there are literally thousands of graphic novels out there to choose from. But fortunately you first time readers, the TV shows and Movies have only scratched the surface of all the amazing stories told in the comic book medium. If you’re a long time reader, you might be inspired to revisit some of the classics covered here (or check out one or two of the unexpected picks)!
After the episode links, I put a the complete list of all graphic novels discussed in this episode and where readers can find them! As always you can listen below, on The Boston Podcast Network pod617.com , or subscribe on Stitcher or Itunes:
On today’s episode of Paul’s Pulls I talk about the end of DC’s Big Batman event comic Dark Nights: Metal and the new issue of Doomsday Clock. I also spent some time talking about Thanos not only as a character, but his excellent book that Donny Cates works on, as well. Thanos is basically Marvel’s rip off of Darkseid and Jack Kirby‘s classic creations The New Gods, so we get into that a little bit as well. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes:
It’s Paul here and today I have the latest episode of my new Podcast that’s all about comic books, “Paul’s Pulls”! This episode is the “State Of The Batman Union”! What good and what’s not so good about the Batman comics coming out of DC right now. This is a 2 part episode, so expect part 2 up soon. I really appreciate everyone being so supportive and giving the show a try! So here’s Episode 1, listen here or subscribe on iTunes: