From the very beginning of World’s Best Media, one of my missions has been to show people how cool comic books are and why they’re such an incredible way to tell stories (and maybe, just maybe, get some folks to give comics a try). It’s been a little while since I’ve done a deep dive into a comic book series or graphic novel, but a fantastic new series inspired me to take you guys on another journey into weird and wonderful world of comics. Let’s do it!
The book we’re taking a look at, is Batman/Catwoman. One of DC’s flagship Batman books. In my opinion, it’s also one of the best mainstream superhero book being published at either of “The Big Two” right now (otherwise known as DC and Marvel). This is all due to the incredible talent of writer Tom King and artist Clay Mann. These are two of DC’s best creators operating at the top of their game (and it shows).
As a longtime comic book fan, the stories and characters are what draw me in. A book can have the most beautiful art in the world, but it doesn’t mount up to a whole lot without a great story at it’s core. The last thing I want to do is minimize the incredible achievements of the artists working in the comic book industry. Most people don’t understand how important and difficult the work of a comic book artist really is. They’re not just drawing images on a page, they’re performing the characters, they’re directing the story. It’s one thing to draw beautiful images, but to be a great comic book artist, you also have to a great storyteller.
As much as I respect comic book artists, it’s always the writer that will draw me to a particular book. Whenever a writer like Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, or Neil Gaiman has a new comic coming out, it’s a guaranteed that I’m going to check it out regardless of the artist. Hell, some of my favorite writers have built up enough trust and good will, that I don’t even need to know what their latest book is about to give it a read. There are a lot of great comic book artists, but very few that would make me go out and buy a comic solely because they’re working on it.
This is a long winded way of me saying that artist Clay Mann’s work on Batman/Catwoman is nothing short of astonishing. I’ve been following his work for a while on Batman and Heroes In Crisis. However his work has just taken a massive leap forward with Batman/Catwoman. I don’t think I’ve been more impressed with an artists work in a long time. Mann’s work reminds me of Jim Lee or Tony Daniel, with its crisp detailed lines. It’s widely considered that Jim Lee drew the definitive modern Batman during his Hush story line. Jim Lee’s Batman from Hush is pretty much the basis for all modern versions of the character since. Now, Clay Mann has drawn the definitive modern Catwoman with this book and if things keep going the way they are, he may take the title away from Jim Lee for the definitive modern Batman as well.
It’s not just the art that makes this book so phenomenal. Batman: Mask of The Phantasm is arguably one of, if not THE best Batman film ever made. Unlike so many other Batman Films, even the great ones, Bruce Wayne is front and center in this story. Bruce Wayne is the most interesting character in any Batman story and most filmmakers get caught up in his flashy rogues gallery at the expense of exploring Batman himself. When I was a kid The Phantasm scared the shit out of me with its creepy look and unstoppable mission of vengeance. The Phantasm was an original character created by the people who made that film. Batman/Catwoman is a quasi-sequel to Batman: Mask of The Phatasm, making the character and the events of the film canon in DC lore.
This comic is really a continuation of the story that writer Tom King first began in his excellent run on the main Batman series. The question at the heart of the story was: Can Batman be happy? And If the answer if yes, can a happy Batman still be Batman? Can a Bruce Wayne who’s found some measure of peace still be The Dark Knight that Gotham City, and the world, needs? I thought it was a fantastic idea for a Batman story. It has so much potential and in the long history of the character it’s isn’t something that had been explored before. Also, let’s not forget that just because Bruce has found a woman who truly loves and understands him doesn’t mean he’s going start going on Costco runs. Their marriage consists of Selena joining Batman on cases and nightly patrols just like Nightwing or Robin would except after they go home and fuck each other‘s brains out (come to think of it, who’s to say that didn’t happen with Nightwing a few times? After all, Master Dick looks damn good in a lm skin tight leotard!). King explored this idea through Bruce’s growing romance with Selina Kyle. After years of hook ups and on again off again romances, Bruce and Selena finally get serious. They get engaged, and eventually, after some drama including Selena leaving bruise standing at the aisle during their first wedding attempt, things worked out and now they live as husband and wife. Living together in Wayne Manor.
Out of all the incredibly fascinating characters that populates Batman’s world, I was never particularly interested in Catwoman. I love Michelle Pfeiffer as the character in Batman Returns, but other than that, I was fairly ambivalent about Catwoman in general. It wasn’t until Tom King’s Batman run and Batman/Catwoman, that I started to really like her. Batman and Catwoman have had an off and on romance for years, one of their more notable attempts at a real relationship took place in the classic Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee story, “Hush”. Batman and Catwoman getting married may seem like another gimmick like the death or resurrection of a hero, but it makes perfect sense for the characters. So many storytelling possibilities open up. Catwoman is a character who lives in the gray, so what is it like being married to a man who only sees things in black-and-white? The story puts Selena in morally compromising situations in some really imaginative ways
This story is essentially a quasi-sequel to The Mask of Phantasm. Which is really cool because The Phantasm was an original character created for that film, so her inclusion here officially brings her into the main canon of DCU. But this is a Batman story after all, and if Andrea Beaumont has returned to Gotham City, you can be sure that she’s there for blood.
The story takes place simultaneously over three different time periods. The present, the past when Bruce and Selena we’re still more of an occasional romantic tryst than the serious couple and life partners that they’ve become, and decades into the future where Bruce has recently passed away. Leaving behind his beloved wife Selina and their beautiful daughter Helena. With Bruce gone the elderly Selina finally feels free to settle a vicious vendetta with The Joker. Specially for something that occurred years before with Andrea Beaumont, during the case involving The Phantasm that Batman and Catwoman are taking on in the present. Complicating matters in the future is Helena Wayne, who’s continuing the family business as Batwoman. She also seems to have inherited her father’s naive sense of absolute justice. Bringing the story full circle showing Selina keeping secrets about her morally questionable choices from the two most people in her life, Bruce in the past and her daughter Helena in the future.
Which brings me back to Clay Mann’s beautiful artwork. I love his design for Helena Wayne, the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, the Batwoman of the future. Both in and out of costume, Helena is of course her mother and father‘s daughter. A Gorgeous, stunning young woman while having dinner with her mother in Wayne Manor and looking all kinds of cool and bad ass in her new Batwoman suit. Which looks like a combination of the Batman Beyond suit and the modern version of Catwoman’s costume Mann has designed for this series.
This series is a great jumping on point for new readers because you only need to have seen the movie Batman: Mask of The Phantasm. If you’re looking for a fantastic superhero story with fantastic art, writing, and characters, then you can’t go wrong with Batman/Catwoman.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @PJWrightWBM or type Worlds Best Media into the search bar, you can also like and follow us on our Facebook page; World’s Best Media. We’re on Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!
In Batman: The Three Jokers, Geoff Johns sets out to answer a mystery, that he set in motion several years ago during the climactic story arc of his Justice League run. In the story, Batman interfaces with an alien super computer called The Mobius Chair, that can answer any question in the universe, no matter how seemingly impossible the question may be . One of the questions Batman asked was, “What is The Joker’s true name?”. Through it’s omniscience, The Mobius Chair gave an answer that threw even The World’s Greatest Detective for a loop: There are 3 Jokers. This three issue miniseries sets out to finally answer the mystery of The Three Jokers. I’ve read the first issue and while it answers some questions, it leaves us with even more.
There is no doubt that DC has two of their absolute best creators working on this book. There are very few comic book writers who have had the level of influence on modern comic books in the way that Geoff John’s has. With very few exceptions, there isn’t a major character in DC Comics that he hasn’t left his mark on. His enormous talent and impact on comic book storytelling, put him in rarefied air among legends like Stan Lee and Frank Miler. Geoff Johns is without a doubt one of the best superhero writers in the medium. No one does big, epic storytelling like Geoff Johns. Yet for some reason, he has always, in my opinion, struggled when writing Batman. Don’t get me wrong, even some of his weakest stories have fun and interesting elements at play. Despite any criticisms about his writing that I may have, John’s never fails to deliver an entertaining story.
Then there’s artist Jason Fabouk, who’s done some of the best superhero artwork I’ve ever seen in “The Darkseid War”, one his previous collaborations with Geoff Johns in the pages of Justice League. In a comic book, the storytelling done through the artwork is just as important, sometimes more so, than the storytelling being done in the script. It’s one of the things that makes the medium so unique. This issue opens with an exceptional example of how vital a fantastic artist is to telling a great comic book story. The issue begins with a close-up, on a large “W” engraved in stone. As the image pulls out, we see that this is the grave of Thomas Wayne. Surprisingly, the Batmobile suddenly crashes into it, partially destroying the gravestone. A seriously injured Batman emerges from the vehicle and stumbles towards Wayne Manor. A flurry of bats eventually reveals the Batcave. Filled with Batman‘s equipment and trophies, old costumes of allies and enemies. Finally, we see Alfred. Steady. Always there. We see both men from behind, as Alfred hauls Bruce in an improvised shoulder carry. Holding up his son, as Batman struggles to make it to the medical area. In a wavering voice Bruce says “My parents…” Referring to the gravestone he crashed into moments before. Again, Alfred steady as ever replies “I’ll fix their markers as soon as I fix you.”. Piece by piece, Batman‘s armor is removed, Alfred using surgical tools to remove parts of the uniform to get at Bruce’s wound, so Alfred can begin to treat whatever Bruce has suffered from this time.
Alfred begins to treat a puncture wound in the side Bruce‘s torso. “What was it this time?” Alfred asks. “An umbrella” Bruce replies. The image pulls back again, Bruce is naked from the waist up, with his back turned to the reader as Alfred begins stitching his latest wound. The image is stunning. What makes the artwork so powerful Is the dozens, maybe even hundreds of other scars and burns covering Bruce’s body (and we can only see him from the back). This is a grim ritual these two men have gone through together far too many times..Each scar is a dark reminder, a souvenir, of the nightly torture Bruce Wayne subjects himself to.
However, despite all the monsters he fought in the night, only one has left more scars than any other. Both on the inside and out. The Joker. As Bruce recalls each battle, each fight with The Clown Prince of Crime, the monsters horrifying laughter builds in his head until, for the first time in the story, we see Bruce’s eyes. And they are filled with fury… and something more, something dark.
Regardless of any criticisms that I may leveled at other aspects of this comic book, the art by Jason Fabouk is incredible. There are many amazing artists out there, who draw stunningly beautiful images, but it takes more than that to be an excellent comic book artist. A comic book artist is a storyteller just like the writer. The analogy I like to use, is that a comic book artist needs to be the director, the actors, the cinematography, and the editor all wrapped in one. Like a director they need to set up every image, the angle, what will be in the shot, etc. like a cinematographer they have to establish the look and visual tone of the story, and like an actor they need to convey all of the subtle emotions of every character in the story. An artist who can do all of that well and still make every image absolutely beautiful, is less common in the industry than you might think. I think somebody like the late, great Steve Dillon (Preacher, The Punisher) is a great example of an artist that was incredibly gifted at storytelling and conveying complex array of human emotions. With this comic, I think Jason Fabouk has taken his first step into becoming one of the most elite comic book storytellers in the business. The work on display here is some of the best visual storytelling I’ve seen in a comic book in a long time.
With that out of the way, what do I think about the comic? I think there are two major issues that ultimately plague this story. First, the problem with telling a story like this, is that part of what makes The Joker so terrifying and so fascinating is that he doesn’t have a definitive origin. Sure, there have been hints over the years. Possibilities of who or what he was before he became The Clown Prince of Crime. Writers like Alan Moore, Scott Snyder, Bruce Timm,and Paul Dini have all played with possible origins for The Joker. These stories worked because none of them were the character’s definitive origin. It was left ambiguous, the writers placed doubt in the minds of fans about how much of these possible backstories actually happened. Was any of it real? Even the recent JOKER film starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/The Joker, made the audience question exactly how much of the films events actually took place and how much of it was all in Arthur’s head
The questions at the heart of this story are: How are there three Jokers? What does that even mean? Are there literally three different men, who have been The Joker over the years? What is the answer to the mystery of The Three Jokers? At least for me, the answer to that question is: I don’t fucking care. I would’ve been perfectly happy if DC never picked up this storyline again. In the JL story written by Geoff Johns that kicked this whole thing off, Batman asks the all-knowing Mobius Chair “What is The Joker’s true name?”. The chair replies and Batman is visibly shocked and disturbed by what he hears. He can only respond “That’s not possible“. On its own, that’s a cool moment. What the fuck did The Mobius Chair tell Batman? The Joker is already a character shrouded in mystery and darkness and this was a powerful and creepy moment. I think if it was left alone by DC, this could have been an intriguing addition to The Joker’s mythology. A question we’ll never get the answer to would’ve been so much more interesting to readers, because the unknown is always so much scarier than anything a writer can cook up.
To talk about my second major criticism of this story so far, I’m going to be discussing a pivotal scene in depth as an example of a larger concern I have with the project. So MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILER WARNINGS for the rest of the review!!!
Ok, still with me? Great. So, when Jason Todd AKA The Red Hood finally blows The Joker’s brains out, I thought: “About damn time!”.
You see, a common misconception is, that Batman has always adhered to a strict moral code, that kept him from ever taking a life. It’s important to point out that when Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane (It was actually MOSTLY Bill Finger, but Bob Kane gets all the credit). Batman‘s so-called “no kill“ rule, didn’t come from a creative decision by one of Batman’s creators. It came down as an editorial mandate from DC Comics. The Joker was originally supposed to die in his first appearance, but the character was so popular that the creators working on Batman at the time had to come up with a way for Joker to return. Batman couldn’t go around killing the entirety of what would become his whole rogues gallery! Of course this early version of Batman would kill The Joker! For a man willing to take a life, this was the exact situation where you take someone off the board. It was a way to keep Batman’s popular villains returning to the story. Another factor was that DC comics wanted to attract younger readers. Which was why Robin was introduced and Batman’s homicidal edge was softened. The hard-hitting, gritty, noir stores told in Batman’s early days, made way for more colorful and family friendly content.
So when someone tries to convince you that Batman never kills because of a deep moral belief in the sanctity of life, you can say that’s bullshit, he doesn’t kill because the publisher wanted to make more money by having more readers and reoccurring, colorful villains. From the very beginning of Batman‘s career, he had no compunction about killing criminals. Batman even carried a gun in many of his earliest appearances. Many of the unfortunate thugs he came across found them selves with a bullet in the chest, thrown into a vat of acid, or strangling a man with a steel cable attached to The Batplane and flying through Gotham with the corpse still hanging from The Batplane. While Batman muses that the villain is “better off this way“. In fact here are some fun instances of Batman straight up murdering people…
Which is why I find it so frustrating that certain writers, like Geoff John’s in particular, treat Batman‘s “no kill“ rule is if it was a sacred and fundamental part of the character’s ideology. It wasn’t a creative storytelling decision, it was a marketing one. Most of the other vigilantes in Gotham City have been trained by Bruce or work closely with him, so they also adhere to same, foolish “no kill” rule (with some notable exceptions). So when writers like Geoff John’s put Batman or one of his allies, in this case Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl, in positions where all logic, emotion, and reason would lead to their character taking a life, the writers will go to extraordinary lengths to find reasons for their so-called heroes not to go through with it. This doesn’t make the heroes noble, it makes them look foolish and naïve. I’m not saying that Batman and his allies should start acting like The Punisher, but in extreme circumstances, extreme measures are appropriate. Unless a writer is willing to honestly tackle some potentially uncomfortable questions about his characters, then perhaps it’s a subject that is best left alone. If you’ve been successfully crime fighting crime in a cesspool like Gotham City for years, you’ve probably seen some of the ugliest things that humanity has to offer. Which is why it makes no sense that someone like Barbara Gordon, an intelligent, worldly, capable, and very tough woman would attempt to stop Jason Todd from murdering The Joker. The amount of suffering that The Joker has personally inflicted on Barbara and her family includes crippling and sexually molesting her, torturing her father, murdering her stepmother, and has killing literally thousands of people. Including successfully murdering Jason himself. Even though Jason eventually came back from the dead, as Jon Snow would tell you, that isn’t some shit you just forgive. For Barbara to feign outrage when The Joker is killed, is just silly and poor writing. However, I did enjoy what Jason says to Barbara after kills The Joker, posted below…
I’ll definitely read all 3 issues of Batman: The Three Jokers, but It’s mostly out of sense of obligation. New comic books come out each week and I still read every issue of my favorite ongoing titles. Batman is my favorite comic book character, so for better or worse, regardless of how this story ends it’s going to have a major impact of some kind on the Batman mythology. For that alone, I’d read all 3 issues just to see how it all plays out. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, especially if you don’t read comics every week like I do. I’m certain that DC is trying to attract new readers with a high profile book like this. In that regard, I suppose Three Jokers is successful. Most of my problems with the book were rooted in my long personal history with Batman and how I think the character and his world should be portrayed. As well as certain longtime comics books tropes present in the issue, that drive my nuts whenever they pop-up in a story. New readers might be the ideal audience for this comic book, even with my criticisms, it’s an undeniably entertaining book with beautiful art. Casual Batman fans wouldn’t bring as much baggage to the story as I did and it really only requires a basic knowledge of Batman and The Joker to follow what’s going on.
In a vacuum, taken for what it is, Batman: The Three Jokers is pretty good read, but it fails to justify it’s own existence. This new miniseries suffers because of some poorly written characters and will leave a lot of readers questioning why this story needed to be told in the first place. On the other hand, The Three Jokers is a solid book for casual readers and the art work by Jason Fabouk is gorgeous.
Batman: The Three Jokers #1 – 6.5/10
Dark Nights: Death Metal #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
The long awaited and much anticipated new miniseries from DC Comics, Dark Nights: Death Metal, is finally here and today I’m reviewing the first issue! About once a year, usually in the summer, both of “The Big Two” comic book publishers, DC and Marvel, will put out an epic miniseries “Event”. These are the no holds barred stories, where seemingly anything can happen! Typically, even though one character or one particular team will be the focus of the story, these Events affect and involve the entire DCU or Marvel Universe. These stories tend to have casts of thousands! With huge, status quo changing moments! Whenever the publishers at Marvel or DC are talking about their latest Event Miniseries, they like to say things like, “After this story nothing will ever be the same!”. When you’ve been reading comics as long as I have, there are certain things that you tend to expect to see when one of these big stories come out. There are usually some major character deaths, surprise resurrections, heroes turning into villains and vice versa, things like that. Classic DC and Marvel stories like Crisis On Infinite Earths, Infinity Gauntlet, and Civil War are some examples of Event Comics. Like many things, some of them suck and other become classics.
One of the best superhero Events of the last decade was Dark Nights: Metal written by Scott Snyder and art by Greg Capullo. That story saw the DCU being invaded by the evil, cosmic forces of the previously unknown Dark Mutiverse. The Dark Multiverse is a nightmare realm where the deep fears of everyone in The DCU are made manifest. These are the worlds where everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. The Dark Multiverse was ruled by an evil god-like entity called Barbatos. When he came to attack and claim the DCU, his generals were all dark, twisted versions of Batman.
The most terrifying and formidable of the evil Bruce Waynes from across The Dark Multiverse was, without a doubt, The Batman Who Laughs. In his home reality, after The Joker killed Jim Gordon and a shit load of other people, Bruce Wayne finally had enough of the atrocities committed by The Joker and killed him by snapping his neck. BUT The Clown Prince of Crime had one last surprise for his longtime nemesis, The Joker created a toxin that would be released from his body at the moment of his death and turn whoever killed him into the next Joker. The insidious toxin burned away Bruce’s humanity. Batman lost of all his morality, compassion, and empathy. Batman, under normal circumstances, is already as Superman once put it, “The most dangerous man alive.”. This version Batman, without the moral code that stops him from going too far, is a terrifying and unbeatable cosmic horror. Now he’s the apex predator of The Multiverse. Because a Batman Who Laughs is a Batman who always wins.
The Justice League managed to defeat Barbatos and his army of evil Batmen (The Batman Who Laughs managed to stick around The DCU), but it came with huge unforeseen consequences. In defeating one dark god, they unknowingly unleashed another: Perpetua, The Mother and Creator of The Multiverse. However, when Perpetua was freed, it took time for her to regain her full power. She needed help and a certain bald, alien hating, billionaire businessman/scientific genius was just the megalomaniac for the job…
One of the major ongoing stories in DC Comics over the last few years has followed Lex Luthor (with the help of The Legion of Doom) as he attempted to pull off his most ambitious cosmic power grab to date. Luthor set out to unlock the hidden powers of the universe and restore Perpetua to her full strength. Luthor’s endgame was to help Perpetua regain control of The Multiverse and rule over all of creation alongside her as her right hand and most trusted disciple. Everything was going according to Luthor’s plan, that is until The Batman Who Laughs showed up. He managed to make the case to Perpetua that he, not Luthor, was the one worthy of becoming her most valuable acolyte. Luthor had done all the work and The Batman Who Laughs snatched everything right out from under him. Perpetua agreed, and Luthor was cast aside.
Dark Nights: Death Metal is not only a sequel to Dark Nights: Metal, it also builds upon many of the major stories Scott Snyder and others have been telling in the DCU since the end of the first Dark Nights: Metal. Elements from Snyder‘s Justice League run, Doomsday Clock, Snyder’s Batman Who Laughs miniseries, The Flash, and more are all at play. I think one of the things that the story does really well, is that despite all of the groundwork the story has been built upon, it doesn’t feel like you need to have read all of those other stories to understand this one. It’s a more accessible tale than you might think. The story starts very much in the middle of the action, so even if you have read every single DC Comic Book that’s connected to this story, you’re still going to be playing catch-up. Everything in the story is so insane that, part of the fun is figuring out how the hell our heroes have found themselves in this crazy situation.
Without going into major spoilers, Earth has been pulled into The Dark Multiverse. The planet has become a terrifying nightmare-scape, ruled over by the cruel and sadistic Batman Who Laughs. Countless twisted and evil versions of Batman from throughout The Dark Multiverse act as his lieutenants and help enforce his will. Our heroes have lost so badly that to keep what’s left of humanity alive, heroes like Swamp Thing, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and others are forced work for The Batman Who Laughs and do his bidding. He’s given his version of the Justice League different roles to play in his new kingdom. They know that they can’t beat him. He holds all the cards in such a way that, the only way our heroes can protect the people that are left is to play his sick game and grudgingly work for him. The Batman Who Laughs is essentially holding a gun to the head of what’s left of humanity, to keep the former Justice League in line. It’s sort of reminds me of something out of Game of Thrones where noble characters have to bow down before a despicable ruler in the name of serving a greater good. Of course Batman, the real Batman that is out there somewhere, fighting almost like a guerrilla insurgency, desperately trying to pull off whatever ever he can to save whatever’s left of this broken Multiverse.
Despite the fact that the whole story is wrapped in Batman iconography and there are evil Batmen everywhere, Wonder Woman is the central character in this story. Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s former home, has literally become Hell, a jail for people that The Batman Who Laughs wants to keep out of the way and imprisoned. With Swamp Thing (who’s seen better days to say the least) as her right hand man and confidant, Wonder Woman has become Hell’s Jailer, The Warden of her desecrated homeland. Despite her dark circumstances, Wonder Woman is pretty fucking cool in this story and I love the choice to make her one of the central characters. She’s really the main character, at least in this issue. but considering what goes down in the first issue alone, I think it’s fair to say she’ll probably be taking center stage for the whole story. If this issue is any indication, that’s a fantastic idea. As cool as Batman is, as smart as he is, and is tough as he is, no one will fight to their last breath like Wonder Woman. She is not content to play her fucked up role in The Batman Who Laugh’s wasteland. Bruce thinks the fight is already lost and all they can hope to do is save whatever good is left. Wonder woman is not having that shit, she knows there must be a way to make things right, to put the universe back together again. And when a very important prisoner is sent to her by The Batman Who Laughs, Diana thinks she may have found her last chance to save the world.
To say anymore would spoil the fun. I will say this, they are not fucking around with this story. Snyder and Capullo have pulled out all of the fucking stops. This is only the first issue and there were at least three or four jaw-dropping moments in this comic book. I was fucking blown away. It’s impressive that while so much of what is going on in the story is dark and bleak, the story never loses it’s thrilling sense of fun. The heroes of the DCU are in rough shape, but it looks like watching them try to set things right is going to be a blast!
I think it’s safe to say at this point that Snyder and Capullo have established themselves as one of the best writer/artist teams in the history of comics. These are two guys operating at the absolute top of their game and it shows in the story. When Greg Capullo’s name is on a comic book, it’s a given that the art inside will be fantastic, but he really knocked it out of the park on this one. It would be easy to take Capullo’s incredible art for granted, because his work has produced so many phenomenal stories over the years. In Dark Nights: Death Metal, literally everything on each page is something totally new, even all of the classic DC heroes in this story are sporting completely new looks. There are so few artists that could pull off a story like this, with the level of excellence that Capullo delivers. Then there’s the coloring by FCO Plascencia (another long time collaborator of Snyder and Capullo’s) which is gorgeous in this issue. The way the bright, vivid colors of Wonder Woman contrast with the dark, more muted tones of the desolate wasteland that surrounds her, is beautiful to behold.
I’ll definitely say this I loved Dark Nights: Metal and this is a much better first issue than that story. I’m sure Snyder and Capullo would be happy to hear, that the comic book is definitely “Metal”. It rocks the fucking doors off, blows out the windows, and leaves you desperately wanting more. I cannot wait for the next issue, because Dark Nights: Death Metal fucking rules! 🤘
Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 – 9/10
Note: DC has put out a prelude story that takes place right before issue #1 begins. You can read it for free on instagram! It’s pretty cool, so I definitely recommend checking it out. Read for free right here: https://t.co/vIJ8HkiZ23
Check out this art from issue #2 hitting stands in July…
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
This is one I pre-ordered months ago and just recently came out. This is the 20th anniversary of Batman Beyond, the classic animated series follow up to the equally classic Batman: The Animated Series. In addition to all three seasons of the show, the excellent sequel movie, Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker is included in the set, as well. The transfer is beautiful. It has someone some great special features. It even includes an exclusive Batman Beyond Funko Pop toy. This is a MUST BUY for Superhero fans, Batman fans, and fans of great fucking shows in general. You can get it for a steal right here at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Beyond-Complete-Limited-Blu-ray/dp/B07TLPBC7J/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2E7GRAMVYFVWL&keywords=batman+beyond+complete+series&qid=1573696267&sprefix=Batman+%2Caps%2C530&sr=8-2
The Art of Game Of Thrones
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
As always, thanks for reading!
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.
Gotham (Season 5) “Year Zero” – 8.5/10
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