This has been a heavy month — especially this week — for DC Comics. With so many books out there I have fallen behind on the many titles I’m reading, but I pushed all other life priorities aside to read this week’s new title Constantine: The Hellblazer. From the minds and creative geniuses of Ming Doyle (Quantum & Woody), James Tynion IV (The Woods) and Riley Rossmo (Cowboy Ninja Viking), The Hellblazer sets the pages afire with witty, clever writing and scattered eye-catching art. It’s a great introduction (again) to a character that hides no shame on being a complete dick. I haven’t read enough of the previous Vertigo titles, but can tell you that issue one doesn’t hold back from the original dark tales. Constantine is smoking, drinking and enjoying the company of women and men while doing his best to cover his tracks that will no doubt follow him to the darkest of shadows. It’s definitely intended for mature readers and does a decent job giving the hardcore fans what they’ve been missing with this character–especially in the absence of the ill-fated NBC series. 3/5 Glowing Demon Whores.
This is Cardinal Brooks on assignment wi… Ah! What the hell is going on, Supes with no powers, on the run, and everyone knows his secret identity… Say what? Bruce Wayne presumed dead and replaced by a robot Batman… Say it ain’t so! I’m confused; yet, apparently, other titles need to be geek-searched: Action Comics #41, Batman #41 (review down below)– at least this book has got my interest peaked. When does Clark get his powers back? Where the hell is Bruce? Why is Lois such a bitch? This is what happens when you don’t read every Batman and Superman book on the shelf… Damnation! I like whats going on here, though, as Greg Pak (Planet Hulk) continues his amazing storytelling and sound Batman/Superman run — despite the changing of the ol’ guard — and Ardian Syaf’s linework is as sexy as ever. Although his BatTech isn’t quite as impressive as Greg Capullo’s in the older brother issue, the artist captures just the right amount of zestful reaction shots and lively characterization. This one should be fun. 4/5 Superangs.
DC’s Convergence reunites one of the best loved creative teams of the ’90s to bring you one of the least cared about teams from one of its most under-appreciated titles. Yes, the guys responsible for one of the most insane titles to be let loose in the mainstream DCU, Garth Ennis (Preacher, Punisher MAX) and John McCrea (Preacher, 2000AD) are back and have seemingly resurrected the z-list superhero team Section 8, who achieved infamy (and obscurity) in Hitman. Like a Great Lakes Champions or League of Substitute Heros –- only somewhat offensive. Anyone unfamiliar with the team should probably remain that way, and I won’t spoil for any new readers what Dogwelder’s abilities are. This is pretty dumb. I mean, it’s an entertaining enough read, but if DC, Ennis and McCrea wanted to resurrect characters from Hitman for Convergence, why not the man himself? The best thing about it was a series of Batman meta-jokes riffing off of Neal Adams, Death in the Family, Knightfall, etc. The story has room to get interesting (perhaps threatening to take up Dail H’s place as the most batshit insane and self-referential comic in DC’s oeuvre), the dialogue borders on witty, the art is typical John McCrea quality — all thick lines and grit and zaniness –- but unless you’re a die-hard Garth Ennis fan, this probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll be more interested once the story is in full-swing. 3/5 Resurrections.
What is Gotham with out its Batman, and with the departure of Bruce a newer more mechanical Dark Knight has stepped up. Nerds-a-far have seen the new suit and have known the man behind the mask for some time, Commissioner Gordon has traded in his mustache and cigarettes to give us a Bat we have never seen. The creative team of Scott Snyder (The Wake) and Greg Capullo (Spawn) have done it again! This new Batman does something none of the previous cowl wearers have been able to do for years: Make Batman human again, and not in the sense of powerless Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson. But, more in the sense that placing Jim Gordon behind the mask brings us a normal man, a man that you could see walking a dog or shopping at Vons. This is a man who is grizzled and just needs to put the cigs away and hit the gym to be our savior.
For years Batman has operated outside the law and alongside them when needed, but never under GCPD rules and regs. Bringing Batman under the fold allows us to see a new interpretation of our Bat that is now regulated by law and order. For the first time Snyder has created a relatable.. eh.. mech-wearing relatable man-bat. He’s also made a name in the comic industry by not only writing realistic characters in precarious situations, but for having the ability to embody and humanize these larger-than-life heroes. Be it Bruce Wayne in the last 41 issues, or now Jim Gordon. A commissioner that now seems closer to Ben McKenzie’s interpretation of our fearless lawman. An interesting dynamic is Snyder’s voice for Gordon; on the outside, is this bunny-eared Mech that leaps headfirst into danger, but on the inside, is a man who questions how to think “bat-thoughts.” This new dynamic duo (mech and man) brings a fresh breath of creativity to the Bat world.
Capullo’s beautiful art also makes this issue a “must-own” for the true artist fanboys. The man always had the ability to make action scenes flow like effortless dance choreography, but never has there been more proof than — somehow — making a “bat-bunny” work in action. Cap brings the bat out of the shadows and into the light with a more colorful palette. Thanks to FCO Plascencia’s (Invincible) colors, this first issue finds Bat fighting a skittles vibrant energy monster that leaped off page like a neon light in Time Square. Point blank: This first issue in a new chapter is an excellent jumping-on point for new readers or old. Mastery of the previous issues may help, but not dampen the fun of the Dark Knight Jim Gordon. 4.5/5 Bat Bunnies agree!
You either know this title is for you, or it isn’t for you. I am not the target audience, and I was unfamiliar with Starfire aside from a few chance appearances (not much of a Teen Titans reader– not the right demographic), but I was pleasantly surprised by this reintroduction to her. The script by Harley Quinn co-writers and geek husband and wife, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti moved deftly, covering her origin in the first two pages, and getting rid of nitpicky details as “How does she get money? How’d she find a place to live? If she’s from another planet, how does she speak our language?” with the light wave of an expository hand, and cutting straight to what matters: the characters, and their relationships to each other. The story is light and moves quickly, climaxing at a hurricane that may or may not harbor something sinister. And, thankfully, the comic is fun: Kori’s imagining the literal meaning to idioms (such as “three big ones”, in reference to $3,000, which she imagines as meaning three elephants) pop up often, and her overt sexuality is retconned as being an innocent naivete towards human social norms. A lot is set up for future issues, and while I am not the primary target for this title, it is a fresh, fun read, and there’s a lot for new readers to like. 3.5/5 Parrots Named Burdie.
“Monsignor” Moody actually gave “The Divine One” a Batman book to review?! Crazy. Guess our resident “DC Minister” Gabe Carrasco must be busy. We enter a dark city without a Dark Knight, a Gotham without its Caped Crusader, and a search for the solution to its never-ending super bad epidemic. So…let’s make a big robot suit for someone — hell, anyone with a badge at least — to fight in! You gotta come up with something–and superstar writer Scott Snyder most certainly does, to which the stellar team-up of Francis Manupal (The Flash) and Brian Buccellatto (Sons of the Devil) effortlessly use to proficient results. But JUST WHO is going to wear the suit is the question swirling the skull of Harvey Bullock. Since I’m the self-proclaimed resident TV geek in our clergy of cool, it was great for me to witness a character I enjoy so much week-to-week on Gotham go grumpier and even more against the grain. There’s also a new police commissioner that wants Bullock to lead the task force with “Bat-Robot” but, of course, he’s not interested. And in the end of this particular ish, it seems that an inner department force is definitely causing some big shakeups. Not to forget, Fernando Blanco‘s (Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger) pencils took me back to the small black and white newspaper “dailys” from back in the day. I like. 3.5/5 Bibles.
***EARLY BONUS REVIEW***
Imagine a future where art was illegal. You like drawing? Death. You like owning art? Death. Basically, death surrounds art. The Tomorrows is about a group that is fighting for the right to be creative. They fight to keep humanity out from under the boot heel of a “33-year old with all the money in the world, a voracious drug habit and chronic masturbatory issues.” (Hey, the nameless head bad guy said it, not me.) The Tomorrows reads like something that the brainchild of Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis would have come up with. That brainchild is Curt Pires (LP, POP). His writing is fluid, intense, thought-provoking, and, dammit– I want Issue 2 right now. Pires does a great job of creating and establishing characters that you already care about. The dialogue is just that fracking good and sharp and witty and…when is Issue 2 coming out again? The simple, yet elegant art by Jason Copland (POP, Daredevil) sucks you right into the book from the very beginning, almost like reading an indie from the 90’s (and I say that with highest praise). Full of bravado, the sketches put forth no worries of offending anyone, and Copland’s quiet dynamics prove that less is most definitely more. For a measly $4, one of the best comics of the year can be yours, too. 5/5 Bibles.
Dark Horse Comics’ The Tomorrows #1 goes on sale July 8th.