Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Uncanny X-Men Vol. 5: The Omega Mutant

This volume collects Uncanny X-Men #26-31, and if it's not the climax of Brian Michael Bendis' run on the title and the X-Men franchise in general, it's at least a major turning point, as by the time the volume ends the two warring schools status quo has been altered into a more traditional one.

It picks up right where the previous volume ended: During the hologaphic delivery of Professor Charles Xavier's last will and testament, the late mutant leader revealed that he's been keeping the most powerful mutant of all-time secret from everyone, including that mutant himself, by regularly mind-wiping him so that he doesn't realize his vast, destructive powers over time and space. Of course, if Xavier's dead, then it falls to his former students to deal once and for all with one Matthew Malloy, the omega level mutant who just disintegrated several city blocks by freaking out a little.

After some more quibbling amongst themselves, eventually Storm, Wolverine, Rachel and Cyclops get on a plane to meet with Malloy, with Beast consulting ("And--And he's more than an omega level mutant. He's more powerful than any mutant signature we've ever seen before.") Malloy turns out to be more powerful than expected, having telepathic and telekinetic powers as well. When a SHIELD helicarrier carrying the X-Men get near him, he brings it down and teleports the X-Men back to their respective schools.

Meanwhile, the junior X-Men at the New Xavier School (i.e. Cyclops' team) start to question what on Earth they're training for exactly, and Tempus decides on her own radical course of action for dealing with Malloy.

So too does Cyclops. With Magik and, later, Magneto, he attempts to talk Malloy down, essentially trying to recruit him to his cause (looked at one way), although, to be fair, looked at Cyclops' way, Cyke does have a lot of experience dealing with out-of-control, reality-warping mutants who can barely control their own powers.

As for Tempus, she just goes back in time to tell the still-alive Professor X that he needs to come up with a better plan for dealing with Malloy.

It ultimately goes sideways in the present, with Scott, Magik, Emma Frost and, a few pages later, what looks like the rest of the X-Men all being killed by either SHIELD's attack on Malloy or Malloy's powers reacting to threats against him.

Luckily, Tempus and Professor X did find a work around, with Xavier preventing Malloy's parents from ever meeting, which thus prevented him from ever being born. Meditate on the ethics of that cosmic, retroactive pre-abortion!

With the timeline re-set–an awfully weird device for Bendis to employ, really, considering how much the idea that "time is broken" has played into his recent writing, from Age of Ultron to All-New X-Men–so that Malloy never existed, the reading of the will goes quite differently, and essentially a few issues of Uncanny never happened, so far as any of the characters involved save Tempus know. She lets Cyclops know what happened though, in the midst of telling him off and dropping out of his school. Which he then dissolves anyway, without consulting even his fellow teachers.

His last words (this trade) to the assembled X-Men kind of choked me up a little, to be honest, although otherwise Bendis' strongest writing in this particular volume has been in the jokes and clever exchanges department.

So where are we now? The Jean Grey School is the only X-Men school, meaning Cyclops' students and, presumably, his fellow teachers will be absorbed into Storm's school. Cyclops isn't exactly sure what he's going to do next, but he's had a lot to think about. Iceman is extremely angry with Cyclops, up to the point that he seems to be considering killing him. And Beast is in complete despair in terms of the X-Men's place in the world, as no one responded to his plea for help–although his plea was erased form the timeline by Tempus' actions, so maybe he's cool now.

Secret Wars has already started, and Bendis' X-Men run is coming to a close, so there's not much space left in the writer's story. If this wasn't the climax, then the next volume should be, and if it was, then the next volume will either be the conclusion or the denouement.

*********************

Look at these panels:
Kris Anka
I've talked at length about the lame way that Bendis uses swearing in his Marvel comics before, essentially writing in swear words just to censor them with grawlixes, so that anyone who has heard a swear word before (meaning anyone who can read) will be able to fill in the blanks, while Bendis and Marvel look juvenile, over-sensitive and just plain weird by swearing without swearing.

I've also noted that the symbols in the grawlixes he uses don't generally match up, so that instead of using four symbols in a phrase like "Fuck you!" he'll use five or six, so it will look like "@#$%^ you!," leaving one wondering if there's a one symbol-to-one letter correlation and, if so, what weird-ass swearing his haracters are employing. If it's spelled "@#$%^ you!" is it not, in fact, "Fuck you!" but, let's see..."Bitch you!" or "Shits you!" or "Cocks you!" or...I don't know.

Anyway, the swear words that Wolverine and Cyclops use in the above passage would, most logically, be "shit." As in, "All our shit aside, Logan." But there aren't four symbols; there are seven. What swear word has seven letters?

"Asshole," of course. But it doesn't really fit, does it? "All our asshole aside, Logan. He lied to us." "Our asshole not aside."

No, it doesn't work. So I'm assuming the word they're using is "fuckery."

"Xavier lied to all of us. All our fuckery aside, Logan. He lied to us."

"Our fuckery not aside."

Yeah, that's perfect. That actually describes what occurs between the characters in X-Men comics pretty well: Fuckery.

Also, I really enjoyed Iceman's dig in that third panel.

*********************

Speaking of Iceman, he also gets my second favorite line in this book:
Chris Bachalo

Monday, May 25, 2015

This Memorial Day Every Day Is Like Wednesday would like to honor

the brave men and women of The Justice League who have made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives to keep their country and/or their world and/or their universe safe, secure and free.

SUPERMAN
1938-1992


BATMAN
1939-2009 2015


WONDER WOMAN
1941-1997


AQUAMAN
1941-2007


THE FLASH BARRY ALLEN
1956-1985


GREEN LANTERN HAL JORDAN
1959-1996


MARTIAN MANHUNTER
1955-2008


GREEN ARROW
1941-1995


THE ELONGATED MAN
1960-2007


FIRESTORM
1978-2004


VIBE
1984-1987


STEEL
1984-1990


METAMORPHO
1965-1988 1997


ICE
1988-1994


GUY GARDNER
1968-2001


BLUE BEETLE
1985-2005


TRIUMPH
1994-2000


TASMANIAN DEVIL
1986-2009


TOMORROW WOMAN
1997-1997


AZTEK
1996-2000


ZAURIEL
1997-2000


GREEN LANTERN KYLE RAYNER
1994-2009 2013


MANITOU RAVEN
2002-2005

Sure, most of them picked their lives back up again later, but it's the thought that counts.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Marvel's August previews reviewed

By my count, Marvel plans to publish 79 comic book-format books this August, if you include the issues of books that will double-ship that month, like Guardains Team-Up and Star Wars: Lando. Of those 79 comics, 62 of them will be Secret Wars tie-in, including Secret Wars #6 and the various titles dealing with the events of Secret Wars, whether or not their solicitation ends with the words "SECRET WARS SERIES" or not (like Ms. Marvel and Magneto, for example).

That seems like an awful lot of comics, although, to be fair, the tie-ins seem set up in such a way that few if any of them are at all necessary to the plot of Secret Wars, and are instead more an exercise in in the creators from Marvel's surprisingly deep bench (plus some outsiders) taking a fairly unique opportunity to play with the characters and concepts of the Marvel Universe in ways they wouldn't normally be able to.

Most of the books look like they will be somewhere between mildly interesting and totally awesome, although I should also note that they are all $3.99 (or more) a pop–only Ms. Marvel and the two books based on Marvel cartoons are still at the once-standard $2.99 price point. Looking at these then fills me with anxiety then, as I'm really rather interested in reading a lot of them, but I'm not sure how I'll be able to do so.

Certainly many of the Secret Wars tie-in series will be long and distinct enough that they will almost certainly be collected on their own, like Thors, Weirdworld or Where Monsters Dwell. Those I can buy in trade or find easily at a library.

But what about something like, say, this month's Howard The Human, a one-shot? I'm assuming it will end up being collected with similar humorous one-shots, like this month's Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra, which I am not interested in reading. I suppose I could just borrow that eventual trade from the library and read the parts I want, but hoo boy, is that going to be hard to find, as by that point there should be dozens of books with the words "Secret Wars" somewhere in their title and, if past Marvel events are any indication, several books will have almost identical titles, and every library tends to catalog titles their own way.

I'm considering quitting my day job at a local library and applying for a job at a local comic shop, just so I can read all of these damn things for free while I'm "working" just to keep up.

I was also curious to see which books were not tying in to Secret Wars in any way, shape or form. Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Avengers...most of Marvel's biggest and most reliable franchises are being sucked into Secret Wars completely, while the books shipping in August that have nothing to do with it include those on the fringes, like All-New Hawkeye, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and some Guardians of The Galaxy-related books.

Finally, if you've read through all of Marvel's August solicitations–which you can do here, you'll notice that, like DC Comics, they too will have a theme for their variant covers for the month (aside from "a lot," of course, which is their regular, ongoing theme for every month). Many of those solicitations include the words "MANGA ARTIST VARIANT COVER BY TBA."

Assuming TBA is an acronym for To Be Announced and not the name of a particular manga studio, then it would appear that Marvel plans to have manga artists draw a bunch of covers for their books that are shipping in three months, they just haven't lined-up which artists yet.

At least, I'm assuming from the phrasing that they will be hiring actual manga artists, rather than having American artists draw in manga style, otherwise I'm assuming it would say "MANGA VARIANT COVER BY TBA."

Anyway, because Secret Wars continues to so dominate Marvel's output, there's not a whole lot to say about this crop of books, other than "Huh, that looks weird," but let's take a look anyway, shall we...?


A-FORCE PRESENTS VOL. 1 TPB
Written by NATHAN EDMONDSON, KELLY SUE DECONNICK, G. WILLOW WILSON, CHARLES SOULE, JASON AARON & RYAN NORTH
Penciled by PHIL NOTO, DAVID LOPEZ, ADRIAN ALPHONA, JAVIER PULIDO, RUSSELL DAUTERMAN & ERICA HENDERSON
Cover by RUSSELL DAUTERMAN, DAVID LOPEZ & SARA PICHELLI
Marvel’s most amazing heroes step into the spotlight in this all-action book packed with adventure, danger, drama…and fun! Black Widow seeks redemption for her past — in ways the Avengers wouldn’t approve! Carol Danvers takes on the legacy of Captain Marvel and lives her dream of traveling to the stars! Teenager Kamala Khan fights crime as Ms. Marvel — but is she ready for this dangerous new life? She-Hulk isn’t just a green powerhouse — her skills as an attorney will knock her opponents’ socks off! A mysterious woman wields the enchanted hammer Mjolnir, and claims the powers of the mighty Thor! And Squirrel Girl faces her greatest challenge yet: college! Whatever your tastes, there’s something here for everyone! Collecting BLACK WIDOW (2014) #1, CAPTAIN MARVEL (2014) #1, MS. MARVEL (2014) #1, SHE-HULK (2014) #1, THOR (2014) #1 and UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1.
136 PGS./Rated T+ …$14.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9898-7


Well this looks kinda dumb. While I like those issues that are included that I've read a whole lot–Ms. Marvel #1 and She-Hulk #1–and the idea of a sort of sampler of comics starring Marvel heroines sounds solid in theory, I don't really see how this will fly.

Based on the page-count, price-point and the fact that it has an ISBN, I'm assuming this will be a trade paperback format book with a spine, something you'd find on the shelves of a book store or a library (and with the trades at a comic shop), rather than on a comic rack somewhere (They still have those here and there, right? I know I've seen comics racked with magazines at Barnes and Noble, at least).

But say you invest $15 in it, and you like a couple of the books, like perhaps you liked Ms. Marvel #1 and She-Hulk #1 as much as I did, enough to decide you want to follow those series. Well, then you'd by the first volume of those trades, and you'd be re-buying chapters you've already bought and owned (Unless you're just using your library to get trades, in which case never mind). If you're going to gamble $15 in the hopes of finding a series you'll like, why not just start with Ms. Marvel Vol. 1...? If you like somewhere between one and all of these issues, it's going to be something of a waste to buy this trade. And if you don't like any of them, well, that's also a waste. (A money-losing $3, comic book-format collection of three of those titles might have been a better bet).

There's an excellent chance that I have no idea what I'm talking about, of course. Maybe this will prove to be the American equivalent of those phonebook-sized manga anthology periodicals they put out in Japan, and everyone will buy the hell out of it.

I also kind of hate the name, and I'm not sure why they picked it. "A-Force" is, of course, the name of the all-lady Avengers team in one of the Secret Wars tie-ins. You've probably heard of it. It was in The New York Times and everything. It's a dumb name, even in the context of its own book, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of this book, save for the fact that some of the characters appearing in this also appear in A-Force. Why you'd want to drag Secret Wars continuity baggage into a trade seemingly aimed at brand-new readers, however, I don't know. Perhaps Marvel thought the "A-Force" name would boost the marketability, given the media coverage of Secret Wars during the time the volume would be released. Even still, it has a built-in expiration date, as A-Force, like everything else tied to Secret Wars, is a temporary state of affairs.

That said, I'm afraid I can't think of a better name. It beats Girl Comics, I suppose.


Oh my, look at all the Cat-Beasts on Ian Bertram's cover for E Is For Extinction! Wait, I mean, Oh my stars and garters, look at all the Cat-Beasts on Ian Bertram's cover for E Is For Extinction! I just want to pet the hell out of everyone on that cover. Except for the one dude not covered in blue fur, of course. But maybe I'd tousle his hair.


HOWARD THE HUMAN #1
SKOTTIE YOUNG (w) • JIM MAHFOOD (a)
Cover by JIM MAHFOOD
VARIANT COVER BY TBA
• Spend a day with Howard, a private investigator and the only human living in city full of animals. But not, like, criminals and lowlifes. We’re talking elephants, apes, ducks and kitty cats. Catching a case, grinding a few gears, dodging some bullets and almost getting killed by an anthropomorchic monstrosity. It’s just another Monday for Howard the Human brought to you by Skottie Young (ROCKET RACCOON) and Jim Mahfood (MIAMI VICE REMIX).
32 PGS./ONE SHOT/Rated T+ …$3.99


Well, this is a funny title, although it seems like the kind of gag in which the title is the entire joke (kind of like the way headlines at The Onion are generally sufficient, and one need not read the article itself). That said, it's Young and Mahfood, so if there is more to the gag, it's a pretty sure bet those two can find it. If nothing else, you've got at least 20-pages of Mahfood drawing animals.


KANAN - THE LAST PADAWAN #5
GREG WEISMAN (W) • PEPE LARRAZ (A)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
• Caleb has been captured by Clone Troopers Grey & Styles!
• Can he turn his back on his Jedi training completely?
• The final chapter of the secret origin of Star Wars Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
Star Wars © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Text and illustrations for Star Wars are © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.


Oh, I have not.


I like this Ms. Marvel cover by the ever reliable Kris Anka. That is all.


SECRET WARS: SECRET LOVE #1
MICHEL FIFFE, FELIPE SMITH, MARGUERITE BENNETT, JEREMY WHITLEY, KATIE COOK & MORE! (w)
MICHEL FIFFE, FELIPE SMITH, KRIS ANKA, GURIHIRU, KATIE COOK & MORE! (a)
Cover by DAVID NAKAYAMA
VARIANT COVER BY TBA
• WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, CAN THEIR LOVE SURVIVE?
• ROBBIE REYES/KAMALA KHAN!
• TYPHOID MARY/KAREN PAGE/MATT MURDOCK!
• AND MANY MORE SECRET LOVE AFFAIRS...
40 PGS./ONE SHOT/Parental Guidance …$4.99
*SECRET WARS SERIES


Well, I count about a half-dozen creators I really like, and two of my favorite newer Marvel characters on the cover, so this looks good. Now I wonder where it will end up being collected...


THORS #3
JASON AARON (w) • CHRIS SPROUSE & GORAN SUDZUKA (A)
Cover BY CHRIS SPROUSE
VARIANT COVER BY DALE KEOWN
MANGA ARTIST VARIANT COVER BY TBA
• After a series of brutal and mysterious murders, the Thors have finally brought in a suspect for questioning -- Loki!
• But how does one get the truth from the Prince of Lies?
• The Ultimate Thor is about to find out…
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
*SECRET WARS SERIES


The problem with a police force composed entirely out of Thors is that they'll always be bringing Loki in for questioning, wont' they?


WEIRDWORLD #4
JASON AARON (w) • MIKE DEL MUNDO (a/C)
MANGA ARTIST VARIANT COVER BY TBA
• The weirdness continues as Arkon finds himself trapped in the swamp of the Man-Things. Meanwhile, the evil sorceress Morgan le Fay marches with her army of Lava Men and gun-toting ogres toward Arkon’s home of Polemachus.
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
*SECRET WARS SERIES

The only thing better than seeing the word "Man-Thing" pop up in Marvel solicitations may be seeing the word "Man-Things" pop up in Marvel solicitations.


Over the years, I have seen many images of white men cooking in stew pots. And I have seen many images of dinosaurs hungrily eyeing human beings. But I don't think I've ever seen both things in the same image before. So way to go Frank Cho. This is, by the way, the cover for August's issue of Where Monsters Dwell, the Garth Ennis/Russell Braun series in which The Phantom Eagle fights dinosaurs.


Check out Pepe Larraz's cover for X-Men '92 #3, a series I hope against hope will continuing publishing until it reaches 100 issues, just because I will enjoy typing X-Men '92 #92 someday. Now I'm not generally a fan of Deadpool and his antics, but is that Deadpool inventing the selife decades early with a nunchuck-mounted Polaroid camera...? Okay, bravo Deadpool.

Friday, May 22, 2015

DC's August Previews Reviewed

The variant theme for this month–every month has a variant theme now, apparently–is another round of "Bombshells" variants. As you're likely aware, those are the covers in which various DC heroines were presented as WWII-era pin-up girls in various contexts (mostly having to do with advertising of some sort, like Mera advertising Atlantean tourism, or Wonder Woman-as-Rosie The Riveter on an inspirational, war effort-like poster). It's also the name of a line of those goofy little statues; I'm not sure which came first, the statues or the variants, but the latter certainly seemed rather popular (and often very cool; the A League of Their Own-style Batwoman may just be my favorite Batwoman costume ever).

So this month we get another bunch of Bombshell covers, this time including male heroes as well. I recall some complaining that there were no male Bombshell covers on the Internet the last time, and while I kind of rolled my eyes at the time–I suppose it was sexist, but then, they were evoking a sexist art form from a sexist time period–but DC apparently heard and responded to that criticism.

One could still quibble that most of the men aren't as unclothed as the women–and something tells me some of those who complained about the lack of male Bombshells last time will do so–but we do get a shirtless Aquaman, so hey, there's that (Kind of disappointed that we don't get a similarly exposed Nightwing, as Dick Grayson is the universally-acknowledted Sexiest Man Alive...In The DC Universe. Maybe if they do a month of People magazine-inspired covers).

More interesting still, DC is launching a Bombshells comic book series, which will apparently feature some sort of super-team consisting of various Bombshell designed characters. That's kind of exciting; I enjoyed the similar Ame-Comi Girls series...at least for a few issues. I liked seeing those designs in a comic book, a medium I enjoy, rather than in a collectible statue, a medium I don't understand the appeal of. That particular series lost me after a half-dozen issues, as the story sort of meandered into medioctricty (the inconsistent, ever-changing art didn't help), but it was fun from a curiosity-sating point-of-view for a while. I assume this will be at least as good.

Other than that, DC seems to just be just keeping-on with their new, post-New 52,
"DC You" (they're not really calling it that, are they?) status quo. For the complete solicitations for the comics DC plans to publish in August, you can click here; otherwise, stick around here for my talking about 'em...

Okay, so here's Action Comics, where we see our first male "Bombshell," in the form of Superman, being held aloft by his sometimes cousin, Power Girl. As you can see, he's not showing as much flesh as some of the other female bombshells. On the other hand, OH MY GOD LOOK AT HIS MUSTACHE IT'S SO COOL!!!!

Superman's gone through like three or four different redesigns since September of 2011, but I think it's safe to say that this, this is the best of them all. Throw a short cape on Bombshell Superman, and let's have that guy start appearing on all the Superman books, huh?

(Say, did you guys read DC's FCBD offering? In it, we learned that Lois Lane revealed Superman's dual identity to the world, and, in order to disguise himself, he stopped wearing glasses and started wearing a hoodie with the hood up. Not exactly a master of disguise. But hey, what if he grew that fantastic mustache? Surely no one would recognize him then! It just makes so much sense for Superman to have an old-timey handlebar mustache in current continuity!)



AQUAMAN #43
Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art and cover by TREVOR McCARTHY
Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Since his exile from Atlantis, Aquaman has been exhibiting strange new powers. Now learn the secret of these powers as the former king comes face-to-face with Poseidon! And as the Atlantis of old wages war on Earth, the forces behind Arthur and Mera’s estrangement are revealed! All is not what it seems...


Well, I don't like the looks of what appears to be a strange new direction for Aquaman, although, to be fair, I haven't seen much of it, just a few covers and the eight-page preview in the back of Convergence: Suicide Squad #2. It strikes me as pretty early for such a radical overhaul, and Cullen Bunn is the third writer on the series so far. Aquaman has had a relatively low turnover for a New 52 book, but that's simply because the bar being set low. Three writers in a little over three years is too many (By contrast, DC's best and best-selling New 52 book, Batman, has had exactly one writer; I haven't been too fond of Justice League, but it too sells really well and has had but one writer since the relaunch).

The one thing I do like about this new direction is that it seems to introduce a version of Garth/Tempest, in a blue costume and general design somewhat akin to that of the one he sports on Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go!. I like his old magical scar/tattoo better than this one though...

Oh yeah, and how about that Ant Lucia variant cover? There's some Bombshell beefcake to go with the cheesecake!


BATGIRL #43
Written by CAMERON STEWART and BRENDEN FLETCHER
Art by BABS TARR
Cover by DAVID LAFUENTE
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Tech genius Luke Fox has brought his startup to Burnside, and he seems to be hiring all of Barbara’s friends…but not her! Unfortunately, someone else is setting up shop in Burnside as well…the mysterious Velvet Tiger!


Velvet Tiger?! If you were to ask me to name a Batgirl villain–not a Batman villain that Batgirl sometimes fights, or an Oracle villain–Velvet Tiger would be both the first and last name I would be able to think of. So I'm pretty excited to see her appearing in Batgirl, especially since I anticipate it being a pretty cool design, based on, um, everything Stewart and Tarr have designed and drawn for this book so far.


BATMAN #43
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art by GREG CAPULLO and DANNY MIKI
Cover by GREG CAPULLO
Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
In the start of a new epic, a new villain stalks Gotham City. Will Batman be able to uncover the mystery of Mr. Bloom?


Now that's a Batman villain! He's got a striking, intriguing look which, when paired with his name, makes it so I can't wait to find out exactly what his whole deal is.


BATMAN ‘66 #26
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art by LUKAS KETNER
Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Can it be? Is Louie the Lilac really pushing up daisies? Batman’s investigation of the criminal’s apparent demise leads him to the abandoned Isley Nursery. But it’s a floral trap that awaits the Dynamic Duo as they encounter a new villainess, the one and only Poison Ivy!


In a month devoted to special variant covers featuring sexy drawings, regular old Batman '66 cover artist Mike Allred delivers the month's sexiest drawing. I'm pretty sure I've said this a few times before–probably 25 times before, based on the issue number–but DC reeeaaaalllly needs to get Allred to draw an entire issue of Batman '66 some day. Preferably one starring Batgirl.


BATMAN YEAR 100 DELUXE EDITION HC
Written by PAUL POPE
Art and cover by PAUL POPE
On sale OCTOBER 14 • 240 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875”, $29.99 US
Visionary writer/artist Paul Pope presents a futuristic mystery of epic proportions! In Gotham City, 2039, a federal agent is murdered, and a contingent of Washington’s top agents is hot on the trail of the Batman, long thought gone, but now the suspect in the murder. This new collection of the 4-issue miniseries includes never before published sketch material!

If you like comics, Batman and/or Paul Pople–and I have good reason to believe you like at least one of those things–than you're going to want to read this. If, for some reason you haven't, it looks like DC is offering a nice, big, "deluxe" version for you to purchase late this summer (although you can find trades of it in your library right this second). Years after reading it for the first time, I'm not super-clear on all of the individual aspects of the plot, which seemed very post-9/11 (to the point that I'm curious about how it might have aged), but what I remember most clearly are 1.) The contents of Batman's utility belt laid-out and explained, which I found interesting and exciting (as it handicapped Pope from the easy cheat of having Batman pull-out whatever the hell the writer wanted at any given point), 2.) Batman eating (something one hardly ever sees), 3.) Batman's fake vampire teeth, which took the whole theatrical, dressing-like-a-bat-to-scare-criminals thing to a logical, hilarious extreme and 4.) How goddam awesome that folded-up Bat-cycle in a tarp looked; it was like a giant, mechanical bat hanging upside down (I'm pretty sure a much weaker version of that showed up in a Batman comic within the last few months).

Anyway, this is awesome.


CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER #3
Written by MING DOYLE and JAMES TYNION IV
Art by VANESA DEL REY
Cover by RILEY ROSSMO
...
On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
...
Someone is murdering ghosts, a supernatural crime so impossible to solve that John Constantine is forced to return to London and seek help from the one person he hates more than any other; a magician above reproach, a darling of London high society, and a friend to superheroes everywhere. She is Georgiana Snow…the HECKBLAZER!

I really like the first nine words of this solicitation, especially the first four.


DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #1
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 12 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
...
The ultra-popular statues from DC Collectibles come to life in their own ongoing comic book series! Learn the story behind this alternate reality where the Second World War is fought by superpowered women on the front lines and behind the scenes! It all begins with the stories of Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl.


So here's the aforementioned Bombshells comic. Based on the cover, and the similar Ame-Comi Girls series, I assume this will be some kind of super-team book, but reading the solicitation closely, perhaps it will be more of an anthology series.

Whichever, I'll be interested in checking it out. I am particularly amused by the thought that DC chose this particular creative team based solely on the fact that they both have the same first name.


This variant cover for Deathstroke is a good example of one that elicits an increasingly common reaction from me: Why couldn't the interior of the book reflect the infinitely more interesting variant cover than the story of the regular cover?


Despite having died and had her consciousness somehow downloaded into a Red Tornado android, Lois Lane is apparently returning to her old job as a reporter on the new Earth-2, which I'm assuming is going to be Telos, terraformed into something more Earth-like after the events of Convergences (If that is the case, I wonder if it will stay in the universe of Earth-0, where Telos is headed, return to whatever universe Telos was housed in, or if it will return to the universe Earth-2 is from?).

I was all set to make a comment about how ridiculously tight her business attire is, but then I remembered she has been completely naked, without so much as a cape to cover her shoulders and back, since she came online.


THE FLASH #43
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI and VAN JENSEN
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
Barry Allen is a man divided, forced to either help his father remain on the run from the law, or bring him to justice. As Barry grapples with that impossible choice, The Flash becomes a target of the Folded Man, a mysterious deadly new villain to Central City who’s hell-bent on tearing The Flash apart—literally!

Created by writer Mark Waid in 1999, back when the star of The Flash was a mysterious character in a black costume and Waid was stoking speculation as to who was under the mask as a strong-selling point, The Folded Man comes from a particularly unusual vintage to be reintroduced post-Flashpoint. He's so young a character, and so associated with a particular creator, that this is one of those instances where I actually feel kind of funny about other creators using him.

Like, they're only 43 issues into this new volume of The Flash; did they really run out of all the other villain to use, and all the new villains of their own they want to create? (Did they use The Turtle yet? They should use The Turtle.)


Hey, that's not Green Arrow on the Bombshell variant for Green Arrow #43, it's Black Canary! And now she has her own book, so shouldn't be be on a variant cover for Black Canary...?

Regardless, this is a particularly nice offering by Ant Lucia (Did you know I have a sister named Lucia? Which makes her my nieces' Aunt Lucia?).

Because of the text, though, whenever I look at it, all I can think of is this extremely weird bit from the extremely weird Batman: The Brave and The Bold cartoon.


Okay, that's pretty cool. Bravo, Ant Lucia.


I like how all three of these superheroines (only one of whom is actually on the Justice League) are wearing versions of uniforms from different branches of the military.

You know, it's really too bad that Mera's become such a horrible character, as she would actually fit in okay with the Justice League, with her and Aquaman kinda sorta replacing the old Satellite Era Hawkman and Hawkgirl as the team's married couple. (Or wait, was Hawkgirl just an ally, because of some clause in the JLA charter about no duplication of powers? Which was bullshit, considering the overlap in Superman and Martian Manhunters' power-sets. Maybe I'm just thinking of Hawkman and Hawkgirl from the Alex Ross fantasy version of the Satellite Era League...(

SECTION 8 #3
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art by JOHN McCREA
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T+
All of Sixpack’s problems are solved when J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter, volunteers for the team—ready to blaze into battle with the heroes of Section Eight. But as news spreads across the DC Universe, can our hero’s good luck really last? Can Bueno Excellente defeat an unexpected rival for the hand of his lady love? What is J’onn J’onzz thinking? And what’s that smell?

And speaking of J'onn J'onnz...! You know, I don't even think Section Eight is the worst superhero team J'onn's ever been on. I mean, he was on the Justice League Task Force during the '90s...

(Kidding! I loved and still love JLTF! Even if there were some of the worst DC Universe costumes prior to The New 52 on that team, and the L-Ron-in-Despero never really made much sense to me).

I wonder if I'll ever get used to the new shape of Martian Manhunter's head...


No lie: I love Zoot Suit Sinestro. Imagine how much cooler the Sinestro Corps would be if they all wore matching yellow zoot suits.


SUICIDE SQUAD VOL. 1: TRIAL BY FIRE TP
Written by JOHN OSTRANDER
Art by LUKE McDONNELL, KARL KESEL and BOB LEWIS
Cover by JERRY BINGHAM
On sale SEPTEMBER 2 • 232 pg, FC, $19.99 US
In these stories from SUICIDE SQUAD #1-8 and SECRET ORIGINS #14, the team must take down the evil Jihad before it can attack the U.S. Then, the Squad is sent into Russia to extract a famous dissident—but can they get out alive?

Good news? DC is finally printing a collection of the fan-favorite, critically-acclaimed Suicide Squad series by John Ostrander and company. Bad news? It's another printing of the one volume they've already printed. Hopefully this just means they're getting ready to start collecting the whole damn thing, as I have to assume there's going to be more interest in Suicide Squad comics in the next year or so than there has been in a long, long time, and well, it wouldn't hurt to have the good stuff available as well.

I had a friend tell me a friend of hers was interested in reading some Suicide Squad comics based solely on the announcement of the film, and wanted some recommendations for good Suicide Squad comics, since she'd heard the New 52 stuff was all pretty terrible (It is!). Trial By Fire was about all I could come up with.


And now it's time for my monthly making fun of the Teen Titans' costumes! So, just for the sake of comparing and contrasting, here are the variant cover and the regular cover for August's issue of Teen Titan, the former of which features Raven in a radically designed version of her costume...which still looks much closer in visuals and spirit to her original costume, and the costume she's worn in the two cartoons in which she's played a prominent role.

Can you even find raven on the "regular" cover? Do you think you'd be able to if you didn't know that her costume looked like she was wearing a suit of icicles already, and you only knew her from watching Teen Titans and Teen Titans go?


And hey, speaking of Teen Titans Go!, here's TTG's Dan Hipp's cover for the comic book-based on the cartoon-based on the comic books!

This too is a good example of the weakness of the New 52 costume designs. Hipp manages to draw them all pretty well, and to make them "fit" in his style and the world of this version of the Teen Titans, but man, compare those ultra-busy, line-filled costumes to the smoother, less-fussy costumes of the Titans in the foreground.

Also, where's your mustaches Diana? Don't use that old "But I'm a woman!" excuse. Starfire and Raven aren't letting a little thing like "being female" stopping them from sporting awesome mustaches.

...

Hey, this is the second time I've talked at some length about mustaches in this post. Maybe that will be the theme for the next round of variants: Mustaches.

No, better to wait for No-Shave November, when they can do mustaches and beards...