DC Comics is trying something new. In the wake of their Rebirth initiative, the publisher has rapidly expanded its content to include diverse new imprints such as
Young Animal, Wildstorm, Black Label, Ink, and Zoom. As their lineup expands, it can be hard to figure out what to pick up each week. That’s what the Comics Beat managing editor Alex Lu, entertainment editor Kyle Pinion, and contributor Louie Hlad are here to help you with.
THIS WEEK: Kyle looks at the debut of the new Justice League Dark and reviews over some of the big DC-related SDCC news
Note: the reviews below contain **spoilers**. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Justice League Dark #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
Inks: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letters: Rob Leigh
This is going to be pretty brief, as I’m still in the throes of trying to transcribe some interviews from this past weekend and coordinate some of the remainder of our coverage with the team. I regret to inform you, really, that there are far too many comics from this week that I’d like to read but just haven’t been able to get to, specifically stuff like Action Comics #1001 and Wonder Woman #51 (Steve Orlando’s first issue).
Though, perhaps it’s just my excitement, or general interest in the direction of the Justice League line, but I did make time on Sunday night to crack open the debut issue of James Tynion and Alvaro Martinez Bueno’s Justice League Dark, this iteration of the team setting itself apart from the previous version by putting Wonder Woman front and center…and also by not sucking.
Here’s the deal: it’s a solid first issue overall. It carries all the typical hallmarks of a Tynion first chapter, and is overloaded at points with captions and talking heads especially. I recall I had the exact same problem with his first issue of Detective Comics, where it seemed like in order to make sure the reader “gets it”, he just bludgeoned you with words and more words. That mistake is somewhat repeated here, though it’s only really front-loaded at the beginning of the issue. By the time we get to Diana and Detective Chimp, the internal monologuing vanishes and gives way instead to lots of talking – which is better, but I still think you could cut about half of the word balloons on these pages and still get the point. It’s my ongoing complaint in a lot of what are seen as writer-centric comics: trust your artist. Martinez Bueno produces some really pretty work here, especially in the action beats where Wonder Woman is concerned, and they’re in really good lock-step together on the horror direction.
Frankly, it’s a minor complaint, because I basically liked the issue. Tynion’s got a good hook, a convincing threat in the Upside-Down Man, and much like Scott Snyder is doing with his own follow-up to Metal, Tynion is taking good advantage of the new status quo and gives this team an actual reason to get together, whereas I never could quite grasp why the New 52 Justice League Dark (what a stupid name) was a team in the first place.
Also, as much as I like Detective Chimp, I think Man Bat is the real key addition here. When sitting through his panel talk on the issue, I dug the idea he was selling about Kirk Langstrom as the Mad Scientist of this horror-inflected team, and in the issue that’s quite apparent right off the…uhh….bat. But, he’s also a pretty nice source of humor, and fills that same oddball quotient that Clayface filled during his Detective Comics run. What kind of nice about this team line-up is that you can sense the same passion Tynion had for Clayface with all of the members in attendance here, from Zatanna to Detective Chimp to Swamp Thing. That’s an exciting prospect, as while I was mixed on that previous run overall, his work with Basil Karlo was always pretty satisfying.
Speaking of Swamp Thing, there’s more than a little Alan Moore influence here…for better or worse. When these series were first announced, there was some minor hay made about this design of the character, and how he resembled Moore physically in this new redesign. It’s a debatable thing perhaps, but Alec Holland has never had a beard before, especially one that looks so much like the one sported by Northampton’s favorite son. But taken hand-in-hand with the fact that a big piece of the issue itself is driven by a plot Moore introduced in Swamp Thing itself, those comparisons start to get a little more uncomfortable. Just an observation, really. Aren’t they all?
As always, for the post big con round-ups, we usually just talk about the news on the DC-side, and this time around there was quite a bit!
- The biggest piece on the comics side being the announcement of a number of new creative teams, notably Grant Morrison/Liam Sharp on The Green Lantern and Kelly Sue DeConnick/Robson Rocha on Aquaman. Both of these announcements came only a few days before the news broke that G. Willow Wilson/Cary Nord were taking over Wonder Woman. I don’t think it can be understated how strong the core DC lineup looks right now, and this firmly shores up two lines that were flagging a bit, and the sales boosts will be quite noticeable. Also, while the new teams on Green Lantern and Wonder Woman launch in November, DeConnick/Rocha jump on-board in December, timed perfectly with the new movie’s release. Well done!
- There’s finally a new Shazam title coming, from Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham. Hooray! Fans of the character have waited six years, with only a few choice morsels to tide us over (The Multiversity and Convergence: Shazam!). A definite case of where we have the movie to thank, but I’ll take it.
- Scott Snyder announced a The Batman Who Laughs miniseries with Jock, so for you Metal fans out there, you’ve got more of that coming.
- Steve Orlando and Travel Foreman’s Electric Warriors, which is about the time of rebuild after The Great Disaster and the Kamandi-era, sounds very much like my kind of thing. I’ve always wanted to see someone explore that period that bridged Kamandi to the Legion of Super-Heroes and now we’ve got it. Going only six-issues with it is probably wise, given the likely narrow appeal of this sort of thing.
- Lots of trailers! The Titans trailer was quite bad, but I really enjoyed what I saw of Shazam!, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman 1984. Shazam! was the real hit of Hall H based on buzz, but the scope of Aquaman looks like it could be a blast that nobody sees coming. Or it could be a cgi overly-complex mess like Green Lantern was…it’s all going to rest on Jason Momoa’s shoulders and there’s the ongoing question of whether he can carry a film or not. Only a few months away from finding out.
- Alex and I got our hands on the DC Universe app finally, and much like Alex said in his write-up, we were surprised how robust the comics selection seems. I was able to pull up a number of more obscure titles, though nothing too far off the beaten path (no Slash Maraud or anything. I remain concerned about the rotation of titles, especially without much indication of how that’s determined, but the catalog looks to be strong enough at the outset for somebody who wants to really take a deep DC superhero dive. The actual tv and movie sides of things are a little more challenged. Not having access to the CW catalog (since it’s streaming on Netflix), or Batman: The Animated Series, or any of the newer DC movies (no Nolan or anything that comes after) seems to be a real hindrance. I have some cheeky fondness for the old Superboy show, but not many people are going to be dropping $7.99 a month for that kind of nostalgia trip. As of right now, the new tv shows and the comics are the thing…and with the former still a big a question mark, it’s really just the comics.
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