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God of Comics – Wonder Woman / Conan #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 22, 2017

Wonder Woman / Conan #1 (DC Comics)

We stumbled across the announcement for this title about a month back and could scarcely believe it – it’s not a crossover that has happened before but you’d think it would have. These are two characters that compliment one another quite a bit, though their origins and creators are vastly different.

William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, was a psychologist involved in a polyamorous relationship back in the twenties and invented the lie detector. He was a fascinating man who gave us one of the most enduring characters of the medium and one of the cornerstones of DC Comics as a whole, even though a lot of the people that have written her since haven’t gotten what she’s about.

And what she is about is Truth and Mercy. We go on about this quite a lot, I think, but we go on about it because so many writers don’t seem to get it, but occasionally someone does and the character just clicks. Gail Simone is one of those writers. She gave us a seminal run with the character that has informed pretty much everything that came afterward, the equivalent of the Walt Simonson run on Thor.

Both of those runs – Simonson’s Thor and Simone’s Wonder Woman – have been collected in trade and they are well worth hunting down and reading. They’re pretty much the best way to get a feel for either character.

Robert E. Howard, on the other hand, is the guy who pretty much invented the sword and sorcery genre. He published anthology stories and invented Conan the Barbarian as his central character, a wandering warrior who was as much about clever trickery as swordplay. He also had some… well, his views on race and gender were pretty standard for their time, but they haven’t aged well.

Interestingly, his stories have. Like the best writers, his characters took on a life of their own and Conan often seemed to oppose the views the author held – he was as much liberator as conquerer. It’s interesting that while Robert espoused views that denigrated civilization as a whole, Conan himself took for granted the social cues of civilized society and Robert was a massive patron of the arts in general and writing in particular.

For example, Robert was a huge fan of Lovecraft and helped develop the Cthulhu mythos. Conan existed within that world, too… and so did Red Sonja. To the best of my knowledge, Gail Simone hasn’t written Conan in the past, but she did write one of the best runs on a Red Sonja comic you’ll ever read and that gives us some pretty high expectations going into this title.

So, it’s with all this in mind that we see these two character crossover – the Amazon princess who works with philosophy as much as strength of arm and the barbarian savage who whose philosophies serve his own aims in all things. There’s a lot to work through here and Gail immediately seizes the throat of her narrative by asking what makes these characters legendary? Why do they endure when other characters fall by the wayside and are forgotten? Is it the will of their in-world gods that they succeed or is it in spite of them, and does that spite make them who they are?

We don’t know yet. We haven’t read the comic, but we’re going to.

And we know it’s going to be gorgeous – Aaron Lopresti and Matthew Ryan are on art duties. The former has done some incredible work with Wonder Woman in the past, and this project sees him reunited with Gail Simone to further that aforementioned legendary run. Matthew Ryan is another Wonder Woman alum with both Simone and Lopresti, and he’s done some incredible color work that should serve this story well.

This has been a really good week for comics, and this title is the one we’re most looking forward to.

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312

God of Comics – The Wild Storm #7

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 20, 2017

The Wild Storm #7 (DC Comics)

There’s got to be something immensely satisfying about giving Warren Ellis the keys to your kingdom.

We’ve read what he can do with forgotten characters and concepts (Nextwave), read what he can so with meta-narratives (Supreme: Blue Rose), read how he can take old characters and modernize them (Injection), even taken established characters and rebuild them into something recognizable-but-new (Moon Knight). We’ve even seen how he can take a bare-bones video game story and turn it into something awesome (Castlevania). It’s Warren Ellis. No one can touch him.

So, let’s talk Wildstorm. The imprint was the embodiment of the nineties – flashy and kind of stupid but groping towards maturity and surprisingly deep. There were some very serious questions about god and mortality, some quiet meditations on personhood and evolution and the true nature of power, on expectation meeting reality. Some of the very best comics spilled out of the Wildstorm imprint (for Emp’s sake, read Sleeper).

The nu52, with its weird nineties obsession, tried to marry the Wildstorm imprint in with the DCU – and this didn’t work. The DCU is about opera and all that entails, while Wildstorm evolved into stories about shades of gray and conspiracy. The two could crossover with one another (and frequently did!) but not co-exist because they are so thematically different.

When the powers-that-be at DC Comics decided they wanted readers again, they rebooted their world with Rebirth, and that ended up being an insanely wise decision that has seen their whole line meet widespread acclaim. Good for them. The Wildstorm imprint got left to one side, though, its characters and mythos abandoned in that moment.

I like to imagine Warren Ellis as more of a force of nature than a mere mortal. I have pretty wild head-canon about how Nextwave came into being and I’ve got a similar head-canon for this comic: the DC Comics editorial board gets ready for a meeting against a window sunset. The room is locked, protected, sealed – and yet, when they gather, a single chair slowly turns around. The chair is empty.

The door closes. Warren Ellis is behind them.

I have an idea,” Warren says, and the whole room panics. They catch glimpses of the unknown realities that dance in the frame of this one man. They fear him, the small hairs on their arms standing up from the sheer electric creativity he brings with him.

So do I,” says Jim Lee, the lightning infecting him. “You should re-write the whole Wildstorm universe.”

And Warren smiles because the idea he had has permeated reality. He is an ascended being, you see. He, along with a very few masters, has loved the written word so much that he has become the very spirit of Writer.

He’s gone slowly with this, introducing the complexities and concepts of the Wildstorm he’s envisioned. We’re just now getting into the aliens that circle the world and live within it, devoured the concept of covert action teams and the human division of heaven and earth. A small cast thus far, but a promise of more to come as the story demands them. This is what the Wildstorm imprint looks like all grown up, building to the sword of Damocles hanging lightly overhead.

Artist Jon Davis-Hunt has a knack for expression and structure that serves this story well, underlining the underlying text with subtle cues. He’s plotting out soul architecture here, and it brings a sense of realism to the ground-level identity this comic craves. Colorists Steve Buccellato and John Kalisz work with varying shades of being, painting a world into hues that seem light but bleed shadows.

This comic is the perfect echo of the nineties having found the maturity a decade spent groping for. It’s immaculate, quick and lethal and thoughtful, prone to eerie revelation, terror, and resignation mingled with a chance that things might be okay again someday, if only we are willing to fight right now. Find your halo, pick up this comic, and get ready for the war to come.

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354

God of Comics – Wonder Woman #30

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 15, 2017

Wonder Woman #30 (DC Comics)

Yesterday, we talked the Shadow. Today, we’re talking Wonder Woman.

It’s interesting to draw the parallel between these two wildly different characters: they are both champions, they both kill, but the single most important thing about them both is where their power comes from.

Both of them draw their power from the Truth.

The Shadow knows only the evil that gnaws at the soul of all humankind. Diana has things a little better, but her iconic lasso allows her to know the truth of any person or situation, full and unbridled. Given this, she has seen more than her fair share of evil, of misunderstanding, of projection and hate. Her power comes from looking down into the core of the individual and the group, but she bears a second power that makes all the difference.

For all his fury, the Shadow can only answer evil with evil. Diana’s second greatest power, however, is mercy.

She is as strong and fast as Superman, a warrior born of clay and literal divinity. She was trained from childhood for war and philosophy, away from the world of men and their bickering, away from the dystopia we have made of our world. Upon meeting a man for the first time, however – the demon of her childhood stories – she rescues him and nurses him back to health. She knows his subjective truth and the objective truth of the world around him, and she shows him mercy.

Diana makes the world a better place in much the same way that Superman does, but from a different angle. Superman is above most worldly concerns and has to think and remember to care about them. Diana, on the other hand, is intimately tied to the world and is very much a part of it. She has the capacity to know the absolute truth of everything going on around her and has the capacity to show mercy to everyone, even the worst of us. She can find what makes monsters of humanity and, thus, how to make it better.

And all of that is what makes this latest storyline so interesting. Like the Shadow, Wonder Woman is dealing with some real world issues. Someone has been after her for some time now, trying to have her brought in for reasons unknown. We now know that the person behind these attempts is a doctor and religious man who believes that he can use her blood and DNA to heal several diseases, including cancer. He thinks he can use her to save kids.

Superhero mathematics often speak of sacrificing the needs of one for the needs of the many. Wonder Woman herself has used that metric, saving groups when needed and letting the lonely ones go when necessary. How can she do anything else when applying that same metric to herself? Remember, she knows the truth of the situation and how best to apply mercy, so she surrenders herself to the process.

Diana is not, of course, an idiot. Truth and mercy being her powers doesn’t make her stupid and she lets her allies know where she’s going and why. She’s a diplomat for a semi-divine people and so has government ties, but it probably surprises her to learn that the government is well aware of who this doctor is and what he’s been up to. He’s rich, religious, and makes a lot of noise about being a good guy, but we haven’t seen much evidence of it – but Diana is face to face with him now and only the truth stands between them… and after that, mercy.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Shea Fontana pens a worthy follow-up to the work Rucka started and plays with concepts that would do the likes of Gail Simone proud. This is very much the Diana we saw in the movie, which is the best decision that anyone could have made given that the movie has been the best thing out of DC is a very long time. She’s backed up the deft lines and shade of Inaki Miranda and the bright colors of Romulo Fajardo, Jr, and if you dug the movie you should do yourself a favor and check this out.

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346

God of Comics – Darkseid Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 29, 2017

Darkseid Special #1 (DC Comics)

The other company (you know, the one we’re not reading these days), is doing a thing with their big purple guy that has little to no connection to the rest of their universe and is better off for it. Are we going to see the same done with Darkseid? If so, writers Sam Humphries and Mark Evanier are the people to do it.

I met Sam briefly when he was in town doing a podcast. He was working on Star Lord at that point, building a relationship between Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde that was built perfectly before Marvel decided to wreck it for another tired retread. He was charming, reserved, the sort of writer possessed of a decency that never should have become archaic.

Mark Evanier is a man I’ve never met but who was taken in by none other than Jack Kirby. The King kickstarted him but his drive and talent helped develop everything the Hanna Barbara animation studio ever did and helped build up DC Comics’ New Gods, a property that Jack Kirby invented and that Darkseid is a part of.

The New Gods are exactly what they sound like; Jack wanted to develop his own ethereal mythology and DC Comics let him do it, building up a divine dichotomy that flavors the backdrop of DC’s operatic nature. Darkseid is a part of that, the absolute evil that beats at the core of DC Comics, the monster and shadow that rips at people’s souls.

He is not the Devil. DC Comics has their own version of Satan and Hell; the New Gods were a step beyond other religions and Darkseid doesn’t need to carry the weight that comes from other mythologies. He is his own monster and all the more fascinating because of it, the God Emperor of the planet Apokolips, a world he murdered to feed his own ambition. He’s built an empire and this is where he gets interesting.

Yes, he is one of the most powerful beings in comics, but he’s a being a perfect order rather than chaos. He sees free will as a curse and wishes for all souls to abdicate their responsibility and choices to him, for his intellect and drive to inform every decision made by every living being in the cosmos. To this end, he’s been seeking to unravel something called the anti-life equation, a metaphysical sum based in the maths that underlie everything that he believes will give him perfect control of the cosmos for all eternity.

To him, no cost is too great for this. His every crime and atrocity can be forgiven and the horrors that others carry out in his name are just in his eyes provided they get him closer to his goals. He is the big bad of the entire DCU, the one being that everyone is afraid of.

Even Superman, who once led a revolution on Apokolips to overthrow Darkseid… and failed.

Beating Darkseid is possible some of the time, but the chances of surviving him are always somewhere between slim and none. He twists the good things in life into terrors, deals in cosmic abstracts and breaks them. He adopts whole worlds of children and turns them into disposable zealots willing to live and worship and die for his name, all of them raised by monsters he’s created and crafted and built to serve his purposes.

Every now and again, though, one of those children escapes. That’s where this comic starts, with a group of cosmic orphans fleeing the tender care of the greatest tyrant DC can offer. He is incensed. He is infuriated. And he’s putting his best hunter to the task of collecting those that would run from him, as yet unknowing that one of the escapees holds a secret even from the darkest of all gods.

Scott Kolins turns his tight pencils to the art of this story, and he’s the perfect person to do so, what with his background in science fiction and superhero comics and this being a melding of those two genres. Steve Rude, meanwhile, is handling things on behalf of Sam Humphries, and the two of them are combining their efforts to tell a classic tale in the vein of the King.

This sounds like a comic for people that love comics. We do, so we’re planning on reading this and you should, too.

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240

God of Comics – Batgirl #14

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 21, 2017

Batgirl #14 (DC Comics)

We had to get here eventually. We used to talk about Batgirl all the time, even before this whole Living Myth Magazine and God of Comics things got started. I remember going to elementary school and talking Batgirl, but I looked at Barbara Gordon as a secondary character at best until the Killing Joke. I was a kid. Forgive me.

Thing is, Oracle was much more interesting as a character to me than another Bat-sidekick. I was looking into injury and recovery when Sword of Azrael came out (I was as much an insomniac than as I am now), and I thought there was something interesting about this incredibly athletic person being forced to fall back on their mind in the wake of injury.

I liked that her superpower was her mind, her intellect, her skill with computers. The internet was still becoming a thing back then and not many people knew much about it or suspected what it would become, but the writers behind Barbara were predicting the way things would turn out. I discovered some of my favorite sociologists because of this character (hi, Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist~!).

There was also the question of her trauma. Long before post-traumatic stress disorder became a thing that people were talking about, Barbara had it. The better writers at DC Comics were able to work that into her stories and show how she was coping with her damage and living past it. There was a lot to like and Oracle became one of my favorite characters. I followed her appearances everywhere I could.

As I got older I started meeting people that couldn’t walk for one reason or another. Some of them knew about Oracle; some of them didn’t. All of them liked her or liked the fact that she existed. It was something to start conversations or friendships with.

Then Gail Simone happened.

Oracle went from being a b-list character to an a-list player, the person that the Justice League called on when they needed help. She formed her own team, the Birds of Prey, and even got her own (borderline unwatchable) television show. I devoured all of the things.

A new Batgirl showed up in No Man’s Land and a part of that story was dedicated to how Barbara dealt with someone taking on her old identity. She mentored the third Batgirl, and then the fourth. She had an awesome rapport with Steph Brown that was prematurely ended in favor of the grimdark narrative that was the nu52, undoing thirty years of history to put her back in the cowl and get her out of the chair.

I didn’t like it for a number of reasons; I don’t like stories that go backward and retcon things – it shows laziness and a lack of awareness, I think, on the part of the writers or editors that make those decisions. A few factors kept me interested, though: the first was that Gail Simone was returning to write, the second was a conversation I had with a friend, and a third was something I observed all on my own.

Gail is obvious and she wrote the best of the nu52 comics, so we’ll leave that where it is. The conversation with my friend went on about how there was more at stake for Barbara under the cowl, that if she was discovered she would ruin not only herself but her father. I could get behind that. The last one, the observation, was that as Barbara goes, so goes DC Comics as a whole.

She was a part of the goofy sixties and seventies. Her solo adventures started getting more involved and operatic in the eighties, then Oracle and the darkness that followed happened in the nineties. She returned to opera as a survivor and a genius in the early aughts, where DC started flirting with intelligent stories that concentrated on strong friendships overcoming corruption and evil. She went dark for the nu52, but was one of the first characters to go light as Rebirth approached.

Barbara Gordon, for some reason, is the herald of what the DC Universe will be at any given time.

That alone is reason to pay attention to her, but then you add in the writing of Hope Larson as she delves into the lore of the character, cutting right to the quick and showing who Barbara is in relation to the people around her and why she matters. Hope is a writer who brings out the best Barbara has to offer in the modern world, a worthy successor to the earlier works done by Gail, and she’s quietly writing one of the better titles DC is currently publishing.

Given how good DC Comics is at this point, that is saying something.

Currently, she’s digging into the ties between Barbara and Dick Grayson and trying to see what lies at the core of their bond. Is it just an old crush forged into something more by Bruce-instilled loyalty? Is there anything more there? Odds are, yes, yes there is, but Hope is going to figure out how far that bond goes. If you like Barbara or Dick Grayson at all, you owe it to yourself to be reading this comic.

I chose the Dan Mora cover for our header because I love Dan Mora and the man needs to be working on more comics, The interior is being handled by the team of Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz, and the two of them compliment one another nicely. Inaki does details that run almost as deeply as her shadows, and Eva does some interesting things with light sources that work well for this story.

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341

God of Comics – Batwoman #6

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 15, 2017

Batwoman #6 (DC Comics)

There’s ways to do the good-guy-gone-bad story and make it work. The more successful ones have to play into the character doing the switch: what motivation do they have for going bad? What are their tools? What does that look like for their relationships? And – this is a big one – can they come back from it? Do you want them to?

Marvel utterly fails when answering any of the questions on this list. They made Tony Stark into a fascist and spent a decade trying to fix him, turned their core heroes into mass murderers and then had to reboot their universe to save them, and then turned the moral center of their whole universe into a Nazi. So, you know. They suck.

DC, on the other hand…

We’ve ragged on DC Comics in the past, but their Rebirth event has led to a rebirth of the creativity and core concepts that make DC’s properties great. Pretty much everything they’re publishing at this point is worth taking a look at and more than half of it is worth collecting. They started doing operatic scale stories again and rooting them in place with some of the best writers the industry has.

The two writers working on this title? They are among them. James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett are fucking fantastic. James has a talent for building character and mythology and Marguerite plays in mythology with the same difficulty that fish find in swimming. This is to say, she lives in myth. You show her a myth and she’ll expand it, grow it, cultivate it.

No character in DC Comics needs a myth-pert quite like Batwoman does. She’s unique among the Bat-family, both where she stands in relation to Bruce and what made her pick up the mantle. We all know that Bruce’s mom’s name is Martha, but her maiden name was Kane. She had a brother named Joe who was in the military, and that brother had a couple of twins: the surviving twin is Kate, which makes Batwoman Bruce’s cousin.

It gets better. Joe is a colonel who got into diplomacy. When Kate was a child, she and her mom and her sister got kidnapped and dad led a rescue operation that saw her mom and sister die. Kate got into the military and excelled, but then was kicked out under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and lost the one thing she’d built her life around.

She bummed around for a bit. Got drunk a lot. Had a fling with Renee Montoya. Was wandering through an alley in Gotham and got mugged and beat the crap out of her attackers, turned around and saw… she saw Batman. He said something about expecting that to go differently and then took off and she watched and thought to herself That. I want to do that.

Her dad helped her. Finished her training and put her through some black-ops stuff, got her the equipment she needed, helped her keep it together. She met Batman and started working with him, not knowing who she was (which, I imagine, made Hannukah a special kind of celebration. Did I mention Kate is Jewish, Martha was Jewish, and therefore Batman is a Jew?).

One question sort of bugged the astute reader, though: how did Joe put all this stuff together? James was kind enough to answer, giving us a villain like nothing else – a black-ops unit based on Batman himself that Joe was putting together for Kate to lead, but by the time he has ready to bring her into the fold it was too late. Bruce had already put together a team for her, and Bruce’s code had affected Kate and her way of thinking. She helped take down her father.

And from out of all that you get this, a Batwoman solo series. It is steadily moving towards the dream-like art and narrative that was the hallmark of the series prior and this is the best thing, the sort of thing that might help us put the grimdark past behind us. It’s also why you need a writing team this strong, though, one that can dig into Kate’s past and present to define her future.

Here, we get a look at the darkest timeline, a quick look at a possible waiting future. There, Kate has embraced the fate her father built for her and is looking to turn all the power that gives her on Gotham. We caught a glimpse of this before, but here James and Marguerite dig into the guts of the thing and show us why Kate went bad.

This comic is a little bit more than awesome and a return to form, so if you get the chance to read it? Do so. You will not be disappointed.

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378

God of Comics – Detective Comics #962

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 7, 2017

Detective Comics #962 (DC Comics)

Wow. Azrael. Okay. This is a big one. Here we go.

The nineties were a dark time for western culture, both in terms of real life and media. In the real world, we were beginning to see the fallout of the selfish seventies and greed-wrought eighties, and the storytelling from that era reflected an increase in violence and so-called realism, a virulent taint that continues to haunt us to this day.

Back then, there were a number of people that looked at the operatic DCU, with its focus on hope and making the world a better place, and started howling about how DC was unrealistic. They wanted blood, they wanted death. They didn’t believe in Superman and the wanted a Batman that would kill…

… so DC Comics killed Superman and gave us a murderous Batman.

We’re going to focus on the latter right now. No one outside of Tim Burton ever thought that Bruce Wayne would become a killer, so they needed a new Batman and they introduced two characters to make that happen: Bane, to take Bruce out of action, and Jean-Paul Valley, to replace him.

Those same people that wanted a murderous Batman hated what they got and demanded that Bruce come back. I don’t think they ever realized the genius of what DC had done: by giving those people what they wanted, DC Comics was able to criticize the trends of the industry and return to form with an operatic climax that was an amazing bit of storytelling.

Bane survived intact and went on to be one the one person that Bruce genuinely worries about, the one guy Bruce is never sure if he can beat. Azrael – Jean-Paul Valley – didn’t fare so well. A large part of the fanbase hated him for being the representative of what they said they’d wanted, never understanding the larger cultural commentary the character represented.

He got his own series for a bit that meandered between good and terrible, often within the same issue. He was then largely forgotten until more recently, where he’s been a part of the commentary Detective Comics is doing on the Bat-family as a whole: the Robins, Catwoman, Spoiler, Batwoman, both Pennyworths, Black Bat, et al.

See, Jean-Paul Valley is interesting. He’s the latest in a long line of engineered assassins that are created by a religious order and then allowed to live somewhat normal lives until they’re activated by something called the System – a doctrine that is implanted via hypnosis and other means into the subconscious of the victim. There are certain circumstances in which the System takes over and makes use of the genetic modifications that the religious order created in their assassin, but Jean-Paul himself cannot make use of them outside of those circumstances.

Or so we thought.

Luke Fox is Batwing, a recent recruit of Bruce into his crusade and the son of Lucius Fox, who was played by Morgan Freeman in the Nolan movies. He’s a tech genius and wunderkind, a better adjusted African-American version of Tony Stark who works with Bruce and recently stepped into Batman’s world. He’s also working with hacking algorithms and techniques created by himself, Tim Drake, and Harper – and he thinks he can hack into the System itself.

Part of the System is recognition of appearance: in Jean-Paul Valley’s case, the clothes make the angel. He can only be Azrael and access his powers when he’s in a special suit. Luke has built an alternative suit for him, one that we nineties kids will remember, one that destroyed Jean-Paul before but might save him and everyone around him.

And if that isn’t proof of how much James Tynion IV loves the Bat-comics and the quality of his writing, I don’t know what is. He’s literally taken something that many are, at best, iffy about, and made it into a crowning moment of awesome and we get to read it in this very issue. You’d be worthy of being an Arkham inmate if you think that’s anything less than an amazing accomplishment.

DC Comics believes in him, and you can tell by the artists on this project: the expressive and fine lines of Alvaro Martinez, deft inks of Raul Fernandez, and deep colors of Brad Anderson combine in a way that makes their already excellent work more than the sum of its parts and brings James’ writing to life. This is among the best run of comics DC Comics has ever published, and everyone involved should be proud of the work they’ve done.

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481

God of Comics – the Wild Storm #6

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 21, 2017

The Wild Storm #6 (DC Comics)

We like to say that Warren Ellis is the best writer in comic today.

Yes, he has his tropes and fallback techniques, the most egregious of which is writing interesting characters and complex stories. This is the guy what wrote Transmetropolitan, Next Wave, and Injection. Supreme: Blue Rose. Moon Knight. Everything he touches is impossible to put down or set aside.

Hell, that Castlevania series Netflix is touting? That four episode parade of pure horrific bliss? That’s him. He did that. Wrote and produced it. The man knows what he’s doing. In Ellis we trust.

And we’re not the only ones: Jim Lee and DC Comics have entrusted the whole of the Wildstorm universe to Ellis. They’ve given him the keys to the kingdom and let him go with one of the more expansive universes that nineties Image Comics produced – Deathblow, Wild C.A.T.s, Stormwatch, DV8, Gen13, the whole thing is currently in the hands of this one man. They’ve given him leave to remake that whole universe in what looks like a maxi-series, following a format that feels like more like Watchman than you’d expect. It’s got that scope, that depth, that sense of finality.

A friend of mine once told me that large comic stories happen in either four issues, twelve issues, or twenty-four issues (52 notwithstanding). Ellis is doing that last one, and traditionally this sort of story will be broken down into acts – and this issue is the end of the first act. Whatever spills out of this issue is going to leave us breathless and in need of an extra month just to take it all in, so this is it: the last fix we get until September.

In it, the world’s deadliest assassin is having some problems. Professionally, people call him Deathblow, but his friends call him Michael Cray, and he just turned down a target on an innocent person and aspiring dictator-behind-the-scenes Miles Craven can’t let that sort of thing go. Their conflict comes to a head here.

Meanwhile, Angela Spica saved tech genius and CEO James Marlowe from getting killed by Cray a few issues back, and in the process, we learned that there’s some technology lurking in her that various powers in the world would like to take from her. James is interested in protecting her and has sent out Cole Cash – the Grifter – to rescue her, but she’s more likely to befriend the woman some call Void.

Conspiracies abound, secret powers and players moving throughout the world, and none of them like being exposed in the way Angela has made people realize that there is more going on all around them. Treaties have been breached, secrets are being revealed, and a war spilling from shadows to light looks inevitable.

Warren Ellis is joined by artist Jon-Davis Hunt, working a style of clean lines and gravity, while colorist Steve Buccellato works a surprising sense of light into a story about shadows. This comic is one of the best things you can have your mind devour, so what are you waiting for?

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250

God of Comics – Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 27, 2017

Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1 (DC Comics)

The insanity continues as Elmer Fudd declares Bat season and heads into Gotham to hunt the Bat… and Bruce Wayne.

DC has done a pretty great job with their comic heroes-Looney Toons crossovers: all of them have featured a story based in the comics-world followed by another that’s more in tune with the old cartoons. In our opinion, the best of them so far has been Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian, though that takes away from none of the others and it would be worth your time to track down the whole set. One-shots though these may be, the comic-side of these things fits in pretty well with actual continuity and adds depth to the characters involved, while the cartoony side of the issues have been just plain fun.

Here, writer Tom King turns Elmer Fudd into someone to be feared – one of the top assassins in the world, an unstoppable force that has more in common with the Saint of Killers than the character we’re familiar with. He carries the ridiculous accent but uses it like menace as we get a Sin City-style intro and narration, him tracking down a low-rent assassin who murdered Elmer’s wife and claims Bruce Wayne ordered the hit.

Artist Byron Vaughns illustrates a Gotham that dripped out of a Bosch painting, a monstrous place of cracks and shadows where light is an unwelcome memory. He draws inspiration from the classic Looney Tunes for his character designs, twisting the familiar just enough that you’ll recognize familiar faces through the gloom.

The combination is a heady mix of dread and the absurd, of things that should not be working working anyway through sheer force of will and the combined talent of two artists that know the edges of their craft. This will be the best of these crossovers, the one you’re going to want to read the most.

Be like Elmer and hunt this down. Welcome to Bat season.

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God of Comics: Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 19, 2017

Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian Special #1 (DC Comics)

Alright, two quick things to begin the week.

The first? We were sort of swamping our feed and page with comics every Wednesday. Our reasons for this were honest: Wednesday is when new comics hit the stands and we wanted to share some stuff that we thought was cool, but it’s overwhelming the way we were doing it. We’re gonna spread the love throughout the week. Make this a little more palatable.

And two: DC Comics is doing a crossover with some of their biggest characters and the classic Looney Toons this month. There’s gonna be a host of these things and their chalk-full of comic madness, the sort of thing that Marvel missed the boat on with their whole chaos thing a few years back. They missed the boat: Nazi Steve Rogers could have done a whole thing with Donald Duck.

So, good on DC for seeing this opportunity and nabbing it. Even better on DC Comics for making the most of the chance by putting some damn fine writers and artists on the project – the likes of Steve Orlando and Frank J. Barbiere and Jim Fanning on writing, John Loter and Jerome K. Moore on art. All of them are excellent and so is this comic.

It’s a tale told in two parts, one in DC style and one like a classic cartoon.

The DC-style story is comic tragedy, the sort of tale that easily fits into continuity without any issues. J’onn, the Martian Manhunter, becomes aware of an extra-dimensional telepathic message being sent to Martians, and he builds a gate to answer it. He’s met by the last Martian of a different dimension – Marvin – and the two greet one another as friends with sympathy and respect.

J’onn is then horrified to learn that Marvin is there to murder every last human.

Marvin tells of how the humans of his home dimension ruined everything, giving into greed and destroying their own ecology and one another, and when the Martians tried to help them they did the same to the Martians until only Marvin was left. J’onn tries to tell him his humans aren’t like that but Marvin isn’t taking any chances, and every effort J’onn makes to stop the destruction Marvin causes is met with hostility by the humans he’s trying to protect.

It’s great and poignant and ends with J’onn sending Marvin home and trying to make peace with the humans he’s just saved and starts both humanity and J’onn down a path of greater understanding.

The Looney Toons story focuses on Marvin trying to destroy Earth because it obscures his view of Venus only to run into the Martian Manhunter. Here, Marvin is driven to madness by the lack of power he has when compared to J’onn, who is another Martian. It’s all kinds of great.

It’s two high-quality comics for the price of one, and as of this publication (2017-06-19), it’s on shelves. Get into your comic shop and grab it, because this sort of comic magic is a rarity and you’re going to want to read it for yourself.

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