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Preview: Superman: Red & Blue #4

Superman: Red & Blue #4

Written by: Michael Conrad, Robert Venditti, Francis Manapul, Mark Waid
Art by: Audrey Mok, Cully Hamner, Francis Manapul, Alitha Martinez

This month our cover star Bizarro leaves the Red & Blue family by not being in a story all about his very own birthday. Which of course means we definitely have a story in here about Bizarro’s birthday, as well as four more about the Man of Steel himself, including one about a social media star who inspires a very dangerous trend in Metropolis that nearly runs Superman ragged. Also, learn the story of how Jimmy Olsen was able to take what became his very favorite picture of Superman. These fantastic tales feature some of the best writers and artists in the business, only using Superman’s special colors to make them come alive!

Superman: Red & Blue #4

Review: Infinite Frontier #0

Infinite Frontier #0

Dark Knights: Death Metal is over and we’ve seen a possible future timeline in “Future State”. Now, DC begins to chart its path with the first crumbs teased in Infinite Frontier #0. The issue serves as a guide as to the various series and status-quo that awaits them. With a new omniverse to explore, anything is possible and the comic does its job to remind us of that.

The comic’s story is delivered in a narrative driven by two characters as our guide. It’s a spin on the classic Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Wonder Woman believes a threat is looming and wants to witness the state of things before making a major decision about her role in the DC Universe.

With Wonder Woman and Spectre as our guide, we’re taken on a tour of the characters highlighting the comics to come. The Justice League, Batman, Wonder Girl, Alan Scott, Teen Titans Academy, Superman, Green Arrow and Black Canary, Star Girl, Green Lanterns, and the Flash all get a moment to show off where things stand. All of it is good and interesting though few of what’s presented really excites. It feels like an extended teaser and preview. It takes its concept as a guidebook almost too seriously. The comic feels a bit more like the extension of the ending of Dark Knights: Death Metal where we saw many of these ideas initially teased.

Infinite Frontier #0 credits

But, what’s intriguing is what’s presented and doesn’t have a comic attached to them. Infinite Frontier #0 teases more than what’s already announced giving hope as to what we’ll see in July and beyond. There’s also teases through artwork of the various series DC teased at the recent ComicsPro. It’s interesting in that way that the stories feel less like the exciting first 15 minutes before the credits to get you pumped. Instead, the stories are a bit dry and more to lay out where things stand with the concepts thrown out being the hooks. The action isn’t the hook, the ideas are.

The art of the comic is solid. Each segment flows into the next and with a few exceptions, the styles work well together. There are some fantastic spreads with Wonder Woman as she talks to Spectre about what she’s witnessing. There’s a few panels and pages that’ll leave you lingering to stare at. The colors really pop on pages delivering a sense of energy that really fits the new status of the DC Universe.

Infinite Frontier #0 isn’t bad but it doesn’t quite excite. By the end of the issue I found myself more excited about concepts than the comics themselves. Very few of the segments left me wanting to immediately find out what happens next. Instead, it the comic feels like a short ashcan, teasing what’s to come with a few pages and back material to fill things out. It shows what’s to come but it never quite puts things over. Instead, it nails its role as a guide, a way to browse what DC has to offer.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis, James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Joëlle Jones, Tim Sheridan, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Joshua Williamson, Geoff Johns, Geoffrey Thorne
Art: David Marquez, Jorge Jimeez, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, Joëlle Jones, Stephen Byrne, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Jamal Igle, Alex Maleev, Todd Nauck, Dexter Soy, Howard Porter, John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson
Color: Tamra Bonvillain, Tomeu Morey, Emilio Lopez, Jordie Bellaire, Stephen Byrne, Alejandro Sanchez, Hi-Fi, Alex Sinclair, Brad Anderson
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Infinite Frontier #0

Infinite Frontier #0

Written by: Michael Conrad, Brian Michael Bendis, Joshua Williamson, Scott Snyder, Tim Sheridan, Joëlle Jones, Becky Cloonan
Art by: Jamal Igle, Rafa Sandoval, Stephen Byrne, Joëlle Jones, Alitha Martinez, Jorge Jimenez, David Marquez, John Timms

The next phase of the DC Universe begins here! Dark Knights: Death Metal presented the darkest threats of the Multiverse. DC Future State revealed what may lie ahead. Now it’s time to look into the Infinite Frontier of the current-day DC Universe. In Gotham City, The Joker jolts citizens awake with an attack even the Dark Knight never expected. In Brazil, a young woman discovers her destiny and her connection to the Amazons. In Belle Reve, Amanda Waller plots an invasion of Arkham Asylum. In the far reaches of space, Mongul dreams of galactic domination, while the Green Lantern Corps hosts a summit of its greatest enemies. At the Hall of Justice, the League joins forces with Black Adam. Beyond the mortal world, Wonder Woman settles into a new role in the godsphere. And somewhere in the DC Universe-it’s the return of Stargirl, in an all-new tale written by Geoff Johns! This oversized, all-star issue kicks off the next great era of storytelling and excitement as top writers and artists reveal what’s next for the World’s Greatest Heroes and opens the door to some of the greatest stories of 2021.

Get a Look at Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 with a New Trailer

Black Panther. Storm. Blade. Falcon. Ironheart. Spectrum. And so many more. Marvel’s incredible legacy of Black heroes will be celebrated tomorrow in Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1!

Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 will consist of seven thrilling tales brought to life by an amazing lineup of both new and established creators. Academy Award winning screenwriter John Ridley kicks things off with a poignant look at the impact of Miles Morales. Award-winning novelist Mohale Mashigo pens an action-packed teamup of Marvel’s most promising young heroes—Ironheart, Ms. Marvel, and Shuri. Singer/songwriter Saint Bodhi shares her take on Storm in an emotional story grounded in tragedy and acceptance. Author Tochi Onyebuchi makes his Marvel Comics debut with a high-octane tale of a wild night in Madripoor starring Domino. Writer Stephanie Williams highlights family in a light-hearted Monica Rambeau story. Writer Danny Lore explores Blade’s legacy—both vampiric and heroic. Finally, Eisner Award-winning writer Nnedi Okorafor explains the importance of heroes in fights for justice and reform in an unforgettable Venom story.

Readers can get their first look at this historic one-shot in a new trailer, featuring never-before-seen artwork by an incredible collection of artists including Olivier Coipel, Valentine De Landro, Natacha Bustos, Alitha Martinez, Ken Lashley, Chris Allen, ChrisCross.

Review: Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2

The lead story in Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2 deals with the actual end of the DC Universe, and it’s brilliant, poetic work from writers Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad and artist Jen Bartel. We get to see the final battle between Superman and Darkseid, and it’s epic as hell. However, it’s not the center of the narrative, which is Wonder Woman traveling the universe looking for signs of life and hope and trying to avoid the Undoing. Except for the ending and little glimmers, this whole issue is Diana staring into the abyss and trying to find purpose in a world that doesn’t need saving anymore and is truly in its death throes.

In the first issue, Jen Bartel demonstrated that she could operate on an epic scale in both linework and color palette, and this extends to Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2. Her punches have true power and weight behind them, the lasso finds the truth in the last few characters it entangles, and the contrast between light and shadow in her color palette is operatic, especially in Wonder Woman’s final moments as well as Superman and Darkseid’s. There’s a kind of glow in her trail as she flies across the void of space, past the ruins of the Daily Planet or Brainiac’s ship, that is in direct opposition of the black tendrils of the Undoing. Cloonan and Conrad don’t go deep into The Undoing’s backstory, but they’re the inevitability personified and wipe out the whole Legion of Superheroes in a single page that establishes their universe ending threat level. They’re like “The End” on the last page of a story, and the final pages of Immortal Wonder Woman #2 definitely take on a metafictional quality and set up yet another myth cycle.

Cloonan, Conrad, and Bartel definitely use the lead story of Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2 to deal with weighty philosophical issues, like the purpose (or purposelessness) of life and the effects of revenge, especially when Spectre comes into the picture. The whole Ragnarok/Twilight of the Gods vibe carries through from the previous issue, but with the Undoing, not Darkseid, being responsible for the end of the universe. In the big picture, he’s just a god, not an unknowable cosmic force. These themes and ideas as well as the general scale of Jen Bartel’s visuals truly makes this story feel like it’s a kind of modern mythology instead of using gods from various pantheons as window dressing, comic relief, or public domain action figures.

However, Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jen Bartel don’t forget what makes these myths and legends endure, and that is these heroes’ flaws and recognizable emotions. (For example, young queer people are making Tik Toks about Achilles and Patroclus just like Alexander the Great was writing fan fiction about them two millennia ago.) Bartel does a wonderful job showing Wonder Woman’s emotions throughout the story with many close-ups of her crying, and those tears floating in space to make these panels even more tragic. She also differentiates sad tears like when she witnesses Superman’s death from happy ones like when she finds the Spectre, the last living being. However, Wonder Woman isn’t all sadness in Immortal Wonder Woman #2. There’s a lot of anger too, especially in her last fight, against the Undoing as Cloonan and Conrad’s narration reveal her last thoughts about how she’s a contradictory figure: a warrior, yet peaceful. This ties into the conclusion of the two part storyline, which is quite satisfying, primal, and touches on the nature of immortality in a very cosmological way.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2’s second story, “Nubia”, definitely plays second fiddle to the lead story with writer L.L. McKinney continuing to cram a six issue miniseries’ amount of lore and exposition in six issues. However, she and artists Alitha Martinez and Mark Morales and colorist Emilio Lopez do show Nubia being a hero and kicking ass against the likes of Grail and Circe, who Grail has summoned to get the last artifact: Nubia’s tiara. This artifact is magical, and Grail is more into science so she needs an assist from a sorceress of her own. However, little does she know, that this crown is imbued with magic from the Yoruba goddess, Oshun, and it only strengthens Nubia. But, of course, there is a price, and Nubia still owns Aunt Nancy a favor. McKinney definitely leaves plenty of plot threads and potential supporting players and goddesses on the table for future stories.

But for most of the pages of “Nubia”, McKinney, Martinez, and Morales focus on the task at hand: a battle royale between Nubia, Grail, and Circe. Grail and Circe definitely underestimate their opponent so it’s quite vindicated when she breaks free from their control in an iconic full page image, and then throws, kicks, and punches them in a double page spread. Instead of going the stiff pinup route, Martinez and Morales use the spread to showcase Nubia’s speed and strength using borderless panels for her battle with Grail and the bordered panels for her fight against Circe. The choreography is gorgeous in this sequence as McKinney, Martinez, Morales, and Lopez are all on the same page and cut to the best moves. For example, Nubia ducks under a magic blast from Circe and switches opponents to throw Grail with her super strength before delivering a gut punch to the sorceress. Alitha Martinez’s layout choices give a real flow to the action while Mark Morales accentuates details like Nubia’s shoulder muscles when she hurls Circe into the sky, and Emilio Lopez uses bright primary colors during intense moments like when Circe and Grail struggle to take Nubia’s crown off.

Although, these characters are highly powered, the fight has a personal feel to it culminating in Nubia reinforcing the fact that she’s Wonder Woman, an Amazon warrior, and you can’t take important artifacts from her. L.L. McKinney gives Nubia some great one-liners to show that she’s becoming more confident as a hero and coming into her own as a “Guardian”. The flashback with the different gods might be a little text-heavy, but seeing Nubia break free from a villain who is literally staring her down and saying “Submit” is well worth it. But she doesn’t get a chance to celebrate in the epilogue of this story, and Martinez and Morales draw her with tense body language while setting up another potential arc down the road. I’ve really grown to enjoy Nubia’s courage and determination as well Alitha Martinez’s fight choreography, and I would definitely like to see more stories with this creative team. Having a Nubia limited or ongoing series would also give L.L. McKinney an opportunity to pace out some of her worldbuilding elements as well as her protagonist’s connection to Yoruba mythology and Akan folklore plus the magical/superheroic side of Atlanta in the DC Universe.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2 wraps up with two very different takes on the iconic DC Comics superhero. Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jen Bartel tell an archetypal self-contained story of life and death, hope and despair, and finding purpose when there’s nothing to live for starring Diana Prince. Plus it really captures the range of emotions one would feel before the inevitable end of the universe. In the second story, L.L. McKinney, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, and Emilio Lopez cram in lore, exposition, multiple villains, and one kick-ass fight scene to lay the foundation for future stories featuring Nubia. It’s like a two-hour pilot screaming for a series order whereas the lead story is a beautiful elegy with career-best interior art from Jen Bartel, who masterfully depicts both the cosmic and human.

Story: Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, L.L. McKinney Art: Jen Bartel, Alitha Martinez with Mark Morales
Colors: Jen Bartel, Emilio Lopez Letterer: Pat BrosseauBecca Carey
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2

Written by: L.L. McKinney, Michael Conrad, Becky Cloonan
Art by: Alitha Martinez, Jen Bartel

The Undoing is here. Superman couldn’t stop it. Darkseid couldn’t stop it. Only Diana Prince is left to hold back the being that could spell the complete disintegration of the cosmos. But will even she be powerful enough for the task? Meanwhile, in another future, Nubia’s attempts to stop the theft of ancient artifacts have led her to an even bigger conspiracy, and an even bigger foe. Circe is up to her old tricks, even after all these years-and she has an offer that Nubia will find hard to refuse.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2

DC Announced as an Official sponsor of Virtuous Con

Virtous Con

Virtuous Con has announced that international comic book publisher DC is an official sponsor and virtual vendor of the virtual convention launching live worldwide on February 20 and 21 along with several new special guests. Including Eisner Award-winning artist Alitha Martinez (World of Wakanda, Immortal Wonder Woman)​ and Robyn Smith (Wash Day, NUBIA: Real One)​ , who will both join previously announced guest, award-winning writer L. L. McKinney (A Blade So Black, Immortal Wonder Woman, NUBIA: Real One)​ on the panel “Nubia is Back! The DC Storytellers who reintroduced Wonder Woman’s Sister”. ​ Live host and culture journalist ​Karama Horne (SYFYWIRE, theblerdgurlLIVE, NERDIST)​ will moderate the panel.

Founded by award-winning science fiction writer Cerece Rennie Murphy, Virtuous Con: Black History Month will feature indie artists and exhibitors in a live interactive virtual space dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, comic books,
anime and more.

Martinez, Smith and Horne will join previously announced guests YA author Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper Cypher, Star Wars: The High Republic​), artist, editor and founder of Megascope imprint John Jennings (Black Comix Returns, Kindred: A Graphic Novel), writer and H1 imprint co-founder Kwanza Osajyefo (BLACK, Ignited) and Nigerian comic creator and founder of YouNeek Studios Roye Okupe (E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika).

February will not be Virtuous Con’s premier convention. Murphy successfully beta-tested the event in October 2020 with a small group of attendees and vendors on the Remo platform, customized to support the convention. Virtuous Con still has a few tables left for vendors, but programming space is limited. For details about vending, panels, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit https://virtuouscon.com/.

Review: Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

Some Future State stories have dealt with dark, dystopian futures, but the lead story in Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1 takes it a step further with Diana, the remaining Amazons, and an aging Superman fighting to defend Swamp Thing, the Green, and basically the symbol of life on Earth from both Darkseid and the Anti-Life Equation. Writers Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad and spectacular artist Jen Bartel tell a story about fighting a war with love to the bitter end as Diana doesn’t want to fight for the dying Earth and instead start somewhere fresh with Swamp Thing and her sisters, but is overridden by the warlike Amazons as well as Darkseid popping in for one last chance to conquer Earth.

Cloonan and Conrad’s writing in Immortal Wonder Woman #1 can be described as truly poetic and matches the emotion-tinged visual from Bartel. The opening sequence has Diana interacting with a hologram of Batman and meditating on their relationship as part of DC’s Trinity’s with Batman telling her that she’s a true symbol of hope to rally around. However, Diana is also a realist about what’s going as she wistfully sees a star blink out of existence, and the story cuts to Apokolips where Darkseid realizes the end aka the Anti-Life Equation is near and abandons his empire, son Orion, and follower Big Barda and immediately heads to Earth. Bartel does a great job of contrasting the Amazons’ perspective of Earth with its reality using an almost beach vacation color palette for when the Amazons decide to defend the planet from an unknown threat to using a dark and rusty one for when Darkseid flies through space to the “husk”.

Jen Bartel is known for beautiful character design and capturing deep emotion out of her figures, but she can also draw one hell of a fight scene when Diana and Darkseid finally throw down with again Superman having one heroic moment and then getting flattened. She channels her inner Jack Kirby with colorful explosions and speed lines every time Darkseid lands a blow, or Diana kicks the Apokoliptian tyrant or gets a grip on him with her lasso. Bartel also uses interesting (or heartbreaking) panel shapes like when she lays one out that looks just like Darkseid’s Omega sanction and ends in a stark, panel of skulls on a stark background. On a more macro-level, Cloonan and Conrad keep the objective of the battle high, yet simple, Diana, the Amazons, and Superman have to protect Swamp Thing from Darkseid and the Anti-Life Equation for a chance at filling Earth (or maybe a new planet) with life again. The stakes of this comic are literally life and death.

The first story in Immortal Wonder Woman #1 is a Ragnarok for the DC Universe courtesy of Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jen Bartel, who makes everyone look epic, pretty, and/or war worn while nailing the look and color palette of utter cosmic darkness too. It’s the last of the old gods battling the embodiment of utter evil with only a small chance for rebirth in the form of Swamp Thing, who is given a frail form and halting speech patterns. It’s also a masterclass in pacing with Cloonan and Conrad getting to the emotional breaking point before hitting that “To Be Continued” with literal tears streaming in the last panel that Bartel draws.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

The second story in Immortal Woman #1 is written by LL McKinney with art from Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, and Emilio Lopez, is set earlier in the Future State timeline, and features Nubia, an Amazon who has taken up the mantle of Wonder Woman while an off-panel Diana is queen of Themiscyra. Like the lead story, its plot has a world-ending conflict as Grail, the daughter of Darkseid, is stealing parts of an artifact connected to various gods that if put together could rip a hole in time and space. Most of this is explained in many expository text boxes by McKinney, who seems to be trying to fit a 4-6 issue miniseries in two issues.

A feeling of being overstuffed aside, “Nubia” is not without its charms. Martinez and Morales are veteran storytellers, who excel at everything from an exciting bout of close quarters combat between Grail and Nubia with a poster-worthy splash of the protagonist saying, “I am Wonder Woman” to capturing Nubia’s pained facial expressions when Aunt Nancy asks her for a favor in return for helping her solve the mystery behind these artifact thefts. Speaking of Aunt Nancy, McKinney’s background writing YA urban fantasy comes in handy with some of the little world-building touches like having her run a night club called the Ebony Web with a spider on the door and with a (quite handsome) minotaur bouncer. With her punnish name, knowledge of almost everything, and propensity for single malt whisky, Aunt Nancy has a lot of personality and would be an intriguing permanent edition to Nubia’s supporting cast, or the Wonder Woman side of the DC Universe as it’s good to see a god from West African folklore pop up. Also, I think this might be the first time that the wonderful city of Atlanta has popped up in a DC comic that I’ve read.

However, Nubia’s heroism and Aunt Nancy’s charisma don’t completely make up for a story that is mostly telling and not showing with L.L. McKinney basically undercutting the two page vision that Alitha Martinez and Mark Morales draw earlier in the story by explaining it all in a wall of text. On more of a new reader front, she also doesn’t really introduce Grail except that’s she strong (By defeating Nubia in combat.), generically evil, and wants the artifacts. If I hadn’t (unfortunately) read Geoff Johns’ Justice League run, I wouldn’t know that she was Darkseid’s daughter and basically the Anti-Life version of Wonder Woman. I mean, this is the comic book equivalent of a two episode mini Big Bad arc on a CW show so we don’t need a super deep villain, but including this context could deepen the threat against Nubia and reality. I really wanted to like the Nubia story and look forward to McKinney’s graphic novel take on the character, but it was disappointed and definitely felt like a first published comic.

Overall, Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1 has one strong, epic story and another story with potential that it doesn’t fully live up to that also shows the difficulty of transitioning from prose fiction to comics. However, this book is definitely worth picking up for Jen Bartel’s career best take on the final battle between good and evil in the DC Universe with punches that make galaxies trembles and facial expressions that will make you tear up while Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad write a Diana, who is trying to cling onto hope in an utterly no-win situation.

Story: Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, L.L. McKinney
Art: Jen Bartel, Alitha Martinez with Mark Morales
Colors: Jen Bartel, Emilio Lopez
Letterer: Pat Brosseau, Becca Carey
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

Written by: L.L. McKinney, Michael Conrad, Becky Cloonan
Art by: Alitha Martinez, Jen Bartel

The Undoing are coming. Long past the Age of Heroes, few of Diana Prince’s friends survive, and most of her sisters have passed as well. As an immortal goddess, this is her lot. But then, a threat appears that even the mighty Darkseid can’t handle-and it’s up to Wonder Woman to take on the battle! It’s big action and high fantasy at the end of time, courtesy of Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Becky Cloonan (By Chance or Providence, Gotham Academy) and her Doom Patrol co-writer Michael W. Conrad, with the popular artist Jen Bartel (Blackbird) making her interior art debut for DC. Then, peer into a closer future as the original champion of Themyscira strikes out on her own. Things have not been stable on Paradise Island for some time, and Nubia has found a new home in Man’s World. Now, she is tasked with protecting it from the dangers of the world of myths and magic. The writer of DC’s Nubia: Real One, L.L. McKinney, takes this powerful Amazon to a whole new level.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

Preview: Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last 52: War of the Multiverses #1

Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last 52: War of the Multiverses #1

Written by: Che Grayson, , Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson
Art by: Dexter Soy, Alitha Martinez, Alex Maleev, Scott Koblish

What would it take to get every being left in the Multiverse to side together in the ultimate, final showdown? Total decimation and the complete undoing of all existence? The Batman Who Laughs has made his final move, bringing the most horrifying opposition to the battleground, and now every hero and villain left alive will stand and fight together. This epic battle book details every side of the last war across the Multiverse-Wonder Woman leading the heroes, Superman leading the villains, and Batman leading the dead-everyone has to play their part. Everyone and everything is at stake…so join here for the last of the DCU as we know it!

Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last 52: War of the Multiverses #1
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