Tag Archives: john ridley

Review: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the return of The American Way!

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below collects issues #1-6 by John Ridley, Georges Jeanty, John Livesay, Danny Miki, Paul Neary, Le Beau Underwood, Nick Filardi, and Travis Lanham.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores April 24. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

DC Entertainment Announces “Black Label” Including a Kelly Sue DeConnick/Phil Jimenez Wonder Woman!

DC Entertainment isn’t done announcing new comic imprints. The company has already announced two lines aimed at younger readers, DC Ink and DC Zoom, but there’s also a line curated by Brian Michael Bendis in the works. Now, the comic publisher has announced their latest, “DC Black Label,” which will pair some of the best creators with the best characters.

In the announcement, DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee explained:

Many of our perennially best-selling, critically acclaimed books were produced when we unleashed our top talent on standalone, often out-of-continuity projects featuring our most iconic characters, a prime example being Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Creating DC Black Label doubles down on our commitment to working with all-star talent and trusting them to tell epic, moving stories that only they can tell with the highest levels of creative freedom.

There’s already numerous projects announced:

  • Superman: Year One – Written by Frank Miller with art by John Romita Jr.
  • Batman: Damned – Written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo
  • Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons – Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick with art by Phil Jimenez
  • The Other History of the DC Universe – Written by John Ridley
  • Batman: Last Knight on Earth – Written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo
  • Wonder Woman: Diana’s Daughter – Written by Greg Rucka

Each story will be released in a format dictated by creators and take place outside of DC Universe canon. It allows the creators to explore the characters and take full advantage. Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons tells the story of Wonder Woman’s people from their creation until the arrival of Steve Trevor on Paradise Island. Wonder Woman: Diana’s Daughter is a story set 20 years in the future.

The line will have Mark Doyle as executive editor and they’re expected to launch in August with Superman: Year One. Check out all of the synopses and art below:

SUPERMAN: YEAR ONE from Frank Miller (THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT: MASTER RACE) and John Romita Jr. (ALL-STAR BATMAN, SUPERMAN)
A groundbreaking, definitive treatment of Superman’s classic origin story in honor of his 80th anniversary. This story details new revelations that reframe the Man of Steel’s most famous milestones—from Kal-El’s frantic exile from Krypton, to Clark Kent’s childhood in Kansas, to his inevitable rise to become the most powerful and inspiring superhero of all time.

BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the creative team behind DARK KNIGHTS: METAL
Batman wakes up in a desert. He doesn’t know what year it is or how The Joker’s head is alive in a jar beside him, but it’s the beginning of a quest unlike anything the Dark Knight has undertaken before. In this strange future, villains are triumphant and society has liberated itself from the burden of ethical codes. Fighting to survive while in search of answers, Bruce Wayne uncovers the truth about his role in this new world—and begins the last Batman story ever told.

BATMAN: DAMNED from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, the creative team behind JOKER
On a deserted Gotham City bridge, a body is found. Whispers spread the news: Joker is dead. But is this a dream come true or a nightmare being born? Now Batman and DC’s outlaw magician John Constantine must hunt the truth through a Gotham City hellscape. The city’s supernatural recesses are laced with hints about a killer’s identity, but the Dark Knight’s descent into horror will test his sanity and the limits of rationality, as he must face a horror that doesn’t wear a mask.

WONDER WOMAN HISTORIA: THE AMAZONS from Kelly Sue DeConnick (Bitch Planet) and Phil Jimenez (INFINITE CRISIS)
A Homeric epic of the lost history of the Amazons and Queen Hippolyta’s rise to power. Featuring monsters and myths, this three-book saga spans history from the creation of the Amazons to the moment Steve Trevor washes up on the shores of Paradise Island, changing our world forever.

WONDER WOMAN: DIANA’S DAUGHTER (working title) from Greg Rucka (WONDER WOMAN, BATWOMAN)
It’s been 20 years since the world stopped looking to the skies for hope, help, and inspiration. Now the world keeps its eyes down, and the powers that have risen have every intention of keeping things that way. Amongst a scattered, broken resistance, a young woman seeks to reclaim what has been forgotten, and on the way will learn the truth about herself, her heritage, and her destiny.

THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE from John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, THE AMERICAN WAY)
A compelling literary series analyzing iconic DC moments and charting sociopolitical gains through the perspectives of DC Super Heroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including John Stewart, Extraño, Vixen, Supergirl, Katana and Rene Montoya, among others. At its core, the story focuses on the lives of those behind the costumes, and their endeavors to overcome real-world issues. It isn’t about saving the world, it’s about having the strength to simply be who you are.

12 Years a Slave Writer and Oscar Winner John Ridley Explores The Other History of the DC Universe

DC Comics has announced that Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley will examine the DC mythology with a compelling new literary comics miniseries, The Other History of the DC Universe. The story will analyze iconic DC moments and chart sociopolitical gains through the perspectives of DC Super Heroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including John Stewart, Extraño, Vixen, Supergirl, Katana and Rene Montoya among others. At its core, the series focuses on the lives of those behind the costumes, and their endeavors to overcome real-world issues.

The Other History of the DC Universe isn’t about saving the world, it’s about having the strength to simply be who you are.

Ridley will discuss his latest project for the first time this weekend on DC in D.C.’s “The Many Shades of Heroism: DC Heroes Through the African-American Lens” panel. DC in D.C. is a landmark pop culture event illuminating the story of America and current issues through the lens of comics and Super Heroes. Tune in via the live stream on Saturday, January 13, at 11 a.m. ET on the DC YouTube channel and follow along in the conversation on social media with #dcindc2018.

The new miniseries is slated to launch in winter 2018, following Ridley’s current run at Vertigo with The American Way: Those Above and Those Below.

Preview: American Way: Those Above and Below #4

American Way: Those Above and Below #4

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Nov 15, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Civil unrest intensifies following the radical anti-establishment violence and the attempted assassination of Missy Devereaux. Jason is pushed to balance his allegiances and assess his priorities as he tracks Missy’s superhuman assailant and federal authorities hone in on Amber’s cell. Radically unafraid of the looming threat, Amber’s commitment to the cause inches closer to a death wish-and a devastating betrayal may grant it.

Preview: The American Way: Those Above and Below #3 (of 6)

The American Way: Those Above and Below #3

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Sep 27, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Things are heating up for the surviving heroes of the Civil Defense Corps. Jason’s actions against Black Power groups have gotten him noticed by the dark side of the government agencies that once controlled the superhero program. Meanwhile, Amber Waves’ acts of domestic terrorism are bringing the police close to her door! Continuing the new miniseries by acclaimed author John Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of American Crime, and artist Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Preview: The American Way: Those Above and Below #2

America Way: Those Above and Below #2

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Aug 16, 2017
SRP: $3.99

The conflict with political radicals that took one man’s life sits heavy with Jason. Accusations that, by continuing to be the superhero the American, he’s become a pawn for the government have taken on a new sharpness as the Civil Rights movement of the 1970s gains an added urgency. This call to do what’s right is one that his former ally Amber Waves has already answered by taking matters into her own hands and using her powers to protest injustice-and she’s already paying the deadly cost as the police and Federal agents attack her where she lives. The sequel to the hit comics series continues, crafted by writer John Ridley (TV’s American Crime and Guerrilla).

Review: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

Ten short (from where I’m sitting, anyway) years ago John Ridley was far from a household name in the entertainment industry, yet alone an Oscar winner. That was well before 12 Years A Slave and American Crime, though, and now it’s a different story. A different world. Or is it?

Certainly Ridley returning to the only-slightly-fictionalized world of The American Way a decade after he and artist Georges Jeanty first created it is both a pleasant surprise as well as something of a coup for DC Comics‘ perpetually-struggling Vertigo label, but 10 years (or thereabouts) have passed in the four-color world, as well, and the opening salvo in the new six-part The American Way: Those Above And Those Below shows that they haven’t necessarily been kind to protagonist Jason Fisher, a.k.a. The New American, or his surviving former Civil Defense Corps teammates. As 1972 dawns, Fisher is cleaning up the Baltimore ghettos by means both direct and decidedly brutal, while Amber (Waves) Eaton has become a Weather Underground/SLA-style revolutionary, and Missy (Ole Miss) Devereaux, now married to the governor of Mississippi, is being maneuvered into political office in the same way George Wallace’s wife was when that miserable old racist bastard was term-limited out of office. We know the paths of these one-time “allies” in an officially-sanctioned US government PR sham operation are bound to converge, but how and why remains to be seen yet. This issue guarantees one thing, though — it will invariably be fascinating to see the chess pieces moved (or fall?) into place.

Tight, intricate plotting is a hallmark of all Ridley’s work, and if you haven’t read the first American Way series, rest easy: the basics of what happened in it are introduced into this one in a naturalistic, almost non-expository way that doesn’t hamper the forward momentum of the plot here in the least (and Vertigo has recently re-issued it in trade, as well, if you find yourself sufficiently motivated to see how it all began). The racial, economic, and social divisions explored with such candor last time out have clearly not improved and are certain to form this series’ thematic background, which should surprise no one, and while it can certainly be argued that Ridley is less than subtle in his proselytizing, it’s nevertheless effective and he at least uses his characters’ life circumstances to illustrate his points rather than taking the lazy and uninspired way out and simply utilizing them as authorial mouthpieces. The one potential “strike” against the relatively large ensemble cast on offer here is that Jason’s paralyzed Panther brother comes off as being more interesting and fully-rounded than does our titular hero himself, but hey — it’s part one, so we’ll see how all that goes.

Jeanty, for his part, absolutely nails it on the art in this book. Action scenes have a crisp and dynamic flow to them, lower-key “talky” segments remain visually interesting and employ inventive-without-being-ostentatious “camera” angles, subtleties of expression and body language are right on the money, and the period setting is evoked smoothly and authentically. Danny Miki‘s inks are faithful to the pencils in the best way, accentuating and enhancing detail without burying them under an extra layer of faux “style,” and Nick Filardi finishes everything off with expertly-chosen and highly atmospheric colors. “Cinematic” is not too shabby a shorthand description for this comic’s overall look, but it probably sells the effort by these firing-on-all-cylinders creators a bit short, truth be told. Maybe we should call it “Oscar-level cinematic” or something?

Still, it’s not a completely flawless effort : the decision (whether called for in the script or “ad-libbed” by the art team I have no idea) to slip a John Constantine doppleganger into the works for a panel threatens to take readers out of the book for a moment, it’s true, but what the hell — it’s high time he migrated back over to Vertigo by any means necessary, and if that’s the only gripe I’ve got, it’s a pretty small one. Almost seems petty to even bring it up. Still, in a comic that’s all about big (and, sadly, eternal) questions about race and class, a cheap (if admittedly fun) little aside like that stands out like a sore thumb and really does disrupt the rhythm of the storytelling, if only briefly.

Apart from that and the drug-pusher villain that Jason is out to take down being a bit too broad of a caricature (he’s also a cold-blooded killer who flat-out enjoys the taking of human life rather than viewing it as unfortunate reality of his chosen “profession”), though, there is very nearly flawless comic-booking going on in the pages of The American Way: Those Above And Those Below #1. Topical and provocative without being preachy, accessible to new readers without resorting to “info-dump” condescension, and smart without feeling the need to call attention to its own intelligence, this is supremely effective, thought-provoking, resonant stuff. I’m down for the whole ride — and I respectfully suggest that you should be, as well.

Story: John Ridley  Art: Georges Jeanty and Danny Miki
Story: 8.0  Art: 9.0  Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy

Preview: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Jul 12, 2017
SRP: $3.99

It’s been a decade since the Civil Defense Corps was exposed as a fraud created by the U.S. Government for propaganda purposes. While most of the heroes who survived the catastrophe have retired or disappeared, the New American still carries on, trying to keep communities safe amid the social turmoil of the 1970s. But with the nation split in two over civil rights and the changing political landscape, this isn’t easy. Some of the American’s former colleagues are on opposite sides of the law: Amber Waves joined a group of domestic terrorists, while Missy, a.k.a. Ole Miss, has thrown her hat into the political ring. As the ground shifts beneath his feet and new threats arise, which side will the American choose? This sequel to the hit miniseries by the original team of writer John Ridley (Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of TV’s American Crime) and artist Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse) moves the story forward in history, factoring in how real-life events might be affected by the presence of superheroes, and how those events change the heroes in turn.

Review: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

It’s been a decade since the Civil Defense Corps was exposed as a fraud created by the U.S. Government for propaganda purposes. While most of the heroes who survived the catastrophe have retired or disappeared, the New American still carries on, trying to keep communities safe amid the social turmoil of the 1970s. But with the nation split in two over civil rights and the changing political landscape, this isn’t easy. Some of the American’s former colleagues are on opposite sides of the law: Amber Waves joined a group of domestic terrorists, while Missy, a.k.a. Ole Miss, has thrown her hat into the political ring. As the ground shifts beneath his feet and new threats arise, which side will the American choose?

Unfortunately for me, I never read the original American Way series (though will be rectifying that soon). Even without that under my belt The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1 is a perfect introduction to the world dreamed up by writer John Ridley and artist Georges Jeanty.

Ridley is one of my favorite creators delivering thought provoking entertainment and some of the most layered and relevant television in recent years with American Crime. So, since the announcement of this series I’ve been awaiting its release to see what Ridley might deliver and much like that groundbreaking television work, the first issue lays the groundwork for what feels like what will be a comic series that will challenge the reader to not just be entertained but also think.

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1 moves the original story forward in history, factoring in how real-life events might be affected by the presence of superheroes, and how those events change the heroes in turn. Taking place in 1972 the time in American history is just as important as the characters. History is a character here and understanding where the United States was at the time helps. Weaving entertainment with real history and socio-political issues is something that Ridley excels at and this first issue is no exception.

As I said, I never read the original series, but this first issue is a perfect primer to catch up and learn about this world that I want to see more of. The characters are quickly and interestingly introduced enough that you can figure out personalities, backgrounds, and issues, and even the major events of the previous volume are touched upon enough that you feel like you have enough to work with. Those that have read the previous volume will of course have more to work with than newcomers but being new to this world doesn’t put you at a disadvantage.

Artist Georges Jeanty along with inker Danny Miki and colorist Nick Filardi delivers the art that matches Ridley’s fantsastic story. The trio are able to deliver a world where superheroes fit in, our world, just with people with powers. There’s a grittiness to it all and the use of coloring helps set the mood and action for each scene. Letterer Travis Lanham also helps set the mood with slight changes to the lettering that helps bring out the personality of each character.

An amazing beginning that has me excited to see what Ridley will deliver in the subsequent issues and a set up that feels like we’ll get the depth he’s delivered elsewhere in comic form. Absolutely amazing on every level and it matches my anticipation in every way.

Story: John Ridley Art: Georges Jeanty
Ink: Danny Miki Color: Nick Filardi Letters: Travis Lanham

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

« Older Entries