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Preview: The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular

The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular

(W) Brian Azzarello, Paul Dini, Dennis O’Neil, Scott Snyder, Tom Taylor, James Tynion IV, Others (A) Rafael Albuquerque, Lee Bermejo, Simone Bianchi, Tony S. Daniel, Mikel Janin, Jock, José Luis García-López, Eduardo Risso, Riley Rossmo, Others (CA) Greg Capullo
In Shops: Jun 10, 2020
SRP: $9.99

The Clown Prince of Crime celebrates 80 years of chaos! The Joker has been the greatest villain in comics since his debut and to celebrate we have a who’s who of comics’ finest talent giving the Harlequin of Hate the birthday roast he deserves. The stories feature a range of terror and anarchy, showing how the Joker has impacted Gotham City from the police to Arkham Asylum, from the local underworld to the Dark Knight and his allies! Make sure to RSVP to this birthday bash-you wouldn’t want to wake up with a Joker Fish on your doorstep, would you?

The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular

DC Releases a First Look at The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular

On June 9, some of the most talented names in comic books will gather together to pay tribute to the Clown Prince of Crime in a special 100-page must-have collector’s item, The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular. And DC has revealed a first look at some of the stories that will make up this landmark issue.

“WHAT COMES AT THE END OF A JOKE?”

Spinning out of the pages of his best-selling run on Batman, series writer James Tynion IV tells the origin story of the sensational new character Punchline! With stellar art from the acclaimed art team of Mikel Janín and Jordie Bellaire.

“BIRTHDAY BUGS”

The Joker turns birthday clown in this tale by Tom Taylor and Eduardo Risso. When The Joker goes to the home of an accomplice that did him wrong, he finds the man’s young son sitting alone picking apart bugs on his stoop. The boy assumes that the Joker is the clown for his birthday party and tells him that no one is coming. The Joker finds this unacceptable and goes around the neighborhood, “convincing” families to attend the birthday party and make it the best day he’s ever had. As for the boy’s father, he’s in for the worst moment of his life! 

“KILL THE BATMAN”

In a story set in a not-so-distant future the Joker has finally made his dream come true of killing the Batman and we see the all the DC universe in mourning. But this act doesn’t provide the catharsis the Joker thought it would…he needs an encore…something at Batman’s public memorial perhaps? Written by acclaimed screenwriter Gary Whitta, popular writer/podcaster Greg Miller and rising star comic artist Dan Mora.

This is a must-have one-shot for any fan of The Joker; this 100-page tribute also includes stories from fan-favorite creators such as Scott Snyder and JOCK (The Batman Who Laughs, Batman: The Black Mirror), Denny O’Neil (Batman) and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Paul Dini, Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo (Joker), Tony S. Daniel (Batman) and more. The comic book also features a gallery of covers spotlighting key moments in The Joker’s history, along with a gallery of tribute from renowned comic artists such as Kelley Jones, Ivan Reis, Fiona Staples, John Romita Jr., and others. For the ultimate collector, eight variant covers will be available (check stores for details) celebrating eighty years of the Harlequin of Hate.

The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular will be available in open and operating comic book stores and participating digital platforms on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, for $9.99. To find the nearest open and operating store near you, check out DC’s Comic Shop Tracker.

Wonder Woman #750 delivers “a Brave New World” by Scott Snyder, Bryan Hitch, Mike Spicer, and Tom Napolitano. Get a First Look.

Wonder Woman #750, on shelves this Wednesday, is an all-star 96-page celebration of the Amazon Princess by longtime favorites and acclaimed new voices! This oversized gem tells tales from Diana’s past and present, along with major implications for the future of DC’s first Super Hero!

With the publication of Wonder Woman #750, DC returns to legacy numbering for Wonder Woman, gives a glimpse into Diana’s distant past, and heads boldly towards the future!

Storytellers contributing to the issue also include Colleen Doran, Mariko Tamaki, legendary Wonder Woman creators Gail Simone, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott, and Greg Rucka returning to the character, and more! Wonder Woman #750 also features pinup artwork by Ramona Fradon, José Luis Garcia-López, Emanuela Lupacchino, Bilquis Evely, and Travis Moore.

One of those major implications was teased in 2019, that Wonder Woman’s legacy precedes all other Super Heroes in the DCU’s overarching narrative. A hint at what that looks like can be seen in Wonder Woman #750’s “A Brave New World” eight-page story by Scott Snyder, Bryan Hitch, Mike Spicer, and Tom Napolitano.

Check out this first look:

Wonder Woman #750

DC Releases a First Look at the Landmark Wonder Woman #750

Wonder Woman #750

Stories and artwork by Steve Orlando, Jesus Marino, Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, Marguerite Bennett, Laura Braga, Scott Snyder, Bryan Hitch, Mariko Tamaki, Elena Casagrande, Kami Garcia, Phil Hester, Shannon and Dean Hale, Riley Rossmo, Vita Ayala, Amancay Nahuelpan, Ramona Fradon, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Emanuela Lupacchino, Liam Sharp, Bilquis Evely and Travis Moore.
Cover by Joëlle Jones and Trish Mulvihill
In Shops: Jan 22, 2020
Final Orders Due: Dec 09, 2019
Prestige Format
SRP: $9.99

Decade Variant covers:
1940s variant cover by Joshua Middleton
1950s variant cover by Jenny Frison
1960s variant cover by J. Scott Campbell and Sabine Rich
1970s variant cover by Olivier Coipel
1980s variant cover by George Pérez and Laura Martin
1990s variant cover by Brian Bolland
2000s variant cover by Adam Hughes
2010s variant cover by Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair

AN ALL-STAR COLLECTION OF CREATIVE TALENT CELEBRATE
WONDER WOMAN THIS JANUARY IN LANDMARK ISSUE

Wonder Woman #750 is an all-star 96-page celebration of the Amazon Princess by longtime favorites and acclaimed new voices! This oversized gem tells tales from Diana’s past and present, along with major implications for the future of DC’s first Super Hero! Storytellers contributing to the issue include Colleen Doran, Mariko Tamaki, and legendary Wonder Woman creators Gail Simone, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott and Greg Rucka returning to the character! Wonder Woman #750 also features pinup artwork by Ramona Fradon, José Luis Garcia-López, Emanuela Lupacchino, Bilquis Evely and Travis Moore. 

In this first look, Mariko Tamaki and Elena Casagrande show Wonder Woman’s strength; Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott test her friendship and grace; and Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, and Hi-Fi revisit her love and compassion (and bring back Star-Blossom!) to showcase Diana’s wisdom and wonder. All this and more when Wonder Woman #750 hits shelves on January 22nd, 2020. 

Wonder Woman #750

Commemorating 80 Years of Batman with Worldwide Celebrations

To mark the 80th anniversary of Batman, DC has unveiled plans for a global commemoration of the World’s Greatest Detective. Kicking off this March at SXSW, the multifaceted campaign for DC’s Caped Crusader will feature exclusive celebrations, special theatrical engagements, the milestone release of Detective Comics #1000, live events and first-ever Batman brand partnerships. As fans join together under the campaign’s tagline of #LongLiveTheBat, DC’s timeless character will be honored through Batman Day in September when the Bat-Signal lights up in major cities worldwide.

First appearing as socialite turned crime-fighter Bruce Wayne in Detective Comics #27 on March 30, 1939, the Dark Knight has stood as a symbol of determination, bravery and justice to generations of fans for 80 years. He has influenced every area of modern entertainment, appearing in countless comic books, Saturday morning cartoons, multiple television series, video games, theme parks and experiences, toys, collectibles, apparel and lifestyle products, as well as, blockbuster animated and live-action films. There have been Batman trading cards, board games and newspaper cartoon strips, and the U.S. Postal Service has even honored Batman with his own postage stamps. Batman is a multi-billion dollar icon who continues to reign as the most popular single Super Hero ever created.

To commemorate this milestone, custom artwork was created that pays homage to Batman’s legacy in all forms of media. The Batman profile pencil design is by beloved longtime DC artist José Luis García-López, and digital paint design is by Admira Wijaya. This graphic will be featured throughout the celebration.

DC will honor #LongLiveTheBat throughout 2019, including Batman’s 80th anniversary on March 30 and Batman Day on September 21. As part of this yearlong celebration, there are many ways fans can participate.

Read Batman:

  • Paying homage to the Super Hero’s 80-year publishing history, DC will present two commemorative books: including the landmark collector’s issue of DETECTIVE COMICS #1000, on sale at comics shops March 27, and a special hardcover release, DETECTIVE COMICS: 80 YEARS OF BATMAN THE DELUXE EDITION, available March 19.

Experience Batman:

  • SXSW in Austin, Texas, will kick off the global celebration with multiple fan experiences, photo opportunities, limited-edition merchandise and Instagrammable mural by a local artist. SXSW will also set the stage for an incredible moment when more than 1.5 million bats fly into the night over Austin’s famous Congress Bridge on March 15.
  • DC will celebrate Batman’s 80th anniversary with panels at major conventions, including a dedicated “Happy Birthday, Batman!” panel at WonderCon in Anaheim on the actual anniversary, March 30.
  • Generations of fans across the globe will gather together to honor the timeless hero on Batman Day, September 21. The Bat-Signal will light up in major cities worldwide, alongside a wide array of fan celebrations, including interactive photo opportunities, live music, food, games and more. Plus, fans will race across the finish line in their favorite Caped Crusader attire in a series of 5K and 10K runs in select cities.
  • Families can celebrate #LongLiveTheBat at multiple Six Flags locations across North America in August with extended hours, exclusive Batman-themed experiences and special merchandise. Warner Bros. theme parks across the globe, including Warner Bros. Movie World Australia, Parque Warner Madrid and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, will host Batman 80thanniversary events.
  • Madame Tussauds locations in Orlando and Sydney will unveil interactive fan-friendly experiences, photo opportunities and special merchandise in September.
  • In May, collectible art boutique MONDO will host a curated anniversary exhibit at its Austin gallery celebrating iconic Batman cover art throughout the years.
  • The global touring exhibition THE ART OF THE BRICK: DC SUPER HEROES will celebrate the Dark Knight with a special Batman edition, beginning this September in São Paulo, Brazil.
  • Romics—the comic book, animation and gaming convention in Rome, Italy—will host an immersive Batman 80th  anniversary exhibit in April.
  • Designed for fans of all ages, visitors to Shanghai this summer will be treated to a first-of-its-kind special exhibit celebrating Batman.
  • Otter Media brands Rooster Teeth, Crunchyroll, VRV and Fullscreen will celebrate Batman’s 80th anniversary through a variety of programming and social campaigns designed to amplify DC’s global campaign.
  • AT&T will activate across retail, digital and DIRECTV, which will celebrate the anniversary with a Batman-branded channel. Plus, AT&T customers will get insider access through AT&T THANKS to Batman content, comics, merchandise, exclusive fan experiences and more.

Watch Batman:

  • Television broadcast partners worldwide will host Batman programming marathons in March and September.
  • Cartoon Network in the U.S. and key territories will host exclusive Batman themed programming and stunts for kids in March and September.
  • DC Universe—DC’s digital subscription service—will be celebrating in a big way with the promotion of Batman content in March and September.

Join Batman:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America will join Batman in a first-ever partnership to celebrate kids, teens and youth development professionals who stand up for positive change in their communities. The campaign kicks off in April during National Boys & Girls Clubs Week.
  • In honor of military appreciation month this May, DC will partner with the USO, the iconic military support nonprofit, on a special Batman-themed USO2GO kit featuring comics, movies, TV shows, games and more. The kit will offer a fun diversion for service members stationed in remote locations around the globe, connecting them to home and all things Dark Knight.
  • Fans in the UK can join in raising awareness of Genetic Disorders UK by wearing an exclusively designed Batman t-shirt on Jeans for Genes Day in September.

Shop Batman:

  • WB and DC are also joining forces with an extensive list of retail partners, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, iTunes, Walmart, GameStop and Google Play, among others.
  • Global partners such as LEGO, Mattel and Funko will release exclusive Batman 80th anniversary products throughout the year.

Conceived by artist Bob Kane with writer Bill Finger, Batman is humanity’s timeless hero. And he’s just getting started. More details on the global celebration will be released in the coming months.

Review: Batman #50 is a Beautiful, Tragic Romance

If you thought that Batman and Catwoman were going to have a happy wedding with the usual supervillain attack to keep things interesting, then you’re pretty naive. On that confrontational, Batman #50 is a climactic moment in Tom King’s run on Batman, and Mikel Janin and June Chung are onboard as well to show all the romance, heartbreak, and kicking Kite-Man on the face. But the real highlight of this issue is the unleashing of some of the best living Batman and Catwoman artists to tell the love story of Bat and Cat all framed in love letters to each other. Beginning with the great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez showing them swaddled together in a loving embrace and concluding in a pure negative space, movie poster style page from upcoming Batman artist Lee weeks, this is a wonderful encapsulation of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship done in Tom King’s signature tone poem way.

The letters that Batman and Catwoman write to each other in Batman #50 are a form of psychological probing, which makes sense because Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and Catwoman is a skilled thief and con woman. They read people basically for a living, but are vulnerable and have huge blind spots. Especially Batman. King writes some beautiful lines where Batman and Catwoman both say that each other’s eyes is what led to their initial attraction. Batman was struck by how complex Catwoman’s eyes were, and that she could be more than a one-off animal themed villain while Catwoman realized how simple and childlike Batman’s were: pure blue. These thoughts come during Tim Sale and Paul Pope’s pages showing Catwoman in her 1990s purple costume pursuing and aggressively flirting with Batman like he’s an innocent boy and not a skilled crime fighter drawn in heroic, stealthy poses by Neal Adams and Lee Bermejo. He’s lost control and maybe has a chance to find happiness like the totally adorable page drawn by Amanda Conner of Catwoman and Batman enjoying a date at the zoo, or this issue’s sexiest moment where Mister Miracle’s Mitch Gerads shows them under a cape blanket with all the accoutrements of crime and crime fighting strewn about. Batman and Catwoman have serious chemistry, which has been boosted by King, Gerads, and Janin’s work on the current series, but are they really marriage material?

One person who shares the idea that getting married would make Batman less miserable and lose his edge is Holly Robinson, Catwoman’s long time friend, who she springs out of Arkham for one night to be her maid of honor/witness. This is a bit of a crazy plot point because the last time she appeared, Holly was fleeing the country as Batman was trying to apprehend her for 237 murders that Catwoman tried to take the fall for. The inclusion of Holly in Batman #50 makes the story a little more twist-filled than a simple case of cold feet (Eat your heart out, X-Men Gold #30), especially the final page that puts a new spin on a famous 1990s Batman storyline. As Selina’s friend, who she saved from child prostitution, Holly has been around Batman since Year One when she stabbed a less than intimidating, fake scar sporting Bruce Wayne partially leading him to choose a costume to strike fear in the heart of criminals. (As a sidenote, it’s pretty epic to see Frank Miller’s lumbering Batman on the page when Catwoman talks about how angry and graceful he was during his early crime fighting days.) But is she a pawn or a mastermind in a larger scheme?

Batman #50 seems to be an inciting incident in a larger Tom King story centered around the breaking of Batman’s heart and not his body. Batman is always surrounded by Gothic elements, like secret passages, large empty mansions, and gargoyles, so adding a doomed romance to the mix makes sense. King and Mikel Janin are working in a larger tradition of Batman getting in the way of Bruce’s happiness, and a couple of DOA romances from other mediums come to my mind. (Vicki Vale from 1989’s Batman, Andrea Beaumont in Mask of the Phantasm, Rachel Dawes in the Nolan trilogy) However, this relationship is different because King has consistently written Batman and Catwoman as equal crime fighting partners and shows this through the symmetry in the composition of their letters (Clayton Cowles’ word bubble placement is impeccable. and even similar poses in the final pinups from Greg Capullo and Weeks. Those two crazy kids had some great, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

Batman #50 definitely will be a fanbase breaking comic book, and the spoiler-y New York Times article didn’t help matters. However, throughout his run and in homage to Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, Tom King has seeded doubts that the Bat and Cat could settle into a quiet marriage. Bruce is as comfortable with as he is in the tuxedo that Alfred said reminds him of his father. Speaking of Alfred, Mikel Janin crushes a silent sequence where Bruce asks him to be his witness, and all dialogue and narration stops for a four panel hug that segues into aforementioned dreamy page from Mitch Gerads. King and Janin pinpoint these little emotional stingers into the narrative, like Holly complimenting Catwoman’s dress or a symmetrical double page spread where Bat and Cat embrace and kiss one, unfortunately last time. The use of symmetry and formalism in the way Batman #50 is constructed hint at a couple that’s on the same page, but that’s sadly not the reality.

In Batman #50, Tom King, Mikel Janin, June Chung, and a talent group of guest artists craft the ultimate, tragic Batman love story and show the chemistry between Bat and Cat while also showing how their marriage ultimately wouldn’t work out. This definitely isn’t a big, guest star heavy special, but an intimate story of a man, who decides to work out his pain and sorrow dressed as a bat instead of finding love and peace with an enigmatic woman, who dresses like a cat.

Story: Tom King Art: Mikel Janín
Guest  Art: David Finch, Joëlle Jones, Mitch Gerads, Rafael Albuquerque, Neal Adams, Andy Kubert, Becky Cloonan, Ty Templeton, José Luis Garcia-Lopez, Frank Miller, Lee Bermejo, Trish Mulvihill, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Alex Sinclair, Hi-Fi, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Tim Sale, José Villarrubia, Paul Pope, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, Lee Weeks
Colors: June Chung Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: DC Nation #0

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 three stories for 25 cents!

DC Nation #0 features Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles, Brittany Holzherr, Jamie S. Rich, Brian Michael Bendis, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dexter Vines, Alex Sinclair, Josh Reed, Jessica Chen, Mike Cotton, Brian Cunningham, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, Andworld Design, Andrea Shea, Rebecca Taylor, and Marie Javins.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://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
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Review: Action Comics #1000 Captures Superman’s Inspirational Power

In Action Comics #1000, an all-star team of writers, artists, and colorists try and for the most part succeed at getting to the heart of Superman. Some stories touch on different eras of history from his time in the 1930s as a non-flying, slumlord buster and the Mort Weisinger Silver Age sci-fi kookiness to classic comics like Kingdom Come. Others look at his relationships with his parents, wife/co-worker Lois Lane, and his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. One story even looks far in the future of the DC Universe while another acts as a semi-controversial prologue to Brian Michael Bendis’ upcoming Man of Steel miniseries and his runs on Action Comics and Superman.

To give each story the attention it needs, I will do a short review of each one and score it at the end of the paragraph. A final aggregated score  will conclude this (hopefully not that long) “80 page giant” review.

Action Comics #1000 opens with one hell of a curtain call from writer/penciler Dan Jurgens, inker Norm Rapmund, and colorist Hi-Fi that acts as a victory lap for Jurgens’ DC Rebirth run on Action Comics and his tireless work turning Superman from the edgy, armor wearing New 52 version to his classic role as a heroic hope bringer and a family man too. The story is simple. Metropolis is holding a Superman celebration day, but Superman doesn’t want their praise and adulation and wants to keep saving the day. However, through a little trickery from Lois and the Justice League, he ends up getting his moment in the sun. Jurgens’ writing cuts to the core of Superman and his positivity with a small-time Metropolis criminal named Benning talking about how he got him a job after prison so he wouldn’t keep relapsing and running with different supervillains. His art is a little old school, but that’s not a bad thing, and Rapmund’s inking helps make the crowd shots sharp in a story that shows Superman’s bond with the citizens of Metropolis and the superhero community while not neglecting the family elements that have been a big part of the Rebirth era of Superman. There really wouldn’t be a superhero genre without him.

Story: 9.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.8

The next story “Neverending Battle” from the Superman creative team of Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Alejandro Sanchez is a tiny bit philosophical, somewhat historical, and definitely epic as a story only done in full page spreads. It’s about Vandal Savage weaponizing Hypertime to trap Superman in his own history so he can’t get back to Jon and Lois to celebrate his birthday. Tomasi’s writing is a little corny at times with adages like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “History repeats itself”, but Gleason and Sanchez’s glorious visuals and the through-line of Superman consistently overcoming great odds wins out just like Superman over Vandal Savage. The first spreads are the most iconic with Golden Age Era Superman punching out gangsters, stopping locomotives, and throwing tanks around with Tomasi commentating on the simplistic, good vs. evil nature of these early stories. But he and Gleason aren’t afraid to get vulnerable with a poignant homage to the scene in The Dark Knight Returns where Superman is weakened after stopping a nuclear explosion that blocks out the sun or a page where he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone. However, despite cunning and powerful enemies and occasionally death itself, nothing will stop Superman from being a hero or spending time with his loved ones on his birthday. Gleason has a strong handle on the moral clarity and goodness behind Superman’s strength and I look forward to his upcoming work as the main Action Comics artist.

Story: 8.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.3

The third story “An Enemy Within” with a script from Marv Wolfman, Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger inking over recently discovered Curt Swan, and colors by Hi-Fi straddles a thin line between optimism and naivete and definitely falls on the naive side. Superman is too busy fighting Brainiac in Japan so he relies on Maggie Sawyer and the Metropolis PD to take out a mind controlled teacher, who is holding his students hostage. There is an opportunity to address social issues, like school shooting, gun control, police violence, and even homelessness in a scene towards the end, but Wolfman, Swan, and Guice gloss over these issues with a simplistic “humanity is good and will save themselves” mantra and use the mind control plot device to cover their asses. Honestly, your enjoyment of this story will depend on how much you believe in the idea of original sin or your tolerance level for after school specials. Guice’s inks bring an interesting grit to Swan’s usually clean, bright pencils, and honestly, the best part of the story is a solemn Superman pinup at the end inked by the late Schaffenberger.

Story: 4.5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.5

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Olivier Coipel, and Alejandro Sanchez turn in a stoic, 1930s era Superman story about a small time crook named Butch who gets his car beat up when trying to fight Superman. It’s probably the car from the cover of Action Comics #1. Johns and Donner’s take on Superman is a little rougher and little more stern, but he has a solid moral compass and cares for humanity as shown by his empathy towards Butch, who lost his dad in combat during World War I. Coipel’s art is wonderfully rough hewn and is like Norman Rockwell’s work without the sentimentality, and he even plays the “It’s a bird, it’s a plane…” line for sardonic, silent comedy. His Superman commands the page and is someone who you would listen to and definitely take seriously. He doesn’t smile either. But the ending of “The Car” has an earned happiness and is a little spark of light in a cynical world. Johns and Donner really get that heroism is about the little things and not flying the world backwards or time travel shenanigans.

Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8

Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig tell a quiet, yet time spanning story about the relationship between Superman and Lex Luthor, and how Superman chooses to see the good even in his worst enemy. The story starts intense with shadow wreathed art and dark colors from Albuquerque and McCaig as Luthor has assembled some powerful MacGuffins to take out Superman. But he’s actually just star gazing at the Smallville Planetarium? Albuquerque’s art is sharper and sadder after that with a nostalgic orange palette from McCaig as Lex tells Superman that the planetarium was an escape from bad weather and his abusive parents. They seamlessly blend past and present as it’s revealed that a young Clark Kent gave Lex’s space laser a little boost and saved his life. Snyder uses this anecdote/flashback sequence to hold out hope for a time when “maybe” the cycle of hero and villain will be broken between Superman and Lex Luthor as the story fades to black.

Story: 9.6 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7

Tom King makes a case for winning back to back Eisners for Best Short Story in his, Clay Mann, and Jordie Bellaire’s contribution to Action #1000, “Of Tomorrow”. It’s a tone poem about Superman’s last day on Earth as he says goodbye to Ma and Pa Kent one last time as the Earth is engulfed in the sun with flames and winds that are reminiscent of the last days of Krypton. King writes Superman as an old man wrestling with his past and legacy, wishing he could save more people, and being supremely proud of his wife and son. And it gets deep at the end when he reflects on his father’s blend of science and faith. Mann captures each tiny, beautiful moment in his artwork as he makes art with his strength, tears, and freeze breath: a frozen statuette of Jonathan and Martha Kent like the one of Jor-El and Lara-El in the Fortress of Solitude. Bellaire goes for Earth tones in her colors as Superman immerses himself in his adopted planet before flying off forever. He loves his parents, he loves Earth, but he realizes that all planets die and all story ends. (Except for his comic book for now.)

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Two veteran comics creators Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway show they still have a lot in the tank in their “Five Minutes” story with colorist Dave McCaig that expertly intertwines Superman’s life as a superhero and Clark Kent’s life as a journalist in five minutes. Simonson’s narration shows that both Clark and Superman’s “powers” come in handy in different situation as Superman is able to dart from a train accident to a hold up and finally to save the city from an asteroid just like Clark is able to write a story and get it in under deadline. It’s a quick, zippy read with a lot of heart and a kind of cheesy “twist” ending, but Simonson and Ordway show how much passion Superman/Clark Kent has for both saving people and reporting. He is precise, efficient, and knows when to fly to next crisis just like a writer juggling different projects. Plus there’s a Bibbo Bibbowski cameo, which will be a treat for Superman fans of the 80s and 90s.

Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.3

Paul Dini, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Nowlan, and Trish Mulvihill turn in a cheeky homage to Superman’s history, Garcia-Lopez’s ability to skillfully render almost every DC Comics hero and villain, and most of all, Mr. Mxyzptlk. Mxyzptlk has the ability to wipe out Superman from the existence in the blink of an eye, but he’s more of a prankster than a coldblooded villain and enjoys toying with him instead. Dini, Garcia-Lopez, and Nowlan also provide a little meta-commentary on how stories involving superheroes in comics never seem to end even after they’re killed off or have passed their mantle to sidekicks or legacy heroes. Probably, because they’re too much fun. This story’s kryptonite is Dini indulging his sleazy side towards the end, but the energy and humanity of Garcia-Lopez’s figures and Mulvihill’s heroic colors more than make up for it.

Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0

In a much darker story than the previous one, “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” happens in a very short span of time as Superman tries to stop a domestic abuser from shooting his girlfriend, Lila, in the head. Artist John Cassaday tells the story in a series of freeze frames as you can see the strain of Superman flying to stop the bullet, and the red, yellow, and blue of Laura Martin’s colors as his chances increase. Brad Meltzer starts incredibly dark in his script with Superman running calculations in his head that he won’t be able to save Lila and ends with Superman admitting that he is inspired by humanity as much as they are inspired by him. “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” is a taut, mini-thriller that also captures Superman’s essence and the strength of his and the people he inspire’s resolves.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

The final story in Action Comics #1000 is Brian Michael Bendis’ DC debut with Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair doing the art. Lee and Williams definitely put the “action” in Action Comics, and most of the story is a third act of Man of Steel fight sequence with collateral damage galore as new giant sword wielding alien conqueror villain Rogol Zaar crashes all over Metropolis and tries to kill the last two Kryptonians on Earth. Yes, Supergirl has a cameo in this comic and is there to get her ass kicked as much as Superman. Bendis’ writing is quippy as ever and doesn’t really pair well with the disaster movie feel of Lee and Williams’ art. He seems to be going for an “Avengers Disassembled” type of throughline in his approach to Superman by physically breaking him down and also taking shots at his past. Yes, the final page of Action Comics #1000 is a huge retcon for Superman’s character, and hopefully, Bendis has the reasoning and great story to back it up, or Rogol Zaar might just be a Mongul knock-off with a cooler sword.

Story: 6.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0

 

Story: Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis  Art: Dan Jurgens with Norm Rapmund, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan with Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez with Kevin Nowlan, John Cassaday, Jim Lee with Scott Williams  Colors:  Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McCaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Story: 8.2 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

C2E2 2018: The Action Comics #1000 Panel

At C2E2 this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Action Comics #1000 panel, which had a lot of information about that specific issue as well as reveals of upcoming Superman artwork and stories, mostly involving new DC Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis. Along the way, the talented group of creators on the panel talked about their connection to Superman while teasing their stories, and some surprise swag was given out at the end…

It’s seriously insane that a monthly comic book has hit four digits in issue numbers and has basically been published since 1938. Some of DC’s best creators convened at the Action Comics #1000 panel to talk about their work on upcoming Superman titles, their relationship to the iconic hero, and most importantly, should his costume have underwear on the outside, or not? The panel included writer Brian Michael Bendis (Alias), who is making his DC Comics debut on Action Comics #1000, writer/artist Patrick Gleason (Superman), writer Tom King (Batman), artist Clay Mann (Batman), artist Jill Thompson (Beasts of Burden), and artist Philip Tan (Suicide Squad: Rebirth).

It kicked off with some information about the 80 page celebration that is Action Comics #1000 as well as a 384 page hardcover book called 80 Years of Superman with all kinds of essays, tributes, stories, and art that looked perfect for a coffee table along with an unpublished story by Jerry Siegel and artists from Joe Shuster’s studio. Continuing with the unpublished theme, Bendis reminded the moderator that Action Comics #1000 has some unpublished art by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan that Marv Wolfman scripted over and geeked out about it. He showed a real passion for being involved with Superman and DC Comics on the panel.

After saying he had almost no time off between doing his last Marvel book, Invincible Iron Man #600, and his first DC book so he could jump in on Action Comics #1000, Brian Michael Bendis set up the first reveal of the panel. It was four pages of lettered Jim Lee art as well as his and Bendis’ first original DC creation, the mysterious villain Rogol Zaar. (There was a snarky joke about red trunks in there too.) Bendis said that the villain will be connected to a secret from Superman’s past. The secret will be revealed in Action Comics #1000 and then expanded upon in the weekly Man of Steel miniseries. He then told Rogol’s secret origin, which was connected to his hospitalization for a MRSA infection in late 2017. Dr. Rogol was a no-nonsense doctor in the hospital, who helped him get better so he decided to name his first big DC villain after her. When Bendis told Dr. Rogel this, she nodded like he was crazy. The next day, she had Googled him and brought out an old Marc Silvestri drawing and said she should look like a bloodstained, bikini wearing barbarian woman. It’s safe to say she wasn’t impressed with Jim Lee’s final design. In his first DC story, Bendis made sure to “write big” for Jim Lee and was influenced by some of his collaborations with Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder on Justice League and Superman Unchained respectively in the salad days of the New 52.

The topic turned to May 2’s DC Nation #0, which is coming out the same week as Free Comic Book Day, but is on sale for $0.25 so the comic could feature more story pages. The book has previews of Tom King’s upcoming work on Batman and Scott Snyder’s upcoming work on No Justice as well as a brand new Superman story by Bendis and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Working with the 70 year old Garcia-Lopez was on Bendis’ bucket list, and he came out of retirement to deliver some beautiful pages featuring group shots of the Daily Planet bullpen reacting to Superman. Also, apparently he’s a super nice guy and still lives for collaborating on comic book stories.

About a month after DC Nation, The Man of Steel #1 will be released with Brian Michael Bendis writing and Ivan Reis and Joe Prado on artwork. In each issue of this weekly miniseries, Bendis is collaborating with a new artist he’s never worked with before except Kevin Maguire and diving feet first into the DC Universe. Bendis talked about how he wanted to make Metropolis a lived-in setting where each nook and cranny has its own story much like Gotham and also how he wants to show why Clark Kent became a reporter to “tell the truth Superman can’t”. He pointed out that unlike his powers and coming to Earth as an infant, becoming a reporter was his choice. Plus there’s going to be a big space conspiracy story featuring various alien races, including the Guardians of the Universe, and its logo was based off of John Byrne’s Man of Steel even if the stories aren’t really similar.

The Man of Steel leads into Action Comics #1001, which will be written by Bendis and drawn by Patrick Gleason, who previously was the co-writer with Peter Tomasi and occasional artist on Superman. Gleason says that Action #1000 is the celebration/jam issue while the real story starts in issue 1001. He talks about how Superman is an all-out superhero book while Action Comics will focus on the Clark/Superman dichotomy and also build up Metropolis and the Daily Planet. He then proved that he is one of the harder working creators in comics and said that he had to draw 15 pages of Action Comics #1000 while also doing full interiors on Superman #45, his farewell to the title. Luckily, all 15 pages of his Action Comics #1000 story “The Neverending Battle” were splashes and was a love letter to Superman stories across time. One of them featured the old Superman “S”, which his six year old son said was incorrect. His son ended up appearing on a page where Superman stops a train, and all four of his kids helped ink a page with Superman fighting Nazis in World War II with Sgt. Rock.

The moderator turned the focus to Tom King and Clay Mann’s five page Action Comics #1000 story, which is already available online. It is set way in the future, fairly depressing, and King began with a little joke about how Batman was better than Superman. King said that he when was he younger that he thought Superman was a fairly “generic” hero. However, through his grandmother, who is from Nebraska and his wife, who is from Chicago, he began to see him as an embodiment of Midwestern values aka focusing on the solution, not just the problem. Then, artist Clay Mann got a nice ovation from the audience for his art skills and talked about King giving him reference material of Mars to draw this future Earth. He also joked about Superman’s tears not evaporating in the sun, which severely hurt Tom King’s “scientific” credentials. King’s explanation was “super tears”, which led to Bendis telling a story about how he wrote an angry letter to John Byrne while he was a comic book store clerk about how Superman shaves with a mirror and heat vision and ended up getting roasted by Byrne in the letters page of Next Men #8. The ghost of John Byrne definitely seemed to be haunting this panel.

Next, Jill Thompson teased some of her art for the upcoming Action Comics Special story with Mark Russellwhich is about Clark Kent roasting Lex Luthor at the White House Correspondents Dinner. It looks super hilarious, and various members of the Justice League are there in dressier versions of their costumes. The wrestler Alex Chamberlain posed for her art. Then, the moderator asked her and the panel who their favorite Superman artists were. Thompson said she liked Steve Rude, especially his work with Dave Gibbon on World’s Finest, where he gave Metropolis and Gotham two distinct looks. Philip Tan’s definitive artist was Alex Ross on Kingdom Come and Mann’s were the aforementioned Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Jim Lee, Dan Jurgens, and John Byrne. King picked Byrne and Curt Swan because “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” is his favorite Superman story. Patrick Gleason said he liked the Superfriends and Bruce Timm Superman cartoons before getting into comics, but his favorite artists were Jurgens and Ross. Bendis closed by giving a shout out to the jam issue (He loves those.) Action Comics #400, which featured Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko, Moebius, and more’s take on Superman. And they all commiserated over the difficulty of drawing the Superman “S”.

Towards the end of the panel, Brian Michael Bendis talked about how what a solid foundation Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, and Patrick Gleason left him on the Superman titles as they went from having two Supermen to just one hopeful, optimistic Superman even with some super crazy stories like the Boyzarro and Rozarro starring Superman #45, which is basically a Bizarro-verse version of the DC Rebirth one-shot. Bendis says the ideal is taking over a struggling book, like Frank Miller on Daredevil, because you have creative freedom, but it’s a tougher challenge to take over a book that has hit a creative peak like Superman.

Bendis said that his take on Superman wouldn’t be a reboot and that he had a seven page manifesto of Superman is relatable to him, especially as a father. (Of course, King quipped about Batman being more relatable.) Plus there is a lot of adoption in his family. He retold a story where as a struggling artist in Cleveland, he took on a gig to do art for a Superman parade where he was paid for Superman merchandise. Siegel and Shuster cancelled so Stan Lee of all people was the guest of honor and called him by name, but it was really because he was wearing a nametag. However, this parade gave him to the opportunity to talk with many comic creators about his career, including George Perez, who gave him 20 minutes of solid advice, including to focus on one project at a time, which has helped him with all those crazy deadlines and juggling multiple books.

The panel concluded with a roundtable discussion about the return of Superman’s red trunks, and Gleason talking about how he and Jim Lee basically designed around them when they were coming up with Superman’s new costume for DC Rebirth. But the panel seemed pretty pro-trunks, and each member of the panel audience was rewarded with their own pair of Superman trunks (Mostly XL.) with #TheTrunksAreBack embroidered on the back.

Basically, Action Comics #1000 seems like it’s going to be historic and epic, and you should pick it up when it drops on April 18.

Superman’s Red Trunks Return in Action Comics #1000

The countdown as on as the momentous Action Comics #1000 draws nearer and DC Comics is pulling out all of the stops with a jam-packed, star-studded comic.

The Jim Lee-drawn cover features a new costume that integrates a variety of classic and new elements. One thing that’s immediately noticeable is the return of the Man of Steel’s iconic red trunks which have been missing since DC’s 2011 New 52 reboot. Since Rebirth, DC has been slowly moving the “new” look to the old one bit by bit.

Action Comics #1000 will feature multiple stories and creators including the DC debut of Brian Michael Bendis, his first since switching over from Marvel in an exclusive deal. Marv Wolfman will pen a story based on unpublished art by Curt Swan. Richard Donner and Geoff Johns are teaming up with artist Olivier Coipel. Other contributors include Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, Paul Dini with José Luis García-López, Tom King with Clay Mann and Jordie Bellaire; Brad Meltzer with John Cassaday and Laura Martin; Louise Simonson with Jerry Ordway; Scott Snyder with Tim Sale and more to be announced.

Action Comics #1000 hits stores on April 18.

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