Why I Love Black Superheroes

By Toren Chenault — Black History Month is a time to celebrate. I love being black, and I love everything about my culture. And I think it’s important to celebrate culture, no matter who you are. I also love comic books and am in the process of writing my first comic. As a future comic creator and as a black male, I think it’s important to acknowledge the strides we’ve made in the comic book industry when it comes to diversity. See, we still have a long way to go, though. In fact, it saddens me the low number of black writers and artists I see in mainstream comics today. But there are creators like myself that are working night and day, creating wondrous new worlds, hoping to change that one day.

Today though I want to focus on some of my favorite black characters in comics. Most will be superheroes, some will be from smaller companies, but each has touched my soul in a special way. Representation matters. It isn’t just a catchy phrase you should say on Twitter when you’re feeling empathetic. It really does matter. It’s just a great feeling to see yourself in a comic. So, welcome to a special “Why I Love” about black superheroes and black characters.

In this piece I want to spotlight these special characters but also let you know where you can find them currently in the comics. It can be easy to miss things, and we shouldn’t shame others for not knowing what’s out. So, if you didn’t know a certain character was still around, don’t feel bad. This piece is here to help. First up is a DC character who doesn’t get as much love as he deserves—Mr. Terrific.

Mr. Terrific by Alex Ross.

Mr. Terrific

A lot of the heroes and characters on this list defy stereotypes when it comes to black characters. Not every black character should come from violence or be inherently “tough.” Black people, like all humans, are complex. Michael Holt, aka Mr. Terrific, is a good example of that.

He’s a hero born from tragedy, like most are, and he’s a hero who lives with enormous guilt. Mr. Terrific has always been a favorite of mine because of his combination of style and intellect. Not only does he have multiple, multiple Ph.Ds (I think 14 to be exact), but he’s one of the coolest looking characters in the DC Universe. One of the first images I ever saw of Mr. Terrific was the single portrait legendary artist Alex Ross did for the JSA comic. The spheres floating around him, the black “T” on his face, the red, white, and black jacket that says, “Fairplay”...I was hooked. And after reading things like JSA, he became one of my favorites. Sometimes, writers who aren’t black tend to make their black characters too cool. They’ll rely too much on that aspect of the character and let it overtake their personality. Mr. Terrific is the blueprint for how to balance this. The perfect combination of swag and smarts.

Where is he now? Mr. Terrific is one of those characters I don’t think DC Comics as a company understands exactly how awesome he is. He still has an insane amount of untapped potential. He hasn’t been around too much in recent years, but you can currently find him leading his own team in The Terrifics. It was a part of the New Age of Heroes launch, and it currently remains one of my favorite titles at DC. Written by Jeff Lemire, the comic has been a good developmental series for Mr. Terrific. It dives into his loneliness and his past, and it also showcases just how much of a smart, capable leader he is.

Cyborg from  Teen Titans.

Cyborg from Teen Titans.

Cyborg

I literally grew up on the DC Animated Universe. I didn’t have money or any way to read comics weekly growing up, so the DCAU was my education on the DC Universe. And what an education. Cyborg came from that era, and when I saw him on Teen Titans, he became one of my favorites.

Once again,moving past the tropes of the black athlete, Cyborg is another highly intelligent person in the DC Universe. And his backstory is one that hurts. I remember an episode of Teen Titans where he was talking with Starfire about being judged for being different. And he wasn’t talking about being a robot. Cyborg deals with the negative stereotypes of being a large black man and a machine. That’s something I can’t fathom. I actually tear up while writing this because he was such an inspirational character for me. He helped me embrace everything about myself, not just what society told me was important. No matter how people viewed him, no matter how down he got on himself, Cyborg was always one to look life in the face and say, “Booyah!”

Where is he now? I’m going to be honest, I haven’t been a fan of the way Cyborg has been handled in the comics in recent years. He was promoted to the Justice League during the New 52 reboot, but I think with that came the disappearance of some important character traits, as well as history in the DC Universe. But I enjoy good content when I can get it, and that’s exactly what the more recent comic, Justice League Odyssey, is. Cyborg is currently on a cosmic adventure with Starfire, Jessica Cruz, and Azrael. Oh, and Darkseid is involved too. It’s a cool series so far, and just like with The Terrifics, it highlights some of what makes Cyborg a great character.

Blue Marvel and Spectrum.

Blue Marvel and Spectrum

These next two heroes I included as a pair because black love in comics is important. Each is important by themselves, but together, they represent something amazing that we need in comics. Blue Marvel is Adam Brashear (created by black comic creator Kevin Grevioux) and Monica Rambeau is Spectrum. They have some of the coolest powers in the Marvel universe. Blue Marvel is a literal antimatter reactor and Spectrum does what her name suggests. She can become any form of light on the electromagnetic spectrum. My love for them came from Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort’s Ulimates. In that comic, they were part of a powerhouse team with Carol Danvers, T’Challa, and America Chavez. It was a series filled with cosmic craziness, cool concepts, and beautiful art.

That series starts with Blue Marvel holding a holographic representation of the element Neutronium as he talks about its complex nature and how it relates to the multiverse. It’s still one of my favorite openings of a comic, and it did a good job setting the stage for what was to come. The pair have a natural attraction to each other, and I love it because it always comes off as genuine. There’s a scene in the story where Blue Marvel is studying Spectrum’s powers. He’s talking about how magnificent and wonderful they are. Of course, he’s speaking in terms of science, but to him science is beautiful, so Spectrum is beautiful. I guess that begs the question does he only love her because of her powers, but I don’t think that’s true. Monica Rambeau is one of the most respected, hardworking people in the Marvel Universe. And I think Blue Marvel recognizes that. Her magnificent powers are just a plus.

Where are they now? We were bound to get here eventually, to characters who haven’t been too active as of late. Marvel is sitting on two of their most powerful cosmic characters right now, and I don’t know why. Ever since The Ultimates ended, Blue Marvel and Spectrum have been scarce. I’m hoping they show up in the new Avengers weekly No Road Home. Still, this doesn’t take away from these great characters and their beautiful relationship.

Miles Morales is becoming a break-out star thanks to the new film Into the Spiderverse.

Miles Morales

I’ve always liked Miles Morales. But in recent years, I’ve become fond of the character. He’s this generation’s Spider-Man and has grown tremendously since his creation. He’s an Afro-Latino hero, and that’s important to his character. I’m not Latino myself, but I recognize the importance of not erasing that side of who he is. Neither side of his ethnicity is more important, and they don’t take away from each other.

Like many others, my love for Miles has intensified ever since his film, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse came out. It was an authentic, masterful film with tons of heart and action. They made Miles relatable and really drove home the fact that he’s just a good kid trying to do the right thing. He likes art, music, has style, and is still growing as a person. He’s forced to grow up exponentially when he gets his powers, and I loved going on that journey with him—both in the movie and in the comics. Miles continues to be one of the brightest spots for Marvel in recent memory.

Where is he now? There’s plenty of Miles content today, and it’s all amazing. There’s his own title being written by Saladin Ahmed and drawn by Javier Garron. And then there’s Miles on his team, the Champions, and they have their own title, too. Written by Jim Zub and drawn by Steven Cummings. If you loved Into the Spiderverse, but don’t know where to start with his comics, these are perfect as they both had new #1s recently.

Livewire #1.

Livewire

If you’ve read any of my pieces before, you know that I’m a huge fan of Valiant Comics. And within the last two years one of their characters has had the best development in all of superhero comics. Her name is Amanda McKee and she goes by Livewire. An extremely powerful technopath, Livewire debuted in 2011 as a side character who’s loyal to her teacher. Now, she’s a fugitive who led an uprising across the Valiant Universe. She’s become one of my favorites in all of comics, and Valiant has done a tremendous job developing her since her debut.  

Livewire, like most of the other heroes on this list, defies stereotypes and expectations of black superheroes. Especially black women. Livewire has been Toyo Harada’s most trusted student, leader of Valiant’s super team Unity, and she brought together a group of psiots called the Secret Weapons.

Where is she now? I recommend going back and reading the original Harbinger series where Livewire first debuted. Then you can find her in titles like Unity and Secret Weapons. But now, she’s the star of her very own title. It’s being written by talented writer Vita Ayala and the art is being done by the amazing team of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin. It’s one of the best titles not just at Valiant, but in all of comics right now.

Valiant’s  Divinity.

Valiant’s Divinity.

Divinity

Now we’re on to possibly my favorite black superhero in comics today. Abram Adams is Divinity, and he is the most powerful character in the Valiant Universe. That right there means a lot to me. Not only that, but I relate so much to Divinity. His origin is one of circumstance and tragedy. He was left on the doorstep of the Russian government and was trained to become an astronaut. Abram wanted to go to space, though. His obsession with knowledge and learning drove him during his training. And it was that exact obsession that led to him interacting with a cosmic energy that turned him into a God.

Writer Matt Kindt and artist Trevor Hairsine worked on the original Divinity trilogy. And in it, Divinity narrates about life being like a big book. And how he always wanted to see all the pages, reading it all at once. Once he got his powers, he could, but he lost a piece of himself. He lost his wife, his daughter, and everything he was before. There’s a quote from Divinity #4 that is one of my favorite pieces of writing ever.

“Abram Adams was an astronaut. An explorer. A husband and a father. Once I was all of these. But now—now I flip through the life of Abram Adams like the worn pages of a dog-eared novel. Wondering at the meaning. And savoring the best parts.”

If you enjoy science-fiction and want new black superheroes, please read Divinity.

Where is he now? Divintiy hasn’t been around too much recently, but he is a newer character. Kindt and Hairsine worked on Divitniy I, II, and III, and then they worked on its sequel comic, Eternity. Divinity also showed up in Harbinger Wars 2. I’m sure he’ll be around in the future of Valiant.

Conclusion

There were a lot of heroes I didn’t get to. But then again, there really aren’t that many. I mean a couple of things by that. The first being that I didn’t include a good portion of characters. There’s Nighthawk, Black Panther, Vixen, Luke Cage, Sam Wilson, Moon Girl, Mosaic, John Stewart, Static, Steel, Misty Knight, and Black Lightning. There are all amazing characters who bring something different to the table. Both in terms of powers and representation. But there’s a bigger problem with black superheroes.

There still aren’t enough.

And I’m not even asking for more. Especially from big companies. As a fan of comic books and superheroes, logically I wouldn’t mind seeing more black characters from companies like Marvel and DC. But, as a black man living in America in 2019, I understand the realism of companies who profit mainly off heroes who look like Batman and Spider-Man, not constantly creating black superheroes. Yes, things like Black Panther and Into the Spiderverse exist, and both are amazing, amazing feats of cinema, but one or two films won’t fix an institutional problem we have in comic books. What’s the solution? More representation behind the scenes and us, fans and smaller creators, supporting each other.  

I love black superheroes. Because I get a chance to see myself in them. It’s just cool to see someone who looks like you do something awesome. Sometimes, that’s all minorities want. That’s really all anybody wants. There doesn’t have to be a deep message all the time. Just someone who looks like you, doing awesome stuff. And in this article I wanted to emphasize the role we as fans play in supporting black superheroes. Support Marvel and DC when they put out good content like the comics and characters I described up top. But also focus elsewhere. Valiant, Image, BOOM! Studios, and even Dark Horse are all starting to showcase black characters more. Try to get out of your comfort zone and venture into other titles. But also, support up and coming black creators. Where publishers don’t shine, independent creators flourish. There’s a bevy of black creators today making their own worlds, universes, and characters. It can definitely feel overwhelming sometimes. Trust me though, good content is out there, but we have to support it in order to see more.

Toren Chenault, a native of the Cincinnati area, currently lives in Michigan with his girlfriend. A graduate of Michigan State University, he is a long-time superhero fan who counts Captain Atom, Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Divinity, Nightwing, and XO Manowar among his favorite heroes. Mystic Man is his first book. Buy it now here, and check out more of Toren’s Why I Love series here.

Best Debut Comics of May 2018

I could Tweet right now: “Marvel had four new No. 1s this month…” and the response from my followers (most of whom are passionate comic fans) would be a mix of “Ugh, stop it!” and “Let runs continue!” plus one guy who DMs to ask if I’ll send him Marvel digital codes (I won’t). Those first two reactions speak to an ongoing shift in superhero comics, one very much evident in May 2018’s debuts.

This month brought new No. 1s for The Avengers, Black Panther, The Justice League, Superman, and Venom. In June, there’s another new No. 1 for Justice League, and in July another still for Superman. Also this summer there are No. 1s for Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, The West Coast Avengers, Fantastic Four, and so on and so on forever. So then, what does this all mean? Nothing. It’s just how the business of comics (which you probably don’t understand and neither do I) functions. Several years ago, then-Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso told Entertainment Weekly they were “slowly working into a season model that’s not too unlike what we see in our favorite cable TV shows: a seasonal model that offers accessible entry points for new readers and is respectful of long-term fans.”

It doesn’t mean early ends of runs. If runs sell, they live to the next season with the same writer (see Jason Aaron on Thor, Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther, Charles Soule on Daredevil, etc.). It just means there’s a clear entry point for new readers (plus a hassle for you when you organize you books). And this month the list of best debuts was pretty thoroughly dominated by new superhero seasons, seasons that just like Alonso promised, build upon what was happening while also clearing the way for some new viewers—er, readers.

Let’s get to the lists!

Quick Hits

Death or Glory #1  is a beautiful-looking comic book.

Death or Glory #1 is a beautiful-looking comic book.

Barrier #1 would have without question made our list, but it’s hard in good conscience to call this book a debut issue, as it’s been available online via Panel Syndicate since 2015. Still, the first print issue hit retailers this month, and so we think this excellent comic from Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Munsta Vincente bears mention.

Rick Remender is one of those creators with a real knack for working with the best in the business, including Jerome Opena and Sean Gordon Murphy. His collaboration with Bengal for Death or Glory #1 is no exception, ranking as one of the best-looking debuts this month. The story, however, didn’t grab me right off. I felt like I’d been thrown into the action without yet having a strong affinity for the protagonist. Still, I’ll be back for the next issue.

Mark Russell is one of my favorite writers in comics, thanks to his work on The Flintstones, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, and recent backup stories in Superman specials. And now he’s tackling another character ripe for commentary in his new book, Judge Dredd: Under Siege #1, the first of a four-part story that I will read in its entirety.

Justice League: No Justice #1 of 4 was a very good comic (as was No Justice #4), but unlike some of the other superhero books this month, it felt more like a continuation of DC’s recently-concluded Metal than the debut of something new. That’s not a bad thing, not all. I really liked how Metal directly gave way to this and I’m excited to see the next iteration with June’s relaunched Justice League #1, but in a month with so many strong debuts, our committee of one puts this book here.

Quicksilver: No Surrender #1 from Saladin Ahmed and Eric Nguyen and Venom #1 from Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman were both close to making our list. Quicksilver picks up where Avengers: No Surrender ended, with fascinating art and a deep script, while Donny Cates, Marvel’s most bombastic new voice, takes over Venom. These debuts were strong, but I feel like both books have major jumps in their futures.

In a month heavy on fresh starts and new directions for the muscles and tights crowd, I for one was glad to also read a refreshing book like We Are The Danger #1 from writer/artist Fabian Lelay, which as I said in my review is a stylish slice-of-life comic that does a great job of making both teen life and live music visceral.

Best Debut Comics of May 2018

Jason Aaron's  Avengers #1  story spans history.

Jason Aaron's Avengers #1 story spans history.

Avengers #1 by Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, & Mark Morales

I didn’t care much for last year’s Marvel Legacy one-shot, with its odd-timing a full six months or so before its content would be relevant. After reading Jason Aaron’s first issue on The Avengers, however, I’ve changed my tune, seeing as that book planted seeds that grew into this one.

For more on why I liked this book so much, check out this piece from earlier in the month. It’s reductive and simplistic, sure, but I think Jason Aaron just gets The Avengers. Also, Ed McGuinness art has been a wonderful surprise. I’ve always thought he was fine, but he’s really elevated his work to the occasion, although I suspect Mark Morales has really helped, too.

 

 

Black Panther #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Daniel Acuna

I was a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates writing before he came to comics in March 2016, as poignant and thought-provoking as it has long been. When he started on the All New, All Different Marvel Black Panther iteration, I had high hopes, and, while I wasn’t exactly disappointed, Coates' first arc made it evident he was new to the medium. His issues were idea-heavy with little (or no) action.

Those concerns, however, are long gone. This issue was a mysterious and visual tour de force filled with characters we know in an odd situation—space, and while I’m not a fan of gimmicky outings to the stars, this doesn't seem to be one of those. Coates expertly teases deeper meaning within this intriguing script, which brings out the best in Daneil Acuna's art. This book was so good it reaffirmed my excitement to continue Black Panther, as well as for Coates' forthcoming run on Captain America, slated to start July 4….I know, right?!

Ether: Copper Golems #1 by Matt Kindt & David Rubin

The first volume of Ether was one of my favorite comics in ages, and I’m thrilled to see the series from writer Matt Kindt and artist David Rubin return to the narrative with Ether: Copper Golems #1, which picks up exactly where the story left off, a la Black Hammer last month.

This book may reappear on my forthcoming Top Comics of May 2018 (although I don’t normally like to double up). The point is, you should each and every one of you be reading this book. It’s so freaking good. Also, it shares some thematic ground with Black Hammer.  

Harbinger Wars 2 #1 by Matt Kindt & Tomas Giorello

Although far from most talked about, Harbinger Wars 2 #1 was the best start to a superhero event I’ve read in some time. I love that Livewire, a fantastic character, is at the heart of this thing, but more than that Kindt and other Valiant writers in recent months have done a great job developing their books in a way that gives all the publisher’s best characters real and believable stakes for being involved. This is refreshing, given that some other superhero conflicts in recent years have felt a bit contrived (cough...Civil War II...cough).

Read our review of Harbinger Wars 2 #1 here.

Man of Steel #1  marks the beginning of Brian Michael Bendis at DC.

Man of Steel #1 marks the beginning of Brian Michael Bendis at DC.

Man of Steel #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, & Alex Sinclair

A lot of really smart folks who write about comics have weighed in on Man of Steel #1 (Alex Lu at Comics Beat, Jarrod Jones at Doom Rocket, and GeekDad/GeekMom), rendering my own hot take sort of lukewarm. Still, this is a great comic, one that also represents Brian Michael Bendis’ officially move from Marvel (where he’s been nearly two decades) to DC, launching a new era for Superman as he does. In this issue Bendis makes a lot of really strong, really Bendis-y decisions, from the funny-but-not-too-funny banter to how a pair of hapless toughs discuss Big Blue in hushed tones.

Bendis' experience as a creator shines, especially when he lays track for a coming fight between Superman and his new villain, Rogol Zarr. On top of his experience, though, Bendis also shows himself to be an enthusiastic fan, a kid who grew up in Cleveland where Superman’s creators were from, and who has watched DC from afar, wondering what if. My only note is that he continues to make the curious choice of sidelining Lois Lane, which strikes me as odd. Like Jarrod Jones pointed out at Doom Rocket, this is a “pairing of creator and character that feels like a grand-slam.”

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Top Comics of February 2018

Better late than never, right? It may be closer to April than February, but here we are with our list of favorite comics from that month. Hey, we haven’t missed one since we launched way back in September, and we’re not about to start now!

Okay then, on to the comics…

Shout Outs

Let’s start with the books that didn’t quite make the Top 5 but sure got close...Black Panther #170 was another excellent installment in Ta-Nehisi Coates run, made especially noteworthy by a transcript in the back of a conversation between Coates and Ryan Coogler, director of the Black Panther film...the Doom Patrol/JLA crossover books were an imaginative highlight of February, with Mother Panic/Batman standing out. This one featured Batman as a preacher holding forth for a congregation of pint-sized Robins armed with shotguns...Eternal was so good I gave it to my wife to read and she loved it as much (if not more) than I did...Joshua Williamson’s Flash has been fantastic throughout, but Grodd being portrayed as one of the most terrifying and powerful villains in the DCU (which he is) really impressed me. I suspect Flash will make a leap to the Top 5 proper soon, with how the current story seems to involve the vast range of the Flash mythos...finally, let's talk about Saga #49’s cover. Fiona Staples’ covers are always impressive, but this one was just so timely and topical. I mean, look!

saga.jpg

This cover makes sense within Saga, of course, but even if it didn’t, it’d still be compelling, conveying that we (society) are falling deeper into a media that just reflects everything back at us while “We’re All Completely Fuc—” crawls across a ticker on bottom. Brilliant.  

Top 5 Comics of February 2018

5. Black Monday Murders #8: This issue was not a dense read, as the rest of the book has been, but rather an action-packed one, surprisingly so. It hums along with developments and revelations, playing with power structures and systemic control, as this series has done from the start, while also refusing to sacrifice any of the power of its ideas in favor of accessibility. In other words, it’s definitely written by Jonathan Hickman.

Most importantly, though, Black Monday Murders #8 features a surprise, one that shows us our hard-boiled every man protagonist is just as flawed as the seemingly villainous elite he investigates. Within all of Hickman’s intricate world-building, this simple human fallibility turns out to be the most compelling quality within an excellent comic. Be forewarned, though, Black Monday Murders #9 is yet to be solicited, and given Jonathan Hickman’s working pace, it could be some time before it drops.

4. Thanos #16: This comic would be higher if we hadn’t given three Donny Cates books our top spot last month. As we’ve discussed in the past, these lists aim to support some of the best ongoing and sustained work, the stuff truly worthy of being kept on pull lists or purchased later in trade. So then, why are we praising Thanos again instead of giving some play to another deserving book? Simply put, this issue deserved it. It’s that good.

Thanos #16 is mainstream Big 2 adventure at its best. Cates is writing lately like a lifelong comic fan who dreamed of being a major Marvel voice as a kid, worked his fingers off at the keyboard to become one, and—guess what?—achieved it. There’s pure and undistilled joy in his work, nowhere more so than in Thanos. I mean, the first line in this issue is “When he was a younger man, and not yet a cosmic-fueled engine of time-traveling murder, Frank Castle’s wife and children were shot to death before his eyes.” Cates only ups the full-throttle comic book nonsensery from there.   

3. New Super Man and the Justice League of China #20: While DC Rebirth on the whole took a back-to-basics approach, it was not without a few glorious steps into new territory, chief among them Gene Luen Yang’s excellent New Super Man. There’s a lot to like about that book, including the main character’s demonstrable growth, the humor (Bats and Robinbot, LOL), the re-imagined mythos, and the geo-political/cultural backdrop of modern China.

None of those qualities would matter, however, if Yang wasn’t such a compelling writer. This is reductive maybe, but New Super Man is straight up good comics. It’s also highly believable, as believable as a story about super powers can be, anyway, and none of the ways our heroes have come to mirror American counterparts feels gimmicky or forced. This series might wrap up in May, which is of course a bummer, but I feel lucky to have gotten as many issues as we did. Here’s hoping we see Kong Kenan and the crew in other books moving forward!

2. Jessica Jones #17: Brian Michael Bendis’ final scripts are publishing at Marvel as he prepares his first work for DC, and as they do, one of the ironies about Marvel losing its biggest gun (and arguably its signature voice) is that these books have quietly been some of Bendis’ best recent work for the publisher. He’s turned in fantastic runs on Jessica Jones, Spider-Man, Invincible Iron Man, Infamous Iron Man, and Defenders. It’s really been quite impressive.

Jessica Jones #17, however, is the best of Bendis’ farewell tour so far. Defenders was an action-heavy streetlevel romp, and without question an enjoyable read, but given the relatively simplicity of that story, I had the sense a few other writers could have pulled it off just as well. Jessica Jones #17, on the other hand, could only have been written by Bendis. It combined two of his defining strengths—dialogue and philosophy—for an enthralling end to the Purple Man redux story, creating a resolution that spoke to the core of both characters. This story also wouldn't have been the same (or anywhere close to it) without the artwork of longtime Bendis' collaborater Michael Gaydos, whose page layouts were also crucial, as was the pitch-perfect noir color work, too.

1. Detective Comics #975: Detective Comics has been a fixture for me since I was a kid riding my bike to the local comic shop (the now-shuddered Graham Crackers’ comics in Glendale Heights, Illinois—RIP). Basically, I’ve been reading this book for years and can confidently say James Tynion’s Rebirth run is among the best of this book in my lifetime.

This number one spot for #975 is also a nod to the installments that made the plot within possible. If you’ve been reading, you know Tynion has carefully built a story that visits complex corners of Batman’s mythos, including Bruce Wayne’s lingering familial concerns, villain rehabilitation (or the impossibility thereof), legacy, the net good of Batman for Gotham, child soldiers, and the natural extension of Batman’s war on crime, pushed to extreme efficiency here by Tim Drake.

This story—The Trial of Batwoman—is an epilogue for much of this run. I don’t want to give anything away, but this “trial” is rich with various character ticks of the Bat Family, some of which are surprising without straining credibility or defying logic. I loved it, and I can’t wait to see what major story beats Tynion has left to play out as his run draws to a close.

Zack Quaintance is a career journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.