A Batman Comics Reading Guide

By Alex Batts — I consider myself a die-hard Batman fan. Lucky for me there are a ton (to put it mildly) of Batman stories out there to read. Unlucky for me, however, it’s a bit difficult to find one easy-to-digest checklist of Batman comics to read. Which made me wonder, how great would it be to have one comprehensive and organized reading guide for the Caped Crusader? What if I could find the magical list I was looking for? Well, folks, I stopped wondering and went out and made the thing myself.

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Top Comics to Buy for March 27, 2019: Detective Comics #1000, Wasted Space, and more!

By Zack Quaintance — Here’s something crazy: it’s almost April. Spring is here and the first three months of this year have really just flown by. In fact, we’re now at one of those Wednesdays that was earmarked at the start of the year by many fans as one to watch out for, what with the release of this week’s headliner, Detective Comics #1000.

Issues like this don’t come along everyday...like, obviously. We had Action Comics #1000 last year, but, looking ahead, there’s not another #1000 issue anywhere on the near horizon. With the Wonder Woman-starring Sensation Comics sidelined, the next title to reach such an august threshold will likely by Amazing Spider-Man, and we’re still more than a hundred issues and a few years off from that milestone. So enjoy this week while it lasts superhero fans. This hobby is nothing if not a celebration of long-standing characters, and a #1000 issue is a pretty good excuse to do that.

Now, on to the rest of the books!

Top Comics to Buy for March 27, 2019

Detective Comics #1000.jpg

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Detective Comics #1000
(check out our review!)
Writers:
Scott Snyder, Kevin Smith, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Denny O’Neil, Christopher Priest, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, James Tynion IV, Tom King, and Peter J. Tomasi.
Artists: Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Becky Cloonan, Steve Epting, Neal Adams, Alex Maleev, Kelley Jones, Alvaro Martinez-Bueno, Tony S. Daniel, Joelle Jones, and Doug Mahnke.
Inkers: Jonathan Glapion, Scott Williams, Derek Fridolfs, Raul Fernandez, and Jamie Mendoza.
Colorists: FCO Plascencia, Alex Sinclair, John Kalisz, Jordie Bellaire, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Dave Stewart, Michelle Madsen, Brad Anderson, Tomeu Morey, and David Baron.
Letterers: Tom Napolitano, Todd Klein, Steve Wands, Simon Bowland, Andworld Design, Willie Schubert, Josh Reed, Rob Leigh, Sal Cipriano, and Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $9.99
Check out our picks for the best Detective Comics #1000 variants!
After 80 years, it's here-the 1,000th issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, the title that literally defines DC! This 96-page issue is stacked with an unbelievable lineup of talent that will take you on a journey through Batman's past, present and future...plus a sensational epilogue that features the first-ever DC Universe appearance of the deadly Arkham Knight! But who is under the mask? And why do they want Batman dead? The incredible future of Batman adventures begins here! Will have decade appropriate trade dress. After 80 years, it's here-the 1,000th issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, the title that literally defines DC! This 96-page issue is stacked with an unbelievable lineup of talent that will take you on a journey through Batman's past, present and future...plus a sensational epilogue that features the first-ever DC Universe appearance of the deadly Arkham Knight! But who is under the mask? And why do they want Batman dead? The incredible future of Batman adventures begins here!
Why It’s Cool: Folks in the U.K. may have this experience all the time, but here in the States it’s a pretty rare thing for a major comics series to hit four digits. Last year we got it with Action Comics #1000, which gave publisher DC Comics a chance to celebrate one of the longest-standing characters in all of American fiction. Now it’s Batman’s turn. This issue serves as a celebration of all things Batman, past, present, and maybe even future. Like Action Comics #1000 before it, this individual issue is an anthology that serves as a checklist of great Bat creators and concepts. It is, simply put, a rare thing that should not be missed.

Friendo #5 (check out our review!)
Writer:
Alex Paknadel
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
The epic conclusion! Having barely survived their confrontation with the unstoppable Zaj ?ek the Cremator-who remains determined to leave their $#!t in ruins-Jerry and Leo are off-camera and off-the-grid. But where to go now that Leo's stolen pretty much everything he ever wanted? Only one item remains: the Action Joe action figure Leo lost as a kid. An epic showdown in the desert ensues, and a surprising hero rises...
Why It’s Cool: Alex Paknadel, Martin Simmonds, Dee Cunniffe, and Taylor Esposito have spent four issues building a late-model capitalism fevered nightmare...and now it all comes to a head in this finale issue. Friendo has been startlingly twisted throughout, taking familiar ideas and extrapolating them to horrifying extremes. It was never going to end happily for those involved. What’s for sale with this conclusion is seeing just how absolutely off the $^#*@*ing rails things go. Like the rest of this series, it all adds up to one great read.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #3
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Colorist: Mary Safro
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Price: $3.99
A thousand dimensions from ours. All Earths' best hopes, resting on our heroes' fight. They've got everything... except a chance.
Why It’s Cool: Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt so far has been a delightful Watchmen sequel/homage, which goes in a totally different direction than DC Comics’ ongoing (and oft-delayed) Watchmen sequel/homage, Doomsday Clock. This is a book well aware of the impact that Watchmen had on the comicbook medium, and, as such, it is making form a key part of its plot. We saw hints of this showing up in a big big way in Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #2. Now, in Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #3, we get even more. It’s really strong stuff, and I can’t wait to see where the creative team ultimately takes it.

Snotgirl #13
Writer:
Bryan Lee O’Malley
Artist: Leslie Hung
Colorist: Rachel Cohen
Letterer: Maré Odomo
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
The big day is finally here-Lottie and Esther are launching their fashion line! But why is everyone being so annoying? Today of all days! Don't they know how important this is to her?!
Why It’s Cool: Snotgirl from the start has been one of the most vicious, funny, and good-looking satires of online Instagram culture. And what, prey tell, adjacent idea within that culture is more ripe for satire than the pop-up shopping event? That’s what this issue essentially asks, and that question results in what I think is the funniest (and possibly best) issue of Snotgirl to date. I chuckled to myself quite a bit while reading this one; there are just so many great one-liners. This book is also benefiting right now from having established a great level of familiarity with its many great characters. Now starting its second full year of issues (despite being around longer than that), Snotgirl is a comic that knows what it is and what it’s trying to do, and it’s absolutely nailing it. This is a must-read series.

Wasted Space #8 (check out our review!)
Writer:
Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Dust needs an arm; Billy needs redemption. Only one of these quests goes well.
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of books that know what they are and what they’re trying to do, Wasted Space has really found an amazing groove in its second arc, to the point where I think this is the book’s best issue yet. It’s just so smart, so funny, and so utterly confident in everything from its artwork to its characterization to the philosophical ideas that Michael Moreci has laced throughout this run. It’s not often that a comic comes along that feels this clever and this important/smart. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: do not miss out on Wasted Space.

Top New #1 Comics and One-Shots

  • Bad Luck Chuck #1

  • Dial H For Hero #1

  • Femme Magnifique: 10 Magnificent Women Who Changed the World

  • GLOW #1

  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch #1

  • Star Bastard #1

Others Receiving Votes

Ironheart #4.jpg
  • Action Comics #1009

  • Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #2

  • Black Hammer: Age of Doom #9

  • Black Panther #10

  • Forgotten Queen #2

  • G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte #2

  • Ice Cream Man #11

  • Ironheart #4

  • Isola #7

  • Martian Manhunter #4

  • Punks Not Dead: London Calling #2

  • Shazam! #4

  • Skyward #11

  • The Terrifics #14

  • Wonder Woman #67

Check back to the site later this week for reviews of Friendo #5 and Wasted Space #8, plus a run-down of the stories in Detective Comics #1000!

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

The Best Detective Comics #1000 Variants (and Why They’re Cool)

By Zack Quaintance — The release of Detective Comics #1000 is upon us (coming next Wednesday). It’s a landmark issue (obviously), and, as such, it gets the whole giant wave of variants treatment. There hasn’t been as much ballyhoo (that’s right ballyhoo) around this one as there was for Action Comics #1000 last year. I attribute that to a phenomenon called hey, didn’t we just do this? As well as to Superman being a less tragic and more celebratory figure in general.

But I digress, we’re here to talk about variant covers! Specifically, we’re here to ogle our favorites from next week’s releases as well as share a few quick words about why we find the best Detective Comics #1000 variants so great, great enough to potentially drop an extra $9.99 (plus shipping on many cases) to add them to our collections alongside the standard cover (I clearly have OCD...at least about that).

With all that said, let’s take a look at our 10 favorites! In no particular order...

The Best Detective Comics #1000 Variants

Brian Bolland - Forbidden Planet Detective Comics #1000 Variant

Brian Bolland is one of the best cover artists of all-time, with notable runs such as Geoff Johns’ The Flash. Here on this Detective Comics variant, Bolland leans into something that has made Batman one of the longest-tenured and most-popular characters in all of American fiction: his rogue’s gallery. Bolland renders them all in his clean and colorful style here, putting the nonplussed Dark Knight himself right at the center. Fantastic stuff.

You can get it now through Forbidden Planet.

Michael Cho - Detective Comics #1000 1950s Variant

As with the Action Comics #1000 release, Detective Comics is getting a themed variant for each of its eight decades of life. Our favorite of the bunch (and the only one to make this list) is Michael Cho’s 1950s cover, which embraces the way that decade (with its prurient anti comic book campaigning) forced creators to move away from violence and into wackiness. Cho captures it well.

Patrick Gleason - Newbury Comics Detective Comics #1000 Variant

As noted at this time last year, Gleason drew one of our favorite Action Comics #1000 variants...and now he’s back with a similar piece for Batman. Indeed, this cover mirrors his last one, substituting Batman, his wards and his pooch for Superman, his wife, child and pooch. Add to that Gleason being one of our favorite artists in all of comics, and you get another really memorable piece.

You can get it now through Newbury Comics.

Nicola Scott - Kings Comics Detective Comics #1000 Variant

Another familiar cover would be Nicola Scott’s Detective Comics #1000 variant, which like Gleason’s mirrors the work she did last year for Action Comics #1000. What Scott has done has drawn the various iterations of Batman’s look throughout the years, all lined up chronologically as if they were in the same room together. It’s a great concept and (as always) her execution is flawless. Now here’s hoping the Wonder Woman cover she’s teased in the same format one day becomes a reality…

You can get it now through Kings Comics.

Kaare Andrews - Third Eye Comics Detective Comics #1000 Variant

Kaare Andrews has the third (and final) Detective Comics #1000 variant that stands as a callback to a piece done last year for Action Comics #1000. Whereas the Andrews cover last year was Lois and Clark kissing amid the clouds of a sunset sky, this version features a corresponding moment of intimacy between Batman and Catwoman, in all their sado-fatastacistic (sorry) glory. Phew.

You can get it now through Third Eye Comics.

Alex Ross - Detective Comics #1000 Variant

When it comes to photorealistic renderings of comicbook characters and scenes, no one is better than Alex Ross. No one. What he’s done for his Detective Comics #1000 variant cover is an homage to the Batman’s first appearance way back in Detective Comics #27. The result is gorgeous. Unfortunately, the cover has sold out via Alex Ross’ website, but you can still signup for a waiting list (not sure how that works) by clicking here.

Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau - Retro Detective Comics #1000 Variant

Batman and his passionate fandom just wouldn’t be the same without Catwoman, Poison Ivy, or Harley Quinn. As such, this list isn’t complete without a selection honoring their contributions. We’ve gone with this retro Detective Comics #1000 variant by Artgerm, and just look at how fantastic it is. Like the Alex Ross cover, sadly, this one is also sold out. But you can check out other options (including a different modern rendering of this same concept) on Artgerm’s website by clicking here.

Bill Sienkiewicz - Detective Comics #1000 Variant

Another key facet of Batman’s character has been his outsider status as a frightening creature to the night, a figure of vengeance that appeals to the deeply human suspicion that it sometimes takes harsh actions to defend against those who would harm us (incidentally, this is maybe where I point out that I’m personally more of a Superman guy myself…). Sienkiewicz cover is perhaps the best and purest interpretation of Batman as a scary defender lurking in the night over the shoulders of criminals.

You can order it now by clicking here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for March 13, 2019 - Catwoman, House Amok, Little Bird, and more

By Zack Quaintance — Phew, I just flew home from SXSW and boy are my arms exhausted! Kidding. That was incredibly lame and also I’m still physically at SXSW for one more day, but, you know, you can use the Internet from anywhere, so let nothing get in the way of our comics recommendations. How are the comics this week? Well, we’ve got a good mix of solid beginnings and exciting endings.

In the finale column, we have Cover and House Amok, which regular readers will likely recognize as two of our favorites around these part, with the former being an intimate and gorgeous meta take on the industry and the latter an unnerving dive into shared familial psychosis. Most notably in the debuts column we have Little Bird, which is quite possibly poised to be the best new comic of the year (stay tuned for an interview with the book’s creators later this week). So there, stage set for another great week.

Now, let’s take a look at the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for March 13, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Little Bird #1 (
read our full review!)
Writer:
Darcy Van Poelgeest
Artist: Ian Bertram
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
MINISERIES PREMIERE!
Director/screenwriter DARCY VAN POELGEEST boasts a long list of awards and accolades for his storytelling prowess and brings the same writing finesse to IAN BERTRAM's breathtakingly detailed artwork in the gorgeous, hyper-detailed miniseries LITTLE BIRD.
Why It’s Cool: Is it enough to just say that this debut issue absolutely rules and these creators are destined to be stars? Because that’s first and foremost why this book is cool, but if you need more (and still haven’t read our Little Bird #1 review), I can also go on to tell you that this is a new #1 that absolutely brims with electric story, as ambitious as it is tense and beautiful, this is as imaginative as a comic as we’ve seen all year. It’s very very good, and you’ll want to get a copy now before it sells out and starts going for major bucks on eBay.

Catwoman #9
Writer:
Ram V.
Artist: John Timms
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
When crooks break into the pawn shop where Catwoman has set up her secret headquarters, they make off with a personal item that she has to get back. The trail of loot leads her to the Broker, the man who moves all illicit merchandise in Villa Hermosa. Now, Catwoman could just walk in and ask for her property back, but that's never been Catwoman's style. Instead, she's going to pull off a heist that will teach her foe a lesson, making sure the Broker never crosses the Cat ever again. This special one-off issue is written by acclaimed writer Ram V. (BATMAN: SECRET FILES) and artist John Timms (HARLEY QUINN).
Why It’s Cool: We’ve been calling this run of Catwoman underrated for weeks, and we’d like to reiterate that again here before moving on to discussing this individual issue. Catwoman #9 is essentially a break issue for the normal creative team of Joelle Jones (singular...although she’s been spelled lately by Elena Casagrande and Fernando Blanco), presumably so she can write and draw forthcoming issues. What’s nice is DC has brought in rising star writer Ram V., fresh off a fantastic Batman one shot story in the recent Secret Files one-shot. Ram V. is a favorite of ours from his creator-owned work, and this one-off issue is a great example of why. Highly recommended!

House Amok #5
Writer:
Christopher Sebela
Artist: Shawn McManus
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Price: $3.99
Read our review of House Amok #1
Ten-year-old twin Dylan Sandifer is now in the driver's seat of more than the converted old school bus her family called home for a summer murder spree. Will she turn on her family and the sacred bond between twins and break free from the shared madness? Conspiracy theories, organ thieves, and secret histories collide in the explosive final issue!
Why It’s Cool: This second wave of IDW - Black Crown titles—Euthanauts, Lodger, and House Amok—can do no wrong, as far as we’re concerned. They’ve all been consistently excellent while also bringing something new to the imprint. In the case of House Amok, that something has been nuanced and complex psychological drama, centered on an actual affliction that has to do with shared psychosis...and then filtered back by a little girl protagonist who breaks free and recognizes something is wrong. It’s a lot, and it’s all written and drawn to nigh-perfection by Christopher Sebela and Shawn McManus, respectively. This issue marks the House Amok finale, and we are as delighted as we are scared to find out what it holds.  

Livewire #4
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artists: Raul Allen with Patricia Martin
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Price: $3.99
Read our review of Livewire #3!
Once, Livewire dreamed of devoting herself to the betterment of humankind. Now, her most steadfastly held ideals are about to be tested like never before as she struggles to stay alive in the clutches of a fearsome new foe! But who is the mysterious psiot mercenary hunting her...and more importantly, who do they work for?
Why It’s Cool: The summary text really nails it when it says, Livewire’s “most steadfastly held ideals are about to be tested like never before as she struggles to stay alive…”...which could really be a tagline for this entire run to date. Last summer during Valiant’s Harbinger Wars 2 event, protagonist Livewire took some drastic (and violent) measures to protect those close to her, and now this creative team is hellbent on simultaneously making her earn redemption while not backing down from the injustices that forced her hand in the slightest. It’s a tour de force in powerful storytelling, and it’s making Livewire one of our favorite superhero comics, month in and month out.

Superman #9
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The secrets of the house of El are revealed as the Unity Saga continues! Traveling through space, young Jon Kent has faced everything the universe could throw at him, but after an accident sends him and his grandfather Jor-El across dimensions, the new Superboy comes face to face with a terrifyingly evil version of his own father: Ultraman and his horrible version of the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate! Find out what happened to Superman's father and how Jon made it back home from this strange and crime-ridden alternate world.
Why It’s Cool: There is just no upper limit on the grandiosity of this run. In fact, the regular creative team of Brian Bendis and Ivan Reis have been upping the scale of this ongoing Unity Saga every issue, introducing more (and more bonkers) ideas into the plot, be it an out-of-his-mind Jor-El, a newly-powerful (and controversially older) Jon Kent, or the evil alternate reality Justice League known as the Crime Syndicate. They’re all coming together here as we get more of the backstory about what transpired in deep space between the three of them. This outsized Superman comic is a nice compliment to the more character-heavy and grounded Action Comics, another current favorite around these parts.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Age of Conan: Belit #1

  • Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1

  • Assassin Nation #1

  • Batman Who Laughs: Grim Knight #1

  • Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1

  • Uncanny X-Men: Winters End #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #2

  • Amazing Spider-Man #17

  • By Night #9

  • Cover #6

  • Hawkman #10

  • Laguardia #4

  • Long Con #7

  • Murder Falcon #6

  • Oblivion Song #13

  • Prodigy #4

  • Shuri #6

  • Supergirl #28

  • Tony Stark: Iron Man #9

  • Wonder Twins #2

  • Wonder Woman #66

Check back to the site later this week for reviews of Assassin Nation #1 (which has a character named F*ck Tarkington), House Amok #5, Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1, and more!

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Best Comics of February 2019: Thor #10, The Wild Storm #20, and more

By Zack Quaintance — Holy cow, the debate over the final selections for the Best Comics of February 2019 got pretty heated within the committee (of one), raging for what felt like days. Some of our usual superhero favorites—Action Comics/Superman, Immortal Hulk, etc.—have maybe hit places in their runs where we take them just a tiny bit for granted. By the same token though, some of our other favorite long-form superhero narratives are hitting some pretty resonant emotional crescendos (see The Wild Storm, see Thor). But more on that below.

Let me just use this second paragraph of an intro most people scroll right past to address an ongoing narrative that comics are bad now and the industry is dying: stop it. I could go into the business (which is something that myself and roughly 99.9 percent of readers as well as most creators know absolutely squat about), but that’s been done ad nauseam. So instead I’ll point out how little we as fans of stories know about the economics that make them feasible, and wonder (not for the first time) why we waste mental energy on something we don’t understand.

Why did I waste such a long paragraph on it? Who knows! Onto the comics...

Shout Outs

The level of melancholic beauty Die #3 achieves is absurd. It’s just a beautifully-told graphic sequential story that uses the comic’s fantasy setting to tell a tale about WWI that speaks on a deeper level to the creation of the genre by J.R.R. Tolkien. It juuuuust missed this month’s top 5.

I’ll say this about Teen Titans #27: I can’t believe this, but I’ve found myself increasingly interested in the current run on this book by Adam Glass and Bernard Chang. Both creators are wildly exceeding my expectations at the moment.

Also surprising was The Terrifics #13. I’d left this book for dead somewhere around The Terrifics #7. The artists were inconsistent, and the initiative it led—the New Age of DC Heroes—died out of the gate. Yet, the creators have quietly put together one of DC’s best comics, ricocheting around the multiverse and hitting big emotional beats through Plastic Man and his son,. Read this!  

One more superhero surprise, and we’ll continue! Uncanny X-Men #11 caught me off guard. I didn’t like the bloated (and frankly lazy) X-Men: Disassembled that re-launched Uncanny X-Men. This comic, however, was the opposite of that: compressed and consequential, it now feels like a new era for the X-Men has started. I’m (cautiously) in.

I still maintain, however, that the best X-Men comic on the market is Livewire #3. Free of the bonds of corporate comics, it can up the stakes for its title character the ways the Big 2 can’t, and the creative team on this book is doing so monthly in such brilliant ways. Read this!

Another book I love for its mix of commentary with a sense of anything can happen is Vault Comics’ Wasted Space. We fortunately got both Wasted Space #6 and Wasted Space #7 this month, and I’m happy to say this comic remains amazing.Staying on the Vault Comics train, These Savage Shores #3 really stood out to me this month, so much so that I almost considered adding a sixth slot to our top 5 (but then, is it really a top 5 still?). Gorgeous and literary, These Savage Shores is a must-read.

This next comic on our list is here because it’s become underrated, which is maybe an odd thing to say about something written by Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead. Oblivion Song #12, however, was a very good comic with an ending cliffhanger that seems likely to extend our story for years to come. I’m in on it.

Ice Cream Man #10 returned the best horror story in comics to its core concept a bit this month while pushing the background (foreground now?) narrative to new places. This is a must-read creator-owned book if ever there was one.

I really struggled with the last of our customary 10 shoutouts, so let me just note that this final spot could have gone to any of the following: Action Comics #1008, The Green Lantern #4, Guardians of the Galaxy #2, Hot Lunch Special #5, Naomi #2, the entire Batman/Flash crossover, Magic Order #6, or Tony Stark: Iron Man #8.

Best Comics of February 2019

5. Mars Attacks #5
Writer:
Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Colorist: Liz Trice Schweizer
Publisher: Dynamite Comics

There’s just something about a perfectly-told five-issue miniseries that makes it in many ways the idea way to do a comicbook story. If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say that, I’d highly recommend checking out Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer’s Mars Attacks. This could be the most emotionally-honest and overall satisfying contained comicbook story I’ve read in years.

It’s also wickedly funny, combining as it does a heartrending father-son survival story with the trademark mostly-irreverent humor that has made Starks such a fun creator to follow through past works such as Sex Castle or Rock Candy Mountain. I didn’t really know anything about the Mars Attacks franchise coming into this and mostly still don’t care, but this book is well worth reading.

4. Archie 1941 #5
Writers:
Brian Augustyn & Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause (read our interview!)
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics

As friend of the site the great Will Nevin pointed out on Twitter as I was praising the bejeezus out of this book, the world could use more period comics in general, please. If those comics are anywhere near as good as this one, I’m all for it. In recent years, Archie Comics has experimented quite a bit with its classic characters, doing so in alternate reality scenarios and genres such as horror.

In the context of that experimentation, Archie 1945 comes across as a prestige title, a more dramatic and emotionally-taut story with the same sensibilities and dynamics that have helped the Riverdale gang endure for years. Our committee (of one) has picked Archie 1945 for a spot on this month’s list as a merit award for the entire series as a whole. It’s incredibly deserving, and I sincerely recommend picking it all up now in trade. I’m planning to for my bookshelf.

3. Criminal #2
Writer:
Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics

Our committee (of one) doesn’t often like to put comics this close to the debut of a run in our list, but Criminal #2 is more of a fresh vignette in a long-running story than it is an entirely new comic. This is, of course, now Criminal Vol. 8, and as good as the debut issue of this one was, the follow-up was even better.

This was, simply put, an incredibly well-done comic for people who love to read comics. It’s essentially set at San Diego Comic Con, following as it does an older celebrated artist who has turned to less savory ways of making money (see the title, please) and his former protege who gets swept up into whatever it is the aforementioned artist is tangled up in now. It’s a tense and well-told story (it’s Brubaker and Phillips, would you expect any less), and it works well both as a stand-alone issue and as a continuation of events in Criminal #1. Highly recommended.  

2. The Wild Storm #20
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccelatto
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: DC Comics

The Wild Storm #20 is, in a word, @%$#-ing epic. Okay, that was two words, or, rather, one word and that weird set of characters people use to denote cussing (like you don’t know what I was trying to say). Anyway, our committee (of one) has loved The Wild Storm since it began, featuring as it does such a deliberate and smart narrative. This issue has a bit of that for the first two pages, and then it moves into all action.

What it also does is return one of the best couples in all of comics to our monthly pages: Midnighter and Apollo, appearing here in their most recent depictions. It’s incredibly satisfying, and it makes you realize just how great of a veteran writer Warren Ellis is and has been for a while (if you hadn’t already). He gives us big, fan-service moments within the context of a really smart long-form narrative. I think the biggest compliment I can pay this book is that issues like this one are what make me continue to love superhero comics.

1. Thor #10 (read our full review)
Writer:
Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike del Mundo
Colorists: Mike del Mundo & Marco D'Alfonso
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel

Speaking of long-form, there is no better (nor longer) story in superhero comics right now than Jason Aaron’s Thor, which has been literally happening for something wild like six years (probably longer). He’s done compact story arcs, big events, and largely contained stories. Thor #10 is maybe all of those things, or a little bit of each, anyway.

It definitely fits into the larger story arc right now, of everyone in the Thor world preparing for the upcoming War of the Realms, which is as big an event as Marvel has had in recent years (which is really saying something). Meanwhile, it’s also a largely self-contained story about a father (Odin) and a son (Thor), kept from being emotionally honest because of toxic masculinity...and the world is all the worse for it. I have a strong suspicion this comic will also end up on my Best Individual Issues of 2019 list. So stay tuned for that in 10 months, ahem.

Check out our monthly lists, plus all of our Best of 2018 coverage, here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for February 27, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This week feels like a bit of break, in that there aren’t roughly 50 titles I want to read and another dozen I want to put in our five slots for the top comics to buy for February 27, 2019. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t good comics coming out this week. There are plenty of really great books, more than enough really, and we’ve done our best to highlight a diverse array of them as we do every Monday.

Leading the way is Ice Cream Man #10, which we’ve been waiting for anxiously since Ice Cream Man #9 blew our minds back whenever that first came out. We also have the sophomore issue of Invaders finally arriving after the debut seeded a mystery and then went away for six weeks, as well as the continuation of three runs we’ve without questioned mentioned in this space before. So, go forth and rejoice with these comics, as well as any of the other titles that strike your fancy on our Top #1 Comics this week or the Others Receiving Votes.

With all that out of the way, let’s take a closer look!

Top Comics to Buy for February 27, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Ice Cream Man #10
Writer:
W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Ice Cream Man #10 Review
"HOPSCOTCH MÉLANGE," Part Two: En este cap tulo, no existen las fronteras. El mundo está lleno de amor, pero el amor es peligroso.
Why It’s Cool: So yes, Ice Cream Man #9 blew our collective mind and expanded our perception of what this vignette horror series might ultimately prove to be. Ice Cream Man #10, meanwhile, is a bit of a return to this comic’s core concept: a mostly one-off comic in which the principal characters have horrifying things happen to them that speak to universal ideas of existential dread...with the titular Ice Cream Man and his own foil bouncing around the periphery. At least that’s how it used to seem, anyway. Knowing what we know from Ice Cream Man #9, they now feel like the center. Regardless, this is one great comic. Look for a full review later this week.

Invaders #2
Writer:
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Carlos Magno with Butch Guice
Colorist: Alex Giumaraes
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
After the SHOCKING reveals about NAMOR last issue, THE HUMAN TORCH goes deeper into the Sub-Mariner's PAST, hoping to uncover his plan. But CAPTAIN AMERICA goes the direct route: TO ATLANTIS. Alone against THE MAD KING and his ARMIES in the exciting second chapter of WAR GHOSTS: THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR!
Why It’s Cool: The first issue of Invaders was a fantastic update of the WWII Invaders concept, essentially catching up with the core characters from that bygone book—Namor, Captain America, and Winter Soldier/Bucky plus a bit of Jim Hammond Human Torch—to give us an update on their statuses as it still pertains to the war. What does that mean? Well, something is off with Namor, and it’s fallen to his old war-time compatriots to address his behavior. I won’t spoil it, but the first issue ended with a mystery. We can’t wait to see where this second installment picks up.   

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #2
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Casper Wijngaard
Colorist: Mary Safro
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Price: $3.99
Humanity is at a crossroads, between life and annihilation. The threat comes not from space, but from a place absolutely inconceivable to anyone other than Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. Only he can take Earth's remaining heroes to confront that which threatens us all...but when he knows so much more than they do, should he? Also: strike a light, how hot is Tabu now? This is what happens when you give "DREAM DADDY" as the main artistic direction.
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of ending with a mystery and picking up somewhere fascinating, our next book is Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. This comic is about a character that one of the Watchmen characters—Ozymandias—himself was based on, and it’s using the homage as its central conceit. We discussed all of this in our review of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #1, but it’s worth revisiting because the second issue continues to build on the charater’s connection to Watchmen. I don’t want to tip any of the surprises, but this is one of the most metafictional comics I’ve ever read and I’m absolutely fascinated to see what a team of creators as collectively strong as writer Kieron Gillen and artists Casper Wijngaard and Mary Safro are ultimately aiming to do here.

The Terrifics #13
Writer:
Jeff Lemire
Artist: Joe Bennett
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colorist:
Mike Spicer
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The Terrifics are back! And they're ready to enter the final battle with the Dreadfuls, Doc Dread's revenge squad that has systematically wiped out dozens of Mr. Terrifics from across the Multiverse. As the many Mr. and Mrs. Terrifics fight for their lives, the cavalry is on its way-but will Phantom Girl, Plastic Man and the repowered Metamorpho reach the battle in time? And how can the heroes possibly count this as a win with a mountain of bodies in Doc Dread's wake?
Why It’s Cool: It’s no secret that writer Jeff Lemire is winding down his time on The Terrifics (and if he is to be believed, on work-for-hire gigs in general), and while we’re excited to see what his replacement, the intriguing Gene Luen Yang, will do with this team, we’re currently enjoying the hell out of Lemire’s finale. This is some of the most character-driven emotional storytelling taking place in all of superhero comics, with multiple storylines so well-developed they threatened to make me cry during recent issues (I’m sentimental and don’t care who knows it). Lemire is also joined here by artist Joe Bennett (with Dexter Vines ink and Mike Spicer colors) who is one of my favorite prolific superhero artists, generally associated right now with Immortal Hulk. Anyway, The Terrifics continues to be a must-read comic and we’re excited for this issue.

Wasted Space #7
Writer:
Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Read our full Wasted Space #7 Review!
Reunions and betrayals! Our reckless heroes stage a rescue mission to save Rex-and secure the nuke still threatening to kill everyone. Along the way, Billy and Molly make a pit stop at a galactic gas station, where they discover brain-freezes and morality, and past demons catch up to Dust and Fury.
Why It’s Cool: Wasted Space is the best space opera in all of comics today. The first five issues of this book—all of which you can read more about on our reviews page—were pretty tightly plotted, orienting readers to this series’ versatile tone and characters. A TON happened in that arc. Toward the end of it, publisher Vault Comics announced that this series would become an ongoing, making issues like this one possible. Wasted Space #7 is loaded with character moments, rewarding progressions, and setup for the future. It’s an absolutely joy to spend time with this dysfunctional group that writer Michael Moreci and artists Hayden Sherman and Jason Wordie have brought together here. Check back later this week for our full review.   

Top New #1 Comics

  • Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1

  • Captain Marvel: Braver and Mightier #1

  • Emotional Data One-Shot from Silver Sprocket

  • Forgotten Queen #1

  • Honor and Curse #1

  • Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1

  • Sweetie #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Action Comics #1008

  • Amazing Spider-Man #16

  • Black Hammer: Age of Doom #8

  • Black Panther #9

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2

  • Captain America #8

  • Daredevil #2

  • Flash #65

  • Hellboy and the BPRD - 1956 #4

  • Martian Manhunter #3

  • Redlands #11

  • Shazam! #3

  • The Wicked + The Divine #42

  • Wonder Woman #65

  • Wyrd #2

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for February 6, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This is pretty much a perfect week for new comics, featuring as it does the launch of multiple exciting new #1 series (the bright shiny new toy to the long-time comics fan) as well as the return of some of the best books on the market right now, including a new arc for Wasted Space and the conclusion of the phenomenal Archie 1941. Plus, books like Die continue to establish themselves as wonderful new comics.

There is, simply put, a lot going on this week, and so here we are as always with a brief guide: Top Comics to buy for February 6, 2019. As is standard protocol, we’ve selected our top 5 (plus a pick of the week), listed the most-exciting new #1 issues, and thrown-in for good measures the others that received votes. The top 5 are more heavily weighted toward books that have already established them, but rest assured, you can’t go wrong this week checking out anything from Female Furies to G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte. Just choose wisely, there are a ton of stellar comics to pick from.

And now, on to the actual comics!

Top Comics to Buy for February 6, 2019

Archie 1941 #5.jpg

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Archie 1941 #5
Writers:
Brian Augustyn & Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
Price: $3.99
Archie Andrews-MIA and presumed dead! His friends and family-devastated! Don't miss out on the conclusion of this headline-making comic event!
Why It’s Cool: It’s a young year, but this is easily a front-runner for the best single issue of 2019 at this point. This entire series—which re-imagines Archie set in 1941 (incidentally the year he was created) during WWII—has been something truly special. With a different sort of fandom than superhero comics but no less an iconic history, Archie Comics as a publisher is generally freer to use its characters for alternate takes, or at least such has been the case in recent years. While the horror comics and Life With Archie have all been interesting, this is the prestige picture in the bunch, a comic with impeccable historical research, a deep emotional core, and unbelievable artwork courtesy of Peter Krause. This is not to be missed.

Die #3.jpg

Die #3
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"FANTASY HEARTBREAKER," Part Three: One of the saddest comics in Kieron's career. One of Stephanie's prettiest. Clayton's lettering, of course, remains impeccable.
Why It’s Cool: As we wrote in our reviews of Die #1 and Die #2, this comic is one of the most-exciting new creator-owned books in some years, combining as it does the recent trend of teen D&D nostalgia with the dark lessons of life's hard-lived. Well, this third issue to the book feels like a bit of a thematic pivot. Fantasy has always been inherent to this title (the basic premise is that years ago six friends went into a realized fantasy realm via a role-playing game and only five came out—and now those five have been pulled back in), and this comic looks at some of the real-life inspiration for fantasy as we know it: WWI, which Lord of the Rings progenitor J.R.R. Tolkien himself was a veteran of. Essentially, this is a gorgeous and sadly poetic comic that draws a shattering parallel between fantasy games and stories we enjoy, and the real-life strife that helped to create them.

Justice League #17
Writer:
Scott Snyder
Artist: Jim Cheung
Inkers: Cheung with Mark Morales and Walden Wong
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
After the disastrous events of the Justice League Annual, Martian Manhunter decides to take matters into his own hands and negotiate a peace with Legion of Doom leader Lex Luthor. Traveling to a distant moon, the two enemies face their intertwined pasts in a showdown for the fate of the Multiverse. However, before either of them can lay claim to the power of the Source Wall once and for all, an unexpected threat forces them to unite...or risk death at the ends of the cosmos.
Why It’s Cool: Last week’s Justice League Annual #1 was my favorite issue of the Snyder/Tynion/Cheung/Jimenez Justice League era to date, but it won’t reign long—this one is even better. Since No Justice ended, my favorite element to this complex and grandiose run has been the idea of Martian Manhunter and Lex Luthor essentially captaining their opposing teams in a conflict of ideology wherein both thinks they are doing what’s best to save the multiverse or at least the Earth. This story takes that concept to another level. I won’t go into how, but it’s a sight to behold. Highly recommend this.

These Savage Shores #3
Writer:
Ram V.
Artist: Sumit Kumar
Colorist: Vittorio Astone
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
The stench of war clings to the air as Hyder Ali of Mysore comes calling for the levy. Good men and demons alike are set to march, even as lovers part with the promise of a safe return. But in these troubling times the promise of a hunt brings the devil himself to this faraway coast. Along These Savage Shores where blood begets blood and dawn-light shimmers over a land soaked in betrayal.
Why It’s Cool: Way way too many disparate properties these days are getting compared to Game of Thrones. In fact, I feel like it’s become reductive pop culture short-hand for something I like that’s slightly beyond average scope. But! Try as I might, I can’t help but describe this third excellent issue of These Savage Shores as feeling in scope a bit like Game of Thrones. It just has so many of the elements: large-scale political machinations, alliance building, betrayals, and seemingly inconsequential deaths having ripple effects that seemed destined to have retribution due. These Savage Shores also remains a gorgeous comic, as lush with its artwork as it is lyrical in its dialogue and narrative prose. If you’re not reading this comic, I don’t know what to tell you at this point.

Wasted Space #6
Writer:
Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Now officially an ongoing! The whole fam damily is back! Billy visits a crooked politician. Dust and Fury make sweet bot-love in unsanitary locations. A ghost haunts Molly's visions of Rex. And Legion pets a dog. The galaxy is still totally borked, but maybe together they can un-bork it... oh, probably not.
Why It’s Cool: One of my absolute favorite comics of 2018 is back, and it’s at the same high (sorry) level it was when we last saw it. This issue has all the hallmarks of this series: the humor, the high-minded philosophical contemplations, the subtextual commentary on the modern world, and the ever-looming threat of even more space nukes that might destroy the world. It is, in other words, a very very good comic. We’ll have a review of this book later in the week, but know now that each and every one of you should be reading this.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Battlestar Galactica: Twilight Command #1

  • Daredevil #1

  • Female Furies #1

  • G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte #1

  • Girl in the Bay #1

  • Gunhawks One-Shot

  • Man and Superman 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1

  • Oberon #1

  • Red Sonja #1

  • Vindication #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1

  • Archie #702

  • Avengers #14

  • Batman #64

  • Conan the Barbarian #3

  • Deathstroke #40

  • Dreaming #6

  • Giant Days #47

  • The Green Lantern #4

  • Immortal Hulk #14

  • Killmonger #4

  • Prodigy #3

  • Self/Made #3

  • Tony Stark: Iron Man #8

  • Wrong Earth #6

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

How HAWKMAN by Venditti and Hitch Turns Confusing History Into Great Comics

Hawkman #8 variant cover by Bill Sienkiewicz.

By Jack Sharpe —  The first Hawkman, alias Carter Hall, was introduced in 1940’s Flash Comics #1 by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville. Since then, the character has gone through many incarnations over a nearly 80-year history at DC Comics. Alongside Hawkman has always been his lover/partner, Hawkgirl. First introduced as Shiera Sanders, she has gone through different incarnations throughout her own 80-year history. These different incarnations, however, have created confusion about the origin of Hawks.

Are they archaeologists reincarnated often dating back to the times of Ancient Egypt? Or are they police officers from the planet Thanagar? Throw in many other contradictions and confusions, and you get characters whose origins are among the most confusing in comics. That’s not to say creators haven’t told excellent stories with the characters—including writer Geoff Johns and artist Rags Morales in the early 2000’s—but many fans struggle with the confusing history.

In late 2017, however, DC reintroduced Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders to its universe during the Dark Nights: Metal event, setting the stage for future adventures. Kendra has now joined the current Justice League comic from Metal writer Scott Snyder and artists Jorge Jimenez and Jim Cheung, while Carter’s story is being told by writer Robert Venditti and artist Bryan Hitch in Hawkman. The latter book is taking the character in a new, easier-to-understand direction with a story based on mystery and exploration. Venditti and Hitch are using the character’s various incarnations and history to their advantage, cementing Hawkman as one of 2018’s best comics. Today I intend to explore the reasons why the book has worked so well.

Exploration and Mystery

In Hawkman #2, the journal entry narrative device continues, but who is Carter Hall writing to?

The current Hawkman book is built on mystery. Why is he constantly reborn? What are the mysterious visions he keeps seeing? From issue one, Venditti and Hitch set the stage for mystery being central to the book. Through this they weave a tale of exploration and history. We as readers follow Carter as he finds clues to his past and uncovers truths about his life. We learn in issue one that Carter’s past lives go back much farther than Ancient Egypt. He has lived lives all over the DC Universe – Thanagar, Krypton, Rann, and other planets. We also get a vision of the Deathbringers, a threat returning to the DC Universe that has a tie to Carter he doesn’t yet understand.

The central stage of the first big Hawkman arc is then set. Carter goes on a quest which takes him to Ancient Egypt, Dinosaur Island, Thanagar, the microverse, and more. Throughout this journey he meets old friends and new, all while learning more about his past. We also see narration notes in the book, similar to those used in the Metal. This narration is made up of the words written in Carter Hall’s own journal. It seems likely to me he is either retelling the events to someone, or someone has found the diary and is reading it themselves. We don’t know who it is yet, but my guess would be that it is Shiera Hall.

The book also has Carter getting help from ordinary people in he DCU as well as other heroes. Issue one for example features a Greek fisherman helping Carter because Carter in a past life helped his father during the Greek Civil War. In that same issue, Carter also meets with Madam Xanadu in London. The best meeting in this book so far, though, is a team up featuring Carter Hall and Ray Palmer, taking places in issues 5 and 6. The partnership is a highlight of the current run – Carter and Ray’s relationship is so much fun and the creative team place huge importance on it. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting a Venditti/Hitch Ray Palmer miniseries from DC.

Anyway, it is through this meeting that we finally get an explanation for Hawkman’s confusing timeline. Ray explains that Carter’s past lives may not be in chronological order. This means that Carter Hall has been reborn not just through space but also through time, so we as fans now understand that Carter’s past lives may have taken place at anytime and anyplace. It’s a brilliant way of explaining the confusing mess of Hawkman’s origins. They all happened, but they could have happened at any time and in anyplace. This is how Hawkman gets a new origin, one that also explains his reincarnation cycle and his link to Hawkgirl.

New Origin and Hawkgirl

In Hawkman #7, we see a past life in which Hawkman committed unspeakable atrocities.

In issue six we see Carter Hall trapped with Ray Palmer on Moz-Ga. Ray discovers that Carter was at one point an adventurer in the Microverse and may well have left something to help his future selves uncover the truth of his origins. Ray’s hunch is right, and Carter discovers a ship built by one of his past selves. After escaping from Moz-Ga and learning how to pilot the ship, Carter sets off into space to continue his journey. During this journey Carter discovers his first life, which changes everything we knew about the character.

It is revealed that Carter Hall’s first life, Ktar, was the leader of the Deathbringers, whose hunger for life meant that Ktar and his partner Idamm had to sacrifice thousands upon thousands of people to satisfy the Deathbringers. It is clear that Ktar is not happy doing this. He is fighting amongst himself, desperate to be a better person. On Thanagar after an attack, Ktar is confronted by a mysterious woman who senses the pain inside from his actions. Only Ktar can see this woman and, while it is not said who she is, it is hinted that she is the first incarnation of Hawkgirl.

One criticism of this series has been that it ignores Hawkgirl. I don’t believe that is the case. Hawkgirl doesn’t appear in physical form, not yet anyway, but she is almost a spectre haunting Carter. Each issue has journal entries and it is clear Carter is writing this journal to someone. While he may be writing this journal for his next incarnation in case he fails to stop the Deathbringers, I feel he is writing this journal to Hawkgirl. She may not be in the book physically, but she is there in both spirit and memory. This is shown via issue seven and the mysterious woman, who only appears to Ktar and no one else. She might be a past victim of the Deathbringers, or Ktar’s own conscience trying to get him to revolt against them, but either way her appearance eventually leads to Ktar betraying Idamm and the Deathbringers, causing his first death.

Although her physical presence is not yet overt, as of issue #7 Hawkgirl may have arrived in this story.

Ktar is then awoken by a strange voice. He has done many horrific things as leader of the Deathbringers, but his final actions showed a man willing to change. As such Ktar is given a deal. He can die now and be forgotten. Or he can be reborn repeatedly, saving lives all over the galaxy until he has saved as many lives as he can. This will not be easy, but he will eventually earn final atonement and be allowed to rest. Ktar chooses to be reborn, and so begins his reincarnation cycle.

This revelation is an example of Venditti and Hitch using the mysteries of Hawkman to craft a character-based story. The audience follows Carter Hall, who grows before their eyes. The reveal that he was the leader of the Deathbringers shocks Carter, but he remains steadfast in his journey. He continues with his ship and heads towards his next adventure – Katar-Ol, the Hawkman of Krypton.

Final Thoughts

Before the current Hawkman series, I was not very familiar with the character. After giving this series a chance, I’ve become a huge fan of him. His love of history and exploration speaks to me so much. The mystery behind the character and the peeling back of said mystery shows us a character with a deep and thought-provoking past, as well as a future that is very exciting. For upcoming issues I hope the creative team continues its exploration of Hawkman while also introducing more of Hawkman’s supporting cast. I also hope that DC Comics does more with the Hawks as a whole. I’d love a Hawkgirl book or miniseries exploring some of Hawkman’s other lives.

To conclude - Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch are currently helping Hawkman soar once again. They crafted one of 2018’s best comics, and here’s to hoping their partnership continues for years to come. It’s an exciting time to be a Hawkman fan. Let those days continue.

SOAR.

Check out more great writing about comics!

Jack Sharpe is a huge fan of history and comics. When he's not in the trenches surrounded by history, he's reading and studying comic books. You can follow him on Twitter at @JackJacksharpe5

REVIEW: Electric Warriors #3 features killer pivot for refreshing mini-series

Electric Warriors #3 is out 1/16/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — Electric Warriors #3 is a surprising comic, which is entirely in keeping with how this book has been since its start. I found it to be somewhat of a surprise when it was announced by DC just prior to this year’s San Diego Comic Con. With the publisher in recent years mostly playing it safe with series (aside from the ill-fated New Age of Heroes line, which it pretty clearly got cold feet over before it even launched). Electric Warriors, however, was an original idea set in an under-utilized era of DC continuity—Earth post Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster but pre Legion of Superheroes.

So, yes, I was surprised from the moment this book came into existence. I was not, however, surprised at the excellent story writer Steve Orlando and artist Travel Foreman started telling. There was rich commentary about Earth and its divisive ways, a compelling familial imposter sub-plot, and all kinds of nods to obscure characters, alien races, and concepts from old DC Comics. The plot trajectory seemed pretty straight forward: the two champions of Earth would come apart before coming together and realizing it’s all one planet and as such we should all be one people (thereby making an excellent statement about the current divisive politics sweeping the planet and fueling the rise of authoritarian governments).

In Electric Warriors #3 the trajectory I had envisioned changed. A lot. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but just know that this book is probably not what you first expected it to be. It may still arrive at the lesson I mentioned above (in fact, I for one am betting on it), but it seems to be taking a wholly unexpected (and delightfully more complex) path to get there, one filled with suspense and surprises.

Indeed, at the halfway point for this six-issue mini-series a picture has emerged of a tight and clean narrative with a lot to offer both casual and long-time DC Comics readers. Orlando is really at his best here, equal parts brutal in the action and thoughtful with the characters and twists. Travel Foreman, of course, is an other-worldly imaginative talent clearly reveling in the freedom being afforded to him by playing in an obscure Big 2 timeline and era.

I don’t think I’ve heard nearly enough chatter about this book, but it really is something special...and refreshing, an original concept from a Big 2 publisher, filled with new characters who can change, and learn, and grow, and ultimately die. It’s not too late to jump onto this train. At the very least though, I highly recommend making a mental note right now to catch up on this book in trade. Here’s hoping it factors into (or, even better, helps pave the way) toward whatever Brian Michael Bendis is currently gearing up to do with the Legion of Superheroes.

Overall: The only things more imaginative and brutal than the action on the page here are the twists in the plot. A surprising turn in Electric Warriors #3 has me seeing this already-solid comic in a new and more complex light. If you’re not reading this book, you can’t complain that the Big 2 don’t try enough new ideas. Get on it. 9.2/10

Electric Warriors #3
Writer:
Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as
BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for January 16, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This was an interesting week for comics, in that many of the best creator-owned books coming out were well into their runs or midway into their first arcs. There are, of course, some interesting new #1 titles (there always as are, as that’s where the money is at, and all), including Adventure Time: Simon and Marcy, Black Widow, and Invaders. There’s also Marvel Comics Presents #1, which is the one I’m personally most interested in.

Still, great creator-owned books like Black Badge, Gideon Falls, Lodger, and Wic + Div all seem to be caught mid-arc. So, we’ve done what any good comics recommender would...read the issues and sorted them out and come up with some recommendations—even if there aren’t any good jumping on points to be had, except for Isola (more on that in a moment). We hope you’ll find it all helpful!

And now, onward to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for January 16, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Babyteeth #14
Writer:
Donny Cates
Artist: Garry Brown
Colorist: Mark Englert
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Price: $3.99
So, hey, welcome back, folks. How about that issue 13, huh? I told you it was bananas. Anyway, look, I'd like to be able to tell you this one is easier or nicer somehow, but real-ly...have any issues of this book not been insane and weird? Would you even believe me If I said it was? No. You wouldn't. So, yeah, this issue is more of all that. Plus: BETRAYAL! (Dramatic music cue!)
Why It’s Cool: This issue really teases out writer Donny Cates’ abilities as a humor writer, which were last seen this directly during his first Marvel work on Doctor Strange and Thanos. Meanwhile, artist Garry Brown also gets some great chances to shine here in what is the first issue back after a bit of a break, using his design skills to also get in on the humor tip. It’s not all laughs though—this issue also raises some pretty stark questions about the devil and God, and, by extension, about our concepts of good and evil. Basically, this is the first issue in a while that really makes good on the immense promise Babyteeth had at launch way back when, so much so it makes me absolutely elated I stuck with this series.

Black Panther #8
Writer:
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Stephane Paitreau
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE INTERGALACTIC EMPIRE OF WAKANDA: THE GATHERING OF MY NAME" Part 2 For years, the Maroons have lain dormant, planning the next stage of their rebellion. At last, it is time to strike - with a treasure hunt for unstable Vibranium! And with the Black Panther once again in their ranks, they're certain of victory. But what will victory cost? When the chips are down, will the Maroons rise to heroism, or are they doomed by the trauma of their past?
Why It’s Cool: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates just keeps getting better and better at the comics game, and while his best work may be taking place over in Captain America, his current bonkers intergalactic arc on Black Panther is really no slouch. It’s a bit hard to make out what exactly is going on here—my guess is something funny with a wormhole...thank you to the Shuri title for the tip—but the imagination involved with the story is absolutely off the charts. Kev Walker also returns for another issue, which I’m all about because I thought Black Panther #7 was stunning.  

Electric Warriors #3
Writer:
Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The revolution starts now! Inceptor accidentally digs too far into the memories of the Electric Warrior from Gil'Dishpan and uncovers a conspiracy at the heart of the Covenant. The planet games are meant to bring profit and keep the various peoples across the galaxies in check, rather than encourage peace and cooperation. If Inceptor can convince the other Warriors of what he's learned, it might just spark the revolution that will free a galaxy.
Why It’s Cool: Simply put, Electric Warriors is the Big 2 comic right now that not enough people are talking about. It’s an impeccably-told future-set tale with a savage sci-fi concept. This issue pushes that concept a step further by—well, I won’t tip into spoiler territory but I will tell you that you should without question be reading this book. Especially if you fancy yourself any sort of DC Comics continuity buff, or even a hardcore DC fan.  

Isola #6
Writers:
Brendan Fletcher / Karl Kerschl
Artists: Karl Kerschl / Msassyk
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Olwyn has returned from the land of the dead, but did she return alone? The journey to Isola continues...NOW BI-MONTHLY!
Why It’s Cool: Isola is the best-looking comic coming out today (with apologies to The Dreaming), and this is the start of a new arc. The first trade is out there at the super reasonable $9.99 Image introductory price. It’s also a fairly decompressed comic, which means that with $10 and an afternoon, you can get caught up for this new jumping on point. And trust me when I tell you it’s very much worth. Not only is the art absolutely stunning, but the world is well-built and the characters compelling. The narrative is also paced with a rewarding rate of revelation, doling out enough to stay interesting without ever tipping into overly wordy dumping of exposition.

Superman #7
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson, and Jason Fabok
Inker: Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
It's the moment you've been waiting for: the shocking return of the son of Superman! A year spent traveling the stars changed Jon Kent. Are parents Clark and Lois ready for the all-new, all-different Superboy? Secrets are revealed, a new look debuts and Superman's world is changed forever!
Why It’s Cool: There’s a reason that Brian Michael Bendis dueling runs on Action Comics and Superman made our Top 5 Comics of 2018: they’re both really really good. Action grabbed me right away, but I must admit it took just a tiny bit longer for Superman to really reel me in. Now that it has, however, I just can’t get enough of this book. Superman #7 is another fantastic installment with top-tier art and a plot that keeps the pages turning. It also has something that Bendis is proving himself impressively adept at: a new iconic moment largely shaped by logical ways in which the rest of the city, Earth, or galaxy would come to view someone as powerful and benevolent as our guy Clark Kent. These are exciting and special superhero comics, and I feel lucky to be reading them in real time as they come out.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Adventure Time: Simon and Marcy #1

  • Black Hammer Director’s Cut #1

  • Black Widow #1

  • Invaders #1

  • Marvel Comics Presents #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • A Walk Through Hell #7

  • Amazing Spider-Man #13

  • Black Badge #6

  • Catwoman #7

  • Conan the Barbarian #2

  • Detective Comics #996

  • Gideon Falls #10

  • Hawkman #8

  • Ironheart #2

  • Lodger #3

  • Middlewest #3

  • Supergirl #26

  • Venom #10

  • Warning #3

  • Wicked + Divine #41

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.