Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night: Accepting Death and Embracing Life

By Taylor Pechter — Death is a fact of the universe that most of us fear. We fear it for ourselves or for our loved ones, and at our lowest moments, we maybe even wish it on those we hate, be them real life figures or characters on TV. Death, however, is much different in the comicbook landscape, much less…

Read More

Top Comics of 2018, #6 - #15

By Zack Quaintance —  The most difficult thing about a strong year for comics (like this one) is doing a year-end Best Of list. Now, to be sure, no one mandates websites do rankings. That would be a clear violation of civil liberties. There is, however, a part of the pop culture blogger brain that goes wild for it, whispering all year long...where does this one rank...and if you don’t satisfy that beast—well, bad things happen.

So, here we our with ours, freshly formulated for 2018 by our committee of one. Before we dive into part 2, which features in descending order selections #15 to #6 (Top Comics of 2018, #16 - #25 is up now, with the Top 5 due later today), let’s rehash our ground rules:

  • No trades or OGNs: Building out our OGN coverage is a priority for 2019. We’re just not there yet. So, while I absolutely loved work like Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam, Box Brown’s Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, and Ryan Lindsay and Eric Zawadzki’s Eternal, you won’t find them here. Ideally, next year’s we’ll have an entire post dedicated to OGNs.

  • No webcomics, manga, or newspaper strips: Again, our site is a bit deficient covering these (if you are into these things, we’d love to chat about you writing for us!). I should, of course, mention that in 2018 someone under the pen name Olivia James took over the long-running Nancy strip and did amazing things with it (Sluggo is lit), but, again, you won’t find it on our list.

  • Longevity matters: New this year, you will find what I consider a key stat—how many issues were published this year. Late debut series like Die, Electric Warriors, and Bitter Root have tons of promise. They just haven’t been around enough to be a definitive comic of 2018. Ditto for comics that ended in April or earlier.

There you have it: guiding principles of our Top Comics of 2018. Now, without further adieu, let’s keep this bad hombre going!

15. Seeds
Writer:
Ann Nocenti
Artist, Letterer: David Aja
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Issues in 2018: 2

The second issue of this series absolutely blew my mind. So much so it was enough to land this comic in our list, and at no. 15 too! I’m going to struggle to articulate why this is not only one of the best comics out today, but also the comic with the most potential to be an all-time great series. But here goes…

Writer Ann Nocenti and artist David Aja have clearly thought hard about the state of the world, dwelling on current trends, struggles, challenges, \and even a few victories to extrapolate a future the likes of which we’ve never seen. There are (as noted in yesterday’s list) many near-future disaster stories running through comics. Many of them do admirable jobs extending a fear or concern to logical places. Seeds encompasses much more with its predictions, in a way that feels impossibly novel yet so obvious you wonder why its ideas hadn’t previously occurred to you. If you start listing story elements—failing planet, media corruption, alien love story/menace—they sound a little rote, but the way these talented creators bring them together is nothing short of remarkable. Now, if only they could get a handle on the delays...  

14. Doomsday Clock
Writer:
Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

Speaking of delays (hey! would you look at that transition), next we have Doomsday Clock. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank were as good as their word this year, mostly sticking to the every-other-month schedule they promised following Doomsday Clock #3. We got six new issues in 2018, and the last three were straight up killer comics. This series has, to be blunt, massive ambitions.

Indeed, the intentions of this comic are starting to crystalize, and if Johns and Frank can pull this off, they could end up with a story that speaks to the current rise of authoritarian governments across the globe, the reactions of the media and the populous, and what it means to be a public hero today, to take a strong position. It’s heady stuff, with potential to shape DC’s line and maybe even the stories the aging company does for the next decade.

13. Ice Cream Man
Writer:
W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 8

As I’ve noted throughout, ranking the many many many excellent comics this year has been no easy feat. There were a ton of tough choices, but as my friend Rob from Panel Patter noted, at a certain point you have to choose, otherwise there’s no purpose to the endeavor. For me, placing Ice Cream Man was the most difficult decision. An anthology horror comic linked only by the titular (and hella creepy) ice cream man, this book has been a tour de force.

The reason it lands at #13 is twofold. No. 1, 13 is creepy and it seemed fitting, because aside from one other selection (we’ll get into that later), this is the highest-ranking horror comic on our list. No. 2, I’m trying to rank series for holistic reading experience. Ice Cream Man being made of vignettes makes that trickier. This book is easily one of the best comics of 2018, and we’ll heap more praise on it in future posts, specifically the Best Single Issues of 2018, coming later this week. For now, I’ll just note everyone should read this comic, just pick up random issues (they’re all self-contained) and go. The rate of success is high enough I’m confident you’ll all find flavors (sorry) you like.

12. The Wild Storm
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: DC Comics
Issues in 2018: 8

It’s pretty amazing this far into a celebrated career, Warren Elllis is doing his best work, writing a slow-burning epic that strips down characters he’s handled for years before building them back into something searingly-relevant for 2018. This new The Wild Storm has a few familiar names, while remaining entirely accessible for first-time readers of this universe. And what Ellis is doing here is exploring the vast influence wielded by long-standing (and hard to comprehend) power structures.

He’s joined by Jon Davis-Hunt, one of (if not the) most underrated artists in comics. Davis-Hunt comes fresh from career work of his own on Gail Simone’s Clean Room, and as good as he was there, he’s hitting a new level, crafting graphic sequential storytelling both kinetic and real, capable of disrupting any visual laws of reality yet photorealistic and engrossing. As intellectual and nuanced a comic as we’ve seen, this is a must-read story.

11. The Mighty Thor / Thor
Writer:
Jason Aaron
Artists: Russell Dauterman, Mike del Mundo, Christian Ward, Jen Bartel, Various
Colorists: Matthew Wilson, Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issues in 2018: 4 / 12

Jason Aaron’s ongoing run on Thor is the best long-form story happening in superhero comics, and it’s really not even close. Aaron and Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder #1, which essentially marked the start of this current run, hit stands in November 2012, a vastly different time in the world and industry. Marvel has no other run close, with Hickman and Bendis gone from the company and Dan Slott off Amazing Spider-Man. Invincible has also ended, and DC’s main challengers—Batman and Deathstroke, for my money—date back to summer 2016, which is hardly a challenge at all.

Thor, however, keeps going strong, landing this year’s 16 issues (and a Jane Foster one-shot) at #11 overall on our list. Our committee of one suspects it will be higher next year, what with the War of the Realms coming. The Jane Foster finale was certainly a high point his year, but it felt like more of a pause than a proper finish, setting the table for what is sure to be some damn fine comics to come. In summation, 2018 was another great year for Aaron’s Thor run, but we all but guarantee 2019 will be even better, possibly the high water mark for this story.

10. X-Men Red
Writer:
Tom Taylor
Artists: Mahmud Asrar, Carmen Carnero, Roge Antonio
Colorists: Ive Svorcina, Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issues in 2018: 11

What a surprise this comic was. I’d tapped out on X-Men: Blue and X-Men: Gold, deciding to wait for whatever next big X-thing. Then comes an announcement of a third color, part of the Marvel Legacy line, which, let’s face it, was dead on arrival. But here’s the thing: Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s X-Men: Red was good. Like, really really really good. Taylor’s scripting understood the franchise better than any writer I’ve read in I don’t know how long, casting the team as equal parts superhero high-flyers and common defenders of the oppressed, all with a geopolitical angle.

It made Jean Gray the face of Xavier’s continuing dream, a brilliant move given her legacy (ahem) and similar skill set, and it faced the X-Men against threats essentially derived from the messages of hate coursing through the modern media landscape, be it reportage or social posting. It was a brilliant stretch of 11 issues that ended way too soon, and, in my opinion, it was the first real hint how the X-Men can be made relevant for 2018, 2019, etc., taking them out of their long-standing continuity mire. It will be missed, and I hope this new generation of X-writers draw from its example.

9. Vault Comics: Fearscape / Friendo / These Savage Shores
Writers:
Ryan O’Sullivan / Alex Paknadel / Ram V.
Artists: Andrea Mutti / Martin Simmonds / Sumit Kumar
Colorists: Vladimir Popov / Dee Cunnife / Vittorio Astone
Letterers: Andworld Design / Taylor Esposito / Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Issues in 2018: 3 / 3 / 2

Okay, so this one is cheating, but of the three new Vault Comics launched by British writers with clear literary roots in the fall, I couldn’t pick any one to elevate above the others. They’re all incredible, and so I built myself a loophole (it’s my website, afterall), and included all three on the list. I heard Vault editor Adrian Wassel on a podcast earlier this year, saying comics could swing to a literary place that incorporates both recent cinematic storytelling trends and their unique ability to synthesize words and pictures. All three of these titles reflect that viewpoint.

You can read more thoughts about each on our Reviews Page, but let me run through them quickly. Fearscape is a look at pretense, literary culture, and how the nature of creative writing often sees authors bouncing violently between bouts of outsized ego and crippling insecurity. The voice is pretentious and incredible. Friendo is a meditation on the decline of late-model capitalist countries, specifically the United States, casting apathy, ceiling-less corporate greed, and the marginalization of government checks as truly terrifying villains. These Savage Shores is a gorgeous and deep commentary on imperialism, using misdirection to to create an engaging and tone-heavy narrative. Basically, all three of these are well worth your time, and I highly recommend them all.

8. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Mike Feehan
Inker: Sean Parsons
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

Speaking of literary comics, Mark Russell and Mike Feehan’s Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles (improbably) falls in that bin as well. Last year we highlighted Russell’s work on Flintstones. Another year and another smart take on a Hanna-Barbera property, and here we are again. In Russell’s re-imagining of this mythos, Snagglepuss is a basically closeted playwright during McCarthy-ism, trying to stay true to his values without running afoul of the federal government and staid societal interests.

Russell uses this premise to tell a sophisticated story that dances with ideas about life, art, politics, group think, and conservatism. The emotional core to this thing is the Huckleberry Hound character, whose tragic story beats brought tears to my eyes a couple of times. If reading a comic about Snagglepuss doesn’t sound appealing, don’t worry—you’re not alone in that thinking. But Russell also uses the legacy of the character to do work toward the satirical points he’s making, to help drive them home.  

7. Wasted Space
Writer:
Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Issues in 2018: 6 (counting the holiday special)

Phew, now we’re getting into the comics that I can’t imagine my 2018 without, the first being Michael Moreci and Hayden Sherman’s Wasted Space. I have heaped my fair share of praise on this book over the past 12 months, and I’m not alone. In fact, Nerdist has called it “easily the best new series to hit comic shops so far this year.” For my money, it’s without question the best wholly new property of 2018, and I’m going to quote myself to elaborate on why...

Wasted Space to me feels like Star Wars by way of 2018, determined to honor the hi-jinx & high adventure of space opera while fearlessly exploring the central conflict of our times: where should one’s desire for comfort end and their obligation to combat oppression begin? I’ve compared Moreci’s absurdist, idea-heavy writing to the late David Foster Wallace and I stand by that, noting that Sherman’s chaotic high-energy art style brings the world to life in a special way. This is maybe the highest compliment I can give: in a day and age where i buy fewer paper comics than ever before, I still have a pull list and on it near the top is Wasted Space.

6. Thanos Wins
Writer:
Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

Toward the end of 2017, Brian Michael Bendis left Marvel, dealing the publisher as significant of a writing void as I’ve seen in the past two decades, dating back to before Bendis established himself as the company’s prime writing voice. The thing about voids like that is they force publishers to take bigger risks and bring in younger, newer talent. For Marvel in 2018, that meant Donny Cates (among others).

One of Cates’ first charges at Marvel was to takeover Thanos in the wake of another essentially departing writer, Jeff Lemire, who seemed from the outside to be off to focus on the superhero universe he owned and created, Black Hammer. What Cates and past collaborator Geoff Shaw did with the final six issues of this run was absolutely remarkable, telling what is not only the best Thanos story of all-time, but the best end of the Marvel Universe tail this side of Jonathan Hickman. It’s called Thanos Wins, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Thanos Wins is as bold a statement as a young writer doing his first work at Marvel could have made. Aided by the out-of-this-world Geoff Shaw artwork and Antonio Fabela colors, Cates seemed to put all of comics on notice here, not being content to just decimate the very futures of these decades-old beloved characters, but insisting on doing so with wild grin viscerally affixed to his face. You might wonder, how do I know he was laughing and smiling as he wrote all of this. I think the better question, is how could anyone who’s read Thanos Wins doubt it?  

Read our analysis of Thanos Wins here!

Check back later today for our Best Comics of 2018, #1 - #5! Check out Best Comics of 2018, #16 - #25! And check back later in the week for more year-end lists, including our Best Single Issues and our Top Creators of 2018!

For the history-minded readers, you can find our Top Comics of 2017, Part 1, 2 and 3 online now!

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

Taylor Pechter's Top 5 Comics of 2018

By Taylor Pechter

1. Hawkman
Writer:
Robert Venditti
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Publisher: DC Comics

The sleeper hit of the year. Written by Robert Venditti (Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps) and drawn by Bryan Hitch (The Authority), Hawkman explores the character of Carter Hall. It weaves a story about history and self-discovery that is intrinsic to his character. From its start back in June, this has been a must-read series. Not only is Venditti’s script immaculate in consolidating the convoluted nature of Carter’s origins, but Bryan Hitch is supplying the best artwork of his career. The art is big and cinematic but also contains a lot of emotion within it. Go read this series

Read more about why we like Hawkman!

2. The Wild Storm
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Publisher: DC Comics

A holdover from last year, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s gritty, stripped-down, espionage-fueled retelling of the WildStorm Universe continued to chug along in 2018 and continue its greatness. Not only did we see the formation of the proto-WildCATs and John Lynch searching down his Thunderbook agents before IO gets a hand on them. Ellis, like always, is a master in character interactions. His injection of dark humor also adds a great edge to the book. Davis-Hunt’s art work continues to be simple, but also dynamic with some of the best rendering of action in the business. The end of 2018 brings us to the end of the third of four arcs. With all the pieces set in place, the final arc is sure to be a doozy, and I am all here for it.

3. Justice League Dark
Writer:
James Tynion IV
Artist:
Alvaro Martinez Bueno
Publisher: DC Comics

Re-teaming hot creative team James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez Bueno straight off their acclaimed run of Detective Comics, Justice League Dark focuses on the mystical side of the DC Universe. Formed by Wonder Woman after the events of Justice League: No Justice, titular team works to discover something amiss in the magic community. Much like his run on Detective, Tynion is an expert in character voices and dynamics. Wonder Woman, Zatanna, Man-Bat, Detective Chimp, Swamp Thing, and many more have great interactions with each other that help add a personality to this book. Martinez Bueno’s art is astonishingly detailed and creepy paired perfectly with Brad Anderson’s moody but vibrant color palate.

4. Doomsday Clock
Writer:
Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics

The series that never ends. Jokes about the delays aside, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s examination of the DC Universe through the eyes of Watchmen characters continues to be one of the most illuminating reads on the shelves whenever it does actually come out. How Johns expertly moves from dark and dour to hopeful and optimistic is a hallmark of his writing. His scripts are dense and complex, heavy with nuance. Gary Frank continues to be one of, if not THE, best artists in the business. He is a master of rendering and emotion, capturing both the bleak tone of Watchmen and the light tone of the DC Universe. He is also joined again here by colorist extraordinaire Brad Anderson. The release of issue eight brought this year to an end with a bang, both literally and figuratively.  

5. Action Comics
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Patrick Gleason, Yanick Paquette, Ryan Sook
Publisher: DC Comics

In November 2017 it was announced that industry heavyweight Brian Michael Bendis was jumping from Marvel to DC. Speculation arose to which character he would write. In February of this year, it was announced he would write the six-issue mini series Man of Steel, a callback to the 1986 John Byrne-penned book of the same name. Bendis would then subsequently take over both Superman and Action Comics, focusing on two different aspects of the character. The main Superman book would focus on cosmic level threats and big action, while Action would be a more grounded take focusing on Clark Kent the journalist. This is an aspect that is barley touched upon in modern Superman stories, and it’s also what hooked me right away. Bendis’ main focus is on the Daily Planet. With Lois away working on writing a book, they have lost one of their premier reporters. Not only that, but a rash of unexpected fires have started popping up and a shady underground criminal organization is rising from the underbelly of Metropolis. Clark the reporter is on the case. Like most investigative journalism, there are a lot of steps to be traced. Bendis takes advantage of that by focusing on two new characters he created: fire chief Melody Moore and upstart Planet employee Robinson Goode. Intrigue is abundant as Bendis uses his signature snappy dialogue to give new life not only to the Planet newsroom but to Metropolis in general. Joining Bendis on art duties is Patrick Gleason, Yanick Paquette, and Ryan Sook. Each of them lend their unique style, adding richness to the characters and the world around them.

Taylor Pechter is a passionate comic book fan and nerd. Find him on Twitter @TheInspecter.

REVIEW: Shazam #1, by any name, is still an adorable comic about family and fantasy

Shazam! #1 is out 12/5.

By Zack Quaintance — Geoff Johns had a huge week. At least in terms of writing top-notch comics. He had a pair of titles come out that couldn’t be more different—one part eight of a 12-part miniseries that has been running for a full year now; the other the launch of a new title starring a character we haven’t seen in a while before he gets a movie—and they both accomplished exactly what the creators, publisher, and fans hoped they would do.

The first of the aforementioned titles is (obviously) Doomsday Clock #8, and this is a Shazam! review, so we won’t belabor the talk of that one except to say we liked it...a lot. It’s finally living up to the Watchman characters it somewhat arrogantly set out to use, doing so with a mix of slow-burning and tense storytelling with socio-political commentary bubbling under its surface. It’s good, please go read it, and excuse us while we move on to Shazam!

Shazam #1, on which Johns is joined by artist Dale Eaglesham (and later by artist Mayo “Sen” Naito, who draws the backup story), is as cute as superhero comics get without doing that Fraction/Aja Hawkeye-inspired recent Marvel thing where they tip a bit into self parody (Hawkeye never did that, but boy have its many imitators done that often in the last three years or so). No, Shazam! reads with all the seriousness of most main universe DC comics. The reason it hits such cuteness heights is entirely due to the enthusiasm with which it explores the core strengths of this character: fantasy and family (plus a subtraction of some of the grit and angst that marked the New 52 version).

Yes indeed, Shazam #1 is quite high on both of those, becoming in some ways the perfect comic that adult readers assume they would have enjoyed as a kid, which then has the effect of us enjoying it now because, let’s face it, part of the appeal of corporate superhero comics is feeling just a tinge sentimental about bygone days. Johns lands this comic perfectly in that sweet nostalgic spot, crafting a story with a likable child protagonist, whose problems come as much from bad guys as they do from the rules of his well-intentioned-but-square caretakers...and with him always is the Shazam! family. Yes, in this debut issue young Billy Bastion has it all, unconditional friendship, adventure, and a mystery that comes to find him.

Eaglesham’s artwork renders it perfectly, equal parts sharp and kinetic. He gets the kids moods and faces as right as he does the giant set-pieces that erupt every time the magic word (which is also the book’s title) is uttered, leading to the arrival of mystic lightening. Other strengths of this book include the orienting two-page spread Johns opens with to remind us what this book’s deal is, the ending that seeds the group’s ongoing adventures, and the backup comic that ends the whole deal by straight-up melting your god-danged heart. Oh yeah, and there’s also a great joke that nods to when the character used to be known as Captain Mar—

Overall: Shazam! #1 soars to impressive cuteness heights without ever tipping into self parody, doing so by embracing the two most prominent core tenants of an all-time great character: family and fantasy. Come for the childlike adventure and stay for the promise of much more to come. I have a hard time imagining that very many readers will dislike this comic. 9.5/10

Shazam #1
Writer:
Geoff Johns
Artist: Dale Eaglesham & Mayo “Sen” Naito (backup story)
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99

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. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete his first.

Top Comics to Buy for December 5, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — This week is brimming with tough choice, so many that we actually ended up including a whopping seven total books in our top comics section, where I don’t think we’ve ever previously exceeded six. Most weeks, in fact, we keep it to five, and that’s plenty. So, what exactly happened this week?

Well, for starters DC Comics had one of its best weeks all year, with a pair of great new series launching, Doomsday Clock making its scope clearer, Deathstroke returning to form, and continued solid performers like Justice League, Batman, The Green Lantern, and Border Town all taking huge leaps forward with their plots. On top of that Marvel was no slouch and Image also launched some great new series. Simply put, this week is an embarrassment of riches, one likely to complicate holiday budgets for many comics fans.

What are we waiting for? Let’s get to the books!

Top Comics to Buy for December 5, 2018

*PICK OF THE WEEK*

Doomsday Clock #8
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99
The critical and commercial hit series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank continues following the shocking revelations of last issue. As the truth behind Dr. Manhattan's actions against the DC Universe are revealed, Ozymandias turns to the only being who can stop him: Superman.
Why It’s Cool: Before the first issue of Doomsday Clock hit, writer Geoff Johns made some oblique comments in interviews about the story being inspired by the 2016 presidential election. The unprecedented and chaotic nature of that election, and the sheer volume of societal corners it touched, made it hard to understand what he could possibly mean by that. This issue makes it a bit clearer, while still leaving the full ambitions of this story obscured in an intriguing way. It’s also a compelling comic book with clear and consequential stakes. Recommended.

Deathstroke #38
Writer:
Priest
Artist: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Jason Paz
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Willie Schubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Deathstroke finally meets his match: Arkham Asylum?! Now an inmate, Slade Wilson must prove his sanity so he can stop an alien invasion (what?). Before he can even attempt a breakout, he's got to face off against angry Arkham inmates out to get him. And what's Two-Face's role in all this mayhem? He keeps showing up in two places at once! Meanwhile, Deathstroke's daughter, Rose Wilson, is kidnapped! Can Jericho save his sister?  
Why It’s Cool: For my money, Deathstroke has easily been one of the best shared universe corporate superhero comics in the past two and a half years, telling a story wherein the seeds of seemingly inconsequential moments continue to flower into consequential plot points, essentially using the long-form periodical medium’s unique strengths. The recent Batman crossover now feels like a bit of a detour, but after Deathstroke #38 I’m happy to say this book is back on its excellent track. Artist Fernando Pasarin is also doing career best work here, making this comic worth buying for the art alone.

Die #1
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE writer KIERON GILLEN teams up with artist supernova STEPHANIE HANS (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE 1831, Journey Into Mystery) for her first ongoing comic! DIE is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning unearthly horror they barely survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron's in a rush, he describes it as "Goth Jumanji." That only captures a sliver of what you'll find in oversized debut issue-where fantasy gets all too real.
Why It’s Cool: I’m tempted to just put Because it’s a Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans ongoing...Nuff said! here, but that’s probably a bit of a disservice and also I’m more verbose than that, although the fantastic creative team is a big part of the reason Die lands here. What’s more is that this title has a really interesting concept: it’s a black fantasy that sees grown-ass adults returning to close the loop on some magical horror they barely survived as teens, a horror they awoke essentially by playing Dungeons and Dragons. Basically, Die is just a great mix of creators, concept, and things fans will be interested in. It could very well be Image Comics next big book.

The Green Lantern #2
Writer:
Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Someone is transporting a mysterious cargo out of the Great Void, and it spells trouble for the universe at large! Hal Jordan interrogates a member of the Spider Guild for answers and uses his pheremones as an interrogation tool, but can he extract the info in time?! Meanwhile, Volgar Ro makes a play for Earth while its emerald protector is off-world!
Why It’s Cool: The Green Lantern #1 had all the trappings of a new landmark run on a long-time character (which Grant Morrison has done in the past, see Batman, specifically), and now The Green Lantern #2 keeps it going. This series is a hard-boiled psychedelic tropey police procedural in space, and so far we absolutely love it.

Immortal Hulk #10
Writer:
Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Gamma Flight was too late. Shadow Base is infiltrated. Crusher Creel is damned. And the One Below All walks upon Earth. Now, in the place he was born, the Immortal Hulk is the last thing standing between the world of the living...and the GREEN DOOR.
Why It’s Cool: Immortal Hulk is, simply put, the best superhero comic coming out right now. It makes our top comics to buy every time it comes out, and it will continue to do so barring a major and surprising shift in quality. This comic is great. It’s the combination of The Incredible Hulk, Twin Peaks, and old school horror filmmaking we didn’t know we’d been missing, and you should without question be reading it.

Martian Manhunter #1
Writer:
Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
No matter what you know about J'onn J'onnz, you're not prepared for this! The acclaimed team of writer Steve Orlando and artist Riley Rossmo (BATMAN/ THE SHADOW, BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN) reteam for a reinvention of the Manhunter from Mars in this twisted, unexpected series. Back on Mars, J'onn was about as corrupt as a law officer can be, and when a reckoning comes for his entire society, he'll get a second chance he doesn't want or deserve! One shocking murder, and an unexpected fragment of the Mars he lost, will change his life-and the course of the Earth-forever!
Why It’s Cool: Steve Orlando doesn’t write bad debut issues, and his newest comic is no exception. He does a great job with the basics here, introducing us to our cast, clueing us in on his protagonist’s deepest desires and most pressing concerns, and laying track for the mystery that will presumably move this book forward through the next 11 chapters. Oh, and Riley Rossmo’s pliant martian artwork is fittingly of another world.

Shazam #1
Writer:
Geoff Johns
Artist: Dale Eaglesham & Mayo “Sen” Naito (backup story)
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99
The superstar team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Dale Eaglesham reunite to launch the first all-new SHAZAM! monthly title set in the DC Universe in almost 20 years! (What took you guys so long?!) Teenager turned super-hero Billy Batson struggles to balance school and superheroics! (Guess which one is more fun?) But when Shazam unlocks a shocking secret deep within the Rock of Eternity, it challenges everything he knows about the worlds of magic and his family's future as its champions! Also, witness the bizarre team-up of Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind as they set off to build a society all their own! Don't miss the start of an epic run in the making as "Shazam and the Seven Realms" begins!
Why It’s Cool: This is an absolutely adorable comic that captures the elements of this character and his wider family that make it so special. It’s a great debut in that it seems built to appeal to both long-time fans of the character and those reading a Shazam! comic for the first time. There’s even a fun nod to the characters bygone (and rightful) name.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Black [AF] Devils Dye #1

  • Defenders: Immortal Hulk #1

  • Defenders: Namor #1

  • The Freeze #1

  • Hack/Slash vs. Chaos #1

  • Killmonger #1

  • La Guardia #1

  • Prodigy #1

  • Self/Made #1

  • Snap Flash Hustle #1

  • Winter Soldier #1

  • Wizard Beach #1

  • X-Men: The Exterminated #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Batman #60

  • Border Town #4

  • Crowded #5

  • The Dreaming #4

  • Her Infernal Descent #5

  • Justice League #13

  • Lodger #2

  • Low Road West #4

  • Marvel Knights 20th #3

  • Snotgirl #12

  • Unnatural #5

  • Venom #9

  • The Walking Dead #186

  • The Wicked + The Divine #40

  • Wrong Earth #4

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. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.

Top Comics of September 2018

By Zack Quaintance — This month is one that has the potential to be infamous, in that it ended with an event—Heroes in Crisis—that saw one of the Big 2 (DC) embrace a sort of grit and darkness that feels outdated. Word is now coming out that in addition to being a viscerally uncomfortable book, Heroes in Crisis also undersold expectations. Really, it almost feels to me as if the larger line itself is working like an antibody to reject Heroes in Crisis, purging its anachronistic themes from a shared superhero universe that is now bent on being brighter.

But, hey, this isn’t a piece about Heroes in Crisis! This is, instead, a piece about the comics from last month that I really liked, and within it you will find talk of some of my usual favorites—Wasted Space and Immortal Hulk—as well as some discussion of comics I haven’t written as much about, including The Seeds and Supergirl. And because I can’t help myself: yes! Okay, fine. I found Heroes in Crisis disappointing, but I still enjoyed September holistically as another great month for comics.

Let’s take a look at why!

Shout Outs

Snotgirl #11. I’m just so happy this book is back. The art is phenomenal, even if the story has seemed to search for direction. Still, there’s nothing else quite like this comic, one of the most singular today. It’s like reading a guilty pleasure Instagram feed.

While I thought the opening arc of Jason Aaron’s Avengers run was maybe two issues longer than it needed to be, Avengers #7 & #8 are two of my favorite standalone Avengers stories in years, Avengers #7 for its biblical qualities and #8 because of its deep focus on team dynamics.

Relay #3. I’ve been enthralled by this book from its start. It’s, to be reductive, mind-expanding sci-fi brought to life with illustrations that oscillate from detailed and realistic to totally psychedelic. It’s a complex read, one I’m doing my damndest to analyze via reviews.

I’m all in on the SuperBendis run these days, and I liked Superman #3 and Action Comics #1003 quite a bit. Supergirl #22, however, was a fantastic surprise. This is a smaller title, but it’s bringing a welcome additional depth to Bendis’ larger aspirations.

September’s Wonder Woman #54 & #55 teamed one of my favorite rising comics writers, Steve Orlando, with one of my favorite underrated art teams, Raul Allen and Patricia Martin. The results were (unsurprisingly) to my liking.

DC Comics is in a bit of holding pattern in a couple places, waiting for new superstar runs to start (Aquaman, The Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc.), but Justice League #8 & Justice League Dark #3 continue to establish its team-up book as a true flagship.

In Black Hammer: Age of Doom #5, some of this series’ mysteries become clear, and the team of Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormstron have more than built a satisfying resolution.

I continue to be impressed with the world-building going on in Skyward, a charming comic that’s clearly lasting for a long haul. Check out our review of Skyward #6.

Not to give too much away, but the last panel in The Wild Storm #17 is well worth your time, provided you’ve read The Authority...

Tom King and Mitch Gerads work in Mister Miracle #11 is once again excellent, featuring action, a future classic nine-panel grid of Darkseid double-dipping a carrot, and a promise that mysteries will be unraveled next month (maybe).

Top Comics of September 2018

5. Wasted Space #5 by Michael Moreci, Hayden Sherman, Jason Wordie, & Jim Campbell

This month saw the conclusion of Wasted Space’s first arc, and what a doozy. What I find most compelling about Wasted Space is that it lives a double life, both as a slapstick space opera and as a deep ideological exploration of culture and society. I’ve said this before but it’s worth reiterating: there’s a David Foster Wallace-esque quality to the ideas and concerns in this book, one that is especially evident in some of the lengthiest bits of dialogue as well as in the intelligence woven throughout.

Aesthetically, it’s a bright and vibrant comic with a quick plot and jokes that feel surprising yet never inappropriate. I’m a vocal proponent of Vault Comics, and, as such, I’m often asked where new readers should start. After this issue (and arc), my answer is now Wasted Space.

4. Doomsday Clock #7 by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

This issue caught me off guard. In Doomsday Clock #7, there is more plot and action than in the first half of this maxi-series combined. Indeed, the first six issues here were almost introspective in nature, carefully building the individual concerns of different Watchmen characters as they moved from their world into the proper DCU.

In Doomsday Clock #7, our principals start to slam together, with a good deal of direct involvement from usual DC heroes as well. The result is a comic that almost serves as a mission statement for this entire event. It’s an entertaining read that has me more excited for the final five issues. There is a little bit of a bittersweet tinge to it, in that one can only imagine what it would have been like had this book kept to a monthly schedule, as well as what it would have meant for the larger DCU, too. Sigh.

3. Immortal Hulk #5 & #6 by Al Ewing & Lee Garbett

September brought us two new issues of my favorite Marvel comic, Immortal Hulk, and so I’m including them here together. It seems to me like these two books together took a deeper turn into the supernatural, opening the door for the titular undead Hulk to explore some darker, perhaps even supernatural spaces.

The glowing red visage of Banner’s demon father is the MVP of this new scary turn. Designed to horrific perfection by usual series artist Joe Bennett, the face is memorable and terrifying, a fitting personification of this book’s ambition to be a different, unnerving sort of Hulk story. I also like that this book is seemingly separate from the usual cash-grabby fray of crossing over Marvel titles. Indeed, it’s starting to feel like the publisher is actively separating prestige titles from gimmicky cash grabs, and discerning readers are better for it.

2. Batman #54 by Tom King, Matt Wagner, Tomeu Morey, & Clayton Cowles

Batman #54 was a comic that made me emotional. As I wrote in my Batman #54 review, I found this issue to be an all-time great Batman story, a father-son take on one of the most famous duos not only in comics but in the entire world. It’s also largely indicative of what I’ve liked most about King’s run so far: its humanity.

I think I’m far from alone in saying King’s Batman has been one of peaks and valleys, and I attribute this to a two steps forward, one step back journey he has Bruce on. King is trying to slowly humanize and grow a character whose owners have everything to gain by keeping him static. His solution seems to be a series of small pushes in lieu of any major leaps. This issue is one of the most blissful small pushes forward so far.

1. Seeds #2 by Ann Nocenti & David Aja (read our review of Seeds #1)

I didn’t know what to make of Seeds’ first issue. It was a blatantly creative comic, one that intrigued me and seemed to have something much deeper to say beneath the compelling visuals that made up its veneer. The first issue, though, withheld much about what the book intended to be about, and, as such, I withheld a bit of enthusiasm. After reading the second issue this has changed. I’m all in on The Seeds, to the point I now suspect that when the four-issue series concludes, it is likely to be praised as one of the best comics of the decade, if not longer.

This is a story that feels both impossible and real, that feels of our moment and also forward-looking. It’s thematic interests are disparate at first glance, ranging from sex between humans and aliens, the environmental death of the earth, and the bludgeoning impact of human reliance on technology. Look closer, though, and you’ll find a creative team that is almost unnervingly prescient. This is a comic book story that in my opinion is clearly laying out what should (or soon will be) easily the most pressing concerns of our time, and doing it with some of the finest art in the industry. Simply put, if you’re not reading this comic, you are making a mistake.

Check out our Best New #1 Comics of September 2018 plus more of our monthly lists 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 Infinite Crisis of Being a Helena Wayne Fan

With DC’s Doomsday Clock halfway finished—and potentially serving as a re-instatement vessel for the Justice Society of America plus other DCU characters—we turned to Diane Darcy, likely the foremost expert on Helena Wayne, who details the history of her favorite character and why she should return.  

By Diane Darcy — I’ve made no secret that I’m a huge fan of Helena Wayne (see my blog, Tumblr, and Twitter), and today I’d like to share my interest with all of you. Let’s start at the character’s beginnings: Helena Wayne was created by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Bob Layton in 1977, originally conceived as the daughter of the Golden Age versions of Batman and Catwoman—a very intriguing background from which to build a character—and as a member of DC’s original superhero team, the Justice Society. She is, essentially, a character built upon DC’s Golden Age lore.

Helena Wayne’s Relationships

In the Bronze Age, The Huntress and Power Girl together were a second generation World's Finest team.

People are often defined by their relationships and Helena Wayne is no exception. Her most significant are her friendships with the Earth-2 versions of Kara Zor-L (Power Girl) and with Dick Grayson, the original Golden Age Robin who continued with that identity into adulthood.

With Power Girl, Helena provided a contrast to Kara’s outspokenness, impulsivity, and more assertive personality, but she also loved and respected Kara for those same qualities. Kara connecting with Helena in a meaningful way created character development opportunities for both women, effectively allowing them to cement their place as the second generation World’s Finest team.

With Dick Grayson, Helena provided a different contrast. Whereas Dick maintained unwavering loyalty to her father—never challenging Bruce’s authority—Helena didn’t hold her father on the same pedestal. When she felt her father stepped out of line, she refused to accept it. She either challenged his authority or worked to diffuse the situation another way. We saw this most notably in All-Star Comics #69 and especially in America vs. the Justice Society. When it came to Batman’s legacy, Dick considered it his responsibility to continue his mentor’s work as Batman, whereas Helena felt she could more meaningfully carry on that legacy on her own terms as Huntress.

Part of what makes classic Helena Wayne such a compelling character is her status as a superhero and a working lawyer.

Helena Wayne and the Crisis on Infinite Earths

Apart from Helena’s time as a caped crusader, I found her civilian life just as interesting. When she wasn’t fighting the good fight as Huntress—or stopping major crises with the Justice Society—she had a day job as an attorney, which also created interesting conflicts. She had a stronger preference for her work as the Huntress and often found it difficult to balance that with her day job. Her double life also created relationship problems with her boyfriend Harry Sims, who was Gotham’s District Attorney.

This was all established in Helena Wayne’s first eight years of publication, and writers used it to tell incredibly fun stories that went in interesting directions. You can imagine then how devastating it was when she was one of the characters sacrificed in DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot in 1986, later to be retooled in 1989 as Helena Bertinelli, the character we know as The Huntress today.

Helena Bertinelli

While not a bad character, there's no denying that apart from physical appearance, nothing of the original Helena Wayne Huntress survived via Helena Bertinelli. She was completely retooled. In fact, by the time DC reinstated the Wayne origin two decades later (during Flashpoint) we still ended up with a completely different character. Post-Flashpoint, Helena Wayne had a new origin and the same post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli personality. Also, her relationships with both Power Girl and Dick Grayson were profoundly changed.

Between two cosmic reboots, Helena Wayne moved further away from the compelling character Levitz, Staton, and Layton created in 1977, and her situation was made all the more complicated by being retooled into Helena Bertinelli post-Crisis.

Part of the promise of Rebirth and Doomsday Clock, however, has seemed to involve restoring all of DC's characters to their iconic statuses. What, then, would DC need to do with Helena Wayne to restore her to her original compelling stature while also saving her future? I have a few recommendations…

Four Ways to Fix Helena Wayne

Classic Helena Wayne as The Huntress contemplates crime and its causes in South Gotham City.

1. Make Helena Wayne and Bertinelli Separate Characters

Step one is to stop treating Helena Wayne and Bertinelli as the same character with two different origins. They are—at their cores—profoundly different. They are two very different women with different backgrounds and significantly different motivations.

Helena Wayne became Huntress to honor her family legacy. Helena Bertinelli, meanwhile, became Huntress as a way to reject hers. Essentially, Helena Wayne embraces where she comes from and Helena Bertinelli does not. Helena Wayne is a legacy heroine whose core values and motivations are shaped by her upbringing as the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Helena Bertinelli is a tragic heroine with a conflicted identity, molded by Italian-American heritage, her Catholic identity, and her roots within a crime family.

Quite literally the only thing Helena Wayne and Helena Bertinelli’s origins have in common is they both became Huntress after seeing their parents killed. The reasons and circumstances that led to the deaths, however, are still profoundly different, inevitably sending them on very different paths with different potential for stories. Simply put, Helena Bertinelli—while still a compelling character—does not satisfy the needs of Helena Wayne fans anymore than Wayne does Helena Bertinelli fans. The answer is to let these two women co-exist separately.

2. Reinstate Helena Wayne’s Pre-Crisis History

Maintaining Helena Wayne's legacy and motivations for fighting crime is vital to ensuring she remains a compelling character.

In post-Flashpoint continuity, a version of Helena Wayne was created in which she served as Robin. While it was cool to see what Helena as Robin looked like fighting alongside her parents, this is better as an Elseworlds or What If story. Making her Robin changes too much of her character.

In pre-Crisis continuity, Bruce and Selina marry only after reflecting on their lifestyle choices and concluding they were not happy with where their futures were going. They also reflected on who they were as people, realizing that Batman and Catwoman were outlets for pain, not true identities. When they became parents, they retired their costumes to give their daughter a normal upbringing. Making Helena Robin changes Bruce and Selina from responsible to irresponsible parents who brought their daughter into their dangerous lifestyles—a regressive change.

Making Helena Robin also drastically changes her motivation. Pre-Crisis, Helena became Huntress both in response to her parents' deaths and in response to their legacies. She felt that with the upbringing she had, she had a stronger chance of making a difference in Gotham as the Huntress than as a lawyer in a courtroom. Why wait for a crime to happen when she could actively prevent it? The decision to become a costumed hero was entirely her own. It was very powerful. As Robin, the decision was made for her by her parents when she was a young age.

Finally, it’s simply more interesting having Helena Wayne as a Harvard graduate and a successful lawyer. She just has so much more agency than if you make her yet another sidekick whose choices were made for her while she was a child. Seeing Helena try to balance her life as a lawyer and as the Huntress created a conflicting and compelling dichotomy that affected her most intimate relationships.

3. Reinstate Her Original Identity, Personality, and Relationships

Speaking of her identity and relationships, the change I want most is to see them reinstated. I love when Helena Wayne’s Huntress showcases her detective skills, combat training, and, of course, her signature pistol crossbow, but her civilian identity is just as important. It’s the Helena Wayne side of that Huntress that most strongly attracts me to her character vs. Helena Bertinelli when she occupies the same costume.

What makes the Helena Wayne identity so special? It goes back to what I said at the start. She is the daughter of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman, and she originated the Huntress identity as a way to continue their legacy. In being the original Huntress, she even provided the base template for Helena Bertinelli. (I always think of Helena Wayne as the Jay Garrick to Helena Bertinelli's Barry Allen.)

I also like the fact that she is a lawyer because it positions her as a working woman who earns her own money as opposed to living on her family's fortune. She even differs in this way from her father, who seemed to spend more time fighting crime as Batman than working a real job. (Golden Age Bruce started working a real job after he retired his Batman lifestyle.)

On the personality front, pre-Crisis Helena Wayne was never a dark and brooding heroine. Even when she experienced low points in her life, she still maintained a high level of self-confidence, which always spoke to me. She remained happy and optimistic in the face of grave troubles, which is another way she differs significantly from Helena Bertinelli.

While not as important as her relationship with Power Girl, Helena's friendship with Golden Age Dick Grayson is also worth revisiting.

What was also vital to her personality was her relationships, which brings me to another vital point—Helena Wayne needs Power Girl in her life and vice versa. They enrich each other's lives by being the legacies of the Golden Age Batman and Superman, and their friendship also makes their tragic circumstances a little less sad. If Power Girl in particular is going to return to her status quo of being the Earth-2 survivor of the Crisis reboot (a development we’ve seen hints of), having Helena is vital.

Another relationship that would definitely enrich Helena's life on the main Earth would be rebuilding her friendship with Dick Grayson. Even though Nightwing is a different character from the guy she knew as her big brother on the original Earth-2, the Prime Earth Dick still embodies the charm and appeal of the Golden Age Robin (perhaps with a better fashion sense). Of course, DC could also just retcon the current Earth-2 Grayson back into the pre-Crisis original and settle for having two Dicks on the main Earth instead of one. I mean, why not? We already have two Wally Wests. Just let the Earth-2 guy grow a beard and call him Richard. But I digress…

One more classic Huntress panel for the road...

4. Return Her to the Justice Society

Last but not least, reinstate Helena’s membership into the Justice Society. The Justice Society was her superhero family from the beginning, and putting her back on the team would allow her to reclaim her place within DC's Golden Age lore. She was always a character built on that history. Now we have a main Earth that erases the Trinity from the Golden Age, but putting an Earth-2 Helena Wayne Huntress alongside Power Girl, along with Lyta Trevor as Fury, would help make up for that.

I am, however, a realist, and I know it is unlikely that any of the things I want to see happen for Helena Wayne post-Rebirth will actually happen. If there is, however, a creator or editor at DC who’s thinking of Helena Wayne fans (like me), we’d absolutely love to see the classic character return. Her existence would benefit other characters in the DCU, and, most importantly, she is still so ripe with the potential for good stories.

Click here for a reading list of comics starring Bronze Age Helena Wayne.

Diane Darcy is a huge fan of Bronze Age DC, Earth-2, the Justice Society, Power Girl, and especially Helena Wayne as the Huntress. When Diane isn’t obsessing about comics, she enjoys music, writing, animals, and researching exoplanets, multiverse theories, and time dilation. You can find her at @HelenaWayneBlog

SDCC 2018’s 10 Coolest Comic Announcements

By Zack Quaintance — Yes, San Diego Comic Con is more about movies and TV than it is about comics, but! That doesn’t mean there aren’t still some pretty cool comic announcements happening the week of/during the con (some of which I got to be in the room for!). These are, of course, announcements about real printed comics, dozens of which are somehow written and drawn and shipped to small businesses across the country each week (which is all pretty crazy if you think about 2018 and the media landscape long enough).

With that in mind, we’d like to take a quick look today at 10 (plus one extra) of the coolest comic announcements to come out of this year’s con, ranked below in a fairly random order...let’s do it!

10 Coolest Comic Announcements

Electric Warriors Mini Series by Steve Orlando and Travel Foreman
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November 2018
More Info: Diplomacy and Death via the Electric Warriors
Why It’s Cool: DC has essentially given Steve Orlando—one of its best writers when it comes to capturing the beauty to be found in obscure bits of continuity—and Travel Foreman—a visionary comic artist if ever there was one—a fairly-open canvas to do with what they will. This canvas—Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster future—is inherently Kirby-esque (seeing as he created it) and now we’ll get what is likely to be complex and surprising take on it spread through six issues. Sign me up.  

A potentially Dune-esque high-concept sci-fi story heavy with 2018 sensibilities by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward.

Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics and Berger Books
Release Date: March 2019
More Info: G. Willow Wilson to Write for Berger Books
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of visionary science fiction, have you seen the cover for G. Willow Wilson’s forthcoming Berger Books comic, Invisible Kingdom? Phew. The art is something, and the solicit evokes Dune-esque ideas of exploring the intersection of religion and commerce (presumably without all the stuff about how “spices” can expand one’s mind). Wilson is a thoughtful and attentive writer, and a take like this edited by former-Vertigo heyday editor Karen Berger is very cool indeed.

X-Men Black
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: October 2018
More Info: News from Marvel's X-Men Panel
Why It’s Cool: The X-Offices have tapped a super eclectic bunch of writers to do X-Men Black, a weekly series this October in which each issue centers on a different villain. It’s a pretty cool move to have Chris Claremont writing about Magneto one week, noted Maggott aficionado Leah Williams doing Emma Frost the next, and Scott Aukerman (Hot Soccermom) of Comedy Bang Bang on Mojo the next. Pretty cool indeed, especially as it seems to be leading a revival of Uncanny X-Men in November…

Gail Simone Overseeing Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime
Publisher: Lion Forge
Release Date: Simone seems to be hard at work on this already
More Info: Gail Simone Discusses Being Named Architect of Catalyst Prime
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of cool oversight gigs, how about Gail Simone becoming the architect of Lion Forge’s still-nascent Catalyst Prime Universe? Cards on the table, I’d been contemplating jumping off this line after the former architect, Joseph Illidge, left for Valiant earlier this year, but now with Simone at the wheel I’ve scratched those plans and re-upped my excitement for this concept.

Donny Cates ‘Showrunning’ a Marvel Knights Commemoration
Publisher:
Marvel
Release Date: November
More Info: Donny Cates and Team to Commemorate Marvel Knights’ 20th Anniversary
Why It’s Cool: Speaking yet again (last time, I promise) about cool oversight gigs, Marvel announced that big ideas/bigger personality writer Donny Cates would be “showrunning” an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its classic (for my generation, anyway) line of Marvel Knights properties, which back in the day told prestige TV-esque stories about characters like Daredevil, Moon Knight, and Black Panther. Joined in this effort will be an exciting new guard of Marvel writers that includes Matthew Rosenberg, Tini Howard, and Vita Ayala. Cool!

The Laphams doing ‘The Lodger’ for IDW’s Black Crown
Publisher: Black Crown via IDW
Release Date: October
More Info: Shelly Bond Announces Laphams Book on Black Crown
Why It’s Cool: From its inception, Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint at IDW (which has an aesthetic I describe as slightly drunk at a DIY punk rock show) has seemed to promise edgy and interesting comics, and the first batch was, indeed, strong. The second batch, however, is shaping up to fully capture Bond’s vision, starting with Euthanuats and continuing now with The Lodger, which is from the Laphams, a husband and wife duo behind the modern noir classic comic Stray Bullets.

Rush album cover artists are burning with jealousy.

Green Lantern by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November
More Info: Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp to Take Over Green Lantern
Why It’s Cool: It’s Grant Morrison writing a cosmic book in the DC Universe, which alone would be cool enough to make this list, but, hey, it’s also Liam Sharpe on art! And his early work looks like an insane prog rock album cover. This, friends, is going to be epic.

Aquaman by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: TBD (I think? Info seemed scarce on when…)
More Info: DeConnick and Rocha Take Over Aquaman
Why It’s Cool: I couldn't find a release date, but Kelly Sue DeConnick writing Aquaman in time for the character's spotlight via a new movie is super cool. DeConnick is an exciting and polished comic writer, perfect for pushing Arthur in new directions after Dan Abnett’s safe and slow-moving take on the character.

Vision by Chelsea Cain, Marc Mohan, and Aud Koch
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: November
More Info: Marvel’s Mic Drop Moment at SDCC
Why It’s Cool: Chelsea Cain is coming back to Marvel, in spite of a harassment campaign that resulted from a character wearing a pro-feminism t-shirt in a book about a strong female secret agent. Groan. But it’s good to see Cain back! Her last book for Marvel, Mockingbird, was a complex puzzle box of a story about Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, one that incorporated interesting character and relationship developments for its lead. Tom King’s Vision is an impossible act to follow, but it will be cool to see Cain, Marc Mohan, and Aud Koch tell their own story with everyone’s favorite Marvel android.

Here's hoping we enjoy this book as much as the Shazam family is enjoying this roller coaster.

Shazam! by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November
More Info: Shazam Comic Announced by Geoff Johns
Why It’s Cool: Geoff Johns’ take on Shazam in the New 52 might have been a bit polarizing (I liked it well enough), but circumstances now seem right for him to tell a very cool Shazam story. He’s returning to writing as a main focus and is presumably fired up to do so. Plus, holy cow of all the new art dropped at SDCC, I think Dale Eaglesham’s Shazam piece is my favorite.

Plus One More

Mars Attacks! by Kyle Starks & Chris Schweizer
Publisher: Dynamite
Release Date: October 2018
More Info: Dynamite Relaunches Mars Attacks
Why It’s Cool: Kyle Starks, whose Rock Candy Mountain is quite possibly the funniest comic ever, is now collaborating with Chris Schweizer on a Mars Attacks story. Yes, please.

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

52: The Importance of DC’s Missing Year

By Taylor Pechter — It is often asked what would the DC Universe be like without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman? With the year-long weekly series 52, launched in May of 2006, DC answered that question.

52 is a rare glimpse into a DCU without The Trinity.

After the universe-shattering events of Infinite Crisis, which reinstated the multiverse after it was consolidated 20 years earlier in Crisis on Infinite Earth, DC’s continuity jumped to One Year Later. This was a way for DC to continue publishing while also keeping the events of the latest Crisis fresh in readers’ minds. Many fans, however, asked: What happened in the missing year? Enter 52.

52 was an editorial gamble for DC, a weekly series that spanned an entire year, following C and D-list characters dealing with the fallout of an event in real time. To keep the book on schedule, DC needed more than one writer. So, they turned to an all-star foursome of Geoff Johns (Infinite Crisis, former co-President and CCO of DC Comics), Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, seminal DC writer), Greg Rucka (critically-acclaimed writer of Wonder Woman), and Grant Morrison (multiverse nut, another seminal DC writer), along with breakdown artist Keith Giffen, to craft different intertwining stories that formed a 52-week epic.

Today we’re entering that missing year to take a look at how the DC Universe was and still is so much larger than just Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, as well as the various meanings beneath these epic stories.

Booster Gold and Supernova: Who is the Real Hero of Metropolis?

Hey Metropolis! You want a big shiny star to light your skies? Well, here I am.

Booster Gold and his robotic hype man, Skeets.

We start our journey into the missing year with the main through line of 52’s plot: Michael Jon Carter, a.k.a. Booster Gold, a time-traveling hero who came back to the 21st century because he wasn’t welcome in the 25th century, where he was originally from. We first meet him at the beginning of the story, when he is at his most selfish, a pin-cushion for sponsors who is trying to gain popularity among the people of Metropolis.

Due to information provided by his robotic companion Skeets, however, he knows something is amiss. It does not help that a new unnamed hero shows up in Metropolis to steal his spotlight, a hero dubbed Supernova by the press who is largely the opposite of Booster in every way, willing to risk himself for others, not just for fame. This selflessness is his undoing. When a giant tentacle monster attacks Metropolis, Supernova risks his life—and the Metropolis power grid—to defeat it. It is in this moment Booster’s values change. He is not seen throughout most 52, not until the end, when it is revealed Supernova was actually Booster all along.

Meaning: The final reveal hits home, completing Booster’s arc about how real heroism isn’t the sponsor on your chest, but rather the pureness of your heart. In the end, Booster accepts his place in the multiverse, comes to terms with his arrogance, and becomes a beacon to the superhero community.

Renee Montoya: Questions and Answers

Some questions can only be answered by wearing a mask. But you have to know the question to find the answer.

Renee Montoya as The Question.

We all know Renee Montoya, tough-as-nails detective in the Gotham City Police Department. However, she is a far more complex character than her depiction in Batman: The Animated Series. During the mid-2000s, writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka wrote a comic called Gotham Central, which followed members of the GCPD as they solved crimes in the shadow of the Bat. This story focused on many officers during its three-year stint, but none as important than Montoya and her partner, Crispus Allen.

In the series, Rucka deconstructs Montoya, revealing she is a lesbian, which was significant during the time of don’t ask, don’t tell. She is also disowned by her overly conservative Dominican parents. Near the end of the series, Crispus is shot and killed by corrupt police coroner Jim Corrigan, subsequently ascending to become the host of the cosmic being, The Spectre. As guilt rocks Renee, she decides to give up her badge. When we see her again in 52, she is wasting away in a bar. With no direction and no job, she gets drunk every night.

It’s at this low point she is confronted by a random passerby, a man later revealed to be Charlie Szasz, a.k.a. Vic Sage, The Question. After a few run-ins on the street, Montoya decides to join him and track down members of Intergang and the Religion of Crime. Intergang is an international crime organization run by Boss Bruno “Ugly” Manheim, who frequently collaborates with Darkseid. However, they have been following a new modus operandi: scriptures from the so-called Crime Bible, which prophesizes the fall of Gotham City, the death of the twice-named, and the rise of a new Question.

The twice-named is a former flame of Renee’s and heiress to the Kane fortune, Kate Kane. As they get closer to tracking down Intergang, Renee also notices something off about Charlie—he has an uncontrollable cough, later revealed to be cancer. He slowly deteriorates and becomes delirious. Renee decides to go to Nanda Parbat to save him. As they get to the temple of Rama Kushna, the God of Nanda Parbat, Vic dies and passes his wisdom to her, It’s a trick question Renee…Not who you are…But who you are going to become?...Time to change…Like a butterfly. Renee decides to train under Richard Dragon, who also trained Charlie.

Meaning: Through her training, Renee learns that life is full of questions and it’s just a matter of how you answer them. Ultimately, she embraces her destiny as the new Question, taking over where Charlie left off.

The Rise and Fall of Black Adam

The people say these are her tears. They say the queen weeps not for her herself, nor for her brother, nor even for me, but rather for Kahndaq and her people.

Black Adam.

Black Adam is many things: the corrupted champion of the Wizard Shazam, the ruthless leader of Kahndaq, and a husband and a brother. As we join his story, the context of the previous tale helps. Renee and Charlie at one point visited Kahndaq, where we first saw Black Adam as he ripped a low-level villain named Terra-Man in half on live television. Later, he is confronted by two members on Intergang who offer him a slave, an Egyptian woman named Adrianna Tomaz, as a prize if he so chooses to join Intergang’s crusade.

He denies the request, however, and Adrianna is taken prisoner. Black Adam, along with Russia and other foreign powers, devise a treaty that bars American superheroes from their soil. As Adam grows closer to his prisoner, though, he soon falls in love. Gifting her a portion of his power, she becomes Isis. Trouble strikes again when Adrianna’s brother, Amon, is held by Intergang. As they inch closer to the wedding, Adam promises Adrianna that they will find her brother. Then comes the wedding.

Captain Marvel is the minister, Captain Marvel Jr. is the best man, and Mary Marvel is the maid of honor. When the couple locks lips, lightning crashes in the sky. However, Intergang puts a suicide bomber in the crowd. They know it won’t harm Adam, but their actual target is the crowd. The attack is diverted by Renee, who makes a difficult decision to shoot the kid, killing her. As the search for Amon continues, they happen upon a base belonging to Intergang. It is there they find Amon, whose legs are shattered. Like Adrianna, Adam gifts him his power, turning him into Osiris.

Now Adam has a family, one soon taken away from him. As time continues, Osiris befriends an anthropomorphic crocodile, which he names Sobek. Sobek is later revealed to be Yurrd the Unknown, one of the four horsemen of Apokalypse, and he tricks Osiris into turning back into his human form, killing him the process. Isis is later met with the horseman Death. She then dies in Adam’s arms, infected by disease. With his family dead, Adam is filled with rage and decides to decimate the entire country of Bilaya. It is then that he instigates World War III, where every superhero faces him. He is eventually defeated but at a cost.

Meaning: Black Adam is not a villain, but rather a man who just wants what’s best for his people. With Isis and Osiris, he finds the best within himself; with them gone, however, he is nothing.

Ralph Dibny: Resurrection and the Meaning of Life

You don’t get it! You had no chance, because I was not caught in your spell! You were caught in mine!

Ralph Dibney battles Felix Faust.

Like Renee, Ralph Dibny, a.ka. Elongated Man had been through the wringer before 52. During Identity Crisis, his wife Sue was murdered by Jean Loring and revealed to have been raped by the villain Doctor Light. When we first see him here, he is about to commit suicide. But, he gets a call saying his wife’s gravestone was vandalized and goes to the cemetery to find a Superman S-shield sprayed on the gravestone, an S-shield that is upside down.

We all know the shield stands for hope, but when inverted it means something else—resurrection. During the first leg of his arc, Ralph tracks down the Cult of Conner, a band of zealots who believe the resurrection of Superboy (Conner Kent, killed at the end of Infinite Crisis) is at hand (later revealed to be a scam, of course). Ralph is called forward by the Shadowpact, a group of magic-based superheroes, to investigate the death of Timothy Trench. Trench is trying on the Helm of Fate, which subsequently melts him.

During his investigation, the helm clings to Dibny, and Ralph is taken on a journey retracing the steps of his life and coming to grips with his wife’s death. As the story nears its conclusion, Ralph figures out that the helm itself is possessed by the nefarious sorcerer Felix Faust. Faust underestimates Dibny though, and Ralph casts a binding spell to keep Faust with him always.

Meaning: In the end, Ralph is confronted by the demon Neron, who kills Ralph with his wedding band, ultimately giving him what he most desires—a reunion with his wife Sue.

The Everyman Project: What Really Makes a Hero?

Look! Up in the sky!

What really makes a hero? Is it the powers or the morals? These are the heavy questions answered in this story.

Steel in his altered state confronts the Everyman Project.

We start with Steel’s daughter, Natasha Irons, who is feeling like she is being neglected as a hero by her uncle. To prove to him she deserves respect, she decides to apply for the Everyman Project, an an idea hatched by Lex Luthor to give normal citizens of Metropolis superpowers. Natasha is first picked, given then alias of Starlight, and appointed leader of the new Luthor-sponsored superhero team, Infinity Inc. As time continues, Steel notices something is off.

His skin starts turning to steel, which he suspects is a sick joke put on by Luthor. One fateful night for Infinity Inc., one of their youngest members, Eliza Harmon (alias: Trajectory) is killed by Blockbuster during a battle. After the death, John Henry confronts Natasha, asking, How did a slug like Blockbuster kill someone going that fast? The answer is right in front of her. Yes, Luthor gave people powers, but he also has the power to turn them off.

As New Year’s Eve arrives, and the stroke of Midnight, Luthor pushes the button and his Everymen start falling from the skies, an event dubbed the Rain of the Supermen. Natasha and Steel finally confront Luthor.

Meaning: As Natasha’s arc ends, she accepts that she is wrong, that it is the man or woman behind the mask that makes the difference, and that no one should have absolute power because it corrupts absolutely.

Starfire, Adam Strange, and Animal Man: Lost in Space

Believe in Her

Much like Black Adam’s arc, this one heavily emphasizes the importance of family. We start with Starfire, Adam Strange, and Animal Man stranded on a deserted planet. With their ship on the fritz, they have no way home and must work together to survive. On their journey, they encounter Lobo, who has sworn off violence and is harboring the Emerald Eye of Ekron.

Not only that, they are also being hunted by an omnipotent named Lady Styx. As the story continues, we see our threesome grow closer together. However, back home Buddy Baker’s wife wonders when he will return. Buddy ponders the same, and as the story winds to a close we see an unconscious Buddy left on the planet while Adam and Starfire return home.

Meaning: Buddy’s sacrifice is noted to his wife, Ellen, by Starfire. Buddy, as a spirit, then says one final goodbye to his wife, his family, and his planet, making for one of the sadder tales in 52.    

The Science Squad and Oolong Island

If I say it then no one else will… Feel free to cackle hysterically, gentlemen!

How does obsession shape who you are? That is the driving theme for the story of Doctor Will Magnus. Will Magnus was the creator of the Metal Men, cybernetic superheroes brought to life by responsometer technology. However, after their deactivation, he took up anti-psychotic pills, which lessens his manic episodes but also makes him a hermit. His only solace comes in weekly visits to Belle Reve to meet with his mentor, Thomas Oscar “T.O.” Morrow.

The Metal Men go into...action? Probably.

Morrow is another infamous DC mad scientist who has tried to create sentient robots for years, both succeeding and failing, most notably with Justice League member Red Tornado. When Morrow goes missing, Magnus takes the case and is dragged into a plot to create superhero deterrents on the top-secret Oolong Island. Along with fellow mad scientists Doctor Thaddeus Sivana, Doctor Tyme, and more, led by Chag Tzu alias Egg Fu, they are out to show that science can trump superpowers. Their work pays off at the expense of Magnus’s sanity, leading to the creation of the Four Horsemen of Apokolips, two of which you’ll remember are responsible for the death of Isis and Osiris, wife and brother-in-law of Black Adam.

Meaning: This eventually leads to World War III, and it all speaks to the dichotomy of Will Magnus, who services his obsession at the expense of his own sanity and of another man’s family, too.

As you can see, many corners of the DC Universe are explored 52. Without the Trinity, different heroes rise up to fill the void. Through all of it, there is a main theme of self-discovery. Booster Gold figures out his role in the multiverse, Renee Montoya embraces her destiny as the new Question, Natasha Irons finds the meaning of a true hero, Black Adam sees that family can change even the coldest of hearts, and so on. This is what makes 52 one of DC’s most seminal stories.

Taylor Pechter is a passionate comic book fan and nerd. Find him on Twitter @TheInspecter.

Obscure Characters for Geoff Johns' The Killing Zone Imprint

Geoff Johns is launching a new  DC Comics  imprint dedicated to obscure characters.

Geoff Johns is launching a new DC Comics imprint dedicated to obscure characters.

By Various — News broke this week that Geoff Johns is stepping down as DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer for a writer-producer deal with Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Essentially, Johns is going from visionary/planner back to being mostly a creator.

This is exciting. Johns is like the Property Brothers of comics. He takes fixer-upper characters, so badly neglected it’s hard to see their charm, and renovates them, playing to original strengths while also introducing new, modern touches. Whereas the Property Brothers might put a flat screen in someone’s kitchen (right? I’ve never seen that show…), Johns is a one-man maternity ward, rebirthing superheroes (sorry) like Aquaman, Green Lantern, the Justice Society of America, and more.

The most exciting part of this week's news is that Johns will also run a comics imprint called The Killing Zone. Odd name aside, this imprint will focus “on new and lesser-known or dormant DC characters and titles.” Essentially, Johns is getting a slew of properties to fix up.

So, we lit the Bookcase Signal for ideas on which characters most need the Geoff Johns treatment, and here’s what some friends of the site replied…

1. @Kimota1977 - HUGE DC Comics Fan, Deep Love of Obscure Characters

The Atomic Knight.

The Atomic Knight.

The Atomic Knight a.k.a Gardner Grayle - The Knight has an odd history. He originally appeared in ‘60s sci-fi comics, where he rode giant Dalmatians (yes, Dalmatians!) in a post-nuclear holocaust world. Eventually, he was linked to DC’s Great Disaster continuity via Hercules Unbound. In the ‘90s, he was brushed off and renewed as a member of The Outsiders.

Recently, though, his character was retconned and used in the One Year Later storyline of Battle For Bludhaven, eventually killed by Darkseid’s minions in Final Crisis. With Johns’ ability to make convoluted history work, the Atomic Knight is perfect for his new imprint. Basically, it’s science fiction, post-apocalyptic settings, quirky relatively forgotten superheroes…what’s not to love?

Ma Hunkel\Red Tornado - The original Red Tornado was not the crimson android most people know, but rather an initially-comedic, Rosie the Riveter-style factory worker in the Golden Age who earned an honorary spot in the JSA by battling neighborhood wise guys. She was last seen in the most recent JSA book, as the caretaker of the Society’s brownstone in NYC.

Ma Hunkel could be written with a rich sense of DC history. In Pre-Flashpoint continuity, she was at the beginning of the age of heroes, an inspiration to many female heroes who followed. Much like his Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. series, this character would open up the possibility of Johns adding more characters, dating back to the Golden Age. This is a good thing—whenever Johns taps DC's deep bench and extensive history, his books are pure unadulterated fun.

Brother Power the Geek.

Brother Power the Geek.

Brother Power the Geek - The Geek character appeared in a brief, two-issue series in 1968. Starting as a pile of dirty hippie clothes left to dry on a seamstress’ mannequin while the hippies themselves just kind of….hung out. Brought to life by a combo of dry cleaning chemicals, a bolt of lightning, and a healthy suspension of disbelief; this mannequin shambled into the world, taught about life by the freewheeling hippies.

Other than a ‘90s one shot from Vertigo, he hasn’t been seen much, but this character could be used as a crux to access many forgotten Bronze/Silver Age DC characters. Prez. Stanley and his Monster. Claw the Unconquered. Stalker. So many opportunities.

Red Torpedo/Red Bee - This could be one of the greatest duo books ever. Both characters originated with now-defunct Quality Comics. They were acquired by DC and later retconned into the All-Star Squadron (Red Bee) and Freedom Fighters (Red Torpedo and Red Bee). The Bee was mostly a fists and domino mask hero, but he also trained bees (seriously) that he took into battle. Torpedo, meanwhile, had a submarine. Yep. A submarine. Both characters died tragic deaths.

They were also both members at one time or another of the Freedom Fighters, which was originally comprised solely of Quality characters. Introducing them would enable Johns to add more Freedom Fighters and other forgotten Quality characters, perhaps in the same story, ala Watchmen. With two of the most oddball superheroes in DC’s archives at the forefront, this is one of my biggest hopes for a non-team book!

Inferior Five.

Inferior Five.

Inferior Five - A team of superheroes originally from humor comics, this group was made up of the offspring of more successful heroes on an alternate earth. Their parents–analogous of the Justice League–had retired and left the world to be protected by their kids…every one of which was more slapstick than heroic. The super-powered female member of the team–Dumb Bunny–was even retconned into being the sister of Angel from Angel and the Ape.

This title is my number three pick only because my last two are so deserving of a serious take. But these characters are still fun and could be easily added anywhere into continuity, plus they haven’t been seen since (yet again) a ‘90s miniseries.

Super Friends Trio - Apache Chief, Samurai, and Black Vulcan. The short pants alone could provide an entire story arc. These characters were created as additions for the old Super Friends cartoon, and they most recently popped up on the cover of a Superman in Bizarro World story.

These characters are perfect picks for Johns, boasting enough back story for him to tease old fans yet not enough to scare new fans away. They’ve long-deserved a real comic story and the nostalgia factor alone lands them at number 2 on my list of most wanted series.

The Legion of Substitute Superheroes.

The Legion of Substitute Superheroes.

Legion of Subs - This is my number one pick. Johns tackled the convoluted Legion of SuperHeroes/Superboy storylines in his epic Action Comics run, and he also brought back the Legion of Substitute Heroes. As a longtime fan of this odd bunch, I loved every single panel of it.

The Subs are without a doubt the best possible odd and barely-remembered property you could put Johns on. They have a history dating back to the ‘60s and are one of the best parts of the Legion/Superman mythos. Chlorophyll Kid, Infectious Lass, Stone Boy….the entire team is one incredibly neurotic misfit after another. If all I get from The Killing Zone imprint this book, I’ll still be the happiest fan boy ever.

2. @AnderWriter - Co-host of Omni-Comics Podcast, Aquaman Super Fan

The nuclear superhero Firestorm.

The nuclear superhero Firestorm.

Firestorm - Firestorm is perhaps more popular now than ever, having appeared on the CW show Legends of Tomorrow, and he’d be perfect for a series in The Killing Zone. Despite the show, this character has had little exposure in the comics recently. Firestorm is a strong concept and a character I’d love to see more, whether it's a version with Ronnie, Jason, or someone new.

Captain Atom - Like Firestorm, Nathaniel Adam (Captain Atom) is a nuclear-themed superhero who underwent a scientific procedure that resulted in powers and metallic-like skin. He's a character who’s served on the Justice League and is regularly depicted as one of DC's strongest superheroes. During the New 52, he had a solo series, but he’s rarely been seen since, making him another prime choice for Johns.

Fire - Beatriz Bonilla da Costa is a Brazilian superheroine known as Fire (not to be confused with Firestorm). She has also served on Justice League teams, and DC fans will likely recognize her green hair and body engulfed in green flames. However, she hasn't been seen in years, and it's a great time to re-introduce her. Hey, maybe it's also time for DC to bring back the Global Guardians! Anyway, Fire is an iconic heroine who hardcore DC fans instantly recognize and care for, so here's hoping she gets the attention she deserves with this new imprint.

3. @HaroldLauder4 - Big Ounce, Enjoys Bouncing, Comics, Inventing Superpowers

Captain Boomerang -  I’m biased, because Digger Harkness is one of my favorite DC characters, but I also think I’m not alone. I mean, Johns himself is an admitted fan, and he’s previously given Boomerang a compelling backstory, expounded on his ethics, and, hell, even revived him as a @#$%# White Lantern—that's got to count for something. Who knows, with Johns writing, maybe a Captain Boomerang book could rival Harley Quinn and Deathstroke as one of DC’s best villain-lead titles.

Resurrection Man.

Resurrection Man.

Resurrection Man - Depending on how he dies, this character resurrects with a different superpower. Ever since the short-lived New 52 Resurrection Man, I’ve been in awe of this idea. To me, it’s a concept Johns can take so many directions, potentially involving Death of The Endless, The Black Racer, the foreboding realm of The Rot or The Red, and even ethereal guardians like The Spectre (more below). Whether he goes one of these routes or takes an entirely different approach, Resurrection Man would be a great new series.

The Spectre - One of DC’s oldest and most powerful heroes, seeing Jim Corrigan determine what constitutes good and evil while dishing out judgement could make a solid crime story in 2018.