Comic books and graphic novels


Ten Potential Suggestions to Replace Dan DiDio at DC Comics

Dan DiDio out as Publisher at DC Comics

There's a power vacuum at the hallowed halls of DC Comics, home to supehero icons such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. On Friday, February 21, a late-day announcement was made that Dan DiDio was no longer the co-publisher of the stable of titles.

Speculation immediately spread throughout the fandom, wondering what this might mean for DC Comics. What was the reason for the sudden departure? Would a replacement be named? What impact would this have on DiDio's pet project, the heavily touted "5G" or "Generation 5" launch coming later in the year?

While those are questions for which we await answers with bated breath, we thought it would be a fun little exercise to look at some of the candidates in the industry that might find themselves suddenly getting a call to interview for the open position.


Tom Taylor's DCeased Franchise is Unkillable, Launches Sequel

DCeased Unkillables 1

Tom Taylor's DCU Zombieverse marches -- or perhaps, I should say -- shambles on with this new chapter set in the strange new world of the zombie apocalypse...with superheroes!

After Darkseid released a corrupted anti-life equation (which killed him and all of Apokolips), Cyborg became the seed for infecting the rest of the Earth when it broadcast from him to every digital device on the planet. If you looked at a screen, you saw the equation. If you saw the equation, you became a zombie...who could, of course, make other zombies by scratching, biting or otherwise enountering another human being. Or Themysciran. Or Kryptonian.


Whose (Punch) Line Is It, Anyway?

Punchline, Punchline, Punchline and Punchline

DC Comics' newest character sparks conversation over character usage and marks.

BATMAN #89 was an instant -- and unexpected -- sellout this week when DC introduced a partial profile cameo of a new character, Punchline. Meant to be a female partner/paramour for The Joker, one once wouldn't have expected much from such a character. Except the last time the role was filled, it went to Harley Quinn, whose first comic book appearance can net over $600, and whose media presence has skyrocketed even further after appearances in mainstream films like SUICIDE SQUAD and BIRDS OF PREY.

So it's natural for speculators to hit the streets to pick up what they are assured is the first appearance of Punchline.

But what if they're wrong?

What if I told you the first appearance of Sabertooth wasn't IRON FIST #14, but... THE FLASH #291?

What if I told you the first apperance of Doomsday wasn't MAN OF STEEL #17, but... SILVER SURFER #13?


Lobdell, Northcott Swing for the Fences with Everglade Angels GN

Everglade Angels

The titular EVERGLADE ANGELS are a girls' baseball team whose trip to the championships leads them into the arms of masked killers deep in the Florida swamps.

It's 1997, and the Everglade Angels have clinched their trip to the playoffs, due in no small part to the outstanding performance of Gemma Walsh, daughter of team coach Abigail Walsh. Gemma's definitely the alpha among the team players, the main ones being Naomi, Lacey, Grace and Portia. The five girls decide to drive themselves to the championship game, and this is where their adventure takes a wrong turn -- literally.

Finding themselves lost in a small town, the girls get diverted to a party -- except there's no party there. Instead, there are masked men with weapons, and a strange chemical. They abduct Gemma, as the rest run off for their lives, only to return later to attempt a rescue.


With Shades of Hush, is Batman's Latest Epic Planned Too Precisely?

Batman 88 2020

Bruce Wayne's plans for the revitalization of Gotham City get put on hold when five of the deadliest contract killers show up -- among them Cheshire and Deathstroke. (Sorry, Merlyn and the other two forgettables wouldn't have made y radar as the top five DC mercenaries.) Batman quickly captures them and has them put into the "Black Box" at Gotham PD -- a special holding cell designed by Batman and paid for by Bruce Wayne (really, the detectives at GCPD must have gotten their badges in a Cracker Jack box). Yes, Batman now has a "Pipeline" similar to that in THE FLASH, and it's super duper secure, even if Batman does have his own secret built-in entrance to it.


Comicsgate Scores Expendables IP

Expendables Go To Hell

Sylvester Stallone has confirmed via his Twitter account that the greenlight has officially been given for a comic book extension of THE EXPENDABLES, the action franchise that specializes in reuniting actors from classic action films into the ultimate action team-up adventure.

That, in and of itself, is big news.

What is perhaps bigger news is the venue selected for the venture: an Indiegogo campaign, managed by start-up publisher Richard C. Meyer. If you don't know the name, you probably haven't been following the comics industry online for the past few years. Meyer is one of the most recognizable names in the loose-knit and frequently highly contentious confederation of independent creators collectively known as Comicsgate, an entity that has been attacked from without almost as much as it has from within.


After Vertigo, Good Horror Returns to DC with The Dollhouse Family

THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is the first Black Label title from DC I've seen that wasn't in a prestige format size. This makes me happy for more than one reason, but mostly because i don't always have to pay the price point necessary for the oversized prestige formatted books.

This comic is also what Andy Khouri should have been courting to the Vertigo line before it became a corpse so decayed it can't even be used for good fertilizer. Or perhaps Chris Conroy should have been given the editor's position earlier. But, it's fruitless to become lachrymose over upturned dairy, so let's take a forward-looking approach, because THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is a positive step forward for DC mature horror.


Villain vs Villain as Tynion Raises Hell at DC Comics

Hell Arisen 2

The fallout from METAL continues as the evolutionarily perfected Lex Luthor serves as a John the Baptist for the goddess Perpetua, paving the way for her conquest of everything. Only one person stands in his path -- The Batman Who Laughs, the evil Joker-fied Batman from the Dark Multiverse. TBWL has spread the dark infection to six heroes, five of whom attack Luthor at his safehouse -- which turns out to be one of his employee's apartments he long ago modified without her knowledge.

Lex is not only outnumbered, but he's up against the powers of Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), King Shazam (Shazam), Deathbringer (Donna Troy), Sky Tyrant (Hawkman), and Scarab (Blue Beetle). Anyone else would give up, but Luthor -- who was already the smartest man alive before his augmentation -- has already defeated all five of them while they were posturing. It's all over except for the actual doing of it, which proves to be simplicity itself.


What's in Bettie Page's Head? Giant Alien Wasps Want to Know.

Bettie Page Unbound 9

Bettie Page has seen her share of aliens, both from this dimension and from others.

Now she finds herself up against the Praesepods -- a race of giant wasps looking to take over the Earth (not to be confused with the Vyzpzz, a race of giant wasps looking to take over the Earth in another book). One has taken over the identity of her friend, Agent McKnight, and another has taken on the form of Bettie herself.


The Best Fight in Comics is in Batman #86 -- And It's All Off-Panel!

Batman 86 2020

It feels like it's been forever in the offing, but BATMAN #86 is a breath of fresh air after the prolonged storyline that bogged down the title for the past few years.

With his longtime confidante and manservant, Alfred Pennyworth, having been laid to rest, Bruce Wayne decides to take on a new mission to honor his friend, a mission presented to him on many past occasions and always turned down: a Gotham that didn't need Batman. To that end, Bruce has dusted of his plans for a revamp of the city and fast-tracked them through all the zoning commissions. With construction already underway, however, there are forces out there that want to see their own plans for Gotham come to light.


Action Comics 1018 Hits Bottom and Starts Digging

Action Comics 1018

It's been a while since I've poked my head inside the Superman universe of books, and with the news surrounding the impending release of Superman's self-reveal, I thought it might be a good idea to check in on the latest installment of the Man of Steel, by way of ACTION COMICS 1018.

To say the issue was a disappointment is to do a disservice to language.

Let's start with the cover. Advertising a guest appearance by the Justice League pretty much means that, in the background, you see their bodies strewn about as they have been clobbered. But that cover blurb is perhaps the best drawn part of the book's frontispiece. The rest of it is a sketchy mess, featuring Superman front and center and some hastily doodled Justice League members in the background -- plus what looks to be a frozen or electrocuted Starman in the lower left.

That should have been my first warning to back away, slowly, and put my wallet back in my pocket.


Soule and Saiz Give Fans a New Hope with Marvel's Star Wars #1 Comic

Marvel Comics Star Wars #1 2020

Over the last few years, the foundation of STAR WARS fandom has been a little shaky. We've seen one writer ignominiously ousted from the extended universe, several directors fired from the sequels and ancillary films, and controversy among the fandom over the way the final trilogy was handled from start to finish. Basically, if you're handed the reigns to do something with STAR WARS these days, you stand a good chance of slitting your own throat.


Voting Open for Best of 2019 Awards

Nominations for Best of 2019

Holy cow, is it 2020 already? 2019 seems to have gone by in a blur, with so much happening in the world of movies, television, and comics. It's hard to believe we've reached the point where we now have the unenviable task of deciding which was the best in every category to recognize the producers of entertainment for their efforts.

So below you will find the voting form, featuring our nominations for the best film, film actor, television series (which includes streaming until we come up with a word to replace television), series actor, comic book storyline, comics writer, comics artist, and -- last but certainly not least -- the selection of our Critical Blast Bombshell of the Year from the list of 2019's Bombshell of the Month candidates.


Turtles All The Way Down: TMNT's Centennial Issue Changes Everything!

TMNT 100

Many years ago, when the Earth's crust was just beginning to cool (also known as the 1980s), the ground sprang forth with the direct market. Shops that specialized only in comic books began to appear, and with them, access to titles that you simply wouldn't find in the spinner rack at your local 7-11 or discount store. Among those titles was an unassuming black and white title created by a couple of kids with access to a printer. Done as a lark--a spoof on Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL and RONIN runs--probably nobody was as surprised by its success as were its creators: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.


It's a Duel Identity Crossover in Absolute's White Widow #3

Gabby Garcia's problems have only multiplied since her father showed up and injected her with nanites right before being killed. Now the platinum blonde science student and volleyball athlete finds that she can manifest an exoskeletal armor that can alter its appearance at will.The result is, visually, Silver Sable with a symbiote, but the story bears no such similarities.

This chapter finds Gabby trying to find out more about The Group, the agency she believes killed her father, and discovering she has more untapped abilities. But when her solo investigations run into a dead end, her friend Regina talks her into approaching the city's resident superhero, Andromeda, for help. As luck would have it, Andromeda will be appearing at a masquerade ball, to which Gabby had previously found an invitation.


Nora Fries Finally Free, and Ready to Be a Villain

Detective 1015 Mr and Mrs Freeze Year of the Villain

Of all the DC Universe events to actually start crossing over into the regular titles, it had to be the unfollowably tendrilous merger of DARK NIGHTS: METAL and whatever it is going on in Justice League that involving Lex Luthor becoming "Apex Lex," both of which converge to cause the "Year of the Villain" theme.

In Detective Comics #1015, we find that Victor Fries -- aka Mr. Freeze -- has found a cure for his wife, Nora, freeing her from the cryogenic tube where she's been held in stasis for who knows how long. With her fate no longer a driving force, Mr. Freeze no longer has a reason to be a criminal. And yet, he's training his wife on how to pull heists using his cold weapons. Also, she's just as blue-skinned as he is now, so we can safely assume she is Mrs. Freeze.


John Carpenter's Spotlight on Mental Illness Brings Jarring Insight to Joker

Joker Year of the Villain

John Carpenter is a master of horror. Getting his name on the marquee of a DC Comic book about the brand's most notorious mass murderer and psychopath should have been headline news. Maybe it was and I just read the wrong headlines.

Regardless, it was enough of an impetus to bring me temporarily out of my comic book malaise to purchase this issue, despite the cover art -- which isn't bad, but which depicts the Joker as wearing bad makeup rather than physically looking the way he does. Red Hood? Ace Chemicals? Vat of acid? Any of that ringing any bells, Philip Tan?


The Wait vs The Worth -- CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY

Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney

In all of comics history, there has perhaps not been a comic so divisive, so defended, and so derided as Ethan Van Sciver's CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY. And all that before the book was even printed. Seen as one of the hallmark titles of the amorphous ComicsGate movement, the title and creator have taken heat over timeliness and finances. The book raised nearly a million dollars in pre-sales through multiple Indiegogo crowdfunding efforts, and arrived just shy of being one year late of its estimated release date.

This week, the book began arriving in the hands of those who had backed it, and almost immediately new rumors began to pop up: poor paper quality, water damage, digest-sized. None of that is true. CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY is of standard dimensions, and over 80 pages. The cover is very sturdy, the paper is of better stock than your average floppy, and the ink is smear-resistant.


Spawn 300: End of the Beginning

Spawn 300

I remember seeing Todd McFarlane at the Chicago Comicon in the late 1980s. SPAWN was still a new thing, and Todd was talking up how the symbol would one day be as ubiquitously recognized as a black bat in a yellow oval.

I gave it a year, two at the max.

Thirty-plus years later, here we are, with the milestone issue of SPAWN, one issue away from setting the record as the longest-running creator-owned comic, with a wide array of supporting characters, good and evil, and a twisted morality play that treats Heaven and Hell as competing corporations.

I will say that one of the things that made SPAWN intriguing to me was that he had been giving a finite amount of infinite power. Starting wtih 9:9:9:9, every expenditure of eldritch energy caused the Spawn-o-Meter to decrement. Which meant that, at some point in the character's run, he was going to bottom out, and things would be over.


Better Read When Dead: DCeased Heroes Continue to Entertain

DCeased: A Good Day to Die 1

DCEASED is a comic series I can get invested in. Why? Because despite utilizing the characters of the DC Universe, it's self-contained. It doesn't promise to have any impact on the DCU as a whole -- unlike, say, books that have that promise stolen from them like DOOMSDAY CLOCK.

In this pocket universe, Darkseid has unlocked the much-sought-after Anti-Life Equation. But it has been corrupted, and turns whoever sees it into a mindless undead creature who can infect others into becoming the same. And with Darkseid's death, the equation gets broadcast through Cyborg to every television, computer, and phone in the world. An epidemic ensues, and even the world's greatest superheroes are not immune from its effects.


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