By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Happy New Comic Book Day! This is Casual Wednesdays With DoomRocket, a podcast series where each week we discuss our feelings concerning the comics that mean the most to us, and the industry news that affects us all. This week, MJ & Jarrod discuss the comic books that have worn out their sell-by date. Then they share their Top 5 Most Anticipated issues of the week, and read reviews for ‘Batman Beyond: Rebirth’ #1 and ‘Frostbite’ #1.
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MJ’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Light — Magnetic Press/$19.99
Wonder Woman: The True Amazon — DC Comics/$22.99
Josie and the Pussycats #1 — Archie Comics/$3.99
Tank Girl Gold #1 — Titan Comics/$3.99
Surgeon X #1 — Image Comics/$3.99
Jarrod’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Captain Kid #2 — AfterShock Comics/$3.99
Teen Titans: Rebirth #1 — DC Comics/$2.99
Nighthawk #5 — Marvel Comics/$3.99
X-O Manowar #50 — Valiant/$4.99
Island #11 — Image Comics/$7.99
REVIEWS FOR SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
Written by Joshua Williamson.
Art by Jason Shawn Alexander.
Colors by Luis NCT.
Letters by Steve Wands.
MJ: A new Vertigo series hits the shelves this week, and it’s the first to be released since Shelly Bond’s sad farewell from the imprint. So far, Frostbite has more of a fighting chance in finding a stable audience than that slew of late-2015, early-2016 Vertigo debuts, seeing as it won’t get lost in the crowd, and the publisher can focus on giving it the promotion it needs to stay afloat. Comic book readers of the non-superhero variety have so much great content to select from nowadays. It can be difficult for a book of any genre to differentiate itself from the rest.
This is true — doubly so — for absolutely inescapable post-apocalyptic fiction: I can’t even list all the comic series that fall into that category, current or past, but there’s so much of it out there that Frostbite can’t help but feel familiar at this point. The setting is a mish-mash of conventional post-apocalyptica, as though Joshua Williamson had made a Wheel of Catastrophe and spun it for dear life. We get cataclysmic climate change on top of a world devastated by pandemic, replete with oversized, angry-lookin’ vehicles, people huddled for safety in an urban desolation, tough protagonists in lots of leather who have already been through hell, and then what looks to be a hope-filled but near impossible quest that could save civilization. All I’m sayin’ is, if in the next issue, when they’re on the train in “lower class” (their stated next step), they eat anything resembling the bug-bars from Snowpiercer, I’ll be calling foul.
The art is undoubtedly beautiful, and Jason Shawn Alexander’s realism brings both subtlety and grittiness to the narrative, and incredible emotion in various characters’ close-ups, but especially in the lead, Keaton. Luis NCT’s colors vary only from slate blues, maroons to browns, and greys, really driving home the bleakness of the surroundings, and making for easy switches between the fittingly cool-colored, below-freezing exteriors to the warmly-hued heat of various gun battles. Negative space is utilized to great effect, especially in the blank white emptiness of a snowscape.
But beyond the similarities to a plethora of other genre-mates throughout various media, the story is compellingly told and the main characters are fascinating. Main protagonist Keaton is already incredibly capable and intriguingly flawed, and is a woman of color to boot. We don’t see those traits together very often, and she is the biggest reason I want to keep on reading this book. And oh dang, the first issue has already passed the Bechdel test. The only thing that could make it even better is if there were some women on the creative team, but you can’t win ‘em all. With so much post-apocalyptean fiction to choose from, if you can look past the oft-reused trappings of Frostbite’s genre, you’ll find a character well-worth discovering, even if the landscape is one you’ve seen before.
7.5 out of 10
Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1
Written by Dan Jurgens.
Art by Ryan Sook.
Colors by Jeremy Lawson and Tony Avina.
Letters by Travis Lanham.
JJ: You probably didn’t have to read the narrative cluster-fuck that was Futures End to know that one of its more famous casualties was Terry McGinnis, formerly known in certain circles around Neo-Gotham as The Batman. That’s Batman Beyond, mind you, as in Batman Beyond, the animated series turned ongoing, in-continuity DC Comics series — whatever that’s supposed to mean nowadays. But you already knew that. Or, at least, I hope you already knew that.
But not knowing things, primarily the driven purpose, hidden agenda, wanton desires, or determined goals of these characters is the whole point behind Rebirth. So it’s enough to know that Mr. McGinnis was a hero, and he died as a hero. And here we are, at an all-new issue #1 of Batman Beyond, a book meant to kick dirt over the perplexing idea that a proper heir to the Batman of the future was Tim Drake, of all people.
Of course Terry got better, as superheroes typically do these days — I think we devoted an entire episode of this podcast to that not-so uncommon phenomenon — so all Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1 had to do was re-reintroduce Terry to comics readers who have somehow, tragically, missed out on that pretty-damned-cool cartoon from the mid-Nineties. But if you’re among the many, many readers who still own those Burger King Kids Club Batman Beyond toys — hey, what’s up — this book probably isn’t going to knock you dead.
Yes, even though it probably wouldn’t do to have a book filled with giant, double-page splashes with nothing but the words, “Watch the pilot on Netflix right now, this minute,” I suppose for kids not so familiar to the Batman Beyond origin story, this brisk retelling is fairly welcome one. But I can’t help but figure that writer Dan Jurgens, who had a hand in introducing Terry to the mainstream DC continuity with Futures End, was grumbling “this again” as he laid out the particulars of Mr. McGinnis’ origin story. I mean, I certainly was.
The origin recap happens quickly over five pages, but it leaves out more prickly details, like those concerning Bruce Wayne’s fate, what’s up with Terry and would-be girlfriend Dana Tan (who manages to show up to this debut just to get damseled), and whether or not Return of the Joker ever happened in this reality. I mean, it’s obvious that TV bad guy Terminal is around, so what counts from the animated series and what doesn’t right now? This intro issue just doesn’t say.
Artist Ryan Sook — who managed to knock out every cover to Futures End, amongst many beautiful others — jazzes things up with his downright stunning layouts, consistent character work, and fluid action sequences. This is definitely the Gotham City of the future, and Sook’s artwork conveys this succinctly by constantly making us feel as though we’re soaring through the skies alongside this Batman. If there was anyone to fill in for the mighty Bernard Chang’s work on the series that preceded this one — by twenty-one days from today, I might add — Sook is more than adequate — he even embraces Mr Chang’s big, boogooly bat-eyes that made Tim Drake’s Batman look so damn cool, even if the concept behind the character… wasn’t, so much.
If DC insists on continuing to drag out the future of the DC Universe through Batman Beyond… I mean, it’s not like we haven’t already pointed out how hard it is for the publisher to let go of the past. So be it. This series will probably never act as a crystal ball for present-day DC events again, but that’s not such a bad thing. After all, we already know how that worked out last time, don’t we, Terry?
6.5 out of 10
Check back next week for more from Casual Wednesdays!
Before: “Make Way For Jennifer Walters, Hulk,” here.