Staff Picks: We stay in the shadows with ‘Batman: Creature of the Night’
By Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, Mickey Rivera, Kaitlin Beer, and Jarrod Jones. Comics that challenge us, slay us, beguile us — the comics we simply can’t wait to devour. That’s DoomRocket’s Staff Picks. From ‘Batman: Creature of the Night’ #3 to ‘Action Comics’ #1000, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.
Written by Kurt Busiek.
Art by John Paul Leon.
Letters by Todd Klein.
AOK: I was not expecting there to be more to Batman: Creature of the Night than a pulp yarn about psychology and crime. Batman isn’t protecting the streets, he’s a comic book. When his biggest fan is orphaned by crime, I thought, that’s it. A meta-study of tragedy and strength. I didn’t think this world was one where an actual thing in the shape of bat and man would darken skies, break bones, make things right.
I was not expecting to be lied to. When a boy comes back from the brink of death and brings something supernatural with him, you don’t question who is leading the narrative. You assume the Bat-Man is a projection from the mind of the broken boy. I didn’t think the narrator couldn’t be trusted, didn’t have all the information, wasn’t really in control.
I don’t know what to expect next. I can’t wait to see.
Dark Horse Comics/$3.99
Written by Jeff Lemire.
Art by Dean Ormston.
Colors by Dave Stewart.
Letters by Todd Klein.
MJ: There has been a Black Hammer-shaped hole in our pull-lists for lo these past seven (!?) months, and knowing this week heralds its storied return has set my heart ablaze. Which isn’t to say the two Hammer spin-off miniseries we’ve had in the interim (Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil and the half-done Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows) haven’t thrilled and chilled; it’s just nice to know the flagship of the line is back. And I can’t think of many other superhero series more deserving of an actual “line” than Black Hammer.
The new series, ominously subtitled The Age of Doom, continues directly from the cliffhanger where the last series left off, provides the reader with a hefty recap page (which this forgetful reader was very thankful for), supplies the typical cast of characters, and gives us… The Zombie-Ramones? It’s still not the issue with which to begin your Black Hammer experience, but let’s be honest: the first two paperback collections aren’t that big of a pre-read assignment. And the ever-expanding superhero universe originating within should be more than enough motivation, if you happen to be a fan of really fuckin’ good comics.
Drawn and written by Gipi.
MR: While the vast majority of post-apocalyptic fiction focuses on life immediately during or long after the end of the world, Land of the Sons explores life just one generation later. Two quarreling brothers, born into a brutal struggle to survive by any means necessary, suddenly find themselves on their own when their father dies. He leaves behind a diary which may hold answers to what’s happened to their world, their family. Since neither son can read or write, the two must venture across their bleak world in search of someone who can tell them what it says. Along the way they have to deal with their own grief, their anger, and the dangerous, rotting world around them.
Italian cartoonist Gianni Pacinotti, who goes under the pseudonym Gipi, has an anxious and expressive style that blends cartoon simplicity with expressionistically grimy pencil work. Though most of his past books have been in color, Gipi sticks with black and white for Land of the Sons, lending the visuals a devastatingly emaciated and decayed quality. Though this is definitely not light reading, it should make for a gripping story worth remembering.
DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal/$3.99
Written by Jon Rivera.
Art by Michael Avon Oeming
Colors by Nick Filardi.
Letters by Clem Robins.
CH: Are you ever too old to be a Young Animal? The answer for now is, “Not yet!”. After reading reviews and hearing much positive buzz about DC’s Young Animal titles, I girded my old guy sensibilities and sampled them for myself. What I’ve found is a raw, ragged rave of comics creativity applied to classic DC characters bestowing them with a whole new vision. And so far, my favorite fittingly is Cave Carson Has an Interstellar Eye. The first issue involved Cave and daughter Chloe along with extra-dimensional Marc Barstow 2.0 dealing with podcasts, sentient star musicians, and literal doggy ballads. It also lived up to the YA promise of centering on the relationship between parents and their offspring, using wry humor, patent silliness, and unexpected moments of warmth.
So, especially with issue #2 being entitled “Destiny of the Lazer Monks,” I find myself wanting to spelunk its depths. More of writer Jon Rivera’s scribing magic (I’m still not sure how he makes Cave nearly as serious as he was in the Silver Age yet positioned as the center of all things outlandish). More Michael Avon Oeming’s art in page-escaping flights of chaotic wonder. And more generational viewpoints, from tell-all accounts of the Glory Days, to the shape of future hero legacies as they’re formed. I’m discovering that Young Animal is reliable street pharma to supply my addiction.
Written by Cullen Bunn.
Illustrated by Brian Hurtt.
Colors by Bill Crabtree.
Letters by Brian Hurtt.
KB: The last issue of The Damned was a close to the arc “Prodigal Sons,” and now the latest issue kicks in with “Daughter’s Danse,” bringing a new character into the mix who promises to cause more trouble for Eddie, the series’ troubled protagonist.
Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have had my heart since The Sixth Gun, and they continue to collaborate without letting their partnership grow stale. They always find some new way to tell a story, a story in this case that has shaped up to be one hell of a demon noir. What I love is that you have the Prohibition-era vibe with crime bosses and the whole lot, but it is within a world reminiscent of Rick Remender’s Strange Girl, where demon crime bosses reign.
The intricacies of family and personal histories fill a world of crime and darkness with passionate detail. Hurtt’s artwork and Bill Crabtree’s coloring, heavily stylized for this series, controls the mood within every panel as their nearly monochromatic approach to the underworld provokes more detail than most can supply with a full palette.
Each new mini-series keeps igniting my interest and this one is no exception.
Written by Dan Jurgens, Peter J. Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, and Brian Michael Bendis.
Art by Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, José Luis García-López, John Cassaday, Jim Lee, John Romita, Jr., Walter Simonson, and Jorge Jimenez.
Inks by Norm Rapmund, Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Williams, and Danny Miki.
Colors by Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Peter Steigerwald, Dave McCaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, and Alex Sinclair.
Letters by Rob Leigh, Tom Napolitano, Nick Napolitano, John Workman, Carlos M. Mangual, Josh Reed, Chris Eliopoulos, and Cory Petit.
JJ: How can a milestone issue live up to its own hype? By exceeding expectations, naturally. And DC Comics threw one helluva party with Action Comics #1000 by including almost every creator currently working on the Superman line, some of the superstars who held the standard during the Post-Crisis years, and even went to the trouble of bringing late Super-legend Curt Swan to the affair for good measure. Oh, and there’s this guy named Bendis making his DC debut in this issue. Maybe you’ve heard about it.
There’s more. There’s so much more. Some of comics’ finest creators showed up to make history wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Jorge Jimenez, Walt Simonson, Louise Simonson. Scott Snyder, Tom King, John Romita, Jr., Jordie Bellaire. More. All here to pay tribute to the finest comics magazine there ever was. (Oh, and have a box of tissues at the ready for the Tom King/Clay Mann short, “Of Tomorrow”. Fair warning.)
Landmarks are easy to come by. Seems Marvel’s kicking out centennial markers every week, thanks to some handy legacy numbering. But Action Comics #1000 isn’t some flash-in-a-pan comic event. It’s the event, main amphitheater, beamed all across the world. It’s here to lure in lapsed readers, new readers wondering how one thousand issues is even possible (much to the chagrin of 2000 AD, no doubt), and those who’ve been in the skies alongside the Man of Steel for as long as they can remember. Action Comics #1000 is a sumptuous feast for one and all. Dig in.
What books are YOU looking forward to reading this week? Sound off in the comments below. Best answer wins a free set of DoomRocket stickers!