As 2017 begins to unfold, Nothing But Comics draws its coverage of 2016 to an end with my list of Best Single Issues. All entries are listed alphabetically by title.
By James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira & Adriano Lucas
What is the phrase? No good deed goes unpunished? This idea has echoed through superhero comics when characters are forced to confront the question of whether their actions cause more harm than help. Do their righteous actions save lives or simply invite more crazies to come out from under the shadows? Would the citizens of urban centers such as Gotham City be safer without such a tantalizing target as Batman patrolling the rooftops? James Tynion IV is not the first Bat-scribe to dive into this dilemma, but he has found a way to reengage the subject in a compelling manner. Ably aided by Eddy Barrows’ fantastic art, Tynion continues to bring new life to Detective Comics.
By Gene Luen Yang, Viktor Bogdanovic & Hi-Fi
There is something to be said for the subtle art of defying expectations. When New Super-Man was first announced as part of DC’s Rebirth initiative, reaction was mixed. On the one hand, it was positive news that acclaimed creator Gene Luen Yang would be able to branch out with a series more independent from the larger DC Universe. On the negative side of the ledger, the concept sounded a little derivative. A Chinese Super-Man joining a Chinese Justice League? Did the DCU really need yet another iteration of Batman? Luckily these fears proved to be ungrounded. In the first four issues, Yang did a fabulous job of developing the cast, so the principles do in fact feel like original characters instead of superficial riffs. The series quickly settled into an appealing mix of humor and adventure, as Kenan (i.e. the titular new Super-Man) tried to negotiate his powers and the responsibilities that came with them. This week Yang bring to the fore a couple subplots which complicate the narrative in a surprising and intriguing manner.
By Tom King, David Finch & Jordie Bellaire
After 77 years of stories, how does a writer render a character such as Batman fresh once again? One key is to strip away conventions that have built up over the decades as certain traits have fossilized into tropes. Batman is a brooding loner, obsessed with justice to the point of madness. He is a man of few words. He has a plan for everything. He never sits. While most of these examples have been the basis for classic tales, taken as gospel they become restricting. This week author Tom King fiddles with the accepted formula as he continues to breathe new life into a book that had grown stale.
During the recent Awesome Con in Washington DC, I had the opportunity to talk with rising comics writer Tom King as well as hear him speak at a Q&A. King as the author of series such as Grayson, Omega Men, Sheriff of Babylon and The Vision, King has made a name for himself among readers. In the matter of only a couple years he has gone from “one to watch” to being entrusted with rewriting Batman, arguably DC’s highest profile series.
Others might have let such rapid success go to their head, yet one of the most appealing aspects of King is how casual, even self-deprecating he is. At the Q&A he interjected that “meteoric” was not an apt description of his career as it would describe the worst, slow-moving meteor ever. Later when asked why Omega Men did not sell better, he replied “the crappy writing.” (His more serious answer cited the non-conventional cover art and his mistaken assumption that everyone would have read the 8 page preview before picking up the first issue). In addition, though, he explained how overconfidence is detrimental. Having an assignment which scares you is a good thing, as it pushes you outside your comfort zone. At the end of the day, King stated that he loves superheroes as much as any fan and simply wants to see them done right.
When DC made their big Rebirth creative teams reveal last weekend at Wonder Con, one title was conspicuously absent: Super Sons. At the time, some speculated that DC had something major in store for fans which believed merited its own announcement. This morning, DC confirmed such theories by stating that Super Sons will be handled by the all-star creative team of Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic & J.H. Williams III
Hickman and DC Co-Publisher Dan Didio discussed how the project came to be and what readers can expect from it.
Like Marvel comics has had before them, today I’m taking a look at the new DC Comics Rebirth lineup of titles announced last weekend. DC Comics attempted to reboot in the summer of 2011 with their New 52 initiative. Though initially successful, readers quickly tired of the redundant writing & art styles that was often overtly in your face with little substance and dated concepts, while creative talent left the books in droves over accusations of overreaching editorial mandates. In 2015, the publisher began walking away from the concept; first with their Convergence event whose story was used to reestablish the Multiverse and then the DC You initiative, a sincere attempt to diversify the style and creative talent on their line of books. In spite of some really great comics, DC You failed to reestablish the publisher’s already shrinking market share while the one two punch of Star Wars & Secret Wars allowed chief competitor Marvel Comics to dominate the direct market. During WonderCon 2016, DC Comics announced another new initiative with a relaunch of the publishers comics with new #1’s and creative teams for their series of titles. Some look great, some of the creators brought in during DC You have leveled up, some familiar faces are sticking around, some new writers have been brought into the fold and some comics vet’s are returning after years away from the publisher. Some books look great, some have potential, some look kind of bland and some look like hot garbage. Will divide the contenders from the pretenders with Yay, Mayhaps or Nay. As always, remember that not even all of the creative teams have been announced let alone all the possible series so this lineup is subject to change.
At their Wonder Con panel this morning, DC announced the creative teams who will be working on their upcoming line-wide relaunch.
All-Star Batman by Scott Snyder & a rotation of artists, including John Romita Jr & Tula Lotay.
Previously unannounced, this title will focus on classic Bat-villains
Batman by Tom King & David Finch
Detective Comics by James Tyion IV, Eddie Barrows & Alvaro Martinez
Detective Comics will take a larger Bat-family approach, focusing on a “boot-camp” for heroes run by Batman and Batwoman.
At Comics Pro 2016, Dan Didio & Jim Lee offered retailers (and through them the fans) the first concrete information on how the DCU will be reborn. Titles will receive a special “Rebirth” issue, followed by a new relaunched series. This “relaunch” will effect the whole line, renumbering most books in the process.The big exception will be Action and Detective Comics which will resume their old numbering.
No news on creative teams yet.
Also, starting with Rebirth, all series will return to a $2.99 price point.
Relaunching/new titles announced today are as follows: