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.
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At Nothing But Comics, we’re fascinated by the new Vertigo comics series Unfollow. Written by Rob Williams and illustrated by Mike Dowling, the comic’s central premise is that dying social media billionaire Larry Ferrell decides to share his fortune with 140 people chosen by an app that suddenly appears on their phone or tablet.
The first issue got our attention; we were intrigued. And then we noticed that the Larry Ferrell character had a real-world Twitter account.
And then we were VERY intrigued!
By Rob Williams, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair, Nate Piekos
Worst heroes ever. Worst narration ever. Worst art ever. Worst Squad ever… Continue reading Suicide Squad #1 Review
By Rob Williams, Warren Pleece, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt, Hi-Fi, Amoona Saohin, Marc Ellerby
The Doctor is on trial for war crimes, which he probably committed. The story is actually not as dark as it should be with a premise like that.
During the Last Great Time War, the Doctor caused trillions of deaths. However, he’s almost certain that he didn’t cause the deaths of a particular species whose last collective action is to kill him, or at least try to put his War Doctor incarnation on trial.
The (11th) Doctor takes a group of companions on a trip to one of his past battles, looking for clues as to how the events in the present were caused by the past.
Rob Williams uses this issue to flesh out the ‘timey-whimy’ aspects of the show like the Time-Lock that exists around the entirety of the events of the Time War, preventing anything from getting into it. While the show has proven that you can in fact get in and out of it, Williams plays up the mystery of how a companion of the War Doctor could be interacting with the current Doctor. He also plays up the Doctor’s anxiety and guilt over his past actions in how he treats his companions, even Alice whom he has recently invited to travel with him. Alice, to her credit, calls the Doctor out on his poor treatment of her. It feels as though Williams is conscious of the criticisms the show is facing right now and adapting them to his own take on the Time Lord.
The art by Warren Pleece starts off well enough, with a rough and sketchy style helping to illustrate the kinetic movement of the story. However, as he goes on he makes some odd anatomy choices such as human heads that are perfect circles or the Doctor’s head being so big it looks like his skull is the height of two human sized ones stacked on top of each other. Its only made more jarring as the beginning of the story Pleece illustrates the human form, while imitating the facial appearance of the actors who played the previous Doctors, in a very faithful manner. Aside from that, he manages to make the backgrounds very detailed and full of objects that look like they were props stolen from the show. The old-school Cyberman is a nice easter egg for the story.
Overall, a nice 11th Doctor story with some spotty art in places, a cliffhanger with real promise and a dream of mine to see realized. The back-up story by Marc Ellerby is a cheeky short about the Christmas Specials that by their nature feel sometimes tired. Combined with the main story, this issue satisfies most of the itches a Whoivan has for the Doctor in comic form.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent
By Rob Williams, Si Spurrier, Micheal Fraser, Gary Caldwell
The Doctor’s past has caught up to him, in more ways than one.
During the Time War, as his “9th incarnation” the War Doctor, he unleashed destruction across hundreds of planets and destroyed countless lives to stop the Daleks. Today, as his “13 incarnation” the Doctor and Alice are being sentenced for his crimes against the remaining survivors of the Time War who are nearing extinction. Before the end, they intend to see the Doctor punished!
This is a top-notch plot by Williams and Spurrier, exploring the Doctor’s more ignoble actions and their repercussions. No allowances are made by the Doctor either, he knows he was wrong but can’t let himself be executed. It makes for a fascinating story where there are alot of morally grey areas.
On art, Micheal Fraser turns in a style not unlike the previous artists who depicted the 11th Doctor, Boo Cook and Dave Taylor. Fraser’s is somewhat looser, with more shadows and highlights that with Caldwell’s colors create a flatness to the art. It makes for interesting visuals when he alternates between that and detailed facial close ups. He also lets his imagination fly with the weird storytelling devices he’s given, like the Doctor and Alice facing the Then-And-Now, or running down a hallway with TV monitors of the Doctor’s judge.
Fraser’s crowd scenes leave something to be desired though. With his art’s flatness, the lack of details in spectators faces makes the art seem unfinished rather than a stylistic choice. It takes something away from the story in that regard.
On the whole, this is a great issue for Whoivans and especially Matt Smith fans who miss his tenure as the Time Lord. The story is intriguing and well-paced, combined with an usual abstract style keeping in spirit with past visions.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent
Martian Manhunter was one of the most curious series coming out of the DCYOU initiative. Since the company rebooted the universe with the New 52, Martian Manhunter has been a shell of his former self, more angsty and menacing then the sympathetic, complex & enduring figure that readers knew from past portrayals. In the series debut, there were still fears that this would continue to be the case but as the comic has established it’s rhythm and given it’s plot more room to breath, it’s become apparent that is not the case for this iteration of J’ohn J’ohnz. This is the Martian Manhunter that original fans love. it’s the world around him that is angsty and menacing.
In that way, Rob Willams, Eddy Barrows & Gabe Eltab are making the series in the vein of classic monster invasion fiction, where the aliens have infiltrated among us and are waiting to strike. It’s led to a story from Williams that engrossing, thrilling & frightening in equal measure. When you don’t know who the enemy is, it could be anyone and in that way, the paranoia is felt throughout this issue as the book wisely uses a boots on the ground focus that puts the protagonist in a relateble position for the reader. In engaging with the comics, it’s paranoia becomes something palpable and all encompassing. Artist Eddy Burrows is strong in his visual story telling methodology of letting the action ratchet up from panel to panel & page to page before he let’s loose in cresting awe inspiring full scale monsters that are Jurassic Park meets David Cronenberg. Colorist Gabe Eltab creates a sort of neon urban gothic mood to the story in his color choices that transfers well as the story switches from deep space to Washington DC seamlessly. He helps in permeating a mood of fear and mistrust with the bright & dark contrast of his work.
Martian Manhunter is a more complex book then I think anyone was expecting and that’s all for the better. It’s a series that is part allegory, part science fiction and part horror that keeps the reader on their toes with it’s engaging and unpredictable story telling. This is the J’ohn J’ohnz we wanted and deserve.
I freaking love comics. So many comics. Too many to put in one single list. We all like different things. Some of us like big two comics. Other’s may prefer large publisher creator owned work while other’s dig the small press. I like all of that. I’ll cover my favorites from the different corners of comic book publishing over the month of December.
Yes these are the big guys. I try to not write about DC and Marvel comics TOO much because I think it’s hard to give a take on these books that hasn’t been said ad naseum. Do you really need me to explain why Scott Snyder’s Batman is great again? I mean I already did once anyway and I’m about to one more time so there you go. That’s because whatever your feeling are about these comics they are ubiquitous and necessary. The sales and popularity of DC and Marvel props up the infrastructure of the entire industry so as much as I may prefer comics from Image, Darkhorse, Vertigo, First Second or Koyama those companies don’t exist without the big two. And that’s because people are passionate about the comics from these companies regardless of how they feel the quality of the current work. People love their DC or Marvel or both or they have complete disdain for one or both but it’s that passion for these companies that fuels comics as a business. As for me I still read a lot of stuff from them in spite of my passion for the indie and small publishers. In composing this list I tried to trim it down to what I thought was the best of the best from the publishers. I get annoyed with events, crossovers, Scott Lobdell and West Wing fan fiction so all that relegated Animal Man, X-Men, Swamp Thing, Indestructible Hulk, Avengers Assemble, Wolverine and the X-Men, Action Comics, Daredevil: End of Days and Uncanny X-Men to honorable mentions status. ‘Nuff respect due for Captain America, Wolverine, Batman: The Dark Knight, Marvel Knights Spiderman/X-Men, Amazing X-Men and Superman Unchained which are all very good but just not good enough and Wonderwoman, Deadpool, Fearless Defenders, Journey Into Mystery, The Flash, Ultimate Spiderman and Aquaman which I’m sure are as amazing that you all say they are but life’s too short no what I’m saying?
by Rob Williams and Simon Coleby
Being familiar with Williams’ run on “Ghost Rider” in 2011, I was automatically intrigued by what he could do on A) Another comic and B) A Vertigo comic. Normally I ignore the alternative takes on Superheroes but I made an exception this time.