In the interest of helping the mainstream comics industry by both promoting their good stuff and ignoring their less successful attempts, Dean Trippe takes time out of his busy schedule to inform you about the best of the best put out by the Big Two. Here are his picks for the last few weeks.
Batman and Robin #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely with Alex Sinclair. Well, this is how you do it. For my money, Dick Grayson taking over the role of his dead(ish) mentor is the biggest event to happen in Bat-comics since the introduction of Robin to the franchise. It has been the promise of Robin that he would one day carry on in his adoptive father’s footsteps, fighting for justice as the Caped Crusader. Joining him as the fifth in-continuity Robin is Damian Wayne, the recently discovered son of Bruce Wayne, who was raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul and the League of Assassins (which is convenient as all get out, since it means the ten-year-old has a sufficient reason for being capable of handling the dangers of Gotham City sidekicking). There’s a flying Batmobile, series standbys Alfred Pennyworth and Jim Gordon, and a Batman who’s actually has fun spitting quips at his adversaries (and allies). Morrison and Quitely are pitch perfect as usual, and Sinclair’s coloring, while a bit of a departure from the Jamie Grant colors I’ve come to associate with Quitely’s work, is rad in a NuGotham, experimental future kinda way. With issue two hitting stands this week, I’m quite sure the buzz has reached the point of convincing you to grab this if you missed it, but in case it hasn’t, consider this my endorsement: This is the best superhero comic I’ve read since All Star Superman. (Plus, I liked the issue so much I drew this.)
Detective Comics #854 by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III with Dave Stewart, backup feature by Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner with Laura Martin. And now it appears we have entered a new Golden Age of Bat-Book Awesome. This work was apparently intended for a Batwoman series but then repositioned as the new Detective Comics direction, which I gotta say, I’m a bit happier about. Detective is a good place for non-Batman Batman allies, and with the Question backup features, feels incredibly title-appropriate. Two gay heroines running together in a flagship title like this is also pretty awesome. JHW3 brings the incredible drawing, costuming, and page layout skills we expect from him, and Rucka’s rocking the writing with a new witch-themed villain set that opens up new avenues of crime-fighting in the generally very familiar Gotham City cast. The Question story didn’t get too far in this first issue, but showed off Cully’s art and introduced Renee Montoya’s new M.O. pretty well. It feels good to approve of every choice in an entire comic book, you know.
Batman: Streets of Gotham #1 by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen with Derek Fridolfs John Kalisz. Despite the incredible creative team here, I wasn’t expecting to dig this comic that much. With Morrison game-changing the Bat-line, I felt like Dini might step away from the Dynamic Duo and focus more on the old school Bat-villains, which he does, but not without putting his own spin on the new Batman and Robin. Which is awesome, because without other solid writers feeling comfortable with the new B&R, it’d feel like a temporary gimmick, rather than a step forward for the titles. While Bruce will undoubtedly one day return, I am all for enjoying this time with Grayson and Lil’ Wayne tripping rooftops. Anyway, here we’ve got mainstay villains Harley Quinn and Firefly, with the all-new flavor of Batman (with non-lethal gun) & Robin (non-lethal when mentored). Also, check out how cool Dick and Damian look in Dustin’s drawings! This book just went from “additional reading” to “required” in my syllabus.
Superman/Batman #61 by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Francis Manapul with Brian Bucellato. This is the second part of an alternate dream reality storyline with Batman (Classic Bruce Wayne Edition) and Superman meeting amalgamized versions of their Justice League and Teen Titans pals, as well as their rogues galleries. The story is fun with a few special character notes (Hal Jordan and Dick Grayson ARE kinda similar, huh?), but the real pressure point of purchase here is Francis Manapul’s so-fresh art stylings. I just recently started following Manapul’s work, mostly from being floored by his Previews’d covers for Red Robin and Adventure Comics, but now seeing his sequentials, I’d read any book drawn by this guy. Grab issue #60 and this one for a little extra World’s Finest treat in your pull list goodies.
Ghost Rider #35 by Jason Aaron and Tony Moore with Dave McCaig. Wait, a non-Bat-title? OH RIGHT, there ARE other good comics out there! Specifically, there’s Ghost Rider. Aaron and Moore are running like a dream team on this title. I’d never really gotten into GR until Aaron wrestled this title into awesomeness, and with Moore’s expressive, fantastical art, the demon/angel battle situations are probably the first truly engaging ones I’ve seen since Preacher. Aaron writes Johnny Blaze as an oddly relatable badass, and has delivered hot-off-the-grill new heroes and villains (somewhat literally, I suppose) into this long-running mythos. This issue features a new villain I didn’t want to spoil here, so if you’re not already pulling this one, grab it off the racks and check it out for yourself. Crazy, crazy fun here.
MORE GOOD STUFF: The Unwritten #1 (& 2) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. It falls a little outside the mainstream mandate of this column, but The Unwritten is the best new non-superhero comic launch I’ve read probably since The Walking Dead. Do yourself a favor and pick up the first issue and see if it grabs you like it did me.