The Dreaming vol. 2: Empty Shells
Si Spurrier is a writer who never takes the easy, obvious path when writing a story that involves established or corporate-owned characters. No, he’ll always try to find some way to use them that’s still familiar yet takes them in a different direction. That’s what we got with the first volume of “The Dreaming” which found the title realm without its master and its inhabitants going to pieces as something new grows within it. Oh and, the whole thing was an allegory for the current political situation in America which also served to throw in some new characters along the way with some amazing art from Bilquis Evely.
I thought it was REALLY good -- exactly the kind of story I was hoping to read about “The Dreaming” from Spurrier. Now that he’s established a new status quo for its inhabitants, it’s time for him to show us why Daniel took off in the first place. The solicitation text gives away the fact that he’s out in the realm of mortals all because of love. That sounds nice, at first. Then you remember how Every. Single. Romance. Morpheus had ended in either tragedy, despair, or someone being condemned to Hell and you start to wonder if things will be any different for Daniel. I’d like to think he’s above condemning his lovers to Hell, at least.
Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #1 (of 4): (Wasn’t this the title of a Slayer album? No, that was “Hell Awaits.”) The current uber-narrative of the DC Universe marches on with this new miniseries, spinning out of the end of the most recent arcs of “Justice League” and “Batman/Superman.” Perpetua has been restored to her rightful place in the cosmos -- just in time to wipe it out -- and only one thing is standing in her way: The forces of the Dark Multiverse. So it’s finally time for Luthor and the Batman Who Laughs to finally throw down for all the marbles. Sounds like a good fight… until you realize that Luthor’s in what basically amounts to an enforcer position for Perpetua. He’s never been one to settle for being second banana to anyone, has he? James Tynion IV writes and Steve Epting illustrates -- a more enticing prospect than you’d think given how well Tynion has been doing villainy over in “Justice League” and Epting’s demonstration that he can deliver some solid fantasy visuals in those two issues of “Thor” he did over a year ago.
The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child: (To where? Blockbuster? I hear there’s one left. Ok, I’ll stop…) According to Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello took the lead on writing “The Dark Knight III” to the point where the old creator wanted to give things a go by himself for the next installment in this arguably misbegotten saga. Here it is, a 48-page one-shot that has Carrie Kelley and Lara Kent teaming up to take on an ancient evil that has come back to Gotham. The catch is that in order to do it, they’ll have to turn to the title character: Lara’s brother Jonathan who has a power unlike anything the world has seen. Miller’s welcome to keep making as many sequels to “The Dark Knight Returns” as he likes. We just don’t have to buy them. Working in this special’s favor, however, is its artist. Rafael Grampa doesn’t do a lot of regular comics work, but what he does deliver is frequently spectacular. He’s doing the whole issue, so the best case scenario is that it winds up being a visual triumph which elevates whatever Miller has written for the script.
Suicide Squad #1: Tom Taylor has earned a lot of goodwill with me after “All-New Wolverine” so I’m interested in seeing what he does with artist Bruno Redondo on this series. There’s not much to say about “Suicide Squad” thanks to its durable premise, but I like the situation Taylor has cooked up for the first issue: The team has been sent to neutralize a group of super-powered terrorists known as the Revolutionaries. Which all sounds well and good until it’s revealed that the surviving members of the Revolutionaries will be joining the team. I’m down for seeing how this turns out. My only request is for Taylor and DC Editorial to find some way to boot Deadshot and Harley Quinn off the team. Yes, I know they’re the Squad’s most recognizable members. Except it goes against the very ethos of the series’ concept to have characters you know won’t die on it. Save for Captain Boomerang. His suffering is always so delicious.
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #1 (of 4): What happens when Wonder Woman has failed in her mission to bring peace to Man’s World? That’s the question facing Diana when she wakes up to find the Earth a bombed-out husk of its former self with only one city left on it. Which is being attacked by giant monsters. Clearly the answer is going to involve Diana getting her fight on in some pretty spectacular ways courtesy of “Extermity” and “Murder Falcon” creator Daniel Warren Johnson. I wasn’t too keen on the former despite its great art, but the latter was definitely a step up (more on that later) even if it shows his writing chops still need work. Maybe some time with DC’s Amazon Princess will help with that.
Harleen HC: Yeah, I could’ve picked this for the “Above-the-Board” recommendation, but I already did that for the first issue of the miniseries. Which just came out this week as a matter of fact. So if it sounds like this hardcover collection is arriving sooner than you’d think, you’d be right: It’s advance-solicited for February. So those of us who have been chomping at the bit to read Stjepan Sejic’s take on Dr. Harleen Quinzel and how she fell for the Clown Prince of Crime are just going to have to exercise some patience before they can read it all in one go.