It’s been rumored for a while now, but the third “Dark Knight” series is officially a reality. Subtitled “The Master Race,” it will be serialized as an eight-issue miniseries, bi-weekly starting later this year. Frank Miller will again be writing and illustrating this series and that by itself doesn’t really bode well for it. Following “The Dark Knight Strikes Again” and “All-Star Batman and Robin” which can be best described as “entertainingly awful,” and “Holy Terror,” which is just plain awful, it would seem that we can safely assume that anything associated with the creator won’t actually be any good.
That would be the end of the story if it weren’t for one thing. Brian Azzarello is going to be co-writing the series with Miller. This isn’t an entirely surprising development: The fact that “DK3” would have a co-writer has come up before. Frankly, I was hoping that the rumor of it being Scott Snyder with Sean Murphy as an artist was going to be true. With Azzarello… I honestly don’t know what to expect. It’s hard to pin down what to expect from the writer on his superhero projects as he always tries to serve them up in a way that you wouldn’t expect. Sometimes this works out really well, as in the case with his “Wonder Woman” run. Other times, as with “Batman” and “Superman,” the results aren’t as effective. All it means is that there’s the possibility for “DK3” to actually turn out to be a worthy sequel. It’s a freak chance at this point, which is still better than no chance at all.
Cyborg #1: Well, everyone else in the current incarnation of the “Justice League” has their own solo series. Plus, he’s getting a movie in a couple years so it’d probably be a good idea for him to have a solo series established before that. What’s noteworthy is that the series is coming from writer David Walker, whose current work includes the “Shaft” series for Dynamite. You wouldn’t expect a series base off of a 70’s blaxploitation movie to be worth mentioning in this day and age, except that I’ve heard nothing but good things about it so far. It’s probably something I’ll be picking up when the collected edition comes out. As for “Cyborg,” we shall see…
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition HC: (While we’re on the subject…) Normally this would warrant a “If you haven’t bought it by now…” recommendation, but DC is doing something different with this release. It includes both the title miniseries and its sequel in one package. So you can marvel at the dense, textured masterpiece Miller created in the 80’s and then follow it right up with the wild, self-destructive extravaganza that followed it in the early 00’s. I can’t remember if these two miniseries have been packaged together in one volume before. It just feels really odd to see them done like this, particularly with the third one in the offing. Will it be packaged in a way that allows a reader to put the (entire?) saga on the same bookshelf? C’mon DC, inquiring minds want to know!
Gotham by Midnight vol. 1: We Do Not Sleep: In which Jim Corrigan leads a group of unlikely allies against the supernatural in Gotham City. This will be a rare case where I’m buying a comic mainly due to the artist involved. I do love me some Ben Templesmith art, for sure! If writer Ray Fawkes delivers a solid story, then that’ll be the gravy. Also, chances are I’ll be back for the second volume as well. Because I do love me some Juan Ferreyra art as well.
Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder Deluxe Edition HC: Collects the writer’s entire run on the character, plus the associated issues of “Animal Man” from the “Rotworld” crossover. It’s not the best showcase for Snyder’s skills, though it certainly does have its moments. Probably best picked up online at a deep discount, or when you’re searching through the half-off bins at a convention. In the latter case, its larger-than-normal size will at least make it easy to spot.
Free Country: A Tale of the Children’s Crusade: All comic book companies love crossovers! Regardless of their creative merits they almost always provide a temporary boost in sales for all of the titles that are involved. The problem is that there are some titles that just don’t lend themselves to that kind of thing. Creator-driven ones, specifically. This is why crossovers at Vertigo are the rarest of beasts. However, back in the 90’s they gave it a shot anyway, with the involvement of no less a talent than Neil Gaiman leading the way. Along with Jamie Delano and Alisa Kwitney pitching in at the end. The event crossed over into several annuals at the time, with the Gaiman issues serving as its beginning and end. Now, rather than collect the annuals, DC has secured “Dead Boy Detectives” writer and artist Peter Gross (of “Lucifer” and “The Unwritten” fame) to put together a middle for this story. This is an… interesting approach for creating a story. Had Gaiman not been involved with this, we’d likely have never seen this story resurrected in such a fashion. Yet his name sells comics and DC has shown a drive to get everything the writer has done back into print. This volume also comes with a new introduction by Gaiman, and I’ll be wanting to read that before I consider picking it up. After all, it was his introduction to “Lucifer” that convinced me to give that series a shot, and that worked out pretty well in the end.
Hellblazer vol. 11: Last Man Standing: One more volume and the entirety of the Paul Jenkins run will finally be collected after all these years. Worth mentioning from this volume is the final issue collected here, #120, which acts as a 10-year anniversary celebration for the title. Jenkins took a unique approach here and wrote the issue as if you, the reader, were following Constantine around on an evening in his life. It’s a gimmick that worked quite well, no small thanks in part to the always excellent efforts of artist Sean Phillips for his swan song on the title. There are a couple easter eggs in the issue as well, with some writers and artists from the series making cameo appearances as well. Including Alan Moore. No, really. That guy with the long hair who you only see in shadow is meant to be be the (in)famously cantankerous writer in what is likely his least-acrimonious post-”Watchmen” collaboration with the publisher.
The Names: Kevin Walker is a successful stock trader in New York until a visit from a man known only as The Surgeon ends in his suicide. Now Katya, Kevin’s wife, wants to find out why and is prepared to kill as many people as she needs to in order to get to the truth. This comes to us from an artist who has consistently produced work of great quality, Leandro Fernandez, and a writer who is notoriously inconsistent in terms of producing such work, Peter Milligan. Still, hope springs eternal and this will likely serve as a good indicator of whether or not I should pick up future works from the writer.
Sweet Tooth Deluxe Edition HC vol. 1: Here’s a genuine entry in the “If you haven’t bought it by now…” category.