The Wild Storm vol. 4
Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s reimagining of the Wildstorm Universe has been light-years away from how it was originally conceptualized and is all the better for it. The WU’s initial success was driven by the hype it had from the Image launch along with the fact that it was Jim Lee’s imprint. Where did good writing figure into this? It didn’t. Not until Alan Moore showed up to write “Wild C.A.T.S.” It wasn’t until Ellis took over “Stormwatch” that the idea of a writer-driven comic at Wildstorm really started to hit its stride. Ellis turned “Stormwatch” into a must-read title and subsequently gave the imprint two of its signature titles: “The Authority” and “Planetary.”
It’s that former title which looks to figure into the finale of “The Wild Storm” most prominently as the cold war between International Operations and Skywatch turns hot and it’s up to Jenny Mei Sparks and her group of oddball superheroes to rein everyone in. I’ve appreciated the slow-burn approach the writer has employed with this series, which has fit well with how the WU was originally set up as our world but with all sorts of crazy government and alien-driven conspiracies behind it. While the fanboy in me is also plenty happy to see Ellis return to “The Authority,” the fact that it’s actually happening now means that I’d really like to see some kind of “post-credits stinger” for the series which involves the “Planetary” team. I doubt that’s going to happen, but I’ll live in hope until this volume arrives.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 (of 8): Sean Murphy’s original miniseries about what happens when the Joker finally goes sane had spectacular art and some interesting ideas. Ideas that he didn’t take far enough, leading the story to eventually fall into the familiar “Batman” story grooves with a few key changes. The miniseries was immensely popular, which is why we’re getting this eight-issue sequel now. This time the setup isn’t as compelling: The Joker has teamed up with Azrael to expose a secret of the Wayne family and to run Gotham City into the ground. I imagine that running the city into the ground is just a perk when it comes to sticking it to the family of his longtime nemesis. Even if this setup feels much more like a standard “Batman” story than the original “White Knight” series did, that might actually work in its favor. Assuming that Murphy is planning to take the story in some unexpected directions to complement his sure-to-be phenomenal artwork.
Batman: Universe #1, Superman: Up In The Sky #1, Wonder Woman: Come Back to Me #1 (all “of 6”): Remember the exclusive stories that Walmart was getting as part of the giant-size “Batman,” “Superman,” and “Wonder Woman” comic reprints that DC had got them to sell? The company said that comic shops would get these stories eventually, and here we are. I thought that these stories would go direct-to-paperback. What I apparently underestimated was DC’s desire to wring every cent they could out of these stories. Which is why each issue is $5 for (what I really hope is) 32 pages of story without ads. If you needed another reason as to why I like to wait for the trade, this is it. Of the three series being solicited here, I’ll definitely be picking up the “Batman” and “Superman” ones as they’re being written by Bendis and Tom King, respectively. “Wonder Woman” is from Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, and I’ve yet to read anything they’ve done together. However, if you liked their run on “Harley Quinn” I’d think you’d want to give this series a shot.
Collapser #1 & Doom Patrol #1: Young Animal -- Take 2. It was going to be the new hotness which finally dealt the killing blow to Vertigo, until its flagship series was waylaid by lateness and its other titles failed to make a dent critically or commercially. (You are still missed around here, “Cave Carson.”) Now it’s back, starting with these two titles. “Doom Patrol” continues on from the previous series, only now Gerard Way is co-writing it with Jeremy Lambert and there’ll be a different artist with each issue starting with James Harvey. We’ll see if it can maintain a regular schedule with that setup. “Collapser” is from Mikey Way (not sure if he’s related to Gerard) and Shaun Simon with art from Ilias Kyriazis and is about a part-time DJ who gets a black hole in the mail and gets superpowers from it. Sounds fine by me, except for the fact that I primarily associate Simon as the reason Way’s “Fabulous Killjoys” didn’t click with me. After all, “The Umbrella Academy” was great and then he works with a co-writer for his new miniseries? It’s not too hard to figure out who to assign blame to in that situation.
Jimmy Olsen #1 (of 12): Matt Fraction makes his DC debut with a series about Superman’s troubled/troublesome sidekick. The writer has been notoriously hit-or-miss for me, but he has always tended to do his best work on titles involving B-or-C-list characters. Ones who don’t demand a lot of editorial oversight and allow him to go a little crazy. “Hawkeye” being the best example of that during his time at Marvel. Olsen seems like the perfect vehicle to allow Fraction to recapture some of that magic given his history of oddball adventures and transformations over the years. That he’s working with another veteran of oddball superhero adventures, “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” artist Steve Lieber, only makes this sound more appealing.
Lois Lane #1 (of 12): Greg Rucka writes a maxiseries about Superman’s best gal and the secret she’s carrying that could ruin his life. The description of this series has her going on a journey filled with conspiracy, intrigue, and murder that takes her to the biggest power brokers and world leaders. Sounds very much in the vein of the stories that he told in the pages of “Gotham Central” and “Checkmate,” which is a good thing. As is the fact that the art comes from someone who knows his way around dark, shadowy stories: Mike Perkins.
Batman #75: “City of Bane” kicks off. The title should be pretty self-explanatory as to what this new arc is about. It also shouldn’t surprise anyone that Batman is MIA from Gotham City. The solicitation text tells us that he’s on a spiritual quest to regain his fighting spirit after his encounter with his father. Not his real father, but the Thomas Wayne that became Batman in the “Flashpoint” universe. Tony Daniel returns to the series to provide art for this issue and it should be a much better fit for his superhero style than the “Beasts of Burden” arc was. While it looks like writer Tom King has assembled all of the pieces necessary for a crowd-pleasing “Batman” storyline -- this arc is said to pave the way towards the writer’s finale after issue #100 -- the most interesting part of the solicitation is that Lex Luthor gets a mention as well. Will the businessman just get an extended cameo or is he being set up for a major face-off with the Dark Knight. I know which one of those situations I’d rather see.
Batman Black & White Omnibus HC: Collects the original four-issue miniseries, the backups from issues 1-49 of “Gotham Knights” and the six-issue miniseries which followed after that. None of the stories here are in continuity, but the hit-to-miss ratio between them is a lot higher than your usual anthology series. It’s pricey, at $125 for 912 pages, but highly recommended if you don’t already own the four softcover collections like I do.
Hitman’s Greatest Hits: Not sure what the purpose of this collection is. It reprints “The Demon Annual #2” (Hitman’s origin), issues 4-7 (vs. master hitman Johnny Navarone), 13-14 (“Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium”), 34 (“Super Friends,” Hitman’s Eisner-winning conversation with Superman) and “JLA/Hitman 1-2.” It’s a not-bad grab-bag of “Hitman” stories, to be sure. If it convinces someone to check out the rest of the series then I guess it’ll have done its job.
The Kitchen: You never know what is going to strike someone in Hollywood as being a good basis for a movie. Take this latter-day Vertigo miniseries about Mafia wives in 1970’s New York who have to start running things while their husbands are in prison. Coming from writer Ollie Masters and artist Ming Doyle, it’s serving as the basis for a movie starring Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Moss, and Tiffany Haddish due out in August. I don’t think it’s going to be advertised as a comic-book movie, but I’d imagine more than a few people will be surprised by the “Based on the Graphic Novel by…” bit in the credits. Maybe it’ll even get them to go check out the source material, if they like the movie.