Thursday, July 29, 2021

UNFATHOMABLE: Aquaman Gets 80th Anniversary Special

I was gutted to miss the 80th anniversary special of Robin. Since then, I’ve got all of the 80th’s of my fav DC icons, which is lucky as the Catwoman 100-pager single-handedly revived my faith in the quality of one-shot specials.

This August, Aquaman jumps into the 80th-anniversary frying pan, thanks to writers such as the legendary Dan Jurgens, Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul, as well as artists Pop Mhan, Evan 'Doc' Shaner, Steve Epting and more (boy, I hope a Tempest poster from Phil Jimenez is included somewhere).

As is tradition with these DC 80th deep dives through the featured character's history, variant covers of each generation’s take on the King of the Seven Seas see even more graphic folk involved, from Michael Cho and Ivan Reis to Kevin Nowlan and the DC ‘Jack Kirby’ José Luis García-López.

García-López first defined 'my Aquaman' in the 80’s, however it was three 90’s remakes I hope to see reflected in the depths of Arthur Curry’s 80th-anniversary shin-dig, that made me an Aqua-fanatic.

From Bryan Hitch to Jim Calafiore, hook-handed Aquaman will always be the one that got away for me. Luckily my favourite Aquaman ‘look’ has at least got one of the variants mentioned above, so that’s one box ticked.

The other two takes with heaps of seascape still to explore are the amazing sword and sorcery Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis revamp done by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Jackson Butch Guice, and Sub Diego, where writer Will Pfeifer and my favourite Aqua-artist of any era, Patrick Gleason, crafted social chaos as a newly submerged San Diego reeled in countless deaths and the new frontier for survivors able to adapt to life beneath the waves (with timeless covers by the ever-amazing Alan Davis).

As I get older, I realise that any character's continuity simply becomes more how your mind knits their best reads together rather than any official timeline. That said, the timelessness of these 80th-anniversary specials is what really makes for their success. The amphibious tank of the Justice League, the latest to showcase that fact when his splashes down this August.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

SWEET AS: DC Comics' Top 5 for October 2021

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of DC Comics October 2021 solicitations, these five make the 'Sweet As' grade:

1) Diana has never had a defining story, like she has creator runs. That's all set to change with WONDER WOMAN HISTORIA: THE AMAZONS #1. Where the secret plan of the goddesses of Olympus, meets Hipployta - leading to outright war in Heaven and the creation of the Earth's greatest guardian! Sure it's 72 pages and the price tag is a bit of a climb, but seeing Phil Jimenez draw Wonder Woman again - completely unleashed - is more than worth it!

2) Forget Peacemaker's breakdown Bat-fans, don't miss the revival of Azrael. I never followed him into space in Justice League: Odyessy - as it didn't match the character. In BATMAN: URBAN LEGENDS #8 the last acolyte of the Order of St. Dumas has also realised he strayed too far from his purpose and begins to reassert himself. Then in ARKHAM CITY: THE ORDER OF THE WORLD #1, Azrael starts to stalk the Arkham Asylum escapees, giving them an all-new reason to fear.

Because you can never have enough Lobo.
3) Who predicted a 7-issue team-up title between Aquaman and Green Arrow? The unlikely new 'hard travelling heroes' may be celebrating their 80th anniversaries by tackling the timeline altering madness of Scorpio in AQUAMAN / GREEN ARROW: DEEP TARGET #1, but by quiver or by trident it is great to see the next row of heroes in the Justice League getting their moment in the sun. Hawkman / Robin - let's see you two birds of prey up next!

4) While the Superman book runs with a new junior Man of Steel, ACTION COMICS #1036 kicks off the mega 'Warworld Saga' where an enslaved race tied to Krypton sees the original (and always unbeaten) Man of Steel seek to takedown Mongul and liberate his throneworld. World-building and upping the stakes in a Death and Return of Superman-style - this is the Super-path my wallet will be going down. 40pgs.

5) The ultimate Darkseid has arrived in the DCU and will helm the next Crisis. Wonder Woman finally returns to earth in WONDER WOMAN #780, in an anniversary-sized story that paves the way towards her future in the DCU. After getting back in the JLA where she belongs, it doesn't take much to see that that 40 pages of path paving is only leading to the Lord of Apokolips, and boy will that brawl be BIG.

Read DC's full October 2020 solicitations here.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

SWEET AS: DC Comics' Top 5 for April 2021

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of DC Comics April 2021 solicitations, these five make the 'Sweet As' grade:

Forget Bats and Robin, Green Arrow and Black Canary are the Justice League's true dynamic duo.
ONE) This anthology series has been long overdue for all of us who feel Gotham's best are actually found in Batman's supporting cast. In BATMAN URBAN LEGENDS #2 separate tales tell of The Outsiders in Japan, Barbara Gordon breaking bad - not as Batgirl - but Oracle, Red Hood taking on the Dark Knight, and Cole Cash continuing to re-establish his Grifter-self in the DCU, crossing a certain other hotshot-in-a-red-mask in the process!

Julian Totino Tedesco's inspirational Superman cover for Action Comics #1030.
2) ACTION COMICS #1030 shows no signs of letting off the gas DC applied to Clark Kent's 'Future State' Warworld adventures. Here as his powers enter a state of flux, Mongul launches his biggest attack on Kal-El's adopted homeworld yet. Speaking of big, in the backup story, Midnighter needs to figure out how to swap his 2021 self back, as part of the ultimate armageddon response force, The Authority (40pgs).

3) The Green Lantern Corps was on fire at DC, until Grant Morrison's run came along and focused almost solely around Hal Jordan only again. Now with GREEN LANTERN #1, the best cosmic police force in pop culture looks set to get back on track, with a new beginning that has everyone from Teen Lantern to John Stewart in the mix (40pgs)!

4) Thank the New Gods Black Canary is back in the JLA. Seriously, the team just doesn't feel right without this woman in the mix. In further proving they're an equal opportunities employer, JUSTICE LEAGUE #60 sees Naomi and Wonder Woman's mum Hippolyta bring a better gender balance to 'earth's greatest heroes'. Then, in the backup story, the League meets Justice League Dark as they decide their new leader, while Batman and Erigan clash over the group's plans going forward (40pgs).

5) One of the newbies that I hope puts down roots with fans, is the new ongoing horror series for one of the DC's biggest icons from the 80s. THE SWAMP THING #2 sees Levi Kamei continue to overcome his fears and plant his feet into being the new protector of the green, while the Pale Wanderer racks up a horrific body count in his absence. (32pgs)

Read DC's full April 2020 solicitations here.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

SWEET AS: DC Comics' Top 5 March 2020 Solicitations

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of DC Comics March 2020 solicitations (here), these five picks make the 'Sweet As' grade:

Jeremy Roberts' Aquaman - when your movie does better than 'Iron Man' you get covers like this.

ONE) I am so excited for STRANGE ADVENTURES #1 (of 12), it's hard not to rename this site after Adam Strange - my ultimate jetpack-wearing, ray-gun-blasting, sci-fi hero. The creative team behind Mister Miracle (Tom King and Mitch Gerads), pick up artist Evan “Doc” Shaner, to tell the tale of Adam and Alana, as they return to earth after helping the planet of Rann to victory in a planetary war - only to find trouble has followed them home!

Artist Jae Lee masters Wonder Woman subliminally auditioning for the X-Men.
2) Also in March, DC offers a whole bunch of key Justice League #1 reprints, from the team's 60-year history. While this list even includes JLA #1, the ultimate issue to hurdle your nana for - is JLA: YEAR ONE #1 by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Barry Kitson. It's got aliens, Black Canary, Hal Jordan and Aquaman - and if there was any actual justice, it would be the team's only #1 you would ever need to keep in mind.

3) Does anyone care that Hawkman had his 80th anniversary, with no acknowledgement at all? Just to rub salt in the wound, one of DC's other heroic bird dudes gets the ROBIN 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR, with the publisher emptying their rolodex onto the book's creative team. Each Boy Wonder gets his own feature, with writers including Marv Wolfman, Chuck Dixon and Tom King, backed up by Tom Grummett (YES!), Scott McDaniel, Andy Kubert and more on art.

4) I can't write the above and not give a prop to HAWKMAN #22. Here, Hawkwoman (yes, she's back), Atom and Adam Strange try sending the murderous past-life the Batman Who Laughs has brought out in Hawkman, back to the end of the queue. With Carter Hall reincarnating endlessly until he's atoned for all the lives he took in his past, can the team stop Sky Tyrant from sending the tally in the opposite direction?

5) You know the book is going to be good, when the plot's one of those 'why hasn't anyone thought of this before' kind of moments. In BATMAN/SUPERMAN #8, writer Joshua Williamson has General Zod seek to resurrect his fellow Kryptonians in the Bottle City of Kandor, by using the Lazarus Pits of Ra’s al Ghul! Only Ra's isn't in the sharing mood. Not only does he have a league of assassins at his side, but the World's Finest also have to stop their super-foe-feud AND face a horde of Kandorian zombies. I mean how can you turn this stuff down?