Tag Archive: DC Comics


We’ve had a great response here at borg to our complete checklist of the variant covers for the 80th anniversary of Batman and benchmark 1000th issue of his long-standing comic book series, Detective Comics Check it out here if you missed it.  The cover art, especially when merged with the variety of historical and modern title art and legends, makes for one attractive looking book, whichever copy you go for.  At least one of the ten main covers will provide a dose of nostalgia and excitement for any Batman fan.  But for $9.99 is it worth the price?  Can you tell the book by its 84 covers?

Incorporating eleven short stories and three pin-ups with a variety of stories, themes, and eras, this anthology is tilted in favor of the modern dark knight detective over the versions of the character from his first decades in print (Batman TV fans have several Batman ’66 comic book series to turn to for the lighter fare).  Is the issue epic?  That’s in the eye of the beholder.  Groundbreaking?  Probably not.  But it’s a fun read, and using mixed pairs of writers and artists–a few classic pairs and a few nice change-ups from then and now–it’s a great exercise in searching out what works and what works really well for DC Comics’ editorial department.  Love a particular story or visual style?  Surprise–you the reader now have new creators to keep an eye on in future series.

Becky Cloonan’s Batman from Detective Comics #1000.

You might find your next favorite creators in “Batman’s Longest Case,” with writer Scott Snyder and artists Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, the kind of story you think of when you see Batman as master detective.  Writer Kevin Smith pulled out the stops for his team-up with Jim Lee and Scott Williams in “Manufacture for Use,” including one of those great splash pages Lee/Williams fans can’t get enough of.  Artist Becky Cloonan delivered the biggest visual win with a flawless Batman: Year One-inspired Frank Miller style in one panel and a cool Bernie Wrightson caped crusader in another, matched nicely with Jordie Bellaire‘s colors in the story “The Batman’s Design.”  Tight writing and story make for an exceptional contribution from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev called “I Know,” probably the best writing of the book.  I’ll admit I was hoping for a Jim Aparo, Gene Colan, or Marv Wolfman homage (they defined the look of the Batman of my youth), but it wasn’t to be this time.  But based on this issue, who would I like to see in an ongoing monthly?  Brian Michael Bendis and Becky Cloonan.  And my favorite part of the book?  That goes to Mikel Janin‘s take on Batman with Joker and the Riddler in his one-page pin-up, which stopped me in my tracks, and should have been a variant cover option.  More, please!

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Detective Comics, the title DC Comics took its name from, first hit the shelves of newsstands just before March 1937, 26 months before Batman would first appear in the famous Issue #27 in May 1939.  This Wednesday the monthly comic book’s landmark Issue #1000 is arriving, and it’s going to be packed with content from several writers and artists.  It’s 96 pages in all, including the first appearance outside video games of Arkham Knight.  And as you’d expect, DC Comics is releasing the issue with several covers (our count below is a whopping 84 or about a cover for each year Detective Comics has been in print!), including a standard cover, a set of decade-inspired covers, both a blank sketch cover and new black edition, retailer incentives featuring logos or no logos, and several limited, exclusive shop, convention, and creator store variants.  More than a few are simply stunning, and this is the rare mass cover event where the final regular cover set (10) includes several works as interesting or better than the exclusives (the Frank Miller with the classic title art really takes us back to the 1980s).  Check them all out below–all 100 images including art without logos–with links to where to buy them (exclusives that haven’t sold out in pre-sales).

Writers for stories in Detective Comics Issue #1000 include Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Geoff Johns, Tom King, Christopher Priest, Dennis O’Neil, Kevin Smith, Scott Snyder, Peter J. Tomasi, and James T Tynion IV.  Interior artists include Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Tony S. Daniel, Steve Epting, Joëlle Jones, Kelley Jones, Jim Lee, Doug Mahnke, Alex Maleev, Alvaro Martinez, and Dustin Nguyen.

DC Comics did a nice job of pulling out creators defining each decade, with Steve Rude (1930s), Bruce Timm (1940s Detective Comics #69 homage), Michael Cho (1950s), Jim Steranko (1960s), Bernie Wrightson (1970s), Frank Miller (1980s), Tim Sale (1990s), Jock (2000s), and Greg Capullo (2010s)–all appear to only be available with the trade “Detective Comics” logo (but we’ve included images of the original art below).  DC Comics publisher Jim Lee is back again with the standard cover, a wraparound design.  The rest reflect a crazy big stack of variants by everyone and anyone, most available with the Detective Comics logo (with “trade” logo) or without logo (“virgin”), some in black and white, some with sketch art, some with foil cardstock.  The following are all the non-standard variant artists and where to get them (we heard an Andy Kubert cover may be out there, but could not confirm this): Neal Adams (three designs, NealAdams.com), Jay Anacleto (trade, virgin, and B&W) (Unknown Comic Books), Kaare Andrews (trade only, no virgin-only edition confirmed) (Third Eye), Artgerm (trade, virgin, retro) (Forbidden Planet), Lee Bermejo (virgin, trade) (Midtown), Brian Bolland (trade, virgin, B&W) (Forbidden Planet), Greg Capullo (gold foil version of his 2010s cover) (WonderCon variant), Clayton Crain (virgin, trade) (Scorpion Comics), Tony S. Daniel (trade, no virgin-only) (artist website, Comic Stop), Gabriele Dell’Otto (trade, silver virgin, and gold convention) (Bulletproof), Jason Fabok (trade, virgin, B&W) (Yesteryear Comics), Riccardo Federici (trade, virgin) (ComicXposure), Pat Gleason & Alejandro Sanchez (trade, virgin, B&W) (Newbury Comics), Adam Hughes (trade, virgin) (Frankie’s Comics), Jee-Hyung Lee (trade, virgin, B&W) (Frankie’s Comics), Dan Jurgens & Kevin Nowlan (sketch, line art, and color versions) (Dynamic Forces), Mike Lilly (trade-only, no virgin cover) (Comics Vault), Warren Louw (virgin, trade) (KRS Comics), and Doug Mahnke (trade, virgin) (Planet Comicon).

Plus there’s Francesco Mattina (trade, virgin) (Midtown), Mike Mayhew (trade, virgin) (The Comic Mint), Stewart McKenny (trade, we couldn’t locate anyone selling the virgin cover) (Comics Etc.), Dawn McTeigue (virgin, trade) (Comics Elite), Rodolfo Migliari (trade, retro trade, virgin) (BuyMeToys.com), Lucio Parrillo (trade, virgin) (Scorpion Comics), Alex Ross (two covers) (via his website), Natali Sanders (virgin, trade) (KRS Comics), Nicola Scott costume match design to her Superman image for Action Comics #1000 (trade, virgin) (Kings Comics), Bill Sienkiewicz (two designs, signed or not, one in trade, one virgin, via his website), Mico Suayan (trade, virgin) (Unknown Comic Books), Jim Lee & Scott Williams (midnight release vertical and convention silver foil, B&W, and four villain designs) (Torpedo Comics, Bedrock City Comics, Graham Crackers).

Want to see them all?  Here goes:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Make no mistake, Billy Batson aka Fawcett Comics’ Captain Marvel (aka Shazam since 2012) has always been the most difficult to fold into the DC pantheon of superheroes.  With Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman–the trinity at the top of DC Comics for so long–audiences always know much of what those characters are going to bring to a story even before they walk into the theater.  To be fair, Billy wasn’t a DC original, shuffled much later into the DC universe because of some decades-long legal tedium.  Billy Batson is a kid who suddenly becomes a superhero, so the trailers have been compared to Penny Marshall’s Big, another story about a kid suddenly dealing with being grown-up.  And that is, indeed, part of Shazam!  The movie is also part origin story, because although Shazam! adheres to Billy’s origin story going back to the 1940s (just as Captain America: The First Avenger adhered to its source material), much of the audience that saw the character in his heyday–when he was even more popular and well-known than Superman–aren’t around to make up the target moviegoing audience.  But Big and an origin story is just the beginning.

You know it when you watch a movie unfold and realize something great is happening.  DC Entertainment–the movie guys–finally paid attention to DC Comics–the actual writers and artists who built the character from the ground up–and at last delivered what this comic book reader has always wanted.  Shazam!, the story, Zachary Levi‘s superhero, and a new young actor named Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s friend Freddy–are fantastic.  The magic, wonder, and heart of DC Comics is finally back in the theaters.  It’s a gamechanger for the DC universe, because it finally steps away from Zack Snyder’s dark and brooding Justice League and returns it to the roots of DC Comics and DC At the Movies that we first got a taste of with Christopher Reeve’s first Superman and Michael Keaton’s first Batman.  So if the executives at DC are paying attention, and audiences agree once the film hits general release April 5, this could be an opportunity for a switch-up–an excuse to build a new Marvel-level superhero film universe around the new, amazingly fun and appealing superhero characters in this film.

At its core, the story by new screenwriter Henry Gayden updating a script by Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After, Jack the Giant Slayer, Goosebumps) is about a foster family and the importance of family, so don’t think this is another frivolous superhero movie to be easily dismissed.  As with Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it’s loaded with emotional beats, and it’s all heart.  What do kids care about, and what are they afraid of?  The film takes some time to look seriously at these things.  It’s not only laugh-out-loud funny in spots, expect some snorts, too.  But look for some emotional pangs along the way, on par with an oft-forgotten superhero movie that may have more heart than any other, the 1980 John Ritter sleeper (and one of my favorites) Hero At Large.  Which makes Shazam! also a movie for fans who count Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Incredibles among their most favorite superhero movies.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Primarily in-universe looks at the first three seasons of ABC/CW’s series Supergirl and the first four seasons of CW’s The Flash, two new books offer up a complete look at the superheroes, their encounters, and the extensive and diverse world of supporting characters in the shows.  The last of the series to round out CW’s Arrowverse–the live-action world of DC Comics characters outside the movies–Supergirl, the series, revolves around the famous daughter of Krypton created by the performance of Supergirl aka Kara Danvers actor Melissa Benoist.  The character’s personality comes to the surface in Supergirl: The Secret Files of Kara Danvers, a diary style guide to the TV series, which includes a three-season episode guide.  It’s a companion to both Arrow: Oliver Queen’s Dossier (previously reviewed here at borg) and S.T.A.R. Labs: Cisco Ramon’s Journal, and another new book in the series, The Flash: The Secret Files of Barry Allen, another diary style book documenting the latest incarnation of the superhero aka Barry Allen, as portrayed by Grant Gustin.

The first takeaway of these books is the breadth of stories that have been adapted from the comic books into these series.  The guest actors fill in the world from the comic books, and for older viewers, they conjure a bit of nostalgia, several from past superhero incarnations, from the movie version’s Helen Slater to Smallville’s Erica Durance and Sam Witwer, Lois and Clark’s Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain, Heroes’ Bruce Boxleitner and Adrian Pasdar, Hercules’ Kevin Sorbo, and the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter.  The wealth of villains alone in The Flash series makes The Flash: The Secret Files of Barry Allen a must-have for CW Arrowverse fans.

Both books feature dossiers of the good guys and the bad guys you need to know about, whether based in National City for Kara Danvers or Central City for Barry Allen.

Here are previews of each book, published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The Prisoner: Shattered Visage was one of the first prestige format comics from DC Comics.  Having the publication style of the recently released Batman: The Dark Knight Returns from 1986, it beckoned this teen reader with the very same mystery and appeal that The X-Files would tap seven years later.  But in the pre-streaming world, The Prisoner–the 1960s British television series upon which Shattered Visage would stamp a final chapter–was long gone, possibly never to be seen again, when the comic book was released two decades later.  So five decades later and The Prisoner resurfaced again last year with a new tale in comic book form as The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine (see our review here at borg).  And as luck would have it, the 16 episodes and a pilot of The Prisoner are now freely there to watch over and over thanks to Amazon Prime.  As a further celebration of 50 years of The Prisoner, in two weeks Titan Comics is reprinting The Prisoner: Shattered Visage in a new edition, with bonus never-before-published artwork, and an afterword by writer Dean Motter.

The 1967 spy show was written by, created by, and starred Patrick McGoohan, and British, followed by American, viewers were dropped for the first time into The Village.  A spy quits the spygame and is soon abducted, trapped in a quirky seaside resort known only as The Village, where he is interrogated and exposed to the oddest sorts of psychological manipulation to get him to spill his secrets.  Filmed on set in real-life Portmeirion, the look of The Village cemented the show as a TV classic.  In 1988 Shattered Visage writer Dean Motter with The Prisoner enthusiast Mark Askwith created a new four chapter arc in comic book form, as immensely satisfying and compelling as the show, re-introducing the characters of Number Two and Number Six.  But this story finds them at the end of their journey as the next guest of The Village arrives, an ex-spy named Alice Drake, whose sailing vacation takes a strange turn, leaving her marooned in The Village with them.

The setting of The Village is only part of the original show that was perfectly recreated for the 1988 comic book series.  Artists David Hornung and colorist Richmond Lewis were required to have each page of the story approved by McGoohan and they and the writers later received a further endorsement from the show’s co-star Leo McKern.  The photo-real images of both actors bolster the story, shown in the story both at the time of the show and as aged twenty years later.  Objects, colors, even props from the original show appear throughout the story, immersing the reader in this strange world of manipulation, conspiracy, privacy, challenges to freedom, and mind control.  Motter and Askwith include new secrets about The Village, and 33 years after the comic book release it remains compelling stuff with or without exposure to the TV show.

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In less than four weeks pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City returns, this time to celebrate its 20th year.  Even more than before the event is hosting a pantheon of nationally recognized comic book writers and artists for its seventh year in the downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue at the giant Bartle Hall facility at the Kansas City Convention Center.  The show runs Friday, March 29 through Sunday, March 31.  Bring your stacks of comics for autographs from your favorite creators–we’ve included here only a few important and familiar books by creators scheduled to be at the event.  Attendees will see some of the biggest names and most popular character creators spanning fives decades of comics, including:

Chris Claremont, writer and creator of dozens of characters including Rogue, Mystique, Phoenix, Emma Frost, Legion, Gambit, and Captain Britain.  His classic books include a long run on Uncanny X-Men, including the popular story arcs The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past, adapted into X-Men: Days of Future Past, multiple X-Men movies, and this summer’s coming film Dark Phoenix.

Jim Starlin, writer/artist and creator of Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, the Master of Kung Fu, and the first graphic novel published by Marvel Comics, The Death of Captain Marvel.  His classic books include Batman: The Cult, Batman: A Death in the Family, and Cosmic Odyssey.

Jim Steranko, writer/artist known for his unique 1960s style, his work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., plus memorable runs on Captain America and X-Men.  He was also a creator of concept art designs for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Fabian Nicieza, writer known for creating Deadpool in the pages of The New Mutants, and working on dozens of key superhero titles.  His classic books include New Warriors and Psi-Force.

Keith Giffen, artist and creator of Rocket the Raccoon and Lobo.  His classic books include several issues of Legion of Super-Heroes.

Kevin Eastman, writer and creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Steve McNiven, artist and creator of Marvel Comics’ Civil WarMcNiven is known for his cover art on dozens of Marvel titles.

Bob McLeod, artist and creator of The New Mutants.  (A concept that is the subject of 20th Century Fox’s last slated Marvel project, the coming late summer big-screen release The New Mutants).

And that’s not all…

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A new hardcover mini book joins Insight Editions‘ palm-sized book series (check out our review of the Harry Potter book here), this time reprinting 300 covers of the Wonder Woman comic book series, all in color.  So for a list price of $11.99, Wonder Woman fans can now flip through decades of the superheroine’s visual history.  You will be surprised at the volume of reptiles, undersea creatures, and dinosaurs she has wrestled over the decades from 1942 to 1983.

Wonder Woman: The Complete Covers Volume 1 finds Diana, the Amazon warrior-princess, in all sorts of situations–action and adventures featuring her ride, climb, lasso, grab, toss, wrestle, run, dive, fly, strut, sit, lasso some more, block, drive, fight, swing, soar, manhandled, swim, throw, jump, lift, spacewalk, clam surf, hoist trees, punch, sword fight, cry (but only twice), protect, shoot, drown, get tied up or handcuffed, fall, get eaten, kick, put a guy in a headlock, and lasso again, and deflect bullets and lightning, and die.

Who appeared the most with Wonder Woman on the covers of the first 300 issues of the Wonder Woman comic book?  Wonder Woman.  That’s right, DC must have figured if one image of the superheroine sold a 52-page comic, then the Amazon battling herself would bring in even more readers.  How many costume changes did she get in 300 issues?  For the first 177 issues she went from boots to sandal boots and back again, until 1968 when the comics featured a series of mod outfits, but she returned to her classic look with issue 204 (her boots would change yet again).

Check out our preview of Volume 1 and Volume 2 below.

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Our borg Best of 2018 list continues today with the Best in Print.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2018 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2018 here, and the Best in Television 2018 here.

So let’s get going.  Here are our selections for this year’s Best in Print:

Best Read, Best Sci-fi Read – The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey (Titan Books).  The Synapse Sequence is one of those standout reads that reflects why we all flock to the latest new book in the first place.  The detective mystery, the future mind travel tech, the twists, and the successful use of multiple perspectives made this one of the most engaging sci-fi reads since Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.  Honorable mention: Solo: A Star Wars Story novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).

Best Retro Read – Killing Town by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime).  The lost, first Mike Hammer novel released for the 100th anniversary of Mickey Spillane’s birth was gold for noir crime fans.  This first Hammer story introduced an origin for a character that had never been released, in fact never finished, but Spillane’s late career partner on his work made a seamless read.  This was the event of the year for the genre, and a fun ride for his famous character.  Honorable mention: Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake.

Best Tie-In Book – Solo: A Star Wars Story–Expanded Edition novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).  Not since Donald Glut’s novelization of The Empire Strikes Back had we encountered a Star Wars story as engaging as this one.  Lafferty took the final film version and Lawrence and Jon Kasdan’s script to weave together something fuller than the film on-screen.  Surprises and details moviegoers may have overlooked were revealed, and characters were introduced that didn’t make the final film cut.  Better yet, the writing itself was exciting.  We read more franchise tie-ins than ever before this year, and many were great reads, but this book had it all.  Honorable Mention: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove (Titan).

Best Genre Non-fiction – Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young (Insight Editions).  A compelling look at the director and his relationship with the leading women in his films, this new work on Hitchcock was filled with information diehard fans of Hitchcock will not have seen before.  Young incorporated behind-the-scenes images, costume sketches, and a detailed history of the circumstances behind key films of the master of suspense and his work with some of Hollywood’s finest performers.

There’s much more of our selections for 2018’s Best in Print to go…

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s not every day the creator of a character has the opportunity to return to re-write that character’s origin story.  Paul Dini has done that in a new novel co-written by Pat Cadigan called Harley Quinn: Mad Love, based on his one-shot graphic novel from 1994.  Those who know Harley Quinn from cosplay, the Suicide Squad, or her popular costumes as merely The Joker’s sidekick will find a much darker story of life inside a mental asylum–DC’s Arkham Asylum–which has all the elements of 1950s true-life horror stories.  Mad Love presents a young woman on her path to become more dangerously violent–this is Harley less humorous and quirky than the animated series version of the character.

Fans know this already, but for those who don’t:  Harley Quinn is a character created in 1992 by Dini and Bruce Timm, with a name that is a shortened version of the created names “Harleen” and “Quinzel” (derived from the word harlequin), to add a female character to Batman tales named consistently with the names of a long line of popular DC villains.  Mad Love is a character origin dissimilar to standard comic book origin fare, and something different from the goofy sidekick and romantic partner of The Joker readers will find in more recent stories.  As a child, Harleen likes her father, who works long hours, and resents her brothers and mother.  Her father turns to crime, distancing her from her family.  She picks up gymnastics along the way, and is successful enough to make the Olympics, but doesn’t.  Instead she takes to trying to use her knowledge of psychiatry from college to do some good.  Unfortunately she chooses Arkham Asylum as her starting point.  Her intelligent but distracted mentor trusts her, but once Quinzel starts breaking the rules of psychiatry, it’s a slippery slope, culminating in a career-ending decision.

Mad Love reveals a thinly crafted background for a popular character’s origin story.  Here she is shown as single-layered: weak, easily manipulated by everyone she encounters, and she can’t get past thinking like a child, despite going to college, despite getting a degree in psychiatry.  She shows the reader how little she learned when she tries too early in her career to take on The Joker as a patient.  As the ultimate villainous mastermind of this DC universe, The Joker finds it easy to twist her into a tool of his escape.  Yet all along she acts the part of doting girlfriend, never realizing she was never his girlfriend in the first place–she is defined by her poor choices.  The Joker even let’s her know, but she likes him anyway.

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“Adult coloring books” are a fairly recent phenomenon.  Over the past few years the adult coloring book has even taken on its own form, like the BBC’s Sherlock coloring book, which is published at just less than ten inches by ten inches square, differentiating its style and contents from the vertical designed books of decades past.  But the new field of books often have design flaws, like publishing an image that spans the fold line (no one since they were little kids have liked that feature in a coloring book, right?) or images that appear to have been drawn quickly, with little attention toward realism, or, for subjects like movie tie-ins, outright failing to match licensed character actor likenesses.  Luckily DC Comics comic book superhero fans won’t find those failings in two coloring books in current release from Insight Editions.

Both DC Comics Coloring Book and DC Comics Wonder Woman Coloring Book rate among the best coloring books you will find for kids or adults, ideal as inexpensive gifts this holiday season.  Both include images of original comic book artwork, used in marketing, for posters or promotions, and both feature original comic book cover artwork.  As an appendix, many of the covers are featured in full glossy color, so anyone who wants to reference the original color work can easily do so.  The only detractor is that neither book references the artists responsible for either the cover artwork or the included page art.  For most, they won’t notice, and this just be a great excuse to color some of the best images of the pantheon of superheroes from DC Comics ever released.

The DC Comics Coloring Book includes 96 pages and the DC Comics Wonder Woman Coloring Book includes 80 pages (both include 15 pages of full-color reference prints).  In the DC Comics book you’ll find covers to classic comic book issues, like Green Lantern 76 and 87, Showcase #4, Flash Comics #1, The New Teen Titans #1, and several All Star Comics and Justice League of America covers.  The Wonder Woman book includes covers from Wonder Woman #1, Justice League of America #12, Comic Cavalcade covers, and several other covers from various Wonder Woman-titled series.

Here are some preview pages from each:

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