When DC’s Rebirth initiative launched last year, it was a breath of fresh air for the publisher after the mostly failed experiment of the New 52. Since then, we’ve gotten about 30 or so issues of most series working on their own to reestablish the characters outside of any giant Crises. But of course that couldn’t last and Dark Days: The Forge is upon us. Kicking off the event (prevent?) that will become Metal, Scott Snyder (along with James Tynion IV) takes the reigns and begins pulling together threads left dangling from his much lauded Batman run in this foil-covered, multi-artist extravaganza. I won’t get into any of the plot details, as the book is chock full of elements best experienced as reveals, but there’s plenty here to chew on for long-time DC comics fans. It’s as good a start to an event as anything I’ve seen recently, using the evergreen trope of Batman-doing-secret-things to send several heroes down surprising paths. If I have one complaint, it’s the odd choice to have the three artists (Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr.) switch almost page to page. At this point, we all know that making the trains run on time is important enough to the publishers that they’re willing to turn event comics into jam books, which is fine to a degree, but the lack of artistic consistency page to page is a bit jarring.
Marvel’s best event since…well, it’s been a while since they’ve had a good event but nonetheless, the fourth issue of Secret Empire sees the story still going strong as Cap and his HYDRA-sponsored Avengers team come face to face with AI Tony’s underground resistance at…a dinner party. See, both groups are chasing down fragments of the Cosmic Cube and the one they’re after happens to be in the hands of Pym-tron (Ultron wearing Hank’s face, which sounds silly but in practice is mega creepy as he really thinks he IS Pym). After a few pages of fighting, both teams are captured by Pym-tron and forced to sit in a recreation of the dining room of Avengers Mansion to ‘break bread’ together at Hank’s urging. The back and forth, mainly between Tony, Hank, and Steve is brilliantly done as the three cut into each other for all their failings over the years with words that land harder than any punches could. Combined with the interlude of Black Widow teaching the Champions about the realities of torture and the world they’re living in, this might have been the best issue of the series yet.
After the across-the-board success of the Hanna-Barbera crossovers, I was over the moon when DC announced that their stable of superheroes would be meeting up with the Looney Tunes characters in a series of one shots and they’re even better than I’d hoped for. This week sees Martian Manhunter meeting Marvin the Martian in a story that finds some surprisingly good emotional moments as J’onn tries to stop M’arvin from destroying the earth. In a weird pairing that ends up working quite well, Bugs Bunny meets the Legion in a pretty perfect story that finds Bugs shanghaied into helping a very, very angsty Legion.
Bet you forgot about Adam Hughes’ Betty and Veronica series huh? I kind of did, but that’s kind of been Archie Comics’ MO for the last few years- really REALLY good comics (Afterlife, Sabrina…) that only come out once in a blue moon. So it’s really more of a public service that I’m mentioning here that the 3rd (and probably last) issue of Hughes’ solo take on comics’ greatest duo is out this week, wrapping up the vicious feud between the two over the gentrification of Riverdale. Hughes has proven himself a delightful writer on this book, mixing meta-humor with a genuine reverence for the simple purity of the source material to create a really great three issue run.
Steve Niles is an undisputed master when it comes to making scary comic books and Winnebago Graveyard #1 is no exception. Niles and artist Alison Sampson delve into the always rich horror tropes of satanic cults, clowns & carnivals, and the American Southwest to create a stellar first issue that’ll leave you screaming for me. Sampson’s art brings a perfectly grimy atmosphere to the story, which sees a bickering family stopping at an odd fairground during a road trip. Talented creators and a classic setup make this one a definite buy.
I’m not sure I have to do a ton of selling for Defenders #1 as it features the characters used for Marvel’s mostly-beloved Netflix series, but hot dang is it actually great. Bendis has always been at his best with street-level characters and team dynamics so he’s comfortably in his wheelhouse. Artist David Marquez has been around being awesome for a while now, but this has got to be his best work to date. It’s cinematic and dynamic and all around eye-popping.