FANTASTIC FOUR #1 (legacy #646) by writer Dan Slott and artist Sara Pichelli was a real treat to read! I’m very excited for #2. It is pretty cool and interesting to note that Marvel put this issue out on exactly the 57th anniversary of the original Fantastic Four #1 which was back on August 8, 1961 (cover-dated November) — similar to another publishing milestone earlier this year when DC Comics released ACTION COMICS #1000 on its exact 80th anniversary date this past April.
Now if I know Marvel, they’ll time things just right so that FF legacy #700 will come out on the title’s 60th anniversary in three short years, although I’m not exactly sure how since this series is not currently shipping twice-monthly. Then again, before the 2x monthly frequency of many of its titles in recent years, Marvel used to have several key titles (like the main X-MEN books) shipping at an accelerated clip of 18 issues per year. Well, I’ve done the math and that’s actually all it would take to line up the legacy-numbered FF #700 with the year 2021. 🤓
I have always respected DC Comics for its ability to compartmentalize comics in the smaller sub-categories that are needed for a vast library. The lines and imprints they currently have include:
DC Year One OGNs
DC Super Hero Girls
DC Ink (Young adult readers)
DC Zoom (Middle-grade readers)
The New Age of Heroes
The Sandman Universe
Bendis’ upcoming curated line
Back in the day they had Helix for science fiction, Minx for YA girls/women and other now defunct ones like Elseworlds, Paradox Press, Johnny DC, and Wildstorm (which had its own various imprints within).
As a lifelong comics fan and constant observer, I must say DC has been killing it these last two years beginning with REBIRTH and considering all kinds of new imprints and series covering so many different genres and niches. People tend to give mad props to Marvel for the MCU movies and Netflix TV shows, and rightfully so. But that’s an expansion into other media. In terms of just the COMICS, which is where this all began, I think DC has been the better servicer to the discerning comic book fan. Given what they’ve got going on now and what’s on the immediate horizon later this year, It all feels fresh and electric.
Of course, it’s hard to observe DC without also observing its rival. Though Marvel seems to be righting their ship, doing course corrections and improving things, there still seems to be a certain staleness or tiredness/fatigue to what they’ve got going on, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong — they still have, for me, overall the best characters in super-heroics, but operationally/editorially it seems a certain kind of glory is missing as I read their stuff digitally. Some have opined that external success has soured the comics. I don’t know about all that, I think their marketplace dominance and constant “need” to skew the status quo has done that moreso. I just know that for the last few years — at least through the 7 year existence of the CBU — I’ve been more intrigued by DC as a publisher from an objective viewpoint, if not as a hardcore fan, which is weird for a born Marvel zombie. I think the last time I was super excited by a Marvel comic was Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña’s UNCANNY X-FORCE in 2011 (if you read that series then you understand why). I suppose the recent JESSICA JONES and THE DEFENDERS came close to that same excitement, but that’s six years later. Today, in an alternate reality I would be more excited about Jason Aaron’s AVENGERS than I am. I had hoped the new era of SPIDEY would hook me. The return of the FANTASTIC FOUR is also intriguing, at least on the surface. But if I’m honest, a big part of it is the lack of an alluring X-MEN line that really compromises the magnetism that the MU could have on me because they were my main gateway in the mid-80s to early 90s.
At any rate, I started this stream-of-consciousness commentary simply to praise DC for getting back to their old 1990s form in a modern way by doing their damnedest to serve a diverse array of comics fans with a variety of offerings and realizing, unlike Marvel it seems, that mainstream comics should be about more than the in-lockstep collective narrative of a shared universe, which has been Marvel’s amped up M.O. since the Quesada regime began 18 years ago. For the biggest publishers in such a crowded market it seems wiser to be attractive to a wider swath of readers rather than just the opposite. I’ve no doubt it’s a corporate mandate, but still, the vast forest beyond the trees immediately before you should be seen.
After just two issues in, ISOLA from Image Comics might just be the next SAGA. I’d definitely recommend it to SAGA fans, maybe EXTREMITY and MONSTRESS (also from Image Comics) fans as well. A sufficient amount of positive word-of-mouth could help push this promising new fantasy series to the heights it deserves already. Certain manga fans could dig this as well. #Isola #FetishFix #FetishFav
After a long layoff of a full year (and some change), I am so happy to finally have LAZARUS proper back into my hands, gracing my eyeballs! When last we received an issue of LAZARUS written solely by co-creator/author Greg Rucka and artist exclusively by co-creator/artist Michael Lark, it was March 2017’s LAZARUS #26, the conclusion of the “Cull” storyline which saw the Russian family Vassalovka — a deadly new piece on the LAZARUS chessboard — make their devastating assault.
Well, with a presumably recharged Lark back in the groove of producing awesome pages again, issue #27 arrives as the first of a 2-part prelude to “Fracture”, the next multi-part storyline which promises to bring major changes as this wonderfully intricate and progressive story moves forward. In the intervening months between issues #26 & 27 there was a 6-issue miniseries, LAZARUS: X+66 (co-written and drawn by various creators) that served to chronicle some key side-characters and events that get us from year X+64 to where we’ll eventually arrive in year X+67 when “Fracture” starts.
Thankfully issues #27 & 28 also chronicle events between those parameters, but they focus solely on the previously unknown fate and misadventures of one Jonah Carlyle, the disgraced, disowned and discarded son of the Family Carlyle, who — having been betrayed by his sister Johanna Carlyle who was at one point his co-conspirator to seize control of Family Carlyle by taking out their patriarch Malcolm Carlyle along with their historically loyal, weaponized “sister” and Lazarus Forever Carlyle, the embattled star of our show. [see LAZARUS #1-9]
After his fall from grace and ouster, Jonah had desperately tried to appeal to–and seek asylum from–Carlyle’s hated rival, the Family Hock (whose own patriarch, Jakob Hock, is one sadistic S.O.B.) Well, Jonah’s desperation plan for survival via Hock had actually backfired and led instead to his capture, imprisonment and inhumane torture by the Family Hock because Jakob Hock wanted to extract the Family Carlyle’s longevity technology from Jonah’s DNA. [see LAZARUS #10].
Meanwhile, Malcolm had ordered Forever to execute Jonah, while he used his son’s pitiful plight to ultimately facilitate what is called a Conclave between all the families in the Dystopic world of LAZARUS [see LAZARUS #11-13]
However, Forever’s encounter with her brother did not go as commanded because Jonah did what no other Carlyle would do for her, which was tell her the very old, well-guarded secret truth about her very existence. Jonah plead for his life and Forever opted not to kill him in that confrontation, instead she helped him escape his fate in a way that would help incriminate the Family Hock–which pleased Malcolm–and sent him away to never return [see LAZARUS #14].
Jonah has been presumed dead, yet readers knew better than that. So that’s the backstory. LAZARUS #27 (and 28) is the story of what happened after Jonah escaped into the North Sea.
So fast forward to now and we find — well, a Scandinavian family finds Jonah floating in the North Sea near Denmark and rescues him from certain death by hypothermia. A lovely lady by the name of Pernille Møller Jensen is especially sympathetic to him and helps nurse him back to functional vitality. Jonah assumes a slightly altered identity to avoid more suspicion, scrutiny and worse, and chooses to live and work among these fine Danish folk who naturally are also in cold-but-quickly-heating up war with the same factions Family Carlyle are.
Without spoiling too much, I’ll conclude that this rather fulfilling issue ends with a love scene that — judging by the cover of May’s #28 — may or may not lead to the eventual birth of a child as the next chapter chronicles the remaining years of Jonah’s exiled adventures. Given the world of LAZARUS, I do not anticipate a happily-ever-after ending to Jonah’s new life.
I wait impatiently for “Prelude to Fracture” Part 2.
At just past the would-be half-way mark of what’s speculated to likely be a 100-issue epic creator-owned series, SAGA is that comfortable, reliable favorite series that you come to simply expect to deliver exactly what you need from a series — not unlike a favorite TV showing deliver the goods each and every week of the season. That’s exactly what I experienced reading Chapter Fifty One. Saga’s vast cast of characters never fail to be compelling from scene to scene, issue to issue. The plots never meander and rarely fail to surprise and thrill.
A relatively “quiet” issue, this one opens with Squire and his father Prince Robot discussing the suspiciously missing Princess Robot. Longtime readers know the truth behind that story. Next we find young Hazel in the ocean, not-quite being babysat by Ghüs, Friendo and Doff. A “mustached kingfish” leads photojournalist Doff off to this chapter’s climax at the end, but not before we discover Hazel’s dad Marko writing a novella that gets lovingly criticized (not too harshly) by his wife and Hazel’s mother, Alana. Oh, and there’s the matter of Petrichor’s (along with Prince Robot and Squire’s) new identity plan that starts heading toward a resolution (well, maybe — you never know in this universe).
That aforementioned adventure to photograph the usually elusive mustached kingfish? Well, that adventure ends tragically, unfortunately. However, that death is an honorable one thanks in no small part to loyalty. Of course, SAGA remains an epic story that is no stranger to purposeful deaths.
All in all, a rather fulfilling chapter, especially if you consider how the plot continues to serve a variety of characters in its twenty-two pages. After six years and fifty-one issues in, SAGA enters its middle-age poised and graceful while its co-creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to show the comics industry how it’s done!
I really enjoyed DC Comics’ 80-page ACTION COMICS #1000 Anniversary issue, which also, coincidentally, marks the 80-year anniversary of Superman in printed comic form, having debuted on the stands in ACTION COMICS #1 on April 18, 1938 with a June cover date. I bought, in my opinion, the best looking available cover left on the shelf — the Joshua Middleton 1980s era variant (see below).
An anthology of assorted stories honoring Superman, I would have to say the Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason story probably was the best of the bunch, but really all the stories contributed well to the overall product, I think. The contents could have maybe been sequenced differently, but really that’s a minor thing. Dan Jurgens’ lead-off story was very clever. “The Car” by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner & Olivier Coipel, and “Of Tomorrow” by Tom King & Clay Mann, were especially fine little vignettes, as was Brad Meltzer and John Cassaday’s “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet”. As for the closing story with Brian Michael Bendis making his debut on the title and character, drawn by Jim Lee and Ryan Benjamin with inks by Scott Williams, I’ll say this: aside from the slightly annoying Bendis dialogue, I thought it was intriguing enough to whet the appetite for whatever it is he’s got in store for his upcoming runs on both ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN starting this Summer.
So, as an on-the-fringe DC Comics fan, I’m very happy to own this special, historic comic. It’s certainly one of the better anniversary specials of all time, I’d say.
So ANALOG #1 was an excellent start. So good I’m very tempted to get it monthly. I will get the $10 trade in October. I’ve been transitioning away from monthlies in my creator-owned comics since last fall, and this is a series I know will be so rewarding in book form. I’m happy to wait a few months for this first arc.
ISOLA #1 was also an excellent start and so gorgeous. I’m in for this one as well. And like the aforementioned ANALOG, I’ll trade-wait this one also. This one will clearly be a better reading experience in book form, not because the first chapter wasn’t satisfying, just that as beautiful and immersive as it is, it will be a breathtaking experience in book form. Come on October!
And there was yet another fine start in SKYWARD #1. Image is 3 for 3 on new series for me this month, hitting it out of the park as usual on high concepts. This one particularly could be really cool for an animation or live-action adaptation as well.
And finally, I am already off the OBLIVION SONG train after two issues. Cool concept but creator/writer Robert Kirkman’s style & execution remain unimpressive, as is Lorenzo De Felici’s art, I’m sorry to say. Of course, it’s all subjective, and I like a wide variety of art styles, am even tolerant of many more “crude” styles. But whatever the style, it has to appeal to the beholder, especially the facial work. I really don’t like De Felici’s faces.
As for Kirkman, I have always had a problem with Kirkman’s dialogue. Plotting wise we know since all the way back to THE WALKING DEAD and INVINCIBLE (and OUTCAST too) that he plots SPECIFICALLY for the 6-issue arc and trade (a tactic ingrained in him while at 2000s-era Marvel). I suppose if you read him in trade form you can get a more fulfilling reading experience. But, ugh, that dialogue . . . one reason I like TWD TV show better than the comic.
Another recent read, ACTION COMICS #1000, I will address in a separate post.