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Batman #50 (SPOILERS)

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin and Other Special Guests
Colorist: June Chung
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC

Thanks to the New York Times, a reviewer spoiled the ending to one of the most anticipated
comic book issues of our time four days ahead of its release. The bleeping headline spoiled it!
Many fans, and Tom King, understandably expressed their anger on Twitter.
Alas though, here we are. The seminal issue of King’s Batman run is on stands today, with
many shops hosting special events to celebrate the much-anticipated wedding of Batman and
Catwoman. And since America’s finest news source already ruined the twist ending for
countless readers, I’ll also be diving deep into spoiler territory here. At least I have the decency
not to do so in the headline.
The wedding of the century didn’t happen.
After months of build-up and presenting the possibility that Batman might actually find
happiness once and for all, King crushed everyone’s hopes by having Cat leave him at the altar
(or in this case, the rooftop).
It was a sobering, gut-wrenching conclusion to one of the most fascinating storylines in the
character’s nearly 80-year history. Was it a bad move to destroy the hopes of many readers out
there? Maybe, but I would still argue that King, Mikel Janin and the long list of guest artists like
Mitch Gerads, Joëlle Jones, Tim Sale and even Frank Miller delivered a pretty remarkable comic
with this issue.
Coinciding with the more cerebral tone of King’s entire run, Batman #50 delivers plenty of great
emotional scenes, my favorite being when Bruce asks Alfred to be his witness at the wedding
and the two share a heartfelt father and son embrace. Likewise, King delivers some rather
poetic prose to coincide with splash pages by the various guest artists. There are just some
genuinely beautiful moments throughout this issue, which will move readers regardless of how
they feel about the ending.
Ultimately, it’s a very King ending. Part of me does wish he had committed to something so bold
and unconventional, but at the same time I am excited to see where the story will go from here.
The ending also paves the way for the new Joëlle Jones Catwoman series, which debuts today.
Perhaps the Bat will always be broken, as Bane puts it here. Yet if King’s run does go a hundred
issues as planned, then there are still plenty of possibilities and potential storylines.

If you’d like to continue this discussion, hit me up on Twitter at @kwschaef, and be sure to pick
up the Ultimate Comics Nick Derrington exclusive cover.

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Venom #1

Writer: Donny Cates
Penciler: Ryan Stegman
Inker: J.P. Mayer
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

So, if you haven’t heard Marvel just rebooted…again. Get ready to see a lot of Marvel number
ones in the coming months, including Doctor Strange, Deadpool, The Immortal Hulk and the
recently launched Avengers title by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness.

Regardless of your feelings toward this reboot/relaunch/whatever-you- want-to- call-it, the new
Venom title is one you don’t want to miss. In conjunction with the thirtieth anniversary of the
iconic Spider-Man nemesis’ first appearance, the new Venom comic is both a love-letter and the
start of a brand new story.

As Eddie Brock struggles to control his alternate ego while holding down his reporter job, he
soon encounters a mysterious ex-military operative. Here, Eddie learns new details about the
origins of the Venom symbiote, details that could change everything and bring about powerful
new enemies.

Despite my skepticism about the whole Marvel relaunch, I was intrigued by this title solely
because of the creative team. Donny Cates has become one of my favorite comic writers over
the last year, with horror titles like Redneck and Babyteeth. Since joining Marvel, he’s not only
been able to provide fantastically entertaining revamps of Doctor Strange and Thanos, but also
give these books a darker and edgier aesthetic.

The same is true of Venom. Cates and the brilliant Ryan Stegman deliver a tour de force in this
comic, combining supernatural horror with a character-driven narrative. This first issue sets up
an exploration of the legacy of Venom, from Eddie Brock to Flash Thompson to other possible
hosts. As Eddie wrestles with his inner-demons and encounters new foes, the storytelling is a
culmination of internal conflicts and bombastic action sequences. Coupled with the griminess
and cinematic touch of Frank Martin’s colors, this is one to dazzle both longtime Venom fans
and newer readers.

Time will tell if the Sony-produced Venom movie in October will thrive or flop, but regardless
Marvel fans have this gem to indulge in.

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Hawkman Found #1

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Kevin Nowlan
Colorists: Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics

Metal continues to be one of the most bombastic and wildly imaginative crossover events in
DC’s history. At times it can be difficult to follow and connect it to the main DCU, but
nevertheless Scott Snyder and every other creator involved have done a great job expanding
the DC multiverse.

The latest tie-in issue is Hawkman Found, which provides a nice setup for the next issue in the
main Metal series. Hawkman’s death at the hands of Barbatos has been a major focal point
throughout Metal, but here the spotlight shifts directly to Carter Hall as he tries to escape the
sort of limbo state he’s been trapped in for so long. If you read the recent Metal tie-in Batman:
Lost, there are definite parallels between that book and this one.

It’s always a treat to see Jeff Lemire write a DC comic. Though he’s been delivering fantastic
indie titles like Black Hammer and Descender, this issue brings readers back to his stellar
Green Arrow run a few years ago. Though this issue is a mini spinoff, Lemire is able to
effectively explore the character of Hawkman with the space he does have. I’m also stoked for
his upcoming DC series The Terrifics, which he’s described as a love-letter to Lee and Kirby’s
Fantastic Four.

The real highlight of this issue though is Bryan Hitch’s art. In just one issue Hitch captures the
mythic, Conan-like elements of Hawkman. Plus, there are some great battle scenes between
Carter and a race of monstrous humanoid birds. Coupled with the gorgeous colors by Alex
Sinclair, Hitch’s art gives this comic a strong blend of surrealism and cinematic action
sequences. If you’re enjoying Metal, definitely pick this one up.

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Darkhawk #51

Writers: Chris Sims, Chad Bowers
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel

As part of Marvel’s Legacy reboot, the company has put together a series of one-shots for its
more obscure, B-list characters. Silver Sable, Master of Kung Fu and now Darkhawk are all part
of this initiative. The idea is that if these books sell a fair amount and garner enough interest
among readers, Marvel will consider giving these characters ongoing titles. My hope is that
sales for Darkhawk #51 will skyrocket, as this title would make for a great cosmic superhero

Chris Powell became Darkhawk years ago when he discovered an amulet in an old amusement
park. This event turned him into a being of immense power who used his gifts to fight crime.
Now however, it’s been a long time since Powell merged with his superhero alter-ego, and he
currently leads a more simple life as a cop. Yet when a tip leads him to the same amusement
park where he first discovered the gem, what he discovers there may just change his plans for
his future.

Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers do a great job introducing Darkhawk to readers who are
unfamiliar with the character, and also providing plenty of reasons for why this comic should be
an ongoing. As a one-shot it makes you want to dig deeper into the character’s mythos and hunt
down classic issues, but it also leaves plenty doors open for the story to continue.
Likewise, Kev Walker’s art is a delight, delivering the tone and aesthetic of a classic Saturday
morning superhero cartoon. I’ve only read a handful of Nova stories, but it has a similar feel to
that book stylistically. The colors are bright and engaging, providing the feel of a sweeping
space opera.

I’m really hoping enough people will like this book to want to see it continue, and regardless of
whether or not it does get greenlit as an ongoing it’s still a great collector’s item to have. Sims
and Bowers are regular guests at both NC Comicon shows, so get your copy of Darkhawk #51
now so you can get it signed at Oak City in March!

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Doomsday Clock #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s finally here. Ever since the mouth-dropping twist at the end of the Rebirth one-shot, DC fans
have been waiting to see how exactly Watchmen would merge with the main DC universe. The
answer will be explored throughout Doomsday Clock, which is a 12-issue series written by Geoff
Johns and drawn by Gary Frank.

The last major revelation was that Dr. Manhattan had tampered with the space-time continuum
and created the New 52 timeline. Doomsday Clock starts off in the Watchmen universe, taking
place about eight years after the events of the iconic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons story. I’ll go
ahead and say that if you haven’t read Watchmen in a while, you may want to refresh yourself
before going into this book.

That said, this first issue offers a lot of potential for the series as a whole. Beyond being a love-
letter to the source material, it provides an interesting look at this world as it inches closer and
closer to annihilation. We see a character from the original story posing as Rorschach,
Ozymandias apparently seeking to redeem himself and Dr. Manhattan is still missing.
Meanwhile, all hell has broken loose across the globe.

The only tie to the main DC universe comes at the end of the issue, but we still have 11 more
issues to get the answers we’ve yearned for for the last year and a half. After the fairly
underwhelming crossover The Button earlier this year, this book is a worthy follow up to both
Rebirth and Watchmen. Geoff Johns returns to comics writing with a bang, and with art by the
amazing Gary Frank this is one of the biggest collector’s items of the year.

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Deadman #1

Title: Deadman
Written, Drawn and Colored by Neal Adams
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: DC

 It’s a pretty big deal to have a comic in 2017 written and illustrated by the legendary Neal Adams. The man who helped revitalize characters like Batman and Green Arrow in the 1970s alongside writer Denny O’Neil is back with a bang. His newest work brings back one of the weirdest and most interesting characters in the DC universe.

Not unlike the equally psychedelic Mister Miracle book by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, Deadman #1 is about our hero coming back from the dead and the mystery surrounding his assassination. In order to discover the full truth of what happened to him and the connection to the League of Assassins, Boston Brand will need the help of Batman, Zatanna and Doctor Fate.

Back when Deadman was first created in the 1960s by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, Adams played an instrumental role in popularizing the character. The first arc he contributed to as a penciler also dealt with Brand coming back from the dead, so it’s only fitting that he’s helming the new reboot.

It goes without saying that this is a gorgeous book from start to finish. Adams’ bombastic and wildly surreal style coincides perfectly with the story’s supernatural elements. Not only that, but it’s a compelling narrative as well. Even if you haven’t read the last Deadman miniseries, Adams does a nice job making this one an easy jumping-on-point, with little ties to anything else going on in the DC universe right now. Now if Warner Bros. and DC could just get Guillermo del Toro to make a Deadman movie I’ll be really happy.

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Goosebumps: Monsters at Midnight #1

Title: Goosebumps
Writer: Jeremy Lambert
Artist: Chris Fenoglio
Letterer: Christa Miesner
Publisher: IDW

Earlier this year, horror icon R.L. Stine made his first foray into comic book writing with Marvel’s revamp of Man-Thing. Though the book sold pretty terribly, this reviewer adored its B-movie flare and gorgeous visuals. I would even go so far as to say it was one of the most fun titles I’ve read all year, and you should definitely pick up the trade when you get a chance.

Now, IDW returns to Stine’s most iconic series, just in time for Halloween. Goosebumps: Monsters at Midnight brings together everyone’s favorite creatures and settings for an all-new adventure. Writer Jeremy Lambert and artist Chris Fenoglio capture the nostalgia of the classic Goosebumps books and tv show, while also delivering an easy jumping-on-point for readers who are new to this universe.

The story follows Mia and Ginny as they stay in their grandmother’s bizarre, mothballed house for the summer. As boredom quickly creeps in, the mischievous kids find themselves thrown into a world of terror when they stumble upon the town’s eery library.

It’s as straightforward a premise as can be, but that’s the beauty of Goosebumps. Stine’s universe revels in the corny, the creepy and the weirdly supernatural. What really makes this comic is Fenoglio’s wonderfully cartoonish style. All of the characters are ridiculously exaggerated, which coincides perfectly with the book’s tone; and it’s the kind of story kids and adults can both enjoy. When you feel like taking a break from binge-watching Stranger Things this weekend, pick this one up and come by any Ultimate Comics location this Saturday for our Halloween party!

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Ragman #1

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Inaki Miranda
Colorist: Eva De La Cruz
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC

Even for longtime DC fans, Ragman is a pretty obscure character. He showed up on Arrow in season five and is set to return in the new season, but in terms of the comics he’s remained mostly absent for a while.

This new limited series by writer Ray Fawkes and artist Inaki Miranda provides a revamp of Ragman’s origin, and could potentially lead to a more prominent role for him in Rebirth. For now though, this is a nice self-contained comic perfect for the Halloween season.

Ragman #1 tells the story of Rory Regan, an army veteran who returns home to Gotham after a failed mission to raid an ancient tomb in an Israeli desert. During the mission, Regan encounters a supernatural force which eventually transforms him into the creature Ragman. As memories of these experiences and fallen comrades haunt him, Regan faces even more demons when a new evil shows up in Gotham.

I knew next to nothing about Ragman’s origin or mythos coming into this issue, and I found it quite enjoyable. The character first appeared in 1976, and Fawkes and Miranda do a great job capturing the tonal aspects of 70s supernatural horror, while also giving the book a modern context. This issue is part war drama and part horror fantasy, with both genres nicely balanced. Fawkes does an especially good job with the pacing, allowing the readers to get a feel of Regan’s character before showing him in the Ragman costume.

Likewise, Miranda and De La Cruz deliver a subdued, grim style that feels like a John Carpenter movie. There’s a great double splash page-spread about midway through which showcases Ragman and the villain with Gotham looming in the background. If you’re into anything to do with Swamp Thing, Constantine or Justice League Dark, you’ll love this comic.

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Batman: White Knight #1

Title: Batman: White Knight #1
Sean Murphy
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC

I love a good speculative story, and Sean Murphy’s new miniseries Batman: White Knight offers a fascinating take on the Batman mythos. Featuring a reformed Joker as the protagonist and Batman as the deranged psychopath, this comic has the potential to stand alongside iconic elseworld tales like The Dark Knight Returns and Superman: Red Son.

The debut issue sets up the backstory as Batman’s violent methods and vigilantism are called into question by Gotham’s citizens, after he nearly kills Joker while the GCPD stands by. Murphy uses this as an opportunity to draw parallels between this scenario and the problems our society faces with police brutality and race relations. Add to that a drug which Batman shoves down Joker’s throat, which thus provides a catalyst for his reformation.

It may sound a bit heavy-handed, but Murphy does a great job producing a gripping narrative, and weaving in the political themes naturally. Ultimately this book is a character study from Joker’s point-of-view, examining what would happen if he were reformed and whether or not Batman exhibits a sort of co-dependency toward their conflict. The writing is a sort of poetic noir, while the art combines the grit of Brian Bolland’s style with the best aspects of the classic animated series. A splash page of Jack Napier (Joker’s original alias) in his room even features images of the cartoon designs from the 90s.

White Knight is a must-read for any Bat-fan. Balancing superior storytelling with a provocative socio-political message, Murphy knocks it out of the park once again.

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Marvel Legacy #1

Title: Marvel Legacy #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Esad Ribic, Steve McNiven and various others
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel

 Rebooting a long-established universe is a tricky business. On the one hand you want to imbue the story with plenty of mythology and cater toward longtime readers, but you also have to entice newer fans to give it a shot and make it an easy jumping-on point. Marvel Legacy #1 is admittedly less successful in the latter, but it remains a rich celebration of the Marvel universe that sets the stage for the post-Secret Empire era.

Now, there’s no denying that many of this issue’s story beats are based on DC’s widely acclaimed Rebirth one-shot from last year. Old characters who have either been dead or absent for a while return, generations of heroes collide and new cosmic elements are added to the universe which have the potential to alter everything from here on. Yet whereas the Rebirth one-shot revealed Wally West as the point-of-view protagonist a few pages into the story and told a more personal character piece, in this book Jason Aaron waits until the last page to reveal the narrator. The reveal itself is quite satisfying, as it serves as a kind of meta-narrative for how the Marvel universe has evolved in the decades since Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created these characters.

In terms of the story itself, Aaron opens in the Stone Age, where it’s revealed that some of the world’s greatest heroes have their ancestral roots here. Mjolnir and the Asgardian mythos play a big role here, which is befitting given how beloved Aaron’s Thor run is. The original Cap however only makes a brief appearance, as Steve finds himself wandering the countryside following the events of Secret Empire. Likewise, Tony Stark only gets a brief mention, stating that he’s been off the grid for a while. We also get glimpses of Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm wondering if the world still needs or remembers them, Deadpool apparently seeking redemption, Doctor Strange and Iron Fist conversing about dreams and the return of an iconic hero. If all this sounds overtly expository, it’s because this issue is the exposition of the new Marvel era. The only major character absent is Spider-Man, but the Spider-Man Generations book also came out today.

There’s little I need to do to convince you to buy this comic, especially if you’re a hardcore Marvel fan or are just interested in reading any of the new titles this fall. It may come across as a bit convoluted if you haven’t been following Marvel for a while, but nonetheless Aaron handles the material with the skills of a master storyteller. Couple that with the book’s team of superstar artists ranging from Steve McNiven to Ed McGuinness, and you’ve got yourself a nice collector’s item here. Pick it up this week at any Ultimate Comics location and you’ll get it for half off, as well as a free copy of the Marvel Previews magazine. Excelsior!