DC Comics’ new limited series The Other History Of The DC Universe is phenomenal, a must read and an important milestone in comic book diversity. Now, I could, in all honesty end the post with just that minor amount of information on this fantastic debut issue and just urge you all to go out and purchase this landmark comic-book, but, this John Ridley penned epic series is so deserving of praise that I shall continue to heap on as many superlatives as I can manage to muster up.
John Ridley is a screenwriter, novelist and producer of American Crime and the superlative biographical period drama 12 Years A Slave, and with this new mini-series turns his formidable literary talents towards traditionally marginalised characters such as Thunder, Mal and Karen Duncan, Renee Montoya and Katana, with this inaugural issue focusing on Jefferson Pierce, also known as the electricity infused meta-human – Black Lightning.
The series doesn’t conform to the atypical comic-book format, but reads like a visual novel, a pictorial prose if you prefer, with the flow of the story presented in a diary/memoir style from the perspective of Jefferson. Taking place between 1972 and 1995, we follow Jefferson’s maturation from young man to eventual athlete, teacher and finally superhero in his subsequent Black Lightning form.
Through Jefferson’s perspective we witness the consequent escalation of DC’s heroes including the trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, with Jefferson struggling to comprehend why beings of such power can’t seem to tackle widely prevalent social injustices, poverty and discrimination, when they are so readily able to stop alien invasions, marauding gods and overtly powerful SuperVillains. It is here that Jefferson marks what makes a real hero, utilising both his ability as a teacher to enlighten and shape his pupils to help fight back against intolerance and iniquity, and his heroic Black Lightning persona to take that fight to the oppressors themselves.
John Ridley’s phenomenal prose is accompanied by some wonderful visuals courtesy of Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi, and perfectly encapsulate the differing visual styles of each era of DC and Black Lightning’s lengthy comic history.
Ridley’s “Other History Of The DC Universe” is absolutely an astounding chronicle, a beautifully written and adaptive work of visual prose that deals in highlighting the Superhero perspective from marginalised and disenfranchised minorities, the unusual approach to the comic book itself both verbally and visually is refreshing and I for one cannot wait to indulge in the next four issues of this wonderful series. Highly, highly recommended!
Precinct1313 is a dilemma within a mystery, contained in an enigma… it has been over six years since this majestic and malefic mansion first welcomed us into it’s darkened ceaseless corridors, herculean hallways and cavernous crypts, yet even now, after all this time we are still discovering new chambers and secreted areas. Recently uncovered is a mysterious room aptly named ‘The Scrying Chamber’ within this portentous place stands a single stone table bathed in ethereal light upon which sits an ominous black crystal ball.
So, gaze deep dear readers, unto manifold destiny through Precinct1313’s mystical crystal ball of wonders towards an apocalyptic future where the Earth itself has been laid to waste, and only one solitary hero can ultimately save humanity from itself…
DC Comics’ notable recent imprint – Black Label is a line of limited series aimed at a distinctly mature audience that began with the bombastic – Batman: Damned. Building upon the success of that first series DC have regaled us with other classic characters within this more adult format, with this particular superlative series starring our hallowed Hellenic heroine, the Themysciran Titan herself – Wonder Woman!Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is a four part, forty eight page prestige format mini-series written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson, that initially released in December 2019.
Princess Diana originally left her home of Themyscira and her beloved Amazon sisters to save the world from mankind itself, yet, after waking from an unexpected centuries long sleep and discovering the Earth has been reduced to a nuclear wasteland, she knows she has ultimately failed in her divine mission. The Earth has been destroyed, and it’s former protectors, it’s pantheon of Superheroes have failed and are long gone. Trapped and alone, in a post apocalyptic dystopia, Diana is tasked with protecting the last human city on the planet from dire monsters that have overrun the Earth, whilst also uncovering the dark secret behind the planet’s demise… and how she may be responsible for it!Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is sublime and a must have for any fan of the wondrous one. This is my first encounter with writer/illustrator Daniel Warren Thompson’s work and I must say I am now a huge fan, initially the grim and gritty artwork put me off, but in hindsight after experiencing the post apocalyptic landscape that this superb tale resides, the visuals are a perfect match for the mood set by Johnson’s stupendously sombre script. To be honest even if you aren’t a fan of Wonder Woman (say it isn’t so…) or comic books in general this still comes highly recommended as a perfect parable about where we, in the real world, are ultimately heading. Climate change, oppression, racism and tribe like mentality are all encompassed in this tremendous tome, with even Wondy herself struggling to stifle the causes of these worrisome traits. Grim, dark and gritty, but ultimately a tale of optimism and mutual respect for the planet that nurtures us and our fellow species.
He’s Back! and I’m not necessarily talking about this series’ titular protagonist, but the brilliance that is writer Tom King, the Mister Miracle, Adam Strange and Batman scribe attunes his incredible skill towards Watchmen’s uncompromisingly violent masked vigilante, Rorschach, with this brand new 12 issue Black Label maxi-series.
Tom King and Jorge Furnes’ thematic transposition of Alan Moore’s sociopathic anti-hero Rorschach takes its cues from a myriad of other sources aside from the original groundbreaking 80’s Watchmen series. The recent (and really quite brilliant) HBO Watchmen series is a definite influence upon the narrative contained within this first issue, with many of the exemplary plot-lines and story beats from the television show appearing as canon to the unfurling saga of King’s take on Walter Kovacs’ unstable alter ego.
The premier issue reads very much like a sociopolitical police procedural drama, this apparent new variant of Rorschach actually dies in the very first pages of the book, with his identity later assumed to be that of a reclusive comic-book creator, whom for years after his success as a writer of popular pirate comics, hid himself from public scrutiny. This is obviously a nod to the great Steve Ditko, the Spiderman creator who also ushered into existence the DC Comics character – The Question, who in turn was Alan Moore’s eventual inspiration for Rorschach… meta narrative is king here!
A compelling and intriguing beginning for DC’s newest take on a classic character, the narrative certainly plays upon the growing political dissonance perpetuating in the media in the real world, the story itself is based during a presidential election in 2020. Tom King is an absolute master of weaving current political and media discourse into his comic-book chronicles, and Rorschach appears to be following that sublime template. Jorge Furnes’ art compliments King’s writing beautifully, characterful and expressive, his style absolutely fitting to the world that is Watchmen, yet still manages to retain its own individuality.
Rorschach #1 is a must buy if you’re in anyway shape or form a fan of Rorschach or Watchmen, another engrossing and profound tale from superstar scribe Tom King, with fantastic art by Jorge Furnes. The first issue is most definitely a slow burn, but sets up a complex and compelling plot exquisitely, but then I expect no less from the writer that recently gave us the superlative Mister Miracle series. Highly recommended.