Warning: Contains Minor Spoilers For Both The Original Series And Issue #1 Of Doomsday Clock.
Never was a truer word said Doc… since DC Comics and sensational scribe Geoff Johns are once again returning us to the dystopian landscape of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins’ original groundbreaking 80’s maxi-series.
I am a self confessed Watchmen fanboy, it is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite comic-book series of all time. When I first read Alan Moore’s trailblazing series in 1986, I was blown away, it was a unique and contemporary take on the Superhero genre, a treatise on social anxiety and a complete deconstruction of traditional Superhero conceptualisation, it was different in every single way possible to everything that came before it, and is almost single-handedly responsible for completely transforming the face of the comic-book medium for future creators and readers… a veritable masterpiece.
Since that time we have been regaled with a scant few other forays into Moore’s apocalyptic vision, from director Zack Snyder’s masterful cinematic adaptation in 2009, a motion comic version of the original series also released in 2009 to coincide with the film, through DC’s prequel series ‘Before Watchmen’ released in 2012. And though some fans revelled in the new material presented to us (myself included) others believed that the original story should have always been left as a standalone project, with whom co-creator Alan Moore has always sided.
I personally believe that any beloved piece of creation, be it film, novel and comic-book should always be given a chance to grow and present itself to a new and modern audience, Snyder’s movie was the first instance of this for Watchmen, opening up the material to new fans, but at the same time being honest and respectful to Moore’s original vision. Watchmen is a world that has so many more tales to tell, and even more lessons to bestow upon its readership, and with Geoff John’s new 12 issue ‘Doomsday Clock’ series DC are doing just that… oh, and it also means a return of irascible masked vigilante – Rorschach, but not in the way any of us were actually expecting!
Doomsday Clock #1 is our first foray back into the pandemonium that is the world of Watchmen, a direct sequel to the iconic 80’s series, and as controversial as that seems to some fans, as I stated earlier, I’m more than happy to once again step into the chaotic and dystopic world of the titular crimebusters. Sequels, movie adaptations etc do not dilute the original works, and if done correctly can only add more layers to the existing whole, plus if the idea of a Watchmen sequel is in any way sacrilegious to you, then you can always ignore it and continue to enjoy Moore’s sterling original tale in all its well deserved glory.
The series is initially set seven years after the end of the original story, it’s 1992 and the world is still in turmoil after the event set into motion by Ozymandias, but, with his scheme now laid bare, the world is once again on the brink of nuclear armageddon. With this premise Geoff Johns and artist Gary Franks effortlessly transport us back to the wonderfully dark and grimy world set up by Moore, stylistically the comic evokes the original material beautifully, from the dialogue set through to the originals nine panel grid layout, visually this feels perfectly at home with its predecessor.
And I haven’t even mentioned the ‘Rebirth’ connection to the DC Universe that started this soon to be iconic pairing of two distinct comic-book worlds, if you have been following along with the unfurling tale of Doctor Manhattan and his apparent meddling with the classic DC heroes, then prepare yourself for a series that will hopefully snake its eventual way to the answers behind the cryptic clues already let loose.
If you’re a fan of Watchmen, and can get past the apparent controversy that a sequel to the seminal original exists, then I say definitely pick this up. Johns has presented to us a well written, dark, but at times, also amusing return to the world of masked vigilantes, chaos and deep rooted fears and anxiety, and I for one am glad to continue my protracted stay in its fatalistic presence. Recommended.
My copy of Doomsday Clock was purchased at my very favourite comic-book emporium – Final Frontier, located in Fore Street, Exeter in the UK.
Watchmen And Images Copyright: DC Comics.
Yes indeed, it really has been a quarter of a century since illustrious illustrator Jim Lee first introduced us to the celebrated cast of comic-book characters from the weird and wonderful WildStorm universe.
WildStorm Productions started life as an independent company established by the aforementioned Jim Lee alongside Brandon Choi. It was first established in 1993 as a sub imprint of the popular Image Comics brand, another indie comic company that boasted amongst its ranks some of comicdom’s most influential and talented individuals, including Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri and Erik Larsen, together these industrious individuals presented to their fevered fans classic characters such as Spawn, Savage Dragon and Wildcats amongst many, many others.
WildStorm expanded over the years creating new sub-imprints like Homage Comics in 1995 (which delivered unto us comic reading mortals absolute classics like Kurt Busiek’s Astro City) and dipping its creative toe into animated movies and television series, plus a card game based upon Lee’s very own Wildcats characters which used a similar template to that of Magic: The Gathering.
Unfortunately though during the early and mid nineties comic-books fell into a major slump period, a serious decline in sales which began to affect most smaller publishers, including WildStorm, due to this progressive downturn Jim Lee started to look around for a buyer for the company and its characters, which ultimately resulted in its 1998 acquisition by DC Comics. Initially the two comic-book universe were kept as separate entities, until 2010 when DC announced that the WildStorm imprint was to be shut down, with WildCats #30 (Vol 5) being the last published title, though they did proclaim that many of its beloved characters would be saved to reappear at some point in the future.
And return they did, a very short while later when DC merged the characters into its mainstream universe during their New 52 relaunch in 2011. Introducing comic persona such as Midnighter, Voodoo and Stormwatch into the established DC universe was a revolutionary and exciting prospect adding a new zest and enthusiasm to both sets of characters who gelled together surprisingly well (Midnighter and Nightwing come to mind, a titanic team up that was wildly adored by fans of both characters.)
In February of 2017 DC announced that the Wildstorm imprint would once again be resurrected as its very own entity after 25 years since its first introduction, and a hardcover collection would be released to mark its quarter century celebrations.
Containing brand new stories by the original creators this is a fantastic buy for established fans and newcomers to the WS fold, with returning fan fave stories such as Wildcats, Gen13, and the Authority under the guidance of notable creators – Jim Lee, Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. The 300 page epic hardcover also contains an extensive art gallery with brand new pieces by incredible illustrative illuminaries such as Adam Hughes (reason enough alone to buy the book!) Fiona Staples, Lee Bermejo and Tim Sale.
To round the title out you also get behind the scenes material and reprints of some of WildStorm’s most popular stories, adding up overall to a priceless package of perfection… a must buy.
Tom King is without a doubt the most fitting writer currently working in comics today to take on the legend that is Mister Miracle, not just because he’s a scribe of almost unparalleled talent, but his surname ably pairs him with Miracle’s genius creator – Jack ‘The King’ Kirby!
To honour the the 100th anniversary since Jack Kirby’s birth, DC Comics along with aforementioned writer Tom King, and artist Mitch Gerads are reuniting us with one of Kirby’s most beloved and successful creations – super escape artist Mister Miracle, in a 12 part maxi-series that also features The New Gods from DC’s Fourth World Saga – which is widely hailed as being one of the sources that classic sci-fi movie Star Wars was inspired by.
Jack Kirby was an American comic book artist and writer who is one of the most influential and innovative personalities in the medium. Aside from Mister Miracle and The New Gods for DC Comics, Kirby also created such iconic characters as – Silver Surfer, The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Captain America, X Men and many, many other too numerous to mention.
Kirby initially was a Marvel stalwart, creating, illustrating and writing a myriad of storylines for the publishing giant, his titles always had high sales and even higher praise, but behind the scenes a different picture was being painted. Kirby felt he was being unfairly treated by Marvel, his perception was that he was seen more as a writer/artist for hire by the company as opposed to one of it’s foremost creators and innovators, and in response in 1970, he left Marvel and joined its arch-rival DC Comics.
Signing a three year contract with DC Comics Kirby created some of his most memorable characters, from The New Gods, Etrigan and The Forever People, through DC’s big bad – Darkseid and of course – Scott Free (the perfect moniker, let’s be honest) better known as Mister Miracle, the super escape artist whose creation could almost be seen as the perfect allegory for Kirby’s flight from Marvel to DC, breaking the shackles of previous employment to forge new horizons.
Miracle has been a popular character for DC since his inception, with a slew of ongoing and mini-series, and was an exceedingly welcome addition to the ranks of The Justice League (alongside his wife – Big Barda, which is a whole other post we can’t wait to get to!), during the excellent Keith Giffen and J.M DeMatteis late eighties entry of the World’s Greatest Superhero team-up.
The much anticipated return of Scott Free is, thankfully, not only been worth the torturous wait but manages to exceed all expectations with a fantastically written tale that gives us a very much grounded portrait of a Superhero, a quirky yet flawed individual who is ultimately struggling to find his raison d’etre.
As fantastic as the writing is, the art by Gerads is definitely no slouch in comparison, in fact it’s superb! Gerads is an extremely flexible penciller which shines through in his art in this first issue, which at times evokes an almost pitch perfect Kirby-esque feel in the art style.
Mister Miracle #1 is a must buy, featuring one of Jack Kirby’s (definitely my favourite) greatest creations,and a first rate creative team who bring us a powerfully emotional tale that entices you in and holds you entranced until the final page… dammit why isn’t issue 2 out yet!?
Let’s be honest, origin tales have been spectacularly overused in both the comic-book scene and their spin off movie counterparts. How many times do we really need to witness Spiderman being bitten by a radioactive wall crawler, or Batman losing his parents to the gun barrel of Joe Chill… these characters are now so iconic that virtually everyone, comic book fan or not, is overtly familiar with their raison d’etre.
With all that said, you may be feeling slightly bemused that I’m recommending a series that dynamically delves into the past of Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, but there is a very good reason behind that… this series is fantastic. As a matter of fact it’s not only one of the greatest Supergirl comics to have ever been released, but one of the greatest comic-book series ever published… period!
Kara has recently found herself back in mainstream public consciousness thanks mainly to the extremely successful (and brilliant) CW television show, and with the really rather rousing Steve Orlando “Supergirl Rebirth” comic book run, Superman’s Kryptonian cousin is finally receiving the attention she deserves.
Which brings us to Kara’s most recent triumph, the astonishingly awesome “Supergirl:Being Super” the Mariko Tamaki penned opus that transcends previous Kara Danvers origins by offering us a fresh take that focuses more upon her relationships, trials and tribulations of everyday life as a teenager growing up in a small american town. It’s definitely a slower burn as a comic book, less super heroics but more angst, sass and quirky dialogue as we follow Kara in an exceptionally engaging and fantastically well written coming of age story.
If you approach this series with atypical expectations of explosions, super speed and heat vision, you’re going to go away disappointed, this is a tale that spotlights the character behind the iconic “S” symbol and it’s all the better for it. Supergirl: Being Super is a revelation in Superhero storytelling, and probably the greatest iteration of the classic character to date. Highly recommended.
They may both be Superheroes, founding members of the Justice League and all round crime-fighting bad-arses, but Batman and Superman aren’t always the best of buddies, and, unsurprisingly, neither are their progeny.
The last time Precinct1313 caught up with Damian Wayne’s rambunctious Robin, and Jon Kent’s Kid of Steel, they were involved in a bout of fisticuffs worthy of their powerful patriarch’s many clashes throughout the decades… like father, like son seems apt. However, again like their respective parents, these two wannabe Superheroes were always destined to fight crime together, and it’s their irrevocably conflicting personalities that makes Super Sons #1 such a joy to behold.
Written by Peter Tomasi, with art duties falling to the fantastic Jorge Jiminez, Super Sons #1 focuses primarily on this direct clash of disposition between the “lil” costume crime-fighting sidekicks, and it’s glorious. Damian Wayne may be the son of the Batman and League of Assassins’ Talia Al Ghul, a highly trained martial artist and nifty ninja of notable nature, but he’s also a narcissist with severe delusions of grandeur who likes nothing more than to mess with Jon Kent’s mind. Whether it’s secreting himself in Jon’s bedroom, before confronting him after he’s just about to fall asleep, or impersonating Jon’s school bus driver, Damian really does revel in freaking out his prospective ally, much to Jon’s annoyance.
Jonathan Kent is Damian’s polar opposite (well of course, he was raised by none other than that big blue boy-scout Superman) a kind and considerate son, who genuinely wants to help his fellow humans, a responsible, straight laced kid with caring and sensitive parents in Clark Kent and Lois Lane, who have endeavoured to instil into Jon a sympathetic understanding of the world around him… which is in stark contrast to Damian’s own upbringing, I mean, he is the son of the goddamn Batman after all!
Damian’s childhood was vastly different to Jon’s, an isolated upbringing with nary a kind word from his father. Bruce Wayne is a distant and austere patriarch, a solemn guardian of the night, whose only true mission in his life is to fight crime in a desperate attempt to avenge his parent’s death and appease his guilty conscience. Which makes it no surprise that Damian should ultimately reach out to Jon for companionship, even though the only way he knows how to do this is by being an annoying arse!
Super Sons is a fantastic first issue, an exceptionally fun and zany comic that combines perfectly the burgeoning friendship between the two antithetical heroes, and their relevant parental nurturing’s (or lack thereof) ultimate effect on their prospective psyche. A must buy.
Author, Kevin Grevioux is bringing his love of strong female protagonists to a new mini-series for DC Comics with “Odyssey Of The Amazons”. Grevioux is probably best known as the co-creator of the smash hit “Underworld” series of movies, the Kate Beckinsale led film franchise that dealt with the ongoing, millennia spanning conflict between Vampire and Lycan (werewolf) clans.
The six issue series is set many years before the birth of Princess Diana, and follows a group of Amazons as they set out on an expedition to discover others of their ilk, along the way they encounter mythical beasts and legendary creatures. But the crusade eventually turns into a rescue mission as two of their party are captured by Norse Storm Giants.
A solid first issue kicks off a previously untold chapter in Amazon lore as we follow the group of Amazon warriors and their fearless leader Hessia, as they scour the world outside of Themyscira on a search for more of their kind. Feeling very much in the mould of an epic tale of antiquity such as Jason and the Argonauts, Grevioux’s mythical tale is fantastically well rendered and is an exciting and welcome addition to Amazon mythos.
The series is in essence an Amazon origin story, exploring their existence and beginnings. Though the Amazons themselves are primarily a race derived from ancient Greece, they are also a diverse group comprising many ethnicities, and Odyssey aims to explain their eventual formation as the immortal female race of warriors, artisans, and scholars we all know and love.
Our first encounter with the adventurous group of Amazons is in battle, as they face off against an invading troop of O’Kungians in the fictional African country Zhu’Kara. It’s here that we first meet the group’s stalwart leader Hessia, a strong confident character revered by her Amazon peers, tasked by Queen Hippolyta with gathering Amazons from different cultures and nations, and returning with them to Themyscira. The visuals by Ryan Benjamin are fantastic, beautifully detailed, they especially shine during the hectic battle sequences, where his art flows almost as if animated.
Odyssey Of The Amazons #1 is an engaging and exciting first look at Grevioux’s take on Amazon history, strong characterisation, an awesome central character in Hessia and sublime artwork by Benjamin. Highly recommended.
Following hot on the heels of the 2010 epic – ‘Batwoman: Elegy’ comes yet another masterpiece in modern comic-book storytelling by talented artist/writer JH Williams III, in his monumental follow up – ‘Hydrology’. JH Williams was almost single handedly responsible for plucking, long forgotten female Superhero Batwoman out of an imposed limbo with his successful run on her modern reintegration back into the DC Universe.
Williams breathed new life into a character who had rarely been seen since the 1960’s, captivating the dedicated comic book fan with a newly resurrected member of the Bat-family, who, even though she shares many similar traits with her male counterpart, does indeed still feel a unique and fresh character, this is all thanks to Williams’ almost incomparable talent.
Hydrology collects together issues #0-5 of Kate’s ‘New 52’ run. JH Williams once again stuns us into near silence with his breathtaking artwork, the panel layouts are, as always, astounding, Williams loves to experiment with visually impressive splash pages. These stylistic image choices immerse the reader even further into the tale, Batwoman almost leaps out from the panels themselves, with the beautifully rendered colours also assisting achieve this overall impressive visual effect.
The story finds Batwoman investigating a disturbing case involving the mass disappearance of children across Gotham, which ultimately leads her to the supernatural entity known as La Llarona (The Weeping Woman). Throughout this harrowing investigation, Kate also finds time to re-train her cousin Bette in crime-fighting techniques, with the notion that the one time Superhero (Bette was once known as Flamebird, member of Teen Titans West) could become a valuable aid in her war on crime.
The poignant storyline also finds Kate dealing with dramatic social matters outside of her red and black clad vigilante persona. Her ongoing tangled love life with Detective Sawyer, recent estrangement from her father and unremitting feelings of loss from the tragic events surrounding her twin sister (read Batwoman: Elegy for the full story, fact fans). And just to make life even more complicated for our fiery haired heroine, she is the subject of an intense investigation by Agent Chase of the Department Of Extranormal Investigation, who has vowed to unmask her.
Williams constructs a striking, emotionally compelling and haunting tale that contrasts beautifully between a hardened and capable crimefighter and an emotionally confused young woman, with the visual style juxtaposing between a beautifully bold and effervescent painterly style when Kate becomes the Batwoman, and a simpler rather less embellished (yet no less gorgeous) technique when she is merely Kate Kane. This artistic approach speaks volumes about Kate’s feeling of worth in and out of the Bat suit, the vivid and bright colours during the Batwoman sequences really does emphasise her love of the freedom and anonymity that her alter ego allows her to have, giving her a sense of merit and standing in the world, plus helping to masque and cast aside her real life trauma.
JH Williams III once again shows why he is one of the most sought after artist/writers in the comic book medium. His visual style is almost unmatched, his writing is in equal measures intelligent, haunting and enthralling, realising characters that are both credible yet also otherworldly in their existence. Hypnotic, lavish and addictive, a must buy for fans and newcomers alike.
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 Flame Haired Vigilantes Out Of 5
Celebrate the creation of everyone’s favourite mischievous misfit Harley Quinn with this definitive collection of her misadventures. Former Psychiatrist Dr Harleen Quinzel was originally an Arkham Asylum intern, who after prolonged interviews with the Joker decided that it was the Batman himself who was the cause of Joker’s anger and insanity. Gradually falling in love with the irascible psychotic, Harleen eventually helped the Clown Prince Of Crime escape the asylum and joined him on his crusade to dispense murder and madness to the streets of Gotham.
Harley was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series titled “Joker’s Favour.” Her role was originally conceived as a mere walk on part, but she ultimately proved so popular with the audience that she was granted a larger role as the Joker’s main sidekick and potential love interest as the animated series continued its Emmy award winning run. Harley’s first comic book debut was in issue 12 of The Batman Adventures, where she appeared alongside veteran Bat-Villains Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Her origin story was laid out for the first time in the 1994 Paul Dini penned one-shot “Mad Love” but it wasn’t until 1999 that she was officially accepted into mainstream DC Universe continuity with “Batman: Harley Quinn #1″
On July 28, DC Comics will release the ultimate tribute to the Clown Princess Of Crime with this 200 page collection of some of her most enduring adventures. The Joker’s main gal takes centre stage as DC collects together some of her greatest tales from throughout her 23 year reign as DC’s consummate ‘bad-girl’ character. This anthology collects together for the first time; Batman: Harley Quinn #1, Gotham Knights #14, #30, Detective Comics #831, 837, Batman: Black And White #1, #3, Joker’s Asylum II: Harley Quinn, Legends Of The Dark Knight: 100 page Spectacular and Detective Comics #23.2.
The 200 page ultimate Harley Quinn compilation will be available in softcover and digital format on July 28 at your local comic book emporium, and is the definitive look at the Queen of Chaos and a great way to familiarise yourself with a character that in 2016 will be making her first ever big screen appearance in David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad” movie.
Harley Quinn: Copyright – DC Comics.
“It is a foe Batman can see and hear… but cannot touch. It will strike only once… yet will change his life forever. Already weakened by a debilitating plague, Gotham City is struck by a devastating force of nature, an earthquake that registers over 7.5 on the Richter scale. In an single instant, the Batcave and Wayne manor are left in ruins, thousands are dead, and the Batman is amongst the missing”
Batman: Cataclysm was a major storyline crossover, that ran throughout all of the various “Bat-family” titles in 1998, encompassing comics such as, Batman, Detective, Nightwing, Azrael, Catwoman, Robin, and many others. The gripping tale of a massive earthquake that rocked the very foundations of Gotham made for an exhilarating yet ultimately tragic and moving story of loss and hardship, as the people and heroes of this famed city work together to help avert the inevitable fallout from not just the earthquake itself, but also the various lunatics and Supervillains that have escaped from Blackgate prison and Arkham Asylum, who are intent on making the most out of Batman’s disappearance and the crumbling infrastructure of Gotham’s Police force.
This newly collected edition of the compelling story, contains material not previously available in the earlier trade compilation. This epic tome totals 464 pages in length, is written by Chuck Dixon, with art by Jim Aparo, and has an amazing Brian Stelfreeze cover. The story signalled the beginning of almost 2 years of storyline arcs that would deal exclusively with the earthquakes aftermath, culminating in the year long “Batman: No Man’s Land” saga.
Batman: Cataclysm is available in softcover format at your local comic book emporium right now. This definitive edition, as previously mentioned brings all aspects of the celebrated tale together for the first time, chronicling an event that, in the end is more destructive than anything Gotham has ever experienced before. Epic in both length and scale, this is a must have for all Bat-fans.
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 Calamitous Catastrophes Out Of 5.
It has been ten years since the last appearance of the Batman, and Gotham City has devolved even further into lawlessness and anarchy without its former custodian’s presence. An ageing Bruce Wayne struggles with his inner demons, and attempts to hold back his rage and inefficacy at protecting the city that he loves, with a mixture of alcohol dependency and a reckless, almost suicidal endangerment of his life through varying extreme motor sports events. With a new threat emerging in Gotham with the crazed Mutant gang attempting a coup of the city, the Batman returns in a proverbial blaze of glory, but has age and a growing feeling of doubt in his own prowess left the former masked crime-fighter incapable of dealing with this deadly menace.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is the groundbreaking saga penned and illustrated by the extraordinary Frank Miller (300, Sin City). Released initially in 1986, this 4 issue mini-series is almost wholly responsible for the direction the former ‘Caped Crusader’ of earlier incarnations took, becoming darker, grittier and a hell of a lot more intense!
This fantastic collection of the 80’s masterpiece contains the full 4 issue mini-series for the first time in black and white. This stunning tour de force of a Batman story is even more brooding and bleak in this form, accentuating Batman’s feeling of guilt over his forced abandonment of Gotham, and his eventual return as its most famed guardian.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns will be available from June 16, in hardcover format weighing in at 208 pages. It could not come more highly recommended, it’s not only one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, but one of the most exceptional Superhero stories ever put to paper, standing effortlessly alongside other sublime comic tales such as Watchmen and V For Vendetta.
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 Brooding Bats Out Of 5.
After a night of sex, drugs and occult ritualism in the woods, Eve Coffin wakes up naked, covered in blood and devoid of all memory of how she got there. One of her friends is missing, another finds herself in a mental asylum, and a third believes that Eve herself is responsible. Years later, Eve returns to Coffin Hill to discover that the darkness she unleashed in those dark woods a decade ago is still loose, and is surreptitiously seeping through the town of this sleepy Massachusetts hollow.
Coffin Hill is a bleak, haunting tale of witchcraft, madness, power and retribution, set against a creepy backdrop of New England. It stars Eve Coffin, an unruly and defiant teenager from a rich and powerful family, that have endured a curse that dates way back to the Salem witch trials of 1692.
Written by best selling horror/fantasy author Caitlin Kittredge, author of the popular Nocturne City and Black London series of novels. Though primarily a novel writer, Caitlin has always had a great love for the comic book medium, especially Vertigo’s Sandman series. After meeting a fellow writer who had recently been solicited by Vertigo, she managed to get her Coffin Hill series picked up for publishing by DC’s supernatural horror imprint.
Coffin Hill has proven a big hit for Vertigo and is currently on its eighteenth issue, I only recently discovered this horror gem by picking up the first trade collection and instantly fell in love with the characters, atmosphere and haunting writing style of Caitlin. The art is also outstanding, pencilled by the very talented Inaki Miranda, who formerly worked on Vertigo’s Fairest and Fables series, and a stint on DC Comic’s Birds Of Prey series.
Coffin Hill’s first two trade collections are available right now and are highly recommended to anyone with a love of dark fantasy, horror and the supernatural. Expertly crafted characters, a brooding atmosphere and compelling storyline make for a tragic tale that is an infinitely addictive page turner.
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 Carrion Crows Out Of 5.
After a long hiatus from the world of costumed crime-fighters, Batwoman triumphantly returned like the proverbial phoenix in 2006 in the pages of the weekly series ’52’. Batwoman was created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff in 1956 and made her debut in Detective Comics #233. There have been two notable versions of the character over the years beginning with the original Kathy Kane, the silver age variant. Kathy was created to be part of what was becoming known as The Batman Family and as a possible love interest for Bruce Wayne, but in 1964 following a restructure of the Batman universe, Kathy was removed altogether from bat-lore by new editor Julius Schwartz.
Madame Xanadu was created by David Michelinie, Val Mayerik and Michael Kaluta in February 1978, and made her first appearance in Doorway to Nightmare #1. Madame Xanadu was the main star of this series of mystery comics, with the series paving the way for the beginnings of DC’s Vertigo line of comic books. Vertigo is an imprint of DC, originally created to publish stories that didn’t meet the strict guidelines set down by the Comics Code Authority, which enabled DC to have more graphic and explicit content in the stories than was possible in their main superhero line of comic books.
Disenchanted is the trade paperback collection of issues 1-10 of Madame Xanadu’s comic series, released in 2009. Written by Grendel creator Matt Wagner, and drawn by Amy Reeder Hadley and Richard Friend.
Madame Xanadu is one of world’s most mysterious and enigmatic magicians, for centuries she has aided both the powerful and powerless alike when threatened by supernatural forces. The esoteric character originally learnt her craft through Merlin the legendary wizard from King Arthur’s court. Wagner and Hadley’s spellbinding tale takes us on a captivating journey through the annals of time alongside Xanadu as she meets and aids illustrious figures from the past, from reading the fortune of Marie Antoinette, through serving in court as a precognitive for Ghengis Kahn, and even cheating Death herself in a game of cards.
Wagner’s story makes for compelling reading as we follow Nimue through key points in human history. For all her power though, Nimue is an emotional and empathetic character, who is ultimately just trying to find her place in the world. Wagner brings much pathos and poignancy to Nimue, so much so that you cannot help but form a real emotional attachment to the character, which in no small part is also down to the magnificent visuals provided by the very talented Amy Reeder Hadley. Hadley is an extremely versatile artist and this shines through in a story that takes place throughout history, meaning that Hadley had to draw everything from medieval castles, through grimy 1800’s London and beyond into the early 20th century, Hadley’s consummate artistic talent accomplishes this with ease.
Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted comes highly recommended, introducing you to a lesser known DC character, who is an enigmatic and powerful mystic, yet at times a very human and tragic character, masterfully realised by Wagner and Hadley, who provide for us some of their greatest ever work.
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 Metaphysical Mystics out of 5.
This year celebrate 75 years in the company of the World’s mightiest mortal… Shazam! That’s right comic fans, the Superhero formerly known as Captain Marvel is now officially as old as Batman and Superman. So to coincide with the septuagenarian Superheroes’ anniversary, DC Comics are releasing a hardcover anthology containing some of his greatest adventures from the past seven and a half decades.
Shazam (Captain Marvel) was created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker in 1940, and made his first appearance in Whiz Comics #2. Shazam himself is actually the wizard who bestows upon the 12 year old Billy Batson the power to become the adult Superhero Captain Marvel by just uttering the mystical phrase “SHAZAM!”. Alongside his extended family, sister Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Junior he fights crime and his nemesis, former holder of the Shazam title… Black Adam.
The Shazam anthology hardcover will be available in April from your local comic-book emporium, with interior art by various artists including co-creator C.C. Beck, with stories by Denny O’Neil, Geoff Johns, Otto Binder and many more. Weighing in at generous 400 pages, this is a must buy for any fans of the World’s mightiest mortal and anyone considering discovering him for the very first time.
I mainly read DC Comics, I grew up living and breathing their fictional worlds since the age of six when I first discovered the phenomenon that is The Batman. At age nine I encountered the amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman for the first time and she quickly became my favourite comic book character of all time, even surpassing my adoration for the Caped Crusader. Over the years I immersed myself in the continuing stories, interaction and camaraderie of the many heroes of DC’s universe. There was one hero though who wasn’t part of DC lore, he didn’t exist in the same universe as Wondy, Bats, Zatanna and all the other characters I love, this interloper into my safe enviroment of a comic company I love was the hero that pretty much started it all, the original masked crime-fighter, the ghost who walks … The Phantom.
Produced by Dynamite comics under licence from King Features Syndicate, the Last Phantom is a modern retelling of the 21st Phantom, Kitridge Walker who forsakes his heritage as a masked crime-fighter, instead choosing to help people of his home of Bengali (aka Bengalla) through his charitable organisation Walkabout. But after his wife and son are killed by forces looking to control Benagali for their own nefarious purpose, Kit must begrudgingly take up the mantle of his forebears and show the world that wherever darkness and evil dwells, the Phantom will be close by.
This retelling of the classic Phantom of old has been rather divisive amongst fans, the Kit Walker portrayed here is very much a different character to the noble and clean cut hero of yore, but that is the point of a modern reboot, to bring the character kicking and screaming into the present and make him more contemporary for new audiences. This book does that and rather wonderfully too, a story of redemption and the honouring of one’s heritage and birthright. This new Phantom may be different from his progenitors, but he still stands for the same morals and precepts of all the Phantoms who came before him.
Written by Scott Beatty, with interior art by Eduardo Ferigato and the astounding covers by the exceptional Alex Ross and Joe Prado.
Precinct1313 Rating: 4 Amaranthine Clad Heroes out of 5.