Who are the great Batman creative teams? That’s always been a tough question since decades of artists and writers tackling Batman have left fans arguing over this for just as long. Still, two names inevitably come up in this conversation: Scott Snyder and Jock. And they’ve teamed up again for a take on the Caped Crusader in All-Star Batman #6 (DC Comics) that feels fresh, even though they’ve worked on him for years.
The basic setup is a horror story. Batman is attacking an Arctic preserve to stop Mr. Freeze, who’s discovered an ancient, lethal virus hidden deep in the ice. He also has a bunch of frozen zombies, just to add to the atmosphere, but Batman, of course, is out to stop him. The tone, however, is foreboding, not least because Snyder and Jock forgo any word bubbles in favor of captions and arcing lines of text that both create the layout of the page and drive the story.
Snyder’s writing is top-notch, as usual, especially when it comes to the plot turn you won’t see coming, but Jock’s angular, shadowy art paired with Matt Hollingsworth’s stark coloring work and Steve Wands’ typeset lettering gives the book its unnerving edge. It’s hard to make Batman fresh, but this team pulls it off and makes it look easy to boot.
God Country #1, Image Comics
Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw fire up a Texas-flavored yarn about a man and his father, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and the mystical events that bring him back. Sort of. Cates’ writing, notably Buzzkill, tends to use fantasy and SF as a way to discuss relationship struggles between fathers and sons, and this is no different. It gives this book in particular a different flavor, helped by Shaw’s speedy sharp-lined art, and puts it on the roster as a book to watch.
Namesake #3, BOOM! Studios
Steve Orlando and Jakub Rebelka continue their urban fantasy miniseries with some fun action. But it’s really the story of Jordan, our hero, and his family past that’s most riveting. Jordan is the son of two fathers, after all, thanks to the magic of Ektae, the land he’s currently punching his way through, and Orlando explores just what that means for him both practically and emotionally.
Motor Crush #2, Image Comics
Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart may write the script, but this is really artist Babs Tarr’s book. Tarr’s bright, slick style sets the tone for this book, both in how it’s designed and how she executes the action sequences, and it gives the book the feeling of watching an anime version of an ’80s action B-movie instead of turning a page. It’s a vivid, fun action series and one worth picking up.
Power Man And Iron Fist #12, Marvel
David Walker and Sanford Greene expand their canvas as Luke and Danny get wrapped up in the middle of a massive gang war. Tombstone, Alex Wilder, Black Cat, and a host of other Marvel villains are squaring off over who gets organized crime in Harlem, and while this sounds like a typical gang story, Walker subverts tropes and Greene gets to stretch his action chops and layout skills with an impressive central battle.
Ninjak #23, Valiant: Matt Kindt and Marc Laming deliver a heck of a twist in this new arc, where Ninjak faces the worst of the worst he’s squared off against, and they have a surprising request.
James Bond: Felix Leiter #1, Dynamite: Felix, James Bond’s long-time CIA buddy, gets a story of his own in a clever mix of Bond-nerd shoutouts (Tiger Tanaka!) and modern dirty martini espionage.
Inhumans Vs. X-Men #2, Marvel: It turns out this fight between the X-Men and the Inhumans, over whether the mutant destroying Terrigen is allowed to continue to exist, is a good old-fashioned crossover, in the end, and that’s oddly welcome right now.
Red Sonja Vol. 4 #1, Dynamite: Red Sonja has returned, chainmail bikini and all, to modern day New York. It does not go well, but this chestnut of a story has a breezy, agreeable tone that makes it a fun read.
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Giants #2, BOOM! Studios: Brandon Dayton delivers a delightful take on a classic fairy tale, the Tailor’s Daughter.
This Week’s Collected Editions
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Marvel (Softcover, $16): Ta-Nehisi Coates’ excellent take on Black Panther and Wakanda is worth catching up with, if you haven’t been following already.
The Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 2, DC Comics (Hardcover, $100): If you’re interested in the comics behind the TV series, you’ll find a lot of its inspiration between these two covers.