With their run on Batman, Tom King and Mikel Janin have delved into issues of great seriousness and explored the psyches of supervillains. And now, with Batman #36, out today from DC Comics, they explore a problem not even Batman is prepared for: the couples’ outing with your coworker!
Joking aside, King and Janin are going lighter here, obviously, but the issue touches on deeper, more relatable concerns. King and Janin contrast how Superman and Batman view each other. They’re both orphans, and both are at once impressed and intimidated with how the other has constructively dealt with their pain to become heroes. And there’s the other aspect, of course, considering Batman is engaged to Catwoman and Superman is married to, and has a son with, intrepid reporter Lois Lane. We’ve talked before about how Superman is such a contrast to Batman he’s practically a Batman villain, but this issue highlights just why they’d be, however awkwardly, friends.
Sleepless #1, Image Comics
The publication of The Silmarillion was the worst thing to ever happen to fantasy. The fantasy genre’s obsession with world-building, at the expense of those living in it, is especially glaring in comic books. Sarah Vaughn and Leila De Luca, though, take just the opposite tack. They offer a rough idea of what the title of this comic is about, but it’s far more important to them that you understand how our heroine, Poppy, feels and what’s happening to her. It makes the book far more compelling than most fantasy comics on the stands, and De Luca’s clever spins on medieval imagery give the book a high fantasy feel.
Iceman #8, Marvel
Bobby Drake is out of the closet, and so is his younger self, the one thrown forward in time. So it’s natural to want to try and build a relationship with the Drake parents, right? Sina Grace and Robert Gill take what could be typical convoluted comic book weirdness and make it genuinely touching. While Grace’s wit is in full effect here — Bobby at one point literally freezing — the younger Bobby’s freakout at his parents and their attitudes has more of a sting to it. It illustrates why, exactly, it took so long for Iceman to admit the truth about himself — to himself or others.
The Mighty Crusaders #1, Archie Comics
Ian Flynn and Kelsey Shannon revive Archie’s superheroes in what seems, at first, to be an unreconstructed team book straight from the Silver Age. Flynn, who spent years writing the highly popular Sonic The Hedgehog comics, begins to shift the focus once the team’s done beating up a human/dinosaur hybrid, however, and we discover that it’s really about how running a team is a messy, complicated business both literally and emotionally. Shannon has some clean, fun heroic art, and this is a good basis to see if Archie’s heroes can finally stick.
Rocko’s Modern Life #1, BOOM! Studios
The cartoon our parents really should not have let us watch has returned in comic book form. Ryan Ferrier and Ian McGinty have the unenviable task of updating the edgy ’90s comedy without losing the tone, and they pull it off. McGinty keeps the design of the show while putting his own spin on it, and Ferrier nails the anxious cringe comedy as Rocko, a nervous wallaby, is fired from his job and has to discover new and more humiliating depths.
Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special, Valiant: Marguerite Sauvage writes and draws a Christmas parable about not letting consumerism ruin your joy in the season. That it’s through a hilariously warped take on Alice In Wonderland just adds to the fun.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1, DC Comics/IDW: James Tynion IV and Freddie E. Williams II are back with their team-up of two favorite franchises. As the Foot Clan falls apart, Batman and the Turtles have to contain the fallout. It’s impressive once again, not least because plot makes sense as a story for all of the characters.
Klaus And The Crisis in Xmasville, BOOM! Studios: Grant Morrison and Dan Mora return to satirize the holiday and have some good bloody fun with commercialism. Thanks, Axe-Toting Santa!
Paradiso #1, Image Comics: Ram V and Dev Pramanik build a dream-like post-apocalyptic landscape worth exploring in their first issue, where a man comes to a living city — the last — to try and tame it.
Dastardly And Muttley #4, DC Comics: Garth Ennis and Mauricet’s horror comedy about the real world being forcibly turned into a cartoon takes a sharp turn towards horror, even while it remains hilarious.
This Week’s Best Collections
Watchmen: Annotated Edition, DC Comics (Hardcover, $50): Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic gets a useful set of annotations and notes for those of us who may not be familiar with what Moore’s riffing on.
Star Hawks Vol. 2, IDW Publishing (Hardcover, $40): Gil Kane and Ron Goulart’s gorgeous science fiction newspaper strip is hard to find, or rather was, with these handsome new editions letting you admire the work Kane put into each panel.
The Whiteout Compendium, Oni Press (Softcover, $20): Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber’s inventive detective story, about murder in Antarctica, gets assembled in one volume.