THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team convenes for their first roundtable discussion of the new year, covering four big new DC releases including Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton, Nightwing #100, The New Champion of Shazam! #4, and Batman – One Bad Day: Bane.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of each discussion for our final verdicts.
Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton #1
Writers: Nicole Maines, C.S. Pacat, Frank Barbiere, and Leah Williams
Artists: Skylar Patridge, Scott Godlewski, Sami Basri with Vicente Cifuentes, and Marguerite Sauvage
Colorists: Nick Filardi, Alex Guimarães, HiFi, and Marguerite Sauvage
Letterers: Andworld’s Morgan Martinez, Andworld Design, Dave Sharpe, and Becca Carey
Cover Artists: David Marquez & Alejandro Sánchez
Zack Quaintance: Hey team! It’s been a while since we’ve roundtabled (all the way back in October!), but here we are just three Tuesdays into a new year and there are DC Comics that demand to be talked about. Lucky for the good readers of The Beat, we have reconvened to do just that. First and foremost, I want to know…what did you all think of Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton #1?
Cori McCreery: For me Assault on Krypton was a slam dunk. Particularly the two bookend pieces featuring Dreamer and Power Girl. Both went out of their way to be psychedelic and trippy, and it made the whole comic a blast.
Quaintance: When I read that comic, I thought, ‘oh this is all very much Cori’s favorite things.’
Joe Grunenwald: I also really enjoyed Assault on Krypton. These anthology one-shots tend to usually be a mixed bag in my book, but this one had four really solid stories from start to finish. I think the Power Girl story from Leah Williams and Marguerite Sauvage was probably the strongest story for me.
Quaintance: I liked it a lot too. Each of these stories played to what I consider the strengths of this event: the nature of what’s happening in the broader narrative (a global Lazarus rain!) gives creators freedom and allows them to be additive, plus also Batman is sidelined.
McCreery: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite of the two bookend stories if I’m being honest. On the one hand one was Dreamer by Nicole Maines. On the other, Leah Williams is one of my favorite writers in comics. I’m gonna call it a draw.
Quaintance: I feel like both those stories will continue to play out elsewhere during this event, so perhaps a winner will emerge down the line.
McCreery: The Power Girl story is continuing in next week’s Action Comics #1051 actually!
Grunenwald: The Dreamer story was also very, very strong. This is, what, the third comic from Maines? It’s impressive. If I had a complaint about this book it’s that it’s all pretty much setup for what’s to come. Most of the stories had endings, but it’s all still just putting pieces in place for other stories.
McCreery: Yeah, it was Maines’s third comic, and first solo outing in mainline continuity. Which is a hell of a thing to be thrown an event comic so early in your career.
Grunenwald: It certainly doesn’t hurt that Skylar Patridge is a hell of an artist to be teamed with.
McCreery: One of the absolute best in the business, in my humble opinion.
Quaintance: I do get your point about the setup, Joe. It’s sort of a function of how this event is structured with the Alpha and Omega bookends (which is quickly becoming the word of the roundtable), and all the one-shots in between, a structure that I like. I will say though, that I think this much setup is fine if it’s paid off well down the line.
McCreery: Say what did you two think about the surprise guest in the Power Girl story? Were you as gobsmacked by her inclusion as I was?
Quaintance: I think we can name the guest, what with our spoiler disclaimer I assume Joe will add to this at the start…
Grunenwald: Yeah, we definitely can.
Quaintance: We’re talking about Julie Andrews, right?
Grunenwald: How dare you. You will respect Lilith Clay. I was really stunned to see her. I don’t remember the last time I saw her in something, especially something that wasn’t specifically Titans-related.
Quaintance: You two are much bigger Titans-heads (is that a thing) than I am, so I’ll defer to you to gauge general gobsmackery here.
McCreery: I probably would have listed at least a good three dozen DC characters I’d expect to see in a Power Girl story before Omen, for sure.
Grunenwald: Where was her boyfriend, Gnaark? (I know, he died at Sanctuary.) Usually obscure Titans characters are only trotted out when it’s time to kill off characters en masse, though, so it was nice to see Omen in a non-dead capacity.
Quaintance: Okay, we’re at the Gnaark point in the chat, so I think we can safely move to our verdicts for this one…where did you all land here?
McCreery: I think I made it pretty clear that this book is a BUY from me,
Grunenwald: Yeah, this is an easy BUY for me as well. A quartet of solid stories that set up interesting bits for future comics.
Quaintance: I am also a BUY, with an extra emphasis for those who are current with all things Lazarus Planet, which should be most folks reading this because it’s been real good.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Bruno Redondo, Scott McDaniel, Rick Leonardi, Eddy Barrows, Javier Fernandez, and Mikel Janín
Inkers: Karl Story, Eber Ferreira, Caio Felipe, and Joe Prado with Rick Leonardi
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbot
Cover Artist: Bruno Redondo
Quaintance: Speaking of Titans! Next up we have Nightwing #100! A milestone issue from the title’s current creative team Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbot, with a cadre of guest artists and inkers, too, because it clocks in at nearly 60 pages. What did you all think of this one?
Grunenwald: I think we’ve all been pretty overwhelmingly positive about this book since Taylor, Redondo, & co. took over as the regular team, so it’ll probably come as no surprise that I loved this issue. The team does a great job tying up a lot of plot threads they’ve been building since they took over, while also seeding some huge things for the series and the larger DCU.
McCreery: There were parts I really liked, and parts that fell a little more flat for me in this one. It’s weird because the cavalcade of artists was one that did both of those. It was fantastic to see them honor Nightwing’s solo history with artists who have worked on the book before, but it also made parts feel extremely disjointed to me.
Grunenwald: I definitely get what you’re saying about the art shifts, Cori. The styles on display from artists like Scott McDaniel and Rick Leonardi were all so wildly different that it did feel a little disjointed. I think having Redondo and Lucas act as buffers between the style shifts was a helpful way to unify everything, though.
McCreery: Yeah, I think the place where it really stuck out like a sore thumb for me was the series of pinup pages that were just meant to showcase his various costumes. And still managed to forget one.
Quaintance: Agreed about the pinups, but yeah from a critical perspective, I think anyone who has been enjoying this series month-to-month will definitely enjoy this one, which is the point, it’s a payoff thing, not a new jumping on point, but I don’t really have much qualitative to say about it…I’m a lot more interested in hearing what you all thought about the status quo stuff that happens at the end…
Grunenwald: I think putting the adult Titans in this book full-time is a brilliant move. They’ve basically been recurring guest stars as it is. I’m also glad to see the events of Dark Crisis paying off in a substantial way in this series.
McCreery: I find the status quo change at the end very interesting, because it really seemed like this issue was setting Dick up to be the leader of a new Justice League, but instead it pays off with what seems to be the elevation of the Titans into the heavy hitter slot of the DC Universe. Not just adding the Titans to the JLA like has happened in the past, but making the actual Titans name the big one for DC is an interesting approach for this new era.
Quaintance: I wonder if the move isn’t to eventually do both. On one hand, it seems like they’re sort of Trojan Horse-ing a new more traditional Titans lineup into a monthly series here via the monthly Nightwing comic. Which I think is good? I definitely like it better than anything the Titans have been up to as of late in their own titles, none of which have had much staying power.
I don’t know. I think there’s some questions left…like is Nightwing going to stay with them, or is he passing Bludhaven to them? Will Nightwing then go to coordinate global league activity? And also has Wally been demoted because the Flash’s main power is to just run away?
Grunenwald: Hilarious, Quaintance. At least he’s not on a moped.
McCreery: Beep beep scoot scoot
Grunenwald: I get the feeling that Dick’s not interested in leaving Blüdhaven at all, and that’s why they’re setting up shop there. That’s how I read it, anyway.
McCreery: Yeah that was my thought too. Setting the Titans up in Blüdhaven is a way for him to be a major part of a team while still being close to home.
Quaintance: However it turns out, I for one am all for putting Nightwing at the center of whatever happens moving ahead for the DCU. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the Future State: Justice League title is one of the only ones left that is yet to sort of payoff in the regular DC continuity? Maybe this is clearing the path up to start heading toward that Justice League iteration post-Dark Crisis…
Grunenwald: That’s a really good point. And with the Teen Justice mini having wrapped, Jess Chambers is available again to cross over to Earth-0.
McCreery: Be awhile before Andy is old enough to join the team though, unless she gets Jon Kented.
Quaintance: Oh right. There’s definitely some lingering questions left around how those dots get connected. Whatever the case, I think the last dozen pages or so really made this a must-read comic for folks who are interested in following the broader DCU. So, I’m a BUY on this one.
McCreery: I think I’ll say BROWSE for this one, BUY if you’ve been following the series, otherwise let your heart guide you.
Grunenwald: Another easy BUY for me as well. Along with setting up big things for the future, I think it’s a great spotlight for what sets Nightwing apart from the rest of the Bat-family and most other heroes in the DCU.
The New Champion of Shazam! #4
Writer: Josie Campbell
Artist: Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Becca Carey
Cover Artist: Evan “Doc” Shaner
Quaintance: Next up, we have New Champion of SHAZAM #4, which brings a miniseries that we’ve all been pretty high on to a close. What did you all think, did Josie Campbell, Doc Shaner, and Becca Carey stick the landing?
McCreery: Yeah I think they did. This series was delightful for all four issues, and really did a great job of establishing Mary as <sigh> Shazam! in her own right.
Quaintance: Delightful is a perfect word for this book.
Grunenwald: That sigh is a big mood, Cori, but bad name aside I agree this book did a great job elevating Mary to headliner status in a really fun way.
Quaintance: Hey, they even made light of the name thing in this issue, which was a fun moment.
McCreery: They did but it didn’t make me feel any better about it. I’m never gonna be down with the name change of the Marvel Family.
Grunenwald: I did appreciate the acknowledgement, even if it’s still a little groan-worthy. She can’t tell people her own name without changing back into Mary! How is that a workable solution! But I’m getting hung up on one element of an otherwise overall great series.
Quaintance: The name thing is real unfortunate, but yeah, that aside, I think this is essentially a perfect refresh for SHAZAM! comics at DC. It sort of captures the spirit of what makes these characters engaging and fun, while kicking the ball down the field narratively, so to speak.
McCreery: Yeah the ‘not being able to tell people your name’ thing was Freddie’s schtick! Now that poor kid has nothin.
Grunenwald: Poor CM3.
Quaintance: The last page made me chuckle a little, where it’s kind of like, alls well that ends well, aye gang? Oh dang, wait, Billy is like strapped to the Rock of Eternity and in a state of constant pain and struggle! But it’s nice to see this character off to do something important with a clear next place to find her adventures. And yes, the art in this series was a good as it gets.
McCreery: Shaner’s art is always a must buy, and even more when he’s working on a character he loves as much as he does Shazam!
Grunenwald: Shaner’s work is stellar as always, and unlike on other books he’s worked on it was nice to see it uninterrupted for all four issues. The Lazarus Planet tie-in at the end was also a really nice touch and tease for what’s next.
Quaintance: Great things all around. So yes, BUY from me here, and if you haven’t been reading this book, make a little note to get the trade, it’s a good one start to finish.
McCreery: Yeah definitely a BUY for me too.
Grunenwald: BUY here, too, or grab the collection when it comes out. It’ll look good on your bookshelf.
Batman – One Bad Day: Bane #1
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover Artists: Howard Porter with Tomeu Morey
Quaintance: Last up, we have Batman – One Bad Day: Bane by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Tomeu Morey, and Steve Wands. I will just lead this by saying I had a blast with this one. What did you all think?
Grunenwald: I think Joshua Williamson is making a nice niche for himself telling ‘final’ stories for classic supervillains.
Quaintance: Between this and Rogues (which now that you mention it was the subject of our last roundtable back in October), for sure.
McCreery: I think I’m gonna be the contrarian on this one. I didn’t actually much care for it. Part of that was Porter’s art, his modern stuff just doesn’t do it for me like it did in the 1990s.
Quaintance: Well, I think he now draws with a different hand than he used to, but I enjoyed the art in this book, which I thought fit the character and especially the wrestling-related sequences well.
Grunenwald: Porter’s work was definitely the weak point of this issue for me, but I thought in combination with the story that Williamson was telling it got the job done pretty well. The wrestling sequences in particular, like Zack said, were really solid.
McCreery: I did enjoy the wrestling sequences. The rest just didn’t land with me for whatever reason.
Quaintance: I am nothing if not a sucker for a story about a character who’s glory days are behind them, but I also just think this is the best high concept yet for one of these One Bad Day one-shots. It’s all based around a great question: where do you go after you’ve done the impossible and broken the bat?
Grunenwald: Every Bane story after Knightfall has really paled in comparison to that story. It was nice to see the in-universe acknowledgment of that.
McCreery: I disagree with that Joe. I think Legacy holds up.
Grunenwald: In my mind Legacy is a Ra’s al Ghul story more than it is a Bane story.
Quaintance: I liked that it brought back Knightfall characters and ideas in a way that sort of made it read like a Knightfall epilogue to some extent.
Grunenwald: Yes, Bane as an actual genius is something that feels like it gets lost or ignored about the character.
Quaintance: Yeah, he often just gets boiled down to big drug guy.
McCreery: Thanks, Batman & Robin.
Quaintance: Anyway, I’m a BUY on this one, which it should be noted you can read if you haven’t read any of the One Bad Day books, because they all stand on their own.
McCreery: I’m gonna be the lone PASS this month with this book, and y’all are gonna make me feel bad for saying it.
Grunenwald: This one gets a BROWSE from me. As a big fan of the original Bane stories I feel like this is a return to form for the character, but the art left a little something to be desired.
Quaintance: And that will do it for this week’s DC Roundtable, which will hopefully be a little more consistent this year! Thanks as always friends for joining.
Grunenwald: Closing with a hung jury! Doesn’t happen very often.
McCreery: BAH HUMBUG!
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