When Milestone Comics debuted in 1993, it felt like the entirety of comics up until that point had just been the opening act. Sure, the predecessors, your Claremonts, Simonsons, hell, even Kirbys, were great in their own rights, but Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and Static were a four-note chord that was unlike anything that had come before. Their diversity, both on and off-panel, and authentic storylines and characters, set a bar that even now, almost thirty years later, mainstream comics struggle to reach. Far from the public perception of Milestone as just “the Black comics,” the books, often referred to as the Dakotaverse, were largely intersectional in nature with honest portrayals of topics from gang violence, to disability, to class privilege, to trans rights, all with some of the industry’s best and brightest behind them.
While the comics themselves didn’t last long, with gradual cancellations from 1995 to 1997, Milestone lived on with the much-loved Static Shock cartoon, before having the comic characters brought into the DC Universe proper in 2008. Previously, with the exception of a brief crossover, the relationship between Milestone and DC had been more about licensing – DC handled distribution, but Milestone owned the rights, able to publish whatever they wished as long as DC didn’t object. For the most part, everything went smoothly in that regard – while Milestone touched on topics that made DC uncomfortable, they recognized the need for most of the stories to be told. Unfortunately, much like the initial run of the imprint that created them, Milestone’s characters vanished from DC far too soon, with little more than occasional cameos in the Young Justice cartoon, and a best-forgotten Static Shock run at the beginning of the New 52.
While there were yearly announcements that hinted we’d be seeing more Milestone “soon,” nothing concrete took form until the surprise, limited-time digital release of the 17-page Milestone Returns #0 during last September’s DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes event, after legal issues with the rights were resolved. The book served as an introduction to the new “Earth-M,” reintroducing classic characters such as Rocket, Static, and Icon, along with the characters who comprise the new hero, Duo. This Re-re-rebirth of the Cool, bringing back some of the creatives who made the original Milestone so iconic, was supposed to usher in a new era of digital-first comics in the universe, bringing the characters and the world into the modern day. However, in what I can’t help but think of as a truly amazing instance of C.P.T., the digital comics were all delayed by months, so that physical releases could come out the same day, with the exception of the expanded Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0. This “extended cut” was released digitally on 2/26/21, with a physical release on 5/26, and adds an additional 24 pages teasing the stories yet to come.
The biggest change here is the updated take on the Big Bang, the source of most of the universe’s superheroes. In the original Milestone, the Big Bang happened when the police used experimental chemical weaponry in the middle of a gang war – here, perhaps to be more topical, the chemicals were unleashed during the meeting of a Black Lives Matter protest and counterprotest. The exact circumstances of the Big Bang were an important point of nuance in the original Static stories – the fact that at his worst, Virgil found himself strapped up in the middle of a gang war played a big part in his desire to do the right thing, and stop Bang Babies who threatened the peace. Without that, we’re either going to lose that shade of grey, and that motivation for him, or, and hopefully this isn’t the case, BLM is going to be equated to the gang war. At best, it seems that Static will be overly sanitized. At worst, it’ll portray a peaceful protest for the right to be treated like people as something to be looked down on, a sin that warrants police escalation. While police brutality is clearly a part of both incarnations of the universe, I can’t help but worry, especially in today’s climate, whether it will be portrayed with the honesty it needs.
All that being said, it feels good to pick up a comic with the Milestone logo again, and I’m certainly hoping that my misgivings will prove unwarranted! Milestone is an imprint with a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to seeing how some of the talented creators that have been brought on will leave their mark on the industry. With how widespread the superhero genre is today, Milestone’s return has the opportunity to bring a spotlight to diverse creators and characters that might otherwise fall by the wayside, and tell stories that are screaming out to be told. And hey, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of the early nineties, it might get people to check out those older comics! Either way, one thing’s for certain: it’s gonna put a shock to your system.
Larry Trainor was a pilot for the US air force during the 50s. He had a wife, two children, and a reputation that would proceed him for decades. He was the type of person that could appear in a commercial for a real estate company and wouldn’t even need a script. Except, he always had a script of his own making, right under his sleeve. When he went to sleep with his wife, at a bar with his colleagues, or even when he looked in the mirror. And if anyone ever knew that, it would be the end of the world for him. And that’s because Larry Trainor was never that person. As much as he loved his wife and his children, he didn’t love her the same way he loved John Bowers, his mechanic in the Air Force. And even when the two of them were together, hiding in the back of a truck at the side of a railroad, a part of him was somewhere else, never where he really wanted to be.
But both the life he manufactured and the life he hid were taken away from him. Beyond the stratosphere, where his problems almost couldn’t reach him, he made contact with a being of pure energy that was permanently fused with his body. The airplane stopped working, and Larry fell unconscious. He woke up already on the ground, completely burned, but somewhat alive. He never aged a day thanks to the radiation from the negative spirit that lived inside him, but the world around him kept spinning. His wife knew he didn’t love her and couldn’t be with him anymore, his children grew up and Larry realized that he couldn’t give John the life he wanted, no matter how much he also wanted it. Eventually, he found a new home, and people that went through similar things as him. He was given shelter by Niles Caulder, and he lived in his mansion with Rita, Cliff, and Jane. But he never let himself get close to them enough, in fear of what might happen to them if he did.
So, what more to life than pain is there? When you’re constantly hurting because of past mistakes and things you had no control over? When you think your mere existence is wrong, and living is so hard that you don’t know what to do anymore?
In the case of Larry, he blamed himself for everything that happened to the people close to him even before the accident. John, his wife and children, always got the short end of the stick when being with him, and since he never got any kind of closure, he remained stuck. The position he was in was obviously understandable, after all, he was a gay man in the 50s who was exposed to homophobia since he was a kid. That’s all real and valid, but the pain of those he hurt was also real, and he could barely live with that baggage. And it was only worse after the accident. He couldn’t go to sleep without being afraid, because he dreamed of his loved ones burning in flames because of him. He couldn’t even be near other persons without the bandages that Niles made for him because of the radiation in his body. He was cut off from the world in every sense of it.
But slowly, he was able to heal at least some parts of him. He bonded with the rest of the people that lived with him. With Rita, he found another person that understood, at least partially, what he went through after the accident, and consequently, before it. With time, he didn’t feel so abnormal anymore. Contrary to what he believed before, there was a place to exist for the people that didn’t fit.
That only became more obvious when he met Danny the Street. A sentient, genderqueer, teleporting street, that serves as a refuge for the people that society rejected, and are kept alive by their happiness. At a cabaret on Danny, Larry is asked to sing, but he obviously declines. It would be easy to think he did it just because he tends to be negative and pessimistic, but knowing Larry, when he says that he doesn’t sing, there’s fear in his voice. Fear of exposing himself, fear of getting better because in his own mind, he doesn’t deserve it. But because it was needed to help Danny, he goes up to the stage. The spotlight is on him, blinding him for a second. The song starts, with him a little disoriented still. After a brief intro where he adjusts his brain into what he’s doing, he starts singing, and the music moves loudly to the forefront, slowly wrapping everyone around in the same feeling Larry starts feeling; freedom. He calls Maura Lee Karupt, the lead drag queen, to the stage, and the solo becomes a duet, expanding the happiness and pride even more. As the camera turns and this time we are blinded by the spotlight, Larry is no longer in bandages, or burned, but as he was before the accident. Maybe it’s something Danny can do, maybe it’s just a representation of how Larry sees himself at the moment. Now, that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that moment. The people start leaving their seats and dancing all around them until the cabaret is full of the most colourful and cheerful crowd you could imagine. Confetti starts falling, and Larry is immersed in his own freedom, and in happiness for the freedom of others, probably for the first time in his life.
That is, until everything cuts like the world suddenly stopped. And we’re again with Larry saying he doesn’t sing, but instead of going up to the stage, he leaves the cabaret. While this is a painfully sad scene, it shows us that inside of him there is an urgency for breaking free, getting out of the cage he fell in more than 80 years ago. And he keeps trying to get better.
Thanks to the negative spirit and their developing relationship, he discovers his lover, John, is in his last days of life. So he goes to him, and they meet for the first time since Larry’s accident. John can’t even walk by himself now, and he’s under the care of a nurse that’s also the only relevant person in his life. But he’s not sad, he had a good life, and he’s just glad Larry could go. So they reminisce together, and talk about what happened to them. John says that even though it was hard, he moved on from Larry, and is shocked that after so much time he couldn’t. So Larry, after some thinking, tells him about the negative spirit. How for so much time he didn’t understand them, but he thinks he finally does, and it might be a good thing. As he says that, he finally can really clear his mind of everything, and see the sunset with John, the way they wanted to so many years before. Sadly, when he turned his head, John had already passed away while they were talking. So he gives him a hug, and can finally say a proper goodbye to the love of his life.
While most of what happens to Larry during the show wouldn’t be particularly classified as ‘’Happy’’, we do see him make progress, and I think it’s evidenced more than ever during two conversations with Rita. During the first one, not long after they first met in the 60s, they realize that they may not be so alone anymore, and promise to ‘’Be lost causes together’’. But in the present day, after so much tragedy, when he seems to have finally given up on trying, Rita tells him that same as he did back then with her, she believes in him, and that no cause is totally lost if there’s someone willing to fight for them. Larry just delivers a quiet and weak ‘’Thanks’’ that sounds almost out of courtesy and nothing else, so he leaves while Rita enters her room. But in the midst of walking away, he abruptly turns around and approaches his friend rapidly, wrapping her with a hug that without any words said, gets the message across: After all the pain, there is hope.
The first time I read a book with Midnighter in it, he wasn’t even the star. It didn’t matter. He stole the show (repeatedly) in the DC superspy series Grayson, a tough feat considering Dick Grayson is flat-out one of my favorite characters.
At a glance, he looks and sounds exactly like Batman without the ears or the “no killing” code. The resemblance was intentional; originally part of the separate WildStorm comics universe, Midnighter and his husband Apollo were created to parallel Batman and Superman as part of their world’s premier superteam, the Authority.
Despite being created in the late 1990s, their relationship and identities are never trivialized, and the fact that Midnighter and Apollo are openly gay and the most unstoppable superheroes in the world still feels incredibly refreshing. While superhero comics at large were heavily influenced by The Authority’s visual style, tone, and approach to storytelling, direct descendants of its approach like Ultimate Marvel and the MCU largely failed to carry the torch of groundbreaking queer characters.
A while after DC acquired WildStorm and folded its characters into the mainline universe, Midnighter resurfaced in Grayson as the ex-superhero’s rival / foil / frenemy / ”nemesister.” His manic joy in combat, his relentless swagger, and his unique moral compass all come together to make him one of the best characters in a book full of all-timer characterizations.
Also, it would be a crime not to mention that Midnighter and Apollo begins with the couple fighting an evil god of subway trains.
Midnighter is fantastic for a dozen other reasons, but the one that still really gets me is that he gets to be the unstoppable badass in a way that’s almost always reserved for cis dudes, and he’s living for it. It doesn’t hurt that he’s better written and more nuanced than most hyper-violent action icons, easily earning his place among the best of the best.
“Gay Batman” is a hell of an elevator pitch, but that’s selling him short, because Batman isn’t having half as much fun. Midnighter never feels constrained by the limits of what straight people think gay characters should or could be. He just revels in being violence incarnate, and goddamn, it feels good to be along for the ride.
Midnighter (2015-2016) – By Steve Orlando and ACO
Midnighter and Apollo (2016-2017) – By Steve Orlando and Fernando Blanco
The Authority (1999-2002) – By Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary
Grayson (2014-2016) – By Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin
The Wild Storm (2017-2019) – By Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt
If you missed last week’s news report, check it out here.
(Spoilers for DC Comics released 06/01/2021)
(Words in italics signal actions)
The GC52 Logo appears on televisions, computers, and all other types of viewing devices at its normally scheduled time. Lead Anchor Dan McMahon sits at the center of the newsroom behind his desk. This week he’s wearing the same outfit as last week… his clothes look singed and battered as if he’d been through something quite difficult.The Daily Planet globe is visible behind him as he stares off blankly into space, face turned away from direct eye contact with the camera. The GC52 theme music begins to dim as the actual program begins. Dan barely moves until the audience can hear Jerry snap.
Jerry: Uh, Dan, you’re live. Are you okay boss?
The snap to attention isn’t quick but rather a slow turn towards Jerry and the camera.
Dan: I’m sorry, I just got back from the other Earth after being invited to that Lake House by an old friend, Walter. I barely made it out of there alive, Jerry. I was so scared that I’d never make it back to our Earth. I was given a label of “News Anchor” and a symbol. I cannot describe just how dehumanizing that is to have your identity boiled down into a simple phrase as you fight for your life against an apocalypse that you were hand-picked to survive against like a prized pig.
Jerry: Jesus Christ, why don’t you go home? That sounds like you need a day off. We are live…
Dan’s eyes widen and he takes a deep breath as it clicks just where he is before that familiar voice and charm return like someone opened the floodgates.
Dan: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening to all our wonderful viewers from the docks of Coast City to the furthest reaches of Oa, you are watching the multiverse’s best news show that brings you the news that you need to know! As always, I’m your host, Dan McMahon, doing my part to bring you up to the minute updates on the worlds you live in!
Dan: As usual, a lot of stuff is going down in Gotham City. Batman seems to have it covered… but does he really? The Mayor signed off on Simon Saint’s Peacemaker Program. I have some weird itch in the back of my mind that it isn’t going to be good for the state of the future in Gotham. There has been footage of a large explosion in Gotham… the fires… just like at the Lake House…
Jerry: CUT TO GREEN LANTERN COVERAGE!
An image of static clears up and Thomas is shown listening to a pair of earbuds, which he quickly removes from his ears. Superimposed behind him is an image of some Green Lanterns at… school?
Thomas: Oh hey, sorry about that. Another broadcast just dropped from Lantern Mullein. Even in their dismantled state, the Green Lanterns are a memo-based organization. Her latest message is a reassurance that the Lanterns across the universe will be recovered and accounted for. At the moment, though? The Corps consists of her, a recovering Lantern Baz with a medicinal arm enhancement, and Teen Lantern Quintela. Fortunately, the United Planets have their back, led by an alien race that is always baring their teeth, either smiling or modeling for a part in the next Doom videogame…
Thomas holds a finger up to his earpiece.
Thomas: I would like to apologize to the United Planets for resorting to a stereotyped description like that. It’s just, who can Oa turn to in its hour of need? Hal Jordan can’t charge in and punch Sinestro this time. As for Lantern Stewart and his starship of a thousand Lanterns, there’s still no communication. Lots of superheroes tend to phase into some kind of altered state at the edge of the universe-
Thomas pauses again.
Thomas: Yes, our fact-checkers can confirm that has been the case often enough to be a safe assumption. The question remains, will the lost Lanterns return as the heroes we once knew, or will they bear scars and transformations from unknown cosmic forces and beings? Stewart is no stranger to a cosmic odyssey here and there, but who knows how he might power up in this unprecedented leadership role? Our computerized AI scenario artist has a most-likely rendering to share of the state of affairs out there:
The image seen behind Thomas now comes to take over the whole screen.
Oh no. We’re boned. Back to you, Dan.
Dan sits with an ice pack on his forehead and an iced coffee on his desk. His wardrobe has changed to what looks to be a hand-knit sweater they keep for breakdowns like this. It has the GC52 Logo on the center.
Dan: Sorry about all that before, I know Batman has this covered. I was just letting the terrible Memorial Day Weekend get me down. I saw reports that former Teen Titan, Crush, was having some romantic troubles. She went to her girlfriend’s birthday party and sort of let out an alien spore of some sort. I do feel for her. Crush is the daughter of intergalactic criminal, Lobo so things can’t be easy for her but it seems like she is headed off planet to work things out. Sending her our best! Let’s check in with Katie!
When the camera cuts over, Katie is dusting off her shirt and sneezing.
Katie: Ugh, my allergies are atrocious today. All these plant spores and — Oh hi! Welcome. I didn’t know we were filming already ha…ha…
She sneezes again violently.
Katie: Whew! I’m standing here in front of Prescot Headquarters to give you an official update on the missing individuals inside the lab. Unbeknownst to my allegedly reliable witness, Ms. Jennifer Reece and her male companion were only missing for a few moments. It was the end of the day, and we all know how our minds can play tricks on us after long hours in this hell-hole rat race.
Oh — wait. I mean, not this job of course! I always feel like doing yard work and pulling weeds when I get home from reporting all day . . . Ahem.
Anyway, you should disregard any false reports of people disappearing in the technician lab that night. My real quick-footed confidante provided me with details on Ms. Reece’s friend. Mr. Levi Kamei had recently traveled back here to New York from his New Delhi trip. I am to understand that Levi and Jennifer exited Prescot Headquarters that same evening, unharmed and certainly not after vanishing in plain sight.
Katie’s trusty black cat leaps from the ground onto her shoulder. The cat holds a small piece of paper in its mouth and tries to thrust it into Katie’s own mouth. She turns her head away and snatches the note.
Katie: Felicia, we’re not that close! Cats, right! Who knows where their mouths have been . . .
She shakes her head in awe of the cat’s delivery.
Katie: Apparently, collecting the DEETS — that’s where! Forget everything I said earlier! Those two were definitely up to something! Less than an hour ago, a cleanup crew in yellow hazmat suits and a man with a ventilator swept the room in the Prescot Headquarters building. The team found a peculiar piece of flora left behind and extracted data from Jennifer’s tests on Levi. Not to waterlog the story further, but Amanda Waller of Belle Reve has been contacted in regards to this investigation? Don’t tell me the Suicide Squad is going to make this phenomenon more swampy? Do we need a crossover?
I’m signing off tonight and warning you all to stay away from flowers these days! They could give you more than just a–a–allerg–ACHOO! Ugh. Over to you, Dan.
Before the camera cuts back to Dan, Katie can be heard assuring her black cat, Felicia, that she definitely isn’t the cause of Katie’s sneezing.
Dan: Thanks for that Katie! Well, looks like that’s all we have for you, so as always… be it the Bat Symbol in Gotham, a red streak through Central City, or a golden lasso on Themyscira… GC52 has you covered with the news you need to know. Till next week, I’m your host Dan McMahon. Be strong in all your convictions. I’m gonna go sleep for a week.
As Dan finishes the outro and the music starts to play, the credits roll and a burst of static takes over the screen. When the picture returns to normal, the GC52 studio has vanished, and instead, security camera footage of an office is being played. At his desk, Mr. Bones, a cigarette in his mouth, is listening to an audiotape. We’ve seen this room before.
On the audiotape a voice is speaking, one of Bones’ agents in the field, delivering a report of an incident involving the Justice League Dark. It’s difficult to make out every word but what can be heard makes for tense listening.
The voice on tape: — Merlin… more power — Zatanna… controlled — Backup requested…
Mr. Bones: That’s gonna get out of hand. Agent 17, can you come in here?
Agent 17, Ethan, the GC52 reporter-revealed-spy, enters the room wearing a black suit and tie. The type all secret agents wear.
Mr. Bones: Good, good, Agent. Assign two more people to 14’s JL Dark investigation. It sounds like it’s about to kick into high gear.
Ethan: Very well sir, but there’s actually something you need to hear. We’ve had reports from our sources in the Hall of Justice. It sounds like the League has jumped over to another universe, tracking down that Brutus guy who was rampaging around here the other day.
Mr. Bones: They… went… to… another… universe… and didn’t tell anyone? I’m gonna wreck their whole world when they get back. It’s not like the whole purpose of the DEO is to be informed when something like this is happening, right, Agent?
Ethan: Yes, sir. Should I assign anyone to actively monitor the situation?
Mr. Bones: No, no, just have our contact inform us the MOMENT they’re back.
Bones takes a drag on his cigarette and static overtakes the screen again, before cutting to black, the broadcast ended.
Books covered this week:
The Nice House on the Lake #1 by James Tynion IV, Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Jordie Bellaire, and AndWorld Design.
Batman #109 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles.
Green Lantern #3 by Geoffrey Thorne, Tom Raney, Marco Santucci, Michael Atiyeh, and Rob Leigh.
Crush & Lobo #1 by Mariko Tamaki, Amancay Nahuelpn, Tamra Bonvillain, and Ariana Maher.
The Swamp Thing #4 by Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer, and Aditya Bidikar.
Justice League Dark: The Trouble with Books by Ram V, Xermanico, Romulo Fajardo Jr, and Rob Leigh.
Justice League #62 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Ivan Plascencia, and Josh Reed.
Harley Quinn, created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, debuted in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. She has been a favourite of mine since around 2010. What attracted me to her is how strong and resilient she is, despite everything she’s been through. While following her through the years, I found myself resonating with her as a Bisexual woman who struggled with boundaries in relationships and found comfort in how she didn’t know all the answers but remained true to herself regardless. She’s messy and unsure but she’ll figure out the answers with you along the way.
Her bisexuality could arguably be dated back to her days on BTAS and early comics. How her sexuality was handled in earlier iterations has often been criticized, due to a lack of development or “back tracking”. However, later years (and leading up to 2020 in particular) took her character development in more consistent directions and her Bisexuality was represented more explicitly.
Gotham City Sirens (2009-2011) – by Paul Dini, Gulliem March, Tony Bedard and Andres Guinaldo.
Injustice: Year Zero (2020-2021) – by Tom Taylor, Cian Tormey, Rain Beredo, and Wes Abbott.
Harleen (2019) – Stjepan Sejic.
Harley Quinn & The Birds of Prey (2020-2021) – by Jimmy Palmoitti, Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (2019-2020) – by Jody Houser and Adriana Melo.
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series (2019)
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)
Jess Chamber, a.k.a. The Flash of earth 11, is by all means a pretty new character. I still remember the announcement made by different comic book outlets that reported that DC was going to introduce a new non-binary character, who had their first appearance in DC’s Very Merry Multiverse, as Kid Quick. Around the same time Jess was introduced into the DC Multiverse, I myself was going through the process of figuring out my gender identity, and I was starting to realize I might be non-binary. This announcement finally gave me someone to relate to.
Before Jess, I didn’t know of any non-binary character who wasn’t a shapeshifter, an alien, or a sort of celestial being. That combined with the fact that I didn’t know any non-binary in real life made it hard to understand my own identity, but then Flash came to save the day. The best part is that Jess’ personality isn’t based around them being non-binary, they are funny, quippy, relaxed, and a bit cocky. Their relationship with princess Andy reflects the sweet side of Jess, and shows how non-binary people can have healthy and happy relationships, an idea that I personally have struggled with.
Even though they have been in the public consciousness for just a short time, Jess Chambers has quickly (pun intended) become a beloved character. They are a great symbol of how non-binary people really do exist and that we are human too. For non-binary folks like myself, Jess gives us an opportunity to see ourselves in the world of heroes. If you are non-binary and haven’t read any of Jess’ stories, I promise you will find a great character to relate to- and even if you’re not enby, you should check them out, I promise they won’t disappoint you.
DC’s Very Merry Multiverse, “To Stop the Star-Conqueress” (2020) – By Ivan Cohen and Eleanora Carlini
Future State: Justice League (2021) – By Ram V, Joshua Williamson, Robson Rocha and Marcio Takara
DC Pride, “Clothes Makeup Gift” (2021) – By Danny Lore and Lisa Sterle
The first time I became acquainted with the first Green Lantern was in the series ‘’Batman: The Brave And The Bold’’. By that time, I already knew the legacy that he forged and left in the hands of many other superheroes, thanks to characters like Hal Jordan or John Stewart. But I didn’t know about him. Created in 1940 by Martin ‘’Mart’’ Nodell along with Bill Finger for All-American Comics #16 (1940), when I first saw him in that show that premiered 68 years after the characters’ birth, I was very interested in him, despite his little screen time. He felt like a superpowered James Bond instead of just an ill-tempered boomer superhero. That, along with his cheesy and vibrant costume that seemed like it belonged to a magician turned vigilante, was enough to make me want to learn more about him. And he stands out a lot from other superheroes from that era. Batman or Superman, no matter how many years pass, how many sidekicks or sons they have, they stay mostly the same. But as the years passed for the readers, they also passed for Alan. He now has two children, his hair went white, and wrinkles are present on his face. Yet, he still retains the atmosphere of a sci-fi noir detective from the 40s in him, even in 2021, and around modern superheroes.
Alan was depicted as a gay man not once, but in two occasions, with the first one being an alternative and younger version from Earth 2, in the first issue of the book of the same name, made by James Robinson, Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott in 2013. At the start of that story, he’s been away in other countries, thanks to his job. And after arriving in China, he meets with his boyfriend Samuel, and we’re given a full panel of them kissing, with a single dialogue that reads ‘’God, I’ve missed you’’.
But the character from the main universe remained untouched for a long time, and while it could’ve been thought that’s because he’s straight, the same Alan Scott that appeared on the pages of comics from the 1940s officially came out as a gay man on Infinite Frontier #0 (2021) by James Tynion IV and Stephen Byrne. In a calm and cathartic sequence, he explains to his two teenage children how he decided that it was time to be himself to the full extent of it, followed by a heart-softening hug between the three, that marks the end of a scene that I think redefines how we view the Golden Age superheroes, giving a lot more possibilities when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, and also reflecting the lives of those that had to take more time to accept who they are. Because Alan Scott, after 80 years of passing as a straight man, realized that it’s never too late to be ourselves.
Brightest Day, Blackest Night (2002) – By Steven T. Seagle and John K. Snyder III
JSA Classified (2005-2008) – By Stuart Moore, Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti
Justice Society Of America (2006-2011) – Gardner Fox, Everett E. Hibbard and Sheldon Mayer
Batman: The Brave And The Bold – Episode ‘’Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth!’’ (2011)
My introduction to the hardened Gotham Police Detective, Renee Montoya, was through Batman: The Animated Series. Although she did debut briefly in Batman #475 (1992) before making an appearance in the animated series, Renee was created by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Mitch Brian. What has kept me coming back to the character since watching the Animated series as a child, is Renee’s dedication to uncovering the great mysteries of Gotham while adhering to her own values. Although Renee has faltered and struggled in very human and believable ways, she’s never “sold out”. When she realized she could no longer stay true to herself and be a member of the Gotham City Police Department, she resigns and take on the mantle of The Question (DC’s equivalent of a super Private Eye)
Renee has also been an out Lesbian since Gotham Central (2002-2006), a series by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker. Her “outing” was a difficult, but rewarding story to read. As a Bisexual woman that also didn’t have a particularly warm and fuzzy “coming out”- I found a sense of comradery in seeing Renee grapple with the outcasting and male violence that may be all too familair for many Queer women. Regardless, she never stops fighting. In a world of super-humans, aliens, and chemical-bath-murder-clowns, Renee Montoya is going to figure out what’s REALLY going on.
Although Renee’s personal relationships often take a backseat for her job(s), all of them have been spared from being written in a fetishized or hypersexualized way. Vic Sage’s (the original Question) faith in her competence is quite refreshing, there is no implication that who she is or who she loves disqualifies her from maintaining such an important role in the DC Universe.
Gotham Central (2002-2006) – By Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark
Batwoman: Elegy (2009-2010) – By Greg Rucka and J.H Williams III
52 (2006-2007) – By Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid and Keith Giffen
The Question: The Five Books of Blood (2009) – By Greg Rucka
The Question: Pipeline (2011) – By Greg Rucka
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)
Throughout my entire life, I have always had an affinity to the oddball and more aggressive characters. Characters who, if not handled properly, can fall into obscurity if the company isn’t careful. When Teen Titans ended, that was my biggest fear for Crush. Crush is a character who I fell in love with the moment I saw her and I have made sure to read every appearance since. She has felt like a character who was waiting for the right team to really highlight her for who she is and more importantly can be. Thankfully, she has that now with Crush & Lobo #1.
Eisner Award Winner Mariko Tamaki finally gives Crush the voice she has needed since her debut. The debut issue is stuffed to the brim with weirdness, action, and most importantly heart. Crush is struggling hardcore after her time with the Titans. Can you blame her? The Main Man Lobo is her dad and she is trying to grapple with all of those teenage emotions. She has never had a strong role model since her adoptive parents were also not the best examples. So emotions are hard for her, and it’s even harder on her relationships. We see it in her interactions with her girlfriend Katie and with her conversation with one of her fellow teen superheroes. Crush feels more developed in this issue than ever before as we see the messy complicated core she has. Tamaki writes Crush as someone who yearns for love but doesn’t know how to accept it yet. I look forward to seeing more interaction between Crush and Lobo since the dialogue in this issue is so strong. It’s so important for these comics to be more than punching but rather have some punch to your heart strings. This debut delivers hard on that.
The art from Amancay Nahuelpan and colors by Tamra Bonvillain are perfect for the story being told in Crush & Lobo. Nahuelpan’s drawing of each character’s facial expressions is evocative of a lot of the emotions each scene is drawing on. The action scenes have a very fluid motion to them thats extremely important for a rough and tumble character like crush. Bonvillain is one of the best colorists in the business, I have to say that outright. The color pallet of this book is bombastic and just outright WONDERFUL in every scene from fighting in an alley to sitting in a dreary apartment, it’s such a beautiful thing to look at with Nahuelpan’s art. Ariana Maher’s lettering and caption box design is out of this world. Her boxes for Crush’s fourth wall breaking inner monologue is so fitting for the character.
I cannot recommend this book enough to someone who is looking to learn more about Crush or is looking for their character in the DC Universe.
When DC introduced the Black Label line, I could not contain my excitement to have books that pushed the limit of what the Big 2 could do. While there have been some great titles, The Nice House on the Lake changes things. Where Last God showed that the line could do non-IP fantasy, The Nice House on the Lake looks you dead in the eye and says that horror is still alive at DC.
The story follows a group of young adults who are gathered at a picturesque lake home by a man they all know named Walter. Nothing is as it seems and the weekend get away may be something that never ends. Beware, minor spoilers ahead.
James Tynion IV has proven himself time and time again to have range in the stories he can pen. From something fun and whimsical like WYND, to his work on Razorblades, and all of his Batman work; it’s clear the range is there. Everything in the debut issue is as sharp as a razors edge; from character introductions, to the dialogue. There is a conversation that runs through the issue between Walter and the main character, Ryan Cane, that is one of the most fascinating running lines in any first issue I have read.
What makes The Nice House on the Lake truly chilling though isn’t the apocalypse that the book seems to be dealing with, but rather the idea of each character being fit into a box. Each member of the main cast is given a title or label that is given to them by Walter. While in most circumstances this could be fun, but Walter seems more like a character whose actions are calculated into a grand design of their making. There is something insidious about the idea of your entire identity being broken down to a simple word like “The Reporter” or ” The Artist” and being given a symbol that correlates. Your entire self being crushed into a title is something that removes your identity in exchange for something someone sees you as. The symbols are also connected to things around the home that are special for each person. Walter has taken control of their lives outright by the finale and all of this makes for something truly terrifying when you realize that these roles are a form of his control.
The art for this series by Álvaro Martínez Bueno and colors by Jordie Bellaire is so evocative of the mood that each scene is meant to display. There is a panel in the first 2-Page spread where Walter and Ryan are discussing the end of the world where a bright bar scene seamlessly transitions into a horrific dark scene of the end of the world that should sell anyone on the issue outright. Without diving into spoilers, the color pallet and the tone of the art itself change in the last few pages to be a more muted and horrifying expression of what the characters are facing. Bueno and Bellaire’s art and colors marry perfectly to drive each expression of fear or shock to the next level. Andworld Design’s lettering is spot on in each scene which features heavy dialogue and the title boxes of each character.
While I understand the complaints of Black Label being so Bat heavy, it’s all in service of books like The Nice House on the Lake being able to see the light of day at a company like DC Comics. I don’t normally do numbered reviews but this is the first comic since The Plot I read 3 times in a single sitting so here you go Comic Book Roundup.