You Got Me Again DC Comics, or, The End of Futures End

Since rebooting their entire lineup of books with brand new first issues back in September 2011 DC Comics has taken to celebrating the anniversary of the New 52 with what has largely proven to be an exercise in diminishing returns.



September 2012 was Zero Month, in which all of DC’s titles got an issue #0 that explored characters’ backgrounds in the reboot’s new continuity. With minimal interruption to ongoing narratives, as more often than not the #0s at least thematically tied into the goings-on of DC’s books, and the preservation of regular creative teams Zero Month brought with it some considerable highlights. The newest Green Lantern of Earth, Simon Baz, the first mention of Batman’s Zero Year and the debut of Shazam in the New 52 all took place in Zero Month.

September 2013, last years’ Villains Month, proved far less suave and far more intrusive. The month saw few creative teams remain intact and nearly every book’s plot was clumsily interrupted by inferior stories featuring DC’s most infamous villains.

This past month DC Comics has celebrated the third anniversary of the New 52 by flashing its books forward 5 years into a possible future that ties into the weekly Futures End series.

I think?

Or are they all just sort of else-worlds, what-if stories?



It doesn’t really matter because, as with all trips into the future, whatever’s going on in the undoubtedly dystopian years to come in Futures End will more than likely wind up reset at the story’s conclusion.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Sure the reset button is frustratingly over-utilized but it allows creators an opportunity to really shatter the status quo and do exciting things to characters who rarely change over decades-long lifespans.

The only problem is the Futures End series this month’s books presumably tie into is still six months from hitting that reset button. Which means that rather than truly giving creators the freedom to explore a wide-open future without consequences and run wild with their imaginations, DC really just traded in the status quo of the New 52 with the status quo of Futures End, which, considering by all accounts the weekly series is an average book at best, is necessarily a problem.

My financial participation in Futures End Month was drastically quelled by my experiences with last year’s Villains Month. Of the 40 or so Futures End Month titles published I read around a dozen. So take my rant with a grain of salt if you must, but know in your heart that I know what I’m talking about.

There were certainly highlights amongst the bunch. Much like last year’s Villains Month writer Charles Soule proved himself a superstar, his fantastical Swamp Thing: Futures End #1 undoubtedly the best issue of the month. Ray Fawkes also wrote an entertaining issue of Batman that if nothing else tied in at least thematically with the will-they-won’t-they bromantic chemistry being explored between Batman and Lex Luthor in Justice League.

Charles Soule's Swamp Thing installment was one of a small handful of Futures End highlights.

Charles Soule’s Swamp Thing installment was one of a small handful of Futures End highlights.

But most of the material I read from DC this last month wasn’t great or terrible. It fell into that void in between the two: filler.

I got excited reading comic books this past month. Image Comics’ Outcast has finally hooked me and Marvel’s various Spider-Verse tie-ins have all been fun as hell. But I found myself slogging through most of the DC books I bought. The two non-Futures End titles released from DC this month, delayed installments of Justice League and Superman Unchained, shone bright like beacons amongst the novelty 3D covers of Futures End.

Good writers put their names on books far beneath their stature this past month, and I can’t help but suspect the arguable cash grab of this yearly initiative is more than partly to blame.

The New 52’s strength lies in its individual titles and their creative teams: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s Action Comics. DC has concocted creative partnerships that would give the dynamic duo themselves a run for their money. But their last two novelty months have ignored that strength entirely, instead using events like Futures End or Forever Evil to hold otherwise awesome books hostage.

Hopefully next years’ September undertaking won’t sacrifice good books for flash in the pan publishing tricks. If not, I thank DC regardless, because they’ll either do away with weak interruptive themes and let good titles do their thing or they’ll wade neck deep into another silly theme and I’ll save my money for a month… says the guy who will probably fall for DC’s nonsense all over again next September.

Let ‘Em Win One, or, Forever Evil Forever!

Comic book events tend to be less than great.



For DC Comics it means a Crisis, for Marvel it means throwing some X-Men together with some Avengers and across the board it usually entails some sort of alternate earth or timeline and a half-hearted shake up of the status quo that ends up meaning nothing to solo monthly titles.

Remind me again how the massive ramifications of Infinity impacted Hawkeye? Or how Trinity War shook the foundations of Wonder Woman?

Comic book events have undoubtedly offered their fair share of intriguing concepts and shocking moments, but they all seem to wind up bloated and eerily similar to one another, eventually collapsing under their own weight.

Traditionally, my favorite part of a big comic book crossover event is the inevitable return to my regularly scheduled programming, but hot damn, DC Comics’ Forever Evil was badass!

Considering its humble beginnings, it was set-up by the largely uneventful event Trinity War and debuted amongst the less than substantive novelty of DC’s Villains Month, Forever Evil certainly had the deck stacked against it. Add to that a reliance on the all-too familiar comic book trope of an alternate earth and you’ve got a recipe for yet another run of the mill comic book event.

But rather than putting characters we can read about any month in a solo series into scenarios far less interesting than what’s going on in their own books, Forever Evil focused on stars lest frequently in the spotlight – the villains.

House Party 3

House Party 3

There are no Justice Leagues in Forever Evil, just a rag tag group of ruthless badasses, and while we’ve seen the cast of Forever Evil square off against various heroes before, this time is different due to one glaring change to the fundamentals of the comic book villain: in Forever Evil, Lex Luthor and his fellow bad guys are allowed to win.

Villains are awesome. They possess an inherent danger that Superman and even Batman will never truly possess. But in the back of our minds, even when the Joker is at his deadliest, we know he isn’t going to win.

But when Batman and Superman are replaced by the evil Owlman and Ultraman of Earth 3 those kiddie gloves we are always aware our favorite villains are unknowingly wearing come off.

Forever Evil sees Lex Luthor’s fierce intellect unshackled from the unspoken handicap of comic book villainy, and what a triumphant unshackling it is. Writer Geoff Johns unites Luthor with the perfect line-up of badasses, all prominent enough to garner excitement, but not so famous as to be tired and predictable. The cast of Forever Evil isn’t a bunch of Batman movie villains, but they’re definitely heavy-hitters, as are their competition, the Crime Syndicate.

Auxiliary books that tie-in to big events tend to get pretty extraneous and often leave a reader feeling like they’re on a distant planet looking at the main event like a far off star. Geoff Johns’ Justice League, however, provides some pretty awesome insight into the Crime Syndicate, an alternate, evil Justice League that provides surprisingly clever twists on DC’s A-list.

Lex Luthor is definitely the Ross of this group of frienemies, AMIRIGHT? Batman is the Rachel.

Lex Luthor is definitely the Ross of this group of frienemies, AMIRIGHT? Batman is the Rachel.

Over the last nine months Forever Evil consistently held my attention with each new installment, putting two of the most fascinating teams assembled since the dawn of the New 52 against one another in an excellent exploration of the spectrum of villainy.

Now, how many Justice League movies does Warner Bros. need to make before they get around to Forever Evil?



1. Am I wrong? Are event comics always awesome?

2. I’ve heard of “diamonds are forever,” but Forever Evil?

3. Who do you think Lex Luthor’s best friend is? And don’t say Andrew Garfield because I already made that joke just now.


For more DC Comics check out my posts on Trinity War and Villains Month, as well as the weekly Pony Tricks Comic Cast.

In Case You Missed It, or, Six Superhero Books I Loved in 2013

2013 was the first full calendar year I spent actively pursuing comic books on a weekly basis. Prior to this year I had a pretty decent stack of paperbacks and collected volumes, but it wasn’t until the end of 2012 that Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern finally got me to go into a comic book store on new comic book day and grab an individual comic book.

In the year since I’ve read a lot of comics. Some of them left me wondering how I’d been tricked into wasting three dollars on the pages of drivel in my hands, while others made me wonder why more people weren’t talking about what I’d just read.

Below are my thoughts on some of the latter. Books that I couldn’t stop thinking about with moments and characters that stuck with me long after I’d read them. There were some amazing books that came out this year that got every bit of praise and admiration they deserved. But there were also some brilliant stories, even ones by some pretty prominent writers, that seemed to fly right under the radar. I may only be a pedestrian comic book reader and my picks may not be deep cuts, but I want to talk about them.

These (six) be they.

Green Arrow #23.1: Count Vertigo #1
by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino
September 4, 2013


Remember Villains’ Month? Back in September instead of running their regularly scheduled programming DC Comics released 52 #1 issues staring 52 different villains to tie into their new event, Forever Evil. In retrospect it turns out that the real villain of Villains’ Month was DC Comics, who tricked readers into picking up a boatload of comic books with 3D covers that were pretty much all drivel.

But not every Villains’ Month issue was a waste. Greg Pak and Charles Soule in particular did excellent work in their respective Zod and Arcane issues and a hand full of other books didn’t induce eye rolls, most notably Count Vertigo.

Not only did this issue manage to keep the momentum of its parent series, Green Arrow, going while so many other Villains’ Month issues obnoxiously hit the pause button on their far-superior parent books, Count Vertigo also delivered great art and a creepy exploration of a lesser known DC Villain, Warren Zytle, who understandably decides to go by Count Vertigo instead.

There’s nothing in Count Vertigo’s origins that you haven’t seen before; an heir to the throne of a country you’ve never heard of reduced to poverty in the wake of rebellion, a poor parent selling their child into research, a man turned into a weapon only to rebel against his creators, you know this story already.

But the character at the center of it all is so off-putting that it elevates the book above Count Vertigo’s by the numbers origins. Count Vertigo is angry, very, very angry, and Count Vertigo #1 is the story of what an angry person does when they have the means to do anything.

Not only did this issue elevate the lackluster Villains’ Month initiative it was a part of, it significantly upped the ante when Green Arrow finally confronted Count Vertigo in the issues after it. It’s a nice little self-contained, dark and creep story about a C-List villain who simultaneously looks like a dork and a badass. And Andrea Sorrentino’s art alone makes it well worth the read.

Fantastic Four #5AU
by Matt Fraction, André Araujo   and Jose Villarubia
March 27


I didn’t read Age of Ultron. I don’t know, it had a cool cover I guess, but I didn’t hear great things about it. I didn’t read Marvel’s next event, Infinity, either. I mean, I checked out the first issue but it didn’t hook me. Some heroes are on Earth and some other heroes are in space and then something else happens? I don’t know. It’s got Black Bolt in it, so maybe I’ll check it out in paperback. I was going to read Inhumanity, or Inhumans, or whatever Marvel’s newest event is supposed to be, but with the recent announcement that Matt Fraction has been pulled from the title, I’m not as inclined to read it as I was.

Long story short I’m not really an event guy. But the Fantastic Four tie-in to Age of Ultron was easily one of the most memorable books I read all year.

Fantastic Four #5AU loosely ties into the group’s journey through time and space in that when it begins they’re traveling through time and space, but its repercussions on Fraction’s Fantastic Four series are minimal and, considering I enjoyed the story without having read a page of Age of Ultron, the issue is something of a stand-alone.

The title of the issue says it all: The Death of the Family Richards During the Bloody Age of Ultron, or, “Everything’s Going to be Okay.” (Hey, what do you know? Matt Fraction writes titles like that too.)

There are two threads through #5AU, the Fantastic Four returning to an Ultron-ravaged Earth and meeting their demise at the hands of a million, billion Ultron drones and Reed Richard and Sue Storm’s children waking up on the Four’s space ship and being confronted by the group’s holographic will.

Reed Richard’s saying goodbye to his children is a moment that transcends the Age of Ultron event, the Fantastic Four series and the comic book medium as a whole. They’re words that have stuck with me long after first reading them, words I can recite and images I can imagine as clear as day.

You may have read Matt Fractions straight up phenomenal Hawkeye, but if you haven’t read Fantastic Four #5AU you’re missing out on one of the writer’s greatest works. This issue hit my where I live. It’s a great story and you should read it.

Wonder Woman #22
by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang
July 17


Wonder Woman #23 was amazing. I was an exciting culmination of the issues before it that packed a ton of big character moments and plot development. It got a slew of perfect scores from across the internet and it had a really, really badass cover.

But damned if I’m not a sucker for setup.

Wonder Woman #22 finds Diana and her rag tag family band transported to New Genesis, home of the New Gods, by Orion in an attempt to save them from the wrath of the First Born back in London.

The issues before #22 had done a brilliant job of melding superheroism in the modern world with Olympian Gods and Greek mythology, but #22 kicked if up another notch by throwing an already intriguing mix into the backdrop of Jack Kirby science fiction.

And yet, despite how much of a mouthful worth of exposition setting the scene for #22 is, the issue essentially boils down to a study in family, be it Wonder Woman and the newly inherited kin she’s loosely cobbled together into a family unit under her protection, Orion and his dick dad who maybe, just maybe, isn’t totally a dick, or the First Born and his army of hyena people.

Seriously, this issue is all over the place. But under the guidance of Azzarello and Chiang, who has become the valiant steed amongst DC’s stable of artists, even a story that swerves through robot-scooters and hyena monsters within the course of 22 pages never falls apart.

Azzarello keeps Wonder Woman grounded despite the book’s far reach into fantasy. There may be hyena people, but there’s also an intimate exchange between Diana and Orion where she tells him not to try to be perfect, but to try to be better. And there may be a robot scooter, but I remember it best in regards to Orion’s triumphant return to the family band.

Wonder Woman #23 gave readers the inevitable all-out brawl that had been building up for nearly a year, and it did not disappoint. But the immediate set up to that epic confrontation in Wonder Woman #22 was anything but inevitable and equally unforgettable.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #23
by Justin Jordan, Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy
August 21


Green Lantern #20 was the undeniable Green Lantern highlight of 2013. How could it not be? It was the last issue of Geoff Johns’ ten year run with the character he completely redefined. And it was great. But I already wrote about that.

What I haven’t written about, and what you might have missed this year, is Green Lantern: New Guardians #23. Unlike some of the aforementioned issues #23 isn’t self-contained. It relies on at least a casual knowledge of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern for its emotional impact and it serves as something of a preface for the Lights Out storyline it leads into.

But everything before it and after it aside, New Guardians #23 is a story about hope shining brightest in the face of utter hopelessness. New Guardians #23 sees new villain Relic assault the home planet of the Blue Lanterns, wielders of the blue light of hope. Without getting into specifics, it’s a pretty huge downer at face value.

The Blue Lanterns have never been badasses. They don’t wield fear or rage, they don’t use light to create constructs of race cars and sharks and cannons, they’re just really, really optimistic. New Guardians #23 showcases just how badass optimism can be and its final pages are simultaneously the bleakest of bleak affairs and a swirling spiritual triumph.

New Guardians #23 is a testament to the strength of the entire Green Lantern franchise.

Daredevil #30
by Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and Javier Rodriguez
August 21

daredevil30Waid and Samnee’s Daredevil is near-universally hailed as one of the best superhero comics on stands today. I was a little bit late to the party. Month after month I’d read the book’s praises, but it wasn’t until Daredevil #30, a team up with the Silver Surfer that I rightfully surmised might be a standalone outing, that I finally got on board. And man am I glad I did.

Daredevil #30 sees Matt Murdock teaming up with the Silver Surfer to take down an alien named Ru’ach, a being who, as the Surfer explains, is a “sentient lie” that exists “on the edge of perception.” It’s an out there premise that reads more like a comic from your parents’ day than something that came out amongst the gritty, apocalyptic books on shelves in 2013. And that’s because it isn’t gritty or apocalyptic.

Daredevil #30 is just fun. Daredevil and the Silver Surfer are both cool characters. One looks like the devil and the other one was a cosmic surf board. What’s not to love? Waid and Samnee understand this and exploit it. Rather than wasting time delving deep into the Silver Surfer’s secret pain, Daredevil #30 instead offers vibrant two-page spreads of Daredevil hitching a ride on the Surfer’s board, weaving through buildings in New York City.

Daredevil is a book that fully utilizes the complete emotional spectrum. Not too long before Daredevil #30 things got dark. Really dark. And not too long after Matt Murdock found himself teaming up with Halloween monsters to face a group of white supremacists.

This Daredevil run is nowhere near monotonous and can wield heartbreak and pure joy with equal amounts of competence. But where there are plenty of well-written books that came out in 2013 that can leave you down in the dumps, few if any can reach the level of plain old fun Daredevil #30 soars at.

Batman Incorporated #13
by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham
July 31


Batman Incorporated #13 might be the greatest single issue of a Batman book I’ve ever read.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been consistently turning out top notch material in the primary Batman series since the New 52 launched in 2011 and they sure as yell didn’t stop in 2013. Death of the Family concluded in February with Batman #17, an understated and phenomenal conclusion to a grand Bat-family event, and Snyder and Capullo set about the herculean task of redefining Batman’s origins with the start of Zero Year in Batman #21. But somehow it seems like the conclusion to Grant Morrison’s Batman story, one that started in 2006 and brought together elements from the hero’s entire 70 plus year history into one vast, epic, operatic Batman opus, got lost in the shuffle this year.

The Batman canon is aged and cumbersome, so much so that it makes more sense for each individual fan to construct their own rudimentary history of the character. These histories are often bookended by Frank Miller, whose seminal works Year One and The Dark Knight Returns have come to define the beginning and the end of Batman. Somewhere in between Batman meets a young boy and takes him under his week. Sometime later a Robin dies. Maybe somewhere in your own history of Batman he has his back broken, or fights a werewolf, or travels through time.

When Grant Morrison ended his time with the Dark Knight in Batman Incorporated #13 he had made such a unique and thoughtful interpretation of the character that the events of his run have been etched permanently into my own history of Batman.

And yet you don’t need to know any of that to enjoy Batman Incorporated #13. You don’t need to have read any of the rest of Morrison’s years-long story. You probably don’t even need to have read a comic book. But if you have any appreciation for Batman then Grant Morrison’s passion for the character and the icon alike will shine through.

Batman Incorporated #13 is a 22-page master class in a character that has been around for nearly 75 years.

2014 looks like it’s going to be a pretty cool year for comics. DC is still in the midst of both Forever Evil, an event comic that is actually worth reading, and Zero Year, the aforementioned retelling of Batman’s Origins and Marvel is set to publish some exciting new books like Silver Surfer and She-Hulk.

The nature of a medium like comics isn’t very conducive to memory. There are dozens of new books every week and so spending any amount of time with just one can be hard. But in the weeks and months and years to follow I know that I’ll still find time to revisit the books on this list because even thrown in amongst various events and variant covers and tie-ins they managed to shine bright on their own merits and ingrain themselves in my memory.


Now that you’ve read about my favorite books of the year, why not spend the year listening to me babble about my favorite books of the week. Every week. Check out the Pony Tricks Comic Cast for a weekly literary deconstruction of last week’s comic books.


1. Do superhero books still represent the best comics have to offer? Do they  represent the worst comics have to offer?

2. Did I miss a great issue you think was overlooked this year?

3. Did you no that if you like comic books you’re a huge nerd?

For more on my favorite entertainment in 2013:


Video Games

The 2013 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Initiative

Villains Month, or, Owlman, Owlman, Owlman!

Spoilers ahead for Trinity War, Villains Months and Forever Evil #1

Look at all the evil.

Look at all the evil.

Well that was a rip-roaring good time. But now it’s over. And I am A-Okay with that.

For DC Comics, who two years ago rebooted their entire catalogue with The New 52, September has become a big month. Last year, to celebrate the anniversary of The New 52, DC went into Zero Month, wherein each of their titles, rather than continuing onward in their current story arcs, paused to release an issue #0, exploring their characters before the events of The New 52.

Batman readers got their first taste of Zero Year, Superman had his cape stolen by a little boy with an abusive father and a young Wonder Woman fought the Minotaur.

It was good stuff.

This year, to celebrate the second anniversary of The New 52, DC dubbed September Villains Month, wherein the heroic stars of their books were pushed aside in favor of their rogues. Only, where last year each title translated to one issue #0, this year each title spun off into between one and four Villains Month issues for a total of (a coincidence I’m sure) 52 issues.

Full disclosure: of the 52 Villains Month issues I only actually read 37. I have no interest in reading the 15 I missed and quite frankly I regret reading a handful of the 37 issues I did read.

Creatively it would be hard to argue that Villains Month was as much a success as Zero Month last year. But commercially I suspect DC is laughing all the way to the bank. Not only were their 52 comic books turned out in a single month, a limited quantity of each issue of Villains Month had a 3D cover. And wouldn’t you know it, just about every villain out there somehow looks cooler with a 3D cover. Couple this with the fact that shortly before the launch of Villains Month DC Comics informed vendors they would only be able to provide a fraction of the 3D covers they’d promised and you have the birth of an awesome, month-long black market of comic book fans battling to the death to snag a 3D Harley Quinn cover (for an issue that is by all accounts terrible) on sale for triple the price.

It was good stuff.

But you shouldn’t judge a book by its 3D cover or its perverse manipulation of supply and demand, and with that in mind – on to the content!

Despite all the commercial hoopla surrounding Villains Month it manage to hit a handful of genuine homeruns. Some writers got to flex their muscles to great effect, some second and third-tier characters starred in terrific standalone stories and for the first time in two years the DC Universe honestly felt like a singular, interoperating organism.

This world is ours, Willis.

This world is ours, Willis.

The aspect of Villains Month that will actually have lasting repercussions beyond readers’ wallets is the event surrounding it, Forever Evil. In the wake of Trinity War the various Justice Leagues are missing and the Crime Syndicate, villainous variations on Earth’s greatest heroes, have taken over. Forever Evil #1 established the Crime Syndicate’s spiffy catchphrase, “The Justice League is dead, this world is ours,” and set wheels in motion. Forever Evil #1 is a great comic book, but it’s a handful of books spread throughout Villains Month that really add weight and nuance to the unprotected new world order.

Issues like Ra’s al Ghul, The Rogues, Black Manta and Ocean Master fleshed out a burgeoning opposition to the Crime Syndicate, showing different villains’ takes on the new world order and giving them legitimate reasons to oppose it.

Meanwhile, Killer Croc, Bane, Scarecrow and The Court of Owls showed a Gotham sans-Batman divided up amongst the most infamous Arkham inmates as Bane prepares to take Gotham for himself using the prisoners of Blackgate penitentiary. All the while the Court of Owls have taken refuge in their own secret bunker weaving plots and machinations and Killer Croc has silently grown a cult following in the sewers beneath the city.

There’s also addition insight into the Justice League’s villainous counterparts. The Secret Society issue, which despite having a picture of the Secret Society on it and being called Secret Society, is an awesome Owlman story that delves into Earth 3, the world the Crime Syndicate left behind, and provides even more backstory and momentum to the events ahead.



Seriously though. It should have been called Owlman and it should have had Owlman on the 3D cover. Owlman is great. I love Owlman.

It’s through interweaving narratives like these that Villains Month truly brought the DCU together in an organic and believable way. Whether the execution of Forever Evil will remain as entertaining as it continues to unfold is anyone’s guess, but the first act has proven exciting.

And Forever Evil isn’t the only event given nuance and resonance by Villains Month. Krypton was also masterfully revisited. Fans of the first 30 minutes of Man of Steel could do far worse than to look into the Braniac, Zod, Cyborg Superman and Doomsday issues. The four loosely connected narratives manage to cover substantial ground regarding Krypton’s last days. The sibling rivalry between Superman’s father Jor-El and his uncle Zor-El is explored to great effect as are the motivations of an up and coming lieutenant named Zod and the affection of Braniac for Jor-El.

Greg Pak, who penned Darkseid, Doomsday and Zod, was certainly a star of Villains Month, with Zod being arguably the best issue of the month. Pak’s take on Superman’s rogues is particularly exciting considering Pak is set to take over Action Comics in November, stealing the reigns back from the limbo Action Comics has been in since Grant Morrison’s departure.

Joining Pak in the spotlight was Charles Soule, who I had previously only been familiar with from Red Lanterns. Soule managed to leave his mark all over the DC Universe last month writing for characters ranging from Arcane to Lex Luthor to Black Hand. Soule’s issue of Arcane in particular shines bright as he manages to evoke the poetic prose of Alan Moore in a fascinating portrayal of a terrifying villain’s personal hell. Soule also handles the brilliance of Lex Luthor with aplomb, making the genius equal parts intellect and charm. While Soule’s portray of Black Hand is admirable, however, he essentially manages to bring a dead character back to life with no explanation while simultaneously completely resetting the events of Blackest Night.

Which brings me to Villains Month’s blunders. While there were a lot of great stories told last month there were undeniably too many. Black Hand is dead. He should have been covered in a flashback, if at all. The character raises the dead and when you bring him back you’re going to have to have him raise the dead, which are now raised and have to be dealt with despite having nothing to do with the events in the current Green Lantern books. But whatever, he’s a villain right? And villains + 3D = $.

This is the same equation that brought about Justice League issues focusing on Dial-E and Lobo that have nothing to do with anything and it’s the same equation that brought about the low point of not only Villains Month, but probably the entire New 52 run: Joker’s Daughter.

Who’s Joker’s Daughter? Literally a crazy lady that finds Joker’s severed face in a swimming pool. What does she have to do with anything? (Everybody now) Nothing. How many issues of Joker’s Daughter were on the shelf by the time I made it to my local comic book store? None. You’re killing me people.

IGN gave the series premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a score of 8.5. They gave Joker’s Daughter a 2. And why wouldn’t they? In what incarnation would such a character be anything but a shameless cash grab? I can’t think of one and I don’t think Joss Whedon could either.

Reign in Brother Blood.

Reign in Brother Blood.

Of further annoyance is that while “characters” like Joker’s Daughter were given an issue in Villains Month, some legitimately awesome villains were left on the sidelines. Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man run is fantastic and the new villain he has introduced in recent months, Brother Blood, is a Slayer song made flesh. Where was he last month? Where was Atrocitus? Where was Black Mask? Where was Superboy Prime? Where was Larfleeze? Professor Pyg? Starro? Where was more Owlman? Where was anyone but Joker’s Daughter?

Today is the first Wednesday in a month that my comic book covers will be 2D and have heroes on them and I’m pretty pumped. Villains Month was fun enough but I’m ready to get back to my regularly scheduled programming. DC Comics can tell me the Riddler issue is a Zero Year tie-in all they want, but just saying the phrase “Zero Year” doesn’t make it so.

Diamond in the rough.

Diamond in the rough.

Villains Month had some impressive peaks. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my personal favorite issue, Jeff Lemire’s Count Vertigo, but even dizzying Canadian creepers with mommy issues can’t overshadow a month of depth-defying valleys. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how lackluster my personal favorite villain, Sinestro, fared.

Looking back on Villains Month it feels less like a celebration of two years of loyal readership and more like chum for wallets. In 3D.

Trinity War: Forever Over, or, Pandora Sux



After two months and six issues spanning Justice League, Justice League Dark and Justice League of America, DC Comics’ massively hyped Trinity War storyline has come to a close, I guess, in Justice League #23. Trinity War has been looming over the DC Universe since the comic book imprint rebooted almost their entire line of books two years ago with the New 52. Teased and whispered in hushed tones ever since it was hard not to be excited by the event when it finally got underway in Justice League #22.

The arrival of Trinity war proved to be a sufficiently sizable bang. Geoff Johns, who co-wrote Trinity War alongside Animal Man scribe Jeff Lemire, managed to organically bring together the Justice League, the Justice League of America and, most importantly, SHAZAM! in an issue that stands as a master class in setup. Justice League #22 is a fantastic issue, which makes it predecessors all the more drab.

With all of their pieces set so neatly on the board, rather than playing the game Johns and Lemire spent the majority of Trinity War just kind of moving the pieces around onto different boards and into different configurations and by the time the pieces finally come together again for the grand finale Trinity War is over and all you can be certain of is that at some point something definitely started.

The real twist at the end of Trinity War is that Trinity War itself isn’t really an event (and it absolutely isn’t a war) so much as just a prologue for DC’s next event, Forever Evil, which starts up this week alongside DC’s Villain’s Month. Essentially Trinity War, which was hyped up to be a massive epic, turned out to just be the scene after the credits of Iron Man where Samuel L. Jackson tells Tony Stark there’s an Avenger’s movie coming out soon.

However, for a six issue run that amounts to a post-credits sequence, Trinity War has some shine here and there.

Finally bringing SHAZAM! into the fold after an awesome origin story in the backup section of Justice League was gratifying. Little Billy Batson and his full grown lightening-powered wizard of an alter ego have been rejuvenated by Geoff Johns and to finally have him in the larger DCU is an exciting prospect. Fingers crossed for a monthly series.



A couple of other characters in a cast of over twenty manage to stick out as well. Wonder Woman gives Superman an awesome lecture on the ethics of fighting evil, (“There’s a reason I don’t have a list of villains as long as yours. When I deal with them, I deal with them”) and proves herself to be a general badass. Martian Manhunter showcases a boatload of powers, both mental and physical, that make him seem like quite possibly the biggest threat amongst the three Justice Leagues. And at some point the Flash makes a pretty funny Hal Jordan joke.

But in general, the sheer amount of characters in each panel clutter the story to the point where most of them spend a majority of the story with nothing to do. Folks like Aquaman, Hawkman and some purple lady whose name I can’t even remember have lines here and there that make it seem like each issue had a list of the entire cast and corresponding boxes to be checked when they had a line of dialogue shoehorned in.

And then there’s Pandora. Considering Trinity War revolves around Pandora’s box and that on the massive spread the three first issues of Trinity War combine to form she is literally the center of attention, one would expect Pandora to have some sort of importance to the proceedings. She has none. She pops up senselessly in the beginning of the story and tags along throughout the remainder of the narrative like a whining homing beacon. Pandora is a bland, unnecessary character whose only functions are to say “seriously guys this box is a thing” and to take up space. Fingers crossed she doesn’t get a monthly series. Oh wait.



At the end of the day for all its detectives and gods and aliens and kings Trinity War proves a meandering means to an end that in itself isn’t actually an end. In fact, at the end of the day Trinity War is actually much more of a means to a beginning.

Trinity War bleeds directly into Forever Evil, which has thus far been setup in such a way that it could either be a pretty awesome, but probably pretty standard, comic book event or pretty terrible, run of the mill comic book nonsense. But either way, the slow, ineffective shuffling of the deck that is Trinity War will be hard pressed to be redeemed and dubbed necessary.