Staff Picks – Week of 07/11/18

Green Lantern #1
Grant Morrison (w), Liam Sharp (a)
DC Comics

Adam says: After what feels like years of constantly convoluted stories across far too many titles, the “main” title has returned with everyone’s favourite hot-head, Hal Jordan, back in the saddle – and helmed by an astonishingly enticing creative team in Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp.

Morrison’s on fine form here, offering a neat blend of his wacky Silver Age stylings and the coherent, concise narrative approach he adopts when working in the confines of work-for-hire. As usual, he looks set to draw from lesser-known passages of DC Comics history in a way that hopefully remains accessible. Finally, he makes sure to kick off the Hal’s emotional arc with some solid character work, establishing this Green Lantern as rogueish, unreliable, but also romantic and with an unwavering sense of justice. Those threads all connect to create a three-dimensional portrait, right from the start here.

Liam Sharp also brings a great deal to the table in this opening issue. His trademark inky detailing is applied to vivid and claustrophobic effect in the outer space sequences. This feels like a particularly smart way of setting up Hal’s beat as a space cop as the site where the book will chart into the unknown, and the chaotic. By contrast, Sharp’s presentation of Earth is gorgeously simple, sparse and even placid. This juxtaposition of Hal’s work life and his home life is a supremely well-considered set-up for this new series. And to speak briefly of Sharp’s character work as well, his emotional range and particularly the sense of suppression / repression he peppers into Jordan’s face is reminiscent of 1950s romance comics – a lovely touch for a character who’s always retained a strange sense of being slightly anachronistic, almost a man out of time.

All in all, this book sets itself up quickly, efficiently and very promisingly – and actually ends up feeling a little 2000AD, which seems like a great place to take Green Lantern for a fresh start.

Batman: The Dark Prince Charming (HC)
Enrico Marini
DC Comics / Dargaud

Chief says: Originally published in Europe, this new tale of the Dark Knight has one of the better bat-pitches seen in a while. What if Bruce Wayne, whilst cementing the promiscuous playboy image that helps him keep The Dark Knight a secret, had a one-night stand with a barmaid? And what if the result of that liaison was a child… a girl, who a few years later is presented to Bruce to take in and care for. And what if The Joker takes an interest and kidnaps the child for ransom? What then?

The ersatz bat-family has always been one of the things that make Batman work better. It raises the stakes and gives Bats, the eternal straight-man, characters who can play off his granite-like exterior. To be honest, it’s even better if that manufactured family can be backed up by biological family. That’s not to give the adopted family any less agency. But it creates new dynamics, new frictions and potentially could give Bruce that thing he craves: Normalcy and a recreation of his own family unit, something that was stopped short for him in crime alley. It only makes sense that his family reunion is cut short by the madness that pervades the Batman’s life.

The quality of Marini’s talk is backed up by his walk. The art is a thing of unique beauty. There’s a retro futurist look to Gotham and the vehicles caught alternately in it’s gridlock and car-chases. It’s clear that Marini’s influences are not just the curved beauty of Moebius but the retrofitted claustrophobia of Blade Runner and the book benefits from this. The colours are also gorgeous, proving that Batman is just a creature of the night, but a creature of sunset and cloud too! This is stunning book that serves to make us want more from European creators. If only they’d make this canon…

(NOTE: This book was previously available in two separate HC issues that are still available in store. The Single HC volume reviewed here contains a sketchbook section and a new introduction).

Marvel Knights 20th #1
Donny Cates (w), Travel Foreman(a)
Marvel Comics

Liz says: Okay, that was unexpected. Marvel Knights 20th #1 just chucked me headfirst into some trippy ‘House of M’ type-deal where nobody remembers who they are… and it was AWESOME. I am a sucker for alternate universe/amnesia/warped reality stories (see ‘House of M’, ‘Age of Apocalypse’, etc.) and if the rest is anywhere near as good as this issue, I’ll be recommending this book for years to come! Great mystery, great setup, great characterization; I am very, very excited to read more!