Welcome to Comics Wire, SYFY WIRE's weekly comics column that gets at the pulse of what's going on in comics right now. We've got what you need to know about huge crossovers, real-life issues facing the industry, cool first looks, the week's hot new comics, and everything in between.
Well, after a few weeks of watching the trailer for The Batman over and over, we have arrived at round two of DC FanDome, the massive virtual fan experience that proved to be a hit the first time around and hopes to get you excited all over again this Saturday. This time around, since the big movie panels are taken care of, we'll get to focus more on some other corners of the DC Entertainment universe, including lots of upcoming television stuff, animated films and, of course, comics.
Unlike the first weekend, in which you had three chances to watch an eight-hour block of livestreams over the course of 24 hours, this weekend will take a more on-demand viewing approach. You'll still only have 24 hours, but all the programming will drop online at once, at 1 p.m. Eastern, and you'll get the day to watch whatever you're interested in. So, with that in mind, here are the comics and comics-adjacent panels I've got my eye on this weekend.
Batman: The Joker War: It's no secret around here that I'm a big fan of everything going on in Joker War, the wild event rampaging through DC's Batman books right now, so I'm especially keen on this discussion between Batman writer and Joker War architect James Tynion IV, Batgirl writer Cecil Castellucci, Nightwing writer Dan Jurgens, Batman artist Jorge Jimenez, and upcoming Batman miniseries writer John Ridley, who may just shed a little more light on the new Batman tale he's been working on.
Batman: Three Jokers: After years of waiting, Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok just unleashed the first issue of their Batman: Three Jokers DC Black Label series on the world. Now, in this 20-minute panel, they'll talk about how the story finally came together, and how they see the Clown Prince of Crime in his many forms through this story.
You Brought Me The Ocean with Alex Sanchez: The Aqualad graphic novel You Brought Me The Ocean is a beautiful, bold, and breathtaking reimagining of a DC Comics hero, and in this panel author Alex Sanchez will talk a little about how that happened. Joined by members of the LGBTQ+ education organization GLSEN, Sanchez will shed more light on this powerful story and its place in DC's graphic novel line.
John Ridley and The Other History of the DC Universe: Though he's gotten the most press lately for his upcoming Batman series, writer John Ridley is also digging into another ambitious project: A history of the DC Universe told through the eyes of the characters of color who populate it. In this panel, Ridley will hopefully shed more light on this exciting upcoming miniseries, and how he shaped it.
Mostly DCeased: If you're into the various alternate universes of DC Comics, then you've probably gotten bitten by DCeased at some point in the last year. The series has continued to expand and grow since it was launched in 2019, and it's not done yet. In this panel, DCeased creators Tom Taylor, Trevor Hairsine, Karl Mostert and more will talk about the hit title, as well as current work on titles like Injustice and Suicide Squad.
New Voices of Wonder Woman: One of the smartest things DC Comics has done in recent years is expand the kinds of stories it wants to tell with certain key characters, Wonder Woman among them. In this panel, some of the hottest creators working on Diana's stories at the moment — including Laurie Halse Anderson, Victoria Ying, L.L. McKinney, and more — talk about the legendary Amazon's impact and how their current projects are progressing.
Reintroducing Nubia: The Black Amazonian Queen: And hey, if you love stories about DC's Amazons, the fun doesn't stop with Wonder Woman. Her sister, Nubia, is getting a new chance to shine thanks to the upcoming graphic novel Nubia: Real One. In this panel, SYFY WIRE's own Karama Horne talks to Nubia writer L.L. McKinney and artist Robyn Smith as they discuss how they created this exciting new vision of a DC character who deserves more attention.
Take a Tour of DC's Death Metal Metalverse: I love Dark Nights: Death Metal in no small part because it's a story that absolutely threw us all into the deep end with its daring, often terrifying redesign of the entire DC Universe. If you've been keeping up with Death Metal, you no doubt have a better grasp on the Metalverse at this point, but even you probably haven't seen everything. That's why this half-hour panel, presented as a grand tour of the Metalverse, sounds especially intriguing. Plus, it's an excuse to just see Castle Bat again, and I'll take it.
Teen Titans: Spotlight on Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo: I love Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo's Teen Titans graphic novels, Raven and the just-released Beast Boy, and if you love them too — or you know a teen who's obsessed — you'll want to tune into this panel in which the creative team talks about how they brough their books to life. We might even get a new peek at the Beast Boy Loves Raven graphic novel coming out next year.
The Expansion of DC's Watchmen Universe: Last year, the Watchmen universe got a strange and beautiful new story when the HBO series of the same name premiered, offering up an incredible sequel to the classic comics miniseries. This year, Watchmen will get yet another continuation in the form of a new Rorschach miniseries from writer Tom King and artist Jorge Fornés. In this panel, both of those worlds will collide, as Watchmen TV series creator Damon Lindelof talks to King and Fornés about their approach in returning to the world of Watchmen.
We love highlighting Kickstarters from established and up-and-coming creators here at Comics Wire, and we've got several great-looking projects for you this week, beginning with a Silver Age-style Lucha Libre adventure.
LA MANO del DESTINO Bilingual Flipbook: One of the great things about indie comics is that, given enough time and creative energy, a creator can pour just about everything they want to say to you into a single fully-realized project. That seems to be the case with LA MANO del DESTINO, J. Gonzo's love letter to everything from Luchadors to Jack Kibry to Mesoamerican mythology. Now that the entire limited series has been released in singles, Gonzo's dropping it all into a bilingual flipbook trade paperback that will include both English and Spanish versions of the story, plus other assorted goodies. Fifteen bucks gets you a trade paperback of the whole saga.
NANI: You can say you're telling a story from a different perspective and offering something readers haven't seen before all day, but one of the great things about comics is that you actually have to prove it on the pages. NANI, the coming-of-age fantasy series inspired by West African mythology, looks and feels like something different from the moment you look at the pages. This story of two sisters transported to a fantasy world where they must fight to survive is now raising funds for its second volume, and the demand was so high it hit its goal in 10 hours. That might be enough to tell you that you should be interested, but just in case it's not: This campaign is offering digital copies of both the new second volume and the original first volume for a pledge of just 20 bucks. Sometimes I come across Kickstarters for sequels to things and the creators just have an "I dunno, go find it" approach to their earlier work. Two comics for what's essentially the price of one is a great way to hook me.
Serious Creatures: A Horror-Adjacent Coming of Age Comedy: Sometimes you see a book that ties neatly into your own selection of interests that you can't help but dig deeper, and Strange Creatures feels like that for me. Writer and artist Tony McMillen has already finished six single issues of his book — the story of an aspiring visual effects artist coming of age in the Hollywood of the 70s, 80s, and 90s — and now it's time to unite them all between two covers with a collection. This book ticks a lot of my boxes, and the art makes it very clear that I'm not going to get a cookie cutter, glossy Hollywood History rehash. Fifteen bucks gets you a digital copy.
New Comics This Week: A vital Death Metal tie-in, a new Ultra Man story, and more!
Now that we've talked about events and Kickstarters, let's talk new comics!
Dark Nights Death Metal: Trinity Crisis #1: I'm one of those somewhat New School comics fans who believes that "Well you really should read the tie-ins to get the full experience" is a cursed phrase that can lead one down the path of madness when it comes to buying up event comics and their various offshoots. I'm usually all in favor of putting everything in one miniseries, but I'm willing to make an exception when the tie-in is both powerful and really, really damn good, and in the case of Trinity Crisis, both things are true. So...I guess you really should read the tie-ins, in this case.
Set between Death Metal #3 and #4, this issue follows the various surviving Metalverse heroes as they hatch a plan to harvest the Crisis Energy (long story) that's powering Perpetua (longer story) so they can turn it against The Batman Who Laughs and win the day. To do that, they have to basically go into three different worlds in the Dark Multiverse where The Batman Who Laughs has set perpetual versions of DC's greatest crises in motion to keep the Crisis Energy flowing, and to do that they have to sneak into a portal beneath Castle Bat. The means the first part of this issue, from Death Metal writer Scott Snyder and artist Francis Manapul, takes the form of a kind of heist, as the heroes use their various gifts in a last ditch effort to make it to the portal. Of course, just getting to the worlds in the Dark Multiverse is the hard part, right? Right?
I wrote a bit when Death Metal began about how excited I was by Snyder's mission statement for the whole event, the "It All Matters" philosophy that would attempt to tie all of DC history up into one massive event. But with that enthusiasm also came a bit of worry. I wasn't sure how that could possibly be carried off without constantly repeating story beats longtime fans already know, constantly re-explaining things to newer readers in captions, or both. Thankfully, Trinity Crisis is a blistering, face-melting dose of adrenaline that tells me I never needed to worry about that. There's a plan in place here that goes much deeper than simply rehashing crises of the past, and with the help of Manapul's stunning art, Snyder lays out a good chunk of it by the end of this issue. I'd go so far as to call this a must-read before Death Metal #4 hits.
The Rise of Ultraman #1: I wasn't really sure what to expect from Marvel's new take on the Ultraman origin story from writers Kyle Higgins and Mat Groom and artists Francesco Manna and Michael Cho, and I kind of ending up avoiding any peeks at it in favor of simply letting the first issue speak for itself. Now that I've read it, I can say that what I got was an intriguing and well-crafted hybrid of a tokusatsu launchpad and decades-spinning sci-fi conspiracy thriller, and it is absolutely firing on all cylinders with its debut.
Rise of Ultraman #1 spends a lot of time laying the groundwork for what's to come, setting up the major players of the story, the organization they're all tied to, and the secrets they're both about to learn and have yet to even dream of, but perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that it's an issue that never feels like it's laying groundwork. Sure, you can realize that by the time you get to the end, but the issue itself is a beautifully placed, compelling wonder that does exactly what I want grand-scale sci-fi stories to do at the jump: Introduce compelling characters, give us a reason to care about them, and then give them something worth caring about. The Rise of Ultraman succeeds on all counts there thanks to Higgins and Groom's scripting, and Manna and Cho do the rest with gorgeus art that manages to look both modern and like a nod to decades of Ultraman stories.
Plus, this issue doesn't just give us one angle on the tale. In the present day, Manna is delivering widescreen, scaled-up sci-fi setpiece work even before the action hits, but in the backup story "Ultra Q" Cho gets to play a different tune. His story is a throwback, a spy thriller blended with a kaiju encounter set in the 1950s that plays like a beatifully choreographed action sequence from a lost Godzilla film. Taken as one, this is a fantastic first issue that promises a journey with proportions befitting a new Ultraman tale, and I can't wait to see what's coming.
Bill & Ted Are Doomed #1: Now that we've been properly reintroduced to those two Most Excellent Dudes via Bill & Ted Face the Music, a new comic is hoping to fill in some gaps between the trilogy-concluding film and their previous excellent adventures and bogus journeys. Bill & Ted Are Doomed, from writer Evan Dorkin and artist Roger Langridge, picks up the Dudes' adventures in the year 2000, as they're still trying to write that much-promised song that will unite the whole world. As you've probably guess, it's...not going well.
The hardest thing to get right about a Bill & Ted comic is the voice, because it's impossible not to read the words on the pages in the voices of Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves. If the words don't read right in those voices, you've lost your reader, and you've written a bogus comic. Happily, Dorkin seems to grasp the unique and often strangely poetic language of the Great Ones from the very first page, as well as the language of their wives, daughters, and bass player who doubles as Death himself. It has the effect of immediately transporting us back into their lives, and it's a delight when you realize that the jokes still land in comics form.
Of course, it's not all about the words. Sure, any solid artist could reproduce figures on a panel that look like Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan, but it's not just about imitating life here. The characters have to feel like Bill and Ted, and given the distinctive performances onscreen that's no easy feat either. Langridge pulls it off, though, thanks to a careful layering of facial acting, air guitar, and a wonderfully expressive design for Death, among other triumphs. This is a Most Excellent Comic that makes a wonderful companion to the new movie, and promises to only get weirder from here.
Something Is Killing The Children #10: These days, a lot of people agree that Something Is Killing the Children is not just one of the best horror comics on the stands, but one of the best comics out there, period. I think it got the horror distinction from pretty much the first issue, thanks to writer James Tynion IV's knack for opening chapters and artist Werther Dell'Edera's intense, sometimes outright terrifying art. The thing that got it into the "Best Comics On Stands Right Now" league, though, is its ability to sustain a narrative that another creative team might have let fizzle in half a dozen issues.
Sustaining a horror story is a tough battle, particularly when you're not trying to pivot the tale into the realm of something like "dark fantasy" because you honestly aim to keep the scares coming. You have to keep raising the stakes, you have to keep the danger as real as possible, and you have to do it while maintaining a sense of tension with your main characters. In this issue, Something Is Killing the Children demonstrates with inventiveness, energy, and all-out terror how good it still is at doing all of those things. As the families of the dead children unite to mourn and claim their loved ones, law enforcement is stretched thin, and Erica's own handler grows tired of her antics, things out in the woods are somehow about to get worse, and it's possible no one is ready for it.
Again, you don't need me to tell you this story starts from an absolutely ripping place of terror and thrills and spooky fun. What's most impressive about this very special book is the way that it continues to be this good, issue after issue. Issue #10 in particular might be Dell'Edera's greatest showcase so far, and it somehow still feels like things will only get creepier.
Stealth #5: Sometimes I worry that I only think there's no end to the kinds of stories we can tell with superheroes just because I love the genre so much, so maybe I'm deluding myself. Then I read a book like Stealth, and I'm reminded why I feel that so strongly. With a little bit of Rocketeer, a little bit of Breaking Bad, a little bit of Black Panther and a ton of heart, Stealth is a story that takes superhero ideas we think we know and twists them into something new and remarkable, and right now it's building towards a truly devastating conclusion.
Even after all the secrets the past four issues have revealed, issue #5 reminds us that Tony Barber is still pursuing a few more mysteries, and he's doing it in a city that's coming apart at the seams. As his father Stealth battles Alzheimer's and his own personal demons while still in a superhero suit and the gangster Dead Hand prepares for war, Tony finds himself caught in the middle as Detroit becomes a battleground. It's this sense of a powder keg with a short fuse that writer Mike Costa and artist Nate Bellegarde work to infuse into every panel of this particular issue, and it's a hell of a ride. Even after four issues of amazing action sequences, Bellegarde and colorist Tamra Bonvillain are working on another level this time out.
On top of the art, Costa's scripting also seems like it reaches a new level of power in this issue. The whole creative team realizes they're building toward something big with this penultimate chapter in the story, and they're all rising to the occasion. Everything in this comic is tight, precisely aimed, and expertly delivered like a perfect punch right between your eyes. If you haven't been reading Stealth, pick up the first five issues ahead of #6 next month.
And that's it for Comics Wire this week. Until next time, remember what John Custer told his son Jesse in the pages of Preacher:
"You gotta be one of the good guys, son: 'Cause there's way too many of the bad."