Last Days of Animal Man #1

Written by Gerry Conway
Penciled by Chris Batista
Inked by Dave Meikis
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I’ll admit it, I don’t get it. Of all of the titles to come out of DC Comics in the past year, one of the most puzzling ones is The Last Days of Animal Man. It doesn’t really tie into an event, the character isn’t terribly "hot," it just seemed to show up without a trace. About the only reason I can see for it being published, quite frankly? Gerry Conway and Chris Batista have put together a good, comic. And how often does that seem to be a green light these days?

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Unwritten #1

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross
40 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

It’s safe to say that Mike Carey and Peter Gross’s collaboration on Lucifer was a success. The book lasted for 75 issues, with Gross coming on board with #5 to draw the vast majority of the series. The two of them returning to a new ongoing series, then, sounds like a surefire hit. But with Carey’s last ongoing series for Vertigo quietly and unjustly slipping away in under two years, nothing is certain. Fortunately, the launch of The Unwritten feels like Carey and Gross are doing everything they can to make this launch stick.

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Batman Chronicles Vol. 2

Written by Bill Finger
Penciled by Bob Kane
Inked by Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, and George Roussos
224 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

Dipping into the early days of Batman with reading Batman Chronicles: Volume 2 may seem like an odd way to go about reading those early Bill Finger and Bob Kane stories, but I actually had a plan in mind. By starting with the second collection of Detective Comics and Batman, it would let me see just what Finger and Kane came up with once the basic concepts were stabilized and the creators were fully . So, once a lot of the guesswork was out of the day, what do we end up with? An oddly compelling comic.

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Battle for the Cowl: The Underground

Written by Chris Yost
Art by Pablo Raimondi
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

DC Comics’s Battle for the Cowl feels like—and there’s no delicate way to put this—a bit of a mess. Numerous one-shots and mini-series are released left and right, with the majority of them seemingly having nothing to do with Battle for the Cowl itself. I have to admit that reading the Battle for the Cowl: The Underground one-shot was almost a relief, then, in that it actually has the promised connection that the title claims. At the end of the day, though, it still feels like a truncated story, and I’m not entirely sure it’s fair to the reader.

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Secret Six #8

Written by Gail Simone
Penciled by Carlos Rodriguez and Amanda Gould
Inked by Bit and Amanda Gould
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I worry at times that DC Comics waited too long to give the green light to an ongoing Secret Six series. The original Villains United mini-series was certainly a buzz book, and the follow-up Secret Six mini-series was well-received as well. Hopefully fans of those two stories aren’t missing out on the current Secret Six, because I have to say that I’m finding it a truly entertaining book month after month. In a wasteland of strong ongoing series, it’s nice to see some of them understanding the format.

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Batman Confidential #26-28

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir
Penciled by José Luis Garcia-López
Inked by Kevin Nowlan
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

When is a Batman villain not a Batman villain? For the longest time, the answer to that particular riddle could have been, "King Tut." While the character appeared five times in the 1960s Batman television show (more than any other villain created for the show), he’d never actually been in the comics—well, for over 40 years, at any rate. I have to give Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir credit, while the idea seems more than a little silly, the duo have found just the right angle that warrants this particular story.

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Sandman Mystery Theatre Vol. 7: The Mist and the Phantom of the Fair

Written by Matt Wagner and Steven T. Seagle
Art by Guy Davis
200 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

The past few years, Vertigo’s released a new volume of Sandman Mystery Theatre just in time for spring. While I’ll admit that I’m a relatively recent convert to the series, it hasn’t stopped me from really appreciating what Matt Wagner, Steven T. Seagle, and Guy Davis all brought to the series. With the release of Sandman Mystery Theatre Vol. 7: The Mist and the Phantom of the Fair, though, this is a book that might have some special to Starman fans—especially with the Starman Omnibus series now hitting shelves.

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Bang! Tango #1-2

Written by Joe Kelly
Penciled by Adrian Sibar
Inked by Rodney Ramos
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

There’s nothing quite like picking up a comic off the stands and realizing that you’ve never even heard of it. That’s the only way to describe the surprise of seeing Bang! Tango, Vertigo’s new mini-series about dancing and crime. If you’re as instantly intrigued by that basic idea as I am, well, you’re in for an interesting surprise. I can’t help but think that this is going to be a comic that will be remembered by those who read it for quite a while.

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DMZ Vol. 6: Blood in the Game

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Riccardo Burchielli
144 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

I’m certainly always enjoyed Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ, an ongoing series about a journalist in the demilitarized zone of Manhattan where the United States and the Free States’s armies had originally collided. With this new volume, Blood in the Game, I can’t deny that I was initially a little thrown by its contents—perhaps because it seemed to be heading a direction that I wasn’t entirely sure would be as much of an attraction for me. The more I think about this change in the title, though, the more pleased I am with its new route.

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R.E.B.E.L.S. #1

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Andy Clarke
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

One of the very first "DC Universe" books I ever started reading was L.E.G.I.O.N. ’89, DC’s "present day" precursor to the Legion of Super-Heroes, spinning out of their Invasion! mini-series event. It was a lot of fun, a mixture of space opera, manipulative bastards you love to hate, and out-and-out silliness. Most people probably remember L.E.G.I.O.N. as the book that made Lobo an insanely popular character, but for me it’s got to be the founder of the organization, Vril Dox. Clearly I’m not the only one who feels this way, since he’s back and the lead of the new R.E.B.E.L.S. series—but will anyone else notice?

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