It’s 2017 and Comicler.com is celebrating with an all-positives set of mini reviews of DC’s New Talent Showcase. This showcase brought in fresh talent to learn and work under the likes of Scott Snyder, Jim Lee and more. Here is a small look at the anthology of short stories.
The Road to Hell and All That:
“The Road to Hell and All That,” starts us off with a colorful take on a DC character that often gets overlooked. Writer Adam Smith knows how to find truth in John Constantine’s dry wit. For a character that fluctuates between cold narcissist and loveable troublemaker, Smith flaunts his genuinely caring side that realistically is misconstrued by other characters as a lack of priority. The repetition and themes through the narration make for great hooks that could become staples for longer stories. The art by Siya Oum is eye-catching. There is a subtlety and detail to the settings which mixes well into lively character work that doesn’t get lost in the panels. Keeping iconic characters true to their designs is vital when working with this material, and Oum balances accuracy and style in a way that would silence even the biggest “there’s only one right way” sticklers.
Blood and Glory:
Wonder Woman is a character who’s benefited from Rebirth’s turn toward keeping characters consistent with their true selves. She is kind but strong. She is caring but ruthless. She is confident but careful. While her main book illustrates her finding her true origins, writer Vita Ayala takes an interest in her recent developments such as how becoming the God of War affects her as a person and as a warrior. Artist Khary Randolph and colorist John Rauch lend Ayala imagery that is as styled as the narrative. “Blood and Glory” is fierce and action-packed. This interpretation of Wonder Woman is exactly the comic for those who miss the drive of Saturday morning cartoons that bolstered grand, beautiful displays of power and righteousness. Superhero action is fun and this story is a great reminder of that amidst tales of politics and complex interpersonal conflicts.
Michael Moreci depicts a looming threat that has everything needed to bring a villain to life. A smaller conflict is then resolved in action sequences placed gingerly over a discussion between two Green Lantern characters that spans characterization, conflicts and relationship dynamics. The writing is dense and leaves much to build off of, which is very satisfying for such a short story. The art by Barnaby Bagenda and the colors by Romulo Fajarado similarly boast a variety of textures and a set of color palettes to emphasize setting. For a series where colors are relevant to characters’ emotional themes, this art is not only appropriate but important.
Hawkgirl Weapons of War:
Sonny Liew’s work on DC’s recent Doctor Fate was a fantastic contribution to the reinvention of a great character. Expanding on that distinct style and flexibly applying it to another classic DC character is a treasure for any fans of Hawkgirl. “Weapons of War” promises a procedural present destined for tragedy in the not-so-distant future. Shiyera’s found herself in a routine on Earth that is at odds with her more brutal past interpretations. The roots of her character are strongly engrained in the narrative by writer Erica Shultz who seeks to normalize Shiyera to the point of being more relatable to readers while promising to include her background as a warrior who is as tough as she is intelligent. This short story teases conflict of epic proportions that any DC fan would want to indulge in.
Deadman is a character who many feel is made for team-ups. His incorporeity and ability to possess others makes him an unpredictable ally, but rarely shape him into a character that would be interesting in conflicts of his own. Writer Christopher Sebela does a fantastic job illustrating what Deadman is like and why he does what he does. “Killing Time,” is a great refresher for those unfamiliar with the character as well as a great setup for a story that doesn’t require Batman or another A-list superhero to be interesting. Deadman’s thematic cycles of longing to be alive again are more relatable to living people than they may want to admit. This introduction is peppered with action-oriented posing and great sequential work by artist David Messina, as well as focused coloring by Moreno Dinisio, who manages to use a wide palette while keep Deadman’s red suit distinguishable and important.
Digging up Demons:
This is the only story in the group to use a team of artists with a penciller, inker and colorist. Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy and Tomeu Morey respectively bring Wonder Girl to life with detailed art, exceptional use of lighting and expressive character work. Writer Hena Khan makes the most of this collaboration by presenting a narrative that expertly builds off of the character’s past in a way that brings new readers up to speed while telling a story that focuses on relationships and sets up a potential villain. The twist at the end leaves this reader begging for more.
The Amazonian Job:
The essence of a good team-up is to find characters that don’t necessarily fit together and finding a way to make their differences complement each other. Telling a story that capitalizes on the virtue of Wonder Woman and the guile of Catwoman faced with a common goal is a fun balancing act. Writer Emma Beeby finds a way to make this work, giving convincing reasons for not only why Wonder Woman might seek out Catwoman, but also why Selina would say yes. A heist plot with Zeus guarding the treasure? I’m in. Artist Minkyu Jung and colorist Trish Mulvihill help emphasize the dynamics of the duo. Diana feels stoic and Selina feels dexterous. The more you look at the unexpected pair, the more you wonder why this team-up hasn’t been happening more often.
The Man in Black:
The return of pre-New 52 Superman has been seen by many as a blessing to DC’s Rebirth line. Writer Michael McMillian capitalizes on the return of the pure, feel-good Superman and uses his goodness to contrast with a character that has recently become some of his darkest incarnations: the Joker. With an introduction that teases an alien threat and the Joker being obviously present, it would appear that Superman will have his hands full. Luckily, a brief cameo of Batman teases that help is close by. It’s worth noting that McMillian found a great way of showing Superman perform an unusual feat of heroism while having Superman aware of the formulaic approach to this kind of story. The self-awareness shows that the writer really does understand the character as well as where his confidence comes from. The art by Juan Ferreyra utilizes masterful shading and lighting. He has an ability to match the characters to their setting in a way that helps portray who they are. Whether solemn and sullen in the Batcave, or fighting amidst the flowers of a local park, every scene services the characterization of those present.
Good Morning Gotham:
The 9th and final story in our anthology stars a character whose recent inclusion in live action has helped her stand out more than ever before. Of course Harley Quinn needs to be included in such a fun collection! Writer Joelle Jones brings gags-a-plenty to the haphazard world of being locked up in Gotham. Artist Sam Lotfi and colorist Panatazis excel at making every explosion count and making all motions clear and fluid. Highlighting Harley’s natural leadership with the fun dangers of comic book catastrophes that plague the city, Jones ends our adventure on a lighter note in which our hero skips off into the horizon, ready to meet any challenge with a smile. What could be a more fitting end to this New Talent Showcase?
The future of DC comics is in good hands if this showcase is any indication.