Watchmen (HBO) Season 1, Episode 3 – “She Was Killed By Space Junk” Written by Damon Lindeloff & Lila Byock Directed by Stephen Williams
As I am watching Watchmen, I’m often wondering what this experience must be like for someone who has never read the graphic novel. This episode, in particular, will not hit a viewer as hard if they aren’t already familiar with Laurie Blake, formerly Laurie Juspeczyk, aka Silk Spectre. Knowing the story of Laurie’s mother, the revelation of her father, and the complexity of her relationships with Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl adds so much to the experience of watching this chapter. But I also think seeing Laurie as a blank slate could provide a fresh understanding of who she is as an aging woman, turning on the masked vigilante community that she was once a part of, and immediately clashing with the Tulsa police.
Naomi: Season One (2019) Written by Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker Art by Jamal Campbell
It’s rare to see a completely new character debut in the first issue of their own title, not directly tied to the legacy of a pre-established figure in their shared comic book universe. Legendary creator Brian Michael Bendis, a figure who overhauled and recreated Marvel comics through the late 1990s and 2000s, arrived at DC, who apparently wrote him a blank creative check. Bendis was asked what his ideas were rather than be handed properties as the company saw fit. One of his first points of order was to take the Superman books in a whole new direction. Once that was underway, he rolled out Wonder Comics, an imprint he would curate similar to Gerard Way’s Young Animal line.
Watchmen (HBO) Season 1, Episode 2 – “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindeloff Directed by Nicole Kassell
Will Reeves, the young boy saved from the Tulsa Massacre, is now an old man in a wheelchair claiming responsibility for a murder he couldn’t have possibly committed. This puts Angela Abar in a tough spot and she locks Will up in her bakery while dealing with the fallout of the last episode’s killing. This entire episode centers around upending the world Angela knows and forcing her to question everything she’s becoming comfortable with. It goes from her work relationships to the very nature of her own heritage.
The Omega Men by Tom King (2015) The latter half of 2015 could be considered the Tom King period for me. I’ve consistently enjoyed almost everything he’s put out, even the stuff that seems to have a significant fan backlash. This 12 issue series for DC Comics takes the Omega Men concept (aliens united as the result of an oppressive force) and revamped it thirty years after its original conception. The Omega Men fight against The Citadel, an interplanetary corporation that uses the destruction of Krypton as a means to sell their services, stabilizing the cores of worlds. The rare metal needed to fix these planetary cores is only found in planets within the Vega System; thus, the inhabitants of those worlds have been enslaved, and in some circumstances, wiped out by genocide to ensure the resources can be harvested. The Omega Men kidnaps former Green Lantern Kyle Rayner so that they might have a witness to the atrocities done to their people and to see their retribution.
These are the comic books that I enjoyed reading the most that were published in the last decade. You’ll definitely see some recurring authors and characters, signifying my personal bias. I know there are a ton of great books I haven’t read from this period and as time goes on I plan on reading some (look for a huge Image Comics read-through in early 2020). Please let me know of any titles not on my list as I may have not read them and always appreciate recommendations.
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman (2010) Jonathan Hickman came onboard Fantastic Four at the start of the decade with big plans for not just this series but Marvel as well. He adhered to that original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby of exploring the unknown and created an optimistic, diverse possible future. The best thing Hickman gave us, and what has been criminally underused since, is the Future Foundation. The Future Foundation was Reed Richards’ effort to cultivate the next generation of scientists, and it played with reader expectations. Of course, Franklin and Valeria Richards are part of the team, but Hickman also includes some adolescent Moloids, the android Dragon Man, and a clone of Reed’s foil The Wizard. Not only is this a great read, one of the best Fantastic Four runs we’ve ever gotten, but it’s also almost essential reading to understand this last decade of Marvel comics.
Joker (2019) Written by Todd Phillips & Scott Silver Directed by Todd Phillips
We are incapable of having a nuanced conversation about anything in popular culture. As I scroll through endless hot takes on Warner Bros.’ latest DC Comics property turned movie Joker, I find myself getting numbingly-exhausted. Apparently, Joker is either A) a clarion call to Trump-loving incels or B) the most magnificent piece of cinema ever produced, so we should end filmmaking now. Joker is a beautiful, ugly, well-acted, terribly-written, film that says so much while being so profoundly shallow and on the nose. This is going to be a long review and go into a lot of detail, much of which will involve me rambling about things you may find tangentially unconnected from Joker, but this is my review so…nyah.
Heroes in Crisis (2019) Reprints Heroes in Crisis #1-9 Written by Tom King Art by Clay Mann & Mitch Gerards
Most event comics in the DC Universe are now bloated multi-title crossovers that stretch their thin story premise to an unreasonable length. They find some way to hammer the word “crisis” into the title as a way of drumming up nostalgia in burnout fanboys. If you read my reviews of the DC event books a couple of summers ago then you know I have had my nostalgia glasses removed and see most of my love for these books evaporating. I’m an adult now, and the understanding I had of story structure and character development has evolved since those days. Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis are just convoluted and boring books at this point. Then Tom King comes along, riding the acclaim of work like The Vision and Mr. Miracle. It’s announced he’ll be writing Heroes in Crisis, an event book.