SDCC 2015 – Milestone Media Coming Back to DC Comics

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Image belongs to DC Comics and Milestone Media

Milestone Media, the company who brought you Static, Icon, and Xombi (and a myriad of other titles) is teaming back up with DC to bring back beloved characters in the DC Multiverse “Earth-M.”

Creators of the new Milestone publications will include Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan, Milestone 2.0 partner Reginald Hudlin, DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns,and DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee.

Milestone co-founder Derek T. Dingle said, “We have to keep this company alive. We have to maintain diversity in this industry.”

“Earth-M” stories will be told in two graphic novels a year, plus mini-series, and one-shots. Milestone did not confirm any titles or release dates.

Milestone Media started in 1993 with co-founders Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle. They were known for creating under-represented characters in the comic book world, and their amazing agreement with DC to publish under their name, but retain full creative control.

Stay tuned for more news pertaining to Milestone and Earth-M.

Source: CBR

Batman Day – Best Graphic Novels

DC Comics has dubbed today Batman Day. The Dark Knight has been fighting crime and serving justice for his 75th year since the 1939 debut of Detective Comics #27. Batman has been a big part of our lives, and was responsible for making me in the comic book fanatics we are today, whether it be through comic books and toys or television and movies. To show our appreciation for the man, the myth and the legend, we have compiled a plethora of Bat-themed lists. We hope that we can inspire you to read more about Batman and his legacy, or even give us some feedback if you agree or disagree with the lists. Sound off below! Or click on the picture below to take you to all of our Batman Day articles.

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Top 20 Batman Graphic Novels

The legacy of Batman isn’t dependent on the video games, movies or toys. Batman’s mythos is based on his greatest comic book tales. Whether canon or not, each story we chose here added to the collective representation of who we have built the Batman to be. Whether or not they are the “best” is not what we aim to debate, but these are the stories that define the Batman to us.

 

20.) Batman and Robin: Reborn

After Batman was “killed” by Darkseid in Final Crisis, I was almost ready to throw in the towel for reading comics. How could DC get away with killing off Bruce Wayne? By putting Dick Grayson in the cowl, that’s how. Grant Morrison’s idea to make the former Nightwing into Batman helped fill the part of the void left by Bruce’s departure. It was like reading a completely new book, as the dynamic between Dick and Damian Wayne was a far cry from the father and son one that Robin shared with Bruce. There was also a noticeable amount of humor that just hadn’t existed between Batman and Robin, the two taking on a big brother-little brother relationship. Dick tried to assume the fatherly rol, but it was often shoved back in his face by the prodigal Damian, often too smart for his own good.

 

19.) Batman: Zero Year

The mega-arc from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo just ended today, and it has already secured a place among my favorite books of all time. The time period prior to Frank Miller’s Year One is one of great mystery, so for us to get a complete detail of his rise to becoming the Batman. Bruce’s journey is full of tidbits that had never made it into other comics; thanks to the fact there was no canon material to prove Snyder right or wrong, he could really do what he wanted with the story. A show-down with the Red Hood Gang and the introduction of the Riddler, as well as a different take on the origin of James Gordon were just some of the twists that made the arc feel familiar, yet brand new. Greg Capullo’s art is on point. His model of the first Batsuit is incredible, complete with purple gloves and all. This book is a love letter to Batman, and you don’t need any previous knowledge to enjoy and understand it.

 

18.) Death in the Family

When Jason Todd learns that his biological mom is still out there somewhere, the stubborn Robin runs away from home to track her down. His hunt leads him to the Middle East. He does end up meeting his mom, but hits a patch of bad luck when she ends up being on the Joker’s payroll. Yikes. Long story short, the Joker beats Robin senseless with a crowbar before leaving him and his mother in a warehouse with a bomb. There’s no happy ending here, as Jason Todd blows up just before Batman can save the day. This wasn’t all bad news for fans though, as DC had actually released a survey asking people whether or not Robin should be murdered. His death was a particularly brutal one, like something you’d see on Goodfellas, and considering Jason was just a kid, a lot of people felt it was too much. The largest impact Jason’s death had was on Batman’s psyche, haunting him for years. He considered Jason’s death the worst failure he’s ever had.

 

17.) Mad Love

Vroom! Vroom! Harley Quinn tries so hard just to impress her man in this story, but she just can’t win. After putting on a special outfit and enticing the Joker, he shrugs her off, brooding over his failed attempts at catching and killing the Bat. So Harley does what any loving woman would; she captures Batman all on her own. As she brags to Batman about how proud Joker will be, Batman tells her that he only cares about himself, but Harley shrugs it off (Note: If Batman is telling you your relationship is toxic, you know something is wrong) Excited to share the news with Mistah Jay, he becomes infuriated, telling Harley that he had to be the one to do it or it didn’t matter. That’s when things stop being funny. Joker continues to beat Harley, pushing her out of the window and into the trash. Coming from an abusive home as a child, this was really the final straw for Harley, as she renounces the Joker… for a little while anyway. Relationship woes aside, I gained  lot of respect for Harley after Mad Love.

 

16.) Under the Hood

Jason Todd, like most superheroes, couldn’t stay dead for long. However, the way that he came back was very unique from the rest of the comic book world. Taking on the moniker of the Red Hood, named after a gang Joker ran with when he turned into the white-skinned psycho he is today, Todd returns in a big way, sweeping the crime world by taking it over, and annihilating anybody who opposes. Bitter from what he considered Batman letting him die, Jason turned to more extreme measures in dealing with the bad guys. It takes Batman a while, but he finally figures out that the Red Hood is somehow Jason Todd. Cutting into his action, Black Mask joins with other super-villains to put a hit out on Red Hood. The Joker ends up captive in a room with Red Hood, who savagely beats Joker and prepares to kill him. In the end, Batman is forced to make the choice of stopping Jason from killing Joker, driving a wedge further between them.

 

15.) No Man’s Land

Gotham has suffered an earthquake of catastrophic proportions, resulting in a city-wide blackout. Civilization as we know it has ceased to exist, and random gangs have began vying for territory all over the city. Meanwhile, Batman is nowhere to be found as Bruce Wayne in in DC, fighting for national aid to Gotham. What makes the story great is that all the minor characters who never get the spotlight deserve play a major part in the resurrection of Gotham. The story feels very real and everybody acts how you would imagine they would in that kind of situation. Citizens’ fears are felt just as much as the police’s bravery. James Gordon is just the bit of hero that Batman was, proving that you don’t need to be Batman to make a difference. This huge event spanned nearly 15 series and six months, making it one of Batman’s largest-scale stories of all time.

 

14.) All-Star Batman and Robin

For some reason, this Batman is really pissed off. All-Star Batman and Robin isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read. Not only does Batman get laid, say “Goddamn” a lot and defeats the Green Lantern by literally using the color yellow. The books chronicles the recruitment of Dick Grayson as Robin and Batman’s introduction to the Justice League, as well as a few other minor events. The Batman in this book is a raging asshole; he puts his hands on Alfred, constantly belittles Robin and shows little value in the life of criminals – notably by hurling a Molotov cocktail at a group of them as them erupt in flames. The real take-away are the beautiful full-page spreads by Jim Lee, who manages to calm down the rage-aholic writing of Frank Miller.

 

13.) Dark Victory

The sequel to Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long HalloweenDark Victory continues along the lines of a mystery story that just happens to have Batman characters in it. We get an introduction to Robin, and a brand new villain with a new shtick, The Hangman. Many of the corrupt politicians from Year One are found hanged to death by this mystery murderer. We also get to see the complications of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, but Batman feels perpetually alone, refusing help from Catwoman and Gordon on numerous occasions.

 

12.) Knightfall

Bane gets overlooked a lot of the time for being a hulking beast, but he’s one of the smartest villains in Gotham. In Knightfall, he strategically breaks out all the villains from Arkham, wearing Batman out as he tried to contain the situation. Bane deduced Batman’s secret identity, meeting him in the Batcave for a super-sized beat-down, ending in Bane shattering Batman’s spine and his confidence. It was an eye-opener for fans that realized defeating the Batman was, in fact, possible. Batman began a rigorous training regiment with Lady Shiva to get his mojo back, and charged Jean Paul Valley (Azrael) to take over as Batman in his stead. JPV let the role go to his head, and before we knew it, he had modified the Batsuit to become a nightmarish Azrael suit. The first volume of the arc was the best, but there were still enough interesting events in the rest of it to warrant reading.

 

11.) Battle for the Cowl

Bruce Wayne is gone, and Dick Grayson must take up the mantle of the Bat, but is reluctant. Sensing that Batman is gone, an impostor show up to take the gig over. That impostor ends up being a sociopathic Jason Todd. In an attempt to stop Jason Todd, both Damian and Tim Drake are shot and severely wounded. At this point, Dick realized that only he can inherit the mantle of the Bat. The story isn’t that long, but the repercussions of it echo all the way into Bruce’s return.

 

10.) Joker

Batman’s number one villain gets his own mini-series in this story by 100 Bullets‘ Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo. The story is told through the eyes of a common criminal looking to join the ranks of Joker’s gang. This perspective, unlike the first-person perspective of the supplementary Luthor book, enhances the perspective that nobody really knows what the Joker is thinking. Reading the book, you get lost in the madness, but sober right up as you realize just how frightening Joker is. In a confrontation with Harvey Dent, Joker glues shards of broken glass to his fists in preparation for the fight. This is right after blackmailing him and right before raping Dent’s wife. Joker also commits other unspeakable acts such as: skinning a man alive, shooting over a dozen people (not all in anger) and stabbing one of his own men in the eye with a glass bottle. This book is a clear example of digging beneath the surface and realizing you probably shouldn’t have.

 

9.) The Black Mirror

Before Scott Snyder was awarded Batman in the New52, he wrote The Black Mirror, a creepy story about the dark reflection in Gotham that stares back at our protagonists. Commissioner Gordon, Gotham’s hero on the police force, beloved by the people, is hiding something, or rather someone, when it turns out that his estranged son is a complete deviant. Dick Grayson, meanwhile, who was still Batman at the time, infiltrates an auction held by The Dealer, where items used by villains were used – the item for bid was the crowbar The Joker used on Jason Todd before murdering him. It’s all pretty gruesome stuff, and would set the tone for the dark material in the New52 relaunch.

 

8.) The Killing Joke

Alan Moore’s stand-alone story is commonly thought of as the greatest Joker story ever told. There are plot points in this book that would remain canon and have repercussions that lasted decades. We get a good glimpse into the Joker’s twisted psyche, as he visits the home of Barbara Gordon and shoots her point blank, paralyzing her. The Joker then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, takes him to an abandoned amusement park (I think Gothan has one too many of those) and shows Gordon pictures of his daughter, all to prove that even the most upstanding citizen can lose their mind after one bad day. The ending to The Killing Joke is very artistic, and many believe resulted in the death of the Joker.

 

7.) Flashpoint Batman: Knight of Vengeance

Flash might have been the headliner here, but the alternate timeline that Batman was set on was as clever as it was tragic. When Flash altered reality by way of the Speed Force, Batman’s origin changed with it. Instead of Martha and Thomas Wayne taking the bullet, it had been Bruce. Engrossed in guilt, Thomas dealt with the situation by becoming Batman. This Batman was much more lethal with his methods, and operated a casino in town where he oversaw all the crime in town. Meanwhile, Martha developed another coping mechanism – laughter. My mind was blown. The Waynes, who were once the Jay-Z and Beyonce power couple of Gotham City, were now bitter enemies. The story ends in tragedy (as most Batman stories do), and all I could do is thank the stars that Flash was able to set the timeline straight again.

 

6.) Batman: Year One

Frank Miller’s Batman wasn’t always insane. The quintessential origin story, Year One took us through Bruce Wayne’s first attempt at fighting crime. In short, he kind of sucked at it. Gotham was a city where the rich got fat at the poor’s expense. While Batman was making his introduction on the streets, James Gordon had transferred from Chicago to be met by a very corrupt police force. Bruce and Gordon’s stories paralleled each other very well, adding to the feeling they would work well together. This is as good as any place to start in the Batman mythology if you don’t know where to start reading.

 

5.) JLA: Tower of Babel

Batman has a contingency plan for everything – even his friends. When Justice Leaguers start dropping like flies, with methods specifically designed to eliminate them, everybody is completely lost as to the mastermind who came up with these designed traps. Everybody, that is, except for Batman, who had kept a file detailing the Justice League’s weaknesses in case they got out of control. Ra’s al Ghul, who had a habit of being able to sneak into the Batcave whenever he wanted, sneaked in and stole the files, intending to use them to immobilize the heroes while he did his global domination thing. As Batman is the only one left to defend the world, he must undo the damage that his files wrought on the League. Tower of Babel was great commentary on whether or not that much control over a situation is a good thing, especially when the information wasn’t secure.

 

4.) The Dark Knight Returns

A retired Bruce Wayne has watched his city fall apart without a Dark Knight to protect it. It would seem, though, that the world is not ready for his reemergence, as Superman, who has pretty much become the President’s bitch, must make an example of this vigilante. That’s really the least of Batman’s worries, as he takes on Two-Face, a revitalized Joker, and a gang of punks called the Mutants. The story is chock-full of socio-political commentary that has stayed relevant throughout the decades.

 

3.) Batman: The Long Halloween

The Long Halloween was the first comic book I’ve ever read, and I was instantly hooked right in. Armed with Jeph Loeb, one of the greatest comic book storytellers in recent history, and the unique art style of Tim Sale, this book was enthralling. Part mystery, part action, Batman had to solve murders around town that were committed on holidays. He even enlisted the help of Calendar Man. The story takes place early in the Batman timeline, chronicling the transformation of Harvey Dent into Two-Face and before Jim Gordon was Commissioner. The story included a plethora of villains, and when the headlining Holiday is finally found out, it’s a big Aha! moment you just don’t get in comic books anymore.

 

2.) The Court of Owls

Scott Snyder kicked The New52 off with a bang, as a brand new series with a brand new villain emerged. The Court of Owls are an underground society of Gotham’s oldest and wealthiest families. They control everything going on in the city, and have decided that Bruce Wayne and the Batman have got to go. With an army of trained, slightly-undead soldiers called Talons at their disposal, they are an instant force to be reckoned. The owl-like masks, as well as the detailed Talon design added to the Courts intrigue, and the way Capullo arranged the panels when Batman tangles with the Owls in their maze echoes the insanity Batman feels. While the reboot allowed for tinkering to the mythology, Court of Owls actually added a lot of interesting gadgets and tidbits to it. At a whopping twelve issues, this book won’t fail to hold your interest.

 

1.) Hush

Call us biased, but Hush is the best Batman graphic novel of all time. In no other book are you introduced to so many beautifully drawn villains. Jim Lee’s art in Hush will go down in history as legendary, with a mixture of regular pencils and even taking a stab at water colors. Hush also marks the return of Jason Todd from the dead and introduces Thomas Elliott, Bruce’s childhood friend. Like other great mysteries by Jeph Loeb (The Long HalloweenDark Victory), you don’t find out who the villain is until the end of the book. In Hush Batman finally lets Catwoman into his heart, giving her a big smooch and revealing his identity to her. This has since been undone in The New52, but it has remained canon in my heart. Hush is the book that made me officially fall in love with comic books, and it’s one any Bat-fan will enjoy.

“Respect My Craft” – J. Scott Campbell

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

Name:  Jeffrey Scott Campbell

Profession: Comic book artist

Notable WorkGen13, The Amazing Spider-ManDanger Girl

“I draw ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Spiderman’ all the time; people come up to me asking did you see the latest’ Iron Man’? And I say no I didn’t see it, but I’m caught up with ‘Girls’ on HBO. Because to me it’s like what I’m doing all day long, I almost want like this quiet Indie movies that are the exact opposite of what I do for a living. I’m the last guy who sees the superhero movie. – J. Scott Campbell

 

Chances are, if you’ve picked up a Marvel book in the past few years, you’ve seen the gorgeous cover work of J. Scott Campbell. This man has been quietly killing it on various books in the industry throughout his career. He’s recognized as the one of the Image Comics’ early brain children and for doing iconic Amazing Spider-Man covers, but his nerdy story originated from a place other than comic books – video games. When Campbell was just a kid, he entered himself into the Nintendo Power magazine’s “Invent the Ultimate Video Game” contest. At a young age of fifteen years old, he was published in one of the hottest video-game publications in the country. Even then, his distinct art style gave him the public eye. Another early claim to fame came in the form of 80’s pop culture caricatures.

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In the mid-1990’s, Campbell struck big by joining Jim Lee‘s WildStorm Productions. He was hand-picked by Lee and the other pioneers at Image Comics. Right away, he was assigned to issue #1 of Gen 13, a creation of Jim Lee and Brandon Choi. The series centered around a group of teens who escape a government testing facility with powers, which they use to fight the system and reveal secrets about their past; it was very X-Men inspired, but had a modern appeal to it thanks to Campbell’s artwork. He even began co-writing the series for the twenty issue run he was a part of. Although the art is rough compared to his current work, his skill was evident from the get go. In the mid-1990’s, when variant covers were running rampant, Campbell and company came out with thirteen different covers for the debut issue. One of these variants was a “Create Your Own” cover, an idea that is often used nowadays with DC and Marvel.

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After leaving Gen 13, Campbell (and a couple others, including Denver Comic Con guest Humberto Ramos) started up Cliffhanger, an imprint of WildStorm. There, he created his own series, Danger Girl. Often referred to as part Indiana Jones, part James BondDanger Girl became known for very sexualized women who kick ass. If there’s one thing Campbell did well, it was draw the female figure in a very flattering manner. Danger Girl even spawned its own video-game (PSone baby!) and a whole bunch of comic book spin-offs from industry hotshots at the time (the story was usually outlined by Campbell himself). Right now, Danger Girl: May Day is currently running for IDW Comics. There were even talks of a full-length movie coming out that took place a few years ago, with Mila Jovavich, Kate Beckinsale, Sofia Vergara and Megan Fox being among those in the running for casting. Under the Cliffhanger label, Campbell also created Wildsiderz in 2005, a short-lived but well-received comic about group of teams who could use holographic powers to take the shapes of different animals.

From a young age, J. Scott fell in love with animation. As such, his drawings are rich with expression, and he has often cited his love for Disney films as his inspiration. Some of the most famous drawings of his are of fantasy and fairy-tale characters. In the past few years, Campbell has released a yearly series of Fairytale Fantasy calendars, which feature sexy versions of Disney characters. It doesn’t stop their, though. On his website and twitter acount, which he updates quite frequently, you can find a commission for pretty much anything from Star Wars to Breaking Bad. Doing these commissions and Fairytale Fantasy calendars have given him the opportunity to stay close to the comic book industry, but has still given him exposure to fans who otherwise may not have been interested in comic book art.

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J. Scott Campbell has had a fruitful career, and is now known in the comic book community as the guy who does the knock-out Marvel.NOW covers. Since signing an exclusive contract with Marvel back in 2006, Campbell has drawn some of the most recognizable covers in this generation, notably his work on The Amazing Spider-Man. J. Scott is a meticulous artist, and so since it takes him so long to complete his work, it suits him that he sticks primarily to cover art. This works out for him in a few aspects: he’s allotted more time per issue, and he is able to step outside of a single book to work on other genres of comic books. To date, he has done covers for: Buffy the Vampire SlayerBatmanElephantmenWizard magazine and a slew of recent Marvel comics – but finds Spider-Man to be his favorite and most magnetizing character. Campbell was even asked to help bring in and sculpt a 3-D rendering model for Sideshow Collectibles of Spidey, Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy.

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Oddly enough, although he feels drawn to Spider-Man as a character, J. Scott Campbell is not a huge superhero fan. His largest comic book influence was through MAD magazine as a kid. He also listens to Adele and Lana Del Ray to put him in the mood to work; basically, he’s not from your typical comic book artist. Now, that doesn’t mean that he has lost touch with the industry; Campbell still frequents conventions, looking to connect with current fans and make new ones. Exploring so many different channels allows him to get maximum exposure, and his fans all appreciate it, too. Best of all, Campbell is a native of Denver, having moved here when he was very young, and considering Colorado home. He even designed the poster from last year’s Denver Comic Con and taking part in the Aurora Rise charity benefit, a non-profit that helps aid those affected by the shooting at the Aurora Century 16 theater shooting.

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None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with animator and producer Greg Weisman, who’s work on Young Justice and the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels has made him the man in animated TV.

Emerald City Comic Con 2014 Preview

In just a few days, we will be escaping our day jobs to visit Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con! It will be our first out-of-state Comic Con since 2012, when we went to Comic-Con International. We were initially stoked for ECCC just for the sheer amount of guests coming, but when the programming was released just a couple days ago, we are now ecstatic! In preparation for the Con, we’re going to be highlighting the guests that will be coming and the panels that we’ll be attending. We’ll be writing live from the event, so if there is anything crazy happening, you’ll hear it straight from us.

It was so difficult for us to narrow down the list of things we want to do. If it were up to us, we’d do everything, but Emerald City Comics Con is so ridiculously awesome, the Adrian and I will simply not be able to do everything (or will we??). Here’s a list of the stops we absolutely have to make:

Guests:

Comic Books:

Jim Lee: Legendary artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee will be stopping by on one day only. His art from X-Men to Batman: Hush, all the way to the ongoing Superman: Unchained has been phenomenal. At cons, he usually holds his own drawing workshop where he holds Q&A while he sketches. It’s the best thing ever. We are looking forward to seeing him again at ECCC. Check out our profile on Jim Lee in our weekly piece “Respect My Craft.”

Scott Synder: Batman has been written by more writers than I can count, but there’s something insanely special about Scott Synder’s New 52 run of him. Synder, whose work on Detective Comics: Black Mirror and American Vampire has scared the pants off readers, has been superb on Batman. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from a Batman comic book. Meeting the man who created the Court of the Owls will be quite the treat.

Gail Simone: Gail is one classy lady. She is the strongest female presence in comic books today, writing DC’s BatgirlRed Sonja and now Tomb Raider. We love her color commentary and she recently reached out to us on Twitter when we spotlighted her in our weekly “Respect My Craft” article. She’s good stuff and I can’t wait to hear what kind of stories she has for us!

Matt Fraction: This guy just might be the funniest writer in the biz right now – or a giant perv, the jury is still out. I religiously follow Hawkeye and Sex Criminals.  He manages to capture perfectly relatable situations and turn them into ridiculous stories that you can’t find in a book. Sadly, he’s a much bigger deal than he makes himself out to be; a lot of people don’t realize how much he’s had his hands on in the recent Marvel universe (Fear Itself, FFFantastic Four… a lot of F’s).

G Willow Wilson: A Colorado native who has spent most of her adult life in Egypt? Sounds like somebody I want to be friends with! Her graphic novel Cairo, as well as past novels Alif the Unseen and The Butterfly Mosque, have accredited her as a unique storyteller with insight on Muslim culture while still having a keen sense of American humor to tell the stories with. Her recent start in Ms. Marvel has shot her near the top of my list. Check out our profile on G Willow Wilson in our weekly piece “Respect My Craft.”

Very Honorable Mentions:

Chris Burnham (artist for Batman Inc.)
J. Scott Campbell (artist, famous for Spiderman, Danger Girl and Gen 13)
Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer for Captain Marvel)
Kyle Higgins (writer for Nightwing)
Jeff Lemire (writer/artist for Trillium, Underwater Welder)
Ed McGuinness (artist for Superman/Batman, Amazing X-Men, Nova, etc)
Dustin Nguyen (artist for Heart of Hush, Lil Gotham)
Jimmy Palmiotti (veteran writer & artist, will be releasing the graphic novel Denver)
Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo)
Tim Sale (artist of Batman: Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, Spiderman: Blue)

TV/Movies:

Whedonverse: At past conventions, we’ve been lucky enough to meet J August Richards (AngelMarvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Clare Kramer (Buffy), and Nicholas Brendan (Buffy). This year, we are chomping at the bit for a fanboy/fangirl moment to meet Faith and Wash! Eliza Dushku, who played Faith in BTVS and Echo in Dollhouse will be there. Joining her will be Alan Tudyk, who played Hoban Washburne in Firefly/Serenity and Alpha in Dollhouse. We are so stoked, because we will also get to see J. August Richards and Clare Kramer again (who we actually gave rock candy meth to when we dressed as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman for Denver Comic Con last year). Whedonverse!The Wire: They might be representing different shows now, but I know a planned Wire reunion when I see one. Chad Coleman (Cutty) and Lance Reddick (Daniels) will be joining us. The Wire is one of our favorite television dramas of all time, and to meet Lt. Daniels and Cutty would be a highlight for sure.Steve Amell: This badass archer from CW’s Arrow will be making a one day appearance. Besides headlining one of the best comic book to television adaptations EVER, he’s also one of the funniest celebrities on Facebook. It would be awesome to meet the man under the hood.Very Honorable Mentions:

Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG, Breaking Bad)

See all the special guests here.

Programming:

Copyright Infringement and the Fair Use Defense

“What does copyright protect? What is infringement? When does “fair use” protect me? What happens if I infringe? Join attorney Caitlin DiMotta for a primer on copyright infringement, the fair use defense, & how to understand the difference.”

Fanfiction of the Whedonverse – LIVE!

“Not all fanfiction is bad. Some is just written that way. And some is so bad you may need therapy. Join us as we read aloud the worst in Whedonverse fanfic plots, puns, grammar, & super sexy scenes with Bobby Roberts, Benja Barker, & Kara Helgren.”

Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining

“This program discusses the intersections of Hip-Hop and comics, from rappers and graffiti artists utilizing super-heroic imagery and adopting fantastic alter-egos to comic creators utilizing the rich visual vocabulary of hip-hop in their work.” Note: Check out our “Diggin’ Through the Crates” articles for more info on comic book references in Hip-Hop.

30 Years of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

“Join Andrew Farago, author of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History, Stan Sakai, creator of Usagi Yojimbo, and Mirage Studios alumnus Michael Dooney as they look back on three decades of Eastman and Laird’s TMNT!”

Genetic Engineering: Star Trek versus Reality

“From eugenics (Kahn and Star Trek Into Darkness) to manipulating DNA in embryos (The Auguments on Enterprise), genetic engineering was invented by science fiction, but how far behind is science? It is closer than you think! Join Professor Ilana S. Lemann, author of the upcoming book All You Need to Know About Disability Is On Star Trek, for a fascinating look at the science in science fiction.”

Making Your Own Comics

“Jimmy Palmiotti, Becky Cloonan, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey talk candidly about how they got their first comics off the ground. Be prepared to take notes – we’ll cover tough topics like collaboration, print vs. digital, finding an audience, and importantly, the money stuff!”

ECCC Costume Party

The Clock King and other villains have hatched a plot utilizing costumed decoys and they’ve chosen Emerald City Comicon as the place to select their team of miscreants! You’ll see various costumed attendees walking the showroom floor during the convention… Now see the best ECCC has to offer from multiple comics and cosplay-related categories. Judges will pick winners from each category and the audience will determine the best overall, who then will join a masters’ round of veteran cosplayers for a final showdown and ultimate prizes. Costumed audience members may also be selected to come onstage to show off their creations for prizes. Temple Fugate hosts what is always a highlight of the weekend.

Join The Corps!

“The Carol Corps. Find out what the fiercest & friendliest fandom is all about! It’s a powerful movement happening in comics right now and you can be a part of it! Join Prof. Ben Saunders as he speaks with Captain Marvel scribe Kelly Sue DeConnick and Ms. Marvel author G. Willow Wilson. They’ll talk about the origins of “The Carol Corps”, it’s Ms. Marvel-inspired offshoot “The Kamala Korps” and what’s in store for the future.”

Check out all the programming here.

Outside the Con

Carol Corps Celebration

At the Seattle Museum of Flight, there will be a celebration celebrating Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and their creators. So Kelly Sue DeConnick and G Willow Wilson will be there! It’s a great way to kick off the convention and visit the flight museum at the same time.

Explore the Town a Bit

We’ve never been to Seattle, so we’d love to spend some time outside the convention exploring. The Space Needle is a must, as is the fish market. Without a car, our options are a bit limited, but if you all know of any places in Seattle worth checking out, please pass us along some info. 🙂

ECCC Cinema Series

Each night of the convention, ECCC will be showing a movie that stars one of their special guests. The guests will have a Q&A session while watching. At $25/person, it’s a bit steep of a price for a movie and some Q&A, but the thought of watching Serenity with Alan Tudyk is hard to pass up… aside from that awkward moment at the end there. Leaves on the wind and all that.

Going to Emerald City Comic Con? Have any topics you want us to cover while we’re there? Care to share any tips about Seattle in general? We want to hear it!

“Respect My Craft” – Jim Lee

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

Name: Jim Lee

Profession: Artist, DC Co-Publisher

Notable WorkX-Men: Mutant Genesis, WildC.A.T.S., Batman: HushSuperman: For Tomorrow, Justice League

Jim Lee is one of the most revered comic book artists in the industry. From his unlikely start in independent books to his rise to the top of the ranks as Co-Publisher of DC Comics, Jim Lee’s story is one of as much absolute detail as his work.  Lee has a Korean heritage, but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Always a comic book fan growing up, Lee gravitated towards the X-Men, reason being that they were marginalized for their differences – something many can relate to. It was even a dream of his to create his own comic book company after graduating high school, an accomplishment he was voted most likely to achieve by his peers. As money crushed dreams and grown-up responsibilities set in, Lee was pressured by his parents to enroll at Princeton University with the goal of becoming a medical doctor.

After obtaining his BS in Psychology, Lee made a deal with his strict, but loving, parents to take a hiatus from med school to try it on his own for one year as a comic book artist. This was during the mid 1980’s, when such iconic books like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were leading a renaissance in the industry. After putting his foot in the door and submitting portfolios to publishes all over the country, Jim Lee got his start in the comic book business in 1986 by lending his artistic talents as an inker to Samurai Santa #1 (no, seriously). Without much else to go off of, Marvel Comics hired Lee to pencil Alpha Flight, a mid-tier comic, in 1987 that started with Alpha Flight #51.

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After several issues of Alpha Flight and then moving on to Punisher: War Journal (which Lee started illustrating in 1989), Lee got his wish to draw his favorite childhood characters in Uncanny X-Men #248. He was asked to come back for subsequent issues until Marvel asked Lee to draw a twelve-issue run simply titled X-Men with writer Chris Claremont, widely regarded as one of the best X-Men writers. Together, the two created Omega Red and the fan-favorite character, Gambit. He also redesigned many of the characters’ costumes – most of which are still used! To this very day, the first issue of X-Men (Vol. 2) is the highest selling issue of any comic book in history.

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The success of X-Men meant that Lee could pretty much write his ticket wherever he wanted to go. It just so happened that what he wanted was more creative control over his work. Along with several powerhouse writers and artist, including Hush Comics’ favorite, Todd McFarlane, Lee helped found Image Comics. This is the same Image Comics that has been the birthing grounds of: The Walking DeadSagaBlack Science and Deadly Class. Taking more interest in writing and producing, Lee branded himself as Wildstorm Productions and created WildC.A.T.S., a team of aliens caught in an intergalactic war, and Gen13, which follows a group of teenage super-heroes as they find their powers while running away from government testing. Both were very intriguing books that lasted far beyond Jim Lee’s involvement, showing that Lee has substantial writing capabilities to back up his artwork.

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In an effort to focus more on art, Jim Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics and, shortly thereafter, began illustrating some of the most beautiful panels I’ve ever seen. In 2003, Lee joined acclaimed writer Jeph Loeb on Batman: Hush. This is the arc that got me into comic books, and it was largely due to the full-page panels, detailed background and unique use of medium by using watercolors (a first for Jim Lee). If you want to know how much we love Hush, look no further our very first graphic novel review. The iconic “Kissing the Knight” panel impacted me so much that I decided to get it tattooed on my arm. A year later, he joined Brian Azzarello (current Wonder Woman and 100 Bullets) for Superman: For Tomorrow, a very unique book about the Man of Tomorrow. Lee followed For Tomorrow up with a darker, more brutal All Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder,  written by Frank Miller, which is the first comic to use the legendary “Goddamn Batman” line. It was a bit of a departure from Lee’s tone, but the art keeps up with Miller’s rough and grimy story perfectly.

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As he was finishing All-Star, Lee was also waist-deep into the DC Universe Online. Released for Playstation and PC, Lee spent years creating character models for the game as its Executive Producer. Seeing these renders as fully-functional video-game characters is a sight to behold. Along the way, he earned the title of Co-Publisher for DC Comics and spear-headed The New 52, a complete reintroduction of the DC Comics’ catalog. He and Geoff Johns became the creative team behind the Justice League relaunch (review of Volume One: Origin here). Since then, Lee has headed numerous design projects for DC, including: a partnership with Kia to design Justice Legue themed cars (the Batman Optima is the best, by far), promotion for the We Can Be Heroes charity (donations usually lead to goodies), design work for Scorpion’s costume in the Injustice video-game DLC, and he still makes time to attend various comic book conventions around the country.

Jim Lee free-hand sketching at SDCC 2012
Jim Lee free-hand sketching at SDCC 2012

As amazing as Jim Lee is, it’s important to remember that a lot of work is done between the last pencil stroke and the time the issue hits the shelves. Most artists use a team, composed of an inker and a colorist. The inker is in charge of turning dark pencil marks into appropriate shadows or accents, while the colorist brings the appropriate shading and tone to the story. Dating back to his run with Uncanny X-Men, Lee has used Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair for inking and coloring, respectively. They deserve just as much credit for his quality work.

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Checked out his bibliography and still want more? Check these books out:

Batman: Hush – Unwrapped is drawn entirely in pencils, with no inking or coloring. The amount of detail is stunning, showing why Jim Lee is one of the best in the business.

ICONS: The DC Comics & Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee offers a lot of background about Jim Lee – history and anecdotes, as well as some great spreads of his best work.

Image Comics: The Road to Independence gives an in-depth look at how a group of brave men disbanded from the largest comic book company to create the third-largest comic book company.

Just Imagine If… Stan Lee Created Wonder Woman is written by Stan Lee, drawn by Jim Lee, and kicks harder than Bruce Lee

Wizard: Jim Lee, Millennium Edition is like ICONS but gives a better look at his pre-Wildstorm days.

How Much Does Hush Comics Love Jim Lee?

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I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Solson, Marvel and DC). Check back next week as we kick off Black History Month by honoring all Black writers and artists, as well as graphic novel reviews with cultural significance. Peace and much love to ya!

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Graphic Novel Review – Justice League Volume One: Origin (New 52)

Graphic Novel Review: Justice League Volume One: Origins

CollectingJustice League (New 52) #1-6

Original Release Date: 2011-2012

Publisher: DC Comics

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Characters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Darkseid

Writer: Geoff Johns (Blackest NightBrightest DayFlashpoint)

Artist: Jim Lee (Batman: HushX-Men: Mutant Genesis, Superman: For Tomorrow)

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 8

Art – 10

Captivity and Length – 9

Identity – 7

Use of Medium – 9

Depth – 7

Fluidity – 9

Intrigue/Originality – 8

The Little Things – 9

Overall awesomeness – 8

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With the way that DC Comics is rolling out exciting stories with strong, developed characters, it’s easy to forget that less than three years ago, DC relaunched its entire catalog in a brazen attempt to gain more readers. The New 52 term was named after the fifty-two (no, seriously) new series that were launched in September of 2011. The first released and most heavily promoted book in the relaunch was Justice League, and it had a creative team comprised of the two biggest ballers in the entire corporation: Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Co-Publisher Jim Lee. DC really rolled out the red carpet for our flagship characters in this first volume, Origins.

Have they got a name? Of course they do, you can call them the SUPER SEVEN!!! This is still very early in the Justice League’s career, so early in fact, that only Flash and Green Lantern have actually met before and people actually believe Batman is still a myth. While the story starts off with a bang, it is very mild compared to the type of major events one would think would have to take place to bring seven of the DC Universe’s greatest heroes together. That is actually a point of contention with me because I would have really liked to see Green Arrow in the league to begin with. While he was at least mentioned by the very end along with Zatanna, one of the most important intial members is completely left out of the picture. Martian Manhunter is nowhere to be seen or heard from in these first six issues, although he does make his debut in Justice League of America as a weaponized response to Superman. I get that they try to have one of each hero archetype involved from the start is more than enough, ignoring an original is a bit ridiculous, especially considering they included Shazam! in the animated adaptation.

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Where the book does get it right, however, is in the way they slowly yet awesomely introduce characters one at a time. Each character feels like they were treated fairly with equal time which is no small task considering how few issues they had to work with and the ambitiousness of this particular story. The art by Jim Lee – which really needs no further explanation, but just in case you didn’t already know – is absolutely stunning in every detail. Every page is drawn and colored beautifully; many pages left me staring well after I had read the dialogue. The attention to detail is that immaculate. My only complaint about the art is that Aquaman seems to be the only character that doesn’t match his New 52 reboot design. If people wonder why Aquaman is always getting made fun of, they only need to look at the costume he was given here. It is very hard to take him serious when he has mutton chops and a pearl necklace (like Gangstalicious said, “it’s all about pearl necklaces”) with his trident chained to him with a ridiculously long chain. He basically looks like a frat-boy looking for an S&M party at Red Lobster.

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Its not only the art that got this kind of detail either, there are little nods throughout that make it something special for longtime fans of these characters. A little girl calling them the Super Friends or the ever so slight nod towards the Legion of Doom, along with the humor that almost comes effortlessly between the characters. Even though they are meeting for the first time in this book, it feels like they have been fighting evil together for a lifetime.

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All this isn’t to say that the book didn’t have its faults, though. While there was an overall cohesiveness that worked really well for the story, it felt at times like there was almost too much going on at once. Since this story was self-contained and didn’t bleed over into any of the main characters solo storys, it felt like a missed opportunity to further explore pieces of the story that were otherwise left out. My main gripe with the story was how we as readers were just thrown directly into the middle of a story with the first panel and never really given much explanation other than Darkseid was coming. Leading up to and even after his arrival, more time is spent on introducing the characters and making sure they get their just due, when it would have been nice to extend the story a few more books and give a more fleshed out story to the reader. The end makes it seem like this is something that may be revisited, but not anytime soon.

Outside of the initial reveals for the characters, there wasn’t very much in the way of character progression. This can be forgiven in this particular instance because it goes along with the major reboot of all the series (which is where most of the character development should go), it just felt like the writers could have used the opportunity as more of a bonding experience then they actually did. I expect from this point forward for the series to build these relationships further and make them a more cohesive unit (We already know Wonder Woman and Supes get busy 😉 ). One of the biggest changes in the characters’ personality is Superman’s disregard for authority. Blue Boy Scout no more, Superman has readily embodied the ethos of the current generation, and a nice touch that has defined his character in the New 52.

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Overall, this is an experience that can’t be missed. Even with the minor story and character hiccups, the potential this book has going forward is amazing. With the hint at the Legion of Doom being on the horizon there is the potential to have all sorts of encounters, because not only is this a fresh start for the Justice League, it is also a reboot of their greatest foes. There is also a great opportunity to cultivate relationships that can also be worked into the characters main books as well (Superman/Wonder Woman and Batman/Superman being prime examples but let’s branch out!!). Going forward, I would suggest grabbing Volume Two: The Villain’s Journey, if not for the story, at least for the amazing Jim Lee art. Any fan, casual or long-time will be able to appreciate Origin.

General Reception: It may not have been the reinvention that the Justice League merited, but fans definitely bought into it. While the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee arcs only spanned two volumes, it gave readers like us a whole new universe to go off of. Jim Lee’s art and Alex Sinclair’s coloring are top notch, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who didn’t have nice things to say about this book. It’s a great representation of what the relaunch was supposed to be.

Related Books: Flashpoint offers the same familiar feelings with a new origin twist, albeit much more drastic alterations are made. The new Justice League series is still going strong, as well. The current Forever Evil storyline shows the Justice League putting up with the Crime Syndicate. Final Crisis, also written by Geoff Johns, is a great DC epic with Darkseid as the main villain.

More by the writer: Geoff Johns has had quite the run in the past ten years. Notably, his work on Green Lantern books, everything from The Sinestro Wars leading up to Blackest Night and going all the way to Trinity War, Johns has had the rare pleasure of creating a saga. Before the New 52 reboot, Johns also wrote The Flash’s Rebirth (the return of Barry Allen) and Flashpoint. Recently, he had just left the New 52 Aquaman series after building up some credibility for the character. He is also still writing Justice League as it enters the thick of the Forever Evil arc.

More by the artist: Wanna know more about Jim Lee? Check out our new “Respect My Craft!” article, spotlighting the iconic artist, debuting tomorrow!

*Screenshots taken directly from comic book using Comixology app. Credit to DC Comics for the images.

Written by Robert Michael

Justice League: War Review

Justice League: War Review

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Source MaterialJustice League Volume 1: Origin (2011)

Original Creative Team: Geoff Johns (writer), Jim Lee (pencils), Alex Sinclair (color) & Scott Williams (inker)

Movie Creative Team: Directed by Jay Oliva (animated The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: Under the Red Hood, much more)

DC Animated is back with the first movie based in the New 52 continuity, Justice League: War. Originally named after the first volume story arc, Origin, in the Justice League comics, War follows the core Leaguers in their first encounter with one another. This was a very interesting story to read the first time, as the characters that have decades of lineage are now relatively complete strangers. So, while you’re getting a brand new story, you’re also getting the first story in the New 52 canon.

Let’s discuss the story first; War feels like a 40-yard dash from the get go. Gotham PD is chasing after Batman while Green Lantern tries to intervene as they give chase to an alien invader. One thing leads to another as a snowball of character introductions round out the first half of the story, including the birth of Cyborg. As the heroes, who constantly test each other, making snide jokes along the way, they manage to put enough teamwork together to take on Darkseid and (SPOILER, not really) come away with a W. It’s a pretty basic story that is really brought to life by the art and writing of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, respectively.

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That being said, the same magic that made the book so great is heavily diluted in the movie. I feel that the absence of Jim Lee’s art in favor of a more anime-style animation was a poor choice. Perhaps it’s to compete with all the Marvel anime coming out, or if it’s just easier to animate, but the rugged style that suited Flashpoint Paradox just seems unfit for the fantastic chemistry of an All-Star creative team in the first book of a relaunched, flagship series. Aside from being aesthetically displeasing, the voice-acting is a mixed bag. Alan Tudyk is a fitting Superman and I can’t imagine anybody but Shemar Moore voicing Cyborg after seeing the movie, but a lot of the other cast members can be grating at times (Hal Jordan especially), and it left me thankful that they all had to share screen-time.

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As far as continuity goes, Jay Oliva did a good job of adapting the book to the movie. The little things are still there: Wonder Woman’s declaration of her love of ice cream, Green Lantern’s detailed constructs and Darkseid’s dominance all translate very well to the small screen. However, there is a key member missing from the Justice League. They completely left Aquaman out, which is actually a bummer (seriously! Not being sarcastic here!) because he had one of the most epic entrances of the book. Instead, Aquaman is replaced with Shazam. This upset me at first, as none of the Shazam! origin story builds in the show, but the way they spin the story is original and heart-felt.

Diana's new outfit, designed to remove the cleavage shown in the comics, is pretty snazzy
Diana’s new outfit, designed to remove the cleavage shown in the comics, is pretty snazzy

Overall, Justice League: War offers a fun, fresh take on the DC Universe in the New 52 continuity. It doesn’t manage to carry over the amazing chemistry of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, but it’s still entertaining enough to do the story some justice. Aquaman always seems to get the short end of the fish stick, and I feel that it hinders the story, even though there is a cray reveal at the ending credits hinting towards a Throne of Atlantis movie in the making. This film is definitely worth picking up for any fan of the DC Animated films, but I would definitely point any new reader towards the comic books before checking out the film.

 
SCORECARD:
Category Explanation Score
Plot Solid main story is highlighted by several contributing individual stories. 8/10
Voice-acting Hit or miss cast had great high’s, while the low points were masked by an ensemble cast. 8/10
Representation of Source Material Swapping Aquaman for Shazam seemed like a cop out more than a twist, and discarding Jim Lee’s style hurt the overall presentation. 7/10
Animation Big fan of the rugged anime-style character models, but didn’t fit mainstream origin story. Green Lantern constructs kicked ass. 7/10
Sound Effects and Music Fitting music that drives the action and accentuates the characters. 8/10
Captivity Action is not a commodity in short supply, as even Flash has trouble keeping up. 9/10
Overall awesomeness War was a grand-scale origin story, with plenty of explosions and jokes to be worthy of the description. 8/10
Creativity I like how Shazam! was introduced and placed into Victor’s life, as well as the improvisation with John’s lengthier panels. 9/10
Replayability  With so much going on, it’s easy to miss the little things the first go around, making each subsequent viewing more enjoyable. 9/10
Special Features  Jim Lee means automatic ten at Hush Comics. The DVD is loaded with interviews and featurettes of the DC Co-Publisher. 10/10
 
 
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IF YOU LIKED THIS, CHECK THESE OUT:

Justice League: The New Frontier is a film with a similar premise, but a much more light-hearted vibe than War.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a similarly-animated gem based on a Geoff John’s storyline.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse will fulfill our your Darkseid needs as the World’s Finest take on the New God.

 

NEXT FOR DC ANIMATED:

After making three movies in a row (WarFlashpoint Paradox and Superman: Unbound) based off the writing of Geoff Johns, the next animated film will be based off Grant Morrison’s 2006 graphic novel, Batman and Son. Titled Son of Batman, this film will explore the introduction of Damian Wayne into the DC Universe. Batman’s on-again/off-again relationship with Talia Al-Ghul catches up with Batman in Maury-sized proportions. As he tries to reign in little Damian, Batman battles the League of Assassins and Deathstroke, he struggles to keep Damian and Talia alive. I’m thoroughly excited to see an animated Damian Wayne in a Bat-suit. Son of Batman drops May 6th.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib