Depending on your particular area of fandom, a Phoenix can be many things: Jean Gray, Laura Murdoch Collins, G-Force’s Main ship, Bennu, a Federation starship, Needle, Hououmon, Fenghuang, Fawkes, Tom Kirkman’s codename, and so on.  I say all that to say this:

Hey, Everybody!  Welcome to the first edition of Four-Color Bullet!” 2019!  I hope you’ve all enjoyed the holiday season and were appropriately safe and sane over the New Year!

Boy, have I been going through a lot of books!  You can take a gander at a lot of the titles on the stands below.  A few titles stood out to me that I thought were pretty exciting.  I hope you think so, too.

Okay, is everybody comfortable?  Excellent.  Let’s take a look at:

Batman Annual

BATMAN ANNUAL #3
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Otto Schmidt
Letters: A Larger World’s Troy Peteri
Cover: Bryan Hitch & Alex Sinclair

DC COMICS

“I would add that chicken soup would also be the perfect accompaniment to perching on a gargoyle in the cold.  I understand a thermos would rather ruin the image, Sir.  But I promise not to let any of your major villains know.”

Alfred to Batman

Wow. 

I mean… wow.

Tom Taylor tells a powerful Batman story!  I absolutely LOVED this book!  As soon as I finished it, I gave it to my wife, Nola, to read.  Now her response requires a little bit of backstory.

We two really enjoy well-written stories, be they in comics, novels, or television shows.  The more emotionally invested we can be in the presentation, the better.  We’ve found ourselves crying and cheering at the end of episodes of “Titans,” “Blue Bloods,” “Black Lightning,” and others, depending on the story.  If a show is particularly moving emotionally, she’ll say, while dabbing her eyes with a tissue, “Dumb ol’ show.”  We both had the same reaction to this story:

Dumb ol’ comic.

There’s a well-executed four-page retelling of Batman’s origin beginning the story, but from Alfred’s point of view.  It’s an origin story that few people DON’T know, but Taylor’s take makes it seem fresher; it’s a perspective that’s ignored for the most part. (I never got into Fox’s “Gotham,” so they may have done something like this, but I just don’t know.  Feel free to give me a head’s up about it.)  The villain du jour’s story arc, a military UAV operator gone rogue (see “gained a conscience,”) is pretty much wrapped up in a few pages, and though pretty well-crafted, I don’t see him becoming a regular villain unless a storyteller of Tom Taylor’s caliber takes him on. 

No, the real story is about Alfred and the relationship between him, Batman, and Bruce.  It’s powerful.  Really powerful.  Well written, excitingly drawn, and excellently paced.  And even though it’s dark, it’s amazingly bright.

Buy it.  Share it. 

Dumb ol’ comic.

Captain Marvel #1

CAPTAIN MARVEL #1
(Variant Covers Available)
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Color Artist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts

MARVEL WORLDWIDE

“No.  It’s not going to go down like this.  I’m not losing her to a weird portal and a seven-foot misogynist.  She’s not going to be a mistake I have to learn from.  Not this time.”

Captain Marvel

She’s back!  And just in time to get us revved up for the March release of the movie!

If you read the mini-series (and I do recall saying that you should, so if you didn’t you’ve only yourselves to blame,) Carol’s brother is recovering, she has a much better understanding of her heritage, and she’s ready to start working on Earth once more.  Her first line on page 1:

“Well, THAT hurt.”

I’d say fighting a kraken-type creature in lower Manhattan alongside best friend, Jessica (Spider-Woman) Drew is ONE way of easing oneself back into the swing of things.  Along with taking Hazmat under her wing, rekindling her romance with formerly deceased boyfriend, James Rhodes, and being forced into giving an interview to a woman who subsequently gets kidnapped by the seven-foot misogynist mentioned above, it’s quite the beginning of what should be a strong book.

Kelly Thompson (“Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps,” “Jem and the Holograms,” “Hawkeye mini-series,”) tells a good story, and gives the different characters great individual voices.  Carmen Carnero’s art and layouts are spot-on.  I get a little inspirational Adam Hughes vibe from her pencils which are great.  She and Tamra Bonvillain on colors make a great team.  Here’s hoping that the energy and momentum of this issue keep going strong.  Well done, creative team!

FIRST ISSUE:

Freedom Fighters #1 (of 12)

FREEDOM FIGHTERS # 1 (OF 12)
(Variant Cover Available)
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Eber Ferriera
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Cover: Barrows and Lucas
Variant Cover: Ben Oliver

DC COMICS

“The original Freedom Fighters did die.  We’re here to remind America who they were.  You in?”

Black Condor

I was a little kid when this team first appeared in the 70s, and I thought they were great.  Heroes from an Earth (Earth-X) where America LOST World War II?  No way!  The original members that made their first appearance in the then-annual JLA/JSA team-up were Black Condor, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, Ray, and Uncle Sam.  They went on to have their own series and a number of mini-series’ over the years, almost all of them retcons of previous incarnations.

This new maxi-series starts at a secret resistance meeting in Dallas, Texas, on November 22nd, 1963.  America has been under German occupation for seven years now.  The meeting is joined by: Human Bomb, Black Condor, Doll Man, and the resistance leader, Jesse Owens.  If you don’t get why Mr. Owens plays a big part of this story, Google him.  And no, it has very little to do with Sheriff Bart doing his Jesse Owens impression in “Blazing Saddles.” 

After a horrific situation comes from the meeting, and the disappearance of Uncle Sam, we jump to 2018, where we meet the new Freedom Fighters, that include the Human Bomb’s grandson and Doll Woman, Doll Man’s widow.  Doll Woman has to be in her 80s, at least, but doesn’t look it, so I hope we’ll get an explanation as the series continues.

I’m not sure which incarnation of the team this group will emulate, but I’m invested, which makes eight year-old Myk a happy boy.

Four-Color Fun Phoenix Facts (Finally!)

  • Jean Gray (“X-Men,”) Laura Murdoch Collins (daytime soap opera “Dark Shadows,”) G-Force’s Main ship (“Battle of the Planets,”) Bennu (sci-fi TV series “The Phoenix,”) a Federation starship (“Star Trek,”) Needle (“Conan the Adventurer,”) Hououmon (“Digimon,”) Fenghuang (“Big Bird in China (1983,))” Fawkes (“Harry Potter,”) Tom Kirkman (character’s Presidential codename in the ABC series “Designated Survivor.”)

And Check Out These Other Titles on the Racks at a Store Near You!

As always, I’d love to hear from YOU!  Please drop me a line and let me know where you buy YOUR comics.  I’d love to check it out (travel distance willing,) and maybe mention YOU and feature the store in a future column.  Thanks!

Until next time…

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