Through the last few hundred years a coven of witches has been under attack from a group of men called The Architects. We see them first in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 during the famous witch trials, where the men are trying to kill the witches, who fight back with various amazing black magic powers, but are defeated and die. They keep being reborn in later decades into the 20th century, when one of the current Architects has a new idea. We then switch to a modern suburban development where the women we know are the witches are neighbors, but all seem unaware of their heritage and history. Instead, they act like dutiful wives obeying their husbands in every way, until arcane powers begin to manifest in one of them.
The issue is mostly setup, and I will see where it goes from here. The inspiration that might come to mind is the TV show “Bewitched,” but a closer model would be Fritz Leiber’s horror novel “Conjure Wife.” Look up a description of that to see what I mean. One thing that seems to be missing is a reason for the men to be so opposed to the witches. The Salem connection implies a religious reason, but that’s avoided. I will have to see what happens next to decide whether I want to keep on with the series. It has its moments.
Quite a change of pace this issue with a new storyline, setting and mostly new or long-unseen characters. We first see Rose Walker (last appearance in the original series as far as I know) visiting her mother in the hospital where she’s dying and unconscious. In a nearby room is Lucien (I think) barely conscious, apparently brought to the hospital by Rose. Rose tells the story of her daughter Ivy’s romance with Dream (Daniel), an odd love story with an appearance by Desire. It’s an intriguing tale that gives us more information about what Dream has been up to and where.
The art by Abigail Larson is not so appealing to me, though it does have a romance/fashion model vibe that fits the storyline. I’m not sure if she is the new regular artist or not. The writing by Simon Spurrier is fine, though, and keeps me satisfied with the series.
I like the lettering by Simon Bowland in this series, but was a little disappointed in his font choice for Desire, as it’s so different from what did originally. I’m sure he had his reasons.
To put this in perspective, the first issue of DETECTIVE I owned was #279, May 1960. When I started working at DC Comics, the first issue I saw in the production department was probably #472, Sept. 1977. The first one that had a story I lettered was #483, April-May 1979, “The Curse of Crime Alley” by Denny O’Neil, Don Newton and Dan Adkins.
This 96-pager has a wide variety of material and creators, eleven stories and several pinups. I was happy to be asked to letter the story by Kevin Smith, Jim Lee and Scott Williams. It was also great to see one written by Denny O’Neil with art by Steve Epting.
There’s no attempt to tie things together, it’s an anthology, though the final story by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke will continue in the next issue, so I guess that one is in continuity. Looks cool, a new Gotham Knight that seems to be an actual knight.
The opening story by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion is a fun idea: Batman is led on a very long clue chase that ends at a sort of secret society for detectives. The Kevin Smith story focuses on the creation and special nature of Batman’s chest symbol. Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen’s funny entry is about the worst henchman in Gotham. Warren Ellis and Becky Cloonan tell a tale of a violent criminal. Denny O’Neil brings us back to Crime Alley one more time. Christopher Priest and Neal Adams’ story involves Ras’ Al Ghul. Bryan Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev relate a meeting between a very old Penguin and Bruce Wayne. Geoff Johns and Kelley Jones show us a deadly birthday party. James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez-Bueno and Raul Fernandez have Bruce and Alfred discussing whether to take Dick Grayson into the crime-fighting life (excellent art on this), and Tom King, Tony S. Daniel and Joëlle Jones present a meeting of the entire Bat family.
Hal Jordan has left the Green Lantern Corps and is trying to join the Blackstars. To do so, he must run a gauntlet, a perilous path through the slums of Vorr, where every vampiric inhabitant is eager to drink his blood. This test is at the command of the leader of the Darkstars, Countess Belzebeth, who has personal scores to settle with Hal, and does not seem to trust him. Jordan has been in some tight spots, but this is one of the tightest. Pulling back, Grant Morrison also gives us a wider view of what’s going on here later in the issue.
The latest new title from Ahoy Comics (with a handsome logo by Brett Evans) is an unexpected mix of times and genres. The “Bronze Age” of the title refers to both the comics of the 1970s (what some comics historians call the Bronze Age of comics) and to the actual Bronze Age about four thousand years ago.
The issue’s main story by Stuart Moore and Alberto Ponticelli begins in New York City in 1975. I remember it being a time of disruption and decay there. I don’t remember the secret super team of Go-Go Golem, Doc Lunar and Madame Ape, but then they were secret.
Next we head back to the prehistoric Bronze Age to meet King Domnall Constantine and his daughter Brita Constantina, both fierce warriors taking on a castle full of wizards and their undead army of dinosaurs and other dread creatures. King Domnall speaks as you might expect, but Brita sounds very much like a 1970s teenager. How could that be? One possible reason is the time-traveling chimp she has for a friend, who tells her lots of stories about the future he came from (and apparently can’t get back to).
It gets weirder from there, but in a fun way.
The backup story by Tyrone Finch and Mauricet is about a bear being used as a test animal for the U.S. space program in 1958. He seems like a very docile and agreeable bear, happy to take a ride into space. What happens next is not unexpected, but entertaining.
As always, several interesting text pieces fill out the issue, and fine work is on exhibit from everyone involved, including letterer Rob Steen and colorists Giulia Brusco and Lee Loughridge.