Best new comics to read in December: Do superheroes get a happy ending?
At last, we've come to the end of 2020. The past year has been a difficult one for the comic industry, as it has been for so many others. But publishers and creators have still been able to put out some remarkable books this year, and December is no exception.
Below, check out our picks for comics to read this month.
Batman/Catwoman #1 (DC)
Tom King (writer), Clay Mann (artist)
For many years, certain passionate fans have argued that the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of (if not the) greatest Batman movies ever made in any format. Those fans are now validated because celebrated Batman writer Tom King’s return to the character involves the first-ever comic appearance of that film’s central character, Andrea Beaumont. As the title indicates, the core of this 12-issue series is the romance between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, so it makes sense to bring in another legendary Batman love interest for some tension and danger. The fact that the story moves between three timelines (the past, where Batman and Catwoman are rivals; the present, where they are in a committed relationship and Andrea asks for their help; and the future, when an older Selina is tying up loose ends after Bruce’s death) means you might have to read the issue twice before fully getting it. Maybe it won’t fully make sense until we have all 12 issues in hand, but the first issue is plenty tantalizing on its own.
Batman/Catwoman #1 is available now.
Home Sick Pilots #1 (Image)
Dan Watters (writer), Caspar Wijngaard (artist)
Here amidst the 2020 internet, we love genre mash-ups -- and you’ll never see this one coming. Haunted house story plus...mecha manga? With a good dose of punk rock aesthetic, to be sure. The latest comic from prolific writer Dan Watters (Lucifer, Coffin Bound) to the titular punk band, a group of ‘90s misfits outrunning the police and trying to outdo their rivals by putting on the coolest gig possible. Their lead singer, Ami, decides that the best location for an outlaw punk show would be the abandoned haunted house at the top of the hill. But when she enters the house, she finds herself merging with it -- but in a Pacific Rim way, not in a Haunting of Hill House way. Her band name becomes literal as she starts “piloting” the creaky house like a Gundam. Don’t believe us? Well, it’s true that artist Caspar Wijngaard’s depiction of this incredible concept has to be seen to be believed, but even when the house isn’t alive, he uses its layout to build intricate page designs.
Home Sick Pilots #1 is on sale Dec. 9.
M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 (Marvel)
Jordan Blum & Patton Oswalt (writers), Scott Hepburn (artist)
Usually it goes the other way. Marvel movies start by using the comics as a jumping-off point, but then do their own riffs on the material. If their changes become popular enough, they then get incorporated back into the comics in a feedback loop. But even though Hulu’s stop-motion M.O.D.O.K. series hasn’t premiered yet, the show’s creators (showrunner Jordan Blum and star Patton Oswalt) have teamed up to present their take on the big-headed supervillain ahead of time.
As you may have heard, the show is premised on M.O.D.O.K. (the funniest-looking supervillain in Marvel history, a floating psychic head with tiny little arms and legs) having a family consisting of a human wife and son, plus a daughter who resembles his unique features. These characters have not appeared in the comics before, so M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games is working to reconcile the differing interpretations of this character. In this story, the M.O.D.O.K. we know suddenly finds himself beset by visions of a family he doesn’t remember. How will this turn out and/or tie in to the TV show? The next three issues promise revelation, and based on this fun start it should be a good read.
M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 is available now.
Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #1 (Ahoy)
Mark Russell (writer), Richard Pace (artist)
What if Jesus and Superman were roommates? That was the incendiary premise of Second Coming, perhaps the single most controversial comic from the format’s top modern satirist Mark Russell. But while we all know the story behind Jesus, the backstory of Sunstar (the book’s Man of Steel analogue) is unexplored territory so far. This second miniseries promises to shed more light on Sunstar’s origins and how they differ from Superman’s. Knowing Russell, it should be a head-spinning journey.
Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #1 is available Dec. 16 -- just in time for the holiday celebrating Jesus’ origin.
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth (DC Black Label)
Daniel Warren Johnson (writer/artist)
If you spend any time on Comics Twitter, you’ve surely seen some of Daniel Warren Johnson’s drawings. Pumped out at a prolific pace, Johnson’s commissions take familiar characters and put them in the most jaw-dropping action setpieces imaginable; a “Spider-Man commission” is a view from below of the wall-crawler swinging between New York buildings, and a “John Wick commission” is drawn from the perspective of a mobster who just got shot in the face by Keanu Reeves’ iconic assassin. The pleasures of Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, now available in collected edition, come from seeing Johnson channel his kinetic style through Wonder Woman. Although Diana is an icon of peace, waking up in a post-apocalyptic world gives her plenty of opportunity to fight monsters to protect the last surviving humans, and Johnson depicts these battles with true visual panache. Dystopian futures are everywhere these days, so even beyond the visuals, Wonder Woman: Dead Earth’s depiction of Diana continuing to protect her values of love and peace in the wasteland feels unique and heartwarming.
Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is available now.