5 comics to read in July: You say goodbye, I say hello
Now that the comics industry is a couple months into its bounce back from the worst of coronavirus-related shipping delays and production upsets, it's time to get on with some beginnings and endings that had been left in stasis.
The final volume of Tom King's Batman run is available this month, as is the final issue of Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber's riotously entertaining Jimmy Olsen miniseries. At the same time, Marvel's summer event Empyre finally kicks off a delayed start, and the first story arc of Image's Undiscovered Country (about a post-apocalyptic America...sound familiar?) is available in collected form. Halfway between the hello/goodbye dichotomy is Negan Lives, the one-shot comic from The Walking Dead creators checking in one of the franchise's most popular characters in an effort to bring comic shops some much-needed profits.
Check out EW's list of July 2020 comic highlights below.
Batman volume 13: City of Bane Part Two (DC Comics) Tom King (writer), various artists
At long last, the entirety of writer Tom King’s beloved recent run on Batman is available in collected form. Current and upcoming Batman comics are all about the Dark Knight’s battle with the Joker — there’s the “Joker War” storyline among the main titles, spearheaded by King’s successor James Tynion IV, plus the long-awaited Three Jokers miniseries from Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok — but one interesting thing about King’s run is he almost entirely sidestepped the Joker in favor of making Bane and Batman’s own father (from another dimension, of course) his big villains who take over Gotham City in the climactic final story arc.
“Bane is the name of the supervillain, but ‘bane’ also means ‘you’re the bane of my existence,’” King told EW. “Bane is also the feeling, the motivation of Thomas Wayne. That was supposed to be a pun and no one noticed because it turns into the city of Thomas’ bane.”
Batman volume 13 is available from comics sellers July 14.
Empyre #1 (Marvel) Al Ewing & Dan Slott (writers), Valerio Schiti (artist)
The Kree-Skrull War is one of the oldest rivalries in the Marvel Universe, and in the wake of Captain Marvel its basic contours should be clear even to Marvel Cinematic Universe viewers. So everyone should know what a big deal it is for that conflict to reach a new stage, with both alien empires united under the aegis of former Young Avenger Hulkling!
Planned as Marvel’s big summer crossover, Empyre was originally meant to erupt a couple months ago, but got pushed back by the onset of COVID-19. Even now that it’s back on track, many previously-announced tie-ins have been pulled from the schedule. But though this is one strange pandemic summer, there are still some traditional seasonal entertainments to be had.
Empyre #1 is available July 15.
Jimmy Olsen #12 (DC Comics) Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber (artist)
All good things, as they say, must come to an end. Though Jimmy Olsen is a well-known member of Superman’s supporting cast, it’s been a long time since he had his own spotlight. This yearlong miniseries by Fraction and Lieber showed a whole new generation why Jimmy is an important part of the DC Universe: His go-with-the-flow attitude and open-ended worldview allow him to navigate the many magical and super-powered elements of the DC Universe.
“The thing about Jimmy is he’s incredibly malleable,” Fraction told EW last summer. “He’s the DC Universe’s witness, he’s the guy who lives to tell the tale. So that was what I wanted to do, because if they never let me do a book here again, it will be nice to flex as many muscles as possible. So let’s do Superman stories, let’s do weird transformation stories, let’s do a Western. When it comes to Jimmy as a character, his superpower is none of that freaks him out.”
The 12th and final issue of Jimmy Olsen is available July 14.
Negan Lives! (Image) Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (artist)
Comic shops, like so many other kinds of retailers, have been hit hard by the coronavirus quarantine. So even though writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard wrapped up The Walking Dead with a surprise finale last year, they reunited for a special one-shot to catch readers up with beloved villain Negan as a benefit for struggling stores.
“I was able to talk Charlie into doing a brief Negan story that we’re pretty happy with and hope people will enjoy and we’re sending that out to stores for free,” Kirkman explained to EW. “The stores will charge for it but all the revenue generated by the book will go to the stores.”
Negan Lives! is available exclusively from comic stores now.
Undiscovered Country volume 1: Destiny (Image) Scott Snyder & Charles Soule (writers); Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, Leonardo Marcello Grassi, & Matt Wilson (artists)
This story about exploring a post-apocalyptic United States of America definitely hits a bit harder now than it did even when the first landed at the end of last year. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom: This is the colorful kind of wasteland, one where each state has generated its own variety of apocalyptic terrain. Idaho is a tundra full of mammoths, for instance, while Louisiana is filled with Day of the Dead-style zombies. Get lost in a different kind of ruined America with this new collected edition of the series’ first arc.
Undiscovered Country volume 1: Destiny is available from comic sellers July 14.