The Joker/Daffy Duck Special #1
Writers: Scott Lobdell, Joey Cavalieri
Artists: Brett Booth, Luciano Vechio
The Looney Tunes/DC Special issues are often a joy to read. The Elmer Fudd/Batman crossover from 2017 features one of the funniest, best bar fight sequences in comics, ever. After the success of the 2017 quartet of mashups, DC rolled out another four entries. The pairing is key, and something that makes the humor in these books really pop. Along with the Joker and Daffy, there’s Sylvester & Tweety and Catwoman (and Black Canary), Harley Quinn and Gossamer (the giant, hulking mass of fur) and Lex Luthor and Porky Pig. Slotting the high-strung, histrionic Daffy with Joker yields a lot of belly laughs. If you ever wanted to see Daffy Duck tell off Batman, this is the book for you. Scott Lobdell delivers a solidly funny lead story, illustrated by Joey Cavalieri, featuring a cargo-short-wearing ‘realistic’ Daffy.
The second story is a little more cartoonish, illustrated by Luciano Vechio, but Brett Booth’s story is as punchy as any Looney Tunes classic. The one-liners from Batman’s rogues’ gallery at Arkham are an awesome touch. Considering that DC is often the grimmer of the two major comic publishers, it’s especially rewarding when creators get to have a little fun at the expense of the gravitas of a character like Luthor or Batman. As story arcs get increasingly dire, it’s always great to be able to step back, enjoy one-shots like these and say, “That’s all folks!”
Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
After four separate investigations into Wolverine’s whereabouts that surprisingly fell short on excitement and any major revelations, fans were left with a series of Dead Ends. While Marvel may have been trying to elevate a bad pun with the four Hunt For Wolverine stories, what we’re left with is still a pretty bad pun. Thankfully, Charles Soule (Darth Vader) brings the loose threads together to make a really satisfying read, that, honestly, we could have arrived at sooner than sixteen issues. Regardless, Soule brings menace, whimsy and some old-school world-wide conspiracy arch-nemesis reveal with shadowy corporation Soteira. Bespoke nemesis Persephone, via holographic projection, threatens the future of the mutant race just so Iron Man, Daredevil, Kitty Pride and all other parties interested in Wolverine back off.
Ramon Rosanas has some really striking page-width sequences and paired with Soule’s on-point dialogue, Wolverine’s return is finally exciting again. Whether Return of Wolverine will keep up the intensity of this coda to the underwhelming Hunt remains to be seen. While it’s still disappointing that with such a big character, the stories surrounding an investigation into his past were a dud, but at least Dead Ends primes the Marvel Universe for one of its best-loved and best-developed characters. The teaser “SNIKT” near the end is enough to make any fan excited.
Blackwood #4 (of 4)
Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artists: Veronica Fish, Andy Fish
Just like that, Blackwood is wrapped up. The modern horror-meets-school-of-wizardry yarn had loads of twists. At its core, the Evan Dorkin (Milk & Cheese) tale of witchcraft is a treatise on good communication, that stolid bedrock of any successful relationship. Also, how said witchcraft can really throw a wrench into even the most innocent of schoolyard romances. The final issue treats us to more two-headed simian antics, creepy bugs, and tentacled horror. Veronica and Andy Fish put in some overtime in making the panels sing. The illustration remains true to its unique style while giving full breadth to the terror and magic that suffuses Blackwood’s pages.
For readers that have been enchanted by the short series, there are thankfully more stories in the works, as per a recent tweet from Evan Dorkin (@evandorkin). With all of the visual easter eggs laid out by Fish’s lush illustration, there’s a lot of ripe fruit to pick from. Beyond the scenery, Dorkin’s writing, especially with this final issue, really expands the possibilities of what happens in the shadows at Blackwood. What’s more, class wasn’t even in session yet. While Harry Potter’s Wizarding World has some really great moments where the modern world intersects with the magical, the fact that only a small slice of the student body at Blackwood are capable of magic is a promising avenue. Here’s hoping that classes at Blackwood start soon.