Love is in the air and throughout the DC Universe in this 80pp giant played out to the tune of Pat Benatar. Kaare Andrews’ cover sets the tone with a gorgeous Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy scene that ties in with their entry.
Said tale looks at Harley and Ivy’s love story via a series of beautiful splash pages taking in past, present and future. It’s funny, sweet and, for an anthology offering, surprisingly in touch with recent DC events. Writer Tim Seeley, artist Rebekah Isaacs (who could make a great living as a knitwear designer, it seems), colourist Kurt Michael Russell and letterer Travis Lanham are the dream team behind this gem.
With nine more short stories, let’s save my fingers some tiresome typing by giving you a great big, pink infodump of the ladies and gentlemen creating LIAB. Writers and artists will get mentions below, but the letterers, colourists and editors might not, and should be praised for generally great work.
The book kicks off with Catwoman and Batman upsetting the apple cart – or rather, ship – of Maxie Zeus’s wedding cruise. With everyone there a villain, Batman can’t attend as himself, but he knows a man who can be Selina’s Plus One… Matches Malone, his Underworld alter-ego.
With breezy banter from Christos Gage, action-packed art from Xermanico, cameos aplenty from such seldom-scene funsters as the Eraser and Captain Stingaree and, best of all, no Joker in sight, this is the best Batman story in a long while.
Wonder Woman’s date with Steve Trevor is rudely interrupted by the Blue Snowman, prompting a discussion about their relationship that rings very true. Using baddie Byrna Brilliant, who anticipated the gender fluidity trend by eight decades, is a stroke of genius, while Steve gets the most personality he’s had in years as a super-scrappy soldier. Crystal Frasier’s script pops, Juan Gedeon’s art is full of character and Wonder Woman is all the more wonderful for being allowed to be less goddess, more human.
Perry White and Amanda Waller is a match I’d never expect, but they spark off one another nicely as the Daily Planet editor picks the Suicide Squad boss’s sneaky brain for info on a missing Lois Lane. It’s great to see a Waller more in keeping with the classic version than today’s murder-happy momma, and Perry proving that he’s still comics’ greatest editor – sorry Jonah! Extra points to writer Mark Russell for a callback character from the mostly forgotten Sgt Rock-run Squad. The narrative is smart, Nik Virella’s art is perky, this is proof that even after eight decades of DC derring-do, there are new relationships to be explored.
Maxie Zeus isn’t the only bad guy planning a wedding, with Flash foes Mirror Master – the original, Sam Scudder – and Golden Glider going to the chapel. Unfortunately for them, Kid Flash and the Flash of China throw a super-speed spanner in the works. Wallace West is a little distracted, as he’s about to have his first date with fellow Teen Titan Red Arrow. Meanwhile, fellow Flash Avery seems to have her eye on someone… this is a terrific take on young heroes in love from writer Marquis Draper and artist Pop Mhan, set in the upcoming DC continuity that has the Titans running a school for heroes, while tying in firmly with recent Flash and Titans tales.
Love is always in the air for Hawkman and Hawkwoman, who come across a pair of dormant extraterrestrials in a ship on a crash course for Earth. There’s a clue as to who they are, which is then ignored… oh well, red herrings can be tasty too. José Luis and Jonas Trindade’s art is a neat nod to Brian Hitch’s recent Hawk-scratchings, while writer Cavan Scott kicks things off with some clever flashbacking that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
In keeping with this issue’s couples theme, Mister Miracle and wife Big Barda are celebrating their anniversary when the Female Furies drop in. Literally.
I do like Mad Harriet chomping on an apple, drawn, appropriately enough, by Chew artist Rob Guillory. ‘Mrs Miracle’, though, shouldn’t be quite so hideous… ‘off-model’ doesn’t begin to describe it – she’s not so much Big Barda as Bingo-Winged Barda. Scott fighting the worst Apokolips has to offer in baggy shorts, though? That’s gold. All in all, a fun distraction, with eye-catching layouts and a bright script from Regina Sawyer.
Once upon a time New Teen Titans Starfire and Nightwing were in love and planning a wedding. It never happened. Now, several years and even more continuity rewrites later, they’re reunited on a Justice League mission. And an emotion-altering alien – it looks like one of Poison Ivy’s brilliantly named Venus Guytraps from earlier in the issue – causes them to unleash some home truths.
Writer Sina Grace sets his story in Key West, tying in with Kory’s fabulous DC You series, and with artist partner Karl Mostert gives the former couple some long-needed closure.
Sgt Rock steps away from Easy Company to help his oppo in Able Company smuggle a double agent out of German-occupied France. But will love get in the way of what’s already a tricky mission? Classic Rock creators Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert would likely be proud of Pornsak Pichetshote, artist Chris Mooneyham, colourist Mike Spicer for this thoughtful, moodily illustrated war drama. And Ferran Delgado shows just how important the lettering was to the feel of DC’s war books back in the day with his gritty fonts.
Finally, Green Lantern John Stewart, DC’s king of doomed romances, rescues bad girl sweetheart Fatality from the Zamorans, who are a lot less space princess since last time I saw them – they look like Atari Force’s Morphea. The story’s theme, ‘the heart wants what the heart wants’, is rather forced but the old romantic in me was very happy with where it went.
All the stories in this book are good. Most are great. A few are outstanding. I loved it.