THE INFINITE FRONTIER TOP 10
Commentary by Sean H. (St. Charles)
So, here we are. With the Future State behind us, the Infinite Frontier awaits. As a lifelong DC fan, I have high standards for their books, and I am not easy to please as those around me will testify. Not as hard to please as some, I’ll admit, but I am by no means content with the mediocre. Thankfully, I can report that Infinite Frontier is pretty solid so far. Not quite the heights of DC Rebirth, which was frankly lightning in a bottle, but it is definitely a good jumping on point for lapsed fans and curious newcomers.
So then, where do we begin? Well first off, you’ll want to read Infinite Frontier #0, as that provides a lot of the groundwork. It’s not exactly required reading, but I highly recommend anyone interested check it out, because it’s a good snapshot of where the DC Universe stands and where they’re going. Past that however, here is a Top 10 recommended Infinite Frontier titles.
- Batman (Infinite Frontier begins with #106)
James Tynion IV was Scott Snyder’s protégé for years before getting a chance to shine with a solid run on Detective Comics during the Rebirth era. When he was finally given the reins on the Dark Knight’s solo book, he was given the unenviable task of clean up duty after Tom King’s divisive run. Now he’s free to do as he pleases with Batman, and indeed he has: stripping the Dark Knight down to the essentials, giving him a shiny new partner, and pitting him against an adversary worthy of his talents: Scarecrow, whose new design courtesy of Jorge Jimenez is one of his best ever. If Tynion can keep his momentum going, he’s got the potential to stand alongside his old mentor for a defining Batman run.
- Joker (#1)
At its core, this is a noir story, with Jim Gordon going overseas to hunt down the Joker, looking to finally close the case of the Clown Prince of Crime for good. However, it’s also a psychological thriller. Batman and family, for all the physical and mental traumas they’ve endured at the hands of Joker, are equipped to handle it. They might bend, but they will never break. They are, after all, superheroes. Jim Gordon is just a man, a man who has spent his career trying to protect the public, only to find out he can’t even protect his family from monsters like Joker. So this ends up being a very personal story Tynion is telling, on the one hand about the pursuit of justice, on the other about personal satisfaction and closure. Both are done exceedingly well, as these are areas where Tynion is at his strongest.
8. Superman/Action Comics (#29/1029)
As some of you may know, Superman has been afflicted with a particularly bad case of Bendis over the past couple years, but I’m happy to report his condition has been cured, and Superman is now in rehabilitation, overseen by that most enigmatic of writers, Phillip Kennedy Johnson. Sadly, he does not open his run with Superman waking up in bed, looking to Lois and going “Wow. You won’t believe this crazy dream I had!” before resuming exactly where Tomasi’s Rebirth run left off, but he does restore a crucial part of Superman’s life that made Tomasi’s run so strong: his family. Superman and Son are reunited and the dynamics of their relationship once again take center stage, with an emphasis placed on what it means to carry on the legacy. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for stories like this, about leaving a legacy and passing the torch. If done right, they usually wind up among the all-time greats. Time will tell if Johnson has what it takes to reach the heights of Grant Morrison’s Batman or Ed Brubaker’s Captain America, but for now, he’s off to a good start.
7. Swamp Thing (#1)
DC has finally found its answer to the Immortal Hulk. Swamp Thing returns to his roots (no pun intended) as a supernatural horror character under the careful stewardship of Ram V. Alec Holland is dead (again) and the Green has a new protector, Levi Kamei, who is about as prepared for the role as you would expect. Luckily, he’s got someone who can teach him how to handle it, in all the worst ways imaginable. Learning all the right lessons from Alan Moore’s iconic run on the character, replete with psychological trauma and body horror, lovingly illustrated by the talented Mike Perkins, it’s everything you could want from a horror book, and indeed from Swamp Thing.
6. Crime Syndicate (#1)
How about a book to lighten the mood? Naturally, that book would be about the evil Justice League of Earth-3, where the good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys always win. The Crime Syndicate, when you really break it down, has always been kind of silly. Superheroes are by nature over the top and larger than life. Thus, their evil alternate counterparts have always had to be even more over the top in order to emphasize how evil they really are. Andy Schmidt apparently decided to run with that concept and has taken it to its natural conclusion here. Telling an evil modernized version of the original Justice League origin, with the world under attack from Starro and the various hammy megalomaniacs of Earth 3 teaming up to take him on, this book relishes its own absurdity and has no right to be as fun as it is. It’s just a good tongue in cheek adventure with psychotic versions of the world’s greatest heroes. What more could you possibly want?
5. Suicide Squad (#1)
Who remembers Dark Avengers? It was great, wasn’t it? Yeah. You know who agrees? DC, who’ve retooled the Suicide Squad into something quite similar. Amanda Waller has changed her tactics, putting together a team designed to actually succeed in its suicide missions, rather than just replacing them every other week, though she has kept the explosive incentive to keep them in line. It’s a different take, and a good one at that, with Robbie Thompson, a writer I had previously written off as nothing special, showing a real grasp of the characters and getting them to bounce off each other nicely.
4. Green Lantern (#1)
All Green Lantern writers have to reckon with the legacy of Geoff Johns, whose run on Green Lantern remains a seminal and incredible story. The newest to try their hand is Geoff Thorne, a writer who courted some controversy early on when he dismissed Hal Jordan as a character, but who promised to write him respectfully and professionally, a promise he has kept. Make no mistake though, this is a John Stewart story, who has been appointed to act as the Green Lantern’s ambassador to the peoples of the galaxy, almost all of whom have axes to grind. It’s once again a new take, but one that builds off the solid foundation built by Johns and Venditti over the past decade. Add to that an unexpected infusion of depth to Teen Lantern, a character who was padding out the roster on Young Justice, and you have a recipe for a great start.
3. Flash (#768)
And at last a promise made is kept. Wally West has had a rough couple years, restored to life by Rebirth, but then trampled on by Heroes in Crisis and Death Metal. Now, however, he is the Flash once more. I could say more, but understand that if you are in anyway a DC fan, you need to read this book. He’s back and he’s here to stay folks. It’s a good day.
2. Nightwing (#78)
DCEASED made Tom Taylor a household name for DC fans, and naturally DC gave him the pick of the litter when Infinite Frontier came about. Nightwing, like Wally West, has had a rough couple years, for many of the same reasons in fact. Now he’s back, and he’s in the hands of a writer with a lot of heart and love for the character.
1. Superman: Red and Blue (#1)
If you ask any real Superman fan what the greatest Superman story is, the answer you often get is All-Star Superman. Because the best Superman stories aren’t stories about how strong he is, about how he alone can beat anyone using only a fraction of his strength, they aren’t even really about Superman. They’re about what he represents, who he is, why he does what he does, what he sees in others, and how others see him. Because Superman isn’t just a man, he isn’t just a superhero, he is an ideal, and if you don’t understand what I mean, take a look through these stories, and you will realize he’s more than just the big blue boy scout.
And that is my ‘beginner’s guide’ to Infinite Frontier. Hope this was helpful and hope you check out some of these books. Seriously, they’re great.