New Talent Showcase #1
Written by Adam Smith, Vita Ayala, Michael Moreci, Erica Schultz, Christopher Sebela, Hena Khan, Emma Beeby, Michael McMillian and Joelle Jones
Art by Siya Oum, Khary Randolph, John Rauch, Barnaby Bagenda, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Sonny Liew, David Messina, Moreno Dinisio, Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Tomeu Morey, Minkyu Jung, Trish Mulvihill, Juan Ferreyra, Sam Lofti and Pete Pantazis
Lettered by Josh Reed
Published by DC Comics
Review by Matthew Sibley
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Back in 2015, DC Comics launched their Talent Development department with the aim of finding new creative talent, while also assisting writers and artists who were fresh to DC. This New Talent Showcase #1 brings together both new writers who participated in a program at the start of the year, and creators already in the industry, but new to the DC stable. The result is an amalgam of stories which don’t necessarily push the boundaries, nor are they all perfect, but provide a glimpse at starting points for talent which could become household names in the future and an opportunity to be fans of their work from the outset.
Adam Smith and Siya Oum open the anthology with “The Road to Hell and All That,” a story which presents itself as a rather standard Constantine tale initially, but fast becomes a more poignant tale about him and Zatanna, ending on a bittersweet note fitting of the character. Oum’s art is a happy middle between art from the original Hellblazer and the more recent "New 52" and "DC You" work, with one panel in a graveyard feeling particularly Lemire-inspired.
The next two stories offer a contrast. “Blood and Glory” comes from Vita Ayala, Khary Randolph, and John Rauch and focuses on Wonder Woman, but doesn’t characterize her as one would expect. The story is more action-packed, adopting a manga-influenced widescreen style to demonstrate the full force of Wonder Woman’s might. Her dialogue feels a tad too aggressive though, despite the fact she’s been the God of War. As a result, she feels more standoffish than she should when talking to Wally.
Meanwhile, Michael Moreci, Barnaby Bagenda, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s “Dead Beacons” utilizes the pairing of Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris - a dynamic which some fans might have cried foul on during New Guardians - but offers a fun rapport between the two which may pave the way to making the relationship work in future. The story reunites Bagenda with Kyle Rayner, but with more open space than he had available on Omega Men meaning he can fully demonstrate Kyle’s creativity. Moreci mixes this in with a tale about a pair of scavengers and a relationship dilemma for Carol and Kyle, which would be an ideal dynamic for the two in a longer-form piece of work in the future.
Unfortunately, Erica Schultz and Sonny Liew’s “Weapons of War” employs the typical starting the story in media res trope which loses its impact in a short story. Schultz and Liew may have been better served running with the mystery story she’s spun for Hawkgirl, considering Hawkgirl and Will Cariad have a strong buddy-cop dynamic and poignant dialogue. Liew’s art has a radiant quality thanks to the colors used, not to mention how detailed some of the locations are or how there are some well-done transitions like the one that points out the mace in Hawkgirl’s bag.
Meanwhile, Emma Beeby, Minkyu Jung, and Trish Mulvihill’s “Amazonian Job” is the most disappointing tale in the compilation, putting the team together for a heist we never get to see, and the fact that it’s all set-up is made all the more disappointing by Hena Khan, Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, and Tomeu Morey’s Wonder Girl story, “Digging Up Demons,” which is continually driving the narrative forward, offering some twists along the way. Lupacchino is already in the industry, but this is a real showcase for how spectacular her art is, in addition to spotlighting Khan, a shining example of how effective this department can be for finding talent.
To speak briefly about the final three, “Good Morning Gotham” from Joelle Jones, Sam Lofti and Pete Pantazis is an ideal tale for a Batman or Harley Quinn annual, and sees her take charge in orchestrating a prison riot, telling a straightforward story that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Scott Snyder’s influence is noticeable on Michael McMillian’s and Juan Ferreyra’s Superman story “Man in Black,” as it includes the Joker and a monologue about childhood. Ferreyra’s art fits both the night time sequence and the Joker brawl but the two parts are disjointed and neither has enough time to be fully capitalized on in this brief glimpse.
Finally, “Killing Time” from Christopher Sebela, David Messina, and Moreno Dinisio is a vignette which could have been found within the pages of Solo if it was still running. A mix of Mike Allred’s “Hour with Hourman” story and Darwyn Cooke’s interludes at Jimmy’s, Sebela and Messina’s story is introspective, but has a cold air about itself, fitting for a Deadman tale, just like Messina’s art which captures Gotham City in a thick black.
There should be something here that appeals to you, if not one story in particular, then the opportunity to sample the work of numerous creators to see if there’s someone you want to keep an eye on. Not all of the stories come together or conclude in the pages provided, and it would have been preferred that they did, but regardless New Talent Showcase #1 is a tantalizing glimpse at the up-and-comers that DC has been able to scout out thus far with the program that suggests there are some new and bold voices about to make a splash, but need a little more polishing before they’re perfect.