Comics can be a tough business for veterans. In an industry that’s always looking for The Next Big Thing, sometimes extremely talented, reliable craftsmen can slip through the cracks. It looked like that had happened to one of my favorites, writer/artist Walt Simonson, who hadn’t been all that active in the last few years.
Then a funny thing happened: everyone seemed to remember how great he was.
First came the IDW WALT SIMONSON MIGHTY THOR ARTIST’S EDITION, which collected the original art for the inaugural issues of Simonson’s landmark THOR run, reproduced at full size, allowing everyone to see those amazing pages like never before.
Not long after that, suddenly Simonson was back at Marvel again, working on AVENGERS with Brian Michael Bendis — it doesn’t get much more high-profile than that.
And most recently came the release of Simonson’s new original graphic novel for DC COMICS, THE JUDAS COIN, a quasi-anthology project that tracks one of the pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of Christ through history as it passes from hand to hand and crosses paths with various DC characters like the Golden Gladiator, the Viking Prince, Captain Fear, Bat Lash and Batman.
The art here is beautiful, some of Simonson’s best since his MIGHTY THOR days. Take a look at this page from the Viking Prince story:
Also bearing mention is the work of Simonson’s frequent collaborator John Workman, whose sense of design is evident right from the start:
Simonson isn’t afraid to take design risks either, such as in the Batman chapter, which is told not only horizontally but with a very cool newspaper theme.
The only story that didn’t quite work was the final, futuristic “Manhunter 2070,” a science-fiction epilogue that didn’t have the same historical gravitas as the earlier chapters, perhaps just because of the unfamiliarity of the character, compared to the other DC mainstays. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a bad story, it just didn’t feel like it measured up.
If you ask me, the Bat Lash story alone is worth the price of admission:
Hey, DC! Maybe the next time you need to fill a gap in your new 52, you can just offer Walt Simonson a monthly Bat Lash series! I’d be there.
Scott Tipton digs his SIMONSON AE. If you’ve got questions about comics, send them here.