"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
The September solicitations are here, bringing with them another month’s worth of teases and puffery. There are ongoing series for the Red Circle characters, a new edition of Red Son, and a paperback featuring a Communist Lady Blackhawk. As if that weren’t enough, this batch includes the start of a long-awaited Superman miniseries, the highly-anticipated conclusion of Flash: Rebirth, and a couple of minor characters in desperate need of some salesmanship. I’m also fairly sure that DC has made some kind of history in its writing corps.
Before we get to that, though, a non-solicitation item. I’m pretty happy that DC will be putting at least part of Wednesday Comics in a newspaper, even if it’s just the first installment of the Superman strip in one issue of USA Today. You may remember a couple of months ago that I went off on a little tirade about DC not supporting Wednesday Comics sufficiently, and while this isn’t quite what I had in mind, it may be pretty effective.
Let’s begin with a rundown of September’s Blackest Night books, mostly so I can observe that for the second straight month, it takes a break for the first week:
9/3: (open date)
9/9: GL Corps #40, BN: Batman #2
9/16: BN #3
9/23: BN: Superman #2
9/30: Green Lantern #46, BN: Titans #2
Six issues in four weeks (most of them $2.99) doesn’t seem unreasonable, especially since you could cut out the character-specific miniseries and reduce your spending by about half.
The solicit for BN #3 asks why the dead are rising, so I really hope we find out in that issue. I know Blackest Night won’t be over until March (!), and it’s gotta pace itself, but after 120 pages you’d think some mysteries would be revealed.
With regard to one of those minor mysteries, I’m guessing that “Superman’s dead bride [who] returns as a Black Lantern” is the Earth-2 Lois Lane. Seems like Earth-2 Lois is one of the few characters who’s crossed the proverbial river in the past five years as a result of natural causes, not grisly murder. As such, the cynic in me wonders if Blackest Night won’t try to justify all those other deaths by saying they were just setting up the characters’ particular roles in this event. Probably not — I expect most of them will be throwaway references, and someone like Pantha (famously decapitated in Infinite Crisis) may now be able to use her noodle as a projectile. Reunions with deceased loved ones, like Donna Troy’s on that creepy Titans cover, will no doubt balance out any such darkly-comic bits.
(See what sort of ill-informed speculation comes from having three months’ worth of solicits to chew over before the first issue ever appears…?)
WORLD’S FINEST SOLICITS
Not much to say about September’s Superman titles, except to note the arrival of Secret Origin. I have a feeling that, since it will end the same month as World Of New Krypton, it will set up the next big Superman arc; but obviously I’d like to think it will work well as a standalone story. If so, it would stand alone in another respect. John Byrne’s Man Of Steel never seemed like a coherent narrative to me, because it was more concerned with establishing all the new wrinkles. Therefore, I liked Mark Waid and Leinil Yu’s Birthright a lot more, because it did stand alone — but then nobody in the regular Superman books wanted to do anything with it. In any event, Secret Origin should be good.
Likewise, not much to say about the Batman books in September. I enjoyed the “Manhunter” feature in Streets Of Gotham #1 more than I did the lead (and I liked the lead fine, although it was a little disjointed). I get the feeling that SOG and Gotham City Sirens will be Paul Dini’s biweekly piece of the Bat-pie, with storylines and characters crossing back and forth between the two.
Also, I suppose the solicit for Batgirl #2 eliminates Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, and Helena Bertinelli from contention, since it refers to “a new person wearing the cape and cowl.” It might also cut out dark-horses like Spoiler and the Squire, since I imagine they’d be welcome in the costume. Maybe she’s a Dick Grayson groupie from ‘way back…?
The “JMS Era” of The Brave and the Bold starts in September, as (I presume) the original Batman meets Robby “Dial ‘H’ For Hero” Reed. Regular readers of this space know I am not the world’s biggest J. Michael Straczynski fan, but I like the idea of B&B enough to work past that. In other team-up news, the current Batman guest-stars in September’s issue of Vigilante, which should be interesting considering that Marv Wolfman introduced the current Vigilante when he was writing Dick Grayson’s adventures in Nightwing.
Finally, I’m very glad to see that the Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In The Eighth Grade team of Landry Walker and Eric Jones will be producing the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic. Now, if we could just get more Supergirl out of them….
HERE’S YOUR (WINGED) HAT — WHAT’S YOUR HURRY?
The Flash: Rebirth ends in September, but I have no predictions about who will be doing what (or in what costume) when all is said and done. Honestly, I don’t think either Barry or Wally will be all that different, since getting Barry back to normal is the point of this miniseries, and Johns has made it clear he’s a big Wally fan. Therefore, I look forward to talking about the newest Flash #1 in next month’s solicits.
D’OH! A DEER
I’m not sure what to think about Sweet Tooth. Since I’m unfamiliar with Jeff Lemire’s work, at first glance it reminds me of a weird mash-up of Kamandi and Y: The Last Man. None of this has any bearing on its overall quality, of course — these are just first impressions. However, the concepts certainly seem more complex than the Harry Potter riffs in The Unwritten, the bifurcated House Of Mystery format, or Unknown Soldier‘s grim realism. That may make Sweet Tooth a tougher sell (at least to me), and as with Air, that might give it too much of a learning curve for me to make the monthly commitment.
THE CIRCLE IS NOW COMPLETE
I really was not going to get any of the Red Circle books, because the characters just didn’t interest me. However, as with the JSA Vs. Kobra miniseries, the presence of writer Eric Trautmann on The Shield is probably enough to sell me at least on that series’ first issue.
Speaking of the Red Circle, David Brothers and JK have already noted that these solicits feature two books (one Red Circle, one not) written by African-American women — The Web #1, written by Angela Robinson; and Teen Titans #75, written by Felicia D. Henderson. Good for DC for hiring them, because I sure can’t remember the last time — or any time before this — that an African-American woman had written one of DC’s superhero books.
However, it’s also worth noting that this time around I see only one other female writer in the DCU line — namely, Gail Simone on Wonder Woman and Secret Six. (As for the other imprints, Louise Simonson co-writes WildStorm’s World Of Warcraft #23 and G. Willow Wilson writes Vertigo’s Air #13.) Accordingly, DC shouldn’t have any illusions of complete diversity among its professionals. Still, I’m eager to see what a writer for The L Word brings to a relatively ordinary superhero setup, and I’m especially looking forward to Ms. Henderson’s work on Teen Titans. Here’s hoping they each have productive comics careers which continue to open doors.
BECAUSE NO ONE SEEMS TO HAVE DEMANDED IT…
Considering that Magog (the character) was created as a parody of the 1990s’ “Liefeldization” of superheroes, it’d be fun to think that Keith Giffen would position Magog (the book) similarly as a superhero parody. That would get me to read it, since I can’t say I have much interest in Magog otherwise.
It can’t be a good sign that the new Red Tornado miniseries seems to have inspired in the superhero-comics blogosphere a general sense of bewilderment. Why would anyone want to read about a character who comes across like an even more whiny version of the Vision? Furthermore, the most recent Reddy storylines have threatened to grind Justice League of America to a halt, so I can’t say that the thought of a new Red Tornado story makes me particularly giddy. Still, the miniseries could build on a couple of plot points which never seemed to go anywhere, including his recent dealings with Amazo and Solomon Grundy (whose miniseries ends in September) and the map of the Multiverse which may still be stored in his brain. In fact, because Reddy is one of those characters who gets screwed with every few years — because no one seems to know what to do with him — a story like this always has the potential to make some sense out of all those twists and turns. Naturally, it also has the potential to ignore all of that in favor of something much more bland, but I did want to point out that “Red Tornado” doesn’t automatically equal “fail.”
You know, I was just thinking that Howard Chaykin’s 1988 Blackhawk miniseries should be collected, and here it is. In a way, Blood and Iron was Chaykin’s follow-up to his 1986 Shadow miniseries (also for DC). Where the latter brought the Shadow into the (mid-) 1980s, though, B&I was a period piece; and it took special care to rehabilitate the Blackhawk formerly known as “Chop Chop.” This miniseries was followed by a feature in Action Comics Weekly, which in turn led to a short-lived ongoing series (all from writer Martin Pasko and artist Rick Burchett). I wouldn’t mind if those were collected as well — they were fine comics.
The Red Son hardcover gains eight pages on its paperback predecessor, so maybe that means more “special features.” Also, while typing this up I had the happy thought that this miniseries hasn’t been irrevocably tainted by the use of its characters in Countdown.
The Flamebird and Nightwing paperback intrigues me for a couple of reasons. First, what’s with the reversed names? Flamebird was traditionally the sidekick — did his agent twist some arms? Second, I don’t remember too many other collections taken from the mid-1970s Superman Family title (which, you’ll remember, picked up Jimmy Olsen‘s numbering with #168). Most of these stories were penciled by Ken Landgraf (who also drew DC horror comics at the time) and inked by Romeo Tanghal, and I remember them being decent enough. Naturally, Nightwing and Flamebird didn’t have super-powers in Kandor, so they were pretty much Batman and Robin with jet-belts and similar technology. (In fact, Superman originally created the Nightwing and Flamebird identities because there were no bats or robins in Kandor.) Also, I don’t think the Kandorian Flamebird was a teenager, because he was married to (the original version of) Thara, Nightwing’s niece. Probably more than you needed to know, but I’m looking forward to this.
With Trinity Volume 3 coming out in October, I’ll be interested to see what those of you waiting for the trades think about it.
However, the big news in collections this month looks like the simultaneous release of “Rise of the Olympian” in both hardcover and paperback (on November 4). I tend not to buy these books when I already own the individual issues, so the whole hardcover-vs.-softcover dilemma is mostly lost on me. I suppose this could be testing whether the hardcover Wonder Woman collections will continue; and if they don’t, whether that means some loss of prestige. Either way, $14.99 for an eight-issue paperback collection is pretty attractive, and “ROTO” has been a heck of a storyline so far. Worth a look, at least, if you haven’t been reading it.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL AMAZON
And while we’re on the subject of Wonder Woman, I see that the solicit for WW #36 answers one of my lingering questions about “ROTO”: what about Achilles, the titular Olympian? Apparently we’ll have to wait three months to see him throw down against Diana, after a two-issue team-up with Black Canary which starts in July.
By the way, one last thing about Wonder Woman: given the recent unpleasantness, I think it’d be great if WW #36 happened to outsell September’s new Spider-Woman #1. Nothing like voting with one’s wallet….
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Anyway, what looks good to you?