Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
DC’s July solicitations include such high-profile titles as Brightest Day, Justice League: Generation Lost, three Grant Morrison Bat-books, Neal Adams’ Odyssey, and the 50th issues of Ex Machina and Green Lantern Corps. We’ll touch on some of those in this modest survey.
However, as usual, it was an eclectic group of books which caught my eye … starting with a feature I wasn’t expecting to see.
NIGHT AND DAY
I hate to dismiss a series which I’d like to read before it’s even seen the inside of a comics shop, but I think the Atom Special and its subsequent co-feature may do better in collected form than in single issues. I base this on the quite-possibly-irrational notion that a significant amount of DC readers want to read about the Atom, but don’t especially want to follow the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Like I said, possibly irrational — but consider: the Legion now has its own book in addition to its regular feature in Adventure Comics. Therefore, at some point readers of Adventure will probably need to read Legion in order to be fully in the know. This makes reading Adventure just for the Atom even less attractive, since it likely entails an extra $2.99 commitment on top of the $3.99 for Adventure. The alternative, of course, is to wait for the Atom Special and the first co-feature storyline to be collected — because, inevitably, it will — and hope that enough people buy it, and keep buying Adventure to warrant further collections.
All that said, I will probably get both the Atom Special and Adventure. I like the Legion well enough, but strange as it may seem, the “updated Earth-1″ crew hasn’t turned out to be my favorite. However — and here is the truly weird thing — I suddenly like Adventure more with its original numbering. That one change makes a world of difference for me, and I think I would feel the same if I hadn’t grown up with the original series. It bridges the gap, you know? Now its roots go deeper than Geoff Johns’ Superman work. Now they go back not just through the Legion but through Aquaman, the Spectre, and a vast range of characters and approaches. I look at Adventure Comics vol. 2 #10 and think maybe someday this’ll last as long as its predecessor. Well, with July’s issue #516, it’s all of a piece.
And this is a horrible segue, but as much as I liked the Star City reveal in Brightest Day #0, the new Green Arrow series barely registers on my radar. It sounds hokey, but having the Atom resolve his issues fairly quickly in Blackest Night got me a lot more ready for his new feature than all the sound and fury surrounding Team Arrow. Yes, it can be exciting to watch one’s heroes struggle through horrible adversity, but haven’t the past six years of struggling been enough? Accentuate the positive, DC!
And one last bit of Blackest Night bidness: Lex Luthor didn’t have much to do as an Orange Lantern, but the more I think about it, the more I want Action Comics’ Paul Cornell and Pete Woods to have him design his own power ring. Clearly he won’t be able to duplicate one — it wouldn’t be a ring anyway, it’d probably be the size of a tank — but boy I want to see him try.
GOINGS AND COMINGS
Welcome back, Welcome To Tranquility; and welcome to busy new Azrael writer David Hine.
Ex Machina finishes on time, but The Great Ten wraps up early. Seems like just last month the G10 miniseries was in fact set for (appropriately enough) ten issues. I’ve liked it pretty well so far, and I know it’s selling pretty poorly — but I didn’t think it was selling badly enough to be cancelled an issue early. Should make the collection that much cheaper, though.
I’ll miss The Warlord, cancelled with July’s #16. I bought it originally to support DC’s attempts at branching into non-superhero genres, and I’m glad it lasted past its first anniversary; but before too long, with every month’s solicits I expected to see that “FINAL ISSUE” notation. Speaking as someone with only a nominal amount of Warlord knowledge (before reading the Showcase Presents volume, that is), I thought it was pretty accessible. It looked pretty good too, especially when Mike Grell illustrated his own scripts. There wasn’t much innovation to it, and it did feature a character unironically named “McBane” — I will never let that go — but it was a reliably diverting fantasy every month.
Last month we learned that DC’s readership wasn’t willing to support two Red Circle titles. This month — a month, I might add, which saw the aforementioned early end of another government-sponsored super-team title — DC has decided to put all its red-circled eggs into the Mighty Crusaders basket. As I understand it, the Crusaders are the Red Circle’s Justice League/Justice Society analogue, and that’s too bad for them. Whether they’re the Justice Society, the Crusaders, or the Shadow Cabinet, these all-star teams tend to be compared to the League, because it is DC-Earth’s preeminent superhero team. When these kinds of teams have their own Earths to police, naturally they’re at the top of the organizational chart. Presently, however, they’re all competing for second place; because by definition the JLA is No. 1. Thus, it doesn’t surprise me that the Crusaders have gone the “government-sponsored” route, because they have to distinguish themselves somehow. It probably also means that DC isn’t anywhere near integrating the THUNDER Agents into its regular superhero community, because their acronymic name pretty much requires being sponsored by the United Nations.
I thought Madame Xanadu was getting pretty close to “Mad Men” territory with the tormented Betty Draper-esque housewife in its current storyline, so I’m definitely interested in what issue #25 does with its tormented ‘60s ad exec.
Time Masters: Vanishing Point takes a pretty logical approach to searching through time for Bruce Wayne — namely, going to Booster Gold and his time-traveling associates. I have no illusions that Booster, Superman, and Green Lantern will actually find Bruce in the course of this miniseries, because it seems pretty obvious that Bruce’s story will be resolved in the Return Of Bruce Wayne miniseries, set to wrap up a full three months before this one does. Then again, you’d think Batman would have died at the end of a story called “Batman R.I.P….”
Speaking of ROBW, I’m glad to have Grant Morrison writing the regular Batman book again, alongside his normal Bat-gigs — but with Neal Adams’ Batman: Odyssey miniseries debuting in July, and with Morrison citing Adams’ “hairy-chested love god” as one of his Bat-inspirations, I kinda hope the two find a way to work together.
Yeah, I’m getting the X-Files/30 Days Of Night crossover. The ultimate “X-Files” vampire story will always be the fifth season’s “Bad Blood,” but this should be scary enough.
I am hardly the first to say it, but … J. Michael Straczynski’s all-new Wonder Woman era starts with the destruction of Paradise Island? I trust this will be different from the time Darkseid decimated the Amazons at the start of John Byrne’s mid-‘90s run, or the hiatus the Amazons took at the end of Greg Rucka’s tenure. I did like Don Kramer and Michael Babinski’s work on the JSA Vs. Kobra miniseries, though; so WW #601 has that going for it.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
The solicit for Teen Titans #85 intrigues me, because it seems like a pretty standard superhero story. I haven’t read the book since the Wonderdog issue, so I have no idea why they might be after Raven, or how they got to “the Wyld country.” Still, it’s superheroes fighting dinosaurs and affiliated monsters, which sounds like an attempt to distance the title from its reputation as a regular source of bloody death.
Similarly, I’m getting more interested in Paul Levitz and Jerry Ordway’s literal-hero-worship story in Superman/Batman. Not that S/B has the same ghoulish reputation, mind you — it just seems like a nice, straightforward, World’s Finest-style story.
The concluding volume of The Mighty is on the schedule for August. I never read the series, because it seemed pretty familiar, at least at first. However, I heard good things here and there, and I like Chris Samnee’s work, so I may have to give it another shot.
I’m definitely looking forward to the second Showcase Presents The Doom Patrol volume, primarily to see just how bizarre Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani got with their signature creations. Doom Patrol #121 is one of the most famous — or infamous, perhaps — final issues in all of superhero comics, so I hope it lives up to the hype.
DC might have done it previously, but this is the first time I’ve seen collections solicited alongside their final issues. American Vampire #5 comes out July 21, but latecomers need only wait about two more months for the hardcover on September 29. The wait’s even shorter for Batman: The Widening Gyre Vol. 1 (issue #6 is set for July 28, and the hardcover drops on July 1).
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Well, that’s what stood out to me this month. What looks good to you?