Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
It was both a frustration and a relief to see the DC solicitations this week. I was prepping a holiday column, because it’s my last chance to do something seasonal and I always like doing those. Part of what I wanted to say appears at the end, but the March solicits help keep the more sappy impulses in check.
Anyway, let’s see what’s under the tree, shall we?
The long-awaited Sugar & Spike Archives are finally on the schedule — but I am careful to note that similarly-anticipated projects like Suicide Squad collections and the New Teen Titans: Games graphic novel have also made it to the solicits without (so far) showing up on bookshelves. Therefore, Sugar & Spike goes in the “I’ll believe it when I hold it in my grubby paws” category. It’s also ironic to me that Sugar & Spike gets the Archives treatment just as DC seems to be phasing out the Archives line in favor of the imposing Omnibus format.
AND IN LESSER COLLECTIONS NEWS…
I’m eager to see what’s included in Showcase Presents Green Lantern Volume 5. The solicit says it’s 496 pages long, and reprints stories from Green Lantern vol. 2 #s 76-100, but by my count, those stories combine for 507 pages. Now, that includes two Green Arrow solo stories (“What Can One Man Do?” from issue #87 and “Beware The Blazing Inferno” from issue #100) which aim for “GL/GA relevance” but don’t have much to do with Green Lantern. Removing them brings the total to 477 pages — which still doesn’t leave room for what DC should include in this volume, namely the GL backup stories which ran semi-regularly in Flash from issues #217-246. Those 22 stories, all written by Denny O’Neil and many pencilled by Mike Grell (who would continue on the GL relaunch) take up 175 pages, way too much to fit between Green Lantern issues #89 and #90. That would make Showcase Presents GL vol. 5 at least 652 pages long — maybe not unreasonable for a Showcase book, but certainly pushing it.
Regardless, I’d rather have a collection of the Flash backups and the early relaunch issues than a black-and-white version of the O’Neil/Adams issues. I like the O’Neil/Adams issues very much, so much so that I’ve got three different reprint editions. To be sure, that may just be good timing on my part, because the two paperback collections from 2004 and the big hardcover from 2000 are all out of print. Still, you’d think that would encourage DC to produce new paperbacks, and perhaps even an Absolute Edition, of the O’Neil/Adams stuff so that the Showcases can include the more obscure stories. Oh well, there’s always the GL Chronicles….
COMINGS AND GOINGS
March’s issue of Outsiders will apparently be Keith Giffen’s third as penciller. I would have made a bigger deal about this, but neither the January nor February solicits seemed that excited about it. Although I like Giffen a lot, I’m not sure his presence is enough to get me buying Outsiders.
As expected (by me, at least), Batman: Streets Of Gotham closes up shop in March, with the conclusion of “House of Hush.” This particular story arc has its roots in Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen’s Detective Comics work, which carried through to SOG and therefore seems specific to them. If they’re ready to end it, the end of SOG is also appropriate. (The same arguably applies to the post-Grant-Morrison Batman and Robin, but I’m not ready to pick that fight.) Cancelling Azrael and Batman Confidential may also lessen worries about a Bat-glut, especially since the extended Batman line includes books devoted to specific characters and not, say, a half-dozen Bruce Wayne-centric titles.
Speaking of creative teams leaving when their story is done, I wonder if that’s the case with Paul Cornell and Pete Woods’ excellent work on Action Comics. I wrote here a couple of weeks back how I’d love to see “their” Luthor square off against Superman, so I hope they’re not just handing off to a new team in April’s issue #900.
And while we’re on the subject, we all know by now that March’s Supergirl #62 solicitation should probably substitute James Peaty for Nick Spencer in the writer’s slot. The conclusion of Spencer’s Jimmy Olsen mini-saga, begun as backup stories in Action, is also scheduled for March, so it’s not like he won’t be around the superhero books.
As with the Jimmy Olsen special, Jeff Lemire and Mahmud Asrar’s Atom co-feature from Adventure Comics will be concluded in the (wait for it) Giant-Size Atom #1. I have enjoyed the story so far, and considering the title of the special, I am disappointed only that Ray Palmer won’t be teaming up with Man-Thing.
Justice League of America’s big news – as far as these things go — is that Saint Walker, a Blue Lantern, will be joining the team. I don’t really think this speaks to the permanence of the other-colored Lantern Corps, or even to a long tenure for Walker himself, considering the fluidity of James Robinson’s JLA lineup (a few core members notwithstanding). At first I thought Walker would fill the “Green Lantern chair” currently occupied by Jade, but Robinson has told Newsarama that he’s more in the “alien observer” Martian Manhunter role; and in fact he’ll have an “interesting dynamic” with Jade.
Although I am hardly a Xombi scholar, the new series intrigues me on a few levels. It’s the first revival of a Milestone character in his own series, original writer John Rozum (who I’ve liked since his work on Topps’ X-Files comics) is back, and the unconsciously good Frazer Irving is drawing. “Contemporary urban horror” may be a hard sell (see, e.g., Simon Dark), but I’ll be rooting for Xombi to succeed.
PLEASE ACCEPT THESE EVENTS
“War of the Green Lanterns” runs through Green Lantern #64, GL Corps #58, and Emerald Warriors #8; and from there “into the summer,” which strictly speaking means at least June. It looks fine — “a malevolent force [controls] all the power batteries” and only our heroes plus Sinestro can stop it — but by the same token there doesn’t seem to be much here to stretch it over three more months across three GL titles.
Meanwhile, ambiguity rules in the Brightest Day solicits, as the twelve revivees head for “one area” (suspense!) and also there is an ultimate battle brewing. Okay, sure. Justice League: Generation Lost continues to sound much more promising, especially with the genuine suspense over Blue Beetle’s fate. The obvious reset button is time travel, not just because Wonder Woman’s changed timeline is involved but also arising from Captain Atom’s powers — but there’s also the real possibility that DC would kill off Jaime Reyes, even though it’s adapted him for “Smallville” and the “Brave and Bold” cartoon.
Finally, because Flash #11 has been resolicited, the upcoming “Flashpoint” is still … well, upcoming, with no start date set. Last month I observed cattily that soliciting Flash #11 for February was rather optimistic, given the title’s delays so far. Because it’s the holidays, and because the title now has an extra month to get back on schedule, I’m cautiously optimistic.
AND I HEARD HIM EXPOUND, ERE HE DROVE OUT OF SIGHT…
Actually, as groan-worthy as it may sound, the solicitations are kind of like Christmas. There’s the hope that expectations will match anticipation, of course; but I also want to talk about the element of change. For years, “change” — whether progressive or regressive — was DC’s refrain, and every year (particularly at Christmas) I got a good bit of material from riffing on the various changes. In 2010, though, DC settled down, as the characters revived in Blackest Night were explored in Brightest Day, and Grant Morrison integrated Bruce Wayne’s return with the revamped Bat-family. The constant crossover churning which accompanied Infinite Crisis, Countdown, and Blackest Night has subsided, and the superhero titles are telling their own stories once again. This is all to the good, and I am glad to see DC backing off the line-wide approach.
At the risk of being sacrilegious, Christmas is literally the ultimate “jumping-on point for new readers.” It’s the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies which lay the groundwork for the promise of eternal bliss. I take Christmas very seriously, don’t get me wrong; and that is why I say that change for its own sake is meaningless. At the heart of the Christmas story is the realization that the very course of human destiny changed in the blink of an eye. Just picture the void of a black, silent night, interrupted suddenly and joyfully by that multitude of the Heavenly Host, praising God and singing. There were in the same country shepherds, who went on to visit the Christ child, and to tell others what they had witnessed. Therefore, it’s not just the event, it’s the follow-through.
Of course, I don’t think DC Comics is going to change the world with “War of the Green Lanterns” or “Flashpoint” … but I will say its follow-through has been pretty entertaining so far. Apparently satisfied with its most recent cycle of change, on the whole the superhero books are into a good groove.
On a more serious note, I hope this season has brought you peace and comfort. No matter what you believe, this is when we’re supposed to put aside practical, selfish impulses and do the right things. Accordingly, here’s wishing that someone has done right by you as you’ve done right by them. We’ve already made it through the longest night of the year, so whatever else happens, the days are brighter already. Happy Holidays, and I’ll see you next week!