Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | Spring brings a shorter Day: DC Comics Solicitations for April 2011

Superman/Batman Annual #5

Because they went live around the same time as last week’s column, I’ve had the better part of a week to consider the April DC solicitations. I’d like to tell you I dug deep into the language and the numbers, forsaking all regular human needs in order to unlock the secrets of DC’s superhero springtime, but we all know that didn’t happen. I blame the football.

Onward!

THE BIWEEKLIES

There could be a couple of reasons to cut two issues from the runs of Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost. Twenty-four issues may be easier to collect, logistically speaking, than twenty-six. DC may also want to wrap up these storylines in advance of Free Comic Book Day (May 7 is the Saturday after the month’s first Wednesday), when I presume the big Flashpoint push will begin. The solicit for Flash #12 seems to indicate that Flashpoint starts in May.

Related to my musings about the early end of Brightest Day is the ripple effect its rescheduled conclusion might have had on books like Green Arrow. As you may know, I have not been reading the current GA series, because I simply have not been interested in Ollie’s apparent journey of self-discovery prompted by all of last year’s melodrama. Therefore, it could be completely unwarranted for me to ask something like “was J.T. Krul forced to abandon a vital issue of badass mopery just to accommodate Brightest Day?” Regardless, I suspect the answer would still be “no.”

ANNIVERSARIES AND OTHER MOMENTOUS OCCASIONS

Action Comics #900 is at least 96 pages’ worth of Paul Cornell, Pete Woods, Lex Luthor vs. Superman, and the usual assortment of short stories and pinups. It follows last year’s Batman #700, Superman #700, and Wonder Woman #600, so the bar is fairly high, but not unattainable for this lineup. The 50th issue of Justice Society (another good candidate for Wonder Woman-style renumbering) also ships in April, offering the same kind of all-star creative team on a smaller scale.

Finally, I note that Batwoman #1‘s resolicitation is here, in opposition to the house ads which still say “February.”

EVENTS AND CROSSOVERS

At first I thought the cover of Superman/Batman Annual #5 was by George Pérez, but no. (Mr. Pérez is doing just about every other cover variant this month, though.) Miguel Sepulveda’s work does look fairly Pérez-ian, which means I am that much closer to following all of “Reign of Doomsday.” Still, Superboy #6 is just the end of “Act I?” Sheesh!

Obligatory Green Lantern speculation: Assuming that the mystery figure on the cover of Green Lantern #65 is the new alpha-male of the Sinestro Corps, I’m guessing it’s John Stewart. I have nothing really to back that up, story-wise, except that DC hasn’t really known what to do with John for a while now. The other three each play fairly central roles in Green Lantern, GL Corps, and Emerald Warriors, but John seems stuck behind Kyle in GL Corps. This could also free John to move over to the upcoming Red Lantern series, although obviously I have no idea of the mechanics.

It’s not particularly unusual for an inter-title crossover to have different writers, but I do find it a little curious that the conclusion of the “Angels of Death” storyline in Batman isn’t by regular writer/artist Tony Daniel. The first and second parts, in Red Robin #22 and Gotham City Sirens #22, come from those books’ regular creative teams (or at least it looks that way), but Batman #709 is by David Hine and Guillem March. I’m not really complaining, because I think they’re all solid teams. I guess Daniel probably needed a break.

Hard to believe that the JMS-plotted “Grounded” and “Odyssey” storylines (in Superman and Wonder Woman, like you didn’t know) will be just about over by April. Both Chris Roberson and Phil Hester’s first issues writing/scripting/making something worthwhile from the Straczynski plots have been received fairly well, or at least better than JMS’ solo-writing efforts, so I’m more optimistic that they will each stick around afterwards. This week’s Wonder Woman has me curious to see just how much of the “jacket-and-pockets” look will survive. Between this storyline and Flashpoint’s alternate timeline, I’m still presuming she’ll go back to the classic status quo once one or both of those have ended.

QUITE A LOT ABOUT THE COLLECTIONS

When I first saw the solicitation for DC Comics Presents: Ninja Boy, I kept thinking irrationally of Lagoon Boy, one of the superhero line’s lesser-known teen heroes. Instead, Ninja Boy was a six-issue series which came out from WildStorm in 2001-02. There was a paperback collection of all six issues too.  Honestly, I hope this abbreviated reprint finds its audience, because clearly someone at DC thought its time had come again — and if it sells well enough, who knows what else the 96-pages-for-$7.99 format might yield?

When I read “Hush” as twelve issues of the regular Batman book, all those years ago, I found it to be a somewhat obvious travelogue through the Bat-universe. It culminated in a revelation which hasn’t stuck, and introduced a new villain so annoying he’s since been subjected to years of rehabilitative storylines. Still, Jim Lee did some really good work, so I guess that’s the appeal of the $40.00 Hush Unwrapped hardcover. (It may also be the only single-volume “Hush” collection outside of the Absolute Edition.)

Reprinting the first Deadman stories in paperback reminds me that the Deadman of Brightest Day has necessarily gotten away from the proto-“Quantum Leap” body-hopping which was the character’s signature move. I like the idea of Deadman as supernatural detective, so I’m eager to see how these early stories balanced the murder mystery with metaphysics. I’m also pleasantly surprised that these are color reprints, although I think there’s more than enough material for a Showcase Presents volume.

Soliciting a $40.00 Infinity Inc. hardcover makes me want to say something like “longtime DC fans are no doubt excited,” etc., but then I think — aren’t we lifers already a significant part of DC’s readership? Indeed, haven’t we been waiting for more quality Earth-2 reprints ever since that second Justice Society paperback appeared? Because the original Infinity ran from 1984-1988, an entire generation (ironically enough) has had time to finish college since its last issue was published. Still, Infinity did represent veteran writer Roy Thomas’ attempt to steer a new course for the old Earth-2, not by giving it a next-gen team like the Teen Titans, but by saying it didn’t have to be so much of a Golden Age museum. Basically, I’m happy that DC wants to reprint artifacts like Infinity, Inc., but I’m not sure it’s worth $40.00 to me.

At the other end of the cost-benefit spectrum, I have tried to get into both recent Superboy relaunches, but despite the talents of all involved, something about the character just doesn’t click with me anymore. However, the Boy Of Steel paperback, collecting the Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul stories from Adventure Comics, actually looks like quite an attractive package. Six issues and change for $14.99 retail is about right for a decent-sized story, even if it isn’t by the current creative team.

Speaking of older relaunches, the twelve-issue Legion Lost from about ten years ago gets a nice hardcover treatment — but again, I imagine it has little to do with the current series. Legion Lost continued the “soft reboot” of the post-Zero Hour Legion (started in the “Legion of the Damned” storyline, conveniently solicited here as well) — or as some of you may think of them, Legion #2 in the Legion of Three Worlds. Basically, Legion Lost split up the team by transporting half of them an unimaginable distance across the universe (not unlike “Star Trek: Voyager”) and daring them to find their way back. L. Lost was the only Legion title published for those twelve months. It was followed by the Legion Worlds miniseries, which looked in on those left behind, and then by the relaunched ongoing series, called simply The Legion. That, in turn, yielded to Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Legion #3, which lasted fifty issues before its fate was determined by Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds. Ironically, Legion Lost may work best as something other than the main Legion title. It’s certainly an unconventional take on the team — again, think “Voyager,” which was ostensibly about preserving the ethics of “home” when you’re far away — but as a dark, suspenseful story of survival, it’s pretty engaging.

The upcoming Justice League International Vol. 6 paperback begins reprinting the “Adam Hughes Era” of Justice League America, along with concurrent issues of Justice League Europe, from the late ‘80s. Given Hughes’ popularity, this isn’t really surprising. If they continue reprinting JLA and JLE together like this, Hughes’ run (which lasted, off and on, through JLA #44) should span a few more books. I’ll be curious to see how far it goes, though. Giffen and DeMatteis (and eventual JLE scripters William Messner-Loebs and Gerard Jones) lasted a total of five years on both books, but they weren’t always crackling with wit and charm. In fact, I kind of hope that DC does end up reprinting all five years’ worth of comics, and then collects the next year or so of both titles (featuring Dan Jurgens on JLA, and Jones and Ron Randall on JLE). Collectively, it would be a good study in contrasting styles — especially since Giffen and DeMatteis have since succeeded Jurgens on Booster Gold.

Some final paperback/hardcover notes: I want to read Warren Ellis’ script for Planetary/Batman just to see if he actually refers to Adam West at any point; it’s great to see new editions of Joe Kubert’s Yossel, Dong Xaoi, and Jew Gangster, especially since they’re pretty affordable; and I can’t turn down a new We3 which includes new story pages.

THIS BOOK’S THAT OLD?

Finally, although I talk about the solicitations every time they come out, I always get the feeling that I have ignored a significant chunk of the superhero line. There are just some books that tend not to draw attention to themselves — or, to put it bluntly, they tend not to draw my attention. Accordingly, this month I want to take a look at several titles which just keep chugging along without an inordinate amount of buzz. And yes, that is a nice way of saying “this book’s that old?

Outsiders #39: It’s 3-and-a-quarter years into the title which lost a writer (Tony Bedard) before the first issue was published, and which saw its first writer (Chuck Dixon) leave DC entirely after ten issues.  Now it’s almost thirty issues later, DC overlord Dan DiDio has (or will have, assuming these solicits hold up) fourteen issues under his belt, and the book has recently acquired not-too-shabby penciller Keith Giffen. I suppose DiDio can keep Outsiders going as long as he wants, but I don’t read much about it and don’t have much incentive to pick it up. If the bulk of DC’s readers are (and continue to be) similarly apathetic, I give it to issue #45.

Supergirl #63: With all its retoolings, it seems like Supergirl should be starting from a new issue #1 every year. However, Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle (and various fill-in artists) recently wrapped a two-year run as the book’s regular creative team. A good bit of that was devoted to the “New Krypton” storylines, but Gates and Igle put their own stamp on Supergirl, at once integrating it into the Superman family and giving it a unique tone. I really liked last week’s issue #60, which brought aboard the new team of James Peaty and Bernard Chang (with the one-time contribution of writer Nick Spencer), and I think Supergirl is on solid ground. I’ve been hurt before (especially by the cancellation of Peter David’s long run), but I think the Maid of Might could make it at least to issue #80, as David’s title did.

Superman/Batman #83: In the eight-plus years since Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness kicked off “Public Enemies,” a number of similarly-themed anthology titles have come and gone, including Batman Confidential (currently a lame duck), Superman Confidential, JLA Classified, and JSA Classified. The long-running Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight was also cancelled during this period, after a run of over two hundred issues (plus assorted Annuals and Specials). I was a regular reader for the first few years, but after a while found it easy to ignore, and now only pick up the occasional issue or Annual. Nevertheless, I am warming again to the idea of a monthly World’s Finest team-up where regular continuity need not intrude, and I suppose enough of the readership feels the same. Anthologies tend to walk a thin line at DC, though. Issue #100 will either be the series’ final issue, or a giant vote of confidence in its future.

Doom Patrol #21 and Doc Savage #13: I read DP regularly because it has the same kind of antisocial vibe as Secret Six; but again, it is a title with which the comics blogosphere doesn’t seem overly concerned. Not surprisingly, issue #17 was 188th on December’s Top 300 Comics list, with just over 9,500 copies sold to shops. I’m guessing the book will reach issue #25, just so it can be canceled on a multiple-of-5 number; but in any event I probably shouldn’t get too attached. On the other hand, December’s Doc Savage #9 sold just under 6,900 copies for 203rd place, and April’s #13 starts a six-issue storyline.

Booster Gold #43: April’s solicitation sounds awfully conclusive, what with the “biggest decision of all times” and “start of a new Booster” language. That sort of talk makes me worry that Giffen, DeMatteis, and Batista are ready for the last roundup. However, Booster Gold has lasted some three-and-a-half years with solid sales and decent word of mouth, so who’s to say the book can’t continue as long as the creative team(s) are inspired to do so? If Booster lasts to issue #50, it can make it to #60; and if it’s not canceled by that point, who knows when it will be?

* * *

Anyway, that’s what jumped out at me this month.  What looks good to you?

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Comments

31 Comments

I know tons of people hate DiDio on The Outsiders, but I really like it.

What on Earth do you like about it?

Giffen’s Doom Patrol is all kinds of fun. Bloggers don’t know what they’re missing.

Well, here’s one blogger and columnist that has been singing the praises of Giffen’s Doom Patrol for months now. Just in case we’re keeping score.

Brightest Day started with #0, so if it stops at #24, there’s 25 issues of it.

There is a one-volume trade paperback of HUSH. It was published in 2009.

Doom Patrol and Booster Gold are both awesome.

R.E.B.E.L.S. feels like it is floundering, and I feel like I’m reading the same issue over and over again, but it’s a fun enough read.

Were Brightest Day and Generation Lost ever marketed as running 26 issues? When the first month with 5 Wednesdays came along and there was still only 2 issues of each, it seemed obvious to me that by ‘year long’ they meant 24 issues.

Yup, another blogger here who’s always praising Doom Patrol. And Booster Gold. And Supergirl …

Outsiders, not so much, it’s just not clicked with me (he said, politely).

Lovely column, Tom.

I dumped REBELS at # 20,Doom Patrol at #18(stupid 1 Issue cross over event with Secret 6 killed it for me).and Doc Savage at the upcoming #12 .Basically, I liked all 3 but it was time to cut back and the long term prognosis for them with an oversaturated market of mega arcs meant they weren’t going to get the support they deserved and it surprised me any of them are still around. By the way does anybody know if Flash Rebirth or First Wave holds the record for longest running 6 issue mini in DC’s history?

I would not be reading DP had Mr. Bacardi had not written in praise of it, honestly.

Booster Gold is a favorite but I’d like Dan Jurgens back on art.

I now plan on using the phrase “badass mopery” in conversation whenever possible.

The Adam West Batman makes a brief appearance in the that Planetary crossover. I think he has a spray can of some sort of repellent with him too, but it’s been a while since I’ve read it…

I’m eager for that Infinity Inc. hardcover. I’ve never read the individual issues, and that series had so much later influence on JSA, among others, that I’ve always wanted to pick it up.

Boy of Steel was good, too — Johns and Manapul channel their inner Norman Rockwell in their portrayal of Smallville, and there’s so much nostalgia in the book (if that’s your kind of thing) for the old Superboy series, Young Justice, and so on, that I found it a joy. It’s an interesting story, Superboy aside, about a person getting a second chance at life, and how they want to live their life differently the second time around.

It’s a shame Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle are off SUPERGIRL. They were just beginning to build up their own steam and knock that book clear out of the park.

I’m passing on all the War of the Green Lantern crossovers. Don’t think I’ll miss anything. Two quality monthly GL titles is all that’s needed. Thumbs up for Booster Gold for telling DC What if? stories.

I’m pretty confident in saying that Booster is safe for the time being. As the columnist behind The Gold Exchange at Comic Related and Newsarama, I would know if anything earth-shattering was happening…and the only thing that fits that description right now seems to be Flashpoint.

@ALTON That is a terrible reason to drop Doom Patrol considering it is the most recent issue. Also because Secret Six is also one of DC’s best written books. Boo.

I’ve complete stopped buying GREEN LANTERN. I stopped at #54. I’ve been buying any form of GL monthly since 2000, with Ron Marz & Kyle Rayner. Sorry Geoff Johns…It feels like you’re phoning them in. I stopped buying FLASH as well…sigh. I just didn’t care…the art was good but am I wrong to think that REBIRTH ended a little “flatfooted”? BLACKEST NIGHT was great but it completely burned me out on DC Event Comics. I stopped BRIGHTEST DAY at #5…I completely lost interest and steam and now another DC Event in FLASHPOINT? I’m like the Grandpa in “The Lost Boys”…I’ll read the TV Guide here at CBR than own a TV…read the TV Guide you don’t need a TV s’wat Grandpa said but iDigress…I’m sure I’ll thumb through ‘em at the FunnyBook Bodega. You never know…I could be wrong; I’ve been wrong before & I’ll be wrong again.
I like the properties more than the Superhero Continuity Comics. Although BATMAN INC. #s 1 & 2…pretty much the best 2-issue mini-arc I’ve read in a long while. What a Batman story. I’m a Grant Morrison fan anyhoo (ps did anyone catch his fabulous 18 DAYS hardcover on Dynamite? wow!)

crea shakti,
Rev Sully

Eric O’Sullivan
Boston, MA USA
Channel OCHO Blog
http://www.thechannelocho.blogspot.com

I absolutely love Didios Outsiders, its been great superhero-y stuff

I really want to enjoy Doom Patrol. Keith Giffen is mixing things up, especially by introducing Ambush Bug and giving us back Mr. Nobody and Crazy Jane (which I thought he should have left alone). But for the life of me, I couldn’t enjoy Giffen’s writing. There were countless times when I have to reread every word balloon because the sentence is either a run-in sentence or it’s just too wordy or incoherent. This is the same way he wrote years ago in that Zodiac comic with Colleen Doran. He should have let somebody else write for him. I know he’s a witty guy but his overworked text is putting me off. I also didn’t care much for the art which tends be inconsistent and unpolished-looking. And to think two artists are producing the book.

Incidentally, Giffen has a new drawing style. As much as I loved his drawings before, I haven’t warmed up to his new Al Milgrom-like pencils.

the one thing that could save DOOM PATROL is remove Matthew Clark, or Keith Giffen, or both and bring Peter Milligan and Michael Alred onto it.

Regarding your GL speculation – no way the blacked out figure on the cover is John Stewart. He’s Kyle’s partner in GLC, and that’s where DC plans to keep BOTH of them. Most likely the figure on the cover is either Guy, or Hal himself. Guy because of his prophecies, and a soon-to-be falling out with Hal.

But Hal is more likely; in Blackest Night there was a prophecy that he would rebel against the Guardians, and we’ve already seen the seeds of that with him not reporting in. Now they’re about to send a spy to keep tabs. That will come to a head soon.

Plus…the book is about Hal, so it’d make sense for the cover to have *something* to do with its main character.

I just got into Giffen’s Doom Patrol, and I love it! It really meshes all the continuities together well.

Doom Patrol is the best DCU book bar none these days. Secret Six comes second, but Giffen has really found his voice in the 2nd year of the book. It’s great to see him pushing DP into the idea they are immortals (which is a clever way to answer the “Doom Patrol will DIE” from Drake/Premiani. Just beautiful stuff.
Booster Gold is obviously better now than during Dan Jurgens, that always seem to drag him into a “generalistic” hero, instead of the lost-boy-with-a-good-heart DeMatteis and Giffen re-created for JLI.

I wouldn’t want to lose Giffen/Clarke from Doom Patrol. Both do a great job already. Half the problem with some of the lower ranking titles is that the companies don’t market them enough. You can keep the Batman, Superman, Spider-Man titles — I’m tired of reading the sames stories over and over. I collect so few titles anymore as it is.

The price tag on the Infinity Inc HC seems a little steep, even if it does include the initial appearances of the characters in All-Star Squadron — and this is only volume 1, collecting thru #4 — Generations Saga went thru #11. Price tag notwithstanding, these were the first comics I bought as a “collector” in 1984 and I can’t wait to see them finally reprinted.

R.E.B.E.L.S. seems like a series that gets cancelled eventually. It jumped the shark when they moved away from a team of unknowns with thematic connections to the 31st C. Legion and brought in fan-pleasing characters like Starfire and Lobo. The first 10+ issues, the fight against Starro, featuring a team of disparate individuals drawn from various corners of the DC universe (which Bedard does brilliantly — i.e., Crossgen’s Negation) — great stuff, including arguably the best Blackest Night tie-in issues when Dox gets a yellow ring. Now we’re reading about how Kory can’t get over Dick Grayson. Just feels like DC editorial is trying way too hard to sell this book to readers of its big name titles and has ruined it in the process.

Cattleprod, they did originally say that this (and JL:Generation Lost) would be 26 issues in the early promos. But considering that they were supposed to be year-long events and only came out twice a month, guys like me should have realised a lot earlier that it would end up being only 24 issues in total. ;)

Martin, I agree, great column. I want more of these.

I_Captain Blanco

January 31, 2011 at 6:19 am

“But Hal is more likely; in Blackest Night there was a prophecy that he would rebel against the Guardians”

Again.

How many times does that make, now?

funkygreenjerusalem

January 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm

(It may also be the only single-volume “Hush” collection outside of the Absolute Edition.)

There’s a softcover collection with all twelve.

Came out last year, I believe.

JUSTUCE SOCIETY OF AMERICA

January 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm

how can you ” go back to the old numbering”? JSA has had several series that were canceled prior to the 1999 relaunch.

There was the 1992 ongoing that was canceled just before Zero HOur. do we start there? or does the issue count start with the 1999 JSA?

BTW infinity INC was NEVER a popular title in the 80s. so reprinting a volume for $40 is just a waste of paper to me.

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