Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | Ten from the old year, ten for the new: 2010-11 edition

...Hike!

Dates a-plenty on the cover of 52 #19

So, is this a tradition? I have to come up with a better subtitle…

For the past couple of years, I’ve picked out twenty random DC topics, of various levels of importance, for a paragraph’s worth of analysis each. No guarantees as to accuracy, of course — this site is for entertainment purposes only. Regardless, even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then.

With last year’s list in mind, let’s get right to it–!

* * *

2010

1. DC at 75. My first impulse — which is not necessarily the correct one — is to say that DC had a relatively low-key anniversary, because there was no single celebratory event unifying the superhero line, like there was in 1985 with Crisis On Infinite Earths. I think that’s unfair, though, considering that the superhero books did have some commemorative covers, and there was a big coffee-table book. That’s about right, I guess.

2. FOX’s “Human Target.” I am embarrassed to admit that I have only seen maybe one-and-a-half episodes of this series so far. I hear good things, though; including about solid ratings and critical acclaim. In terms of cultural impact, it’s apparently no “Walking Dead,” but it’s not under the radar either.

3. Wonder Woman #600. Last year I theorized that “if [Blackest Night’s] readers are intrigued sufficiently by the Blackest Night: Wonder Woman miniseries, they may decide to check out the regular title — and even if they don’t, WW #600 may itself be a big enough event to draw them in.” I wasn’t too far off on this one. Issue #600 sold over twice as many copies as the previous issue, and subsequent issues have been selling anywhere from 12-14,000 more copies than they were before the anniversary. Obviously much of that is due to the altered-timeline story and attendant publicity over Wonder Woman’s latest revamp, but #600 was the first issue where any of that appeared.

4. The new Justice League(s). The JLA made last year’s list largely on the strength of speculation about a second Justice League title, which (rumor had it) would be written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Jim Lee. So far that hasn’t materialized, and James Robinson’s Justice League has been puttering along behind a malleable, eclectic lineup. At the start of 2010 I thought it could only be a placeholder League; but going into 2011 Robinson’s approach (if not quite his roster) has taken hold more firmly. In fact, if his League has any competition for fans’ attention, it comes from the former Justice League International over in JL: Generation Lost.

5. Legacies, History of the DC Universe 2.0, and Who’s Who 2010-11. Of those three projects, only Legacies appeared in 2010. Its intentions are noble, but so far it’s been an uneven, at times pedantic trip through the generations. In fact, it’s occasionally muffed the details of DC history, from character introductions to costume elements. Makes me wonder whether it’s a setup for the timeline-twisting promised in Flashpoint — but I digress….

6. Co-features may be just the beginning. Well, maybe not. The co-features were discontinued in 2010, in favor of a consistent $2.99-for-20-story-pages format. However, many of the interrupted stories will be concluded in their own Specials.

7. The Jonah Hex movie is set for June 18. Jonah Hex was a critical and financial flop, so its deadly opening date — against the unstoppable Toy Story 3 — probably sealed its fate. Last year I hoped Hex would at least do well against a remake of Footloose, but I got that entirely wrong: Footloose is still in post-production.

8. The Legion of Super-Heroes. Currently there are two Legion titles, Legion of Super-Heroes and Adventure Comics, both written by Paul Levitz. LSH is currently selling around 26,000 copies (and falling, it seems); and Adventure is around 24,000. That seems to be an acceptable number for a Legion book, considering that the group has been selling in the mid-to-high 20s for the past few years. However, this is the first time in over ten years that the Legion has had to support two monthly titles, so I don’t know how long it can stay in Adventure.

9. The Flash family. Speed metaphors are unavoidable: Flash has been slowed by publishing delays, but it looks to get back on pace with December’s two issues. Of course, the embryonic Flash franchise is being asked to support the Flashpoint event, which may lead to the long-awaited launch of the Kid Flash and Speed Force books.

10. The return of the artist. Whatever I was trying to articulate last year, I don’t think it came to pass. Not to say that DC’s books had subpar artwork — far from it — but once again, the writers were running the show. Brightest Day was advertised as a Geoff Johns/Peter Tomasi book with a rotating bullpen of artists. Frazer Irving did fantastic work on Batman and Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne, but Grant Morrison was still the draw (no pun intended). Francis Manapul brought a whole new sensibility to The Flash, especially compared to Scott Kolins and Ethan Van Sciver, but again, Johns had the higher profile. In fact, a couple of artists finished the year writing their respective Bat-books, namely Tony Daniel on Batman and David Finch on The Dark Knight.

* * *

2011

1. The Green Lantern movie. I am not sick of it yet, but we still have a few months to go. Honestly, I don’t know how it will do. I didn’t expect that a nerd magnet like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek would be so successful, and I thought The Dark Knight would suffer backlash from overprotective parents. However, my non-comics-reading friends seemed to like the trailer well enough, so we’ll see.  I say more lucrative than Captain America, not as much as Thor.  It’s understood by this point that no one expects a big bump in comics sales, right?

2. Life after JMS. Superman and Wonder Woman will have to play out J. Michael Straczynski’s storylines for most of 2011, but what then? Will Chris Roberson and Eddy Barrows stay on Superman? Will Diana keep her kicky jacket and long pants? (I’m guessing the new costume’s appearance in the JLA/The 99 miniseries is an anomaly.) Will sales improve once “Grounded” ends?

3. Earth One. Speaking of Straczynski, we’re told he’s taking time off from monthly comics to work on the sequel to Superman: Earth One. That’s fine, but I’m more interested in the series’ next debut, Geoff Johns’ and Gary Frank’s Batman: Earth One. The success of SM:E1 has no doubt raised expectations for the new book, sales-wise; but really, I think BM:E1 will be better-received by readers too. I don’t want to say that Batman is an easier character to write, but you really have to go out of your way to write him poorly. Fortunately for Johns and Frank, they can be guided in all kinds of ways by recent (shall we say) “unconventional” creator-driven Batman projects….

4. All Star Batman/Multiversity/Teen Titans: Games. And since I brought up All Star Batman, what are the odds we’ll see its relaunch this year? Lee announced last spring at WonderCon that the retitled Dark Knight: Boy Wonder would continue in February 2011 — so keep an eye out for next month’s solicitations, I suppose.  Meanwhile, Games was supposed to come out in November and has not been resolicited, and Grant Morrison’s romp-through-the 52 miniseries Multiversity was supposed to come out in 2010, after Blackest Night. From what I understand, George Pérez’s health problems have delayed Games, and Morrison clearly has been preoccupied with Batman.  Which of these will grace us in 2011?  I’m hoping for the hat trick.

5. The United Colors of Batman. And not to dwell on Batman, but I really liked how DC used the Detective and Batman Annuals to introduce Nightrunner, the new French representative of Batman, Incorporated. For a story which could easily have traded on hype, it was a good, practical way to show how these recruiting trips will work. More to the point, it felt like a Batman story — which, taking nothing away from Nightrunner’s unique cultural contributions, is how it ought to feel, what with him being the new French Batman. As to the rest of the world, Morrison and the rest of the Bat-team have an unenviable task: filtering entire geopolitical groupings through the lens of Batman, one franchisee at a time. There’s real outreach potential in the Batman, Inc. concept; but there are also plenty of opportunities to stereotype. Nightrunner was a good start, and not least because he certainly avoided the standard French stereotype. Batman, Inc. next checks in with old friends El Gaucho and Chief Man-Of-Bats, and from there goes to Africa. I’m curious to see what the franchise looks like at the end of 2011.

6. End of the Archives? Okay, enough Batman! If you’re like me, you might recently have found all the DC Archive Editions on sale for half-price at the local comics shop. I took the opportunity to catch up on the Flash Archives with vols. 4 and 5, and bought the first Kamandi Archives. Unfortunately, I take this as the first indication that the Archives line is being phased out, in favor of newer, thicker full-color formats like the hardcover Omnibus Editions and the paperback Chronicles. In its twenty-plus years, the Archives line reprinted a whole lot of Golden and Silver Age material, including nine volumes of Justice League of America, eleven books’ worth of Justice Society stories from All Star Comics, and twelve books’ worth of Legion of Super-Heroes adventures. However, at $50.00 (retail) a pop, these were not collections to be entered into lightly. I’m not getting the Wonder Woman Archives mainly because DC is now reprinting the same stories in less-expensive Chronicles form. The question then becomes whether DC will try to use the Chronicles, or a similar reprint line, to cover the same ground as the Archives. Surely we’ll see more Silver Age material reprinted in Omnibii, and we’re already seeing a good bit of Golden Age Batman and Superman stories in their respective Chronicles. Not all of the Archives’ subjects have that kind of name recognition, though. It would be a shame if the end of the Archives meant the end of DC’s commitment to these reprints.

7. Reprint floodgates. Maybe I’m worrying irrationally, though; as recent weeks have brought news of two long-awaited reprints: Sugar & Spike Archives Vol. 1, and Flex Mentallo. Is this the first crack in the dam holding back collections of Suicide Squad, Captain Carrot, Secret Society of Super-Villains, and Jonah Hex? Might the “dead zone” of the ‘70s and ‘80s finally yield a bountiful harvest? Can I find another metaphor to mangle? One of these things will surely happen in 2011….

8. The changing shape of Events. We know already that 2011 will have its share of crossover events. “Reign of Doomsday” started this week and runs to May through various titles. “War of the Green Lanterns” brings all the GL books together. Flashpoint’s structure has yet to be revealed. One thing about the latter, though — it may already have started. Recent issues of Flash and Time Masters have discussed changing DC’s timeline, and in fact have pointed out that Wonder Woman’s current storyline might be a symptom thereof. Furthermore, the new WW history has become a plot point in Justice League: Generation Lost. What interests me about this “stealth crossover” is the fact that DC hasn’t called attention to it — it’s just a fact of life these days. Of course, Wonder Woman’s current storyline doesn’t really depend on being part of a shared universe; but again, that’s why it’s so odd that the other books would comment on it. Part of me resents another book’s changed premise intruding on the plots of Flash and Generation Lost. Still, my fannish nature enjoys putting the pieces together without a hype machine telling me where they all are. Wonder Woman may therefore be one of 2011′s most important DC-superhero books that (almost) no one reads.

9. The spirit of ‘86. I mentioned last week that 2011 is the silver anniversary of some of DC’s best-known projects, including Dark Knight, The Shadow, Watchmen, and the Superman and Wonder Woman revamps. I don’t expect DC to celebrate any of those anniversaries, although the publisher could put out yet another edition of Watchmen or Dark Knight if it wanted. What I’d really like to see, though, is a behind-the-scenes look at what went into that seminal year. For example, at one point, the Big Three were going to be revamped entirely, as part of something called the “Metropolis” imprint. It wasn’t just Frank Miller, John Byrne, and George Pérez, either — Howard Chaykin submitted a Superman proposal, and I think Steve Gerber was interested in Wonder Woman. It may be more disgusting than making sausage, but I bet it’s a story worth telling.

And finally …

10. DC on TV. This spring, “Smallville” wraps up, possibly with Clark flying past the Daily Planet in his familiar blues-and-reds. However, there’s more in the pipeline. “Human Target’s” new season is apparently off to a good start. “Young Justice” follows a love-it-or-hate-it premiere with a regular series starting this Friday. David E. Kelley may surprise us all by bringing a credible “Wonder Woman” series back to the small screen. My guess, though, is that “Raven” will have the easiest path to life on The CW. She struggles with her emotions, her father’s an otherdimensional demon, and she may or may not be part of a super-powered support group. Sounds like a plan to me.

Okay — 51 weeks to see how this all pans out!

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21 Comments

“Is this the first crack in the dam holding back collections of Suicide Squad, Captain Carrot, Secret Society of Super-Villains, and Jonah Hex?”

Suicide Squad Vol. 1: February 2011
Secret Society of Super-Villains hardcover: August 2011

I’m surprised no one, not even any comic sites of note, has mentioned the tabletop DC RPG by Green Ronin that was published this year.

funkygreenjerusalem

January 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm

f those three projects, only Legacies appeared in 2010. Its intentions are noble, but so far it’s been an uneven, at times pedantic trip through the generations. In fact, it’s occasionally muffed the details of DC history, from character introductions to costume elements. Makes me wonder whether it’s a setup for the timeline-twisting promised in Flashpoint — but I digress….

I assumed it’s purpose was to tell us the order things happened since we got ‘New Earth’ in Infinite Crisis – so I see it as less muffing and more ‘this is how it happened in the new continuity’.
Because there’s no way Len Wein could have gotten when John Stewart appeared wrong by accident.

I heard in an interview that Morrison on Batman Inc is suppose to continue for 24 issues, and that hes also working on Seaguy 3. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if we dont see Multiversity till late 2012.
But hey, Im willing to wait for a Morrison/Quietly riff on Watchmen.

All-Star Batman and Robin relaunch looks unlikely cos of Miller’s Xerxes

Also, given the critical success of Cornell on Action comics I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become the next big Superman writer.
Also, Wonder Woman’s pants have shown up in the promo images for the return of the letter column and the ‘drawing the line at $2.99′, so it may be more permanent than it appears.

I dont see any reason to suspect DC will fundamentally change events. A few crossovers between groups of books throughout the year and a big one every year or so. This year its Brightest day, and there will probably be one in late 2011

William O'Brien

January 7, 2011 at 6:08 am

I think DCU Legacies has been worth it mainly for the backup strips. Frank Quitely doing New Gods, JH Williams doing Seven Soldiers, Brian Bolland doing Camelot 3000? Sold.

Mysterious Stranger

January 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm

You can forget about the Wonder Woman series. Deadline Hollywood is reporting its “on hold” for the foreseeable future. Apparently they couldn’t get a network commitment. Not a good fit at Fox. CBS passed. NBC is still in turmoil due to the Comcast deal. Its too expensive for the CW and ABC passed even though some there liked it (the Disney/Marvel politics are rumored to have affected the decision as well).

Raven is a good fit for the CW given all of the vampire and supernatural stuff they have going on. Plus the teen angst fits their primary demo.

Haven’t seen the archives reduced in price here in the UK.. personally would love to see TPB versions of the archives (not expecting to see that happen any time soon) as with the TPB Masterworks, making the archives available at a more affordable price. or perhaps just a DC online digital service like Marvel and all the archive material available there (along with the 1000s of comics from the Golden / Atom age that will probably never make it to HB archive status)

Pity about the co-features, they were some of my favourites of the year – it is always great to have a few page extra tales such as the ‘tales of the wasp or the Watcher etc’ along with the main title. But then again, I always enjoyed the Tales of Suspense / Tales to Astonish doubles.

pigs find truffles with their sense of smell… not sight.

Human Target is a POS creatively, but I guess it gets enough ratings because it’s an action show on a network, something that’s pretty rare these days.

I wish DC would just give the Batman Inc stuff over to Ennis and let him go nuts with it, stereotypes and all. I get what Morrison is trying to do creatively, but I just can’t bring myself to care. Probably the after-effects of so much Batman out there, and mostly due to my lack of interest in all mainstream superhero titles right now.

About. WW: the 600 issue didn’t sell as much as Rucka’s 209(vol. 2) and the figures for the issues after that were about the same as they are now. In fact Gail’s first several issues sold better than JMS’ solo issues. Basically DC relaunched the series without him, sales tanked fast, and now their selling the same numbers as WW was around Infinite Crisis. All this proves is that WW sales will go down after any event or creative switch and fans think sales figures are better because they only remember a few months back.

“5. Legacies, History of the DC Universe 2.0, and Who’s Who 2010-11. Of those three projects, only Legacies appeared in 2010. Its intentions are noble, but so far it’s been an uneven, at times pedantic trip through the generations. In fact, it’s occasionally muffed the details of DC history, from character introductions to costume elements. Makes me wonder whether it’s a setup for the timeline-twisting promised in Flashpoint — but I digress….”

I THINK Legacies is meant to be ‘History of the DCU” 2.0. As for Who’s Who, I am dying for this one. I would love for it to do a 12plus volume of hardcovers shipped bi-monthly ala Marvel. Every time Dan D. is on FB asking us to ask him questions, I bring this up. His standard answer is ‘Boy, you guys sure do want some Who’s Who!” sigh

@stealthwise: I think letting Ennis roll with the Inc. setup and giving him free range with stereotypes would be a PR disaster waiting to happen. Dude doesn’t exactly play nice.

stealthwise
I wish DC would just give the Batman Inc stuff over to Ennis and let him go nuts with it, stereotypes and all. I get what Morrison is trying to do creatively, but I just can’t bring myself to care. Probably the after-effects of so much Batman out there, and mostly due to my lack of interest in all mainstream superhero titles right now
————————————————————————————————————————————————–
the problem is Garth doesn’t want it he has never liked super heros and after his takes on Batman in Boys first a man obsest with screwing every hole he came too including his buttlers ear and an astroid in one incarnation and as a molester of men in another I don’t think they would trust him the first version got Boys sent to Dynamite Publishing We havn’t seen anything from Garth at DC since

Tom you mentioned a few trade collections you were waiting to see dc prduce with out mentioning the holy grail that was promised two years ago and one much more desired then Flex Mentallo the original Captain Marvel and The Monster Society Of Evil We have not seen it

That’s what would make it a funny read. Or a funny trainwreck, if you will :D

ennis is an overrated hack…

“the problem is Garth doesn’t want it he has never liked super heros”

That’s always been my problem with Ennis, he goes out of his way to bash and degrade superheroes. If he doesn’t like them, he should simply just write about things he does like and leave superheroes alone. But what I interpret from his work is this; his hatred of superheroes extends to those of us who do like them, and he’s obsessed with showing us just how stupid he thinks we are for admiring heroes in tights who try to stand for something and wants to spit in our faces every chance he gets. That’s why I don’t respect him or will support his work.

I don’t like Ennis because he’s a wannabe John Wagner and Alan Grant. All he cares about is cheap shock.

I don’t much care for how Ennis tends to portray superheroes, but I think the man is a genuinely good writer. His long run on the Punisher is the kind of stuff that defines a character for decades to come and Hitman was awesome. If I go into an Ennis project, I find it easier to just roll with it and not let it get to me. But yeah, I’m not sure I’d want him doing something in a superhero universe.

Though, oddly enough, he wrote a damn good Superman on the occasion or two he used the character in Hitman stories, so I don’t know.

Hehe, I didn’t think I needed to include a smiley in there, but it’s pretty obvious what the effect of having Ennis on Batman would be. :)

I’m hoping somebody declares that DC:LEGACIES is just one (really) old guys recollections of how things happened in the DCU as opposed to unshakable fact (no matter what FLASHPOINT tells us).

The moment I’m dreading (which may or may not come to pass) in 2011 will be when some one asks a DC panel at a convention if LEGACIES is the accepted History of the DCU and is told, “Yes.”

It’s not a bad series, the back-ups are terrific and the art is great, but as a story of the history it’s absolutely warped.

mpneeb: “I’m hoping somebody declares that DC:LEGACIES is just one (really) old guys recollections of how things happened in the DCU”

I was about to leap to Len Wein’s defence before I realized what you meant :)

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