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Grumpy Old Fan | Budgeting made easy: DC Comics Solicitations for May 2011

Booster Gold #44

Learning that DC was cancelling five superhero titles reminded me immediately of the “Saturday Night Massacre,” when President Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox led directly to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckleshaus. But, you know, that’s just me. I may be one of the few superhero-comics bloggers who went through a Watergate phase in college. Got two term papers out of it, at any rate.

But I digress. As we all know, the May solicitations are out, and DC will still be publishing a significant number of superhero comics — so let’s get to ‘em, shall we?

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YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD THERE IS A GREEN LANTERN MOVIE

Seems like the last time DC did a multiple-issue “prequel series” to one of its big movies was 2006, with four lead-ins to Superman Returns. I liked Superman Returns, but those related comics weren’t too memorable. However, I do like the creative teams on these one-shots — Geoff Johns (a no-brainer for GL), Marc Guggenheim, Jerry Ordway, Joe Bennett, Karl Kerschl, Fernando Dagnino, and Cliff Richards, plus the screenwriters — so they may be more worthwhile.

Either the actual cover of GL #66 is top-secret, or the cover which goes with its solicit was so good that DC put it on this week’s issue.

I do note that all the solicitations for various movie tchotchkes include the same three publicity-department paragraphs (“vast, mysterious universe,” “greatest Green Lantern,” etc.). Obviously it has nothing to do with the merits of, say, the “Emerald Energy” statue, but it did make my eyes glaze over after about the third one.

OH HEY, FLASHPOINT STARTS TOO

In a world where everyone is presumed to know the basic premise of a Big Event like Flashpoint months ahead of time, there’s really not that much to say about it even when the first issue is solicited. If memory serves, Green Lantern and Blackest Night came out on adjacent weeks, and it looks like Flash and Flashpoint will do the same.  I like that for the miniseries and the ongoing series from which it comes, because they reinforce each other without being overwhelming — but see below….

When I first saw that Dan Jurgens would be writing and drawing Booster Gold #44, I figured it was a one-off deal tying into Flashpoint. However, looking at last month’s final-sounding solicit for the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis/Chris Batista team, maybe Jurgens really is in it for longer. That’s rather bittersweet, since I have really enjoyed the G/DM/B run; but clearly, Jurgens has done pretty well by his creation.

Of course, it could also be the case that Jurgens will only be on Booster Gold as long as it ties into Flashpoint, which would be fine too.

And speaking of those voluminous tie-ins, it almost goes without saying that they’ll start in June. By my count, 45 of the 55 DC Universe books solicited in May will be around in June. Take away the five Green Lantern movie tie-ins and the five cancelled series and add fifteen Flashpoint-related miniseries, and it’s a net increase of five titles. However, those fifteen miniseries work out to at least three new similarly-branded titles every week. As with Blackest Night, that’s a big block of sameness on the shelves.

WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE

You might remember some predictions I made in the “This Book’s That Old?” segment of last month’s solicitation roundup. Well, Outsiders ends five issues earlier, and Doom Patrol gets dropped three issues shy. The other three weren’t part of that particular survey. JSA All-Stars and Freedom Fighters were too new; and I thought REBELS was sufficiently well-established, and therefore safe. Indeed, of the five books cancelled, I’m most surprised (and disappointed) by REBELS. Not only did it have good buzz (as did Doom Patrol, to some extent), it was DC’s designated “superhero space opera” book, and thereby broadened the publisher’s genre coverage. Put another way, while all of these titles were team books, two of them were part of larger franchises, one was less than a year old, and one was a title that keeps getting cancelled but refuses to go away. REBELS is the exception in each of those categories. Its lineage goes back (indirectly, perhaps) to the Legion of Super-Heroes, but by this point in its history the book can stand alone. Accordingly, REBELS’ cancellation makes the least sense.

WORLD’S FINEST NOTES

Glad to see Paul Cornell staying on Action Comics past #900 (and the presumed end of Luthor’s starring role).

Since Supergirl and Superman/Batman both came out this week, I feel compelled to mention how entertaining they both are. Supergirl has lost nothing in the transition from Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle to James Peaty and Bernard Chang, and in fact I think the book is better without the obligation to tie into other Super-titles. Similarly, since it also need not worry about the current books, Superman/Batman can focus on setting up apocalyptic portents like the ones in the new “Sorcerer Kings” arc.

Usually I am not that excited about a new Batman miniseries, but Batman: Gates Of Gotham looks promising, especially with Scott Snyder co-writing.

I liked Judd Winick’s brief tenure as Dick Grayson’s first regular Batman writer, so I will be sticking with Batman & Robin as long as he’s on it.

There are two Batman villains who have gone by the nom de crime The Reaper. One was a pre-Batman vigilante, retconned in so he once defeated the Golden Age Green Lantern before going into hiding when the Justice Society came after him.  He was the bad guy in “Batman: Year Two.” However, I imagine the Reaper in Batgirl #12 is the repurposed Holocaust survivor who Tony Daniel reintroduced last year. That guy originally appeared (and died) in the classic “Night of the Reaper,” and he was one of the last characters I expected to see running around again. Shows you what I know.

POTPOURRI

I’ll be eager to see whether the end of Brightest Day boosts the sales of Green Arrow #12. If Star City really has that much to do with BD, you’d think it would start to clue readers in about goings-on in GA.

Say what you want about James Robinson’s Justice League, but I’m predisposed to like any comic book which has the League “fight[ing] Eclipso’s ever-growing Shadow Army while … rac[ing] against time to prevent The End of Days.” (That sentence in the solicit still needs some editing.)

The original Static series was a real change of pace in an early-‘90s market filled with superhero excess, so I am looking forward to the new Static Shock with great interest. I take it Static will be more integrated in the larger DC Universe, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of the book’s individuality. THUNDER Agents is a good example of a new-to-DC title which is part of the DCU but doesn’t feel restricted by it.

I’m glad to see Strange Adventures return as a big anthology book, but I was hoping it’d be more than just one 80-page giant.

REPRINTS

Never let it be said that DC doesn’t cover all its bases. For the high-end consumer who enjoys both shameless emotional manipulation and the perpetual-crossover state, there’s Absolute Identity Crisis; but if you’re watching your wallet, Cry For Justice will be coming out in paperback.

There’s also the Aquaman: Death of a Prince collection, featuring Black Manta’s murder of Arthur Jr. — which, as it happens, I read back in 1977, and specifically in July-August 1977′s Adventure Comics #452. In those days my grade-school self was a big Aquaman fan, not least because I liked seeing him order giant whales around, so it was a real shock to learn that, indeed, his infant son was gone and not coming back. Even today, I’m still a little amazed that DC hasn’t tried to revive Arthur Jr. — for example, saying his death was faked and he was subsequently spirited away as part of a long-term political plot. I guess that’s what helps give Aquaman the all-important “edge” that keeps him viable as a character. Still, as Blackest Night (among other works) reminded us, DC has killed and brought back a small army of characters from all across the fame continuum. Arthur Jr. must be Aquaman’s Uncle Ben, or at least his Gwen Stacy.

A Brian Bolland coffee-table book should be a pretty impressive compilation of covers. Here’s hoping the presentation lives up to the material.

Both Son Of Superman and Green Lantern:  Willworld were presented originally as hardcover graphic novels, retailing for $24.95 and reprinted later as paperbacks. Now that they’re getting the $7.99 treatment, I’m sure we’ll see other such works (like Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia or Superman: End of the Century) reprinted similarly. I suspect the $7.99 format is still too inexpensive for original works, though.

By the way, both SOS and Willworld are great reads and well worth your $7.99.

Very glad to see Gene Colan’s mid-1980s Batman work reprinted. It’s one step closer to a more thorough examination of the period’s “biweekly Batman” stories which flowed through both Batman and Detective Comics. Eventually, as part of that creative group, Colan ended up exclusively on Detective while Tom Mandrake drew Batman. The biweekly format officially ended with Batman #400, but Colan closed out the “pre-gritty” period with a Harlan Ellison-written story in Detective #567. Good stuff from start to finish, and if DC can do a similar series on the great Don Newton’s Bat-work, that’d just be gravy.

Finally DC collects Justice, Alex Ross’s hardcore ode to “Challenge of the Super Friends,” in a single non-Absolute volume! Now I may actually read it.

The Jack Kirby Omnibus Starring Green Arrow sounds like an eclectic blend of ‘50s superheroes and (dare I say it?) Marvelesque monster comics. I doubt it will include anything as crazy as Xemnu or Fin Fang Foom, but it is Kirby after all.

DC must have a good thing going with the Doc Savage revival, because here comes a Showcase Presents volume. I’m always a little reluctant to buy the Showcase Presents books, because I prefer color reprints where possible, but a half-dozen black-and-white Doc Savage stories for $19.99 is a good deal.

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

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Comments

8 Comments

I suspect Aquababy was killed off because a) the writer at the time didn’t care about him and b) it might have been an attempt to tell that audience that “THESE Aquaman stories were no Super Friends fodder”. (I do remember them as being pretty badass.) Still I think it was uncessary and tasteless.

Oh and the reason he’s never been brought back? Nobody remembers him. Seriously, how many people today even *know* that Aquaman once had a son? I hear he was used in one of the Blackest Night tie-ins, but that whole deal was so disrespectful of dead characters in the DC universe that it’s not even worth looking up.

I just can’t believe Tom liked Superman Returns.

Unless things have changed, that Doc Savage Showcase is reprinting the Marvel Doc magazine, so you’re not losing any color on that one, just size.

Something just occurred to me about REBELS. Its cousins at Marvel, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, were even more acclaimed. And both got cancelled, too. Maybe there is just not that big an audience for ongoing space adventure comics that don’t have Green Lanterns. And maybe DC needs to do more miniseries the way Marvel does for that line of heroes.

Yes Raymond, that’s still what the Doc Savage Showcase is collecting, though I find it odd they don’t mention its the old magazine material at all. (Granted I know they’re not going to use the word Marvel in the solicit at all)

But when I first saw the Showcase mention on Amazon, I thought it was going to collect the ongoing DC did with the character after the O’Neil/Kubert Bros mini. (But that was before I found about the Shadow Strikes crossover it had)

But, you know, that’s just me. I may be one of the few superhero-comics bloggers who went through a Watergate phase in college. Got two term papers out of it, at any rate.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read the old DC Doc Savage series from the 80′s but you’re not missing terribly much. O’Neil wrote the first six issues, which pretty much picked up where the limited series left off, and then Mike Barr took over and his first action was writing Doc’s grandson, “Chip” out of the series and bringing the focus back to Doc and the old crew. Which I had no problems with whatsoever. From there though, the series was an uneven mix of new adventures, new characters, and flashback stories that didn’t always work. It was, ironically, just starting to find its feet when it got the axe at issue #24.

And yeah, there’s that Shadow Strikes crossover. I wish DC could get the rights back for the Shadow and reprint that series because Shadow Strikes was a wonderful comic, which focused on 1930′s-set pulp adventure and didn’t try to “update” the character for the 80′s like Chaykin’s Shadow or O’Neil’s Doc Savage attampted to do…

I’m with you Grumpy Old Fan on Green Arrow, Robinson’s Justice League, & Judd Winick on B & R. I love Superman/Batman and hope they go back to releasing HC editions instead of “straight to TP”.

I’m excited to see Batman: The Dark Knight & have been more and more impressed with Tony Daniel’s writing in Batman.

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