Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
With the Green Lantern movie coming out in the middle of the month, June looms big for DC’s superhero line. Since writer/executive Geoff Johns has become so identified with GL, you’d expect it would be a big month for him too — and indeed, between GL-related items and the Flashpoint event, Johns’ influence is felt all around the June solicitations.
Away we go –!
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MORE LIKE “CASHPOINT,” AMIRITE?
Sometimes I think Flashpoint should completely interrupt DC’s superhero line for three to five months. After all, if all of DC history is changed (again), but the ongoing books can still tell current, normal-timeline stories, aren’t readers just waiting for the reset button to be pushed? Still, whatever suspense might be gained from such a setup is probably outweighed by the aggravation it would cause; not just to readers who’d have to wait out those months, but to DC’s professionals themselves, who’d either have to arrange things logistically to avoid disruptions, or risk leaving an ongoing arc hanging. In any case, obviously none of the regular DC books are going on a break to accommodate and/or reflect Flashpoint — except for The Flash, which is eminently appropriate.
That does put Flashpoint in a slightly different light. Instead of, say, a Superman reader trying to decide whether to fill that gap with Flashpoint: Project Superman, you could see the whole Flashpoint experience as a massive expansion of the (heretofore-virtually-nonexistent) “Flash franchise.” Put another way: in May the Flash reader will buy Flash #13 and will be, shall we say, strongly encouraged to try out Flashpoint #1 (and maybe Booster Gold #44). Now, in June, that reader doesn’t have to buy Flash #14 (which, presumably, won’t be out for a few months) — but he’s still strongly encouraged to pickup FP #2, plus up to twenty ancillary titles (sixteen first issues of 3-issue miniseries and four one-shots). Seems like a lot to expect out of a Flash fan, or even a Geoff Johns fan.
Nevertheless, because it’s all world-building, and no one knows how much demand there’ll be for something like Flashpoint: The Outsider, DC is apparently gambling that retailers will err on the side of extravagance when ordering the Flashpoint tie-ins. After all, if the key to restoring the timeline comes out of, say, Deadman and the Flying Graysons #2, surely no one would want to be caught without that issue. I hadn’t planned on getting all, or even most, of the Flashpoint tie-ins, and I don’t expect anything to be “essential” beyond the core miniseries — maybe the World Of Flashpoint miniseries, the Citizen Cold and Kid Flash tie-ins, and/or Booster Gold — but at this point, it’s hard to be sure.
Anyway, here is your weekly Flashpoint rundown for June. All books are $2.99 each except Flashpoint proper, which is 40 pages for $3.99.
6/1: FP #2 ($3.99), Batman – Knight of Vengeance #1, Secret Seven #1, Abin Sur #1, World of Flashpoint #1
6/8: Booster Gold #45, Emperor Aquaman #1, Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #1, Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1, Citizen Cold #1
6/15: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1, Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1, Legion of Doom #1, Grodd of War #1
6/22: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1, Outsider #1, Kid Flash Lost #1, Reverse Flash #1
6/29: Project Superman #1, Hal Jordan #1, Green Arrow Industries #1, Canterbury Cricket #1
Again, that’s at least four $2.99 issues per week for June’s five Wednesdays; or 22 issues totaling $66.78 retail. Good thing DC has provided those Blackest Night paperbacks this month for comparison.
Oh, and I think the Sterling Gates-written Kid Flash miniseries is a sign that the long-promised Kid Flash series will happen after Flashpoint ends.
THEY’RE GONNA PUT ME IN THE MOVIES
At first I thought the “changes-EVERYTHING!” conclusion of “War of the Green Lanterns” was another predictably-out-of-touch move. Really, though, it’s not like moviegoers have any incentive to read Green Lantern (or Captain America, or Thor, or X-Men) right after they leave the theaters. Besides, there’s no way the GL books can be new-reader-friendly by June — not unless the movie also introduces John, Kyle, and Guy, gives them power rings, and sets them off on their own adventures. It’s enough, I suppose, that the Blackest Night paperbacks (discussed in more detail below) will hit bookshelves in July.
Likewise, I was ready to bemoan the unfortunate timing of DC Direct’s GL-related swag (coming in November) until I remembered all those movie-related tchotchkes solicited in months past. Besides, it will be out for the holidays.
As for the comics themselves, it looks like one of my predictions may not pan out (shocker!), since the cover of GL Corps #61 still has John in green, not red. Kyle’s shattered mask is ominous not because I think he’ll be killed off — the solicit itself says otherwise — but because it suggests bad things for him generally. Whether it’s my own cynicism, Kyle’s history with girlfriends, or DC’s track record overall, that in turn makes me think Soranik Natu is in trouble, and that would be a lazy reversion to form. Now, I say that not having read any of “WOTGL,” because of course hardly any of it has actually been published, and I could be completely wrong. Here’s hoping.
SEQUELS, SPINOFFS, AND REPRIEVES
So I have been thinking about the end of Brightest Day would probably facilitate new series (or, at the very least, miniseries) for characters like the Hawks, Aquaman, possibly Firestorm, and maybe even the Martian Manhunter. The last issue of BD will be out around the same time as the July solicits, just over a month from now (April 20). Therefore, in order to avoid spoiling the end of BD — and specifically, which of the twelve characters makes it out of the miniseries — any new series would have to wait until then to be solicited. They might even have to wait until October, after Flashpoint has ended … which would also be after this miniseries has ended. In that context, the new Brightest Day Aftermath miniseries looks like DC’s attempt at bridging that gap. One might even call it a “hype gap,” as if DC were worried that no one would be talking about Aquaman, the Hawks, or Firestorm between the end of BD and the start of whatever comes next.
As for “whatever comes next,” my guess is that both Aquaman and Firestorm will get new series in the near term. Geoff Johns has talked about writing Aquaman outside of BD, and the vintage-Firestorm paperback solicited for July suggests it’s laying a foundation for a future ongoing.
Not that I am complaining, but now we have two sequels to Road to Perdition. The new installment, Return To Perdition, is drawn by Max Allan Collins’ longtime collaborator Terry Beatty, so it may be something that Collins wanted to tell and turned to Beatty as a matter of course. Furthermore, Return looks like an outright sequel, as opposed to 2003-04’s On the Road miniseries, which took place in and around the original story. That OGN came out in 1998, was made into a movie (starring Tom Hanks and directed by Sam Mendes) in 2002, and these stories have followed. I liked Road to Perdition pretty well, but I haven’t read the On the Road stories, so I don’t know if Return is for me.
American Vampire becomes a franchise itself in June, with Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy producing the Survival of the Fittest miniseries. Since the main book hasn’t quite gotten to the World War II timeframe referenced in these solicits, I’m not sure why SOTF couldn’t have been told there; but with Snyder and Murphy writing and drawing, I’d read it wherever it appeared.
Seeing no final-issue notations on their solicits, it looks like First Wave titles Doc Savage and The Spirit have another month to go. It is a little unfortunate that the Spirit’s Valentine’s Day issue will come out in June, though.
Supergirl gets yet another creative team in June, following the evidently-short but actually-promising tenure of James Peaty and Bernard Chang. I’m not familiar with Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work, not having gone that deep into Marvel territory; but she comes well-recommended. I do like Chriscross, so overall it looks good for now. The whole “going undercover in college” thing does seem like an Aaron Spelling action-show plot, though.
Absent any more delays, it looks like Wonder Woman’s alt-reality arc will end in June. It still will have overlapped with Flashpoint’s alternate reality for two months. I would say that both Wonder Woman’s and Flash’s altered timelines were butting against the unaltered DC universe, but I keep forgetting that Wonder Woman’s altered timeline is the main DC universe.
It brings up another issue about Wonder Woman’s history, namely that it’s already been changed radically by the events of Infinite Crisis. “Now” it’s a fuzzy reconciliation of the 1986 reboot (when Diana came to Patriarch’s World between Crisis On Infinite Earths and Legends) and her place in pre-COIE Earth-1 history (when she left Themyscira closer to the start of the Silver Age and was a founding Justice Leaguer). As it happens, the Flash provides a touchstone for the post-Infinite Crisis change. “Originally” — that is, in 1986 — Diana never met Barry Allen, having left Themyscira after he died. “Now,” with at least part of her Earth-1 history restored, she was his teammate and colleague for several years. (In fact, I think Steve Englehart had them at odds during his Justice League tenure.) Needless to say, this is not something I expect either Flashpoint or Wonder Woman to address, but it’d be nice.
I’m pretty impressed that DC has timed the Blackest Night paperbacks to be available at the height of Movie Hal’s popularity. The event’s popularity among regular DC readers was obvious, but my own anecdotal evidence (i.e., my few “irregular” superhero-comics-reading friends) suggests that it might have some larger appeal. A more affordable format can only help in this regard, even if the seven paperbacks would retail cumulatively for $140.00.
If Showcase Presents The Trial of the Flash is the first in a series of big-arc black-and-white collections, I’ll be even more impressed. The phone-book format is well-suited to these kinds of targeted reprints, and I’m sure we can all think of other extended storylines which could get similar treatment. (The original story of the Flying Todds, and how Bruce Wayne adopted their inevitably-orphaned son, comes to mind.) Longtime readers may have a rather morbid interest in the “Trial of the Flash,” since it was seen (at least at the time) as contributing significantly to Flash vol. 1’s cancellation — and, consequently, to Barry’s death in Crisis On Infinite Earths. From what I understand, it was not the best representation of Cary Bates’ long tenure as Flash writer … but that may have to wait until another set of reprints reaches the early ‘70s.
Speaking of Flash, I’m not sure whether to be surprised or frustrated that the Firestorm vol. 1 paperback includes the first few installments of ‘Stormy’s backup series therein. Figuring that DC would never reprint these — because that’s not been its practice until now — I spent longer than I care to remember collecting those issues. Nevertheless, this paperback doesn’t reprint all of the Flash backups, so I’ll have something to read until volume 2 comes out.
That reminds me — another good candidate for a special Showcase Presents would be John Ostrander and Joe Brozowski/J.J. Birch’s extended arc on Firestorm, when they gave Professor Stein cancer, put the Russian Mikhail Arkadin into the matrix, and ended up turning Firestorm into one of the Earth’s elemental protectors. It ran from January 1987’s Firestorm #55 (Ostrander’s first issue) through May 1989’s #85 and included Firestorm Annual #5 — about 750 pages of comics, so it might not all fit; but a suspenseful, compelling storyline nonetheless.
Back to the regularly-scheduled reprints. Another series which I thought mired in royalty disputes, and therefore collected in single issues, was Secret Society Of Super-Villains. I’ll definitely get this hardcover, since it not only reprints all of the original series (including the Special), but also the rarities from Cancelled Comics Cavalcade and Amazing World Of DC Comics, and the wrapping-up arc from Justice League which — in a stunning bit of synergy — ended up providing the background for Identity Crisis. All of that aside, though, once it got past the hit-or-miss first few issues, SSoSV was a pretty decent little series.
DC didn’t have any trouble reprinting New Teen Titans, so naturally I have all the Archives and all the paperbacks supplementing my original Wolfman/Pérez issues and keeping them safe in their mylar. Now comes the first New Teen Titans Omnibus, $75.00 for what is basically Archives Vols. 1 and 2, probably with more to follow. Honestly, I know NTT is one of DC’s most fondly-remembered series, and I can understand reprinting it in such a handsome format; but it is kinda out of the reach of the curious reader who (no!) might not want to take such a deep financial plunge. What I’m saying is, you couldn’t do paperback New Teen Titans Chronicles instead?
I am curious about the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse hardcover, mostly because I thought “The Curse” referred to the aftermath of the Great Darkness Saga, not its own 500-plus-page storyline. Still haven’t gotten that new GDS hardcover, so maybe that will encourage me to give The Curse a look.
Finally, even with Steve Ditko’s enduring popularity, I wouldn’t have expected a Ditko Omnibus series. Putting Shade, the Changing Man on the cover is a good way to get a superhero guy like me interested in it, because I remember those house ads from my childhood but could never find Shade on the newsstand at the local Kroger. Ditko did a lot of eclectic work at DC in the ‘70s and ‘80s — not just the horror and sci-fi anthologies, but fill-ins on Legion of Super-Heroes and other superhero books — so I’m eager to see what future volumes reprint.
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Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?