Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
… Specifically, thank goodness this is the last batch of solicitations before the New-52 lineup. As with the previous two sets of solicits, these exist partly to advertise November’s books, but also to keep consumers excited about September’s. Paradoxically, however, that means I can’t really get excited about them until September’s books arrive, and with them some real context.
As always, though, there are more things in the solicits than the New-52, so at least we can discuss some things substantively.
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NON-SUBSTANTIVE DISCUSSION OF NEW-52 BOOKS
I say the following as someone who has always liked Aquaman, someone who’s read extended stretches of Aquaman comics, and someone who still wonders when the right creative team will unlock the character’s full potential: the cover of Aquaman #3 wants to bellow “AQUAMAN WILL TOTALLY GUT YOU”; but all I hear is Tim O’Neil’s immortal line “I make stabby.” (In fact, stabby seems to be one of Aquaman’s defining traits these days, regardless of the timeline….)
Then there’s the breathless (if a little clunky) copy from Flash #3 — “Witness a spectacular sequence of out-of-control cars, trains and even airplanes that must be stopped from destroying the city!” — which is refreshing mostly because it talks about actual superhero-style spectacle.
I was going to make a cheap Limbaugh joke about the villain in Green Arrow #3 being named “Rush,” which, ha ha, GA is an old hippie so he’s gonna give Rush a reason to take more painkillers, amIrite — and then I wondered, will the revised Green Arrow still be a strident left-winger? He’s going to be running Queen Industries as something of a Steve Jobs figure, so will we see him lose his fortune in this (or some other early) arc? Or does he need to be an ex-billionaire at all? Will he be something of an alt-Batman like the Green Arrow from “Smallville?” Funny that Ollie’s social conscience helped define him for forty-plus years, but it might not now be integral to the stories DC wants to tell.
Speaking of which, the solicitation for All-Star Western #3 mentions a “bloodthirsty White Arrow.” I think I speak for many when I say this had better not be some precursor to a grand expansion of the Arrow spectrum across the ages. Green and Red (and sometimes the Blue Bowman) are plenty for me, thanks.
BEGIN SUBSTANCE NOW
The Unwritten goes biweekly, kind of, with the addition of “Point-Five” issues which flesh out the bad guys’ history and personalities. I doubt the Point-Five issues will stand completely on their own, so it might have been a little awkward to make them their own miniseries (like American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest, currently pursuing a contemporaneous, parallel story arc). Besides, if they’re going to be dependent on the main story, I like the idea of incorporating them into the regular series numbering. Moreover, it probably insures that the Point-Five issues will be incorporated into the collection, perhaps unlike a separate miniseries.
Last week I compared Secret Six to Agents Of Atlas, so perhaps THUNDER Agents will be the next DC title which survives on a series of miniseries and truncated ongoings. The latest revival got by on a few interesting characters, a couple of plot twists, and a good bit of attitude; and that might be enough to sustain a six-issue miniseries as well. If that’s all the new miniseries has to offer, it should still be entertaining; but if it’s going to be a continuation of the old ongoing, it needs to dig a little deeper.
Although I am on the fence about Bruce Jones and Sam Kieth’s Batman: Through The Looking Glass book, I am curious about whether it fits into the New-52 continuity. This isn’t because I want it to “matter” — actually, I figure DC would make that a focus of any solicitation — but because it seems a little odd to do an old-school-style book so early in the relaunch.
Similarly, reprinting the Life Story Of The Flash OGN arguably gives some hope to the fans who are worried that Wally West has been lost in the New-52 shuffle. LSOTF came out in the thick of Mark Waid’s tenure, when Wally was the Flash and Bart was Impulse, and it tried to be a window into both books. Recasting it merely as Iris’ posthumous biography of Barry — by the way, with his pre-Zoom history intact — would be too superficial. Even so, I don’t think that this prefigures Wally’s return to the spotlight anytime soon.
The original “Blink” story was collected in a 96-pager, so I’m not surprised the sequel will be too. Maybe the two of them will be enough for a decent-sized paperback.
Green Lantern Super-Spectacular #3 reprints Green Lantern vol. 2 #76 (the first “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” story), just in case you missed it in the GL Retro-Active ‘70s special.
Seems like lately DC has been choosing some pretty unconventional stories for its 96-page reprint program, and this time they’ve gotten two. The Kents had virtually nothing to do with Superman beyond it being a story about Jonathan Kent’s ancestors. Basically it was a Western with a tenuous hook, kind of like Marvel’s Trouble was a teensploitation story with a Spider-Man tie-in. Still, The Kents was pretty entertaining, and it should read well in big chunks.
Of course, the second surprise was the “long-lost” Elseworlds 80-Page Giant, famously pulped because DC got squeamish about its content at the last minute. Only a handful of copies worldwide survived, but eventually a few selections saw the light of day, including Kyle Baker’s inspired “Letitia Lerner, Superman’s Babysitter” (reprinted in Bizarro Comics) and a Super-Sons story reprinted in the Saga of the Super-Sons collection. That still left dozens of pages’ worth of the loopiest alt-history stories DC could muster circa 1999, and now it comes with twelve years of expectations.
The long-awaited Chase collection is literally more than I would have expected. It looks like it collects every single Cameron Chase story from the late ‘90s, including her introduction in Batman #550 and the various Secret Files shorts which sought to lure readers to the ill-fated series. Ironically, I think I have everything in the collection except the series itself, so this’ll be a very convenient book for me.
I know he’s getting another chance at life (see what I did there?) as part of the New 52, and I know folks speak fondly of Geoff Johns’, James Robinson’s, and Rags Morales’ work; but really — a Hawkman By Geoff Johns Omnibus? Will it complement Savage Hawkman, or is it only for those fans who can distinguish between various Hawk-relaunches? Did I miss the clamor for this collection while I was beating the drum for Chase?
At the other end of the spectrum is the Spirit World hardcover, a book I didn’t know I needed. Not only does it combine Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, and Sergio Aragones, but it’s a look at how DC thought it could enter a more upscale, black-and-white magazine market. (The Kirby Museum’s blog has a good overview of Spirit World’s brief existence.)
The two Vertigo Resurrected 96-pagers, Sgt. Rock: Between Hell And A Hard Place and My Faith In Frankie, both seem like fine choices for reprints. I’ve not read the Sgt. Rock story, but Brian Azzarello and Joe Kubert are a good combination (and of course you can’t go wrong with Kubert drawing Easy Company). However, because the well-received My Faith In Frankie is readily available (for not a lot of money) in black-and-white digest form, reprinting it as a 96-page color floppy actually makes readers choose between a more sturdy binding, or a format more like its original presentation. Apparently the smaller digest reads just as well, so it may just come down to individual tastes.
Although I don’t talk frequently about the statues, I do keep up with them, mostly to see what my old friend Sam Greenwell has produced. This month’s Ame-Comi Raven is a great example of Sam’s work; and as someone who’s not really into the Ame-Comi aesthetic, I think it captures Raven’s internal struggle very well. I’m more partial to the white costume, but the black one is certainly scarier….
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Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?