Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
I was going to open with some snotty Wow, the holidays went by super-quickly! comment, but then I read the first issue of Justice League in seven weeks. Sometimes DC gets ahead of itself; sometimes it’s a little behind. Happens to the best of us — sometimes you do two solicitation roundups in three weeks….
Anyway, with the January solicitations, the New-52 books each turn five issues old. Series wrapping up their first arcs this month include Blackhawks, Batwoman, Animal Man, and the Deadman feature in DC Universe Presents. (Not to worry about the latter, because there is a lot of Deadman in these solicits.) I’m not sure why five issues is such a wonky number for story arcs — there are five-issue miniseries all the time and they collect just fine. Still, I expected most of the New-52 books to take six issues for their introductory stories, and most of them may yet do that. Only a few books look to finish their first arcs after December’s issue #4s (Hawkman and Frankenstein, probably OMAC, maybe Batgirl), and those plus this month’s are barely an eighth of the relaunched line. It makes next month’s solicits more intriguing, I suppose.
Regardless, we live in the now (as it were…) so — onward to January!
When I saw the solicit for Justice League #5, I thought it was another indication that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee were telling a more decompressed story, as issue #1 threatened. Accordingly, I imagined that Cyborg would be ready to go at the end of the issue, with the big Darkseid battle taking up an oversized issue #6. However, I was pleasantly surprised that issue #2 was such an improvement over #1. It moved more quickly, it brought together more of the future Leaguers, it kicked off Cyborg’s origin in earnest, and it teased another big Parademon fight. Plus it worked in a Gorilla Grodd reference, which I wouldn’t have expected so soon in the New-52 DCU. So now my mood has swung more to the manic side, and I am expecting the big fight to start in #5.
When a solicitation threatens that “[o]ne of these heroes will not make it out alive,” as Justice League Dark #5’s does, normally you think it’d be Mindwarp, the least familiar of the group. However, I then realized it could be a trick question, since that group includes Deadman — who’s not going into whatever-it-is alive….
CREATIVE TEAM SHUFFLING
I know that Tony Akins’ two-issue fill-in on Wonder Woman was planned, in order to give Cliff Chiang some flexibility, but the solicitation copy makes it sound like the issues come at least at the end (if not in the middle) of WW’s first arc. Maybe there’s some shift in the story’s tone which a different artist might help reinforce. By the same token, I can’t wait to see Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone’s guest-shot on The Shade #4.
Part of me is ready to give Green Arrow another shot, what with the three issues from Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens and the upcoming Ann Nocenti Era, but part of me just thinks that this version of Ollie is almost too boring to fix. If anyone needed to lose his fortune, stop shaving, and go all #OccupyStarCity, it’s him.
Static Shock #5 is the first written entirely by Scott McDaniel, following the mysterious (but apparently amicable) departure of John Rozum. Walt Simonson pencils Legion of Super-Heroes #5, and contributes to THUNDER Agents #3.
THIS AND THAT
“Aquaman stranded in the desert” was actually a cliffhanger from 1985’s DC Challenge miniseries, and I want to say Aquaman killed a bird and drank its blood in order to get the liquid he needed to stay alive. Or maybe that was Watchmen; I always get those two confused. (They were both twelve issues….) Still, I bet the All-New, All-Hardcore Aquaman would totally rip out a bird’s throat with his teeth.
Considering he’s not part of the Doom Patrol, and his assistant is apparently a New-52 reworking of an old DP enemy, Robotman’s New-52 origin (as revealed in My Greatest Adventure #4) probably won’t feature the classic team. In fact, from what I saw of the New-52 Robotman in MGA #1, it looks like the Doom Patrol has gone the way of the original Teen Titans. Maybe the MGA feature is testing the waters for yet another Doom Patrol revival?
The “seduction of Damian” subplot described in the solicit for Batman And Robin #5 sounds good, although it seems like Grant Morrison covered similar ground when Damian faced his mother and the rest of the League of Assassins back around issue #12 of the previous series. Likewise, I look forward to Gail Simone’s Batgirl take on the old “female hero fights female villain who controls men’s minds” story, but I kinda want her to drop in a reference to Marsha, Queen of Diamonds.
There have been plenty of guest appearances so far, but is the OMAC/Frankenstein intertitle crossover the first for the New 52? It may depend on how you categorize the connections between Superman and Stormwatch and/or Stormwatch and Demon Knights.
Speaking of which, only Hawkman can see “horrifying visions of the dead,” and so he “question[s] his own sanity?” Maybe he should talk to Grifter about that.
The solicitation for I, Vampire #5 — featuring a Batman appearance — makes me think I was right about the series’ vampires-vs.-superheroes aspect. That’s not a bad thing (apparently the original character met Batman in the pages of Brave and the Bold, as discussed below) but I wonder how much the series will go to that well.
I was surprised (synergy again!) to see Deadman figuring prominently into Hawk & Dove #5. While they all were introduced in the late 1960s, I always associated Deadman and Hawk & Dove with different generations. See, I keep forgetting that Hawk and the late Dove were teenagers back then, and adjunct members of the Teen Titans as well. And not to digress, but I have been thinking about the ways in which that generation of characters has been taken out of the New 52. While I never put Hawk in that group (or the new Dove either, but I’m not sure how old she’s supposed to be), he should be there. Thus, DC hasn’t completely eliminated the Original-Titans generation from the New 52, because there’s Nightwing, Hawk, and Red Arrow. I should be satisfied with that, right?
(Again, not to digress.)
Prior to the new I, Vampire series, the only exposure I had to this character was in the good-natured mockery of Tales of the Unexpected’s “Architecture & Mortality.” However, I have to say, I am totally ready for the omnibus I, Vampire paperback, reprinting the serial from House Of Mystery and Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #195. Ironically, while I am most interested in it as a rare example of main-line ‘80s DC doing a non-superhero story, I’m very curious to see the Batman team-up….
Hardly surprising considering the artist’s role in the New-52 relaunch, DC collects the original Karl & Barbara Kesel/Rob Liefeld Hawk & Dove miniseries (5 issues!). I didn’t read the miniseries when it came out (and still haven’t), but now I am curious to see what a strong inker like Karl Kesel did with a relatively-new penciller like Liefeld. I do remember thinking that regular-series penciller Greg Guler meshed with Kesel better.
For those who might have missed it the first time around, the Batman: Year One hardcover is well worth getting. Even if you have the original issues or an earlier collection, the hardcover (and maybe a 2007 paperback, but I’m not sure) features new coloring by Richmond Lewis which really makes David Mazzucchelli’s work pop even more. Plus, the hardcover is more durable, and you will want to look at this book a lot.
The Batman Vs. Bane paperback is a curious thing to me. The Bane of the Demon miniseries was better as a Bane story than as a Bruce-vs.-Bane rematch, mostly because it introduced Bane to Rā’s and Talia al-Ghūl, and (shall we say) gave them some non-Batman options. I don’t remember much about the Batman/Bane special except that it was a tie-in to the infamous Batman And Robin movie, and as such probably confused the heck out of anyone who might have known the character only from that. I understand that (as it happens) this paperback is meant to tie into The Dark Knight Rises, so DC is interested in the more villainous side of Bane, but it might also consider collecting “Tabula Rasa,” a nice little arc from Batman: Gotham Knights #s 33-36. Written by Scott Beatty and drawn by Mike Collins & Bill Sienkiewicz and Roger Robinson & John Floyd, it features Bane’s uneasy alliance with, and unexpected connection to, the Darknight Detective.
This month’s pleasant reprint surprise is Showcase Presents Young Love Volume 1 — more to come, I presume! — which I feel somewhat obligated to buy considering I have dinged DC previously for not reprinting its romance books. Still, I would probably have bought it anyway, just to see some non-superhero work from artists more closely identified with the caped crowd. No doubt some of the stories will be “so bad they’re good,” but on the whole it should be a fun read.
Here’s hoping that sales of the Xombi paperback — a bargain at $14.99, cheaper than the individual issues’ retail prices — are enough to make DC want more elegantly-crafted goodness from John Rozum and Frazer Irving. Xombi was just getting started when the New-52 came along, and I don’t want Rozum to have left Static Shock in vain.
The “Batman: Black & White” line of statues has been pretty appealing so far, even if most of them are outside my price range. However, it’s going to be hard to turn down the Sergio Aragones one. What a great expression!
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Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?