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Grumpy Old Fan | Party’s over: DC Solicits for December 2011

Showcase Presents The SPOOOOKY

In many ways, for longtime DC superhero readers, this is the first week of the rest of our lives. This is the week the first batch of New-52 second issues come out, and as such, this week the New 52 stops being a September-specific gimmick. We all know the second issue is where the rubber meets the road. Accordingly, in conjunction with a look at December’s titles, here’s where I am after a month of first issues.

Back when the September solicitations came out, I listed 37 books that I was planning at least to try:

Action Comics, All-Star Western, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batman And Robin, Batwing, Batwoman, Blackhawks, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, The Flash, Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE, The Fury Of Firestorm, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Grifter, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Justice League International, Men Of War, Mister Terrific, Nightwing, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Static Shock, Stormwatch, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman

In the weeks that followed (and because Comics And Collectibles offered a good discount), I decided to read all 52. Based on that, I revised my original list slightly, to 36 books:

Action Comics, All-Star Western, Animal Man, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batwing, Batman And Robin, Batwoman, Blackhawks, Blue Beetle, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, Flash, Frankenstein, Fury Of Firestorm, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Grifter, I, Vampire, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Justice League International, Men Of War, OMAC, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Static Shock, Stormwatch, Superboy, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman

So yeah, not much has changed, mostly because a big chunk of the New 52 are books I would read anyway. Still, making the field are Animal Man, I, Vampire, and OMAC, while the bubble has burst for Captain Atom, GL:  New Guardians, Mister Terrific, and Nightwing. However, as I said back in June, some of these series might be dropped before the end of their first arcs — so you’re on notice, Blackhawks, Catwoman, and Red Lanterns.

Now on to December….

TAB A, MEET SLOT B

December’s books look full of clues to the New-52 backstory. Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes ostensibly bridges the gap between the relaunch and Grant Morrison’s voluminous work. Because it features Cyborg’s New-52 origin, Justice League #4 appears to be a make-or-break issue for those of us wondering if those old New Teen Titans stories still fit Vic’s revised history. Similarly, Action Comics #4 may answer the same question about John Henry Irons’ role in “Reign of the Supermen.” More origin-story clues are advertised for Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, and Batwing, while Batgirl and Deathstroke’s solicits tease answers to mysteries from their first issues.

Otherwise, a few series — Hawkman and Frankenstein; maybe Animal Man, Batgirl, and Blackhawks — seem to be wrapping up their first arcs with issue #4. I would have expected each initial arc to cover six issues, but it’s not like that’s a hard-and-fast rule.

Since I am mentioning Batgirl a lot, I’ll note that she’s guest-starring in the December issues of Birds Of Prey and Nightwing. Likewise, Green Arrow shows up in Grifter, Deathstroke involves the Blackhawks, John Constantine visits I, Vampire, and Demon Knights connects explicitly to Stormwatch.

ODDS AND ENDS

The Ray may turn out to be another fine-to-good series from the writing duo of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and the very talented penciller Jamal Igle. I’ve always enjoyed Igle’s work, and I have a renewed appreciation for Gray & Palmiotti after reading their Power Girl and last week’s All Star Western. However, The Ray just looks horribly generic, and appears to lack the legacy connections which made previous versions more distinctive. Plus the line “light powers are less than handy in keeping his girlfriend happy” is just cringeworthy.

I know it’s already on Vol. 2, issue #3, but the solicitations reminded me that Batman: Odyssey is coming back, just in time to make the rest of the superhero line look sober and sensible.

My old friend Sam Greenwell worked on the first batch of Just-Us Leaguers, which I thought included a Superman and maybe a Green Arrow, but these look new (or at least updated) and I don’t see any sculptor’s name in the solicits. Seems like the first wave, from several years ago, included Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. Anyway, I like the Aquaman and Green Arrow.

COLLECTIONS

The DC Comics Presents Batman: The Secret City collection includes a couple of late-period Legends of the Dark Knight stories which I remember as being pretty decent. At the time, the Oracle story aimed for poignance because it let Barbara return to being Batgirl, sort of. I suppose it would have something of the same effect today, even with her back in the Batsuit for the foreseeable future. I’m not sure what’s noteworthy about the Mr. Freeze story, except its timing. It came out in the two issues before “Snow,” the excellent five-parter featuring the late Seth Fisher drawing a script by J.H. Williams III and D. Curtis Johnson. Freeze was the villain in that one too, if you hadn’t guessed already; but “Snow” was more about Batman’s early efforts to put together a team of Shadow-style operatives. Anyway, I mention all of that because seven issues in a row of Mr. Freeze was pretty unusual (and probably still is).

DC Comics Presents Captain Atom reprints the Action Comics backup series, but I wonder if that won’t be too confusing for readers who might only know Cap in his New-52 incarnation. Personally, I’d rather have a collection of the very fine ‘80s revamp, not least because the distinctions would be more clear. (Contrapositive proves the rule: DC is reprinting Resurrection Man, which apparently hasn’t changed a whole lot for the New 52.)

Speaking of clear distinctions, a new edition of Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke’s Catwoman issues is very welcome news. I heard Cooke describe the development of these issues at last year’s WonderCon, and I’ve been hoping they’d come back into print. Same goes for the Flex Mentallo hardcover, which has been on my Amazon wishlist for a while now. Like a dope I missed it originally, and I’ve only seen random pages here and there over the years.

The new Secret Origins hardcover should be fun, since it includes the Silver Age origins of Aquaman and Wonder Woman, classics like “Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt” and the Justice League’s origin story, a relatively-comprehensive Silver Age Superman origin from 1961, Jack Kirby drawing the Challengers of the Unknown, and the Enchantress’ and Animal Man’s 1960s roots. Of course, most of these characters have been revised and/or updated incalculably over the past 40-50 years, but by and large the stories themselves still hold up.

I’m eager to see the THUNDER Agents Chronicles, but I’m a little surprised that the title is getting the Chronicles treatment ahead of, say, Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, or the Justice Society stories from All Star Comics.

Wasn’t there a new edition of DC Universe By Alan Moore not too long ago? Well, for those who missed it, here it is again, newly augmented with some of Moore’s WildStorm work in keeping with those characters’ DCU integration. Strictly speaking, I would say the WildStorm stories exceed the parameters of the book’s title, but I give DC credit for not just putting out the same old collection. While we’re on the subject, it looks like the new Seven Soldiers Of Victory paperback reworks the old four-volume collection into a two-volume one — which is nice, I guess, but it doesn’t supersede the four books I already have.

I’ll probably end up getting Showcase Presents The Spectre, just to see how consistent the character is from his Silver Age relaunch through the ironic-punishment ‘70s and into a more metaphysical phase. The story in DC Comics Presents #29, where Superman tries to bring Supergirl literally back from the brink of death and ends up in the Spectre’s jurisdiction, is a good example of the latter.  Shame this book is coming out in January, because it would be a great Halloween read.

* * *

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

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Comments

13 Comments

Laurence J Sinclair

October 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm

The new 7 Soldiers books do rework the stories so that they’re in publication order, not divided up by character. It makes for quite a different reading experience.

Laurence J Sinclair: I’m pretty sure the previous trades collected Seven Soldiers in publication order, not by character.

Any classic stories (well, some of them) look good to me. Maybe the THUNDER Agents Chronicles. I’ve worked out how I collect TPB’s for early character appearances–basically, if it collects the first few or 10 issues of a team or character’s years in print, it’s mine. So it’s all volume 1′s for me. And they have to be in color, though I do make exceptions (I have the Showcase Presents: Dial H for HERO and Marvel’s Essential Godzilla).

So far I got three.
ACTION COMICS for the Grant
BATWOMAN for the JH Williams III art & layouts
and
RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS for the controversy. This one I actually liked a a lot. Image if you can at all DC’s attempt at making their very own CASANOVA-Lite with their properties. I just started reading Casanova and I swear the Outlaws are working for that shoot ‘em up & sexy super spy stuff that Casanova pretty much owns. I totally enjoyed Roy Harper.

kriya shakti,
Rev Sully
The Hub of the Multiverse

Eric O’Sullivan
Boston, MA USA

In regards to your revised list, personally, I think you’re really missing out by not including Nightwing. The first issue really impressed me. It may not have been quite as amazing as other books in the new 52 but I came away thinking it had possibly some of the most potential in the Bat-line outside of Snyder’s Batman and that Higgins has an amazing grasp on Dick’s character. I just see that book getting better and better as the months go on. This is the Nightwing book I’ve wanted for years (well, if Dick isn’t going to be Batman that is).

Not happy that DC is re-collecting the Brubaker Catwoman series. I hated it. I hope they collect the ORIGINAL Jim Balent series, which has never been reprinted.

Thanks Tom. Your first paragraph gave me pause. After reading all 52 last month, and thousands of DCs for the last 35 years, this is the first week of the rest of my life. I’m done. With all the hype this summer, I slowly finally realized “I’m not the target audience anymore. It’s not that the books aren’t good, they just aren’t meant to be read by forty+ year old men.”. I’ll keep following your writing, and I love the trades that are on the horizon (I loved “NTT:Games”) but I’m done with the weekly trips to the LCS. Enjoy!

I have been narrowed down to just a few bat-titles: Batman, Batman & Robin, Batwoman (the best), Batman: Odyssey, Green Lantern and Action.

A very few Marvel and Independent title, here and there.

That’s about it.

Looking forward to Batman: Noel

Until last month I bought maybe 6 comcs this year. Now I’ve picked up about 20. Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batwoman, I can’t get enough of them. DC for the win.

Wait, you’re dropping GL: New Guardians but keeping Static Shock? You hitting that crack pipe again?

RAZ1969 said, “I’m not the target audience anymore. It’s not that the books aren’t good, they just aren’t meant to be read by forty+ year old men.”

I agree that most of DC’s comics aren’t aimed at mature, intelligent adults. But most of them are pretty crappy even for their targeted audience of teenagers. Because there are serious flaws in the storytelling.

Many of the stories are simply unreadable. They don’t make sense. The art isn’t clear, so it’s impossible to tell what is going on. Many of today’s artists simply cannot tell a decent story. They leave out important panels! They skip quite moments that advance the story. And in the effort to make characters look mysterious and noir, the panels are often so black everything is hidden in unrealistic shadow — like a hero’s face that is blacked out even in total daylight.

Before September, I was hanging in there buying about 25 DC’s each month — mostly because it was so hard to drop a lifetime habit. Now I’m down to two: Action and Batwoman.

I can only shake my head in disgust at what DC has done. (Marvel had already lost me — when they let Bendis rape and burn the Avengers. Civil War was the nail in the coffin.)

The reboot got me back in — after years of post-secondary schooling, I’m finally out and can afford comics. And DC was nice enough to give me a great starting point! As far as my personal habits are concerned, DC’s strategy of reboot wins.

I got six of the #1′s (Blue Beetle, Wonder Woman, Demon Knights, Resurrection Man, All-Star Western, and DC Universe Presents). Unfortunately, the only ones that blew me away were Wonder Woman and All-Star Western. I’m going to give each series three issues to get warmed up, but… sigh.

Maybe if I drop one I can go back and catch up on Action or Batman, since they keep getting great reviews…

I’ve been a DC fan for 25 years but always felt like i hadn’t followed these characters long enough to really be connected to them (I guess 70+ years history can do that). The relaunch, while not a complete win, still seems to have given me the ‘in on the ground floor’ feeling for a lot of characters. As such, I really enjoyed the following titles and plan on keeping with them for a while:

Action Comics
Batman
Batgirl
Nightwing
Batwoman
Swamp Thing
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Birds of Prey
Justice League
The Fury of Firestorm

And the upcoming ones I’ll be checking out:
Shade
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents

I’m excited and feel rejuvenated as a collector.

Kevin F.

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