INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
The big news from April’s solicitations was revealed last week, as DC announced the cancellation of six of the original New-52 books (to be replaced with five new series plus the returning Batman Incorporated). While there’s more to say about this on its merits, I do like DC keeping a fixed number of ongoing series. Nerds love structure, right? (Besides, it’s kind of like programming a television schedule.)
Of course, just two weeks ago I predicted that all of the original New-52 books would get to their twelfth issues, in part so that DC could claim they each “told their stories.” That doesn’t seem to be the case here, at least not from the solicitation texts. Instead, the solicits for each final issue mostly advertise how the series are all going down swinging. We know now, too, that in some ways this isn’t really the end: Mister Terrific’s Karen Starr looks like the Power Girl of the upcoming Worlds’ Finest; Men Of War’s superhero/military mashup should transition smoothly to G.I. Combat; and I don’t think DC will kill off Hawk and Dove again.
Actually, if I were Captain Atom, I’d be a little nervous. According to ICV2’s December sales estimates, Hawk & Dove was the highest-selling New-52 book to be cancelled (18,014 copies at #114), but CA was right behind (17,917; #115).
Anyway, on to the solicits themselves….
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LO, THERE SHALL BE … OH, YOU KNOW
Lots of finality in the April solicits, even beyond the obvious. Mister Terrific signs off with the Blackhawks and (more than likely) the return of Power Girl; and Men Of War guest-stars Frankenstein. Blackhawks and Hawk and Dove tease doom and gloom. Action Comics, Batman, Batwing, and Batman and Robin all wrap up their inaugural arcs (as does OMAC, but its first arc turned out to be its last), and the Justice League Dark/I, Vampire crossover concludes. Batman: Odyssey and THUNDER Agents finish their limited runs, and over at Vertigo, Northlanders ends with #50. Finally, Static Shock’s last issue looks more like an epilogue, hopefully indicating a decent role for the character beyond the end of his latest series.
Possible groundwork for the next Pandora appearance: dark visions of the future show up in Captain Atom #8 and Teen Titans #8, while the Flash visits the Speed Force in Flash #8. If I wanted to connect it to the Daemonite plots over in Grifter, Voodoo, and Superman, I’d say that the Daemonites realize (somehow) that the former WildStorm Earth was probably a lot easier to conquer without the Justice League in the way, so they’re going after Superman to eliminate the biggest threat first. It’s all very “countdown to Infinite Crisis”-esque, you see.
Since I dropped Teen Titans after issue #1, it’s been surprisingly easy for me to ignore it and still read Superboy. However, I’m worried that might not continue as Superboy becomes more involved with both Titans and the upcoming Ravagers series. Then there’s Superboy’s crossover with Teen Titans and Legion Lost, which I should have seen coming back in September. Ordinarily, that would all be okay, but I have a bad feeling that Ravagers will get dragged into the whole thing, and the Gen13 kids will be there, and it’ll just turn into a whole big mulligan stew of teenaged super-people. Wow, now I really do feel old.
By contrast, the upcoming Resurrection Man/Suicide Squad crossover should be easier to take, just because it looks more isolated. Oh, and who else thinks the Squad’s traitor is involved with Skinny Amanda Waller? She’s got to be a fake, and the real deal will be about twice her size…. Regardless, the old Amanda shows up in Batman Beyond Unlimited #3, so that’ll be good.
ONE LEAGUE UNDER THE SEA
I am probably more excited than is necessary at the prospect of Green Arrow in Justice League. To be sure, I don’t know this version of Ollie that well, having dropped the current Green Arrow after issue #1 for being too bland. Maybe Ann Nocenti will light the proper fire under him, and maybe that will be reflected in his JL #8 characterization? After all, cross-promotion is one of the Justice League’s oldest and most subtle missions.
Meanwhile, it seems eminently appropriate for Batwing to join Justice League International — I’m guessing he’s not the “surprise team member” if he’s on the cover of #8 — but I kind of want him to take a page from his patron, and claim that he’s too busy with his own crusade.
And as long as we’re talking Leagues here, I agree with Scipio that Aquaman’s old team should turn out to have been the Sea Devils.
THIS AND THAT
There is a sort of backhanded precedent for Wonder Woman packing heat (issue #8’s“Pistols of Eros,” snicker). It comes from the end of Greg Rucka’s run, when the Amazons reverse the polarity of their Purple Healing Ray, build an industrial-sized version, and call it the Purple Death Ray. I trusted Rucka to do that, and I trust Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang to make the P’s. of E. work too.
I’ll never turn down George Pérez artwork, so it’s good to see his guest pencils on April’s Supergirl #8. It may also be a nice way to warm up for his work on another Girl of Steel in Worlds’ Finest.
The Infinite Crisis Omnibus mentions “villains uniting,” but it doesn’t seem to collect Villains United. However, the miniseries and specials listed in the solicits only add up to about half of the Omnibus’ page count, so there seems to be room for VU and the Return of Donna Troy miniseries as well.
I have a feeling that the Batman: Prey paperback is meant to capitalize on Catwoman’s role in The Dark Knight Rises, even though “Prey” was primarily a Hugo Strange story. In fact, for my money, “Prey” is the second-most-influential Hugo Strange story, behind the seminal Engelhart/Rogers Detective Comics arc. “Prey” takes one iconic scene from Englehart/Rogers — Hugo as Batman, with a Bruce Wayne mask under the cowl — and extrapolates from that an entire psychosexual obsession with the Darknight Detective, also involving a second Batman impersonator in Hugo’s scheme to destroy our hero. All that and the post-“Year One” origin of the Batmobile too! It’s a good story, is what I’m saying.
I’m not sure about the causal relationship between the various reprint lines. The Archives came before the Showcase Presents books, so there were Challengers of the Unknown Archives and Sgt. Rock Archives before there were SP reprints. However, I bet the sales of the SP volumes supported the upcoming Challengers Omnibus and the latest Sgt. Rock Archives. In any event, the hardcover market may be more eclectic than I thought.
The character — or at least this phase of his development — doesn’t seem to be remembered that fondly, but I’m looking forward to revisiting the “AzBats” Batman in the new Knightfall Volume 2. What’s funny is that two Batman artists from that period, Graham Nolan and Mike Manley, are now drawing the soap-opera strips Rex Morgan M.D. and Judge Parker. I wonder if their newspaper fans will want to see their superhero work.
I’ve already mentioned the Sea Devils, but I believe their Showcase Presents solicitation helps clarify certain recent events. Reading between the lines, it seems that DC has been working on a hush-hush follow-up to this series called Flame-Headed Watchman 2….
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Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?