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Grumpy Old Fan | High noon: DC’s August 2012 Solicits

I would make a don't-turn-your-back-on-Max joke, but it's still too soon

August marks the end of the New 52′s first year — and whether it’s the practicalities of collected editions or a prelude to mass cancellation, there’s a lot of finality in these solicitations.

Storylines conclude in All Star Western, Aquaman, Catwoman, Deathstroke, Frankenstein, GL Corps, Legion of Super-Heroes, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Suicide Squad, Voodoo, maybe GL: New Guardians, and the main Justice League book. Big changes are coming for Stormwatch, Captain Atom and Green Lantern. August also sees the final issues of Justice League International (about which more later), iZombie and Scalped.

On the other hand, new stories begin in Flash and Batman, and the big Animal Man/Swamp Thing crossover kicks off. Better yet, J.H. Williams III returns to art on Batwoman with Issue 12, which not only starts a new storyline but guest-stars Wonder Woman. It’s somewhat ironic for a guy who drew the guest star-heavy Chase that his Batwoman work hasn’t ventured too far into the larger DC Universe, so I’m really looking forward to his Wonder Woman. (Along the same lines, I can’t wait to see what Gail Simone does with Batwoman in the latter’s Batgirl appearance.) Apparently the Next Six titles also just keep humming along.

Collectively, it may make the next four weeks a waiting game. With September set to include fifty-two zero issues, at least one of those will replace JLI on the schedule. From now until the September solicits are released, I wouldn’t be surprised if DC announced more cancellations in order to free up those zero issues for new series’ debuts.

THIS AND THAT

The solicits include a couple of noteworthy one-shots: the Kid Flash solo story in DC Universe Presents #12, and National Comics’ spotlight on Looker. I get DCUP already, and I don’t read Teen Titans, so the Kid Flash issue will be a good sampler. Why anyone needs another Looker story is beyond me, but such is the mission of National Comics. “The corrupt world of high fashion and modeling” deserves our attention, to be sure.

I presume the “mysterious new Green Lantern” introduced in Superman Annual #1 is the same GL from the Free Comic Book Day preview, namely the one who’s getting punched into next week by Superman.

Tom DeFalco takes over writing Superboy from Scott Lobdell, who will be going to Superman, where he’ll replace Dan Jurgens, whose Justice League International just got canceled. Therefore, whither Dan Jurgens in September? Still drawing Superman, maybe, but I’m unaware of any new DC writing gig.

On the whole I’m relieved by the note for G.I. Combat #4 that the book “continues next month,” even though its inaugural features wrap up their storylines. I suppose that’s a reminder for readers and retailers that it’s not really just a miniseries.

COLLECTIONS

Many of the sturdier books in this batch of solicits were revealed a while back, including Superman: Earth One Vol. 2, the Alan Davis Batman collection, and Showcase Presents Amethyst. Otherwise, two reissued Green Arrow collections seem timed to appear alongside the new Arrow TV series. I suspect Mike Grell’s seminal The Longbow Hunters will be more compatible with Arrow’s urban-vigilante interpretation, but Brad Meltzer and Phil Hester’s Archer’s Quest was a nice way to explore the details of Ollie’s superhero history.

And then there’s the V For Vendetta book-and-mask combo. Lucky for DC this was revealed so close to the Watchmen toaster, or it’d look especially tacky.  Nothing says Fight The Power! like a Guy Fawkes disguise approved by a huge corporation.

THE WORLD OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW

Probably the biggest news on the solicits’ superhero side is Justice League International’s cancellation. Although August’s Issue 12 is the last monthly installment, apparently the series itself concludes in JLI Annual #1, out August 29.  (Looks like all the Annuals come out that day, 52 weeks since Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1  Dun dun dunnn!)

It’s surprising for a couple of reasons. First, despite some dropoffs, JLI has been fairly middle of the road in terms of sales. (It sells just a smidge worse than Justice League Dark, which I wouldn’t have expected, but it’s still ahead of books like Superboy and Green Arrow.)

Second, JLI had been shuffling its lineup and otherwise trying to distinguish itself from the other two League books. To me that suggested DC was willing to give writer Dan Jurgens some time for the changes to sink in. Instead, it looks like those twelve issues and an Annual will comprise basically two arcs, each of which ends with the team in a shambles. Not exactly the best argument for a relaunch.

It makes me wonder why, if DC were going to cancel one of its team books, it’d pick JLI. Excluding the Green Lantern and Legion titles, August’s solicits include 10 New-52 team books: the three Justice Leagues, Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, Stormwatch, Suicide Squad, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Demon Knights, and the newcomers Ravagers and Earth 2. So far, JLI is outsold by its fellow League books, Teen Titans and Red Hood, so why not ax Stormwatch, Suicide Squad or BOP?

More to the point, I am surprised that DC would want to cancel a known quantity like the current JLI — even though it’s only superficially similar to its 1980s namesake — apparently in favor of standing by less-traditional team titles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad whenever DC doesn’t do something reflexively conservative, but that’s why it’s surprising.

Still, assuming JLI returns in some form (presumably with OMAC and Blue Beetle), DC will need to justify its existence. Originally, “Justice League International” was simply the Justice League, and the comedy was just part of its style. That League defended the U.N. Headquarters from terrorists, fought otherd-imensional analogues of the Avengers (hmm …), stopped a Fourth World weapon of mass destruction, infiltrated the rogue nation of Bialya, and helped defend the Earth from the invading Alien Alliance. In other words, notwithstanding the occasional foray into island-based resort ventures, it did the same kinds of things you’d expect from the Justice League.

The New-52 JLI doesn’t have that luxury of exclusivity. Instead, its distinction from the “real” League is its official U.N. imprimatur, which includes the notion that it’s more transparent than those mysterious vigilantes up on the satellite. However, the public seems to like those vigilantes pretty well, which contributes to the JLI’s apparent irrelevance.

So what to do with a U.N.-based super-team (especially since that other UN-based outfit, the Blackhawks, is currently in limbo)? Jurisdiction and public perception don’t seem to make much difference, at least not if the next JLI is going to be fighting alien invasions or thwarting global super-crime. The answer may once again come down to style — but maybe not in the way you’re thinking. One of the best U.N.-sponsored globally conscious team titles to come out of any comics publisher in the past several years was Checkmate. Especially as produced by writers Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann and artists Jesus Saiz and Joe Bennett, it was a fascinating blend of intrigue, politics, covert ops and super-fights. Imagine Batman not as a gruff voice of experience on the battlefield, but acting more subtly as Batwing’s JLI sponsor and Batman Inc.’s advocate to the United Nations.

A JLI book which took such an approach might come out something like Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke’s Justice League Elite. That wouldn’t be so bad by itself, but if the next JLI included high-profile superheroes like Booster Gold and Guy Gardner, having to juggle public images with office politics and the dangers of diplomacy, it could be a real change of pace for the League books.

Or, you know, DC could just make it another “proactive” super-team like Extreme Justice

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Comments

43 Comments

One of the best *anything* to come out of any comics publisher in the past several years was Rucka and Trautmann’s Checkmate.

Justice League International’s going away, but consensus seems to be it’ll be replaced with another team book, and that team book will be global in nature. Y’know … DC has to flip this switch some time. Stormwatch is still around, but from the ashes of JLI, which had its similarities to the original Wildstorm Stormwatch as it is, comes … Authority?

Especially if they’ve got a Carrier that can pierce the Bleed into Earth-2.

“Scott Lobdell, who will be going to Superman…”

Jesus! come on DC… Liefeld on 3 books, now Lobdel on Superman?

God help us!

Jake Earlewine

May 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm

God has left the building. With Jim Lee, Liefield, and Lobdell — DC has gone to L!

Has it been confirmed ANYWHERE that Lodbell is actually taking over Superman? The original story I saw was that the Annual was going to start his run.

Another one — if Vibe is coming back, maybe the replacement for JLI is Justice League Detroit? (Seriously!)

“Why anyone needs another Looker story is beyond me, but such is the mission of National Comics. “The corrupt world of high fashion and modeling” deserves our attention, to be sure.”

I couldn’t disagree with you more (let me guess, you’d prefer another Batman series!). I’ve been looking forward to this since it was announced! And it all goes back to Mike W Barr giving her a great personality! The 80′s and 90′s outsiders were some great series. Chuck Dixon even wrote her very well a few years back (BATO #9 – I’d actually recommend his whole 10 issues!).

Agreed on the Checkmate comment. That series was terrific. Wish they’d have just ended with Rucka & Trautmann’s departure rather than letting it limp to a finish under Bruce Jones’ watch.

I’m hoping JLI morphs into another version of the league and they use the past year’s worth of issues to build up to something exciting that the new team can use as a jumping off point. DC clearly tried to inject some “Avengers” type excitement into their Justice League books with the creation of three of them in the New 52. What they didn’t do very well is create a sense of shared universe between them short of Batman making the occassional comment about being on both teams — setting the first JL arc in the past was, in hindsight, probably not the best way to launch the series. It immediately prevented any references, crossovers or nods to the other teams in the best selling main title for it’s first 5 months of publication.

Bob Harras is current EiC for DC and under their current writing stable are Scott Lobdell, Rob Liefeld and Howard Mackie.

Everyone say a merry “welcome back” to the nineties!

I like JLI better than Justice League but I find the fact that they’re a Justice League team redundant. I love the team’s make-up but maybe they need another name, like the Outsiders especially since they lost UN backing.

Everyone makes an issue about DC using 90′s-era Marvel creators but I see them more as pros that have been in the business and know what they are doing. I may or may not like some of their work but they’re not Hollywood writers that will do an issue and delay it for 6 months while they work on their real job. They’re not some author that may or may not be able to translate their skills to a comic book. I feel better with those kinds of guys writing comics than someone who wants to do it as a hobby.

“Everyone say a merry “welcome back” to the nineties!”

Not until Terry Kavanagh resurfaces.

I don’t see anywhere in the solicitation that Justice League International #12 is the Final Issue. It even says “who will be left” implying a continued story. Izombie and Scalped both have the “FINAL ISSUE” tag, but not JLI. Where was it announced that it was canceled?

Patrick, it’s on DC’s own Justice League Group solicitations: http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2012/05/14/justice-league-group-solicits. Not that these solicits never change, but that’s where it says it.

Collected Editions: Thanks! I had read the solicits here and at Comics Alliance and neither of those mentioned it. Then I read this article and felt out of the loop! I wonder why the ambiguity.

“Archer’s Quest”…? That’s, like, SUPER-out-of-continuity now, isn’t it? I haven’t been reading GA, but was Roy Harper ever Speedy in “The New 52″ continuity…? Certainly Connor Hawke doesn’t/couldn’t exist anymore…

Jake Earlewine

May 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Shawn, I don’t see Liefield or Lobdell or Harras as pros. I see them as hacks. They failed in the nineties and were cast out of the comics industry. Now they’re back, and it’s a safe bet their “product” will be as crappy as it was in the nineties.

As much as I hate the work of Brian Bendis, he can write rings around Lobdell. And Liefield’s art has not improved one iota in the last twenty years — he’s still drawing the exact same faces with the exact same gritted teeth. And Harras sacked Chris Claremont, destroyed the X-Men franchise and can’t edit his way out of a paper bag.

There are sooo many talented people out there, but we get stuck with retreads.

James Dean Bradfield

May 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm

“Shawn, I don’t see Liefield or Lobdell or Harras as pros. I see them as hacks”

- And don’t forget Geoff Johns – :p

Oh NOT the JLI! Where will I get my Fire and Ice fix now?

Not sure I buy into the whole, story arcs ending at issue 12 means these books are on the chopping board theory. Think it has more to do with trades, since some of those sell pretty well (aqua man and catwoman – both are favourites of mine) where did JLI normally hit the top 100? I always thought it was going ok.

DAMMIT DC! I WANT THE SPECTRE BACK!!!

Allwillbemine

May 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

And I just got into JLI. It is a “middle of the road” book in a lot of ways, but its not bad. I think “writing for the trade” was the worst thing it did, but I still enjoyed it.

Great, Lobdell and Liefield get multiple gigs, and Dan Jurgens gets (almost) nothing? What sense does that make?

People keep talking about how well JLI supposedly sold and booing dc. What I have not read anyone mention an in any complaints is how well the collected edition sold. it is fine for a pamphlet to under preform if the the trade paper back makes up for any loss in money. there is also the down lode factor . how many copies are being bought online . It used to be the indicator of how comic was selling was the comic book shop. now that is no longer the case JLI can do better as a pamphlet then title X but if it isn’t doing in trades and down loads . that is going to factor in too . the last thing to think about is that is being replaced by national comics a series of one shots it may be cheaper not to have just one creator on a series then to have to pay for a complete creative teams.

Paul wrote: Great, Lobdell and Liefield get multiple gigs, and Dan Jurgens gets (almost) nothing? What sense does that make?

response : Dan has never been a a person to take on more then two project at a time superman was with Kieth Giffen. Lobdell has gotten better as a writer and can easily do three titles a month and stay consistent

as for Liefied DC had to figure out who three titles they should end next and let Rob pick. truth is he is mostly a plotter not an actual scriptor I don’t see any of the titles he is on lasting. his stories are worse then Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X Men only he is more consistent Chuck at least wrote a few good stories I have never seen that from Rob .

Judge Fred MANSON

May 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

About JLI and its UN relations, I would like to remember you that the THUNDER Agency IS working with the UN.

So, what about a mix and a full introduction of the THUNER Agency into the DCnU into a single comic book with the JLI and its new name? It would be great to have a huge comic book at this point which is really related to official agencies, and not the rogue ones that are JL, JLD, Legion…

About National Comics, I do not agree with your comment. I am pleased to read new story each month with various characters, old and new ones. It can easily help DC to see how much a character is selling well and could be optional into an already settled book.

I have a dream that, one day, DC will publish a huge 40-48 stories pages comic book, sold at $4.99 ($5.99 for the combo) which will include 2 full 20-story pages of the JL and the new renamed JLI, plus a THUNDER Agents 8-story pages back-up. If this dream come true, I already sign for it!!! :)

Do you remember in Justice League where Steve Trevor spoke about another team which Green Arrow should join? That might be a replacement team book.

I wish JLI had a better writer. I really had high hopes for that book.

It seems as if J’onn is leaving Stormwatch, and we already know that his time with the Justice League did not go well… maybe he’ll form his own band of Stormwatch like operatives. There are still plenty of good characters for that book. I would like to see OMAC on that team along with Guy Gardner, The Ray, and a serious Plastic Man. Roy Thomas wrote Plastic Man as a serious character in All-Star Squadron and it actually worked pretty good. The team would need some women though, so how about Dr. Light and Vixen. They’re a couple of pretty tough characters.

I can’t tell the difference between current DC and 1990s Image.

David Fullum:quoteI can’t tell the difference between current DC and 1990s Image.

responceone word “quality” Image in the ninties never had the quality of writer or artist the new dc does now . the only writer that came from ninties image titles Rob Liefied and he has never had a reputation as anything but flooding the market with bad dialogue .

DC has always tried to pay attention to having good stories

there is also the violence factor DC has never been known to have character who exsisist just to fool readers into thinkning there character are cutting edge by killing or breaking the spines of people the hero’s think are bad guy.

Kingdom Come was all about how that was not the right decition another difference is that most the writers of image had no writing experince yes thay breifly had Alan Moore until Liefield famously screwed him over the last two issues of supreme . Most the books that they produced back then was full of pin ups becuase they could sell those pages for more money. The there was the name game were Image tried to change a name on series so it would be close to t tile that they sold at image spawn spiderman w and wildcat xmen.good day

Johnny Thunders

May 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

DC’s editorial is absolutely directionless.

Guys like Liefeld and Lobdell does long-term damage to DC characters and their brands…. this can’t be good for the long-term value of their catalog.

And Geoff Johns: Chief Creative Officer… boy, that was a BIG mistake.

My guess, is that with Trinity war coming up, they had to cancel one of the leagues to be some kind of rogue league of some sort… So the one that is slightly worse in sales ends… Plus, JLD is different than any other league I can think of, while JLI was just another group of misfits thrown together with a couple of heavy hitters… I mean, after all… It is called TRINITY war… So there can be only 3 different leagues for the story… Unless we’re going for some “out of the box” trinity idea………

DrNobody: My guess for the Trinity War is the human ‘super heroes’ against the alien super heroes against the magic/supernaturals.

I was surprised to see JLI in Batwing #12, too. Which makes me shudder to think that they will just be popping up in various issues throughout the DCU. They’re better than that.

Joining with Stormwatch makes some sense — the UN is ticked and need to publicly disband them. Plus, it would tie in to the JL’s problem with J’onn and could therefore eventually lead to him gaining his rightful seat on the JL provided that the former JLIers kept their mouths shut around Batman and in the rest of the interactions with the rest of the DCU.

But anyway, I came up with the humans vs aliens vs magics after finding out about J’onn’s issues with the JL and re-reading the FCBD issue. I’m sure I’m wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it go in this direction.

Dan Jurgens is apparently solo with Superman for the last few months. Giffen did not participate in at least 2 issues of Superman. He is returning to the Annual, but apparently to launch a new “space sector” in DCU. I hope it is L.E.G.I.O.N. (there’s been a talk about his return to the Legion, but that would be a twist indeed). And I don’t think JLI is being cancelled for sales reasons. It does seem to be a story-driven one (but beats me which one it is, since DCU has been directionless for a couple of years already).

Not happy if Lobdell is taking over Superman. Nothing personal about Lobdell, just don’t think that he’s the right guy for Superman. Superman needs a really good writer, but DC almost never seems to know what to do with the character. It’s a shame !!!

The current version of JLI was just plain bad. It’s a shame because I like all of the characters. the dialogue was blah. The plots always revolve around a team that seems already beaten, with nothing uplifting. Booster Gold is way to serious. I’m not talking about him going back to the Bwah-hah days, but Jurgens didn’t write him at all like the lovable screw up he did in Booster’s own series. I would love to have JLi back. But I think I would also like Booster Gold back in a solo book, complete with rip hunter

Few things:
1. Yes, I have no idea why Rob Liefield was given the reigns of three books that, while they have potential, seem completely directionless and confused. Not to mention the fact…where the heck is a mention of Hawkwoman? What is Carter’s origin in this new 52? The only thing Liefield ever contributed was some of the New Mutants which later got messed up anyway. As far as Lobdell, I honestly can’t say I recall ever reading anything he’s written so I can’t comment. If I did, it was so unremarkable that I’ve forgotten it. I was complete uninterested in Red Hood (wth is that teamup anyway) or this revamped teen titans.

2. The main thing that I’m missing in the New 52 are some of the relationships that made the DCU great. Hal and Ollie. Ollie and BC (one of the most fun relationships in comicdom). Dick and Wally. J’onn and…everyone. Ray and Carter. In this bizarre new 52… Hal is closer to Bruce and dislikes Ollie. It just doesn’t feel right.

3. I’m not certain I can fault Jurgens with the way JLI is being handled. Editorial created a direction for these books, the writers didn’t really pitch them as the interviews from this website and others have shown. Keep that in mind before insulting a guy that has done quality work.

As far as Steve Trevor mentioning the “other team”, the FCBD comic seemed to make me think this other team is a fall guy scapegoat team to keep the “real” justice league looking good. I hope that’s incorrect.

We know that Checkmate, in some form, has existed. It would be interesting to bring out the spy side of the DCU. Or even to revamp the Global Guardians concept instead of labeling another JLI, which the book is clearly not.

4. 9 issues in and I’m still waiting on being sold on the whole New 52 concept. Obviously I’m still enjoying Batman, Green Lantern, etc. And I think the character work on titles like Wonder Woman have done tremendous good for the characters, such as the fact I’m even looking at a Wonder Woman book for the first time in years. But while I’m keeping an open mind and the sales have been good overall, a part of me is still hoping that someone will knock Pandora upside the head and she’ll utter “No more Flashpoint”.

Oh, I almost forgot. Yeah… I think Johns is a fantastic writer, but I’m having increasingly serious doubts about his abilities as CCO. Then again I don’t know where Johns begins and Diane ends in the areas I’m most disappointed in.

The problem I’m seeing is while Johns has great story ideas, for the most part, and can definitely help steer the comic side of the business, the rest of the business is still not working well.
1. Mattel’s license has done well on the 6″ DCU line, but the other guys have a successful 4″, 1.5″, 6″ etc lines that fill nearly half of the Target and Walmart action figure aisles at every store I’ve seen. This needs addressed.
2. There are 2 very good DC cartoons right now, but there are still a vast amount that WB Animation could be doing on serials. Obviously no complaints on the direct to dvd market as those generally are outstanding.
3. The very first movie not starring Batman or Superman was handled poorly. Again, I’m not sure who’s fault it is, but the fact that Johns was oozing about how awesome GL was only to have a terribly written script with a villain that should never have been in the first movie and then to follow that up with the same writers working on a treatment for Flash, etc… that shows lack of wise decision making that WB has been known for in films relating to superheroes. Catwoman or Steel anyone? While I’m not a Marvel fan anymore, WB needs a Kevin Feige as the only thing WB hasn’t screwed up has been Nolan’s Batman franchise since 1990.

My recommendations:
Axe Diane Nelson. She’s had 2 years. We have no solid movie slate or quality projects that wouldn’t have existed without her to show for it. With WB allegedly wanting DC to be their post harry potter coin purse, that simply doesn’t cut it.

Trim the fat. Harras-Didio-Lee. We don’t need all three. Didio to EIC. Lee to publisher. Harras to return to Marvel.

Geoff Johns – Creative Liason Officer. It’s fantastic to have one of the chief writers as the liason between the different facets of DCE. That’s fine. But once again, we need a strong film and television management team which DCE does not have. I simply don’t think Johns has the ability to look at a turned in script from his friends and say, “This sucks. You’re fired.” Nor does he have the TIME to put in the hours it really will take to develop and execute an overall film strategy that WB and DCE needs.

You can’t write 3 books, direct DC Collectibles, manage the overall story direction (which is a publishers job) in DC Comics, interact with the video games department and come up with a solid movie slate without failing or burning out very quickly.

I keep wondering who it is that Johns has incriminating photos of.

His promotion to Chief CREATIVE Officer is kind of a red flag…
Being CREATIVE isn’t the guy’s strong suit.

While I don’t love everything GJ does, be fair. From a corporate viewpoint, his work sells better than anyone at DC. He has also done a great job at revitalizing properties. If you had asked me if I ever would buy series about Hawkman and Booster Gold, I would’ve laughed. But he really got me interested in the characters. It wasn’t until he left, that those series went downhill. Also while I didn’t care for Justice Society, I thought his work on JSA was great. I know that he didn’t start that series, but he joined pretty early on and stayed for the duration.

I’m enjyoing all of Lobdell’s books right now, not sure why he’s hated so much.

I came along after the original Crisis, but even reading it after the fact it you can see that there was a sense of respect for the departing characters, and an overall feeling that the universe that had come before was continuing on, albeit in an altered way. And fans even got to say goodbye to Superman with “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”.

There was none of that with the New 52, only the ending of Flashpoint (which seemed totally tacked-on to me).

And as a black man, I find the casting of Cyborg as a founding member of the Justice League….disingenuous.

There is nothing wrong with the original seven. The creators need to write quality material and the stories will sell.

Robert Andino

May 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I don’t understand the JLI move either. Seems to be writer bias here.

Look at the books Liefeld will be taking over soon or already has taken over and sales continue to drop. In most cases less than 50% of what JLI was doing in April. Clearly if you don’t know the current EIC Bob Harras or are buddies with Jim Lee from the old Image/Marvel/Wildstorm days then you’re on thin ice.

Superboy is also losing units in April, and then Lodbell goes ahead and gets to write Superman for some strange reason. Bias, clearly.

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