Dark Horse May 2016 Solicitations Feature "Lobster Johnson's" Return, Gene Ha's "Mae"
July’s a great time to anticipate October: football; temperatures on the brisk side; the crisp smell of falling leaves; the cold rains that somehow aren’t depressing. I also like that DC Comics seems to be settling into its own seasonal patterns, using the fall to set up a slew of new creative teams and launch big new storylines. Having all those #13 issues in the run-up to Halloween doesn’t hurt either.
Of course, now we get to judge them all harshly, based on a few sentences and a photo for each….
COMINGS AND GOINGS
John Layman and Jay Fabok come aboard Detective Comics, replacing Tony Daniel. Daniel leaves regular Bat-work after several years writing and penciling in various combinations. I was never really enthralled with his writing, which seemed content mostly to approximate what a Batman story should be; but if Detective’s sales are any indication, I am in the minority. Daniel moves over to Justice League for two issues, so that likely eases the pain.
Ann Nocenti replaces Judd Winick as writer of Catwoman. I liked Winick’s Catwoman well enough — she seemed to be in a different place than, say, Darwyn Cooke’s or Ed Brubaker’s, and she certainly wasn’t a “classic” version of the character — but Nocenti writing Selina Kyle should be fun.
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Jerry Ordway guest on Worlds’ Finest #3, and Howard Chaykin draws the Haunted Tank story in GI Combat #5. Elsewhere, Travel Foreman draws the return of Krypto, the Phantom Zone, and guest-star The Phantom Stranger in Action Comics #13.
Dan Jurgens replaces Ethan Van Sciver and Joe Harris on Firestorm. I will be reading Jurgens’ Firestorm, but having him on the book seems more like a marriage of convenience. This will be his fourth book since the New 52 started, and he didn’t last long on either Green Arrow or Superman. I also don’t get the feeling he’s had any great desire to tackle Firestorm. (He did work on issue #33 of Jason Rusch’s series back in 2007, but that was a three-issue wrapping-up arc.) Instead, Jurgens on Firestorm suggests that DC doesn’t exactly know what to do with the book and isn’t ready yet to cancel it. That said, Jurgens’ superhero comics are usually pretty solid — the high-water mark was probably the most recent Booster Gold series — and if he does much more than just put the characters through their paces, Firestorm should be entertaining.
So the “Shazam” backup in Justice League has been running for a few months now, and it’s not bad for what it is — apparently, something like “Spielbergian Teens Destroy Black Adam” — but either it’s moving very slowly, it’s only now starting to pick up steam, or some combination of both. Whatever the case, there’s not much in October’s solicit to gin up much excitement.
Meanwhile, while the actual Wonder Woman title continues its invigorating reinventions of the character’s mythological roots, Justice League brings back another classic WW villain. That’s an intriguing division of labor.
Another Aquaman cover with a prominent trident. Call your doctor if reading Aquaman takes over four hours.
I’m looking forward to the Black Lightning/Blue Devil team-up in DC Universe Presents mostly because Marc Andreyko is involved. His Manhunter brought a certain world-weariness to characters rooted to various extents in DC history, and I’m hoping some of that comes through here. Specifically, after Kate Spencer’s time in California, I’m eager to see how he treats Blue Devil’s show-business background.
Calling the Earth 2 Atom “the military’s hero” reminded me of the Golden Age Atom’s government-stooge role in James Robinson’s seminal Golden Age miniseries. Could just be a coincidence, since Earth 2 seems a bit more hopeful than GA, but I’ll have my eye on the Mighty Mite regardless….
The Superman #13 solicit packs a lot into one sentence, so I had to read it more than once. I keep getting hung up on the bit about facing “his greatest enemy for the final time.” That’s not really the kind of thing you expect to see in an ongoing comic, unless it’s some sort of flash-forward story which finds Supes and Luthor/Brainiac/Mxyzptlk/Zod in an apocalyptic showdown. Moreover, if he’s “losing it” (which I presume refers only to “his cool”), maybe that means he gets so fed up with His Greatest Enemy that he actually destroys whoever-it-is. Or, you know, it could just be a hyped-up one-off Terra-Man tale.
Speaking of apocalyptic showdowns, Batman Incorporated #5 offers more from the nightmarish world of Batman #666.
I groaned a little seeing the Haly’s Circus reference in the solicit for All-Star Western #13. Still, it’s not surprising in light of all the other “everything in Gotham is at least 100 years old” revelations. Also, I note that the original Tomahawk was pretty much just a frontiersman who did occasional missions for the embryonic United States government — so I’m curious to see how tricked-out the “all-new Tomahawk” will be.
Last month I made fun of Smallville Season 11’s redesigned Batman, but it looks a lot better on this month’s cover for issue #6.
I had been getting a little bored with Stormwatch, so it’s welcome news that the Demon will be joining.
Nice lineup for the latest Vertigo one-shot anthology, Ghosts, although I can’t really get past Geoff Johns in the credits. Not as weird as Earth-Stan (see below), but close.
Lots of family-specific (although perhaps not family-friendly) events in this month’s solicits, including “Rotworld” in Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and JL Dark; Green Lantern’s “Rise of the Third Army”; and the Joker killapalooza “Death Of The Family.” The Justice League solicit also teases “Trinity War.” “RO3A” features interconnecting covers from the four Green Lantern books, but the solicits don’t indicate that any of the stories themselves cross over. That’s good for me, because I don’t get ‘em all; but I would like to see the “new Carol Ferris Star Sapphire” in GL: New Guardians #13.
A few books flog their line-wide repercussions, among them Deathstroke #13’s fate of planet Kheran; Hawkman’s upcoming troubles; and the aforementioned debut of the New-52 Cheetah.
And about that Green Arrow/Hawkman crossover … honestly, it’s the kind of thing I’d be excited to read if these were the pre-relaunch versions of the characters. For a while, diametrically-opposite political viewpoints fueled their (presumably) friendly rivalry, but the events of Cry For Justice probably changed that; and it’d be instructive to see how the relationship worked with a less-liberal Ollie. However, I have no idea whether any of that survives in the New 52, because their first issues weren’t enough to grab me. Obviously both series have changed creative teams since then. I’ve heard good things about Ann Nocenti’s Green Arrow and there might not be enough Rob Liefeld in Hawkman to turn me off. The crossover may even be designed to set up a new friendly rivalry. Still, none of it has gotten my interest to the tipping point.
What does get me interested in Hawkman is something like Joe Kubert Presents, an anthology I’m awaiting very eagerly. It may only be six issues, but it should be a diverse mix of well-produced stories. Along the same lines, but with (more likely) a longer run, is the print version of the digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight. Because I am still tethered to a desktop for all practical purposes, it’s hard for me to get into digital very heavily, so I’m glad DC is offering hard copies.
Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating DC will be out in time for Christmas — perhaps to piggyback on home-video sales of the Avengers movie, maybe? Beats me. I read a few of these when they first came out, and they weren’t anything really special, even for the whole “only the name’s the same” motif. The Tangent line did that better, and that wound up in a pretty decent crossover with the regular Justice League. For that matter, I suppose rights issues kept Earth-Stan out of such crossovers, so a big book like this might be the best way to monetize the experiment one more time.
Otherwise, these solicits include a nice selection of reprints: Kamandi Omnibus vol. 2, the long-awaited (by me, at least) Green Lantern: Sector 2814 paperback, the third Wonder Woman Chronicles, and (surprisingly) another Metal Men Archives.
The artist-centric Adventures Of Superman hardcovers look like good complements to the current Batman series. Gil Kane brought a different look for the Bronze Age Superman, who was still defined primarily by the Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson team. Kane’s Superman was as dynamic as the solicit suggests, and I remember him on “big” stories — lots of action on a large canvas. Among other things, this book apparently includes a 3-part story where the demonic Lord Satanis takes away half of Superman’s power, followed a few issues later by a multi-issue Brainiac-for-the-‘80s arc. (That Brainiac story wraps up with appearances by the JLA and the Marv-Wolfman-written, pre-“Judas Contract” New Teen Titans, which got my attention.) There’s also the trippy epic “Sword Of Superman,” a few short stories, and some adventures with the Forgotten Heroes (among them Animal Man). Next up, José Luis Garcia-Lopéz!
AND FINALLY …
DC has been fairly good about sticking with the “We Can Be Heroes” hunger-relief efforts, and the Justice League action-figure box set may be one of the better premiums. Seven figures for $100 is just over $14 each, which is probably less than what you’d pay retail, and $10 of that goes to charity. Not a bad deal, and if you don’t like toys, you can always just give money directly.
Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?