INTERVIEW: Spencer Declassifies "Captain America: Steve Rogers'" Hydra Secrets, Cosmic Connections
The biggest news from this round of solicits is probably the cancellations of Blue Beetle, Grifter, Legion Lost, and Frankenstein. I’ve been buying Beetle and Frankenstein, so I’m sorry to see them go.
Naturally, this means we can look forward to four new titles in February. If I had to guess, I’d say a new Shazam! ongoing series will spin out of the current Justice League backup, but according to January’s solicitation, the backup doesn’t seem to have reached a suitable stopping place. It’s possible that February’s Issue 17 could wrap everything up one week and lead into Shazam! #1 the next, but that would depend on Justice League shipping on time (in the third week of the month), and I’d think DC would want more wiggle room in case of a delay. Accordingly, the odds of a Shazam! series in the next batch of solicits seem rather long.
Still, the backup series has been running in Justice League since #7, so (counting the Shazam-centric Issue 0, but subtracting the lack of backup in Issue 13) February’s Issue 17 would mark its eleventh installment. That is subject to change, since the October solicits advertised a Shazam! backup which was not in the actual issue. Still, if my rough math is correct, that’s about 154 total pages of story — more than the New Teen Titans: Games paperback, but less than the Superman/Shazam collection — but the solicit for January’s Issue 16 (part 11, remember) just talks about continuing the origin. With that in mind, even if Issue 17 concludes the backup, the character could still appear in JL as a Leaguer until he does whatever he’s going to do in “Trinity War.” Yadda yadda yadda, now I think probably no new Shazam! series until that event is over.
Speaking of events, there’s a lot of interconnectedness still churning in the superhero line. January is the last big month for “Death of the Family,” which concludes in February’s Batman #17. The Superman books’ “H’El On Earth” takes a “shocking turn” in Jan. 30’s Superman #16, but otherwise keeps chugging along. “Throne of Atlantis” (in Justice League and Aquaman) sounds the kind of big-picture storyline I expect out of a Justice League book, although paradoxically it doesn’t sound big enough to spill into anything else but Aquaman. All_Star Western, Catwoman, and Team 7 feature more Eclipso shenanigans, which I have to think will lead into “Trinity War” (and, perhaps where Catwoman’s concerned, the new Justice League of America) somehow. Indeed, if “Trinity War” weren’t perpetually on the horizon, I’d think “Rotworld” (in Animal Man and Swamp Thing, of course) would provide an ideal basis for a line-wide crossover. As it is, “Rotworld” just keeps getting more and more creepy, and there’s no end in sight.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
I thought Action Comics #16 was Grant Morrison’s last issue, but the solicit doesn’t mention anything like that. I like Andy Diggle pretty well, but it’s still hard to say where Action goes without Morrison. In a way I don’t think the New-52 relaunch did him any favors, because it practically dared him to reinvent Superman on his own terms, not necessarily as an amalgam of decades-old details, and practically with a mandate to be distinctly different. Moreover, it meant that whatever Morrison did had to be at least compatible with contemporaneous and future Superman creative teams, so even then he wasn’t entirely free to craft a whole new Superman approach. There’s probably a lot more to say about this, but it may have to wait ‘til January.
Ethan Van Sciver becomes Batman: The Dark Knight’s regular artist with Issue 16. I like this move, because I think his style fits better with Batman than it did with Green Lantern. However, I’m not sure it’s enough to get me to read what still seems like the superfluous Batman title.
I will probably stick with Demon Knights after new writer Robert Venditti comes aboard. I like the characters and the setting, I like how artist Bernard Chang is sticking around, and the book is definitely one of the more distinctive in the New 52’s lineup. It fills at least part of the hole left by Secret Six — although if February’s solicits brought a new Gail Simone-written Secret Six, I’d gladly read both.
Paul Pelletier is your new regular Aquaman artist as of Issue 16. I like this move, too, although his style is noticeably different from Ivan Reis’s. Not that it’s any better or worse, just that it’s different: “less involved,” perhaps. Pelletier is a veteran who’s had good runs on various DC books, and I think he’ll be good for Aquaman, too.
The Amethyst feature in Sword of Sorcery #4 features the guest art of Travis Moore. It seems a little early for a guest artist, but the occasional break probably helps regular artist Aaron Lopresti stay on books longer. Bernard Chang and Nicola Scott filled in for him on Wonder Woman, he pencilled every other issue of the year-long, biweekly Justice League: Generation Lost, and he penciled all but one issue of the New-52 Justice League International. So I’m not reading too much into this.
Conversely, at the risk of sounding paranoid, the phrase “penultimate chapter” lends Batwoman’s solicit a certain air of near-term finality. I hope it refers only to J.H. Williams III stepping back from his artistic duties; but by the same token, I could see Batwoman as a title driven primarily by a small group of related professionals. Kate Kane was written first by Greg Rucka as part of 52. Rucka, Williams, and Jock then produced her headlining adventures in Detective Comics. Now, for Batwoman’s own title, Williams has been front and center, and it’s worked out pretty well. Again, I hope Williams is involved with Batwoman for the foreseeable future, and there is some cachet in Batwoman becoming a steady part of the superhero line; but the bar’s been set pretty high.
If I wanted to get really paranoid, I’d say that the Black Lightning/Blue Devil arc in DCU Presents #16 was cut short so that February’s #17 could be a one-off final issue — but I have no basis for that, and it may just be a matter of internal story logistics.
By the way, the new “Stalker” backup in Sword of Sorcery #4 probably takes its cue from this Paul Levitz/Steve Ditko creation, last seen as a guest-star in “Ends of the Earth,” a Wonder Woman arc from Gail Simone and, yes, Aaron Lopresti. Synchronicity!
Threshold, from Keith Giffen and Tom Raney, will try to satisfy whoever was eager for the return of DC’s sci-fi-oriented characters. I’ll probably get it, thanks in equal parts to the creative team and the characters. While I’ve always liked Adam Strange, I tried to get into REBELS but it just wasn’t working for me. Besides, I suspect “Captain K’Rot” will remind me strongly of a certain six-foot green Lepi smuggler. …
I’m glad to see a reissued version of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos’ first Impulse stories. They’re not just good superhero fare, they’re funny and distinctive. If DC is trying to capitalize on the popularity of Waid’s Daredevil and Ramos’ Amazing Spider-Man, this is a good byproduct.
Caleb points out that the Shade paperback is $36 worth of comics (which is what I paid) for $20. That’s a good deal, but I wonder how close this miniseries came to being cancelled prematurely.
Beyond “you should buy it because Kanigher & Kubert,” I don’t have much to say about Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock Volume 4. However, for some odd reason I now want Bruce Springsteen to write a song about Easy Company.
Collected Editions noted that Absolute Blackest Night doesn’t include the issues of Green Lantern which worked pretty closely with the overarching miniseries. I think that’s a mistake, and it makes me wonder as well whether the world needs an Absolute version of this storyline. Certainly the book would have been a lot thicker with the GL issues, but to me they’re nigh-essential to getting the most out of the story.
I was a little surprised to see a Volume 2 of the Silver Age Teen Titans Archives, because I thought there had been one already. Most of this material has been reprinted (in black and white) in the first Showcase Presents Teen Titans, so it’s arguably not the pinnacle of original-recipe Teen Titans. Maybe DC is simply filling whatever holes it might see in its Archives program, but I’d rather have a Showcase Presents Vol. 3 which goes through the ‘70s revival.
Finally, these solicits promise three attractive Superman collections. My wallet would rather have had a set of “Death and Return” paperbacks, but I’ll take a hardcover Omnibus of the ultimate ‘90s Superman epic. Superman Vs. Shazam! comes mostly from the ‘70s and early ‘80s, so these adventures have the Marvel Family as the mightiest mortals on Earth-S. To me that’s a better way of dealing with the Marvels than having them implicitly subordinate to Superman on a shared Earth; but regardless, these should be fairly decent Bronze Age stories.
Along the same lines, I’m looking forward to the Adventures of Superman: José Luis Garcia-Lopéz hardcover, which mostly includes stories from the mid-1970s. It also includes the Superman Vs. Wonder Woman special (published originally as an oversized tabloid), for which GCD does not list a writer.
MEANWHILE, AT THE INTERSECTION OF TRIVIA AND JUMPED-TO CONCLUSIONS…
The solicit for Green Lantern #16 makes me wonder about a fundamental change in the nature of Oan power rings. Yes, I know how that sounds, but bear with me. The solicit announces that “[t]he end of the Guardians’ control over the Corps is near,” suggesting that the GL Corps can exist without the Guardians. In Geoff Johns’ conception of the various Lantern Corps, this makes a certain amount of sense, because each Corps has its own avatar (Ion, Parallax, etc.) and each seems to depend on the ambient amount of a particular emotion/mental state just floating around in the universe. Put another way, if you have the ability to overcome great fear, you can join the Green Lantern Corps. If you have the ability to generate great fear, you’re a Sinestro; if you’re full of rage, you’re a Red Lantern, and so on.
Needless to say, it wasn’t always so. If memory serves, the Guardians generated the green energy themselves, out of their own ultra-hyper-mega-developed big brains. Each of the thirty-six Guardians was a living power battery, and collectively they fed that power into the giant Central Power Battery on Oa. When the Corps was reduced to four individuals (Hal, John, Guy, and Ch’p), one Guardian was more than enough to power their rings; and when Kyle was the only Oan-type GL left, Ganthet supplied his battery with power. Thus, when the solicit for GL Corps Annual #1 says the Guardians have shut down the Corps “[t]hanks to the Third Army,” that’s telling, because in the old days the Guardians could have just shut down the Corps with not much more than a cock of one bushy little eyebrow. (Very early in the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams run, the Guardians cut in half the power of Hal’s ring while they were on Oa and he was on Earth.)
None of that contradicts the post-Rebirth background, but I think you then have to assume that for eons, the Guardians were the only beings who knew how to harness and channel the emotional spectrum. Suffice it to say that I’m now even more curious about the Next Big GL Story — but I’m hoping it’ll be the last Big GL Story for a while.
Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?