"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
So this is what happens when you praise Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run …
Let’s be clear: I do not generally have violent mood swings. My sense of well-being does not depend on the fortunes of DC Comics. I don’t pretend to have any special insight into the publisher’s inner workings, and I’m sure the reverse is equally true. However, after saying many nice things about Green Lantern a couple of weeks ago, and then eviscerating the humorless “WTF Certified” last week, it was pretty surprising to see the May solicitations address both topics.
NEXT, RAFALCA JOINS THE LEGION OF SUPER-PETS
The Green Team may have been a group of entitled, self-satisfied jerks with an abnormal need for validation, but if anyone can make them lovable — or, alternatively, entertainingly clueless — it’s Art Baltazar and Franco. I don’t see this book as DC scraping the bottom of the character barrel. Rather, I take it as a good-faith attempt to update a (perhaps misguided) concept for the sensibilities of our time. Not quite “at least they’re trying,” but … at least it’s not another big-name spinoff, you know? (Although a new Steel series is always welcome.) Regardless, the over/under for this book has to be somewhere around 6 issues.
With Gail Simone writing, I give The Movement better odds. I expect it will go at least 12 issues, thanks to her fanbase. If the series uses established characters (even if they’re relatively obscure), that’s another point in its favor. With the untimely end of Secret Six, there’s definitely room for a “Gail Simone uses your favorite underdogs to fight the power” series, particularly since neither Batgirl nor Firestorm filled that role in the New 52.
I LIKE TO FIRE PEOPLE
Speaking of Firestorm, it’s part of the latest round of New 52 cancellations, along with Hawkman, Ravagers, Sword Of Sorcery, Team 7 and Deathstroke. I’ve been enjoying Firestorm and SOS, the latter of which represents something other than the standard superhero comic, so I’ll miss them. However, it does free up some room in the budget for Green Team and Movement.
OLD AND NEW
I am cautiously optimistic about Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Green Arrow, but I am tempted to give it a chance at least through issue #20, if only for the sake of new villain Komodo. Komodo is just a great name for a DC villain. Aside from me now wanting a Katana/Komodo showdown, it’s another in the long line of “ends-in-O” DC bad guys (Sinestro, Starro, Amazo, Prof. Ivo, Bizarro, Kanjar Ro, etc.). In fact, if I ran DC, April would have been “O-MG” (or “O-No”) Month, focused on just those folks. (Written by Art Baltazar and Franco, naturally.) I am strange like that. And hey, isn’t that Despero on the cover of Justice League #20…?
Justice League #20 also features the “penultimate chapter” of the “Shazam!” backup. Ordinarily I’d say that would lead into a Shazam! ongoing series in July (after the backup presumably ends in next month’s JL #21), but with so many cancellations this month I’m guessing Shazam #1 will come out in June.
And speaking of classic Justice League foes, here’s Doctor Destiny in JL Dark #20. Wonder how much of his Sandman makeover will show up?
So who might “the new Batman of Earth 2″ be? I’m inclined to say Dick Grayson, because James Robinson has been pretty traditional about who’s under the various masks; and if Earth 2 Bruce is dead, then Dick seems like the next logical choice. Part of me wants to think that the “wonders” of Earth 2 had careers longer than the five to six years of their main-line counterparts. (Given the age of the Earth 2 Huntress, that would almost have to be the case if her parents met as a result of their costumed careers.) Accordingly, that leaves more than enough time for Dick to have been the original Robin, and to have “grown up” to be Batman. But it’s probably someone like Terry Sloane, trying to put one over on the proto-Justice Society.
Meanwhile, it’s a little curious that Power Girl is going back to a very traditional version of her familiar boob-windowed costume. I haven’t had a problem with PG’s New-52 duds (especially since I lived through the horrors of her ‘90s looks), so it doesn’t bother me one way or the other. I’m just curious to see what the in-story reason turns out to be.
Also a lot of New Gods action in May’s books, including Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest, but also Superman and perhaps Wonder Woman (considering Orion’s recent involvement). Another aspect of Trinity War, perhaps (Earth 2, the main Earth, Apokolips)?
THIS AND THAT
At some point every superhero comic must face the old “proactive crimefighting” trope. Congratulations, New-52 Superboy, it’s your turn.
Over in Batman #20, another familiar plot gets a workout, as Batman works out his frustrations on Superman. We’ve been told (in Justice League, for instance) that they are still best buds, despite a somewhat hazy history together in the New 52. Therefore, seeing them fighting doesn’t quite have the same emotional resonance as it might have in the old days.
For those of us concerned about where Batman Incorporated fits into the overall New-52 Batman chronology, the solicit for Batman and Robin #20 promises at least a general answer. I have to admit, I haven’t been that worried about it. Batman Inc., Batwoman, and Batwing are perfectly entertaining on their own, apart from the interconnected mayhem in Batman, Detective, and B&R. Part of me almost doesn’t want them linked together. However, the part which is curious will be paying attention to B&R #20.
Last month I thought Booster Gold would show up in DC Universe Presents #19, but now I’m thinking he’ll be in All Star Western #20. This is bet-hedging, to be sure; but hey — he could go from era to era, month to month, right? Besides, “[t]he future collides with the past” seems like a big hint, and a Booster/Jonah Hex team-up sounds pretty fun.
Scott Snyder was hyped about The Wake back in December, and now it’s set for a May debut. Snyder and artist Sean Murphy worked together previously on the American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest miniseries, and that turned out to be loads of spooky fun, with Nazis, mountain bases, and giant golems. This sounds scarier and more down-to-earth, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good.
AND THEN THIS HAPPENED…
So DC has two big-name science-fiction writers in the May solicitations, Harlan Ellison and Orson Scott Card. Ellison has the graphic novel 7 Against Chaos (drawn by the incomparable Paul Chadwick), and Card is contributing a story to the new digital-first Adventures Of Superman anthology. If I were DC, I’d be screaming “HARLAN ELLISON! HARLAN ELLISON!” at anyone who’d listen, to get people to stop talking about Card’s homophobia.
As for whether I’ll buy AOS #1, and thereby support indirectly an author whose beliefs I find abhorrent, well … I’m a big fan of print, but I’m definitely not buying Card’s issues, solely because of his involvement. Is that clear enough? If it’s possible to buy just the Jeff Parker/Chris Samnee story online, I’ll do that. Heck, I like Chris Sprouse and Karl Story pretty well, and I hate not supporting them. I even like the idea of this book, and I’m hopeful it’ll be as successful as Legends of the Dark Knight has been. Lots of factors to consider, but Card’s politics are hard to ignore.
In fact, the whole episode just makes me angry the more I think about it. Clearly Orson Scott Card is a known quantity, and clearly he has enough of a fanbase that DC wants to advertise his contributions, even if they’re only for a couple of issues. Ironically, the point of Adventures is that it offers a diverse take on the Man of Steel. It’s not like Card is becoming a regular Superman writer.
However, putting Card’s story in the first two issues seems calculated to shore up sales on those issues, and thereby assure a solid start for the series. It makes me wonder whether anyone at DC actually tried to weigh the number of Card fans against the number of readers who’d find him repellent. While Card’s involvement is bad enough (if only from that cost-benefit perspective), pinning a new book’s performance to the audience’s willingness to hold its collective nose does seem incredibly insensitive, even considering DC’s other LGBT outreach.
Now, I’m not trying to be a concern troll by saying “oh no, boycotts will deny this book a fair chance to succeed.” Rather, it’s almost like DC is daring people to buy the book for Parker/Samnee so it can claim cover for Card. As much as I like Parker and Samnee, I hope folks feel free to vote with their wallets. Similarly, I hope the market keeps boycotts in mind when evaluating Adventures’ first couple of issues. I really am looking forward to everyone else’s contributions.
The May solicits bring second volumes for Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman (400 pages!) and the ‘90s Harley Quinn series (written by Karl Kesel and drawn by the Dodsons, Pete Woods, Amanda Conner, and the aforementioned Paul Chadwick). I’m eager to get the new Catwoman collection, but I’m a little surprised to see the Harley series continue. Not that it’s not good — with those creative folks, it has to be pretty fun — but it had a very quiet run originally, and no one seems to talk about it these days. (Maybe I’m just out of the loop.)
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 6 is back on the schedule, this time with those All-Star Squadron issues included. I presume this is why the book was re-solicited. This is definitely worth getting for any fan of the Justice League/Justice Society team-ups. The first story is a George Pérez tour de force, featuring the Secret Society of Super-Villains and some darn fine storytelling (with able assists from Keith Pollard), and the second is a twisty tale of the Cuban Missile Crisis, spanning three Earths and a few different time periods.
Also back on the schedule is Tales of Batman: Archie Goodwin, well worth getting for “Manhunter” alone. Archie Goodwin wasn’t in the business of writing bad Batman stories, and the stories reprinted here should bear witness to that.
Finally, in never-enough-Batman-collections news, there’s Batgirl/Robin Year One, 424 pages of sleek goodness featuring deft retellings of Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon’s origins. These are stories from the heyday of writers Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, so they have nods to then-current developments in the Bat-books (specifically, Robin’s history with Two-Face and Batgirl’s early encounter with Black Canary); but they read just fine on their own. The economical work of pencilers Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido gives everything a cool retro feel. I’m excited just thinking about it.
CAN’T SPELL “ALOHA” WITHOUT “OA”
Wholesale changes loom on the horizon for all the Green Lantern books, led of course by the departure of Geoff Johns. I remember being at the 2004 Comic-Con, shortly after Johns had been announced as the new GL writer. He told a panel how excited he was, and how the script (or perhaps the rough artwork?) for GL: Rebirth #1 was sitting in his hotel room. Many oohs at that. Back in August ‘04, I wrote about the difficulty of successfully relaunching Hal Jordan.
And make no mistake, it wasn’t a given that Rebirth would succeed. Today Johns has expanded the Lantern Corps mythology more than any writer since probably John Broome, and for the most part he’s done well by the characters. Green Lantern is a deceptively simple concept with enormous potential, and at times Johns and his colleagues have thrown so many characters and so much minutiae at readers they risked losing sight of any meaningful narrative. As I said a couple of weeks ago, the past several years have gone from “the Guardians are hiding something” to “the Guardians are now actively evil.” All that ends in May. Perhaps it’ll be a predictable ending, with that new set of Oans taking over for their corrupted kinfolk. Perhaps it’ll be a reworked status quo, with the Green Lantern Corps governing themselves for the first time in a long time. (Since the Steve Englehart days, at least.) Whatever Johns, Peter Tomasi, Tony Bedard, Peter Milligan, and company come up with, it’ll have to set up the June books for the new creative teams. Regardless, I think Geoff Johns will leave Green Lantern much better than he found it, both creatively and in terms of the in-story status quo. Being a GL is about choosing to do the right thing with all that emerald power, and it’s time to get back to telling those kinds of stories.