BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Don’t ask why — because the answer is too boring and has nothing to do with Steven Spielberg — but the other day I was thinking about the original 13 American colonies, and from there the general course of American history across the 18th and 19th centuries. Naturally, from there I imagined how DC Comics would solicit the story of a young nation. It ended up being something like a team book: Meet the states that will form a great democracy — and discover the shocking secret which threatens to tear them apart–!
And then, as fate would have it, DC released its July solicitations, and my stab at patriotic humor was somewhat justified. So there you go.
In any event, on to “Trinity War” –!
WORLD WAR T
Say, remember when “World War III” was an actual part of DC history? I’m not talking about the Great Disaster, or something that happened in the hazy interregnum between the present and the Legion of Super-Heroes, or even the final Grant Morrison/Howard Porter JLA arc. No, as part of 52 (2006-07), “World War III” was the name given to a week-long global Black Adam rampage. I bring it up because it’s no longer in continuity, and we still don’t know (beyond another “Villain Month”) what’s coming in September for the New 52’s second anniversary.
For now, though, “Trinity War” will cover two issues each of Justice League, JLA and JL Dark, in July and August, presumably clearing the decks for September’s big blowout. Six issues is less than a lot of New 52 events, and it’s about as long as “Throne of Atlantis” — whose collection is also solicited herein, as it happens — but I don’t think it’ll be confined to those six issues. For one thing, ancillary titles like Constantine, Pandora and Phantom Stranger all appear to have tie-ins. Furthermore, the Green Lantern books have spent the past several months going from one arc to another, with one picking up where the other left off.
As to whether it’ll be any good … well, I’ve liked Justice League a lot more since “Throne of Atlantis,” and Justice League Dark has been pretty good throughout. However, a lot of moving parts go into Justice League of America, and in its two-issue existence they’ve been creaky at times. “Death of a hero” isn’t the freshest plot element, and “impending darkness” makes me wonder how many times the League is going to fight Darkseid (although, of course, it might not be Darkseid this time, particularly because the New Gods are pretty prominent in Wonder Woman and the Earth-2 books). Still, I like involving the Secret Society of Super-Villains; and I like Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy drawing JLA. Hoping for the best, then. After all, it’s not like DC has built up expectations for this arc.
WORLD’S FINEST SOLICITATIONS
I like Batman and Superman going to Earth-2 (in Batman/Superman #2) — and I hope it has ramifications for Worlds’ Finest — but I have no idea what they (or their counterparts) are doing on that cover, other than just taking it easy.
Although I am very much looking forward to Scott Snyder and Jim Lee on Superman Unchained, I’m almost more eager to see Snyder and Dustin Nguyen on the Jimmy Olsen backup in SU #2.
Meanwhile, the “space warriors want Superman to lead them” plot shows up again in Action Comics #22. I would like this plot a lot more if I thought Superman were teaming up with the Warriors Three. The “Psi-War” plot for Superman #22 sounds more promising.
Brainiac returns (I suppose) in Superman Annual #2, and it looks like he/it’s involved somehow in Supergirl #22 as well. Why Superboy will have to “pay the price,” I don’t know. …
Along the same lines, I am all about bringing back obscure Batman villains, so I am glad to see a couple of ‘em in Catwoman #22 and Detective Comics #22. I think Doctor Phosphorus was last seen sometime around 2006, and The Wrath was the subject of a Batman Confidential arc in 2008 — but I figured it’d be a looong time before either of them showed up in a regular Bat-book again.
You know, part of me doesn’t care if the ‘60s “Batman” show ever comes to home video, as long as DC is willing to give folks like Jeff Parker, Jonathan Case, and Michael Allred the keys to that tricked-out Ford Futura. Naturally I have very high expectations for Batman ‘66, but obviously I like the idea of this comic almost more than the actual execution. Also, I welcome the new “Batgirl Beyond” (debuting in Batman Beyond Unlimited #18), particularly as drawn by Annie Wu.
The Grant Morrison Era of Batman ends with July’s Batman, Incorporated #13. By my count that will bring the total number of issues to an even 60, including two oversized specials (Batman nos. 655-58 and 663-683, Batman And Robin vol. 1 nos. 1-16, The Return of Bruce Wayne nos. 1-6, Batman: The Return, Batman Inc. vol. 1 nos. 1-8, Batman Inc: Leviathan Strikes, and Batman Inc. vol. 2 nos. 1-13). That’s five years’ worth of comics spread over seven-plus (Morrison started on Batman in the spring of 2006), and it’s probably not a lot of reading once you get it all in collections, but it still seems pretty daunting. Morrison’s Batman was, by design, the culmination of all the Batman stories which preceded him, and thus became even more of an untouchable figure than the nigh-infallible “James Bond Batman” Morrison had written in JLA. (Morrison still ended up adding his own contributions to the legend — not just Damian Wayne and Batman Incorporated, but also Dr. Hurt’s experiments and the sequence in 52 where Bruce revisits his training.) Accordingly, while these stories invite deeper readings, by the same token they practically dare the reader to wonder how “deep” one might go with Batman. Certainly it’s possible to overthink things. Therefore, I’ll probably be content just to experience these last four issues as they arrive, as I did with the previous fifty-six; and maybe someday I’ll dig ‘em all out of longboxes for a rainy afternoon.
ODDS AND ENDS
While we’re on the subject of numbers, July is the second straight month that fewer than 52 regular series (50, to be exact) made up the New-52 line. Of course, I think the New-52 has its problems, but the old line wasn’t exactly a well-oiled machine either. That said, I could live without the New 52 being called that, and consequently not having to fill 52 monthly slots. I wouldn’t want 50 variations on Batman, Green Lantern and the Justice League, but I’d welcome DC “right-sizing” itself if it meant making better comics. There’s no good segue into the next topic, so …
Extreme!Trigon — now with 50 percent more eyes! — is on the cover of Teen Titans #22. Also, is that supposed to be Raven? Because that’s not a Raven I recognize.
Chris Sprouse might not have that Superman story to draw anymore, but he’s got two books in July’s solicits — Legends of the Dark Knight #10 (written by the always-reliable David Tischman) and a new Tom Strong miniseries.
Although I am looking forward to Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice, I do wonder how much of an “entry point” it will be to the larger world of The Unwritten. Specifically, it seems like the first Unwritten collection, which includes some unmistakable Harry Potter parallels in the very accessible first issue, might be a better jumping-on point. Still, I understand DC/Vertigo needing to sell original graphic novels to people other than those who read their books regularly, so never mind. TTATSTST will probably be a worthy installment in the overall saga, and equally worth your attention. (But you could probably find the first paperback pretty inexpensively, and read it and the others between now and September.)
And speaking of entry points, one consistent problem with the solicitation process is that a number of books are just “too new” for any informed commentary. These include the various Green Lantern titles, which will be on their second issues under new creative teams, Batwing (whose “new direction” started on the last page of last week’s issue), plus Green Team and The Movement (whose first issues come out next month), and Larfleeze (which is being written by masters of humor Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, but which I discussed last month). Generally, then, July is kind of a transitory month for the superhero line, or at least it looks that way now. It might end up as the Most Important DC Month Ever, but that’s why they print the books, right?
July’s solicits bring the second Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo collection, which looks like a nice, thick block of team-up goodness. As the solicit demonstrates, Bob Haney and Jim Aparo pretty much owned Brave and the Bold in the 1970s, and these stories are from their heyday.
I’m surprised to see a relatively obscure Nightwing collection in these solicits, mostly because it’s from the disco-collar period when Dick was still firmly attached to the Titans. As such, they feel more like Titans stories than Batman stories. They’re not bad, necessarily — although they weren’t exactly setting the world on fire in the late ‘80s — but they’re probably not what today’s readers think of when they think of Nightwing.
Speaking of stories from the ‘80s which demand collecting, the second Green Lantern: Sector 2814 paperback comes out in August, and it includes the first couple of arcs featuring John Stewart as Earth’s main GL. John still has to deal with a few subplots left over from Len Wein and Dave Gibbons’ Hal Jordan stories (i.e., Sector 2814 Vol. 1), but Wein and Gibbons, and then Steve Englehart and Joe Staton, really try to distinguish him from Hal. Oh, and just in time for Crisis On Infinite Earths, Guy Gardner comes out of his coma. …
Finally, as long as we’re talking about tracking down collections, DC offers a new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, combining the first two miniseries in what will no doubt be a handsome paperback. I appreciate this because I always tend to read them together anyway, as one flows into the next pretty smoothly. Of course, the second one ends on something of a down note, which means you’ll want to find the Black Dossier graphic novel, and then you might only really get closure through the recent Century graphic novels (which Top Shelf may or may not ever collect; I don’t know why they would, since they’re pretty durable as they are). So this Omnibus is actually something of an insidious way for DC to facilitate giving Top Shelf a comparable amount of your money. That’s all well and good — it’s just funny how it works out.
Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?