Grumpy Old Fan | Autumn means changes for DC in November
Following DC Comics’ solicitations over the past few months has been fairly intriguing. The company’s West Coast move in early 2015 looms over all its actions, and makes it hard to gauge whether a new series or new creative team is a long-term commitment or a brief burst of experimentation. Moreover, that makes it tempting to say that anything you don’t like — or, for that matter, anything you do like — might be gone by April.
Oh, well. A little paranoia can’t hurt, but we’re not here to talk about that. Open a window to the November solicits and read along!
November brings new creative teams for Wonder Woman (the Finches and Richard Friend), Superman/Wonder Woman (Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke) and Supergirl (Mike Johnson, Kate Perkins and Emanuela Lupacchino). I’m still in wait-and-see mode on the Finches. However, after several years of reading Tomasi and Mahnke’s work, I feel like I know what’s coming from them. S/WW should look great, as Mahnke is no stranger to either Superman or Wonder Woman, having drawn JLA and various issues of the New 52 Justice League. I suppose I’m cautiously optimistic about Tomasi, because this is the sort of book that plays to his strengths. He’s good at reconciling and unifying different perspectives on characters, and that’s pretty much what S/WW has always had to overcome. Ironically, it’ll probably be less of a concern in the absence of Azzarello and Chiang, but I suspect Tomasi will keep those elements around.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s return to Supergirl brings along playwright Kate Perkins. She’s new to comics, so you’d think she would have some good, practical ideas on what a Supergirl story should be. If DC weren’t launching Gotham Academy in October, I’d say “Supergirl joins a cosmic Hogwarts” was a long-overdue idea. As it stands, however, the New 52 Supergirl has been through enough that she’s likely to be one of the harder-edged students.
Finally, Ardian Syaf and Sandra Hope are your new Batman/Superman art team. It’s maybe not as earth-shattering as the other announcements, but they’re both fine artists and they should do well there.
NEW AND NEW-ISH SERIES
The Bat-expansion continues in November with Gotham By Midnight, a series one might describe as “Gotham-the-TV-show meets Constantine-the-TV-show.” One would be wildly inaccurate, of course, but it’s at least a happy accident that this series combines Gotham detectives and spooky crimes. Shame it couldn’t have debuted closer to Halloween, though — the Spectre isn’t really a Thanksgiving kind of guy.
Also, I’m mentioning the second issues of Klarion and Lobo because I had forgotten DC was getting ready to publish their first issues. The solicitation for Klarion does sound somewhat Kirby-esque, what with its blend of ancient magic and runaway robots.
THIS AND THAT
Nowhere in the solicit for The Multiversity: Pax Americana is the title Watchmen mentioned, but I daresay this is the issue everyone wanted to see when Multiversity was announced. It’s Morrison and Quitely’s take on the Charlton heroes that inspired The Original Writer & Dave Gibbons, so comparisons are inevitable even if they’re unintended.
As far as I know, Justice League will still be in Luthor-League mode when November rolls around, but the setup for “The Amazo Virus” sounds pretty cool regardless of the team’s roster.
I don’t have much of substance to say about Batwoman #36, except the obvious: “Batwoman and the Unknowns” should cross over with Red Hood and the Outlaws and Aquaman and the Others. Yes, that was an easy joke.
Speaking of Red Hood, though, I just downloaded the Comixology version of the Jimmy Olsen Special by Nick Spencer and R.B. Silva. I thought Silva’s work really brought Spencer’s script — which could easily have been called “Superman’s Pal Scott Pilgrim” — to life, and now I wonder what Silva’s take on a roided-out Jason Todd will look like.
Justice League United guest-stars the Legion of Super-Heroes. Worlds’ Finest guest-stars the Earth-2 Wonder Woman, by way of a flashback where she has to save Earth-2 young’uns Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Constantine #19 crosses over with Earth 2: Worlds’ End. The New Gods “rout” the Lantern Corps as the “Godhead” crossover continues.
IT ALL MATTERS
When in doubt, emphasize importance. In the main Earth 2 title, the Four Furies of Apokolips have a “shocking connection” with the main-line DC Universe. Teen Titans #4 reveals a “major villain” working behind the scenes. The Sin Trinitarians discover “an evil that threatens the very core of the New 52.” How can you miss any of those?
HOLY CORPORATE SYNERGY!
Home video is no stranger to Previews, but it’s rare to see it in the main DC section. While the attraction of an “expanded” Batman: The TV Stories is a nice bonus, I’d be more excited about it if I knew how much of an expansion was involved. (I already have the Hot Wheels Batmobile.)
Even without tying into the long-awaited video releases, the Batman’66 brand seems to have done pretty well for DC. They’re apparently confident enough to sell 80 digital pages worth of Lost Episode one-shot for $9.99 — which, admittedly, is cheaper than four 20-page issues at $2.99 each. I’ve said this before, I know; but it’s ironic that DC is banking so heavily on marketing this show after running away from it so far and so quickly for so long.
Good news, everyone! According to the Futures End Volume 1 solicitation, next week’s Issue 17 represents the end of the first collection! This week’s Issue 16 had enough cliffhangers to serve as a suitable stopping place, so maybe next week will feel similarly final.
I have to think that the names Cary Bates, Bill Messner-Loebs, Mark Waid, Greg LaRocque, Mike Wieringo, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are just inadvertent omissions from the Flash: A Celebration of 75 Years collection. Nothing against Fox, Lampert, Infantino, Broome, Johns or Kolins, but they’re hardly the entire list of noteworthy Flash creative teams.
As far as specific writer-plus-character collections go, I suppose Kevin Smith still has his fans, but I’m guessing the Absolute Green Arrow By Kevin Smith has more to do with Ollie’s TV show. On the other hand, the Green Lantern By Geoff Johns Omnibus speaks to Johns’ enduring appeal. I don’t know where exactly the new collection of ‘90s Nightwing falls on that spectrum, but the obvious tie-in is the Grayson series — which, rightly or wrongly, encourages folks like me to think that Dick won’t be a spy for very long.
I’m glad to see a paperback edition of Marshal Law. It should help put the seminal satire in the hands of many new readers. I’m particularly excited about the collection of Howard Chaykin and José Luis Garcia-Lopéz’s Twilight, the NSFW revamp of DC’s Silver Age sci-fi heroes. It wasn’t exactly a deconstruction, it was much more than a revision, and there was a talking cat to keep everything grounded. You don’t have to know anything about the Star Rovers or Tommy Tomorrow to appreciate Twilight’s take on them. In fact, it’s probably best if you’re not too attached to any of them …
I’ve been waiting eagerly for Showcase Presents The Legion volume 5, because these are the stories I remember from my immaculate 1970s childhood. More to the point, I appreciated how the stories in Volume 4 helped lead the team out of the blue-sky Silver Age. In the ‘70s they hadn’t quite grown up, but they were becoming the Legion many fans grew to love.
Finally, it’s good to see DC reprinting the Batmanga (it’s a title! It’s a term of art!) in full. The Lord Death Man story was part of the Chip Kidd-designed Bat-Manga paperback, and was later adapted for a Batman: Brave and the Bold episode, but this’ll give fans a chance to see what else Jiro Kuwata came up with.
And here is the Futures Index for this week’s Issue 16.
- Story pages: 20
- Stormguard pages: 4
- Cadmus Island pages: 3
- Mr. Terrific pages: 2
- Lois/Rampage/Superman pages: 5
- SHADE Team pages: 6
- Number of Captain America analogues in this issue: 1
- Number of Captain America analogues in the first issue of Multiversity: 2
- B-movie in which a well-meaning scientist is assisted by a malevolent extraterrestrial capable of controlling Earth technology: It Conquered The World
- Famous Peter Graves speech from that movie: “He learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature… and because of it, the greatest in the universe. He learned too late for himself that men have to find their own way, to make their own mistakes. There can’t be any gift of perfection from outside ourselves. And when men seek such perfection… they find only death… fire… loss… disillusionment… the end of everything that’s gone forward. Men have always sought an end to the toil and misery, but it can’t be given, it has to be achieved. There is hope, but it has to come from inside, from Man himself.”
NOTES: As I said above, this issue provides a couple of credible stopping points. The Masked Superman is partially unmasked, putting a serious dent in my Wildfire theory; and (as if we didn’t know already) Angie the Engineer is your new Borg Qu– I mean, Herald of Brainiac.
Stormguard — who uses a shield, wears a flag-based costume and is appropriately nice to a veteran, so don’t tell me he’s not a Cap analogue — gets a proper introduction, after being seen from a distance early on. In the old continuity he might well have been Agent Liberty, a Dan Jurgens creation (who, ahem, also sported an electronic shield) from the early ‘90s when the Superman books sometimes had more space than they maybe needed. The original A-Lib was killed during the “New Krypton/World Without Superman” period, but why would that have stopped anyone?
I read the sequence a couple of times: did Deathstroke actually leave the room (slamming the door behind him) and come back in without anyone noticing or remarking on it? Was it just an oversight that slipped past various levels of the creative process? No wonder Slade’s grumbling about his reputation.
NEXT WEEK IN THE FUTURE: Hawkgirl in trouble! Constantine in the Far East! Superman in a headlock! Emiko in a mood! And … bonding in the rain!