"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.
If I had $15, my first pick off the shelf would be Vengeance #1 (Marvel, $3.99); I love Joe Casey, and especially when he’s given a long leash and room to play in a big universe. Seeing Nick Dragotta drawing this is an added bonus. Next up would be comics’ dueling summer blockbusters, Flashpoint #3 (DC, $3.99) and Fear Itself #4 (Marvel, $3.99). After that, I’d get the excellent Flashpoint: Batman, Knight of Vengeance #2 (DC, $2.99); when Azzarello is on the ball he’s great to read, and this seems to be that.
Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.
So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.
It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”
So let’s get to it ….
One tagline for the big alien-invasion movie Independence Day cautioned, “Don’t make plans for August.” Well, perhaps the biggest news coming out of DC’s August solicitations is the pervasive sense of foreboding they have about September. Rich Johnston maintains that a whole crop of new No. 1 issues is on tap for the fall, but there are no “FINAL ISSUE!” blurbs to be found on any of the current ongoing series.
While that doesn’t rule out a line-wide relaunch, the solicits also seem to say that readers won’t have to worry about a line-wide reboot. As noted in this space a couple of weeks back, the degree of change will probably be different for different titles. Nevertheless, now that we have a better idea of how August will look, let’s see what it says about September….
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly round-up of … well, what we’ve been reading lately.
Today our special guest is the legendary Gilbert Hernandez. Known best as the co-creator of Love & Rockets, his other works include Sloth, The Troublemakers, Chance in Hell and Yeah! with Peter Bagge (which is being collected by Fantagraphics)
To see what Gilbert and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
Last week saw the release of the new ongoing Batman Beyond series by Adam Beechen & Ryan Benjamin, and today comes a well-sourced rumor that noted independent artist Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin) might be joining the book. Over on his blog this morning, Naifeh posts seven sketches of characters from Batman Beyond and an open-ended, almost rhetorical question, asking if the title needed a fill-in artist.
Back in September, Robot 6’s own Kevin Melrose made the case for getting DC to put Naifeh on a Batbook — and this might be the first signs of DC listening. In 2010 Naifeh openly lobbied for a job at DC with a series of stellar sketches of DC characters, and in May he did a back-up in Teen Titans.
Anyway, enough speculation — Here’s one of the images; click on it to jump to Naifeh’s blog to see all seven.
DC Comics already has several series that go public in print and digital form on the same day, and today they announced that they are adding Batman Beyond to the mix.
It’s an interesting choice, because it looks to me like DC is banking on Batman Beyond reaching, um, beyond the regular readership. In fact, they say as much in the press release:
“Batman Beyond was a critically acclaimed, fan favorite animated series that still has a large number of fans to this day,” said Hank Kanalz, SVP Digital, DC Entertainment, “By releasing the ongoing comic series digitally, we’re hoping we reach that audience and bring back any fans of the show who may be lapsed comic readers.”
This would seem to be a good opportunity to promote the comic outside the usual circles. As I have written before, it can be hard for non-regulars to find digital comics. This is an attractive product with a ready-made fanbase; the question is, can DC bring the two together?
Good grief, it’s not even Halloween and I have to think about the first DC comics of 2011? Even trying to pronounce that number makes my tongue stumble — I keep wanting to say “twenty-eleven” and it sounds like something made-up. Worse, I keep wanting to say twenty-leven, like a common hillbilly.
Nevertheless, I do like DC’s cover gimmick for January Two Thousand Eleven. The white backgrounds and big logos remind me of Superman #701’s minimalist cover, and that isn’t a bad thing. The cumulative effect of the style’s uniformity is also more effective than the last time DC emphasized the logos, back in (cover-date) February 2002. The light, open design is also a lot more cheery than January 2009’s black-background “Faces Of Evil.”
Still, we’re more interested in what’s between the covers, are we not?
JUST A TASTE
Right off I am pretty impressed with the selection of one-shots at the top of the solicits. The Starman/Congorilla special sounds very fun, especially with Rex the Wonder Dog involved. I’m curious to see what the Shazam! special does with Billy and Mary Batson, and I’m always glad for new John Henry Irons stories. The Wonder Girl special doesn’t interest me that much, but it doesn’t seem entirely about her anyway. Although most of these specials appear to tie into regular books (Justice League, Titans, and Teen Titans), they sound good enough on their own merits.
Batman Beyond, the six-issue miniseries based on the Warner Bros. cartoon, will become an ongoing series in January, DC Comics announced this afternoon.
Writer Adam Beechen (Countdown, Justice League Unlimited) and artist Ryan Benjamin (Midnighter & Grifter, Iron Man) will continue as the creative team on the title, which will relaunch with a new Issue 1.
Announced in March at Emerald City Comicon, the miniseries debuted in June, and centers on Terry McGinnis, the future Batman, as he grapples with a strained relationship with mentor Bruce Wayne and the emergence of a new killer with ties to the Dark Knight’s past. The fifth issue of what DC calls “the surprise hit of the season” will be released on Oct. 20.
Warner Bros. Animation’s Batman Beyond aired for 52 episodes from January 1999 to December 2001, and spawned an earlier DC Comics miniseries as well as a short-lived ongoing title.
“This one was a bit unusual because I had to draw it and then sort of take it apart and put it back together,” he wrote on his blog. “I was a little worried about this one because I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do it after drawing. I knew that the inked version was far from feeling finished to me because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. All I knew is that I wanted to try out some different things stylistically than I normally do. So I winged a lot of it, trying out a different drawing look on Bruce Wayne, something less realistic. Same goes for the color processes, I approached it very organically, not knowing where it was all headed.”
Head over to his blog to see how it all came together.
The more I thought about it, the more pleased I was that DC will be publishing an ongoing Batman Beyond book. Sure, the series ended over eight years ago; and sure, the episode of “Justice League Unlimited” which served as an epilogue (helpfully called “Epilogue”) is also fading into the mists of history.
To me, though, a new commitment to Terry McGinniss’ alternate future signals — whether DC realizes it or not — a renewed commitment to the Multiverse. Remember, the “Beyond” future (or something remarkably similar) was officially made part of the post-52 Multiverse as Earth-12, and barring a radical departure from DC, Earth-12 is where I expect Terry’s adventures to remain. Put simply, the BB mythology is based on the continuity of DC’s various animated series, from “Batman” through “Justice League Unlimited”; and while that continuity isn’t radically different from the comics’, it’s different enough. Bruce Wayne’s caped career ends rather ignominiously, for one thing. (Also, no Jason Todd; maybe no Golden Age superheroes; and the histories of the Flash, Earth’s Green Lanterns, Hawkgirl and Hawkman, and Wonder Woman each diverge in significant ways.) Besides, if DC really wants to drop hints about how its modern-day characters ended up, it can always use the farther future of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
As mentioned at the Emerald City Comicon this weekend, DC is bringing Batman Beyond back to comics. Today on the Source, DC released a few more details and the cover to the first issue. The six-issue miniseries will be written by Adam Beechen and drawn by Ryan Benjamin.
“The dark future of the legendary animated series comes to the DCU in a six-issue miniseries, as Terry McGinniss, Bruce Wayne’s young successor as Batman, faces his deadliest foe yet — a mystery murderer from the Dark Knight’s past!” Beechen said. “Old faces return, new allies and enemies step into the light, and the partnership between Terry and Bruce — not to mention Terry and Bruce themselves — might not survive!”
Artist Dustin Nguyen shares a few things “on his desk,” including two more Lil’ Gotham characters … Lil’ future Gotham, anyway. He doesn’t mention them appearing in his Lil’ Gotham stories that are set for the Batman and Detective annuals, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a cameo.