"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
[Note: all this was written before I read any of this week’s comics.]
As mentioned last week, part of this look back at my New 52 reading is the chance to see where I might drop some titles. Not that I want to be negative unnecessarily, but it’s always good to make sure you really like what you buy. While I do buy some books “just because,” it’s very easy simply to fall into the habit of reading the same things month in and month out, neither looking forward to them nor missing them when they’re gone.
Therefore, let’s push through some bad vibes and talk about a couple of books I let drift away. Besides Superboy (covered last week), there was Red Lanterns (written by Peter Milligan, penciled by Ed Benes) and Grifter (written by Nathan Edmondson, penciled by CAFU). Originally I liked Red Lanterns because I thought it had recast Atrocitus as a distracted middle-management type, questioning his place in the universe while his functionaries went down their own demented paths. However, as the months went by the series never really built up any momentum, and for a premise based around the blood-spewing power of RAGE!!!1!! that’s not so good. Much the same applies to Grifter: thought it had potential, but it didn’t hold my interest.
Captain Atom, Resurrection Man and Voodoo will end in September, joining Justice League International in DC Comics’ second wave of New 52 cancellations. As the publisher announced last week, four new titles — Talon, Sword of Sorcery, The Phantom Stranger and Team 7 — will launch as part of the “Zero Month” initiative.
In short, four series end, four series begin, and in October the title count returns to the magical 52 and balance is restored to the DC Universe.
The solicitations also reveal that September’s DC Universe Presents #0 will feature Blackhawks’ Mother Machine, Hawk and Dove, Mister Terrific and O.M.A.C., all characters whose titles ended in May, underscoring comments made last week by Co-Publisher Dan DiDio that, “if a series does go away, we want to make sure we have a proper place for the characters.”
Think of it as the 2012 version of the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, only this time with all-new adventures that the solicitation text promises will “play out across the entire New 52.” It’s a 64-page issue by the likes of DiDio, Cafu, James Robinson, Rob Liefeld and Marat Mychaels.
Note that there’s no sign of Static or the Men of War crew, who were also set adrift in the New 52’s first wave of cancellations. Perhaps there will be room for those characters, alongside Captain Atom, Resurrection Man and Voodoo, in an upcoming issue.
“With all these books, and this is where I’m going to sound corny, every book we put out, we want to succeed. Every book is kind of like a child, you want it to work. Books like O.M.A.C., yes, I loved O.M.A.C., and you know the hard work that goes into that. Unfortunately, sometimes these books don’t find the audience you were hoping they would. We knew from the beginning, when we created the New 52, some of these books that we were discussing earlier, there was always the discussion of replacement titles if something was not performing to the extent where we’d like it to be. It’s always unfortunate when something doesn’t work out the way you’d like. It doesn’t mean these characters are going to go away. One thing I really think is exciting is you will see O.M.A.C. land in another book. You will see Hawk and Dove land in another title. This is the fourth time I’ve used this term, so again I apologize, but we are world-building. These characters, even if their books are going way, they are still part of the DC story. We’ll still be seeing them.”
Sales charts | Responding to an iFanboy article that speculates on what titles Marvel might cancel next, Men of War and Viking writer Ivan Brandon makes the case against sales charts and the subsequent analysis of them each month: “There’s an ongoing debate, for a bunch of years now. There are numbers that circulate every month, inaccurate numbers, people track them, people use that flawed ‘data’ to comment on what they see as the progress or decline on the list. A lot of comics professionals are against this, for a lot of reasons. In my case, for my books, the books I personally share copyright on … my reason is, and no offense to anyone out there: My income is none of your business. Just as your income is none of mine.”
Tom Spurgeon offers a counterpoint: “Sales information seems to me an obvious positive, not because it reveals the bank accounts of creators, but because what sells and to what extent is basic information about a marketplace, and the shape and potency of a marketplace seems to me a primary item of interest for anyone covering that marketplace. It’s foundational to our understanding of how things work and why. Certainly this information is already manipulated to brazen effect by companies with something to put over on customers; I have to imagine this would become worse under a system of no information at all being released.” [Ivan Brandon, The Comics Reporter]
Catching up on various episodes of “Batman: The Brave And The Bold,” I was pleasantly surprised that one teaser (YouTube — careful!) focused on the Challengers of the Unknown.
Not having read their Silver Age adventures, I wouldn’t consider myself a Challengers expert, but I do like the basic idea. They’re straight-up adventurers brought together largely by a shared experience of cheating death, and because they live “on borrowed time,” they have decided to spend that time saving the world. First appearing in 1957’s Showcase #6 (just two issues after the Silver Age Flash’s debut in #4), and springing at least in part from Jack Kirby’s fertile imagination, the Challs are often tied to a pre-superhero Silver Age either explicitly (as in Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier and the recent Legacies miniseries) or as spiritual representatives of that time (as in Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett’s Superboy or Mark Waid, George Pérez, and Jerry Ordway’s run on The Brave and the Bold). Attempts to “update” the team, whether by aging the originals or creating new Challengers, haven’t gotten much traction, despite the best efforts of folks like Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Steven Grant, Len Kaminski, John Paul Leon, and Howard Chaykin.
So here we are, the last week of the New 52 rollout, and I must say it’s been a fascinating — sometimes exhausting — ride. It’ll be good to get back to more normal posting next week, but I have enjoyed these marathon stream-of-consciousness reviews. Although DC has said over and over that these books are all part of the same revised universe, there are so many different styles and approaches on display (The early ‘90s! The mid- to late ‘90s!) that the line seems a lot more heterogeneous than it did five weeks ago.
Moreover, the realization that these books are the new status quo is only now starting to sink in. Overall it’s a good feeling, but bittersweet too. After all, I had 25 years to get used to the last line-wide revampings.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, as always.