INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
This week it’s back into the DC/CW television universe, as news has broken about three “major DC characters,” each new to the TV realm, who will be part of the upcoming Arrow/Flash spinoff series. Some brief character descriptions are now fueling speculation about these folks. So who are The Traveler, Female Warrior and Mystery Hero — and why do we want to know?
As the new year is still fairly new, it’s time once again to revisit some old speculation, and offer a fresh batch.
2015 promises to be an unusual year for DC Comics, thanks to a couple of well-publicized real-world events: moving its offices from New York to California, and publishing two months’ worth of retro-themed comics while the regular series take a break. Although I’m getting tired of writing about these things, they will continue to dominate DC news for the next little while. Accordingly, counterintuitive though it may be, this week I’m going to resist talking about them as much as possible. You know they’re coming, I know they’re coming; but let’s try to find some other topics in the meantime.
Now to catch up on 2014’s items:
1. Anniversaries. Besides Batman’s 75th, which naturally got lots of play, I noted that last year was the 50th anniversary of the Teen Titans, the 55th of the Silver Age Green Lantern, Nightwing’s 30th, Zero Hour’s 20th and Identity Crisis’ 10th. The Titans got a commemorative hardcover and IC likewise received a new edition. However, Nightwing-the-series ended in 2014, as Nightwing-the-identity was exposed and Dick Grayson got a new spy-oriented comic. I also wondered whether the 50th anniversary of Batman’s “New Look” would get some special attention (it didn’t, unless you count the flood of Batman ‘66 love that accompanied the long-awaited home video releases of the New Look-inspired series).
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With The Interview proving to be a Christmas miracle for Sony Pictures, artist and movie fan Kevin Maguire has an idea of what roles stars Seth Rogen and James Franco could tackle next: Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. On Twitter, the co-creator of Justice League International pegged the actors to play the comedic duo he’s best known for drawing, saying, “They already have the deepest bromance in movies today.”
But that’s not all.
The sprawling intertitle crossover “Doomed” wrapped up this week with the release of Superman: Doomed #2. It’s a 40-page installment produced by writers Greg Pak and Charles Soule and artists Ken Lashley, Szymon Kudranski, Cory Smith, Dave Bullock, Jack Herbert, Ian Churchill, Aaron Kuder Vicente Cifuentes, and Norm Rapmund (assisted ably by colorist Wil Quintana and letterer Taylor Esposito). However, it’s getting some attention due to the final page.
Yes, “Doomed” began as a sequel to an as-yet-unseen event — the New 52 version of the monster’s first deadly battle with Superman — but it’s ended, like many a crossover before it, as a tease for the next big thing. Moreover, it’s joined by the only Futures End special one-shot without its own series (yet); namely, Futures End: Booster Gold.
Accordingly, today’s all about how everything might start to make sense, and how it doesn’t quite make sense for DC to go that way.
SPOILERS FOLLOW for the finale of “Doomed” and for Booster Gold.
In the fullness of time, all things come to an end: Futures, worlds, even month-long publishing initiatives. And so Wednesday brought with it the final batch of Futures End specials from DC Comics.
Of this week’s 10 releases, I read four, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of those were pretty good … and at least two of them even tied in to the events of The New 52: Futures End, the weekly series that nominally gives the one-shots a reason to exist.
Heck, one of them tied in to the series, which saw the release of its 21st issue this week, strongly and directly enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned up in one of the eventual trade collections of Futures End.
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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.
Since the end of 2011 is right around the corner, it’s as good a time as any to look forward to what DC may bring us in the next year. The fun part is, the (relatively) eclectic New-52 relaunch has made these sorts of predictions a little less accurate. Nevertheless, I think DC remains a fairly conservative publisher overall, at least in terms of the kinds of comics in its superhero-centric main line, so we can make some educated guesses. The fact that all but one of the New 52 featured well-established characters (and the 52nd was Batwing, buoyed by Batman Incorporated) doesn’t exactly hurt either.
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Accordingly, we start with two of DC’s most prolific titles which haven’t yet been reintroduced in the New-52 context: Adventure Comics and World’s Finest Comics (or, as you might know it, Superman/Batman). Both were on the pre-relaunch roster, but neither appears likely to make a comeback. Pre-relaunch, Adventure had become the second Legion of Super-Heroes title, following a brief run of Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul Superboy stories. The New 52 has since filled both roles, both with Legion Lost and the Legion: Secret Origins miniseries, and with the revamped Superboy. Adventure could come back as an anthology, but the New 52 already has the ongoing DC Universe Presents and the miniseries My Greatest Adventure for spotlights and new-character tryouts. As for Superman/Batman, changes to the Man of Steel’s overall outlook may include this relationship. Put simply, I don’t see the New-52 Superman teaming up with the (same old?) Batman on a regular monthly basis — at least, not right now.
[Note: This post was written Wednesday night, before the latest round of announcements.]
I was barely into the back yard when the lawn mower exploded.
This mower was far from new. My wife had owned it since a few years before we met, and it may have been old when she got it. It had cut the grass of at least four different addresses in three different states, and had been maintained and serviced fairly faithfully throughout its life. This summer, however, its persistent little engine had been making ominous noises that my amateur care could not entirely mitigate. When it ran over that big limb, which it tried mightily to shred as it had so many others, the stresses proved to be too much. The next thing I knew, there was a puff of smoke, a spray of oil, and a silver-dollar-sized hole in the mower’s side.
I pointed that out to my wife, to drive home the extent of the damage. “See that in the hole? That’s the piston.”
“We’ll take it to Sears in the morning,” was her reply.
Well, needless to say, by this point we were talking about an ex-mower. The most the Sears mechanics could suggest was to order a part that would cost more than a new mower. This was the tipping point for my wife, when practicality superseded sentiment. Indeed, the new mower is remarkably efficient by comparison, atomizing clippings and leaving a uniform green carpet in its wake. It is cool and bloodless, like a Secret Service agent or an athlete in prime condition. With luck, it will serve us as long and as well as its predecessor.
Now, clearly I am not telling you about my lawn mower because this has turned into “Grumpy Old Garden.” Neither am I saying DC had a gaping hole in its superhero line and we readers thought it could be simply patched. There was, and is, no simple solution — not even starting over entirely — to DC’s array of small and large ailments. A few weeks ago I talked about the relationships we readers form with these characters over time, and I can see a couple of ways to roll back whatever Flashpoint facilitates.
Still, after a week’s worth of pondering September’s lineup, I have decided it is time to embrace the new.
While it might not be much, Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day will bring our first real glimpse at the world of Flashpoint. I’ve been looking at the looming alternate-universe epic as little more than a fun way to spend the summer — which would be fine, by the way — but apparently that is just crazy talk. Everything will change, as it always does; as it did with Brightest Day and Blackest Night and Final Crisis, etc., etc.
Naturally, there are different degrees of “change,” from wholesale reorganization to continuity tweaks. 1985’s Crisis On Infinite Earths gave DC carte blanche to rework characters from the ground up. 1994’s Zero Hour, 2005-06’s Infinite Crisis and 52, and 2008-09’s Final Crisis also allowed DC to tinker with the timeline, mostly on a small scale. More esoteric devices like Hypertime, Super-punches, and plot-specific time travel have produced and/or explained certain changes.
However, in practical terms, the post-COIE changes haven’t upset too many apple carts. Oh, Zero Hour tried to clean up Hawkman’s history, and it also facilitated a new Legion of Super-Heroes timeline, both of which were big deals. More recently, though, Infinite Crisis gave Clark Kent a “secret Superboy” career and restored certain aspects of Batman’s and Wonder Woman’s histories, but those developments stayed in the background. Accordingly, a change that doesn’t affect a title’s regular storytelling practice doesn’t seem like much of a change.
And therein lies the real puzzle of Flashpoint: what room is there, across DC’s superhero line, for the kind of change which excites more than it frustrates? Of the 55 DCU/superhero-line titles DC will publish in July (as the big event reaches its midpoint), 17 are part of Flashpoint, and many of the rest are dealing with their own ongoing arcs. Today we’ll look at who might be flexible, and speculate a little on what might happen.
Learning that DC was cancelling five superhero titles reminded me immediately of the “Saturday Night Massacre,” when President Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox led directly to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckleshaus. But, you know, that’s just me. I may be one of the few superhero-comics bloggers who went through a Watergate phase in college. Got two term papers out of it, at any rate.
But I digress. As we all know, the May solicitations are out, and DC will still be publishing a significant number of superhero comics — so let’s get to ‘em, shall we?
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YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD THERE IS A GREEN LANTERN MOVIE
Seems like the last time DC did a multiple-issue “prequel series” to one of its big movies was 2006, with four lead-ins to Superman Returns. I liked Superman Returns, but those related comics weren’t too memorable. However, I do like the creative teams on these one-shots — Geoff Johns (a no-brainer for GL), Marc Guggenheim, Jerry Ordway, Joe Bennett, Karl Kerschl, Fernando Dagnino, and Cliff Richards, plus the screenwriters — so they may be more worthwhile.
As we all know by now, DC’s big summer event Flashpoint includes the main five-issue miniseries, fifteen three-issue miniseries, and an as-yet-undisclosed number of one-shots. My first reaction to this format was along the lines of oh good, just five issues. I take it this is a minority opinion.
To be sure, it makes Greater Flashpoint about 90% ancillary, and that is a proportion more suited for profit than for narrative. There is also the notion that DC is diverting resources to all those tie-ins which could just as easily have been used on projects aimed outside the insular superhero readership.* It’s usually the case with these kinds of events that you buy the titles you want and you leave the rest on the shelf; but here, the sheer magnitude of tie-ins suggests that DC is doubling down on Flashpoint in a very specific, market-targeting way which will be hard to ignore.
Because they went live around the same time as last week’s column, I’ve had the better part of a week to consider the April DC solicitations. I’d like to tell you I dug deep into the language and the numbers, forsaking all regular human needs in order to unlock the secrets of DC’s superhero springtime, but we all know that didn’t happen. I blame the football.
There could be a couple of reasons to cut two issues from the runs of Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost. Twenty-four issues may be easier to collect, logistically speaking, than twenty-six. DC may also want to wrap up these storylines in advance of Free Comic Book Day (May 7 is the Saturday after the month’s first Wednesday), when I presume the big Flashpoint push will begin. The solicit for Flash #12 seems to indicate that Flashpoint starts in May.
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Justin Aclin, editor of ToyFare magazine and writer of Hero House and S.H.O.O.T. First, which you can read on MySpace Dark Horse Presents. To see what Justin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …
This is a pretty big week for DC.
I know I said that four weeks ago, when Brightest Day #0 and The Flash vol. 3 #1 appeared in comics shops, and I don’t want to take too much away from that.
Still, today saw the debuts of The Return Of Bruce Wayne #1, the relaunched Birds Of Prey #1, and Keith Giffen returning to his old charges from Justice League International. Not unsurprisingly, each of these comics builds on many years’ worth of stories, and each nevertheless aims to be accessible to the uninitiated. Therefore, this week let’s see how effective these four introductory issues are.
SPOILERS FOLLOW for Return Of Bruce Wayne #1, Birds Of Prey #1, Booster Gold #32, and Justice League: Generation Lost #1.