BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Alex Luthor (not that Alex Luthor) created a stir online last week with his epic trailer for the DC vs. Marvel movie that we’ll likely never see. For his follow-up, he teamed with video editor kashchei2003 for a fan trailer that’s not as epic or as polished, but certainly interesting nonetheless: Superman vs. Doomsday.
Inspired by the 1992 DC Comics storyline “The Death of Superman,” the trailer naturally borrows heavily from Man of Steel, with the Doomsday sequences appearing to be largely altered footage from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk (taken from kashchei2003’s own Superman: Doomsday fan film).
Mattel has revealed a lineup of Comic-Con International exclusives that includes Cyborg and Doomsday action figures, the Batman: Arkham Knight Batmobile and — get this — a replica of the Caped Crusader’s utility belt from the 1966 TV series.
I would delve into all of the other offerings, like the Hot Wheels Darth Vader die-cast car or the Masters of the Universe figures, but you’re probably more interested in that utility belt (so I’ll leave the rest of that stuff to USA Today).
I had taken a break from comics during the whole “Death of Superman”/”Reign of the Supermen” era, yet I’m a little excited by this mysterious cover unveiled today by Sean Murphy (The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus). Even those readers who weren’t around for the early-’90s storyline will undoubtedly recognize the Man of Steel/John Henry Irons/Steel, the Man of Tomorrow/Cyborg Superman, the Last Son of Krypton/Eradicator and the Metropolis Kid/Superboy, who arrived in Metropolis claiming to be Superman.
Murphy says he doesn’t know what the cover is for, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s part of DC Comics’ “Superman: Doomed” crossover, depicting the first major conflict in the New 52 between the Man of Steel and Doomsday, who was responsible for “The Death of Superman” 22 years ago.
Update: As a helpful commenter below points out, PreviewsWorld states Murphy’s cover is the 75th anniversary variant for Superman Unchained #6, due out on March 19.
Not a lot in DC Comics’ May solicitations really strikes me as “new.” That’s due partly to a lot of the new books being set to launch a month earlier. Generally, the superhero line continues to contract, while The New 52 — Futures End kicks off, the New 52 version of Doomsday keeps rampaging through the Superman titles, and Batman Eternal rolls on. Nevertheless, I do have the irrational sense that the line is gearing up for something even more significant, and will be adding new series over the next few months.
Still, if we’re to get excited about the regular fare, we may have to read between the solicitations’ lines — so let’s get on with it, shall we?
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A NEW 52 FOR THE NEW 52
And here it is, Futures End. Last year I wrote the New 52 needed its own version of 52, the year-long miniseries that spanned time and space to focus on the lesser lights of the superhero line. I talked about exploring the geography of the still-new shared universe, doing character studies, and essentially giving the reader a good sense of place and/or connection.
This look at DC’s latest round of solicitations may be quicker and dirtier than usual, mostly because this week I thought I was going to be talking about Teen Titans’ cancellation. We’ll do a little of that this week, along with the other titles on the chopping block.
However, for a while now we’ve known that April — being the first post-Forever Evil month — will feature some big changes, and those start right here.
BY THE NUMBERS
I count 47 ongoing New 52 series, but that includes the six books canceled as of April, and it only counts Batman Eternal — which, contrary to my expectation, is not solicited as a limited series — once. Thus, if DC still wants to hit the magic number, it needs to come up with 11 new series for May.
When the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 invaded and seemingly conquered Earth-New 52 in Forever Evil #1, claiming to have killed the members of the Justice Leagues, the home-Earth villains took over DC comics, scrawling their names over the logos of their foes and initiating other evil acts like using decimal points in their issue numbers and putting the wrong stories in the wrong titles. (A Dial H epilogue and a Lobo one-shot in Justice League comics? A Batgirl story in a Batman comic?). But, most nefariously of all, the villains of DC Comics raised the price of each issue by a dollar and launched one of the biggest gimmick covers schemes in the modern history of direct market super-comics: heavy, plastic, 3D lenticular covers primed to be collected more so than read, and sparking insidious speculation, goosed my unpredictable shortages to many retailers. The monsters.
But while most attention has been focused on the covers, there are, in fact, stories beneath them, and so for the past three weeks we’ve been not judging the books by their covers, but by their contents. (Here’s Week One, Week Two and Week Three, if you missed ‘em.) As in the previous months, I’ve been ranking the books on their overall quality, on a scale of one to 10: Not Very Good, Somewhat Disobedient, Naughty, Morally Deficient, Without Scruples, Iniquitous, Wicked, Maleficent, Evil and Absolute Evil (although, as none received a perfect 10, you might want to adjust your reception of my ratings up by one).
Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’ve been noting how connected each is to the Forever Evil event that ostensibly led to this state of affairs at DC, so, if you’re only interested in these things for their narrative import rather than their creators or characters, you’ll know which are worth your attention. So let’s take one last wallow in the evil of (almost) every issue of this week’s Villains Month, and hope for the swift and triumphant return of our heroes starting next month.
There’s so much I find fascinating about Vaneta Rogers’s Newsarama interview with Steel #1 writer Steve Lyons that I hardly know where to begin. I suppose I’ll start by saying that there’s a lot to be excited about in the comic, which kicks off DC’s “Reign of Doomsday” event. For example, I’ve long argued that Steel is one of the most undervalued characters and designs in DC’s pantheon. Iron Man’s powers, Thor’s hammer, Superman’s cape, and an African-American folk hero’s name? That’s pure gold. And seriously, what a great design: The Alex Garner cover to the issue — itself part of DC’s genuinely awesome iconic-cover line-up for the month of January — is practically payoff enough. Plus, in a genre often (and accurately) decried for its lack of strong non-white heroes, John Henry Irons is an armor-clad, hammer-wielding, ‘S’-shield-wearing super-genius whose role in Metropolis’s scientific and business community is basically “the anti-Lex.” Tough to top that.
Similarly, at nearly two decades’ remove from the controversial “Death of Superman” storyline, I’m much better able to appreciate Doomsday him/itself. He’s no longer just the out-of-the-blue newcomer who got to deliver the coup de grace to the Man of Steel over more “deserving” villains like Lex Luthor (and set sales records in the process). Rather, he is to the villainous side of the superhero genre what the Hulk is to its heroic half: The power fantasy in its purest form, i.e. giant unstoppable guy pounds the crap out of everyone in his way. On an inner-eight-year-old level, that’s a thing of beauty. And remember how in his original appearances he slowly shedded a Kirbyesque jumpsuit-and-goggles look to reveal badass bone spikes and claws jutting out of every possible place on his body? He’s basically a microcosm of the direction of the entire superhero genre from that period, a walking symbol of ’90s excess at its boldest and best. Finally, in story terms, he accomplished the pinnacle achievement for any DCU villain: He killed Superman! Okay, so he got better, but still. As I believe Geoff Johns has argued, Doomsday’s name alone should scare the crap out of every character in the DC Universe. As such he’s a terrific basis for a crossover event.
The villain will return in the Steel one-shot, one of several “iconic” one-shots that month. The story will continue in Outsiders #37, JLA #55 and Superboy #6, and will presumably conclude in a fifth, as-yet-unnamed comic.
“Doomsday is one of the most popular villains in Superman’s canon of foes,” said DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, “He injects a feeling of dread and chaos into the DC Universe that few other characters can.” Doomsday last appeared in Action Comics #871, where, after he was apparently beaten to death by Superman, Supergirl and a host of Kandorians, his body was given to Lex Luthor to make improvements.
Update: If you check DC’s solicitations today for Outsiders #37, you’ll see that this storyline is called “Reign of Doomsday” and is setting up “an explosive summer event.”
Is this a case of good-natured ribbing from one publisher to another, or should readers expect dueling deaths — make that “deaths” — of two of the best-known superheroes? (Move over, Batman and Captain America — it’s Superman and Spider-Man’s turn!) Or DC could simply be hinting that Doomsday will (again) awaken following the events of the recent “New Krypton” storyline.
Of course, those aren’t the only possibilities. Speculation already has turned to a “Death of Superman” Absolute Edition and a Legion of Super-Heroes arc.
The bloody Superman logo debuted in November 1992 on the black bag that encased Superman #75, the conclusion of the blockbuster “Death of Superman” crossover that saw the deaths of the Man of Steel and Doomsday, the killing machine from Krypton’s distant past.