DC Comics has debuted Ed Benes’ cover for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #4, which reveals a radically new look for the hero of television, film and toyboxes.
Gone are the trademark furry shorts and metal harness the character has worn since toymaker Mattel launched the line of action figures in 1981, replaced by what appears to be Eternia’s version of football gear, complete with honest-to-goodness pants.
“In the epic war against the forces of Hordak ripping through the pages of the current series, He-Man must don the sacred armor of his ancestors,” DC states on its blog. “While fans may be surprised by this turn of events, this dynamic direction for one of the world’s best-known heroes is firmly rooted in the classic legacy of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. After all, so long as you stay true to the core concepts, it’s always exciting to explore new possibilities, right?”
Masters of the Universe #4 goes on sale in July.
Despite the best efforts of the Batman creative team to keep the Joker’s new look under wraps, DC Comics spoiled the big reveal Monday with the release of the November solicitations, which show a knife-wielding Clown Prince of Crime front and center on the cover of Batgirl #14. Needless to say, Batman artist Greg Capullo, who redesigned the Dark Knight’s arch-nemesis, was none too pleased.
“As careful as I’ve been to save revealing our new Joker, the powers that be have let it out ahead if our book,” he wrote on Twitter. “Stay tuned fir MY pics. In my younger days, I’d have punched several holes in the walls of my office by now. Rest assured, I will give you terror when I draw him.”
Reintroduced in DC’s New 52 as a homicidal maniac being pursued by police, the Joker was last seen in Detective Comics #1 where, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, the Dollmaker surgically removed his face. Although much of Gotham presumed the Joker dead, last month DC released a grisly promo image teasing his return in October’s Batman #13, which kicks off the “Death of the Family” crossover (a nod to the 1988-89 story arc in which the Joker killed the second Robin, Jason Todd). That image, of a piercing blue eye peering out of the darkness and through the carved-off face of the classic villain, was followed by the cover for Issue 13, which depicts the partially obscured face of the Joker reflected in a hand mirror.
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 ….
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.
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.