"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
… Specifically, thank goodness this is the last batch of solicitations before the New-52 lineup. As with the previous two sets of solicits, these exist partly to advertise November’s books, but also to keep consumers excited about September’s. Paradoxically, however, that means I can’t really get excited about them until September’s books arrive, and with them some real context.
As always, though, there are more things in the solicits than the New-52, so at least we can discuss some things substantively.
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This is our fourth summer in Memphis, but we hadn’t taken the Graceland tour until this weekend. It helped that twenty-odd relatives came into town for a big reunion, and one of them had been jonesing especially hard for an Elvis fix.
As for me, not so much. I have always been curious about the King, mostly as an historical figure; and as my musical tastes have developed, I’ve learned to appreciate the profound effect his life had on the culture at large. Many years ago I read Peter Guralnick’s exhaustive two-volume biography, and I have a couple of greatest-hits CDs and the “Aloha From Hawaii” concert. (I was, however, somewhat disappointed not to hear Captain Marvel’s costume and/or Captain Marvel Jr. mentioned in the tour’s discussions of Elvis’ infamous caped jumpsuits.)
Following their announcement that they were starting everything over and relaunching all their titles with new first issues this fall, DC Comics today announced the creative teams for ten of the titles.
And while Tom may have other thoughts on his mind this week, here are some of my quick thoughts on those announcements:
Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman: Now all we need to know is whether she’s forming a rock band or not … but seriously, art wise, in my eyes, perfect choice. I’m a huge fan of Chiang’s, so I was just hoping we’d see him on any regular title. And Wonder Woman seems like a great fit. Azzarello, meanwhile, probably isn’t the first name I would have thought of when thinking about Wonder Woman, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Of the creative teams revealed so far, this is probably becoming my favorite, or is at least tied with …
Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone and Yildiray Cinar on Firestorm: Back at WonderCon in 2010, Simone and Van Sciver teased that they were working together on something. Could they have been talking about Firestorm? Maybe; Simone also said on Twitter that she and Van Sciver have another as-yet-unannounced project they’re working on, so it could have been something else. I like the fact that Van Sciver is co-writing the book (rather than drawing it), and it’s getting a bit of a reboot. “Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond are two high school students, worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control.” So you have two writers with very different worldviews writing a character composed of two other characters with wildly different worldviews. That’s actually pretty cool. Yildiray Cinar, meanwhile, has been killing it on Legion, so he’s a plus to a team I was already liking.
Once dead, twelve heroes and villains were resurrected by a white light expelled from deep within the center of the Earth. The reason behind their rebirth remains a mystery. But it will not be a mystery for long. This is the Brightest Day.
So reads the mission statement which began each issue of the year-long, twice-monthly, just-concluded Brightest Day miniseries (written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, drawn by various artists). One might therefore be forgiven for thinking that BD would have used this premise to mold those characters into an imperfect ensemble, in order to explore collectively what “life after death” meant in a superhero context.
Instead, BD farmed out almost half its potential cast to other titles, thereby transforming itself (rather quickly) into a multi-headed Rebirth-style rejuvenation. From there it reintroduced readers to Aquaman, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Firestorm, J’Onn J’Onzz, and Deadman, and used them in turn to reintroduce … well, you probably know by now, but let’s wait a while to talk about that.
News of The Flash’s cancellation has led to speculation that the title, whenever it returns, will pick up its original numbering. Considering that Wonder Woman was renumbered last year to reflect the accumulation of all its various incarnations, and Adventure Comics resumed its original numbering as well, Flash might not be the last title DC renumbers.
Today I’ll look at Flash and several other DC titles which could get this treatment in the next several years.
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First, though, let’s consider Wonder Woman. Last year, the 45th issue of WW Vol. 3 was dubbed issue #600, thereby implicitly treating the current series and its predecessor as direct continuations of the original 1942 series. The math was pretty straightforward: Vol. 1 went to issue #329, and vol. 2 went to #226, so that left the 600th issue to vol. 3’s 45th. (329+226+45 = 600.) Volume 2 did have two irregularly-numbered issues, #0 (part of 1994’s “Zero Month,” which the rest of us called August), and #1,000,000 (for DC One Million, naturally).
The first two parts of this little exploration looked at DC’s attempts to launch ongoing series in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when line-wide events became regular occurrences in the superhero line. However, as those surveys made abundantly clear, said events didn’t seem to relate much either to concurrently-launched ongoing series or to the relative success of said series.
Instead, the number of new ongoing series debuting in a particular calendar year looks somewhat cyclical. There were five new ongoings in 1985 (the year of Crisis On Infinite Earths), up to 14 in 1988 and 17 in 1992, then easing down to 15 in 1994, 13 in 1996, and 10 in 1997. In 1998 and 2000, DC launched only four new ongoing series; in 1999, six; and in 2001, seven. At the risk of exciting you too quickly with more numbers, a later year will have sixteen.
For now, though, we pick up in 2002, at the beginning of a quieter time.
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Every March, college basketball fans carefully study the NCAA brackets to see which teams have the best chance of making the Final Four. Every year, certain teams seem like locks, and this year won’t be much different. The high seeds will include perennial powerhouses like Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Duke on the men’s side; and Connecticut and Tennessee on the women’s. The lowest seeds are, inevitably, those teams who are satisfied just to be included (fingers crossed for William & Mary — they’re so close!). That leaves the vast middle populated by a number of familiar names: Old Dominion, Winthrop, San Diego State, Siena, et al. You’re never surprised to see them, but they don’t make it every year. However, every now and then one of these teams becomes more of a fixture; and nowadays fans would probably be surprised if Gonzaga or Butler failed to make the tournament.
Naturally, comparing DC’s superhero line to the field of 65 isn’t especially precise; but there is the notion that a title or character can shake off that Cinderella status and become a perennial player in the Big Dance. DC has been working pretty steadily towards making its characters more “familiar” to the general public, and to a certain extent that means putting familiar favorites in its lineup. With that in mind, let’s examine the staying power of some venerable DC books and separate some pretenders from contenders.
Entertainment Weekly has a couple of new shots from the upcoming Smallville episode Absolute Justice, including the one above of Hawkman laying the smackdown on Green Arrow. What, tension between those two?
Click on over to EW’s site to see the other new photo of Dr. Fate and Stargirl, who actually look like the comic versions of Dr. Fate and Stargirl.
Earlier this month Kevin posted about Kyle Baker’s Hawkman story; over at the Pulse, Jennifer Contino talks to Baker about the book and several other projects. Per the interview, the story will appear in some sort of anthology and will feature an alien invasion and Dinosaur Island:
THE PULSE: When you think Hawkman, what ideas immediately came to your mind about what a story featuring this hero HAD to be about?
BAKER: In most of his adventures, Hawkman usually defends Earth from space alien invasion, so that’s what my story’s about. There’s also action on Dinosaur Island, because dinosaurs are always cool. Hawkman carries a mace, so it’s important for a writer to create dilemmas which can be resolved with a mace. A guy with a mace fighting a T-Rex is a good fight to watch.
An official release date for the book has yet to be announced.
I’m not a fan of Hawkman — nothing against the hairy-chested Thanagarian; I just haven’t given him much thought — but glimpses of Kyle Baker’s upcoming DC Comics project have me a little excited.
Announced by Baker in October, the book is being teased as “ultra-realistic and violent.” How violent? Well, there’s a scene in which Aquaman’s giant seahorse is killed by a Tyrannosaurus rex.
On Friday Baker posted a couple of pages from the comic, saying that he should finish the art over the weekend. Maybe we’ll see an official announcement, and release date, during New York Comic Con.