Monday, November 19, 2007

DC's February previews reviewed

Wow, it seems like they just released solicitations for a month's worth of DC Comics last month, and yet, here we have some more. Open up a second window, and follow along here as we examine what books to look forward to and which to start mocking now...

ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #11 Written by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner. Art and cover by Adam Kubert. Variant cover by Kubert. The extra-length conclusion to "Last Son" is here! Superman and the new Superman Revenge Squad — Lex Luthor, Bizarro, the Parasite and Metallo — take on General Zod, Ursa and Non in a battle for Metropolis, the future of Krypton and Christopher Kent!

Huh. Five dollars is an awful lot for a story that everybody already knows the ending to (well, Superman won, obviously, but we also know the most relevant bit of the aftermath, in terms of whether Chris Kent lives or dies or stays with Superman and Lois or not). I didn't dislike this story as much as I've lost any and all interest in it. I similarly lost any and all interst in “Who Is Wonder Woman?” and ended up skipping the annual featuring the end of that long delayed story, and didn't feel like I missed anything at all. Whether I bother or not with this will likely depend on how many other books are out that Wednesday.

ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER #9 Written by Frank Miller. Art and cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams.
Variant cover by Neal Adams. The Dynamic Duo: yellow-bellied? Green Lantern tries to convince
Batman & Robin to fall in line, but the pair takes him to school…in color theory! Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every
10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Neal Adams). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

I love this cover, and can't imagine anyone wanting the Adams one instead. Will his version be cooler than Goddam Batman shunning the spotlight while Robin smiles and waves in it? What a perfect image.

I'm intrigued by the solicitation copy, too. I hope it involves Batman donning an all-yellow version of his costume and beating the holy hell out of Hal for 22 pages because a) it's fun to see Hal get hit, b) seeing Batman in an all-yellow costume would be awesome and c) seeing the Miller/Lee Goddam Batman in all-yellow would be the the most awesome thing ever.

Wow, those are two costumes that should never be rendered in Doug Braithwaite’s photorealistic style…

Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz. Art and cover by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund. An issue over ten years in the making! An official ZERO HOUR crossover kicks off the second time-traveling story arc of "the greatest hero the world will never know" with "Blue and Gold," Part 1! Witness the secret origin of Booster Gold as he journeys through the time line, lost, in an attempt to return home...with a good friend in tow. But there's an evil out there waiting for him; one of the greatest villains of the DC Universe: Hal Jordan, a.k.a. Parallax!

Man, I can't tell you how excited I am about this one. I enjoyed Zero Hour quite a bit when I originally read it, perhaps in large part because I was still a teen and hadn't developed any cranky prejudices about characterizations and continuity. I really liked the one-man show feel of it, with Jurgens writing and handling lay-outs/pencils, and it gave way to a lot of great tie-ins (first the timestream-being-fucked-with ones, like Superman meeting every Batman ever, or Batgirl or “Battling Butler” Alfred showing up at Wayne Manor; then the zero issue jumping-on points, which were a really great idea...DC oughta do a jumping on point event about once a year or two if you ask me*).

Additionally, I thought making Hal Jordan a villain was one of the greatest idea in all of DC history. Not a popular opinion, I know, and yeah, his costume and evil codename totally sucked, but man, when he cold-cocked Superman and was like, "Yeah, now I'm so powerful I’m totally going to destroy the entire universe and then re-create the universe," I had a big red exclamation point appear over my head. For real.

I know a lot of folks thought it was way too out of character for Jordan to go that far, but I always thought the way Jurgens presented it—that Jordan was just temporarily destroying the universe to recreate it better—actually had a heroic hook to it. Essentially, the argument between his and his peers wasn't just whether or not you had to break a few eggs to make an omelette, but if it's not justifiable to make an omelette if you can put the eggs back together again just as they were before you broke them.

It didn't last very long—a couple of issues of Green Lantern and that was about it, actually—but I thought Jordan had the makings to be the ultimate DC bad guy for a while there.

Oh, and while I realize Zero Hour totally screwed some things up—Hawkman and The Legion, specifically—they were always getting screwed up anyway, so it didn't seem like much of a loss. Besides, it ended with that timeline, and lead right into a month of nothing but origin stories of every single character with their own title, so everyone—fan and creator alike—was on the same page regarding what got changed in the continuity reboot. Pretty much the exact opposite of the Infinite Crisis/52 reboot.

Anyway, no one's played with Zero Hour as much as Johns over the years. He's probably written hundreds of pages dealing with its fall-out at this point, making Hal the Spectre, returning Hal to life and explaining away Parallax, building Green Lantern mythology around Parallax, bringing Hank Hall/Extant back to menace the JSA and then killing him off, making some sort of sense out of Hawkman, messing around with the Legion, bringing Hourman I back to life, and so on.

So it will be neat to see him revisit it yet again, particularly with Jurgens in tow, and now drawing on his own retcons, which will be visually consistent with the original series. Normally DC's fooling around with continuity like this drives me crazy, because it's a well they go to way too often, but the thing about this series is that fooling around with continuity, or the "time line" as the characters would know it, is the subject of the series.

I'm also kind of sick of characters coming back to life, but this is one case in which I'm actively rooting for Ted "Blue Beetle" Kord to come back to life. The method, motives and venue are perfect for his resurrection in this case, so it won't seem as random and haphazard as it did when, say, Ice or Hippolyte came back to life.

But even if Kord's still dead when this is all over, we'll at least get to see him, and probably the other two Beetles as well...are maybe a dozen more, by the looks of that cover.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #10 Written by Mark Waid. Art by George Pérez & Bob Wiacek. Cover by Pérez. The Book of Destiny has cracked open wide...and wild team-ups spill out! Featuring Superman! The Shining Knight! Aquaman! And the Teen Titans!

Wow, they had me with Superman swinging a sword and bearing a S-sheild shaped sheilf. But then you got Aquaman, Waid and Pérez to sell it as well?! Wow. Did I say that already? This looks great.

COUNTDOWN SPECIAL: OMAC Written by Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin and Len Wein. Art by Kirby, Mike Royer, Starlin, Romeo Tanghal, George Pérez and Pablo Marcos. Cover by Ryan Sook. Witness the origins of OMAC in this spectacular 80-page giant collecting O.M.A.C. #1 (1974), WARLORD #37-39 (1980), and DC COMICS PRESENTS #61 (1983)!

I’ve passed on all of these Countdown specials in which they simply reprint great old comics and then re-brand them as Countdown retroactive tie-ins, in large part because the material being reprinted has previously been available in other, more appealing formats. But is this the first time Kirby’s OMAC has been reprinted? And is that all of it? Because this might be one to pick up.

And I would totally buy a 22-page comic book with nothing in it but Sook’s house ads and covers. As much as I’ve hated all the Countdown related stuff I’ve read (excepting Busiek’s “3-2-1 Action!” story, which wasn’t bad), Sook has created some really nice images to advertise it.

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Amanda Conner
Cover by Cliff Chiang
Variant cover by Conner
With a recent tragedy hanging over their heads, Green Arrow and Black Canary realize that they may not have actually gotten married. But will they try again or drift apart in the wake of all that’s happened to them? Featuring art by Amanda Conner (GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL)!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Cliff Chiang), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Amanda Conner). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

What a knock-out cover. And more Amanda Conner art too. Too bad Chiang and Conner’s talents are being wasted in service of Winick-written snuff comics. This is the aftermath story of the one in January’s solicitations, in which either Mia or Connor appear to get killed off. I’m hoping for Mia, but am afraid Connor is more likely.

I bet Sonic the Hedgehog has nightmares like this all the time.

Written by Dwayne McDuffie & Alan Burnett
Art by Ed Benes & JonBoy Meyers
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver
The Justice League Vs. the Suicide Squad for the salvation of the
Earth's villains! Plus, more on Vixen's power flux.

Wow, that cover looks terrible. Bronze Tiger has an even bigger, crazier build than The General, whom, you'll recall, is the old Shaggy Man, who is a fucking giant.

The solicitation copy sounds pretty terrible, too. Is this team that can't capture the Trickster and Piper really going to trouble the League for a few panels? Are we following the arc where the League fights their evil counterparts with a story in which the League fights their anti-hero counterparts? And why are there two writers credited? I'll likely have re-dropped the title by February, unless McDufffie presents the greatest ending of all time in the next issue, one that justifies four or five issues worth of tired superhero fighting cliches.

Maybe I'm just a huge nerd for certain kinds of visual nostalgia, or maybe I'm just sick of Ross painting such similar covers for so many consecutive issues, but I really like the old floating heads reacting to the cover lay out of this cover. And I love Jay's face up there.

Hey, are there any brunette superheroes in the DCU? There are a ton of blondes, a couple of women with black hair, and a few redheads, but does anyone just have brown hair? Manhunter, maybe? That's all I can think of at the moment.

OUTSIDERS: FIVE OF A KIND TP Written by G. Willow Wilson, Marc Andreyko and others. Art by Freddie Williams II, Koi Turnbull, Joshua Middleton and others. Cover by Matthew Clark & Karl Story. In this volume collecting OUTSIDERS: FIVE OF A KIND #1-5 and OUTSIDERS #50, Batman has once again assumed the leadership role of the Outsiders. And to take control of his former team, the Dark Knight is using five adventures to pick his new lineup! Find out who makes the cut!

Really? They’re collecting this into a trade? Even though the team that was formed here, in the back-ups by Tony Bedard, has been discarded for a different team line-up by a different writer?

Must…resist…urge to make…joke about…symbolism…

SHAZAM: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD TP Written by Bill Parker, Dennis O’Neil, Elliot S! Maggin and others_Art by C.C. Beck, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Barry Kitson and others_Cover by Alex Ross_An earth-shattering volume collecting stories from Whiz Comics #2,Captain Marvel Adventures #1,137,148, Marvel Family #21, 85, Shazam! #1, 14, DC Comics Presents Annual #3, Superman #276, L.E.G.I.O.N. '91 #31, Power of SHAZAM! #33 and Adventures in the DC Universe #5.

I’ve read most of these already—I think I’d remember a Kirby Captain Marvel story though, and I’m sure I didn’t see the L.E.G.I.O.N. one—but I may buy this anyway, seeing as I own relatively few of them (DC has extremely few affordable reprints of Captain Marvel stories).

Odd, I don’t see the name Judd Winick in there…aren’t they includinghis new version of the franchise?

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BOOSTER GOLD VOL. 1 TP Written by Dan Jurgens and John Byrne. Art by Jurgens, Byrne, Al Vey, Ty Templeton and others. Cover by Jurgens & Templeton. Witness the 1980s adventures of the time-traveling Booster Gold in this action-packed Showcase edition collecting BOOSTER GOLD #1-25, and ACTION COMICS #594! Over 600 pages of comics for less than $17 bucks!

I was about to post something snarky about how weird it is that Booster Gold is going to be collected in trade before Suicide Squad or the bulk of the Justice League comics form the same era, and then I noticed this is a Showcase, which means no matter how bad these stories are (and, honestly, of the few I’ve read, they’re really bad), it’s totally going to be worth it for $17.

Now if only they'd start pumping out some Giffen/DeMatteis League Showcases. After all, it's their work on the character that has made him such a (relatively) beloved one.

Ant-headed Superman! Oh Busiek, you spoil us!

If this series turns out to be one-twelfth as awesome as the art for it looks, it should end up being by far the best Titans comics in recent memory.


*No one ever asks me. They need not be #0 issues though; DC similarly did the every-issue-in-the-line-is-a-jumping-on-point theme month thing with "Big Head Month" and Eisner-like logo month. I think I eventually tried just about every single one of these, and ended up sticking with quite a few new ongoings because I liked what I saw there so much.


Steve Flanagan said...

I think I’d remember a Kirby Captain Marvel story

If I remember rightly, he worked for Fawcett (or whatever it was called then) in between leaving Eisner/Iger and hooking up with Joe Simon. I'll be interested to see if his work is even recognisable.

Regault said...

Hmm. Either the solicit or the cover of Brave and the Bold is wrong. Solicit says Shining Knight, when the cover has Superman teaming up with Silent Knight(The original headliner for B&B when it started as a medieval/Robin Hood story anthology.)

Kind of sad Dixon isn't taking the oppurtunity to pretend Batgirl's heel turn NEVER EVER HAPPENED like all right thinking individuals.

Booster Gold #0's cover reminded me of the theory someone came up with that Hal Jordan subconciously created the yellow space bug as a "This wasn't my fault" out when he recreated the universe in Zero Hour.

David page said...

I personally think the one good thing that ame out of zero month was starman if fact Jacks first official dcu appearance was in zero hour

G.J. Georges said...

is this the first time Kirby’s OMAC has been reprinted? And is that all of it? Because this might be one to pick up.

As far as I know Kirby's Omac has never been reprinted. And this still isn't it since Kirby has done 8 issues of it, and they're only reprinting the first one, the origin.

That's too bad. It's crazy, but very good stuff. But really crazy.

The non-Kirby stuff isn't quite as good though.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Isn't DC doing an OMAC omnibus collection of some sort, similar to the Fourth World hardcovers? I thought I read that somewhere, but maybe I'm just imagining it...

SallyP said...

I am looking forward with GREAT anticipation to both the Booster Gold #0 issue and the Showcase book. You are right of course, they really should release more of the old JLI's, instead of just repackaging the original collection.

Brave & the Bold looks to be fun as usual. The art is so adorable on Green Arrow & Black Canary, that I can almost...almost forgive Winick.

That cover for Green Lantern Corps is gorgeous. Not so much for JLA, although I like the JSA cover by Alex Ross. But where is Obsidian and Sandy?

Matthew said...

Is Mary Marvel a brunette, when she's not Black Adamised?