Monday, August 18, 2008

DC's November previews reviewed

I was reading through the solicitations for DC comics slated for November release, and I noticed what seemed like an awful lot of TV and videogame adaptations in the Wildstorm imprint’s section.

The reminded me of Wildstorm’s existential problems—What does the imprint do, exactly? What separates a Wildstorm book from a Vertigo or DCU book? Etc.—and the fact that this was a whole month’s worth of Wildstorm output gathered in one place, it seemed like a good opportunity to survey its state.

There are 15 different titles solicited for the month of November. Of these, four are titles set in a version of the original Wildstorm Universe (The Authority, Gen 13, Wildcats, Stormwatch: PHD ), three are TV show tie-ins (Chuck, Fringe, The X-Files), four are videogame tie-ins (Mirror’s Edge, Gears of War*, World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft: Ashbringer), one is a prequel to a movie (Push), and four seem to be original series (Ex Machina, Storming Paradise, Top Ten Season Two** and The Ferryman***). Additionally, two trades are scheduled for release, one collecting an arc from the cancelled Wildstorm universe title Midnighter, and another collecting part of the Peter Milligan-written Programme, a series I believe is original (i.e., not tied into the WSU or a media property).

I don’t have any recommendations to offer the good people at Wildstorm/DC, or any suggestions regarding the way things should be, I just mean this by way of observation. The line does seem to be pretty ill-defined, and is just about equally devoted to its various categories.

There are just as many original, Image-like titles right now (and why aren’t these either Vertigo or DCU?) as there are WSU super-comics (and why aren’t they DCU comics, if the DCU’s multiverse now encompasses the WSU?) or comics based on video games. And then there are almost as many based on TV shows, and, if you add all the comics based on non-comics properties together, that is by far the biggest category.


Anyway, on to pre-judging the rest of DC’s November output…

I really like this cover, for November's issue of the upcoming Vertigo series Air. I'm not sure if I should try the singles or just dive right into the trades when they become available. This is a conundrum that always faces me when Vertigo launches a new series I'm interested in.

Written by Frank Miller
Art and cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams
Variant cover by Frank Miller
Frank Miller and Jim Lee gun the All-Star engine into the red! The Dark Knight’s hand exacts a heavy price from the trash of Gotham City – and now, with the Boy Wonder by his side, fines will be doubled!

Oh my God! The All-Star engine wasn’t even into the red yet! How gloriously insane will the series be once it gets there?

I don’t think I’ll ever actually tired of Kevin Magurie’s riffs on his original Justice League cover.

Ho hum. Another month, another amazing cover by Rick Veitch for his Army @ Love series.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Lee Garbett
Cover by Alex Ross
Variant cover by Tony Daniel
Two issues of BATMAN in one month! Now that “Batman R.I.P.” has concluded, the aftermath begins! If you thought mastermind writer Grant Morrison surprised you with “R.I.P.”, just wait until you see what he has planned for this retrospective story. In his last hours, Alfred the Butler tells the life story of the Batman as you've never seen it before in this two-part adventure which bridges the gap between the events of “Batman R.I.P.” and FINAL CRISIS. Learn the secrets of Batman's early years! Witness the nightmare of a Gotham City where Batman never existed!

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Lee Garbett
Cover by Alex Ross
Variant cover by Tony Daniel
This special two-part tale narrated by Sir Alfred Pennnyworth reflects upon the life and times of Gotham City’s most celebrated citizen – and hints at what’s next for The Dark Knight. Grant Morrison delivers a story of past memories, present heartache and future promises. A spectacular, unforgettable farewell to The Dark Knight, mixing memory, dream and speculation as Alfred closes the casebook on the greatest crimefighter of all time. With guest appearances by Batman friends and foes from every era of Batman's history, this epic adventure cannot be missed.

It’s hard to tell where “Batman R.I.P.” is going, let alone where it will end by these solicitations. If anything, this sounds like a possible alternate future story looking back on Batman’s career (Alfred isn’t a knight at the moment, is he?).

What I found most noteworthy was the artist credit: Tony Daniel isn’t it. I suppose Daniel could just taking a breather after “Batman R.I.P.” and this Lee Garbett character is just filling in.

Looking at Garbett’s website, I wasn’t exactly filled with excitement. It’s hard to say what kind of Batman artist and Morrison collaborator he’ll be before actually reading his Batman comics with Grant Morrison, but he does seem to have that same late-‘90s Wildstorm house style look that Daniel and previous fill-in artist Ryan Benjamin had.

Maybe Batman editor Mike Marts and I just have really, really, really, really, really different tastes in comics art?

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and covers by J.G. Jones and Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino
As the entire world turns against them, the last of Earth's Super Heroes must face the unstoppable power of the Gods of Apokolips for the final time. Supergirl vs. Mary Marvel! Superman vs. Darkseid! The fate of the Flash! And the incredible return of the New Gods! The End of Days has come and the ultimate war between good and evil will at last be decided on the battlefield of a broken world! And as the skies bleed, as the walls between universes crumble and fall, the ultimate threat to life makes its presence felt as an evil beyond imagining arrives to claim its prize. Mandrakk the Dark Monitor is coming and the DC Multiverse will never be the same again!

Actually, isn't the DC Multiverse never being the same again the same as it always is? It's always in a state of never being the same as it was.

Written by Greg Rucka
Art and covers by Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion
Cain walks the Earth with the Spear of Destiny in his hand, and the only one who can stop him is the Spectre! But the Spectre hovers at death's door, split from his host, and only one person can save him: Crispus Allen. Meanwhile, the Question, Radiant, and Huntress struggle to defend what's left of Gotham in the face of a Justifier siege..

That's not actually supposed to be Cain isn't it? He looks...different than in previous appearances.

Nice to hear the words "Spear of Destiny" though; Day of Judgement drove me bonkers because I kept wondering why everyone was trying to fight The Spectre and no one thought they should maybe use the only weapon that can hurt The Spectre. Especially when some of the characters doing the fighting--Phantom Stranger, Ragman, Blue Devil--were the same one's who hid the Spear in the sun at the end of Day of Vengeance, the story DoJ took its name from.

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Mike Norton & Wayne Faucher
Cover by Cliff Chiang
Green Arrow's son may be back, but something's definitely different about Connor Hawke since his kidnapping at the hands of the League of Assassins. And you won’t believe your eyes when you see what he can do now!

Okay, now he’s gay.

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason & Drew Geraci
Cover by Pat Gleason
The War of Light continues! In part 2 of “The Sins of the Star Sapphire,” the Guardians journey on a diplomatic mission to convince the Zamorans to halt their tampering with the violet light. What will the Guardians do when they discover the Zamorans are attempting to “cure” Sinestro Corps members by infusing them with love?

“Infusing them with love?” Ew!

ROBIN #180
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art and cover by Freddie E. Williams II
As the Gotham youth gangs run rampant and the "blue-flu" sweeps the indignant Gotham police force, Robin faces off against a surprising yet familiar foe.

This promises to be the best bloody battle between Jason Todd and Tim Drake since their last one.

Written by Kevin VanHook
Art and cover by Tom Mandrake
The evil Dr. Combs has reanimated the dead and turned innocent victims into monsters from beyond! Artificially created vampires and werewolves now prowl the streets of Gotham, and only the combined might of The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight can hope to stop them. But when a rogue vampire named Dimeter and a feral werewolf called Janko decide to join their side against Combs and his legion of the undead, Superman and Batman will have to save themselves – and all of Gotham – from the creatures of the night! Good thing they've called in Green Arrow and his wooden and silver-tipped arrows for help!

Ha ha ha ha ha! The evil Dr. Combs has “reanimated the dead!” This is hilarious because an actor named Jeffrey Combs once played a doctor character in a beloved horror movie about reanimating the dead! Ho ho ho!

If this is any indication of how clever the actual comics stories will be, then this promises to be the most hilarious Superman and Batman vs. two other things comic ever! I can’t wait!

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art and cover by Phil Noto
A vicious Apokolptian villain known as Malestrom has arrived on Earth to kill Superman so that she might become The Bride of Darkseid! Superman and Supergirl join forces to battle the villain but at what cost to Metropolis? From Earth to Apokolips and beyond, Superman and Supergirl face unexpected challenges in this action-packed tale examining what it means to be a hero.

So, no one learned anything from the Countdown/Final Crisis disconnect when it comes to having two radically different versions of the New Gods occuring simultaneously in the same super hero universe then?

TERRA #1-2
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art and cover by Amanda Conner
From the pages of TERROR TITANS and the minds of Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Connor comes a new rock-slinging heroine! As Terra's earth-shaking stunts grab the attention of the world, a new threat rises from beneath the surface. Will Terra live to fight another day, as she takes on the blaze and fury of Pyrite and the Lavarians? And what is the secret behind this new mover and shaker's powers? Guest-starring Power Girl and Doctor Mid-Nite!

Wow, this looks suspicious. When did they first announce this book, complete with that particular cover art? A year ago? Two years ago? And here it says it's "from the pages of Terror Titans," a series which hasn't even been released and, presumably, wasn't even conceived until a year or so after Terra was announced.

I like the word "Lavarians" though; particularly if it’s in reference to lava people of some kind.

Written by David Lapham
Art and cover by David Lapham
From the creator of Stray Bullets comes this rip-roaring, hardcore urban adventure comic! When young Sadie gets a bullet lodged in her brain, it sets her group of friends on an insane ride where nothing is what it seems! Featuring an introduction by rockstar and Eisner Award-winner Gerard Way!

So has anyone been reading this series? What’s the verdict? I was waiting for the trade, and now that it’s on its way, I don’t think I’ve read very much at all about the series…just a few rather unimpressed reviews, I think.

*This post originally grouped Gears of War with the original series, rather than with the videogame comics. Because I am ignorant of video games, and have been ever since Super Mario Bros. 3 came out. Commenters clued me in, and I rearranged a bit of this post to reflect the correction. Thanks guys!.

**”Original” might not be the best word, given that this is of course based on Alan Moore’s comic of the same name from his since-aborted America’s Best Comics sub-line of comics. But it seems to have more in common with that category of Wildstorm comics than with any of the others.

***The solicitation for this series is especially weird. It ends with the words, “It’s more insane action from legendary movie producer Joel Silver!” but Silver isn’t credited as a writer, co-writer, creator or even one of those funny tiles Virgin Comics sometimes gives the celebrities somehow attached to their comics. It doesn’t appear to be based on a movie either, based on a quick IMDb search.


Unknown said...

I'm pretty sure Gears of War is based on a video game as well.

Unreasonable Action said...

Even Gears of War is a video game tie-in.

I have long believed major companies should maintain media imprints. Speaking as someone who stocked shelves every Wednesday for years, as few (traditional) comic fans read tie-in books as Aliens, Battlestar Galactica, C.S.I., Doctor Who, Halo, Heroes, Predator, Terminator, Warcraft, and X-Files fans read (traditional) comics. After a month or so, we stored media books in a special place on the floor; we called it "The Dollar Bin."

(Also, speaking now as a Star Wars fan, and witnessing how much better they have done by that license than Lucas himself, I have often wondered why any production house would deal with anyone other than Dark Horse!)

Distinct media lines are not only easier for shop staff to merchandise, but also easier for non-comic venues, like record shops and airport bookstores, to discover, order, and sell.

Damien Whiter said...

You're going to like Lee Garbett on Batman. His run on Midnighter was ace. There were many silent sequences and his storytelling was so clear that you knew exactly what was going on.

Very different to Tony Daniel.

Simon (formerly Johnny Sorrow) said...

The Bat-denouement with "Sir Alfred" looking back sounds a bit like Morrison's big farewell to the X-Men in "Here Comes Tomorrow;" a sort of picture of the potential he sees for new stories.

SallyP said...

The blurb for Green Lantern Corps just has be breathless with anticipation.

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear the words "Spear of Destiny" though; Day of Judgement drove me bonkers because I kept wondering why everyone was trying to fight The Spectre and no one thought they should maybe use the only weapon that can hurt The Spectre. Especially when some of the characters doing the fighting--Phantom Stranger, Ragman, Blue Devil--were the same one's who hid the Spear in the sun at the end of Day of Vengeance, the story DoJ took its name from.

Umm... I'm pretty sure you need to switch all instances of "Judgement" with "Vengeance" up there (and visa versa).