Monday, January 19, 2009

DC's April previews reviewed

Oh, DC previews, am I glad to see you! An unusual Monday involving extra day-job hours and a visit from a plumber have kept me from my keyboard so long that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do justice to the very cool small press book I was planning to review tonight. And then I saw you there, on, just waiting for me to cut and paste bits of you onto my blog, and yell insults and compliments at you while prejudging you based only on a few sentences of information.

January 19th, 2009's Every Day Is Like Wednesday post is saved! And now I have until Thursday to review that very cool small press book...

Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel & Sandu Florea
Covers by Tony Daniel
With the destruction of Arkham Asylum and dozens of Gotham City's most lethal villains rioting through the streets, it would seem that Nightwing, Robin and their allies have their hands full. But they hadn't counted on the return of Batman himself! But is it really The Dark Knight? If so, why is he acting so strangely? And if not, is this a threat that could mean the destruction of Gotham?

This 3-issue series continues to shock and surprise as the battle shifts to the next level with a face-off and ending that will have everybody talking. Who has earned the right to be Batman? Who thinks they deserve it? Robin? Nightwing? Jason Todd? Who will ultimately win the BATTLE FOR THE COWL?

Oh come on Daniel, you're not even trying. That first half of that first sentence is the exact premise of "Knightfall." Kinda cool to see The Knight and Squire on (one of) this issue's cover(s), but, you know, Tony Daniel.

Oh, by the way, who's that woman with the white fox mask in the lower left corner...?

This new Batman: The Brave and The Bold comic is going to be pretty cool, isn't it?

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver
Through the decades, many heroes have taken the mantle of The Flash, but they all ride the lightning that crackles in the wake of the greatest hero the DC Universe has ever known, the man who sacrificed himself to save the Multiverse: Barry Allen!

Following the events of FINAL CRISIS, Barry has beaten death and returned to a fast-paced world that a man out of time wouldn't recognize. Or is it a world that is only just now catching up? All the running he's done before was just a warmup for the high-speed race that he and every other Flash must now run, because even though one speedster might have beaten death, another has just turned up dead! From Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, the visionaries responsible for the blockbuster GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH and THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR, comes the start of an explosive and jaw-dropping epic that will reintroduce to the modern age the hero who single-handedly birthed the Silver Age of comics! DC history will be made, and the Flash legacy will be redefined!

I'm pretty torn about this series.

On the one hand, bringing Barry Allen back to life seems like its probably the single worst story idea in DC publishing history, even exceeding bringing Jason Todd back to life. The Todd resurrection is, make no mistake, the previous holder of the single worst story idea in DC publishing history, and while bringing a hero whose career is all about outrunning everything and time travel back to life doesn't seem as dumb as bringing a teenager who was beaten to death back to life via a character literally beating up DC continuity (God, this is a long sentence!), Barry Allen's death is a sort of bright, red line in DC publishing history. "Crisis" was, until it's ill-conceived sequel, the equivalent of the life of Christ in DC publishing history (that is, things happened B.C or A.D., Pre-Crisis or Post-Crisis).

It was also one of the company's ballsiest moves—they killed off one of their biggest characters (even if they left themselves an out), and, story-wise, it worked out just fine. They gambled and won.

I hate to use the term "jump the shark" because I think that term itself has jumped the shark (and it's not like DC Comics is ever a few seasons away from cancellation), but there's really no way to look at this that doesn't seem to deserve being labeled as such.

It does long time story-damage to the DCU, which also translates into long time sales lost (How's the Flash franchise been since DC started relaunching it on a quarterly basis at the end of Infinite Crisis, for example?) for a short-term spike in sales ("No son, not Wally West, the guy from Justice League Unlimited; Barry Allen, the guy from Superfriends, when daddy was a little boy.")

On the other hand, if it's possible to make a Barry Allen-comes-back-to-life-just-like-Hal-and-Ollie story work, Geoff Johns is probably the most likely writer to accomplish that. Ethan Van Sciver is a very good artist, and, while his character designs sometimes look a bit silly, I'd be curious to see how he depicts super-speed at this point in his career (he's changed and grown a lot since he was the Impulse artist).

But then on the other-other hand, Johns has already written a Silver-Age-Justice-Leaguer-that-older-readers-love-and-younger-readers-either-dislike-or-just-plain-don't-care-about-comes-back-to-life story, and it was drawn by Ethan Van Sciver. And this will invariably ship late at some point, so why risk getting wrapped up in it now rather than when the trade comes out. And it will be expensive at $3.99 per 30-page issue. And it has one of those scummy 1-in-25 variant schemes, with both variants by Van Sciver.

So, like I said, kinda torn.

Written by Todd Dezago
Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Eric Battle, John Stokes, Prentis Rollins and others
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver
In this classic story from IMPULSE #62-67, featuring art by Ethan Van Sciver, Max Mercury discovers that his connection to the speed force has been severed. Now, it's up to Impuse to save his mentor and surrogate father.
Advance-solicited; on sale May 6 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

Speaking of Van Sciver's Impulse...

I think these "presents" titles are kinda lame, as they make The Flash or Justice League or Punisher or whoever sound like a producer or live entertainment venue, but still, here's a nice, affordable collection of Impulse, one of those lighthearted, fun teen comics that went the way of the $2.50 single issue. If I remember correctly, the art inside will vary kinda wildly, with Van Sciver doing his version of Humberto Ramos and Eric Battle being Eric Battle, but Dezago's run on the title was pretty good in general. I assume some of this will be newly relevant to the current state of the Speed Force post-Final Crisis, and thus its getting collected now (and as a Flash trade instead of an Impulse one). That, or DC is just trying to get some more Van Sciver product on the shelves.

Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by George PĂ©rez and Karl Kesel
Cover by Alex Ross

Don't miss this new printing of the definitive history of the DC Universe. Featuring virtually every character in the DC Universe, this tale takes us from the dawn of creation to the end of recorded history and lays the foundation for adventures to come.
Advance-solicited; on sale May 13 • 104 pg, FC , $12.99 US

Ha ha, "definitive." I wonder how much of this is even in continuity now. Twenty percent? Ten?

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Howard Porter, Gary Frank, Greg Land, Val Semeiks and others
Cover by Howard Porter & John Dell
Collecting stories from JLA #10-17, PROMETHEUS #1 and JLA/WILDCATS in Deluxe format, this volume features the Justice League facing off against Lex Luthor's newly assembled Injustice Gang while the fate of the Earth itself hangs in the balance.

Fantastic. It's nice to see JLA/WildCATS collected with JLA proper (I believe it was last collected with Morrison's JLA: Classified "Seven Soldiers" prelude arc, for some reason). I'll likely pass on this, since I have all these books, but I'd be curious to reread the series as its being collected here. I'm also curious to see Greg Land's art back when he was drawing it without so much image reference--or at least the image reference was so subtle that it still looked like he was drawing straight out of his head.

Oh, and if for some reason you haven't yet read these comics, in addition to the WildCATS crossover, the Prometheus vs. the whole JLA two-parter and the one-shot lead in to it, this collects "Rock of Ages," maybe the best arc of Morrison's run on the title. It's especially relevant now, as it was essentially a sort of rough draft for Final Crisis. Darkseid conquering and completely subjugating earth, J'onn J'onnz killed, Batman tortured until he's able to out-will his captors, face down Darkseid and get's all in here.

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Federico Dallocchio
Cover by Ed Benes & Rob Hunter
While the team struggles with the aftermath of dissolution, the cosmic force known as Starbreaker sets out to ravage the earth for a hidden source of unimaginable power. But with the team facing its own crisis, who will stand in his way?

Huzzah, an Ed Benes-less issue! Good timing too;I'd hate to see Benes drawing anyone ravaging anything.

Of course, my interest in what used to be my favorite comic book has long since been killed dead, so I imagine I'll pass on this anyway, especially since Benes will still do the cover and probably be back next month anyway.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill
Covers by Alex Ross
Featuring three painted covers by Alex Ross depicting the entire Justice Society of America! In a very special day-in-the-life story of the JSA titled "Black Adam Ruined My Birthday," the team celebrates the birthday of one of their own – Stargirl! Don't miss this momentous issue.

Retailers please note: This issue will ship with three covers by Alex Ross that can be ordered separately. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale April 29 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Ha ha, I was going to say, "Wow,what a nice cover by Alex Ross," but it looks like DC won't actually be selling that cover. Your $2.99 will only get you 1/3 of the image. Oh comics, how I hate you...

Written and illustrated by Natsuna Kawase
CMX. Everyone in young Miel's family has magical powers, but she's not really interested in developing hers. Miel wants to live a more normal life, much to her older sister's disapproval. But when she encounters a boy who needs some help—and who happens to resemble the handsome and beloved young prince of the realm—Miel may just have found the motivation she needs to develop her own special gifts.
Advance-solicited; on sale May 20 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • EVERYONE

I've always liked the word "lapis lazuli."

Reminder: Guillem March is awesome.

Written by Dennis O'Neil, James Robinson, Chuck Dixon, Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman, Bill Willingham and Geoff Johns
Art by Lee Weeks, Scott McDaniel, Tony Daniel and others Cover by Alex Ross
All of the teenagers who have served as Robin star in this title collecting stories from BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #100, NIGHTWING #101, BATMAN #428 and 442, ROBIN #126 and 132 and TEEN TITANS #29.

"All?" Even Stephanie Brown?

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by Cameron Stewart
In 2008 alone, superstar writer Grant Morrison killed Batman, put the entire DC Universe through its FINAL CRISIS and concluded the unanimously beloved ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. But what does a writer who's written every significant Super Hero do when he can create any Super Hero he wants? The answer, of course, is SEAGUY! Morrison (THE INVISIBLES) rejoins original SEAGUY artist Cameron Stewart (SEVEN SOLDIERS) in an all-new adventure starring the cult-favorite character!

In Seaguy's cartoon future world, everyone is a Super Hero and no one dies. It's absolutely perfect...Or is it? In this follow-up to the cult 2004 miniseries, Seaguy resurfaces with a sinister new partner, a hatred of the sea and a rebel restlessness he can't explain. Why are Doc Hero and his ex-archenemy Silvan Niltoid, the Alien from Planet Earth, whispering strange equations? Why is Death so useless? And can that really be the ghost of Chubby Da Choona mumbling uncanny warnings and dire prophecies of ultimate catastrophe?

When the grotesque powers lurking behind the corporation known as Mickey Eye and the Happy Group attempt to erase Seaguy's entire existence, can he possibly get it together in time to save a world so far gone it can't even imagine the horror lying in wait? Find out here in Morrison's own personal reframing of the Super Hero concept for the 21st century.
On sale April 1 • 1 of 3 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • MATURE READERS

Grant Morrison beings the arduous task of redeeming himself after "Batman R.I.P." and Final Crisis. This looks like it will be a hell of a good start on that front.

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Carlos Rodriguez & Bitt
Cover by Nicola Scott
It's a special double date issue as the surviving members of the Six take a night on the town in that disturbing way that only they can do. It's dinner and a movie with bullets and bloodshed in an all-romance (with violence) issue you won't want to miss! Plus, what does Ragdoll dream about? Um, it's not for the squeamish.

Is this the issue where Deadshot and Catman finally break down and make out? The solicitation sounds promising!

Uh oh, a different art team?! Hopefully it's just a fill-in, as Scott and Hazelwood are one of DC's better teams at the moment.

Written by E. Nelson Bridwell and Dennis O'Neil
Art by Ric Estrada, Vince Colletta, Ramona Fradon, Bob Smith and Kurt Schaffenberger
Cover by Alex Toth

The superstars of the 1970s animated adventures star in this new, bargain-priced volume collecting SUPER FRIENDS #1-24!
Advance-solicited; on sale May 27 • 448 pg, B&W, $9.99 US

This is the greatest news I've ever heard in my entire life: About 450-pages of Justice League adventures, for $9.99. That's less than two issues of New Avengers and on issue of Tiny Titans.

Written by Michael J. Uslan & F.J. DeSanto
Art by Justiniano & Walden Wong
Cover by Brian Bolland
It's Paris in the springtime! Our 3-part revue of The Spirit's finest female foils concludes with the woman who puts the femme in femme fatale, the toast of Montmartre: Plaster of Paris! Where this beauty goes, murder follows en suite!

I dropped this after a few issues of the new, not-Darwyn Cooke creative team's efforts, but I'm pretty curious about what Justiniano's Spirit would look like.

Written by Sholly Fisch
Art by Scott Shaw! & Terry Beatty
Cover by J. Bone
When the alien Kanjar Ro invades Earth, he freezes all humans so that they won't mess with him – including the Super Friends! What he doesn't know is that he's about to face resistance from their super best friends – the Super Pets!

Yes. Not only do we have a team called "The Super Pets," but its in a comic drawn by Scott Shaw. And nice touch having a Kanga for a Wonder Woman pet; I honestly never thought of that, and I think about super-pets a lot.

Confidential to Jann Jones: I have a proposal for a Legion of Super-Pets miniseries set in the DCU and it is awesome. Call me!

I love you, Art Baltazar.

Written by Mike Grell
Art by Joe Prado & Walden Wong
Cover by Mike Grell
At the Roof of the World in Tibet, a team of paleontologists and adventurers has made the find of the century: perfectly preserved dinosaur specimens that appear to have died mere days before! Their expedition takes a deadly turn when they uncover an impossible portal to another world – an unbelievable country at the hollow center of the Earth, the mythical land of Skartaris! But they're not the first surface-worlders to find themselves stranded in Skartaris, and their arrival in his peaceful home triggers an unforgettable new adventure for the hero who has taken the land as his own: Travis Morgan, the Warlord! This new ongoing series marks the return of creator Mike Grell to the fantasy saga that made him famous! Reunite with Tara, Shakira, Tinder and the rest of the cast in a story that continues the adventures of the Warlord but opens up a new era where any reader can jump aboard. Along with Grell's scripts – and lushly painted covers – comes the art of rising star Joe Prado (ACTION COMICS, SINESTRO CORPS SECRET FILES)! DC's finest fantasy franchise is reborn!

I was really rather surprised that DC couldn't make one of their old fantasty series' work in a post-Dark Horse Conan market. I'm not sure how the last attempt at Warlord went, as I skipped it (If I remember correctly, it was a reboot...?), and Claw The Unconquered was a little on the disastrous side (why was it at WildStorm, again?). This attempt looks a little more promising, since Grell is involved, of course it's been a few years now, and Dark Horse has launched a few more Robert E. Howard character comics, so if there was an uptick in barbarian/sword and sorcery interest, I wonder if it's still around...


John Foley said...

Is this the issue where Deadshot and Catman finally break down and make out?

Deadshot definitely has a little "Tom's of Finland" vibe going on there.

snell said...

The woman with tghe "white fox mask" is Lynx, a teenaged gang leader/martial artist/recurring foe for Robin.

caleb said...

The woman with tghe "white fox mask" is Lynx, a teenaged gang leader/martial artist/recurring foe for Robin.

Really? The same Lynx who got killed during "War Games," came back to life under unexplained circumstances in the first OYL arc of Robin and then got killed again by Batgirl...? Huh. How is she not dead, and where's she been appearing lately? Robin? Gotham Underground? I'm so lost with the Bat-books these days...

Mr. Bretterson said...

Wonder Woman's pet kanga was actually named "Jumpa". She was perhaps not the most creatively minded child...

Michael Hoskin said...

"...the greatest hero the DC Universe has ever known..."

Superman? They mean Superman, right? Who else could the people who run DC Comics be referring to? They own the trump card.

"...Barry Allen!"

Oh. The first Flash to be cancelled at a time when super hero comics were actually really successful? Yeah, this'll work. I suppose Ralph Dibny is the world's greatest detective? Black Canary is the foremost heroine of the DCU?

Patrick C said...

How about the reveal that Superman of Earth-2 will be a Black Lantern???

And in a toy solicit no less!

LurkerWithout said...

The covers for Tiny Titans always look so interesting but then the insides..aren't. Or maybe I'm just a big ol' grumpypants...

Rudy Ascott said...

...high-speed race that he and every other Flash must now run...

Every other? I like the idea of legacy characters, but lets limit it to one please.

googum said...

The last Warlord was a reboot, from Bruce Jones, and it was terrible. There might've been an idea or two buried in there, but it blew up on the launchpad.

Still, with Grell back on, and a new Seaguy, that's two more than I usually get from DC lately.

SallyP said...

Hey, I LIKE Barry! I also have to say that the plotline to Secret Six sounds like a ton of fun, as does the Justice Society.

Although I am certainly not going to buy all three covers. I mean, sheesh already!

KentL said...

JLA/WildC.A.T.s was one of the worst comics I've ever read. I really could not believe how bad it was.

Outburst said...

Barry Allen should stay dead. For the reasons you mention and because he just simply doesn't fit into today's world.
We're talking about the guy who ushered in the Silver Age. He was a police detective and all-round do-gooder.
The one blemish in his career was that he accidentally broke the neck of the guy who killed his wife, and he spent a year in court for it.
How the guy stood shoulder to shoulder with Bats and Green Arrow when he was so pristinely ethical all the time beats me, but he just doesn't fit into today's world.
Mind you, no comic company will let a big gun stay dead if he can sell a few copies for a year.

snell said...

Caleb--there is a new Lynx (apparently) who turned up in Robin about 4 issues ago...nothing is known about her, as far as I know.

chiasaur11 said...

Silly Hoskin.

Everyone knows DC's greatest detective is Detective Chimp.

Caleb said...

Wonder Woman's pet kanga was actually named "Jumpa".

Oh yeah, thanks!

And in a toy solicit no less!

Yeah, what was up with that? They blacked the figure out like it was to preserve a secret, but spoiled it in the copy. Too bad KC-Superman just went back to his homeworld; they really coulda used him against E-2 Superman?

there is a new Lynx (apparently) who turned up in Robin about 4 issues ago...nothing is known about her, as far as I know.

Thanks, Snell.

Jacob T. Levy said...

You know, I'll bet History of the DCU isn't in as bad of shape as you think. Book One, which goes up through 1940 or so, should be basically fine. Occasionally someone throws a retcon at Vandal Savage or Immortal Man or Camelot, but no one else ever seems to remember them. Probably the most pre-1940 continuity stuff that DC has published since 1986 was in Sandman Mystery Theater, which was admirably careful to be compatible with the major beats of Wesley Dodds' established career.

Admittedly, if you were writing Book One now there's a lot of stuff you'd include that didn't exist then (Resurrection Man, the retconned pre-modern histories of the Spectre and Eclipso), but I doubt that much of what *is* there violates what passes for continuity today.

At a glance through Book Two, the only major problems I see are that Wonder Woman has her post-Crisis timeline (debut during Legends) instead of her post-IC timeline (debut at the beginning of the Silver Age); Hawk continuity is pre-Hawkworld (i.e. Thanagarians Katar and Shayera Hol come to earth during the Silver Age and join the JLA); and Brainiac has a wacky history in which the pre-Crisis Coluan with a skullship is coincidentally succeeded by (as best as I can tell) the post-Crisis story of Vril Dox taking control of Milton Fine and being augmented by Luthor. The skullship Brainiac is reported as destroyed by the Omega Men; does that refer to a story that was ever published?

This totals about 2.5 pages out of 48.

Some elements of HOTDCU that used to be problematic, now aren't: the Levitz-era Legion, the depiction of Crisis as involving infinite earths.

The depiction of Superman, say, is sufficiently general and iconic that neither Man of Steel nor Birthright nor OYL affects it: last son of a dying planet, Kansas parents, etc. We never even see a picture of Krypton, so it doesn't matter whether Kryptonians worse suns on their chests or silver peacock-crowns on their heads.