Monday, October 19, 2009

DC's January previews reviewed

It's my favorite Monday night of the month, the Monday night in which I can just cut and paste DC's solicitations for comics to be released a few months in the future and call it a blog post! This time, it's the publisher's plans for January of 2010. You can see them in all their glory here, and you can read my pre-judgments of them below.

First up, January is the month that DC is resurrecting old, canceled titles from the "dead" as part of their "Blackest Night" publishing event, which revolves around dead characters returning from the grave.

I talked about these undead comics featuring undead characters a little in Thursday's post, during which I wondered about the artists (last week, DC announced the titles, characters and writers, but not the artists). Here are the full creative rosters for each:

THE ATOM & HAWKMAN #46
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ryan Sook

CATWOMAN #83
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Julian Lopez & Bit
Cover by Guillem March

THE PHANTOM STRANGER #42
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art and cover by Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes

THE POWER OF SHAZAM #48
Written by Eric Wallace
Art by Don Kramer & Michael Babinski
Cover by Tom Feister

THE QUESTION #37
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz
Cover by Cully Hamner

STARMAN #81
Written by James Robinson
Art by Fernando Dagnino & Bill Sienkiewicz
Cover by Tony Harris

WEIRD WESTERN TALES #71
Written by Dan DiDio
Art by Renato Arlem
Cover by Bill Sienkiewicz

SUICIDE SQUAD #67
Written by John Ostrander & Gail Simone
Art by J. Calafiore
Cover by Daniel LuVisi


None of them strike me as perfect teams, in which the original and/or ideal writers and artists are back (James Robinson and John Ostrander on Starman and Suicide Squad, for example, but with new artists; Denys Cowan's on The Question, but with a new[-ish] writer). At this point, The Atom and Hawkman and The Question are the only two that seem like they'll definitely be both good looking and well-written for the purposes of the event, but I imagine I'll end up checking out some of the others when I get a good look at 'em on the Wednesday of release.



Nice cover! I enjoyed the first issue of this series, but decided to drop it after it was announced the creative team on the lead feature was only around for about a story arc (This issue, #6, is apparently their last). I look forward to the trade though. Francis Manapaul does an incredible Krypto.


BATGIRL #6
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott
Cover by Phil Noto
In “Core Requirements” part 2, Stephanie Brown finds herself teamed up with Damian Wayne! The new Batgirl and the new Robin must enter an area of Gotham City known to Gothamites as Devil’s Square, but to the residents, it’s called “Thunderdome”! Their mission: to save innocent civilians from being used in a real-life game of life and death!


Oh, is Damian going with Wayne as his last name, instead of al Ghul? Because al Ghul sounds a lot cooler, and doesn’t have that weird near-rhyme effect to it that Wayne does.

This makes me wonder what Alfred and Dick are doing with Damian when he’s not Robin. This may be addressed in one of the Bat-books I’m not reading (although there does seem to be some disconnect between some of the books, as the world thinks Hush is Bruce Wayne in Streets of Gotham and Gotham City Sirens, but Lucius Fox seems to be either looking for Bruce Wayne or ignoring “Bruce Wayne” to bug Grayson about business stuff in Batman and Robin).

Are they passing Damian off as one of Bruce’s sons publicly, or do they just keep him in the bunker all the time? Because Bruce just adopted Tim and Dick recently, so it’s gotta seem weird that after years of only having a ward, Bruce Wayne is suddenly gathering and adopting dark-haired boys like he was planning some sort of reality show or something.


BATMAN #695
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel & Sandu Florea
Cover by Tony Daniel
The unthinkable happens when Batman and the Penguin join forces to thwart the mass murder and mayhem of their common foe, the Black Mask. Plus, Batman confronts an adversary from days past who has a score to settle with The Dark Knight.


I had previously misidentified Batman’s adversary on this Tony Daniel cover as Spawn. Having now read the solicit, I think it may actually be The Reaper, from Batman: Year Two, which you just don’t hear about as much as Batman: Year One for some reason.

Also, “unthinkable?” I read Batman: Gotham Underground, Solicitation Writer. I may wish I hadn’t, but I have.


BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #40
Written by Sam Kieth
Art and cover Sam Kieth
There’s a new killer prowling Gotham City preying on the homeless. Batman has his suspicions, but is his normally rational mind playing tricks on him? When The Caped Crusader finally meets his suspect face-to-face, he finds that the creature knows much more than he should. Prepare for a stunning 4-part storyline written and illustrated by fan favorite Sam Kieth!


Interesting to see that this is an arc in Batman Confidential, rather than a standalone miniseries. Interesting, and welcome. This is following a Peter Milligan-written arc on the title, so it looks like they may be trying to recruit top notch, name talent for the title, instead of just illustrating publishing whatever pitches from TV writers they have in the slush pile.

I didn't much care for the last Kieth written and illustrated DCU comic featuring Batman that I read (Scratch), so I might just wait for the trade on this one. But it's still nice to see that they're publishing it.

I like this Dustin Nguyen cover to Streets of Gotham, because it makes me imagine a hideous monster with the head of Batman, the legs of a dude in jeans, and the giant head and arms of Robin for a body.


DC UNIVERSE: ORIGINS TP
Written by Mark Waid, Scott Beatty and Len Wein
Art by various
Cover by Alex Ross
Collecting the origins of over fifty characters from Animal Man to Zatanna, including Batman, Wonder Woman, The Joker and many more, from DC’s hit weekly series 52 and COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS as well as several first seen online, featuring the work of some of comics’ top talents!
Advance-solicited; on sale February 17 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US


Was this previously released as a hardcover, or is this the first time a collection of all those little two-page origin stories has been released? If this is the first time, they sure took their time putting it together.

I suspect this will be a good, evergreen trade for DC, as it has the same sort of appeal of something like that DC Comics Encyclopedia book or the old Who's Whos, but with the added advantage of being little comics stories instead of prose. I can definitely see this being a perennially popular library purchase and Christmas present for comics fans.

Too bad about that generic, re-purposed Alex Ross cover, though...


DETECTIVE COMICS #861
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Jock; co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Cover by JH Williams III
It’s double the detectives with Batman and Batwoman in for part one of “Cutter”! Batwoman investigates a string of grisly attacks that have left the victims mutilated, or, worse, dead. But what does this case have to do with the kidnapping of a socialite from ten years ago, and what evidence can The Dark Knight himself bring to light on this macabre mystery? Featuring guest art by acclaimed illustrator Jock (THE LOSERS, GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE)! And in the co-feature, the Huntress and The Question find themselves in over their heads as a gunrunning case leads them to the business end of a double-barrel shotgun!
On sale January 27 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99


“Illustrator”…?


HITMAN VOL. 2: 10,000 BULLETS TP NEW PRINTING
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by John McCrea, Carlos Ezquerra and Steve Pugh
Cover by John McCrea
Tommy Monaghan’s adventures as a Gotham City-based hitman for hire continue. In HITMAN: 10,000 BULLETS, now back in print and featuring issues #4-8 and HITMAN ANNUAL #1, a vindictive mob boss from Tommy’s past puts a contract out on him. With friends caught in the crossfire, Tommy must find a way to exact revenge on the mafia head.
Advance-solicited; on sale February 24 • 176 pg, FC, $17.99 US


The title story arc here is the second one from the Hitman ongoing, and it was by far my least favorite story in the series. It does see Ennis doing something pretty unexpected though, something he'd do throughout the series, which made it such a dramatic and unpredictable series. I'm kind of surprised to see the annual paired with 10,000 Bullets though. The annual is from the summer of 1997, whereas the story arc's from '96.

Oh shit, this also has the pretty sweet Final Night tie-in (it's kinda like Canterbury Tales, only with Gotham hitmen instead of medieval Christian pilgrims), and the introduction of this guy:
He has the best tagline on that cover, doesn't he?

Anyway, if you haven't read Hitman yet, be sure to pick up this volume. Because the next two story arcs are "Local Hero" (which consists of four issues of jokes at Kyle Rayner's expense) and "Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium," which pit our heroes against undead seals, penguins and other sea creatures about a decade before zombie comics were even cool.


JOE THE BARBARIAN #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Sean Murphy
Cover by Sean Murphy
Having an overactive imagination can get a kid through a lot, but it doesn’t change the facts: Joe’s still the kid in school that can’t fit in. He’s the victim of bullies. His dad died overseas in the Iraq war. And then there’s the Type 1 diabetes he has to live with. So is it insulin-deprived delirium or something much, much bigger that transports Joe to a land inhabited by all his toys – from ninja commandos to action robots to magical knights to star fleet captains? Is Joe really the savior of this wild fantasyland that’s been held under siege by dark magic and evil forces? With the help of a samurai rodent, is he ready to take back besieged castles and win the freedom of an oppressed people? Or is he just an over imaginative boy who could die if he doesn’t take his meds? White-hot writer Grant Morrison follows up his phenomenal BATMAN AND ROBIN with an epic adventure that’s Home Alone by way of Lord of the Rings accompanied with to-die-for art by future superstar Sean Murphy (YEAR ONE: BATMAN/SCARECROW, HELLBLAZER).
On sale January 20 • 1 of 8 • 32 pg, FC, $1.00 US • MATURE READERS


This seems a little uninspired for Morrison. The title gag is borrowed from a Disney Channel cartoon, and the premise sounds similar to that of a movie I imagined in my head while sitting through Small Soldiers at the movie theatre. That said, I'll still be checking it out—it is Morrison, after all.


JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #6
Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mauro Cascioli
After a shocking loss, Prometheus reveals an even greater threat to the team than they thought possible! How will this new crisis change the face of the DC Universe? Find out in the penultimate chapter of this groundbreaking miniseries event!
On sale January 27 • 6 of 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US


Please don’t just be DC’s Identity Disc, please don’t just be DC’s Identity Disc, please don’t just be DC’s Identity Disc


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41
Written by James Robinson
Art and covers by Mark Bagley & Rob Hunter
Be here for the start of a new Justice League era! The JLA have been getting a pounding in the last couple of months, but NO MORE! The team regroups with a new roster that will transcend time and space! Make way for the World’s Greatest Heroes – Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Green Arrow, Donna Troy, the Guardian, Cyborg, Mon-El, Starfire, Dr. Light and, yes, Congorilla! This issue features two covers by Mark Bagley which are seperately orderable. Cover A features Green Lantern and Green Arrow; Cover B features Batman and Mon-El. The cover images will be revealed online before the issue’s Final Order Cutoff date.
On sale January 20 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US


Odd. This is solicited as 40 pages for $3.99, just like Cry For Justice. I wonder if that means it will have extra story pages, or just be a bunch of weird back-up, filler material by Robinson, as has been the case with Cry. (If so, count me out, but I hope not, because I am interested in reading this thing).


I think I may have complained about the new Judomaster’s breast-as-the-rising-sun costume motif before, but I can’t remember if I pointed out that it looks like it may actually be a hand-me-down of Katana’s nineties costume, which I only noticed because I was just looking at old Outsiders covers.
Katana’s right breast is the rising sun though, not her left. Is this because she’s wearing a flipped version of a Japanese costume, reversed because American readers read left to right, whereas Judomaster is wearing an authentic Japanese one? Have I already thought way too much about this?


RED TORNADO #5
Written by Kevin VanHook
Art by José Luís & J.P.Mayer
Cover by Joe Prado
After things heated up in a firefight with the Red Tornado and Red Torpedo, Red Volcano has gone solo, abandoning his "little brother," the Red Inferno. Now, Red Volcano wants to meet the rest of his extended family – namely Red Tornado's human wife and daughter! Kathy Sutton and Traya find themselves exposed to the elements.But will the hazardous weather be too much for them to handle?


Okay, a tornado is a natural disaster. A volcano is a natural disaster. An inferno is a sort of disaster, that can be natural or manufactured. A torpedo is a weapon. Should Red Torpedo be, like, the Red Tsunami or Flood or Tidal Wave or Tide or something?


Fred and Velma have really been working out lately, haven't they?


SECRET SIX #17
Written by John Ostrander & Gail Simone
Art by J. Calafiore
Cover by Daniel LuVisi
John Ostrander and Gail Simone continue their epic team-up that begins in SUICIDE SQUAD #67! Suicide Squad has taken capture of Deadshot, forcing him to rejoin their ranks. But the Secret Six doesn’t see that happening any time soon!


Oh man, Calafiore? I guess his presence makes sense if this issue is a continuation of the Suicide Squad story from the "Blackest Night" zombie book mentioned up top, but man, this title is already struggling...it's like they're trying to get it canceled.

Also, what's up with that cover? Is that supposed to be Bronze Tiger? Is he a were-tiger now or something? When and where did that happen?


SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SECRETS OF SINISTER HOUSE TP
Written by various
Art by various
Cover by Nick Cardy
DC’s classic gothic horror/romance from 1971-1974 is collected for the first time in this value-priced collection. This moody, atmospheric volume collects THE SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE #1-4 and THE SECRETS OF SINISTER HOUSE #5-18.
Advance-solicited; on sale February 3 • 496 pg, B&W, $17.99 US


Woah, weird. I have seriously never, ever even heard of this series. I'll read it eventually I'm sure, but I'm pretty far behind on Showcase Presents collections with the word "house" in the title.


So I take it the weather in Skartaris is always pretty warm, huh?


Toyman II’s Composite Superman robot was probably the best part of Jeph Loeb’s run on Superman/Batman, so I don’t mind seeing it again. This is the cover of World’s Finest #4 though, and I’m not sure how I feel about the series, since I have zero interest in reading about some of the “next generation” of the World’s Finest team (Stephanie Brown-as-Batgirl III, Tim Drake as Red Robin, the new Nightwing and Flamebird). I guess I’ll see how reviews are and consider a trade purchase…or at least library-borrow…?

Woah, all of the Johnny DC super-title covers look great this month...



13 comments:

Anthony Strand said...

I always get Katana and Judomaster confused, and that mid-90s costume just might be reason why. Thanks for pointing that out.

Also, what's the deal with Identity Disc? I'd never heard of it before, and I can't find any mass hatred for it or anything online. What's wrong with it?

Dean said...

Hopefully, this means that DC will publish the rest of Hitman beyond 'Who Dares, Wins' in trade sometime soon.

LurkerWithout said...

@Anthony Strand

Identity Disc was a god-awful mini-series Marvel put out a few years back. Group of villains black-mailed into pulling a job. Terrible, terrible book. Especially if compared to the similar concept Super-Villain Team-Up M.O.D.O.K.s 11...

Kid Kyoto said...

Identity Disk was also timed to ALWAYS come out the same day as Identity Crisis, the idea being to confuse DC readers into buying Identity Disk as well.

Frankly when I saw that cover all I could think was "why is he attacking Supergirl and Green Lantern with red hot CDs? I mean does he really think that will work?"

Brian said...

Aquaman's knock-off bat-signal is... what? an incomplete letter 'A'? a pair of pants?

Kurt Busiek said...

>> I'll read it eventually I'm sure, but I'm pretty far behind on Showcase Presents collections with the word "house" in the title.>>

If nothing else, you should bump it to the top of the pile long enough to read at least "Bride of the Falcon," the full-lengther from SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE #3. Written by Frank Robbins, drawn by Alex Toth, inked by Frank Giacoia, it's a forgotten little masterpiece. And I'm sure it looks even better in black-and-white.

kdb

Philip G. said...

Damn. My pre-adolescent longing for Velma has been rekindled in a really uncomfortable way.

Chad Carter said...

SECRET SIX...I hope to god Nicola Scott isn't leaving the title. She's one of the bright lights. I guess it figures nobody is reading SS, as good/great as it is. AGENTS OF ATLAS is pretty much cancelled, and I felt SIX wouldn't be far behind.

Myself, I love Bronze Tiger when he's wearing that badass tiger helmet, but I'm afraid I don't know if he's a were-tiger now or not. Last time I saw him, in CHECKMATE, he was just tiger-helmeted.

Kid Kyoto said...

One funny thing I just noticed on Katana/Jude Mistress' costumes, that's not a Japanese flag. That's not even close. It's not even the Japanese naval ensign (the Rising Sun flag most people think was Japan's WWII flag).

It's Macedonia's flag.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Macedonia

Now what their connection to Macedonia is I don't know, but they must like it a lot.

Caleb said...

Also, what's the deal with Identity Disc? I'd never heard of it before, and I can't find any mass hatred for it or anything online. What's wrong with it?

I never read it either. It seems most notable for the suspicion it aroused regarding Marvel trying to trick readers into reading it instead of or in addition to Identity Crisis (I have no idea if it worked or not, but I can tell you from experience that Dale Brown moves a lot of books to Dan Brown fans, and that if someone put out a book called The Last Symbol or The Lost Cymbal the month Brown released his new one, it would have done pretty well).

I think it will be unspeakably lame if Prometheus' master plan is just that he, like, has a disc with the superheroes' secret identities on it. Do Hal and Ollie even have secret identities any more? (Well, I think they're supposed too, but it's hard to believe that they do).


Aquaman's knock-off bat-signal is... what? an incomplete letter 'A'? a pair of pants?

"Pants" is Atlantean for "Aquaman." Weird, huh? I was more confused by Plas' goggles logo; I woulda went with a P or the diamond thing on his belt, but I'm no signal-maker.


If nothing else, you should bump it to the top of the pile long enough to read at least "Bride of the Falcon," the full-lengther from SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE #3. Written by Frank Robbins, drawn by Alex Toth, inked by Frank Giacoia, it's a forgotten little masterpiece. And I'm sure it looks even better in black-and-white.

Will do. I think the Showcase Presents format has really flattered the work of a lot of really great artists, and I've really learned to appreciate a lot of these guys a lot more after seeing their lines sans the era's coloring and printing quality.

Damn. My pre-adolescent longing for Velma has been rekindled in a really uncomfortable way

I blame Linda Cardellini for this new trend of en-hot-ening Velma.

SECRET SIX...I hope to god Nicola Scott isn't leaving the title.

Part of me would like to see her get a bigger, better-selling title, to get more of the recognition (and cash) her skill deserves. But the part of me that digs Secret Six wants her to stay where she is.

Myself, I love Bronze Tiger when he's wearing that badass tiger helmet, but I'm afraid I don't know if he's a were-tiger now or not.

I've just seen him passing through titles as part of the Suicide Squad, and sometimes it looks like he has the actual head of a tiger, but I never know if he's supposed to, or if it's just art mistakes. Some of the places I've seen him, like Countdown were places prone to art mistakes.


Now what their connection to Macedonia is I don't know, but they must like it a lot.

I understand that Hawkman likes Macedonia a lot. It's where he gets his--No, I can't do it. The temptation is strong but I just can't.

Adam Farrar said...

Also, how awful is the solicit for Secret Six #17? It’s only three sentences but each one has a problem:

John Ostrander and Gail Simone continue their epic team-up that begins in SUICIDE SQUAD #67!
John Ostrander and Gail Simone continue their epic team-up that began in SUICIDE SQUAD #67!

Suicide Squad has taken capture of Deadshot, forcing him to rejoin their ranks.
The Suicide Squad has taken Deadshot forcing him to rejoin their ranks.

But the Secret Six doesn’t see that happening any time soon!
But the Secret Six don’t see that happening any time soon!

metronome35 said...

Hmm, you got a letter printed in those issues of Hitman, back in the day, didn't you Caleb?

Caleb said...

Hmm, you got a letter printed in those issues of Hitman, back in the day, didn't you Caleb?

More than one...an embarrassing number, probably. DC lettercols in the mid-90s were the proto-Every Day Is Like Wednesday.