Monday, July 19, 2010

No seriously DC, stop announcing stuff—I can't keep up!

Aaaa! DC's still announcing a new project-a-minute, and my previous attempt to keep up with the publisher's many pre-Comic-Con announcements is already way behind.

Let's keep going. Here are some random announcements from their Source blog and some equally random reactions. I'll have a post about their new DC Comics Presents format and line later today, and, if I have time, our regularly scheduled reviews of their previews.

“AW YEAH HISTORIC!!” First the biggest, most exciting news: Art Baltazar and Franco are doing a Tiny Titans/Little Archies crossover, and while details regarding the size and scope of the project are still somewhat scarce, you can see an image of the two crews sharing a single image at The Source (Above is the bottom half). I had no idea the Little Archie characters could be so cute.

UPDATE: Johanna Draper Carlson caught some details from a Comic Book Resources interview I missed. Namely that it will be a three-issue miniseries and that other Archie characters like Josie and The Pussycats and Sabrina The Teenage Witch (all of whom I like much, much, much more than Archie Andrews’ inner circle) will be involved. Hooray!

DC’s Vertigo imprint is finally busting out that Warren Ellis school shooting story. The wording on the Graphic Content blog post announcing this new project is somewhat unfortunate: “Vertigo has a long history of publishing thought provoking stories that resonate whether they’re horror, crime, war, western, fantasy, urban memoir, science fiction or reality based.”

Yes, that’s technically true, but the project being announced is a story that Vertigo emphatically did not publish, and continued to not publish for years until just recently deciding to go ahead with it.

It’s going to be a 96-page, $8 mini-trade called Vertigo Resurrected #1 and, in addition to the spiked Ellis Hellblazer script, it will include “rarely seen tales exploring the disturbing depths of horror, war, romance and science fiction by Brian Azzarello, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis and artists Jim Lee, Phil Jimenez, Bernie Wrightson, and others.”

Based on the creators, it sounds like those might all be coming from issues of Flinch, Vertigo’s short-lived but excellent horror anthology (it was like a who’s who of creators at the time), although Vertigo has had quite a few anthology projects over the years, and the ones that weren’t franchise specific (like, Hellblazer or Endless or Tim Hunter shorts) might have never made it to trade.

The announcement refers to Vertigo Resurrected as a series, so I wonder if it will be comprised of little-seen short stories from popular creators, or if it will mea more “forbidden” comics like the school shooting issue of Hellblazer. Like Rick Veitch’s Swamp Thing/Jesus Christ story. (I’ve yet to read Veitch’s run, mainly because I knew how it ended—that is, it ended in a way other than the way Veitch wanted it to—so if the original, intended “alternate” ending were to be released, I’d probably be motivated to finally tackle that).

It’s weird to think about a Hellblazer story not getting published simply because it dealt with a Columbine-like school shooting now in 2010. Considering the rampant depravity that’s occurred throughout DC’s all-ages DCU line over the last half decade or so, a book about a school shooting in a mature readers horror comic doesn’t sound the least bit threatening.

But then, I haven’t read it. Maybe it is more shockingly violent than those issues of Teen Titans where Kid Devil was brutally tortured and nailed to a wall

Grant Morrison’s Batman title to continue without Grant Morrison. Batman and Robin, the post-“Batman R.I.P.”, post-Final Crisis ongoing Batman monthly created specifically to give Morrison a venue to continue his story featuring the all-new Batman and the all-new Robin will be handed to writer Peter J. Tomasi.

Tomasi is an excellent editor and a decent writer; he’s written some stuff I liked quite a bit, and some stuff I didn’t like it all, often times in the same run on the same title. He’s not completely new to Bat-comics, having written Blackest Night: Batman and a mostly decent Nightwing run, but he’s certainly not one of the first half-dozen names that comes immediately to mind when I think of a writer to follow Morrison on a signature Morrison title.

The artist will be the enormously talented Patrick Gleason (The above image is from his JLA: Welcome To The Working Week special; his Batman's on the far left), who is completely deserving of the bigger, better venue (Batman and Robin is one of DC’s top books and, sales-wise, one of the few places left for Gleason to climb to after the recent success of his Green Lantern Corps). That said, he’s following in the shoes of not only Tan, but Frazer Irving, Cameron Stewart and Frank Quitely.

I’m not sure I understand the need to continue the book without Morrison, since that is the beginning and end of its identity, and while it’s definitely a book I’ll be checking out in library trade eventually, my limited Bat-dollars will follow Morrison to whatever he’s doing next.

And he is presumably doing something next, as Alex Segura ended the post with, “And before you start asking the question I know is on the tip of your tongue, here are a few words of advice: Wait a few days.

We have a few more announcements on tap, folks, so keep it tuned to The Source.”

So, if Morrison gets another new Batman book, then that means the Bat-line would included Batman, Detective Comics, Batman Confidential, Batman and Robin, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman: The Dark Knight and Batman: Whatever Grant Morrison Wants To Do.

Plus Red Robin, Batgirl, Gotham City Sirens and Birds of Prey, with a Batwoman monthly in the works. Plus any one-shots, trades and miniseries they’ve got going on in a particular month.

They have to be axing some books soon, right? (I’d recommend the Dini books and Confidential).

Ragman is going to get his first starring role in a long time. This is good news in that Ragman is really, really awesome. I love Ragman. I love the name. I love the costume. I love the premise. I like looking at him and, as a teenager, I used to love drawing him. Along with Batman villain The Scarecrow, Ragman is one of my favorite comic book characters on a purely aesthetic level.

My favorite Ragman artist is—no surprise—Kelley Jones, who illustrated a two-parter during his run with Dough Moench on Batman, and I kind of liked the eight-issue 1991 miniseries by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming and Pat Broderick. It was one of my very first comic book series, so some of that’s nostalgia, but whenever I flip back through it I’m struck by Broderick’s rendering of the title character, and how well his art works over Giffen’s breakdowns (The follow-up, 1993’s Cry of the Dead, had better, Joe Kubert-drawn covers, but the interiors, by a new creative team, weren’t very good).

He’s a Kubert character though, of course, and the original Ragman comic, by Kubert and Robert Kanigher, may not have been the best comic of 1977 or anything, but it sure is pretty looking.

This new Ragman is not by Kubert, or Jones, or Giffen or Broderick. It’s going to be drawn by Stephen Segovia, who drew the “Music of the Spheres”/Eclipso bits of 2007 miniseries House of Mystery plus parts of Reign In Hell. He’s got a very interesting style that reminds me quite a bit of Leinil Francis Yu’s, and I’m certainly curious to see what his Ragman will look like.

The writer is Christos Gage, whose work tends to range from just okay to quite good, so this book should have a fighting chance of being pretty good.

Curiously, it’s a one-shot, not a miniseries. I wonder if that means DC has some bigger plans for the character somewhere else, and are taking a moment to reintroduce the character (it’s been a long while since he’s had a starring role in anything, and he’s lately been relegated to team member status in the canceled Shadowpact book).

Oh wait a minute—I see he’s on the cover of an issue of a book entitled Untold Tales of the Black Lantern Corps , surrounded by a cloud of Black Lantern rings, so maybe the one-shot is there for Green Lantern fans wondering about him, or because the GL franchise will be making use of him in some capacity in the near future…?

Next year DC will do what they should have done with the Static character months and months ago. Static, the teenage, electricity-powered superhero from upstart ‘90s publisher Milestone who also starred in the Static Shock cartoon, is going to get an ongoing monthly series of his year.

DC’s usage of the Milestone characters in general, and Static specifically, has been…troubled, to say the least. Dwayne McDuffie reintroduced many of them in his Justice League of America run, a run dominated by an off-the-rails artist roster (Ed Benes was the “regular” artist, although fill-ins were frequent), behind-the-scenes strife and a plot involving tacking the Milestone “Universe” on to the DC Universe between multiverse makeovers.

Static himself made his DCU debut in Terror Titans, a Teen Titans spin-off that was also a tie-in to Final Crisis, and was about teenage superheroes being mind-controlled into violent fights to the death in gladitorial combat. (It was, by the way, pretty awful).

He then joined the Teen Titans roster (Can you spot him in the image above? He's in the background, between Aquagirl II and Eddie Bloomberg), but since that time the title hasn’t had a regular creative team, with writers and artists switching more or less constantly.

If Teen Titans hasn’t sapped all interest out of the character by now, then his remaining fans can look forward to a monthly next year.

The writer is going to be Felicia D. Henderson, who has been one of Teen Titans “regular” writers (She wrote Teen Titans #75 and #76, took two months off for a weird mostly Titans-less Blackest Night tie-in, and then came back for #79-#84).

Based on comments about Henderson’s writing left on Blog@ threads, there are at least some vocal fans who have despised her short run so far. I’ve only read the first two issues, which were collected in the trade Teen Titans: Child’s Play, and of the four stories by four different writers, it was by far the strongest, but then, there wasn’t a whole lot of competition (Sean McKeever wrote a one issue Someone Leaves The Team Again story, Bryan Q. Miller wrote a Wonder Girl Gets The Hell Beat Out of her story in which a Teen Titan quite randomly sacrifices his life* and J.T. Krul wrote a two-issue story about Deathsroke and his kids fighting off a bunch of Black Lanternized old Deathstroke supporting characters).

DC’s finally going to pull the trigger on that THUNDER Agents revival Dan DiDio is always talking about. I guess that’s a big deal to some comics readers somewhere (DiDio’s mentioned it at least five million times in the last few years, often in response to questions from others) and that those comics readers are going to be pretty excited about this, but I care/know exactly nothing about these characters, and find interest in them somewhat perplexing.

It strikes me as weird that they’re going to be joining the DC Universe proper, too. Given the difficulty DC has had capitalizing on the recently added Milestone and “Red Circle" characters into the DCU, adding yet another super-team into the mix seems strange to me.

But, like I said, I know nothing about these characters. Maybe there’s a huge reserve of excitement about them, excitement that just doesn’t exist for the Milestone or Red Circle characters (Or the Great Ten or Outsiders or Doom Patrol or, um, The Teen Titans or JSA).

*I didn’t write up even a half-assed review of that volume because, by that point, I was just tired of talking about Teen Titans, but the de-powered Eddie Bloomberg (aka Kid Devil, aka Red Devil), flies a plane carrying a guy who is going to blow up like a nuclear bomb up into the sky to detonate safely. That would be a noble sacrifice indeed if one of his teammates wasn’t a teenage girl version of Captain Atom, who generally only appears in comic books in which he absorbs nuclear explosions and then flies up into the upper atmosphere to safely release the energy and radiation


Jacob T. Levy said...

For a long time it seemed weird that the DCU had three or four Superman-class powerhouses running around Fawcett City who never seemed to turn up when, say, the JLA was facing the end of the world.

Now the Marvels have been (stupidly) culled, but Miss Martian and Bombshell are in principle major powerhouses who AFAIK have never been acknowledged to *exist* outside the Titans books. And of course Icon is kicking around somewhere in the background.

Of course, *Superman* has only been kicking around in the background for quite a long time now, so...

Diabolu Frank said...

The 1960s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents were awesome, seeing as they were sexy and daring for their time (deaths, betrayals, innuendo, soap opera.) Also, they were drawn by some of the best hands in history, like Wally Wood, Gil Kane, Reed Crandall, and Mike Sekowsky.

The 1980s Deluxe Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was also awesome in its time. The storytelling was of the Miller/Moore/Chaykin mode, though not quite of the same quality, but was drawn by masters like George Perez, Keith Giffen, Dave Cockrum, Jerry Ordway and many more. Unfortunately, the line was sued out of existence by John Carbonaro, who managed to convince a judge after tons of legal wrangling that he owned the properties. It's still arguable that the characters are public domain due to a failure to assert copyright at the onset and the questionable nature of Carbonaro's purchase. Still, he sued anyone who tried to treat the characters as available, and produced a few sub-Atlas/Seaboard Bronze Age stories of his own.

In the '90s, Jim Lee's Wildstorm Universe was clearly a mash-up of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and X-Men with some G.I.Joe in the mix. Wood's heroes were quite inspirational, but their influence has diminished with time and repetition. The twists have become tropes, and DC will likely fail to recapture the old magic, although this creative team has me more optimistic than their last abortive pass in the late '90s/early '00s.