Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Woah, woah, woah—save some announcements for San Diego, guys!

DC’s just been blowing up with announcements this week—nothing terribly earth-shattering, but a lot of interesting-sounding projects and eyebrow-raising, head-cocking stuff of the sort that a DC fan with strong opinions, an aversion to leaving the house (or even putting on pants) when its over 80 degrees out and a daily comics blog in need of updating might have some thing to say about.

But what have I been talking about all week? Alien monsters, video games, cartoons and music, mostly. Well, let’s get back on track, open a second window up to DC’s The Source blog, and read/talk to it for a while because what else are we going to do? Put on pants? It’s eighty-three degrees out!

And who knows, maybe later tonight I’ll even get around to reviewing a comic or two, seeing as that is the ostensible reason for EDILW’s existence. And if not, then definitely tomorrow.

But first! Bad news! Marvel is canceling Atlas, the new iteration of Jeff Parker’s Agents of Atlas series, which launched a few months after Agents of Atlas shipped about a year’s worth of issues, and Marvel allowed for a couple of profile-boosting attempts (X-Men Vs. Atlas, Avengers Vs. Atlas and Marvel Boy minis, a Namora one-shot, Incredible Hercules back-ups).

There’s a three-issue Gorilla Man mini starting this week, and three more issue of Atlas left to ship though, and, on the bright side, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Parker-written Agents stories in the future, as he had managed to slip them in to just about every series he worked on between the time of his original 2006 miniseries with the characters and the launch of the ongoing in 2009.

I’m personally pretty bummed about the news, as Atlas was a pretty cool comic. It was, in fact, the last remaining Marvel comic I was buying in the traditional serial 22-pages-and-staples comic book format, having switched to trade on everything else from the publisher I was interested in.

I’m not sure what it says about the current market for comics, but it’s kind of shocking that the industry’s leader couldn’t keep a book like Atlas in publication, despite doing a ton to promote it (And Parker has gone above and beyond to try and sell the book to readers; short of going door-to-door and asking folks if they’ve heard the good news about Gorilla-Man, I’m not sure what more he could possibly have done).

Well, I’m sure Marvel could keep it in print if it really, really wanted to. I mean it’s shocking that it didn’t sell well enough for it to make business sense for Marvel to continue publishing it.

Gorillas, robots, dragons, superheroes, scantily clad pretty ladies, martial arts, humor, action, superpowers, Avengers guest-stars…Atlas was like a shopping list of things people read superhero comics for, with a check mark next to every item.


Oh well, on to Marvel’s Distinguished Competition’s avalanche of announcements…

Neil Gaiman’s Death of the Endless is appearing in Action Comics. It’s part of the Lex Luthor-starring story that new Action writer Paul Cornell just launched, so Cornell’s artist partner Pete Woods will presumably be drawing her appearance, and Action cover artist David Finch is definitely drawing her on the cover (A detail of which is above). Yes, David Finch is drawing Death of the Endless.

That is a sentence I never expected to exist.

I’m not a huge fan of Finch’s work, but his cover for the issue, which had already been released after a brief period of teasing before the final version was released, is actually not that bad at all.

If having a Vertigo character—one of the Vertigo characters, come to think of it—in a DCU comics seems like a big, huge deal, that is, in large part, because DC editors are always answering fan questions about how come so-and-so who was in a Vertigo title doesn’t appear in Justice Something of America or whatever at convention panels.

Otherwise, it's a rare but not unicorn-rare occurrence.

At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims talks a bit about various instances of DCU characters showing up in Sandman and Sandman in the DCU (like in that awesome two-parter in Morrison, Porter, Dell’s JLA run in which the Star Conqueror attacks earth through The Dreaming, putting the entire population of earth to sleep).

Gaiman’s version of Sandman had some cameos in Geoff Johns and company’s JSA this decade, in which the popular writer reclaimed some of the DCU characters Gaiman used in Sandman (Elements of Jack Kirby’s seventies Sandman, a couple of old Infinity Inc. characters). Aquaman and Batman both had Swamp Thing over at their places in the second half of the nineties, and the Vertigized versions of Cain and Abel appeared in a 1999 issue of Resurrection Man. Oh, and John Constantine and Swamp Thing both went to Hal Jordan’s funeral, and both Swampy and Neil Gaiman’s version of Sandman showed up at Superman’s…or at least in the commemorative poster of his funeral. (True fact: Young Caleb wrote a letter to the editor to the Superman offices—this was back when DC comics had letter pages—requesting an issue in which Superman meets Death after his battle with Doomsday. DC did not listen to him).

Anyway, Vertigo characters do occasionally visit the DCU, although they seemed to do it a lot more frequently in the nineties than it the '00s.

I’m looking forward to reading the Luthor/Death encounter, although I’m trade-waiting the arc, so I guess I’ll be looking forward to it for a while now.

If I were Dan DiDio, Jim Lee or Geoff Johns or any editor or person with influence at DC, however, I think I would have done everything in my power to prevent Death from appearing in Action. Because it will only lead to more conventions questions about why Stephanie Brown can’t team-up with Delirium or why John Constantine can’t join the Justice League or why a time-traveling Spider Jerusalem can’t freelance for the Daily Planet in the pages of The Brave and The Bold or whatever.

DC to make the most of Bruce Wayne’s return. The publisher announced that they will be publishing eight—count ‘em—eight one-shots under the umbrella title of Bruce Wayne: The Road Home.

Details are super-scanty at this point, but they will apparently deal with Bruce Wayne catching up with his "protégés, allies and foes."

DC released a rather Marvel-esque blacked-out and “Top Secret”-stamped cover image, which at least shows the logo (which I like), and said little more than this:
Welcome to BRUCE WAYNE: THE ROAD HOME, eight one-shots that cover the city of Gotham and beyond, from Dick Grayson and Damian to the Birds of Prey to Red Robin to Commissioner Gordon in stories told by some of the industry’s brightest stars, including Adam Beechen, Fabian Nicieza, Mike Barr, Pere Perez, Ramon Bachs, Marc Andreyko, Cliff Richards and Bryan Q. Miller, featuring a connecting, 8-part cover by superstar artist Shane Davis.
Eight probably seems like a lot, especially since they will likely have longer titles, so they’ll end up being something like Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Birds of Prey #1 and Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Red Robin #1 and so on, but, goofy titles aside, that seems like a reasonable structure.

I have to assume each one will deal with Bruce Wayne encountering a different character or group of characters, so readers can pick and choose the ones they care to read (If you’ve never read an issue of Batgirl, for example, you probably don’t need to read Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Batgirl #1).

Based on the names of creators involved mentioned above, Red Robin and Batgirl will definitely have specials; DC mentioned Birds of Prey, Catwoman and Commissioner Gordon by name as well, so that’s five of ‘em right there. Marc Andreyko’s inclusion seems to suggest Manhunter (the character moved to Gotham during the “Batman Reborn” branding effort), which brings us up to six. Damian and Dick Grayson, also mentioned by name, would bring it up to eight, but assuming Grant Morrison will be focusing on them and their reunion with Bruce Wayne elsewhere, there are a lot of other possibilities, including Batwoman, Alfred, Jeremiah Arkham, The Outsiders, The Justice League, Superman, one or more al Ghuls, The Penguin, The Joker, The Riddler, “The Gotham Underground,” et.

I guess eight one-shots is actually pretty reserved, when you consider the possibilities.

Oh, and do note that this is called Bruce Wayne: The Road Home as opposed to Batman: The Road Home…I wonder if Batman will pull a Captain America, and will find something else to do now that he’s back, leaving it his protégé Dick Grayson to carry on being Batman for a while longer. (Hell, maybe Bruce Wayne can be the new Nightwing!).

The long-ago announced JLA/99 crossover series now has a creative team…and a cover image. The team is writers Stuart Moore and Fabian Nicieza and artist Tom Derenick (I’ve liked more of Derenick’s work than I’ve disliked; assuming he gets a single inker and a reasonable deadline, I assume this will look okay).

Looking at Felipe Massafera’s cover, two things immediately jump out at me.

1) Wonder Woman is wearing her “New Look” costume on it, which just plain confuses the hell out of me. Is Wondy going to be in the JLA again after her latest continuity mucking-about-with? Because if she and/or the world don’t remember her past history/continuity, as Wonder Woman #600 and JMS’s discussion of his new direction both suggest, that seems sort of impossible, doesn’t it?

2.) In addition to Wonder Woman, the cover also includes Superman and the Bruce Wayne Batman. Considering the fact that the current Justice League line-up as it stood in the last issue of Justice League of America was Batman Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, Congorilla, Starman Blue and Supergirl, it might actually be kind of refreshing to read the JLA/The 99 crossover thing and see a version of the “real” Justice League again for a lot of fans, myself included.

DC to publish a Knight and Squire comic, and it has a fair chance of being good!. The most exciting news DC released this week—to me as a reader, anyway—was that not only would they be publishing a six-part miniseries featuring the British Batman and Robin seen in Grant Morrison’s JLA: Classified arc, as well as the Club of Heroes story in Morrison’s Batman and the “Blackest Knight” story in Batman and Robin, but it would also be written by Paul Cornell, who has a pretty good track record when it comes to writing British superheroes.

Additionally, Cornell told The Source, “If you’ve wanted to see a milkman fighting a dinosaur in a suit, in a pub, then this is the comic for you.”

Man, that’s exactly what a good superhero comic should do—give you something you didn’t even know you wanted until you read it!

The artist is Jimmy Broxton, who, I can’t help but notice, isn’t Ed McGuinnes, J.H. Williams III or Cameron Stewart (the artists responsible for the Morrison arcs featuring the characters that I mentioned above), and whom I can’t find any credits for after an exhaustive one minute of Internet research. (Maybe he drew some of Vertigo’s Unwritten?)

Well, I hope he’s good…or at least good enough that this series rules, as I’d sure love to read a Chief Man of Bats and Red Raven (Hey DC, wanna hear a pitch for same?) and/or a Club of Heroes (It’s a Justice League where every character is Batman! That’s gotta be the comics equivalent of printing money, right?) comics some day…

David Finch is going to write AND draw a new ongoing Batman title. I think the news that Finch was going to be writing and drawing Batman has been known ever since Finch’s signing of an exclusive contract with DC was first publicized, but the fact that his book is going to be an ongoing one has gotta be news to everyone. The book is going to be called Batman: The Dark Knight.

DC has got to announce the cancellation of one of their ongoing Batman monthlies pretty soon, in order to make room for this.

Because right now they’ve got Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin, Batman: Streets of Gotham and Batman Confidential all going on; four of those are regular, in-continuity titles, while Confidential focuses on Batman stories set in the past.

And that’s not counting the Batman family of books, like Red Robin and Gotham City Sirens and Batgirl and Birds of Prey and whatever one-shots or miniseries they happen to have going on at the time.

Streets is the lowest selling of the core Bat-books with the word “Batman” right in the title, so that seems the most likely candidate. The generally poor-selling Confidential could go and not be missed; they’d just publish the same stories as miniseries instead of Batman Confidential arcs. And I think Gotham City Sirens could go at any minute and not be greatly missed, judging by its sales.

As for Finch on an ongoing Bat-title, I’m sure he’s pumped about it, and it was probably a big part of why he signed with DC.

I’m not sure how big a draw his art actually is, since his Marvel projects were mostly ones which would have sold well regardless of the artist (Avengers stuff with Brian Michael Bendis, Ultimatum with Jeph Loeb). DC sure likes him though, and I did once hear a customer in Columbus’ Laughing Ogre shop refer to his art as “sick” to a fellow customer once.

I’ve found his cover work to be extremely lack luster and disappointing so far (the exception being his cover for Batman #700, a detail of which is above). The few interior pages he did for Batman #700 were pretty disappointing as well.

I’ll certainly be curious to see what an all-Finch joint is like though, and will check out a trade eventually…from the library, if not from a comics shop. I guess I'll patiently await word of mouth.

I wonder though, will Finch be able to draw 22-pages a month, without resorting to too many double-page splashes?

Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter, especially if this is being sold as The Batman Book Written and Drawn By David Finch, as opposed to simply a Batman book. If he is going to keep a more…leisurely schedule, then I suppose the high number of Batman ongoing monthlies won’t matter so much.

I have no opinion regarding American Vampire’s Scott Snyder becoming the new Detective Comics writer, being utterly unfamiliar with his work. I will say that I liked the picture The Source ran with the announcement (detail above), and if they could get Steven King to write the back-ups, I bet Snyder’s TEC run will sell a bit better than it would otherwise.

Marc Guggenhein is going to be the new Not Geoff Johns on Justice Society of America. It comes as no surprise that DC has found a new writer for JSoA, which has been in a downward sales spiral since Geoff Johns left it, after having spent years with the franchise.

I was a little surprised to see that Guggenheim was the new writer named, though, as he’s not exactly a sales juggernaut (or even a draw, really, is he…?), and seems even less market-tested than Bill “Fables” Willingham was when he took over, after all.

Guggenheim’s byline isn’t one that will get me to add JSoA back to my pull-list (I left when Johns did), but then, it’s always harder to get lapsed readers to return to a title they’ve dropped. I wonder if JSoA is about to enter into a period of chaos like that other team book formerly written by Geoff Johns, Teen Titans, is still suffering from.

(By the way—are any of you reading JSoA? If so, what's up with Jesse? Is she going by "Jesse Quick" instead of "Liberty Belle" all the time now, and rocking that costume seen in the image above? Because I like the Liberty Belle one a lot more. I thought maybe she was going to be Liberty Belle when doing JSA stuff, and Jesse Quick when doing Flash family stuff, for some reason).

Good artist to draw bad comic. Speaking of Teen Titans, DC’s most toxic team title isn’t being canceled and the franchise allowed to lay fallow for a few years until fans can forget what happened to it.


It is getting a new artist, though, the extremely talented Nicola Scott, formerly of Birds of Prey and Secret Six.

This is good news for Teen Titans, as one of the books many, many, many, many problems is the fact that it has had mostly terrible artists for the last few years, and that these change almost as frequently as the writers do, so that the book's visual identity is one of usually ugly chaos.

Scott will be by far the best pencil artist to work on the title “regularly” since before Johns left, and if her past track record is any indication, she won’t need to take a break every two or three issues.

On the downside, the new writer is J.T. Krul, and while I can count the number of comics he’s written that I’ve read on one hand—actually, one finger—that was an issue of Teen Titans and it was not very good at all. I’ve yet to hear a single good thing about Krul’s writing from anyone—aside from Tucker Stone’s fascination with his work on Rise of Arsenal, I guess—so I don’t think Nicola’s presence will be enough to get me to try out this book in single-issue format any time soon.

I suppose it is a step up to a higher profile book in terms of sales, as Teen Titans has, despite its severe declines over the past few years still been outselling Secret Six. But damn, look at that cover! Scott deserves more than Teen Titans, if you ask me.

In other news, is Bart Allen still Kid Flash? Because dude’s got hella freckles in this image:

Superman is not going to be hanging out in Ohio. I guess Superman’s cross-country walk, which began in Philadelphia this week, is next headed to Detroit, Michigan.

If I remember anything about American geography, that means there will not be an issue of Superman in which he walks around Columbus…or anywhere in Ohio, really. (If he's starting on the east coast and then walking to the west. I guess he could randomly walk from city to city in no particular order. Hell, being Superman, he could even walk to Alaska and Hawaii if he wanted to).

Which is kind of disappointing, and yet kind of a relief as well, as it means I won’t feel tempted to buy a single issue of this run, but can continue to trade-wait it.

On the subject of Superman walking around the country, should he wear his cape while doing so? It looks kind of sad just hanging there behind him like that, doesn’t it?

Finally, I guess Tony Daniel is going to return to both writing and drawing the Batman monthly. This is most interesting to me (as someone who, as I may have mentioned several thousand times, is not a fan) in that it makes two ongoing, in-continuity Batman titles with writer/artists on them instead of a writer and artist or artists team.


Anonymous said...

"Gorillas, robots, dragons, superheroes, scantily clad pretty ladies, martial arts, humor, action, superpowers, Avengers guest-stars…Atlas was like a shopping list of things people read superhero comics for."

Not really. It just sounds wacky and whimsical, which is what SOME people read superhero comics for (and judging by the sales of Atlas, not very many).

But given all the false starts this series has gotten over the last few years, Marvel can hardly be blamed for not trying. At this point, Atlas is failing on its own. It's just not something (many) people want to read.

Jacob T. Levy said...

I'm not sure I can remember a major title being quite so spectacularly driven into a ditch as Willingham drove JSA. How can he be so good at Fables and yet so consistently terrible at superheroes? And who reads the Johns-era JSA and says, "You know what that book needs? A 90's style internal division about being X-treme and aggressive!"

"Teen Titans has, despite its severe declines over the past few years still been outselling Secret Six. "

That's just depressing.

Anonymous said...

About Atlas: Actually, according to Jeff Parker (on his Twitter account), he was the one that decided to cancel Atlas, Marvel would have kept it going.

Randal said...

Oh, I thought Bill Willingham's Pantheon was spectacular. But that was, what, fifteen years ago or so?

Anyway, Wonder Woman's continuity appearances being f-ed up is nothing new - goes back to when she appeared in Legends before she appeared in man's world, because the Powers That Be insisted she at least be represented in their first post-Crisis miniseries.

Travis said...

Jesse Quick/Liberty Belle is actually in the JSA All-stars book or whatever they call it. That one I don't read just because of Magog's presence in the series(although I understand he is no longer in it)