Monday, October 18, 2010

DC's January previews reviewed

DC Comics has something out of the ordinary planned for their DCU superhero line next January. I'm not sure if I'm translating the PR-speak quite right—"The Characters take center stage in January...New year. New beginnings. New focus."—but it looks like DC will be doing one of their far-too-infrequent theme cover months, with each book featuring a posed hero in a field of white, with a big icon or symbol of some sort dominating the top half of the cover.

They may change a bit before they show up in shops—titles, numbers and UPC symbols are probably gonna show up in there somewhere, right—but they seem to be rather striking in general, and I imagine they'll really pop when lined up on a new comics rack.

The publisher released their previews for the books shipping that month today, so it's time to take our monthly look at those previews. The solicitations were a little more interesting than usual this month I think, because of the theme covers. Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern—these guys all have obvious, logo-like symbols to stick on the top half of the cover design, but plenty of the characters and books don't, meaning someone had to come up with, say, a Birds of Prey or Secret Six icon.

So let's review some previews.


Azrael's still trucking long at sixteen issues, defying my expectations. The double flaming swords of two different colors look kind of cool.


Hmmm…not sure I like the melding of the two symbols like that...maybe because it's too reminiscent of the Superman/Batman logo (which I'm not all that fond of), or maybe it's just a subconscious thing, evoking latent feelings about Batman and Robin the movie, with it's goofy mating logos. I think I’d like ‘em better with the "R" off to the right of the Bat-symbol, and slightly below the wing. Um, if anyone cares about my personal preferences for icon arrangement on the covers of these comics.


BATMAN INCORPORATED #3
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE & MICHAEL LACOMBE
1:25 Variant cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III

Batman and Catwoman travel to South America to reunite with Gaucho, Argentina’s Batman Incorporated representative. But their trip may be cut short when an unexpected adversary sends things spiraling downward!

On sale JANUARY 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US


Oh sure, now drop the price down to $3, after I specifically passed on pre-ordering the first two issues through my local comic shop! (Grrrr...!)

Well I’m afraid you’re a month too late, DC. I decided to trade-wait Batman Inc. given the now-temporary price increase, and while an appearance by Gaucho is sorely tempting, it’s been long enough now that I’m comfortable with my decision.

Waiting an extra six months-to-a-year to read Batman Inc. shouldn't be too hard, right?


The Birds of Prey logo looks like something you might see on the jersey of a high school sports team.


This looks darling.


Ohhhhh, there’s a “G” in the middle of that green arrowhead! That explains why it looks the way it does. I was staring at it a few seconds, wondering why the symbol for Green Arrow was so ugly, until I saw the pointy “G” shape in the middle there. I suppose it’s all right then, but I’m not sure GA’s symbol needs a letter in it. I mean, his name is a color and a symbol…it doesn’t get much more simple than that.



Oh, Jonah...

I like the Hex logo I came up with a lot better than that one.


JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #17-18
Written by JUDD WINICK
Issue #17 art by AARON LOPRESTI
Issue #18 art by JOE BENNETT
Covers by AARON LOPRESTI
1:10 Variant covers by KEVIN MAGUIRE
Max Lord’s plan is coming together in issue #17. The United Nations revokes Checkmate’s charter, Captain Atom is wanted for murder, and the JLI is still viewed as a colossal joke. Now the team will have to gather their wits to face a new enemy – Power Girl!
In issue #18, the JLI takes on former teammate Power Girl, but will they pull their punches? Meanwhile, Max Lord continues his interrogation and torture of Blue Beetle, and Batman’s investigation leads him to a discovery he would never have predicted!
Retailers please note: These issues will ship with two covers each. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
Issue #17 on sale JANUARY 12
Issue #18 on sale JANUARY 26


Torture? Awesome! There's nothing I'd rather read about in a Justice League comic book!


RED ROBIN #19
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA
Art and cover by MARCUS TO & RAY MCCARTHY

When Red Robin and his friends are trapped in the unknown world of the Unternet by the Calculator’s fail-safe program, it’s Batman and Robin to the rescue – but which Batman and Robin is it? If the Unternet is a telepathic communications gestalt where the villains’ dreams come true, can Red Robin become its waking nightmare?

On sale JANUARY 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US


So if Tim Drake is really going to keep going by this Red Robin identity, can he maybe get a new, better costume? Perhaps one that is more red than black, given his codename? And maybe something that looks more Robin-y than Batman-ish? Like, you know how the last Nightwing costume looked vaguely Robin-esque, giving Dick Grayson a bit of visual continuity with his former identity? I think I’d like to see Tim Drake wearing a red domino mask instead of an ear-less Batman cowl.

I think that, in general, it would be preferable for Red Robin to look like a new and different Robin than a new and different Batman.

This particular cover really draws attention to the weakness of the costume design, as it shows a big blow-up of Red Robin’s logo, which appears to be a gold, abstracted falcon’s head over a field of black. Shouldn’t it at least be, you know, red?


From far away, the 6 on the skull's forehead looks a little like Superman's spit-curl, which made this look a bit like Superman's skull to me.


STARMAN /CONGORILLA #1
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by BRETT BOOTH
Cover by GENE HA

In this tie-in to the “JLA Omega” storyline, the new blue and gold team of Congorilla and Mikaal Tomas work to unlock the secrets behind the toxic Omega Man’s dark energy, which encases Washington D.C. To do this they must embark on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth, encountering diverse heroes from the DCU along the way including Animal Man, Sirocco and a certain wonder dog named Rex. And all the while, Mikaal and Congorilla must outrun and outwit a cadre of terrorist assassins from Gorilla City. This is a breakneck chase through the DCU, but with a serious end-goal – saving the lives of their fellow members of the JLA!


Oh man, this is going to take some agonizing.

James Robinson is kind of a neutral factor for me right now—I wouldn't buy a book just because he wrote it, nor would I not by a book because he wrote it. I don't really care for Booth's work from what I've seen of it so far (This is the second time I've meant to talk at greater length about Booth's work during long posts, and end up sounding dismissive of it; one of these days I'm going to devote a couple paragraphs to what I like and dislike about it, I swear).

But if I'm tepid on the creative team, I love the stars: Animal Man, Congorilla and Rex the Wonder Dog in the same comic…? Oh man… I just don’t know… I may have to wait until I have this in my hand to make up my mind about bringing it home with me or not….

As for the symbols, I'm not crazy about Congorilla's. I've long held that in order for a superhero to qualify as a Justice Leaguer, to be someone who really belongs on that team, that need to be "iconic," and part of being iconic is literally having an icon, something that can go on the back on your silver chair at the Justice League meeting table.

I do like Congorilla quite a bit, and I do think he belongs on the Justice League, but I don't really like that finger-painted "C" symbol. I can't think of a better one of the top of my head: The gorilla silhouette shape from his magic ring? An abstract gorilla head? A banana?


SHAZAM! #1
Script by ERIC WALLACE
Art by CLIFF RICHARDS
Cover by CLIFF CHIANG

Blaze, the current ruler of Hell, has an offer for Mary and Billy Batson that may be too good to pass up! Left powerless, will the two former heroes have the strength to deny the devil? Can Freddy Freeman save them? And how does the Titan Osiris fit into it all? Find out here, in this one-shot special written by Eric Wallace (TITANS) with art by Cliff Richards (THE ROAD HOME: BATMAN & ROBIN #1)!

ONE-SHOT • On sale JANUARY 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US


I kinda hated Cliff Richards’ artwork in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Batman and Robin #1, what little of Eric Wallace’s work I’ve read has been laughably bad, and I’m still not really comfortable with this whole Captain Marvel Jr.-is-now-dressed-like-Captain Marvel-and-calling-himself-Shazam status quo.

So as much as I’d like to read a Captain Marvel-related comic book in January, this sure as heck doesn’t seem like one I’d want to read.


SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 5 TP
Written by ROBERT KANIGHER, MIKE FRIEDRICH, DENNIS O’NEIL, GARDNER FOX and LEN WEIN
Art by DICK DILLIN, JOE GIELLA and MIKE SEKOWSKY
Cover by NICK CARDY
In this value-priced volume collecting stories from issues #84-106, The JLA battles BLACKEST NIGHT villain Solomon Grundy, meets Deadman, faces a cosmic vampire, and teams up with both The Justice Society of America and The Seven Soldiers of Victory.

On sale FEBRUARY 16 • 528 pg, B&W, $19.99 US


Fuck yeah, Showcase Presents: The Justice League! Deadman! Solomon Grundy! Starbreaker! The Seven Soldiers of Victory! The Shaggy Man! Whatever's going on here:And King Batman!Eeeya-hahaha indeed.


STEEL #1
Written by STEVE LYONS
Art by SEAN CHEN
Cover by ALEX GARNER

John Henry Irons is a normal human being who managed to overcome all odds and become a hero who Superman considers a peer and colleague. What kind of determination drives a man to reach such heights? Find out here as a battered and bruised Steel defiantly stands as the only thing between Metallo and the destruction of Metropolis! Doctor Who novelist Steve Lyons and artist Sean Chen (ACTION COMICS, SALVATION RUN) deliver a story that shows why Steel is a true DC Universe icon!

ONE-SHOT • On sale JANUARY 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US


I like Steel a whole lot. I’m not familiar with Steve Lyons’ work, and saying “Doctor Who novelist” doesn’t help any, but I think I may pre-order this on account of digging Steel and not having seen him in a long time anyway.


SUICIDE SQUAD VOL. 1: TRIAL BY FIRE TP
Written by JOHN OSTRANDER
Art by LUKE MCDONNELL, DAVE HUNT, BOB LEWIS and KARL KESEL
Cover by LUKE MCDONNELL and KARL KESEL
When Super-Villains get caught, it’s up to the government to keep them in captivity. Amanda Waller, a tough-as-nails federal agent, has other plans. She’s heading up Task Force X (a.k.a. The Suicide Squad) as an ultimatum to the world’s biggest villains. Join her shady, near-impossible missions in the name of democracy, or rot in jail. And one other thing: Most operatives don’t make it back alive!
This volume collects the first eight issues of SUICIDE SQUAD, along with a tale from SECRET ORIGINS #14.

On sale FEBRUARY 9 • 232 pg, FC, $19.99 US


Finally. I would have preferred a Showcase Presents volume, but then, I'd prefer every thing be published as a Showcase Presents volume, and this will certainly do.


See Supegirl's S-shield is pink because she’s a girl, and girls like pink.


SUPERMAN: THE BLACK RING HC
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by PETE WOODS and SEAN CHEN
Cover by DAVID FINCH and JOE WEEMS
When Lex Luthor finally regained control of LexCorp, he thought he had everything he wanted. But in BLACKEST NIGHT, he briefly became an Orange Lantern and got a taste of true power. Now he’ll do anything to get that power back. Buckle in for a greatest hits tour of the DCU’s most wanted – including an appearance by The Sandman’s big sister, Death! – as Lex Luthor begins an epic quest for power in stories from ACTION COMICS #890-895, brought to you by writer Paul Cornell (Dr. Who, Captain Britain and MI-13)!

On sale MARCH 30 • 160 pg, FC, $19.99 US


Um, is Superman even in this story being collected in a book with his name in the title...? I haven't been reading Cornell's arc on the book, but I have been watching it from afar, waiting for it to show up in trade, and, as far as I can tell, it's completely Superman-free.


Congratulations, Teen Titans! You have the worst icon/logo of all of the books being published as part of their icon/logo cover month!


I kinda like the Deathstroke symbol there. Looks like a Deathstroke emoticon. If there were a little frown on the bottom half of it, it would be absolutely perfect.


WEIRD WORLDS #1
Written by KEVIN VAN HOOK, AARON LOPRESTI and KEVIN MAGUIRE
Art by JERRY ORDWAY, AARON LOPRESTI & MATT RYAN and KEVIN MAGUIRE
Cover by JUSTINIANO

Welcome to one of the weirdest titles DC has ever assembled – 6 issues filled with stories of monsters, ghouls and far-out cosmic craziness!

Each month, you’ll be treated to new 10-page chapters in three exciting serials. In this debut issue, Kevin Van Hook and Jerry Ordway bring you the continuing adventures of Lobo, everyone’s favorite Czarnian (after all, he’s the only one left, so he’d better be your favorite). Aaron Lopresti introduces you to his newest creation, the kind-hearted monster called Garbageman. And Kevin Maguire takes you to the farthest reaches of outer space with the introduction of a hero called Tanga!

Wrap it all up in a cover by the amazing Justiniano, and you’ve got a truly monstrous hit on your hands! These artists are letting their freak flags fly – join them, why don’t you?

On sale JANUARY 5 • 1 of 6 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US


Hmmm...I'm kinda curious about this one. Even the Lobo story, which normally wouldn't interest me all that much (I have already read all of the Lobo stories I think I'll ever need to read) has Jerry Ordway handling art, and Ordway is probably the last artist I'd expect to see drawing a Lobo comic, which makes me wonder what the results will look like.



YOUNG JUSTICE #0
Written by GREG WEISMAN and KEVIN HOPPS
Cover and art by MIKE NORTON

Based on the upcoming hit animated show from Warner Bros. debuting on Cartoon Network! Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash and Aqualad star in this explosive issue kickstarting an all-new ongoing series! They’re four young superheroes learning how to be a team...and maybe doing a bit of growing up along the way – but only just a little bit!
Animation writers Greg Wiesman (The Batman, Gargoyles) and Kevin Hopps (Spectacular Spider-Man, Smurfs) join fan-favorite artist Mike Norton (BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM) for this exciting new, all-ages title!

On sale JANUARY 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US


This seems like it will be a great vehicle for Norton's artwork.


Zatana's symbol is a Monopoly piece...?

7 comments:

Eyz said...

I'm actually sort of digging this iconic inspired covers.
It's a neat idea for the artists.

Though, let's admit, some of those came out pretty bland :/

KentL said...

The Birds of Prey logo looks like something you might see on the jersey of a high school sports team.

YES! I knew I'd seen that somewhere before. That's not the symbol they usually use, is it?

Like, you know how the last Nightwing costume looked vaguely Robin-esque, giving Dick Grayson a bit of visual continuity with his former identity?

Sorry, but I don't see any similarity between any of Nightwing's costumes and the Robin costume.

Every time I see the Red Robin name (which is a terrible name), I think of the burger franchise. Red Robin...YUMMMMMM.

RE: DC's random one-shots
None of the one-shots are appealing to me at all. The Congorilla/Starman one is somewhat interesting, but James Robinson has been off his game since returning to the DCU and the art is by Brett Booth.

DC needs to fix Captain Marvel quickly, and something tells me that Eric Wallace is not going to help things with his one-shot.

Finally. I would have preferred a Showcase Presents volume, but then, I'd prefer every thing be published as a Showcase Presents volume, and this will certainly do.

You could probably find all of these issues pretty cheap on eBay or at a comic store. Pretty sure I picked up the Suicide Squad series for a quarter each a while back.

See Supegirl's S-shield is pink because she’s a girl, and girls like pink.

Yes, they do. I realize you're just bringing the snark here. Maybe you feel that girls should be offended because of this? My daughter loves, loves, loves pink. Not sure where she gets it, really. Certainly not my wife or myself. She came out of the womb with an affinity for things considered girly (pink, dresses, pink dresses, baby dolls, stuffed animals, etc.). Oddly enough, a lot of girls like pink. Probably more so than don't, but I don't really know the statistics there. I'm just basing that on the little girls I know.

Of course, all of that said, I'm not sure who this is aimed at. Adults reading the title might flinch at the pink logo. This isn't a title I would let my daughter read. I don't let my kids anywhere near the DC titles unless they're Johnny DC, so you know, slim pickin's there. It's a shame that DC doesn't aim more at girls. My daughter loves comics. She loves girl superheroes. She'll pick up the occasional Tiny Titans, but it just isn't the same. She loves when we read the Powerpuff digests I picked up cheap a year or so ago. She loved the Supergirl mini they did a year or so ago. It's just a shame that I can't find much on the racks for my daughter, but I can't keep up with the titles my son is interested in.

This seems like it will be a great vehicle for Norton's artwork.

Yep. Glad to see Norton landed here after the cancellation of Shazam.

David said...

I'd honestly rather read a straight-up Rex the Wonder Dog comic. I'm honestly surprised Geoff Johns hasn't gotten around to tying in Rex with Alan Scott's old dog and saying his minor fountain of youth powers are Starheart related.

Congorilla icon would probably work best as a golden gorilla head.

And once again, I'm reminded of how much I miss Young Justice and how much the characters currently suck in Teen Titans.

Randal said...

Bleeding Cool referenced that Congorilla one-shot as "Starman vs Congorilla" when he was showing the covers a few days ago, and that threw me off. Now I see it's the much less antagonistic "Starman/Congorilla," and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

ulf-boehnke said...

Congorilla's logo looks like he was trying to write his name in the snow.

Jeremy said...

"Based on the upcoming hit animated show from Warner Bros. debuting on Cartoon Network!"

How can something be an upcoming hit?

Siobhan said...

To weigh in on the pink thing: it bothers me a lot less now, but when I was a preteen girl I would have *hated* and felt horribly insulted by something getting pink slapped on it because it was for girls, and I would have instantly decided to avoid it at all costs- random pink on a cover went right along with "Well, you're a *girl*, so you want to read about other girls having self-esteem problems and 'boy trouble', right?" Pink was almost always a bad sign- it meant that this was the Girl Version and not, you know, the *real* version. ("Look, it's the girl version of Superman! Like Superman, but she doesn't get to be a grown-up or wear pants.")

What the hell, though, I guess a lot of girls really do like pink, and they might as well get their very own pink-logoed superhero. The other ones can go be fans of Speedy or Wonder Girl. There's room in the DCU for girls with all kinds of different logo colors.