Monday, April 11, 2011

DC's July previews reviewed

DC Comics has released their full solicitations for the comics they intend to publish in July of this year, and perhaps the most noteworthy initiative contained within them are the just-announced Retroactive one-shots. (I discussed them briefly here, and I’d recommend this article by Don MacPherson, which offers a little overview of the publishing initiative, and contains references to some artists who have confirmed their participation).

The gist is apparently that each of DC’s biggest franchises—Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and The Justice League—will each get a decade-specific one-shot, featuring a writer from that era telling a story set in that era. The decades are the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

DC had announced the writers (and logos) at the same time as they announced the project, but didn’t announce any artists until today, when they rolled the information out on their blog prior to the release of the solicitations.

The artists chosen are…interesting. I assumed the artists, like the writers, would have been ones associated with the characters during those decades or, if not always possible, then perhaps at least be artists who could have worked on those characters back then. Given the visual nature of comics, getting a decades-specific artist is actually more important than a writer (I have to assume that JT Krul or Gail Simone or Tony Bedard or whoever could pick up a Showcase to study and do a passable Denny O’Neil or Len Wein impression a lot easier than many artist could do a Dick Dillin or Gil Kane or Neal Adams impression).

Apparently, that’s not going to be the case, though.

A couple of the “The ‘70s” sub-titled books will have artists who were working in the 1970s: Eduardo Barretto is drawing Superman and Mike Grell is drawing Green Lantern.

But the others apparently will have artists of more recent vintage. J. Bone is drawing Wonder Woman, and the solicitations list the artists on The Flash, Batman and Justice League as TBD (The Source says they will be drawn by Benito Gallego, Tom Mandrake and Andy Smith and Gordon Purcell, respectively.)

I don’t want to use the phrase “defeats the purpose” here, and I’m actually really excited to read some of those—I like both J. Bone and Tom Mandrake a whole lot, and while I’ve read plenty of Mandrake Batman comics, I can’t wait to see what Bone does with Wonder Woman in this particular context—but these artists on these books certainly confuses the concept quite a bit.

That and the fact that DC has those TBDs, no covers and doesn’t name the specific issues that are going to be reprinted as back-ups are all a little worrisome, like maybe this is yet another DC initiative that launched a little too quickly, and could have used a few more months of marinating before being announced and scheduled.

I look forward to being proven wrong, though. Of these first issues, I’m definitely planning on pre-ordering three based on the creative teams alone.

Also of note is what’s not solicited: The Geoff Johns-written main Green Lantern title. The two spin-offs show-up, and there’s a Tony Bedard-written one-shot entitled War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath #1, but the “real” Green Lantern title is MIA.

That’s…probably not a great idea, considering that book is, along with Morrison’s Batman book, one of DC’s only reliably great-sellers.

Now let’s look a the rest of DC’s plans for July…


The cover for this month's Action Comics is of note because it features Superboy, a male character, with his costume torn up to reveal copious amounts of flesh. You generally only see that with female characters. So let's hear it for a step toward equal treatment of super-characters.


I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but that Guillem March sure can draw the hell out of things, can't he? Check out the look on Robin's face, or the Red Hood's red hood shattering into a million pieces...wow.


BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #4
Written by DAVID FINCH
Art by JAY FABOK
Cover by DAVID FINCH
1:25 Variant cover by ANDY CLARKE
Now featuring art by rising star Jay Fabok (Soulfire)!
Etrigan the Demon’s loyalties are stretched to their breaking point, and when he chooses sides, an epic battle ensues with Batman! The victor can only be decided with the help of a new friend, but there’s no time to spare for infighting, because Gotham City is being overrun by a demon horde...
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information. This issue is resolicited. All previous orders are cancelled.
RESOLICIT • On sale JULY 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US


Ha ha ha ha ha! Okay, now I’ll use the phrase “defeats the purpose.” What the hell is the point of giving artist David Finch his very own Batman book to write and draw if he’s not even going to draw it?

It’s not like this book needs to keep a schedule, as embarrassing and unprofessional as it might be if it only comes out every two to seven months or whatever. Like All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder or Neal Adams' crazy-looking comic, Finch's Dark Knight is a continuity-light, side-book, the entire point of which is to function as a showcase for Finch as comic book auteur.

Similarly, writer/artist Tony Daniel's Batman will have a guest-artist this month, however that's a horse of a different color—Batman has been around for like 70 years and Daniel's merely the current person working on it; it wasn't created specifically for Daniel to draw every month, the way Dark Knight was made for Finch.


BATMAN INCORPORATED #9
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art and cover by CAMERON STEWART
1:25 Variant cover by CAMERON STEWART
Is an exclusive girls’ finishing school a secret training ground for teenaged assassins? Find out the truth as Batgirl undertakes her most dangerous
mission yet at the request of Batman.
On sale JULY 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Grant Morrison + Cameron Stewart + British girls' finishing school = Comic Book Heaven.

Oh yeah, and I guess maybe Batman's in this comic too...?

Also, I guess we can add Cameron Stewart to the list of great artists who can't make Batgirl's utility garter look cool. Just ditch it already, Batgirl!


BRIGHTEST DAY AFTERMATH: THE SEARCH FOR SWAMP THING #2
Written by JONATHAN VANKIN
Art by MARCO CASTIELLO
Cover by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES
1:10 Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Who has been cursed to find the Swamp Thing – and can Superman and the other heroes stop him?
On sale JULY 27 • 2 of 3, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Er, that’s not really the cover, is it? Or, if it is, then this isn’t the cover for the first issue? Because that would be stupid.

I don’t know the writer’s writing work, I don’t know the artist (name sounds familiar though) and I don’t know the protagonist—Alec Holland? John Constantine? Mike Sterling?—so it’s kind of difficult to even get interested in this at this point, even though I’ve liked Brightest Day so far, and I like Swamp Thing.


Another boring-ass cover from Ed Benes. It looks like he attempted an expression on Superman, though, so it’s cool to see him working outside of his comfort zone.

And, as often I rag on Benes, I have to admit that he captures Hal Jordan’s dull-wittedness pretty well here:


DC COMICS PRESENTS: METAL MEN #1
Written by KEITH GIFFEN, J.M. DEMATTEIS and BOB HANEY • Art by KEVIN MAGUIRE, TIM LEVINS and others • Cover by KEVIN MAGUIRE
Collected from DOOM PATROL #1-7, don’t miss the Metal Men’s adventures against The Clique, living mannequins, an ancient god, at the Department of Motor Vehicles and more. Plus, from SILVER AGE: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #1, the team meets Batman, Green Arrow and Black Canary!
On sale JULY 20 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US


Boy am I glad to see this. I sampled plenty of DC's $3.99/30-page books with back-ups, but never found one in which I liked both the main story and the back-up enough to keep buying them. In the case of Doom Patrol, I liked the Metal Men back-up, but didn't care for the story in the front of the book and dropped it, hoping Metal Men would eventually get collected in a trade. I guess this is close enough. That's a weird choice of back-up for this, too, as it's a single chunk of a big, multi-book event/story from 2000 (Which I don't think has ever been collected, come to think of it, which, as I've pointed out before, is kind of insane considering it was written in part by Mark Waid, Mark Millar and Geoff Johns).


DC COMICS PRESENTS: SUPERMAN #4
Written by JOE KELLY and CHUCK DIXON • Art by DUNCAN ROULEAU, PASCAL FERRY, KANO and OTHERS • Cover by SCOTT MCDANIEL
These spectacular stories from ACTION COMICS #768, 771, 772 and 773 guest-star the Marvel Family and Nightwing, and include an epic confrontation between The Man of Steel and Ra’s Al Ghul!
On sale JULY 6 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US


I’ve read and liked all of these stories. I’d recommend this one.


Wow, another nice Johnson cover for the second issue of Flashpoint: Batman—Knight of Vengeance #2. The text mentions The Joker, although there’s no telling if that image is merely symbolic, or might suggest something about the Flashpoint altered version of The Joker.

Can I just buy the covers for Deadman and the Flying Graysons? Check out the dancing bear holding the space for the DC bullet?


Am I reading Joe Bennett’s cover for Flashpoint: Deathsroke and The Curse of the Ravager #2 wrong, or is that Clayface with dreadlocks in the lower right-hand corner…?


AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!


Holy crap, Guy Gardner’s ring is huge. I realize artist Felipe Massafera is implying the ring is closer to the viewer than Gardner, but even taking that into account, the ring looks to be at least as big as his whole hand.

Maybe that’s the aftermath of “War of the Green Lanterns” that all the GL solicits are referring to, though—Green Lantern rings will become 50 times bigger during the events of the "War."


HITMAN VOL. 5: WHO DARES WINS TP NEW EDITION
Written by GARTH ENNIS • Art and cover by JOHN McCREA
When both a group of British S.A.S. commandos and an avenging troop of mafia soldiers target Tommy Monaghan and his partner, Natt, the two assassins stand side by side in a fight they know they cannot win. Collected from HITMAN #23-28.
On sale AUGUST 31 • 144 pg, FC, $19.99 US


This six-issue arc is one of several high points of Ennis and McCrea's Hitman, the best comic ever. Prior to this arc, much of the series had leaned a little more heavily on zany comedy and the inherent ridiculousness of the DC Universe, but in this story things turn deadly serious—or as deadly serious as things ever got in Hitman, give that this arc does feature a scene where our heroes use a dead morbidly obese man in a fast food joint as a human shield during a shoot out.

Anyway, our heroes are in the fight of their lives against opponents who outnumber and outclass them, and are all-around better at killing people then they are. Given Ennis' already-demonstrated willingness to kill off key supporting characters, it was actually quite a tense read, as virtually anyone could go at any moment in a Hitman story.


RED ROBIN #25
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA • Art and cover by MARCUS TO and RAY MCCARTHY
If he’s going to avoid a fight against a psycho Super-Villain, end the 7 Days of Death, win the Assassination Tournament and discover ancient knowledge over life and death, Red Robin will have to survive a final battle against one of the world’s deadliest assassins. Her name? Cassandra Cain!
On sale JULY 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Hey look, it's Cassandra Cain! And look what's she's wearing! Aside from the shape of the mask and a few details, that's almost exactly what Dennis Culver dressed her in when he designed and redesigned like 50 Bat-people (designs which were discussed at great length on EDILW here).

Check it out: I like Culver's hairstyle better, though.

Anyone out there reading Red Robin? Should I check out this issue?


SUPERMAN #713
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI and CHRIS ROBERSON
Art by EDDY BARROWS and J.P. MAYER
Cover by JOHN CASSADAY
1:10 Variant cover by JEFF SMITH
What could possibly make The Man of Steel decide to stop being Superman? Superboy and Supergirl catch up with him in Portland, Oregon, and they want answers!
On sale JULY 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Hey look, "Variant cover by JEFF SMITH." Neat. Unfortunately, DC didn't show it off in the solicits, they just featured the boring Cassaday one.


SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE ARCHIVES VOL. 1 HC
Written by OTTO BINDER and others • Art by WAYNE BORING, KURT SCHAFFENBERGER and others • Cover by CURT SWAN and STAN KAYE
These whimsical stories are collected from SHOWCASE #9-10 and SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #1-8, including: • “The Girl in Superman’s Past” • “The Jilting of Superman”
• “The Witch of Metropolis” • “The Rainbow Superman”
• “Lois Lane – Convict!” • “The Ugly Superman”
Advance solicited • On sale DECEMBER 21 • 264 pg, FC, $59.99 US


A $60 Archives edition? Lame. Let's get these in Showcases, STAT!


TINY TITANS #42
Written by ART BALTAZAR and FRANCO
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
They said it couldn’t happen, but why did you believe them? It’s...young Bizarros in love! Who is the strange girl from a square planet floating in space? Join us as the Tiny Titans discover Bizarro World! Aww yeah!
On sale JULY 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E


I've said it before regarding this E-rated, kid-friendly comic and I'll say it again: Fuck yeah, Tiny Titans!


Titans #37
Written by ERIC WALLACE
Art and cover by FABRIZIO FIORENTINO
“The Methuselah Imperative” continues! From the ashes of defeat comes the secret of life itself as Deathstroke’s master plan reaches its stunning
conclusion. Plus, this is it: Arsenal leads a Titans mutiny – but who will survive? Guest-starring The Mad Hatter, Dr. Sivana and Dr. Impossible!
On sale JULY 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+


Ever like a character so much you don’t ever want to see them turn up in a comic, because you’re afraid of what the creators are going to do to them? Of course you have! Especially if you read DC comics.

That’s how I feel about Dr. Sivana, appearing on this cover with the two characters I find less appealing than any of DC’s several thousand IPs—Deathstroke and stupid old Jericho.

Eric Wallace's Titans, you may recall, is the book which opened with a woman sexing a man to death with her super-powered fire vagina. And that was well before DC had a rating system, and everything was considered all-ages! Now the book is rated T+, a degree higher than the vast majority of DCU books!

2 comments:

Mark said...

Lois Lane is already in Showcases; specifically, the Superman Family books. Of course, the issues reprinted in the Archive book are spread over all three volumes - Showcase #9 is in volume 1, and Lois Lane #8 is in volume 3, so if all you want are the issues in the Archive, they're cheaper to get that way. If you want the next eight issues of Lois Lane and forty five Jimmy Olsen issues (and why wouldn't you?), then Showcases are the way to go.

Eyz said...

The Metal Men backup feature is finally getting collected!! HECK YEAH!!