Monday, July 18, 2011

DC's October previews reviewed

October will, of course, be the second month of DC’s relaunched DCU, so there should be at least 52 #2s following September's 52 new #1s, plus anything new DC has decided to roll out. It turns out they are expanding beyond the original 52 new DCU books, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the franchise they’re starting their expansion with is the perennially most popular one.

I counted six new comics set in the DCU, for a grand total of 58. These six new ones are mostly miniseries. I think only one of them is actually an ongoing. Three of the minis are, of course, Batman-related, including the return of Neal Adams' Batman limited series, The Odyssey. Come September, there will be eleven monthly Bat-Family books. In October, there will be three miniseries to add to that count, making for 14 Bat-books that month.

That said, let's take our monthly closer look at the solicitations, even though it's the eve of the San Diego Comic-Con and nobody cares, shall we? You can see the full solicitations at Newsa--Er, actually, since I have new paymasters, I guess I should link to the full solicitations at Comic Book Resources, huh?


Well, so far Travel Forman’s gross covers for the new volume of Animal Man aren’t living up to Brian Bolland’s covers for the previous volume.

I guess they are serving to distance this volume from the previous one, though.


BATMAN #2
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
Cover by GREG CAPULLO
Variant cover by JIM LEE

On sale OCTOBER 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Bruce Wayne is back in the cowl, hunting a new and deadly killer in Gotham City – a killer with a vendetta against Bruce Wayne! But who is this mysterious killer in an owl skull mask? And is he the key to unlocking one of Gotham’s oldest and most terrifying secrets? Be there for their first brutal encounter!


I have absolutely no idea what an owl skull looks like, or how I’d know what it looks like compared to other bird skulls.

Wait. Let me try Google Images…

Oh. So that’s what it looks like. While there’s nothing in the solicit that sounds particularly new or interesting, that bit jumped out at me.

I’m still pretty unsure about this book, and will have to probably wait until I read a trade of Snyder’s TEC run and see what Capullo’s work looks like before I decide if this is something for me. Still, the solicit looks a lot better with the words “owl skull mask” in it than it would without those words there.


I really love Patrick Gleason’s cover for this issue, particularly Batman and Robin and their poses and expressions.

I’m not crazy about the grill of that new Batmobile though…from afar, it looks like a Batman version of Peter Porker, Spider-Ham. It would have looked better with a big Batman face or triangle or almond-shaped headlight eyes.

Still:


BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #2
Written by DAVID FINCH and PAUL JENKINS
Art by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND with JAY FABOK
Cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
On sale OCTOBER 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Something sinister surges through Arkham Asylum, and Batman finds himself bombarded by his greatest foes in this second sensational issue from superstar creator David Finch! Bigger, meaner, and more powerful than ever before, the inmates of Arkham Asylum run rampant as the entire Bat Family struggles to keep the walls from falling down, unleashing Gotham City’s worst criminals on the unsuspecting population. And you won’t believe the jaw-dropping final page! Just keep repeating, “It’s only a comic book. It’s only a comic book…”


Graeme McMillan was the first to catch this funny (or is it sad...?) fact: Batman: The Dark Knight, the comic book originally launched and sold as the “David Finch writes and draws Batman!” book, is, in its second month after getting a second chance, is now a book that Finch does with some other creators.

The first volume went wildly off-schedule almost immediately, only shipping three issues since December of 2010. Surprisingly, despite its trouble keeping anything close to a schedule, it was one of the books the publisher decided to keep around as part of its line during the September relaunch.

And, of course, the relaunched book will also go off schedule, immediately, the only thing getting issues #2 on shelves a month after issue #1 is Finch getting a co-writer and two co-artists for the “David Finch writes and draws Batman!” book.

Weird.

And that’s before we even get into that crazy cover, with a Hulk-ed out Two-Facce with fists as big as Batman’s forearms.


Man, I love the way Guillem March draws Gotham gargoyles


DC COMICS PRESENTS: CATWOMAN – GUARDIAN OF GOTHAM #1
Written by DOUG MOENCH • Art by JIM BALENT and KIM DeMULDER
Cover by JIM BALENT
On sale OCTOBER 26 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US
In this tale, originally a 2-part miniseries, Catwoman is the protector of a darker than ever Gotham City – and she must protect the city’s criminals from the murderous vigilante called the Bat-Man!


This is a pretty crazy Elseworlds story most notable for Moench's typically crazy writing and Balent's insanely over-the-top costume design and top-heavy ladies. This being an Elseworlds, non-canonical tale, Balent even ramps up the exploitive nature of his artwork. Those are two great flavors of late nineties Batman craziness that didn't go together all that often (Moench's late nineties Batman work was usually done with artist Kelley Jones, while Balent worked more often with Chuck Dixon and even Devin Grayson than with Moench, I believe).

Anyway, I pulled this one out mostly to note that it doesn't look like DC is abandoning the DC Comics Presents program after all. Instead it looks like they just took September off, and are publishing two months worth of DCCP books in October.

In addition to above, they're also releasing Alan Davis and Mark Farmer's Superboy's Legion, Batman—The Demon Laughs by Dixon, Jim Aparo and John Cebollero, JLA—The Age of Wonder by Adisakdi Tantimedh, Galen Showman and P. Craig Russell, Batman—Blinke by Dwayne McDuffie, Val Semeiks, Dan Green and Renato Guedes and Superman—Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen.

I haven't read all of those, but I liked the ones I did (Demon Laughs, Secret Identity) and want to read all of the ones I haven't...well, except maybe that Legion one. I like Farmer on Davis, but still, the Legion...


DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS VOL. 1 TP
Written by MARV WOLFMAN and TONY BEDARD
Art by HOWARD PORTER, ADRIANA MELO, LIVESAY and NORMAN LEE
Cover by ED BENES
On sale NOVEMBER 9 • 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Based on the hit DC Universe Online game from Sony!
As this epic adventure begins, Lex Luthor’s obsession with destroying Superman reaches fever pitch when he cuts the ultimate Devil’s deal with Brainiac – but with the shake of a hand, has Luthor consigned humanity to extinction? Collecting issues #0-7!


Whatever you do, don't buy this. You won't like it. At all. I promise.

On the subject of DC Universe Online Legends, the bi-weekly series will return from its (badly needed) hiatus in October.


I like the idea of Tony Daniel’s cover, but something still looks a bit off. I think it’s the lack of seat belt, and how weird the controls in what I assume is supposed to be some sort of Bat-plane look.


DEMON KNIGHTS #2
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by DIOGENES NEVES and OCLAIR ALBERT
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale OCTOBER 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The siege that will reverberate through history to the present-day DCU begins as the Demon Etrigan and his unlikely lover, Madame Xanadu, face the Horde! What five (mostly) noble souls would be crazy enough to join them? The cover gives but a hint, and the point could well be moot by the time this issue’s done. For the Horde is armed with the magic of Mordru – including some decidedly different dragons!


Hmmm…joining Etrigan, I recognize the 21st century version of the Seven Soldiers’ Shining Knight, and the dude with the axe might be Vandal Savage and, um, that’s it. The lady in the far right corner isn’t supposed to be Hippolyta or an Amazon, is it? Because that would be kind of weird.


FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #2
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI
Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale OCTOBER 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s all-out war as Frankenstein and his new field team, The Creature Commandos, uncover an age-old conspiracy at the heart of Bone Lake – one that will see them suit up as the world’s first “Necronauts,” traveling between worlds and through “dead space,” toward the mysterious Monster Planet. Meanwhile, the horrifying origins of the Commandos are revealed – and the S.O.M.B.I.E. makes its first appearance!


The first issue of Lemire’s Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of The Unknown was very, very, very dull, and not very Flashpointy, so hearing that the Creature Commandos are going to be part of the cast for this book makes it seem even less appealing to me.

Kinda neat cover from Jones though; especially if the animal guy on the far right is supposed to be a black bear man, but I imagine it’s actually just a weird-looking wolfman…


Wow, the Green Arrow on artist Dave Wilkins’s cover for the second issue of Green Arrow looks like a completely different character than the Green Arrow on artist Brett Booth's cover for the first Issue of Green Arrow.

This one looks very Smallville, save with some 19th century facial hair.


GREEN LANTERN #2
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE and CHRISTIAN ALAMY

On sale OCTOBER 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Renegade Green Lantern Sinestro sets a course for Korugar with one purpose: To free his homeworld from the scourge of… The Sinestro Corps?!


Hey, Green Lantern might be vastly improved after the September relaunch. It looks like the book will have the same great creative team, but now the lead character is going to actually be one with some charisma! Huzzah!


Oh wow, check it out—Star Sapphire’s costume has been redesigned to look much less completely insane than it currently does!

If you forgot, this is what it currently looks like:Could it be that DC actually listened to some Internet criticism, and acted upon it?

Or it could it simply be that they’ve already achieved their true goal with that last Star Sapphire costume, having someone cosplay in it (as I theorized here)... ...so it was okay to switch back to something slightly less insanely skimpy?


THE HUNTRESS #1
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by MARCUS TO and JOHN DELL
Cover by GUILLEM MARCH
On sale OCTOBER 5 • 1 of 6, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Look out! By the end of this hot new miniseries, the Huntress will have the largest price on her head in DC Universe history. What will the Huntress do that warrants such a death mark? And who puts it there? The jaw-dropping events will be revealed as the Huntress heads home to Italy and embarks on a mission that defines her life. Don’t miss out, because this story will tie in to upcoming events in BIRDS OF PREY!


Absent from the first round of solicitations, including the one for Birds of Prey, a book she used to co-star in, it looks like The Huntress still exists in the new DCU after all (Originally a Crisis On Infinite Earths import from parallel Earth-2, Huntress was from the same source as Power Girl and some of the JSA characters who were MIA in the solicitations).

It looks like this new six-issue mini will be written by Paul Levitz, who started writing the character…let’s see…the year I was born (Insert snarky comment about DC wanting to appeal to a new, younger audience instead of hanging on to their current, graying one).

The artist, Marcus To, has been drawing the now-canceled Red Robin book for DC. So here’s another “new” book by two of the same creators who were working on the “old” DC books.

From what we can see of the costume, it looks pretty familiar, and is a huge improvement over the last time Jim Lee redesigned her costume.

It doesn’t sound like another origin story, which is good news, given that DC published a wholly unnecessary origin story in 2008, following a perfectly serviceable Huntress origin story from 2000.


iZOMBIE #18
Written by CHRIS ROBERSON
Guest art by JAY STEPHENS
Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
On sale OCTOBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
MATURE READERS
Nominated for a 2011 Eisner Award for Best New Series!
Readers of iZOMBIE know Diogenes as the grizzled monster hunter who has seen it all and done it all. But he wasn’t always so experienced, and everyone has to start somewhere. So join us as we turn back the clock and witness Diogenes’ very first mission, when he journeyed to South America in search of the Vampire Queen of the Amazon – and you won’t want to miss learning his secret connection to Zombie Gwen’s “boyfriend,” Horatio! This issue is illustrated by guest artist Jay Stephens!


JAY STEPHENS ALERT!!!!


JUSTICE LEAGUE #2
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
...
On sale OCTOBER 19 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
What happens when the World’s Greatest Detective takes on the world’s most powerful alien? You’ll find out when Batman and Superman throw down. Batman will need all his intellect, cunning and physical prowess to take on The Man of Steel.


A strange side effect of making the DCU more accessible, and/or rebooting things a bit so that the characters are younger or inexperienced, and/or setting certain storylines in the distant past (like this one?) is that some of these storylines sound overly familiar. For example, Superman vs. Batman sounds like something I've read several hundred times already, and don't really need to read again, not even by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.

This is a book I was assuming I was going to buy ever since it was rumored (years ago), but I don't know, this looks and sounds extremely dull.

That said, I suppose if a decades-long reader like me isn't interested in a new direction, then that might be a good indication that it's the right new direction (That is, it' s probably not supposed to appeal to guys like me, but to new readers). If those new readers show up after all, then it's worth losing guys like me, I guess. I have a lot of doubts that this is actually going to draw in new readers to the direct market though, instead of just shifting, say, some Marvel readers to some DC books to replace the DC readers who are leaving.


MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #1
Written by AARON LOPRESTI, KEVIN MAGUIRE and MATT KINDT
Art by AARON LOPRESTI, KEVIN MAGUIRE, MATT RYAN and SCOTT KOLINS
Cover by AARON LOPRESTI
On sale OCTOBER 12 • 1 of 6, 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
The adventures of Garbage Man and Tanga from WEIRD WORLDS continue – and now, these offbeat heroes are joined by the Robotman, who has a disturbing knack for self-destruction!


Now this is a big surprise.

It’s surprising to see that DC’s continuing Weird Worlds in some form, as that was a three-story anthology featuring new characters Garbage Man and Tanga and, like most superhero anthologies, didn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire (The fifth issue placed a few hundred units lower than the canceled Doom Patrol and about 1,400 unites more than the also canceled Freedom Fighters, in The Beat’s analysis of May sales figures.

The main difference is that they’ve replaced the old third feature, Lobo, with a new third feature—Robotman. This is presumably the Silver Age Robotman of the Doom Patrol and not the Golden Age Robotman, as the former would justify the use of that title.

Which is another surprise—DC is reusing the My Greatest Adventure title, which seems less marketable and grabby than Weird Worlds (Of course, perhaps the plan is to keep relaunching Garbage Man and Tanga in new anthologies that will cycle through all the old, un-used DC-owned titles in order to keep their trademarks on them…?)

My Greatest Adventure was originally used to cover a weird, anthology series that launched in 1955 with cover stories like “I Tracked the Beast of Montrouge Forest!” and “We Fought the Giant of Island X!” The Doom Patrol took over the title in 1963, and eventually the book was retitled Doom Patrol (although it kept the original numbering; back then, low numbers like “1” were a bad thing for comics sales). My Greatest Adventure, by the way, had some pretty awesome covers; as I’ve noted previously, I’d love to see a MGA collection in the Showcase Presents format.

The other surprise? The name “Matt Kindt” among the creators. I suppose he’s writing the Robotman comic? That’s kind of cool, and he joins Jeff Lemire in the “Wait, How Did DC Get These Guys To Work For Them?” camp, and also the “I’d Rather See That Guy Write And Draw Superhero Comics For DC, Not Just Write Them” camp. (At the very least they should have Kindt on covers!)

Now, please join me in a silent prayer that the big yellow mechanical character on the cover with Garbage Man and Tanga is not actually the new design for Robotman…


Oh boy does that look awful

Also, because I am a child, I feel compelled to point out that ha ha, Jason Todd's is bigger...


PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE #1
Written by GREGG HURWITZ
Art and cover by SZYMON KUDRANSKI
On sale OCTOBER 5 • 1 of 5, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
In this exciting new miniseries from novelist Gregg Hurwitz (You’re Next) and rising star artist Szymon Kudranksi (Spawn), the painful and dark past of one of Batman’s most devious foes is examined. How did young Oswald Cobblepot go from being the apple of his mother’s eye to the leader of underworld gangs and adversary of The Caped Crusader? Find out in PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE!


Given the enduring popularity of fiction riffing on Jane Austen books especially her Pride and Prejudice (The day I typed this up, for example, I skimmed the new fiction shelf at my library and saw Mr. Darcy, Vampire, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Being a Gentleman and Wickham's Diary), I think it would have been even cooler if DC started publishing Elseworlds like What if Mr. Darcy was really Batman or, in this case, just sticking the Penguin into Pride and PrejudicePride and Peng-judice…?

Ah well. This is another Penguin origin story. I suppose it will be interesting to see what direction Hurwitz decides to go with the character, who has had several equally valid but quite various interpretations over the years (I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed the status-obsessed, action-oriented version from The Batman cartoon, for example).

I’m not familiar with the work of the artist, who has a couple of DC credits to his name, but the past credit that DC highlighted in the solicit was his work on Spawn. With Capullo on TEC, that’s at least two Spawn vets doing Bat-books for DC this fall.


Woah, did that orange lady in the pasties whom I guess is supposed to be Starfire blow that guy’s face off? That seems like a sort of…weird thing for her to do. Of course, so does hanging out with that guy who is always trying to kill her ex-fiancee…

Since this image was first released, the Internet seems to have focused on the size of the bulge in Red Hood's pants, and how big it is. Looks okay to me; certainly looks less weird than Nightwing's Michelangelo's David's junk.


RED LANTERNS #2
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art and cover by ED BENES and ROB HUNTER
On sale OCTOBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
On a war-torn world where invading forces fight insurgent forces, the innocent always suffer the most. When a child screams with red-hot rage at the madness around her, she is answered by her weapon of retribution: Atrocitus.


Hmm, is it just me, or does this look and sound, really, really dull? I wonder if this will improbably be one of the earlier books to be axed…? Nah, probably not. But still—seems pretty boring.


RESURRECTION MAN #2
Written by DAN ABNETT and ANDY LANNING
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale OCTOBER 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Mitch Shelley’s past remains a mystery. So when he goes looking for answers, will he find them? Not likely, when he has to contend with the bounty hunter femme fatales known as The Body Doubles.


Hey, that’s a pretty good cover, with all the near-missing bullets. I wonder to what degree this particular franchise has been rebooted; are Abnett ad Lanning doing a do-over of their series, or picking up where it left off? Because Shelley’s mysterious past was the major focus of the that previous volume.


THE SHADE #1
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by CULLY HAMNER
Cover by TONY HARRIS
...
On sale OCTOBER 12 • 1 of 12, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
...
James Robinson returns to the world of his acclaimed STARMAN series with a new 12-issue series starring the antihero known as The Shade! An attack at the Starman museum kicks off a globe-hopping, centuries spanning quest that will irrevocably change The Shade’s life, and ultimately shed light on his true origin! Artist extraordinaire Cully Hamner (RED) kicks off the series, and upcoming issues will feature art by such luminaries as Darwyn Cooke, Javier Pulido, Jill Thompson, Frazer Irving and Gene Ha!


Wow, that's quite a list of "luminaries" contributing to this series. I'd be on the fence of it was just Hamner or Ha, but Cooke? Thompson? On mainstream DCU super-comics, even if only for an issue somewhere down the line? That's something to check out.


So I guess the idea with the new Harley Quinn costume is to allow for nip slip variant covers?


SUPERNATURAL #1
Written by BRIAN WOOD
Art by GRANT BOND
Cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
On sale OCTOBER 5 • 1 of 6, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Acclaimed writer Brian Wood pens the latest comics epic based on the hit CW TV series Supernatural!
On an academic break while at Stanford, Sam Winchester visits the United Kingdom on what is meant to be a sleepy trip...but on his first day he meets the alluring “Emma of the isles,” and his visit gets a thousand percent less boring! “Caledonia” will be an unparalleled adventure in the SUPERNATURAL saga as the Winchesters travel to Scotland!



Wood? Bond? Nguyen? Seems like a lot of talent to waste on a tie-in to some goofy CW TV show. Aren't some of the producers from this goofy CW show writing Supergirl now...?


...

I...

...

Huh. I don't even know what to say to that. It's just.... Hm.


TINY TITANS #45
Written by ART BALTAZAR and FRANCO
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale OCTOBER 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
You are invited to a special Batgirl issue featuring Cassandra, Stephanie, Flamebird and, of course, Barbara. Find out what happens to The Batcave when the girls take over! Bonus: Coach Lobo’s Secret Soccer team versus...The Birds of Prey?! GO-O-O-A-A-AL!


Still bummed that DC has decided to do away with current Batgirl Stephanie Brown and previous Batgirl Cassandra Cain in order to revert Oracle into Batgirl, like she was in the 60's, 70's and early '80s? As always, Art Baltazar, Franco and the Tiny Titans are there to apply balm to the hurt that DCU inflicts upon its fans.

This issue boasts a "Batgirl Inc." cover, and promises a whole bunch of Batgirls. I don't remember seeing a Stephanie Batgirl or Tiny Spoiler in the Tiny Titans-iverse before; I think she appeared as a Robin in the All-Robin issue, though. That's how little I care for the character, I guess—I don't even remember her appearances in my favorite comic book. I'm really excited to see more of Tiny Cassandra, though. She's one of my favorite Tiny Titans.


WONDER WOMAN #2
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
On sale OCTOBER 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Hera, Queen of the Gods, does not take her vengeance lightly – and if Wonder Woman is so foolish as to stand in the way of her whim, then Wonder Woman is her enemy. But it’s Hera’s daughter Diana should truly fear – the goddess of discord is coming to Paradise Island, and murder always follows in her wake!


So, the solicitation refers to the goddess of discord coming to Paradise Island, and that murder always follows her. And the cover shows a bunch of dead Amazons in a pond of blood.

That should be a dramatic scene, right?

And yet the Amazon people have been slaughtered in such great numbers on so many different occasions—generally once a run, it seems—that I've honestly lost count of how many times I've seen them being slain en masse.

I imagine—hope—the cover isn't meant to be literal at all though, because I'd really hate to see this promising creative team doing the same old stories the last half-dozen did.


DC will continue to reprint the very best Wonder Woman run of all time in their Chronicles reprint program, meanwhile.

4 comments:

Matthew said...

I'm pretty sure that, on Gleason's cover, what we are seeing is a big old air intake on the hood of the Batmobile. The actual grille is somewhere outside the picture off the bottom edge.

Akilles said...

So Huntress got a less revealing costume again, huh? Well, it must sure be cold in Hell, since it`s now frozen...

Jay said...

Yeah, like Matthew said, that's a blower sticking through the hood, not the grille. I'm thinking the front of the car is long, a la the one in the cartoon.

Andrei said...

It's not so much the size of Jason Todd's package as it's shape leaves nothing to the imagination. Straight up cock and balls.