Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DC's January previews reviewed

Month five of "The New 52," and still nothing's canceled—not even Men of War or Blackhawks! The success of the line being sold as a line will likely extend the lives of even the worst-selling of the books, so the ones that might have reasonably been expected to be cancelled within the first year might even last two. That's something.

Something worth noting perhaps is the number of wrap-around variant covers solicited. That's a pretty clever way to do variants, as it would presumably allow the publisher to pay for a landscape-format cover image, chop it in half, and sell the same image twice. Not a bad idea, really.

Otherwise, nothing much new. All the New 52 are reaching their fifth issues, and nothing new is being launched.

Let's take a look, shall we...? (Full solicitations are here, by the way)


ACTION COMICS #5
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art by ANDY KUBERT and JESSE DELPERDANG
Cover by ANDY KUBERT and JOE PRADO
On sale JANUARY 4
40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
RATED T
...
As the assault from an alien threat takes a turn for the worse for Metropolis, keys facts about Superman’s past are brought to light for the first time! And how can certain elements from The Man of Steel’s future help to prevent the theft of the millennium? Don’t miss this awesome issue from series writer Grant Morrison and the guest art team of Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang!


Aw, look at Super-Baby’s chubby little cheeks!

I'm surprised to see a fill-in here already, as Morales used to do monthlies on a monthly basis regularly (I think there was a fill-in during part of issue #2 too, but I assumed that had more to do with the late start date for The New 52 books, rather than because of the announced regular artist falling behind immediately).

I'm even more surprised to see that it's Andy Kubert who is the artist doing the filling-in. It will be nice to see the aborted Batman creative team of Morrison and Kubert reunite here. Personally, I thought DC would be saving Kubert to fill-in for Lee on Justice League, as Kubert’s probably the best substitute they could realistically come up with to fill-in for Lee without too many people being too annoyed by not seeing Jim Lee art in a Jim Lee book.


BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #5
Written by PAUL JENKINS
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
On sale JANUARY 25
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US_RATED T
...
When a madman attacks Batman with a new and powerful fear toxin, The Dark Knight visits the coldest and most distant part of his soul. And as his deepest fears resurface, he must rely on old friends to help quell the terrible effects, and to remind him of his true mission as a hero. But what Batman discovers hidden in a moment of courage may change his life forever... for a dark figure from his past has returned – the one adversary The Dark Knight truly fears.


Is this going to be the first appearance of post-reboot Scarecrow? And is it his origin issue, as that’s kinda what it sounds like…? Of course, there have been at least two post-reboot stories set in Arkham Asylum so far, so I imagine The Scarecrow at least cameo-ed in those...?

I love The Scarecrow, and am curious about what his origin is this year, but it would take more than curiosity to get me to read an issue of DC's trainwreckiest comic book series of the last five years or so.


BATWOMAN #5
Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III and W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art and cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III
On sale JANUARY 11
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
RATED T
"Hydrology,” the first arc of the critically acclaimed new BATWOMAN series, reaches its powerful conclusion! After the horrors Batwoman has faced, she has a final showdown with The Weeping Woman – a specter with the power to dredge up Kate’s deepest pain. Can she finally forgive herself so she can dispel this evil? And how will she respond when Chase and the DEO tighten their grip, forcing Kate to make an impossible decision?


Oh hey, Williams is using Cameron Chase, the character he co-created for the too-quickly-canceled Chase series. I wonder how she will fit into the new DCU now. Part of her origin was (um, spoiler warning?) her father was a superhero named Acro-Bat, one of a lost generation of minor superheroes who functioned between the time that the JSA disbanded and the JLA formed. Her dad's team was called the, um, "Justice Experience," and included a disguised Martian Manhunter (Who went by the alias "The Bronze Wraith," even though he wasn't bronze and his costume wasn't bronze-colored either).

In New 52 continuity, there never was a JSA though and, presumably, never a Justice Experience, so Chase can't possibly hae the same motivation for being so concerned with the policing of superheroes, if her generation is the first generation of superheroes (Er, not counting the medieval heroes of Demon Knights and the Western heroes from the All-Star Western back-ups, I guess...?)


Hmm, this is by Finch, but it looks quite different than the previous (terrible) covers by Finch. Did he paint this one, I wonder...?


Yeah, that cover doesn't really work. Perhaps if the background was split in half as well, to reflect the characters in the foreground, it would have the appearance of two images juxtaposed to form a single one, but as is it just looks like a Composite Batman featuring The Penguin, only whoever made it ordered the wrong parts or something.


FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #5
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI
Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale JANUARY 11
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US_RATED T
When Checkmate fails to bring the rogue metahuman O.M.A.C. under control, they call in S.H.A.D.E.’s best agent, Frankenstein! It’s all-out monster mayhem as O.M.A.C. and Frank battle in the streets of Metropolis. But what is Brother Eye’s real goal? It’s up to Father Time and Ray Palmer to find out! Continued from this month’s O.M.A.C. #5!


Crossovers already? Hmm…


Hawkman’s axe is dumb.


I think this is probably Jim Lee’s best Justice League cover so far, which says more about how poor the previous ones were than how great this one is.


JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #5
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by MIKEL JANIN
Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale JANUARY 25
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
RATED T
Enchantress is out of control and more powerful than ever. She has brought a nation to its knees through her arcane powers. Will Madame Xanadu, John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, Zatanna, Mindwarp, Deadman and June Moon be able to work together to defeat her? One thing is certain: One of these heroes will not make it out alive!


Well technically one of them—Deadman—wasn’t alive going into this one…

If the solicitation writer meant someone other than Deadman though, I’m assuming Mindwarp is done for, on account of his being Mindwarp.


JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST VOL. 1 TP
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art by AARON LOPRESTI, JOE BENNETT and others
Cover by TONY HARRIS
On sale FEBRUARY 1
320 pg, FC, $29.99 US
Mind-controlling mastermind Maxwell Lord is targeting the members of the defunct Justice League International in this paperback collecting the first 12 issues of the twice-monthly series tying into BRIGHTEST DAY.


Now totally out of continuity! I thought this was a pretty good comic, particularly for a comic book written by Judd Winick, but one of its great strengths was the way it picked up various characters from various places and points in the DC Universe and brought them all together to form a new team with an exciting future...which the relaunch made moot.

I'm not sure why they went with the absolute worst cover from the entire series for the cover of the collection though, as there were some awfully great covers by Kevin Maguire, Cliff Chiang and Dustin Nguyen, covers that showed the entire cast instead of just a handful of 'em.


Keith Giffen draws a pretty great Frankenstein.


SUPERGIRL #5
Written by MICHAEL GREEN and MIKE JOHNSON
Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR
On sale JANUARY 18
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
RATED T
Supergirl’s nightmare is finally over – she has left Earth and has somehow made it back to Argo City! But it’s not the home she remembers, and a deadly new adversary stands in her way. Enter: Maxima!


Is that Maxima on the cover? Because, if so, they sure gave her a radical redesign…


Oh my God, the new Penguin is a robot!


RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #5
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art and cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
On sale JANUARY 18_32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
RATED T
With Jason going one-on-one with the ancient evil known as the Untitled and Koriand’r barely able to crawl to his side, it’s up to Roy to stand alone against the monstrous threat known as Crux!


Soooo monstrous threat Crux is Man-Bat crossed with Killer Croc…?


Blood, boobs, blood-vomit, a butt and a brokeback pose…Red Lanterns has it all.

Well, maybe that's not fair. The lady alien isn't human, so maybe her spine works differently than human spines.


THE SHADE #4
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by DARWYN COOKE and J. BONE
Cover by TONY HARRIS
...
On sale SEPTEMBER 11
32 pg, FC, 4 of 12, $2.99 US
RATED T+
...
In the tradition of the “Times Past” issues of STARMAN comes a story of revenge, murder and betrayal set in the 1940s! The Shade is just beginning his long criminal career, but when an industrialist who is helping with the war effort is targeted for assassination, the Shade surprisingly seeks to help save the man! Who is this man, and who is the strange woman on this issue’s cover? Find out more about the Shade’s true origin in this story illustrated by the amazing team of Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone!


Cooke and Bone? Damn, now that’s an art team…


SHOWCASE PRESENTS: YOUNG LOVE VOL. 1 TP
Written by VARIOUS
Art by VARIOUS
Cover by JAY SCOTT PIKE
On sale FEBRUARY 22
544 pg, B&W, $19.99 US
DC’s popular romance series is collected for the first time in this title reprinting YOUNG LOVE #39-56, featuring art by John Romita, Mike Sekowsky, Don Heck, Gene Colan, Jay Scott Pike and others.


Neat!


Er, is Kid Flash wearing one of Tim’s old Robin costumes….?


TINY TITANS #48
Written by ART BALTAZAR and FRANCO
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale JANUARY 18
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
RATED E
Because you demanded it – Tiny Titans unmasked in a special all red hair issue! Barbara! Miss Martian! Starfire! Blackfire! And Speedy! Actually, Speedy’s hair is more of an auburn. Also, what’s Wonder Girl’s secret? What is she doing with all that fruit? A discovery is made when she reveals her secret oranges!


Ha ha! “Secret oranges!” That’s good!


WONDER WOMAN #5
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art by TONY AKINS
Cover by CLIFF CHIANG
...
On sale JANUARY 18
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
RATED T
...
Wonder Woman has returned home to London…but leaving Paradise Island doesn’t mean leaving the gods behind, as two of the most powerful deities of the pantheon have come to town – and neither of them is leaving without being crowned King of the gods! Featuring guest art by Tony Akins (JACK OF FABLES)!


Uh oh. Cliff Chiang is MIA for the fifth issue of Wonder Woman. Fill-in artist Tony Akins has done some work for Vertigo and Dark Horse, and you can see what his art looks like here. I hope Chiang’s absence is a short one, as he’s one of the main reasons I picked up the first issue and am eager to see the second one.

Also, home to London...? What are you doing in the UK, Wonder Woman? That's not a Union Jack on your butt! Get back over here to the USA ASAP!

4 comments:

Yan Basque said...

I'm surprised that you're surprised there's a fill-in on #5 of Action Comics, given that Morales couldn't even get his shit together to finish the art on the second issue, which had pages of really ugly art by some unsolicited fill-in hack whose name I couldn't be bothered to remember.

I actually don't mind fill-in artists, even after only a few issues, as long as they are worked into the schedule and announced in the solicitation. What drives me crazy about DC is the amount of unsolicited fill-in artists that come in at the last minute to patch up unfinished work by the regular artist. That always results in a crappy reading experience.

I dropped Action after #2 for that reason (and because it's a 20-page book for $3.99).

Akilles said...

Penguin being a robot would be cool (and a bit weird), but it may also be that it`s merely some kind of a scheme.

"O" the Humanatee! said...

The "unsolicited fill-in hack whose name [you] couldn't be bothered to remember" was Brent Anderson, acclaimed longtime artist of Astro City. But no, it wasn't his best work. I've been assuming that after the first few issues Action will revert to $2.99 with no "special features," but I see from the solicits that it's staying at $3.99. In issue #4, though - and I'd guess after that - there will be a backup Steel story rather than the special features stuff.

Caleb said...

I'm surprised that you're surprised there's a fill-in on #5 of Action Comics...

Well, here's my theory of how the relaunch came about. DiDio, Johns and Lee decided on it over a long lunch one day in March of this year.

Lee got to work on costume redesigns. DiDio sent out and email telling all the writers to wrap up their current arcs by August. Then he started looking for new talent. After he spent a week or two getting Capullo and Lobdell, he realized it was a lot of work getting 52 new creative teams together, and just thought, "Screw it, we'll just have all the people already working for us do this."

Sometime over the summer, scripts were being written and sent to artists. That gave artists like Morales...not very much time to get a jump on a new monthly series featuring all-newly redesigned characters, costumes and settings.

So I wasn't surprised there was a fill-in in the second issue (I generally like Anderson, but haven't seen Action #2, so I can't comment). I thought any inability-to-draw-20-pages-a-month problems would be more apparent at the start of "The New 52" than later down the line though, once the creators caught up with the too-quick start of the new line.

Penguin being a robot would be cool (and a bit weird), but it may also be that it`s merely some kind of a scheme.

Oh, I'm sure it's a "symbolic" cover rather than a literal one. Or wait...maybe "New 52" Penguin is really a skinny man with a steam-powered, mechanical fat-suit on...?

I've been assuming that after the first few issues Action will revert to $2.99 with no "special features," but I see from the solicits that it's staying at $3.99. In issue #4, though - and I'd guess after that - there will be a backup Steel story rather than the special features stuff.

That stuff annoys the hell out of me. It's not comics, so they're not extra-length issuses. DC's just charging $4 for 20-22 pages of comics, same as Marvel. They're just doing it on fewer titles, but that's still contrary to their "Drawing the Line at $2.99 pledge."

It boggles my mind that someone might pay $4 for Action or JL digital copies...at least I can burn my copy of JL #1 for warmth someday...