Monday, June 11, 2012

DC's September previews reviewed

This September DC's "New 52" will be a year old, the initiative having begun the last Wednesday of August 2011, with new books shipping each and every Wednesday throughout September. So the thirteenth issue of each of the surviving series would normally be shipping in September 2012, however DC has instead announced a special #0 month, in which each title will publish a special #0 issue detailing the origin of the star or some aspect of the book, presumably new reader friendly stories that offer good jumping on points.

DC had previously had a "Zero Month" following the conclusion of their five-issue 1994 Zero Hour series, which rebooted aspects of the DC Universe for the first time since Crisis On Infinite Earths (in-story, Hal Jordan had destroyed the entire universe save for himself and a handful of superheroes, who had to re-start existence with a new Big Bang, which resulted in some tweaks to DC continuity, mostly impacting perennially difficult characters like Donna Troy, Hawkman and the Legion of Super-Heroes). During "Zero Month," every DCU title published a #0 issue featuring silver ink in the logo and zero, a pin-up like posed cover of the star in action, and a self-contained, done-in-one story reintroducing the character. For that month, DC's whole line was like a sample platter; if you ever wanted to try out a DC series, that was the time to do it (For what it's worth, that was probably the month I bought more DC Comics than ever before).

DC since did a few other theme months in which everything was supposedly a character or book defining, jumping-on point issue, like Big Head Month and Eisner-Style Logo Month and, most recently, the post-Infinite Crisis One Year Later month.

This time around, they're using a uniform cover design in which full-color images of the heroes leap through black-and-white covers of previous issues of their series. It's a pretty striking image concept, and should go a long way toward distinguishing their books from DC, Boom, Dark Horse, IDW and Image covers on the racks, but there's a danger that they will form a sort of visual white noise, too.

For example, three of the five books with Batman in the title will feature practically identical covers:



I imagine many of these books will be quite welcome by frustrated DC readers who just want to know what's in continuity and what isn't—Green Arrow and Nightwing seem especially relevant to that question—but the danger of these books is that they have to stand up to what came before.

For example, Batman: Year One. Can the motley crew of creators working on DC's 13 Batman books, three of which are about Batman himself, one of which is about Batman and the current Robin and another of which is about Batman and his international allies, top the classic Batman: Year One...? If the creators have the audacity to try and overwrite aspects of it, they had better be able to.

Also challenging will be the books whose origins were just told. While a lot of the "New 52" books began en medias res, with the characters' origins and histories presumed either unchanged or just tweaked (the Bat-books and Green Lantern books, for example, or Wonder Woman, Aquaman and so on), others began by telling the origins of their stars, and so it seems a little early to re-tell those stories, you know?

In the mean time, here's a look at some of the books that jumped out at me for good or ill (mostly ill). As always, you can read the full solicits at Comic Book Resources (or elsewhere) if you like.



BATGIRL #0
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art and cover by ED BENES
On sale SEPTEMBER 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• How did Barbara first become Batgirl? What led to her to don the cape and cowl?
• Witness Barbara Gordon’s shocking injury and her inspiring drive to recover and walk again!


Yikes. I actually kinda pity Simone and Benes here—Can they provide a story that's even better, or at least as good as, 2003's nine-issue miniseries Batgirl: Year One, by writers Scott Beatty and CHuck Dixon and artists Marcos Martin (!) and Alvaro Lopez, while also working in the mysteriously still-in-continuity Batman: The Killing Joke, and do it all in just 20 pages?

I pity them because I already know the answer.


DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #0
Written by TONY BEDARD, JAMES ROBINSON, ROB LIEFELD and DAN DIDIO
Art by CAFU, MARAT MYCHAELS, TOM DERENICK, ERIC BATTLE and others
Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale SEPTEMBER 19 • 64 pg, FC, $5.99 US • RATED T
• Five all-new adventures featuring the Blackhawks’ Mother Machine, Hawk and Dove, Mister Terrific and O.M.A.C. in this super-sized issue!
• Featuring the beginning of storylines that will play out across the entire New 52!


Huh.

It's an oversized special featuring short stories starring various characters who had their titles canceled due to low sales...? I don't understand the economics of this particular publishing decision.

And looking at the creators, I have a hard time seeing this as an artistic decision, but maybe that's just a jerk, and DiDio, Liefeld, Robinson and Bedard have important stories to tell, and Derenick, Battle and CAFU have created art sufficiently different from all their previous art to demand the world see it.

I think "Canceled Comics Cavalcade" woulda been a better title...


THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN #0
Written by JOE HARRIS
Art and cover by YILDIRAY CINAR and MARLO ALQUIZA
On sale SEPTEMBER 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond try to return to civilian life after losing the power of the Firestorm Protocols…but when danger threatens them, will they be able to survive?
• Is this the end of Firestorm?


Well, I don't see a "FINAL ISSUE" in there, so I assume that no, no this is not the end of Firestorm. Maybe next month though!
,
This one doesn't sound very origin-y, does it? Although considering the fact that their origin is less than a year-old, there isn't much to re-tell, is there...?


GREEN ARROW #0
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art by FREDDIE E. WILLIAMS II and ROB HUNTER
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale SEPTEMBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• Oliver Queen is young, rich and reckless…what could possibly go wrong?
• Discover the events leading up to the birth of Green Arrow, and Ollie’s history with Roy Harper!


Note the presence of Judd Winick rather than current GA writer Ann Nocenti. Winick had an extremely substantial run on the character, lasting through several title changes and renumberings, prior to "The New 52" reboot/relaunch, so it's particularly surprising to see him writing this. If you had to single someone out as being responsible for the decreased popularity of Green Arrow, from the relative highs of the Kevin Smith-written relaunched title to the pre-reboot doldrums, Winick's the most obvious candidate.

What's interesting about this issue is that it will be telling the same story—or a replacement story—for 2007's Green Arrow: Year One by Andy Diggle and Jock (which I personally thought was redundant at the time, given the fact that nothing had really changed about Green Arrow's origins since the last few times they re-told it), and telling a story that will presumably be at least somewhat similar to that in the early episodes of the upcoming CW drama, Arrow.

Also, it singles out "Ollie's history with Roy Harper!" How does a Green Arrow who has only been around for five years have time to take on and train a sidekick who grows up and graduates to become a grown-up superhero in his own right? DC seems to have done away with a majority of Harper's generation of characters, but he and Dick Grayson remain in continuity, complicating matters. I guess we'll see how they handle it soon enough (Well, I won't see it firsthand, because I'm not gonna read this or Nightwing or Red Hood and The Outlaws, but I'm sure someone would, and then that person will write about it, on the Internet, and then maybe I'll read about it).



GREEN LANTERN #0
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE and CHRISTIAN ALAMY
...
On sale SEPTEMBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $3.99 US
PROLOGUE TO THE THIRD ARMY!
• The introduction and origin of a surprising new Green Lantern!
• Where are Hal Jordan and Sinestro?
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.


To quote Facebook friend and my former "Best Shots @ Newsarama" colleague Lan Pitts:

Yes, DC comics. You needed a black guy as a Green Lantern on your cover holding a gun and what looks to be a ski mask. That's exactly what you needed.
On the other hand, this comic is written by Geoff Johns, so the handgun-wielding Green Lantern wearing what looks like a fetish mask to me looks like it will be exactly the sort of stupid/awesome thing I so enjoy about Geoff Johns' DC writing...


Okay, I could tell at a glance that everyone's going to be making fun of Guillem March's cover for Catwoman #0 which is, admittedly, pretty awful. But a worse offender is his Star Sapphire Carol Ferris on the cover of Green Lantern: New Guardians. I can't even begin to guess what's going on wither her anatomy and the perspective. I imagine having those ripped-through-covers immediately behind the posed figures is screwing with the perspective on a lot of these covers (if you scroll through 'em all, you'll notice in a lot of them the figures don't really seem to be smashing through the covers, simply posed in front of 'em), but still, I can't make any excuses for March here: Ferris is a mess.

That said, his Saint Walker and Kyle Rayner look pretty great, don't they...?



JUSTICE LEAGUE #0
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by GARY FRANK
Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
1:100 B&W Variant cover by GARY FRANK
On sale SEPTEMBER 19 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
• Billy Batson takes center stage in this issue as he unleashes the awesome power of Shazam in a special origin story!
• Also featuring the not-to-be-missed origin of Pandora and the next seeds of TRINITY WAR!
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.


It's really too bad that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee wasted the first six issues of this title telling the origin story of the new Justice League, as now they don't have anything to put in the #0 issue dedicated to their origins. It's a double tragedy in that the story they stretched out over six issues would actually read a hell of a lot better if they compressed it down into a single 32-page comic like this. Ah well.

Dig that Gary Frank cover. I used to live in a big, old Addams Family house with a couple of roommates, and I lined this one long, narrow hallway with Alex Ross posters of the Justice Leaguers. They were a pretty big hit with visitors, who enjoyed what complete and utter assholes all the superheores looked like under Ross' brush. Captain Marvel especially looked like a monstrous jerk, with a big, stupid, spiteful shit-eating grin.

The expression Frank gives him on this cover? Pretty great too.

This is the best look I've seen of the new costume so far. Surprise—it looks just awful.


NIGHTWING #0
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art by EDDY BARROWS, RUY JOSE and EBER FERREIRA
Cover by EDDY BARROWS
On sale SEPTEMBER 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• It’s the origin of Dick Grayson in The New 52!
• From orphan to super hero – it’s all here


This one should have to cover a lot of ground, including what's in continuity now and what's not. If Grayson was still Robin, for how long, and why did he stop being Robin? Was he ever on a team called The Teen Titans, and who was on it with him (Kid Flash Wally West, Wonder Girl/Troia Donna Troy and Aqualad/Tempest Garth no longer seem to exist; Cyborg joined the Justice League upon becoming a superhero, and Beast Boy didn't debut until, like, a month ago, after Grayson was already Nightwing).

Less importantly to everyone who is not me, did Nightwing ever rock that mullet ponytail? Did he have the Nightwing costume with the big-ass collar? Did he he used to have a cooler costume with a blue bird symbol in the middle of it instead of the more Batman and Robin-looking red one...?


THE PHANTOM STRANGER #0
Written by DAN DIDIO
Art by BRENT ANDERSON and SCOTT HANNA
Cover by BRENT ANDERSON
On sale SEPTEMBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• Learn what happened to The Phantom Stranger after the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY story!
• Who has been sacrificed? Who is guilty? Who can save us? And who…is The Phantom Stranger?
• Major players in The New 52 will be introduced in these pages!


I discussed this book, along with Sword of Sorcery, Talon and Team 7, at Robot 6, if you'd like to read a few paragraphs on each. They all look and sound more like miniseries than new ongoing series, which is probably appropriate, as I can't imagine any of them lasting too terribly long, this one especially.

I don't quite understand why DiDio is writing this series himself when he has to know that just about any name, including complete unknowns, would have fewer negative associations among potential readers than his does.


RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #0
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by DWAYNE TURNER
Cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
On sale SEPTEMBER 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• Learn how Jason Todd came back to life after being killed by The Joker.
• Do you really need another reason to check out this issue?


So Jason Todd was still murdered by The Joker, and still came back to life...? If you were going to reboot your continuity, and you wanted to use a grown-up, alive version of Jason Todd in your comics, wouldn't you just erase "A Death in the Family," and make it so that Jason Todd was never actually killed...?

Well, however it is that he came back to life, I have to assume it wasn't because Superboy-Prime punched the walls of continuity so hard that the reverberations brought him back to life, which is what Judd Winick and DC's editorial staff decided to do Pre-New 52.



This is a really, really, really terrible costume. But then, as I've noted before, superheroes have a really hard time turning the owl motif into a decent costume.

And as I noted at Robot 6 in the previously linked-to post, this reminds me an awful lot of Azrael. I wonder why he doesn't take the name Owlman...? The Earth 3 Injustice Society Owlman hasn't appeared in the New 52U yet, has he...?



Is it just me, or does it look like Team 7 is wearing discarded Star Wars Storm Troopser costumes, sans helmets...?


TEEN TITANS #0
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT
Cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
1:25 B&W Variant cover by BRETT BOOTH
On sale SEPTEMBER 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• Focusing on the origin of Tim Drake; how a would be Olympic star and computer genius went on to become Batman’s third Robin.
• Plus: The beginnings of Skitter and Bunker.


Aww...

Perhaps because I was just starting to read comic books around the time Tim Drake was being introduced, this solicitation promising a new origin story for Tim Drake makes me unaccountably sad. I used to feel, like, close to Tim Drake. He was a point-of-view character that worked for me because he was my age when I started reading Batman comics, and was finding his place as a character at the same time I was finding my place as a reader.

I don't know how much they will have changed his origin, of course, but "would be Olympic star" sounds awfully different from "brilliant and plucky kid who figured out Batman and Robin's secret identities all on his own."


Hey, look at all those superior to the New 52 costumes...!

Someone remind me—why isn't this the new Teen Titans line-up, instead of Scott Lobdell/Brett Booth creations wearing Tron-inspired suits and other eye-assaults...?

I mean, if that was the Teen Titans line-up, then it would be furthering synergy between the comics and the cartoons, and potentially feeding audiences from one into the other. That's what entertainment businesses like DC Entertainment are all about these days, right?


Finally, let's end this post on a terrifying note. You know those scantily-clad, crazy expensive anime style "Ame-Comi" statuettes DC does? Well, now they are getting into gender-swapped characters. Behold, sexy anime Brainiac:

Sleep tight!

2 comments:

collectededitions said...

That Young Justice cover (which is wonderful) reminds me of Kevin Maguire's first Justice League cover. I want Guy Gardner standing out front of Nightwing saying, "Wanna make somethin' of it?"

Akilles said...

I like the fact that Batgirl-cover has pink in it.
I also like the idea of dedicating an issue to Babs recovering from her injury.

My guess is that a pervertic villain changed Star sapphires entire physique, so that he (or she or it) could enjoy the way she looks, while killing her and talking dirty to her.