Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DC's January previews reviewed

Last night I was all set to put together a link-blogging post based on all the announcements that came out of NYCC this weekend, but then I realized DC solicitation info was released, so I decided I better get on that, so as to get my close-reading of the solicits up on the Internet before the people who do a much better job of it than me (Tom Bondurant, Kelly Thompson, etc) got theirs online.

And then it was taking so long that I didn't end up finishing it in time to post last night anyway. So here it is on Tuesday, and maybe I'll do a huge links post, I don't know, Sunday...?

Anyway, as always, you can follow along by opening another window and pointing it at Comic Book Resources or ComicsAlliance.

Ready...?


ANIMAL MAN VOL. 4: BORN TO BE WILD TP
Written by PETER MILLIGAN and TOM VEITCH
Art by CHAS TRUOG, MARK FARMER and STEVE DILLON
Cover by BRIAN BOLLAND
On sale FEBRUARY 13 • 288 pg, FC, $19.99 US • MATURE READERS
Continuing Buddy Baker’s surreal adventures, this volume features stories from ANIMAL MAN #27-37! In these tales, Animal Man becomes trapped in a prehistoric jungle in his bathroom, saves his daughter from the villainous Notational Man, and explores the mystery of the dead birds that seem to be everywhere.


These are some really rather good comics. Just FYI.


AQUAMAN #16
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art by PAUL PELLETIER
Cover by EDDY BARROWS and EBER FERREIRA
...
On sale JANUARY 30 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
• “THRONE OF ATLANTIS” continues!
• Continuing from this month’s JUSTICE LEAGUE #16!
•Torn between Ocean Master and the League in this penultimate chapter of “Throne of Atlantis, Aquaman is pushed toward an impossible choice!
• The monstrous Trench are back — and they’re hungry!


I like Paul Pelletier.


BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #12
Written by ADAM BEECHEN, J.T. KRUL, DUSTIN NGUYEN and DEREK FRIDOLFS
Art by HOWARD PORTER, LIVESAY, NORM BREYFOGLE and BEN CALDWELL
Cover by HOWARD PORTER and LIVESAY
On sale JANUARY 30 • 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
• The first time in print for these digital-first stories.
• The penultimate chapter of the “10,000 Clowns” Batman Beyond epic is here!
• Don’t miss the Beyond debuts of not one but TWO legendary DC characters! (Here’s a hint: one of them is Lobo—because he’d want you to know, anyway.)
• Plus: A look at Barda’s origin from guest artist Ben Caldwell!


That Lobo doesn't look a bit like one that would have appeared on the Batman Beyond cartoon.


BATMAN, INCORPORATED #7
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art and cover by CHRIS BURNHAM
Variant cover by TONY S. DANIEL
...
On sale JANUARY 30 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
• The fight to reclaim Gotham City begins!
• Batman, Inc., takes the offensive against Talia and Leviathan!
• It’s Damian vs. Heretic — and if Damian loses, the city dies!


There are few things more horrifying in this world than children, as Burnham ably demonstrates above. This is the only Bat-title I see that isn't involved in the "Death of the Family" crossover, which I think might make this a particularly attractive Batman book for casual Bat-curious readers who aren't interested in reading a 10-50 part storyline. I was actually surprised to see so many "Death of..." tie-in issues in January's solicits, as the story just began this month, and a three-month event seems fairly gigantic, given the size of the Batman line at present (13 monthly, in-continuity books in January).

The "H'el on Earth" story from the Super-books will also still be going on come January, as will the GL franchise's "Rise of the Third Army" storyline and that "Rotworld" business that seems like it's been going on in Animal Man and Swamp Thing since the reboot.


BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #16
Written by GREGG HURWITZ
Art and cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
...
On sale JANUARY 30 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
• Welcome new series artist Ethan Van Sciver!
• Do you dare journey into the twisted world of the Mad Hatter?
• Batman has discovered a trail of bodies but no leads as he realizes that this is unlike any Mad Hatter case he’s seen before.


New Dark Knight artist Van Sciver does a pretty good Batman. I think his Batman work of greatest sustained length was 2004 miniseries Batman/Catwoman: Trail of the Gun, but he also drew Bats in his two Rebirth collaborations with Geoff Johns...and in one particularly memorable issue of Impulse.

His presence here is welcome...but also kind of hilarious. This is the book, you'll recall, launched as the David Finch showcase book. Finch fell way off schedule, and then needed a co-writer and ultimately a writer, as the book went from an all-Finch Batman to a Finch-just-drawing-Batman book. Now he's off art as well, removing the last vestiges of this being a Finch project.

So why exactly is DC continuing to publish it...? Between Batman, Detective, Batman and Robin and Batman Incorporate, does Batman really need a fifth book...?

Note the background on the cover; evocative of Dave Johnson's cover for maybe the last really good Mad Hatter story I've read:


CATWOMAN #16
Written by ANN NOCENTI
Art and cover by RAFA SANDOVAL and JORDI TARRAGONA
On sale JANUARY 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
• Catwoman is possessed by the power of Eclipso!
• Selina may be able to fight her way out of the Black Room, but what will be left of her soul if she does?
• And find out the shocking identity of the person who hired Catwoman to steal the diamond in the first place!


Well, my interest in this title has just evaporated. I gave new writer Nocenti's #0 issue a try, and though I didn't care for it, thought I'd try another issue or two (like, the one that comes out tomorrow!). If it's just leading towards an Eclipso story, though, I can't say I'm at all interested—I don't understand the logic of rebooting the universe, and then falling back on trivial old-school characters and concepts like Eclipso. It's a weird, off-putting mix of old-school fan servicing and old-school fan alienating.


DEMON KNIGHTS #16
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by BERNARD CHANG
On sale JANUARY 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• It’s the DC debut of new writer Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar, The Surrogates)!
• It’s been thirty years since the Demon Knights last rode together — and they’re less than happy to see each other!
• What has happened during this time? Who lives? Who’s dead? Who’s going to stop the massive vampire invasion that threatens all life? The Demon Knights had better find some answers fast!


I'm not sure I understand why they're getting a new writer for this quirky but fairly popular (online, if not in comics shops) title, and what's with the pretty drastic change in direction that a 30-year jump forward in time would mean. Several, maybe even most of these characters are immortal, but that's still an awful long time.


I like that in trying to decide whether a whip or a noose would be a better evil version of Wonder Woman's lasso for the apparently evil "last Amazon on Earth 2" depicted above on the cover for Earth 2 #8, they decided to just go with both.

Is it worth noting that an evil opposite version of Wonder Woman has a magical noose, given that in the very recent past Normal Wonder Woman also had one....?


A good way to test the quality of these New 52 costumes is to hire some of the greatest comics artists of all time to draw them. If they still look bad, then maybe it's the designs that are irredeemable. Take for example, New 52 Green Arrow's costume, as drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz.

...

Nope, still looks bad.


GREEN ARROW: SALVATION TP
Written by J.T. KRUL and JASON PATRICK
Art by DIOGENES NEVES and AGUSTIN PADILLA
Cover by JOSHUA MIDDLETON
On sale FEBRUARY 13 • 192 pg, FC, $16.99 US
• After the events of BRIGHTEST DAY, Green Arrow defends the forest in the middle of Star City as a modern day Robin Hood from all that would do it harm.
• Collects GREEN ARROW #8-15.


The section of the solicits dealing with DC's trades both amuses and confuses me. A perfect example is this trade, which collects a chunk of the poorly-selling, critically abhorred volume of the series written by J.T. Krul, which not only features the bearded, middle-aged version of Ollie Queen which was rebooted out of existence, but is one of the DCU titles most firmly rooted in pre-New 52boot continuity (i.e. the stories so bad, so wrong-minded that they may have "broken" the DCU, and thus forced the necessity of a reboot).

If you weren't paying attention to DC's Green Arrow or Justice League comics, this one followed up on plot points from Justice League: Cry For Justice, in which Red Arrow Roy Harper had his arm ripped off and his daughter killed and Green Arrow killed the villain responsible; this in turn lead to Harper abusing drugs again and Green Arrow being branded an outlaw, exiled from Star City under some of the most murky legal proceedings imaginable (he traveled to a different dimension in order shoot the greatest terrorist in United States history to death, and was therefore hunted by the Justice League and hauled into a U.S. court...story wasn't clear if it was a federal court or not, but I'm pretty confident that no U.S. court has jurisdiction over "The Ghost Zone" dimension).

So Green Arrow went to hide out in the big forest that appeared over-night in the area of Star City that was destroyed; that happened in Brightest Day, and the forest turned out to be Swamp Thing or something silly.

Anyway, none of that "counts" as continuity anymore and, furthermore, no one seems to have liked any of those stories at the time. So why bother publishing a trade collection...? If you're the publisher, why would you even want people to spend $17 on a trade containing those stories instead of spending that money on the New 52 Green Arrow trades...?

I don't get it.

See also this month's solicitation for the second half of that dumb J. Michael Straczynski Wonder Woman story arc the writer bailed on...apparently in order to get to work on his Before Watchmen comics.


Should DC really be letting Simon Bisley be doing these Hellblazer covers? They're really way too good...so good, in fact, that they make other comics with John Constantine on the cover look pretty dull by comparison. This month, for example, Constantine appears on the cover of Sword of Sorcery, and he often appears on the covers of Justice Leaguer Drk (though not this week).


HUMAN BOMB #2
Written by JUSTIN GRAY and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art and cover by JERRY ORDWAY
On sale JANUARY 9 • 32 pg, FC, 2 of 4, $2.99 US • RATED T
• John discovers the secrets of his metahuman gene.
• Who are the Men in Black?


Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.


INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US #1
Written by TOM TAYLOR
Art and cover by JHEREMY RAAPACK
On sale JANUARY 30 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
• Based on DC’s latest highly anticipated video game from the makers of Mortal Kombat!
• The first time in print for these digital-first stories.
• This prequel explains the events leading up to the start of this epic game!


Well, Flash and Batman's New 52 redesigns could have been much, much worse, if DC left it up to, say, the makers of Mortal Kombat instead of Jim Lee...

I kind of like Green Arrow's costume above better than his New 52 redesign...although it does make him look a little like Dr. Doom from a distance.

Normally I'd be at least a bit curious about this, even though I have no idea who the creators are (Raapack's name will appear later on in this post, though), but then, I was curious about DC's Arkham City prequel comic and the weekly DC Universe Online: Legends comic, and both of those were unspeakably terrible comics.


Incoming pencil artist Ivan Reis is taking the challenge of replacing artist Jim Lee very seriously, as you can see by this cover image for Justice League #16. He's apparently doing his utmost to provide a cover just as crowded and poorly composed as Lee's covers for the series have been. It's taken me a good 45 seconds to figure out what that cloud of smoke is on Aquaman's neck...an exploding batarang of some kind...?

I know writer Geoff Johns upped Aquaman's power levels considerably, making him about as powerful as 1938 Superman, but being able to backhand Superman and resist Wondy's magic lasso simultaneously seems pretty extreme. I suppose there's a story reason for why he's strong and why he's fighting the Justice League. I look forward to reading this story in Fall of 2013, or whenever Ohio libraries start stocking the trade collection.


LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #4
Written by T.J. FIXMAN, ANDREW DABB and JONATHAN LARSEN
Art by CHRISTOPHER MITTEN, GIORGIO PONTRELLI and TAN ENG HUAT
Cover by JHEREMY RAAPACK
On sale JANUARY 9 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
• The first time in print for these digital-first stories.
• There’s a new crime fighter in town, and he’s captured The Joker!
• When a new Batman movie begins filming in Gotham City, it brings out the crazies—literally!
• Plus: Two-Face unveils his most diabolical plan yet!


That's weird. I only recognize the name of one of the six creators contributing to this particular issue. (Tan Eng Huat, if you're wondering.)


What is The Phantom Stranger doing on the cover of Phantom Stranger #4...?

a) adjusting his hat

b) doing a Michael Jackson dance

c) facepalming

Given that Dan DiDio is writing his PS's latest book, I'm gonna guess c).


THE SHADE TP
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by CULLY HAMNER, DARWYN COOKE, J. BONE, JAVIER PULIDO, JILL THOMPSON, FRAZER IRVING and GENE HA
Cover by TONY HARRIS
On sale FEBRUARY 27 • 280 pg, FC, $19.99 US
• An attack in Opal City kicks off a globe-hopping, centuries-spanning quest that will irrevocably change The Shade’s life and shed light on his true origin!
• Collects the 12-issue miniseries.


Wow, glad I trade-waited this series—that's $36 worth of comics for $20.

9 comments:

David Charles Bitterbaum said...

Shade is awesome and a "must-read," although James Robinson was vocal that if it didn't get enough sales it would be cut short, so by trade-waiting you almost got the series killed! Normally I approve of trade-waiting however.

Rev'd '76 said...

I want 'Mazing Man back. And Ambush Bug. And Captain Carrot. And anything, anything, ANYthing else that reminds us that DC comics can be fun, funny, and for all ages.

Jacob T. Levy said...

"c) facepalming

Given that Dan DiDio is writing his PS's latest book, I'm gonna guess c)."

Yup.

collectededitions said...

I was also surprised to see DC doubling-down on the Dark Knight title. I think it suggests they have a lot of faith that Gregg Hurwitz's writing is going to take off and attract a fan base (and he has good reviews so far), that they've partnered him with Ethan Van Sciver. Or, they're determined to keep a Batman book in the stands with "Dark Knight" in the title.

I can understand how the Catwoman title flitting from one crossover ("Death in the Family") to another -- the omnipresent Eclipso storyline -- is off-putting. At the same time, I wonder if this is intended to lead-in to Catwoman's presence in Geoff Johns's new Justice League of America, perhaps aligning that title with the Justice League "family." Having her in ARGUS's Black Room (I think that's it) is a good start.

Green Arrow: Salvation strikes me as a "throw it at the wall and see if it sticks" experiment -- I wonder if it'll be cancelled before publication due to low pre-orders, like a number of pre-52 trades just before the New 52 reboot. If there's any reason to publish it, it's to catch some incidental Green Arrow interest around the Arrow TV show -- someone stumbles into a comics shop and Green Arrow: Salvation just happens to be on the "new release" shelf, though we're talking about January now and not next week.

But you shouldn't knock that second volume of Wonder Woman: Odyssey, which at that point was more Phil Hester than J. Michael Straczynski -- the final pages, in which Wonder Woman meta-predicts the reboot, are so well-written as to bring a tear to your eye, no kidding.

Ethan VS said...

Thanks for the nice words! I'd guess that they're keeping B:TDK because it sells! It's still one of DC's top ten books, afterall.

Gregg and I just want to get in there and draw some Batman stories. I'm very excited.

Ethan Van Sciver

bad wolf said...

Good to see that Milligan arc of Animal Man; for too many years that's been my "why hasn't that been released?" complaint.

Caleb said...

David,

Yeah, I did worry a bit about that possibility when Robinson announced that. While I know DC has occasionally cut minis short before (That "Great Ten" comic comes most immediately to mind), I figured a Robinson/Starman-related book would end up being safe, if for no reason other than those Starman trades still seem to well sell in various permutations for the publisher.


Rev'd,

I think SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES definitely fits the "ANYthing else that reminds us that DC comics can be fun, funny, and for all ages" criteria. That and...well, that's all I can think of. SMA is really good though!


collectededitions,

Re: That Wonder Woman arc, I'v e similarly heard the Superman one gets really, really good after JMS hands the scripting over but, I don't know, I can't bring myself to read 'em, as I'd have to wade through the JMS portions to get to the good stuff (I DID try a few issues of his Superman run, and they were just dreadful).


Ethan Van Sciver,

Well, you'd know better than I why DC's doing what they're doing (and, as collectededitions noted, "Dark Knight" is probably a title they wanna keep in circulation, regardless of whether Finch is attached or not). Best of luck on the new, plum gig.

Bad Wolf,

Yeah...I liked pretty much that entire volume of ANIMAL MAN, and I actually thought it climaxed when Delano was writing it. I guess one good side-effect of New 52 ANIMAL MAN being one of the surprise hits of all those comics is renewed interest in all those uncollected AM comics DC has still.

David page said...

I want 'Mazing Man back. And Ambush Bug. And Captain Carrot. And anything, anything, ANYthing else that reminds us that DC comics can be fun, funny, and for all ages.

Considering a character called captain Ka'rot is appearing in keith giffens threshold I would be careful what you wish for...

MattComix said...

The heroes beating up on each other instead of the real threat has become equally as tedious as the "darker is always better" dogma.