Monday, May 13, 2013

DC's August previews reviewed

That's the look of a character who has just had his New 52 title canceled

It seems like it's been a bit since DC has announced any new series, and when reading through the publisher's solicitations for the books they plan to publish in August of this year, I noticed four more titles were being canceled. So I thought I'd count up the number of books set in the DC Universe proper (i.e., not stuff on the Vertigo imprint, or digital-first media adaptations and so on) to see how close they were to maintaining 52 ongoing monthlies, and it looks like as of August, they will only have 49 "New 52" books. And, as I said, four of those are being cancelled, which would knock the number down to 45.

So I suppose there could be as many as a half-dozen new ongoings announced for September 2013, the two-year anniversarry of the "New 52." (Or should I say "at least" a half-dozen new ongoings, as some of the current, not-yet-cancelled ongoings include ones with anemic sales, like Vibe and Katana.

The series shipping their final issues in August are Threshold, Legion of Super-Heroes, Demon Knights and Dial H.

None of those are surprising. Threshold was a $3.99 sci-fi series written by Keith Giffen with a Larfleeze back-up strip, perhaps best known for its indecipherable cover desgin and its reinvention of Captain Carrot as a Rocket Raccoon-like character. Honestly, that book looked like it was canceled form the moment it was green-lit.

Demon Knights is only a surprise in that it lasted this long, and thus seemed to have survived some sort of culling threshold (not the lower-case T of that instance of the word "threshold"). It was one of the original New 52 books and most of the ones that don't make it seem like they get canceled around the eighth issue or so, but this one lasted almost two full years. I thought the idea was sound, and the scripting of the first collection's worth of issues was good, but the art, as I noted previously, was pretty piss-poor (The writer has changed at least once since then, of course, and I imagine the artists have changed even more than once).

Ditto Legion of Super-Heroes, which also launched at the start of the New 52-iverse. I was always sort of perplexed by the inclusion of a LOSH title—actually, two, but the other one was already canceled—as nothing says Silver and Bronze Age nostalgia comics to me as loudly as the Legion of Super-Heroes. And, of course, DC had Paul Levitz writing the book, which made it, on paper anyway, seem like the oldest New 52 book imaginable.

I haven't read any of Dial H yet—I'm just about to get to the first trade, actually—but it's my understanding the writing's been on the wall for that one for a while now. Even having never read it, though, I'll be bummed to see it go, if only because it means there won't be an awesome Brian Bolland cover included in each new round of solicitations. Hopefully DC will find some other title for him to start covering ASAP.

For a complete list of what DC's planning on publishing in August, you can check out Comic Book Resources. Here's what jumped out at me this month...


BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT VOL. 1 TP
Written by DAMON LINDELOF, JONATHAN LARSEN, TOM TAYLOR, B. CLAY MOORE, STEVE NILES, T.J. FIXMAN, ANDREW DABB and JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV
Art by JEFF LEMIRE, J.G. JONES, NICOLA SCOTT, BEN TEMPLESMITH, TREVOR HAIRSINE, TAN ENG HUAT, PHIL HESTER and others
Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 4 • 168 pg, FC, $14.99 US
These new tales of Batman explore unusual sides of The Dark Knight, including his early years as a crimefighter, his method of dealing with super-powered foes and more. Collecting issues #1-5 of the digital-first series.


Any librarians in the reading audience? I'd highly reccomend this collection of the Batman anthology series. The quality of the stories vary from installment to installment, but look at that list of contributors. Coupled with the time-less, continuity-free nature of the stories, this is the sort of book that you can't go wrong adding to your graphic novel collection.


BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #23
Written by GREGG HURWITZ
Art and cover by ALEX MALEEV
...
On sale AUGUST 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
Batman and Commissioner Gordon are forced into a tight corner as Clayface embarks on a murder spree throughout Gotham City. But hope surfaces when the Mad Hatter emerges as an unlikely ally.


Hey look, long-time Brian Michael Bendis collaborator Alex Malleev! Drawing for DC!


BATMAN, INCORPORATED SPECIAL #1
Written by CHRIS BURNHAM, JOE KEATINGE, DAN DIDIO and others
Art by CHRIS BURNHAM, ETHAN VAN SCIVER, JASON MASTERS and others
Cover by CHRIS BURNHAM
...
On sale AUGUST 28 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
...
An all-star special featuring the various members of Batman Incorporated—Man-of-Bats, Red Raven, El Gaucho, Dark Ranger, Knight, Batman himself and more! In the wake of their epic struggle with Talia al Ghul, the Heretic and Leviathan see what’s next for the members of Batman’s army. Featuring stories written and drawn by a collection of industry greats! Plus: Bat-Cow makes her solo debut in a tale by writer Dan DiDio and artist Ethan Van Sciver!


I've wanted to see DC do a Club of Heroes title ever since Grant Morrison and J.H. Williams did that story reintroducing some of the above characters, either as a Justice-League-where-all-the-characters-are-Batman team title or a Legends of the Dark Knight style anthology.

That said, the lack of credits here is kind of discouraging (And of those given, I trust Burnham and Keating, and, like anyone else who has every read anthing he's written, I'm frightened whenever I see a "Written by...DAN DIDIO").

I don't like the look of that new Knight up there either; I haven't read Batman Inc since the New 52 reboot yet, but I'm guessing The Knight dies and The Squire takes over...? (Boo! Hiss!). But whatever the case, why on Earth does she need boob-shaped armor and metal high heels...?


LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #11
Written by PAUL JENKINS
Art by OMAR FRANCIA
Cover by GREG LUZNIAK
On sale AUGUST 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
“What Happened Was…” When Calendar Man and Batman battle during a Gotham Knights game, things go very, very wrong. But with everyone in the crowd giving a different eyewitness account, will the GCPD even be able to figure out what happened?


I'm really excited to read a Calendar Man story. I hope it's the Calendar Man with the calendar cape and red cowl, and not the Long Halloween version that's been appearing in those weird "Channel 52" advertorial comics DC's been publishing in the backs of their books.


Let's take a moment to appreciate Mike Allred. This is his cover to Batman '66 #2. I hope creators Jeff Parker and Ruben Procopio and Dean Haspiel (Dean Haspiel?! Awesome!) can live up to my sky-high expectations, because a solicit with the names Jeff Parker, Michael Allred, Dean Haspiel and Batman in it sure has a way of raising expectations.

This issue apparently introduces the Batman '66 version of Killer Croc, who was never actually on the show, which should be intersting.


DC ONE MILLION OMNIBUS HC
Written by GRANT MORRISON, MARK MILLAR, MARK WAID, RON MARZ, GARTH ENNIS, JAMES ROBINSON, GEOFF JOHNS and others
Art by VAL SEMEIKS, PHIL JIMENEZ, CULLY HAMNER, MARK BUCKINGHAM, J.H. WILLIAMS III, BRYAN HITCH, KEITH GIFFEN, SEAN PHILLIPS, DAN JURGENS and others
Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale OCTOBER 30 • 1,080 pg, FC, $99.99 US
The 1999 event masterminded by Grant Morrison is collected in its entirety in one massive hardcover! In the 853rd century, Earth remains safe thanks to the descendants of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and others—but they’ve never met anything like the sentient super-computer Solaris. This incredible collection includes DC ONE MILLION #1-4, plus the #1,000,000 issues of ACTION COMICS, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, AQUAMAN, AZRAEL, BATMAN, BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT, BOOSTER GOLD, CATWOMAN, CHASE, CHRONOS, THE CREEPER, DETECTIVE COMICS, THE FLASH, GREEN ARROW, GREEN LANTERN, HITMAN, IMPULSE, JLA, LEGION OF SUPER HEROES, LEGIONNAIRES, LOBO, MARTIAN MANHUNTER, NIGHTWING, POWER OF SHAZAM, RESURRECTION MAN, ROBIN, STARMAN, SUPERBOY, SUPERGIRL, SUPERMAN, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF TOMORROW, WONDER WOMAN, YOUNG JUSTICE, as well as DC ONE MILLION 80-PAGE GIANT #1 and SUPERMAN/BATMAN #79-80.


As collections go, this one is probably way too complete.

I liked this story—a JLA story that ran in a single issue of JLA and its own miniseries, with a handful of relevant tie-ins, although the entire DC line tied in. When it was previously collected in trade, they just included the main series, the JLA issue and bits and pieces of the books that tied most directly into the story. Most of the above had very little to do with that story, and are only set in the world that Solaris and Justice Legion A hailed from.

So this includes about a month's worth of DC comics, an 80-Page Giant sorta sequel (with short stories set in the world of DC One Million) and even a Chris Roberson-written two-part Superman/Batman story from 2011 that guest-starred the System's Finest team of Superman and Batman.

There are a lot of good comics in here, and I suppose it would be interesting to read, like, every thing DC published in a single month of a partiucular year in one sitting, but I can't imagine dropping $100 on something like this. Especially when you shouldn't have much trouble at all finding all of those comics in quarter bins if you've got the patience to look for them.


DC UNIVERSE VS. THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #1
Written by KEITH GIFFEN
Art by DEXTER SOY
Covers by ED BENES
On sale AUGUST 28 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
After narrowly escaping his last battle with He-Man, Skeletor has fled to the most unexpected realm to recover: EARTH! Once there, he sets a plan in motion to siphon off Earth’s core magic. Forging an unlikely hunting party, He-Man and company go in search of Skeletor. Finding themselves at odds with the heroes of the DC Universe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe must find a way to stop Skeletor and his mysterious new master!
This debut issue features two covers by Ed Benes, both available for ordering: one featuring the heroes of the DC Universe, and the other featuring The Masters of the Universe!


Given that He-Man has a lame-looking and completely unnecessary costume redesign, I guess that means that Eternia is actually in the New 52 Universe. Perhaps it's in the center of the hollow earth, where the sword and sorcery world of brawny men in loincloths of Skartaris was in the old DC Universe...?

I actually almost wrote a whole post about this particular product announcement over the weekend, as I was so excited/incensed/anxious about this. Suffice it to say that as someone who grew up with these superheroes and the Masters of the Universe (the first comics I read were the little ones that came pre-packaged with what I used to refer to as He-Man Guys; did you know Bruce Timm drew some of those...?), this is literally a dream project of mine; DC's superheroes meeting and fighting the characters of He-Man's world is something I would daydream about as a child.

I would like to hope this would be, oh, 1/100th as good as the DCUvMOTU of my fantasies, but the creative team doesn't give me a lot of hope (Now if JLoA writer and avowed He-Man fan Geoff Johns were writing it...).

I think Giffen's a talented writer and artist with a lot of good comics to his credit, but based on DC's usage of him over the past decade or so, there's a certain stink about his byline, where it only appears on doomed projects: He mostly seems to provide fills-in to keep a book on schedule or takes over a book after the first choice leaves or is fired (In fact, James Robinson wrote one issue of an MOTU series for DC, before Giffen took over as writer with the second issue).

Also, the last DC Universe vs. Another Universe's Characters story written by Keith Giffen that I tried to read—
—was so poorly done I only read the first issue and had no desire to read the second.

As for the artist, I know the name, but I can't think of something by him I've read—he's not the guy who drew the Captain Marvel series that half the Internet complained about the art on, is he...?

All that said, I may be bracing for the worst, but I'll be hoping for the best. This is a comic book I'd really like to like.


EARTH 2 #15
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by NICOLA SCOTT and TREVOR SCOTT
Cover by JUAN DOE
...
On sale AUGUST 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Dr. Fate, Red Arrow, The Flash, Green Lantern and The Atom all fall victim to the Hunger Dogs of Apokolips as the war against the forces of Steppenwolf continues!


Red Arrow, huh? I remain pretty intrigued by this book, which more and more seems to sound like a rather weird Elseworlds series more than a This Is What's Up On The Earth Where All The Golden Age Characters Live sort of series. I still haven't read it yet, but I imagine the first volume ought to be showing up in Ohio libraries soon-ish.

I'm not super-crazy about that particular cover, which is more idea than illustration, but I'm a big fan of Doe's artwork and I hope to see a lot of him. If DC could give him a title to do interiors on that isn't horribly written, that would be ideal.


JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #23
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by MIKEL JANIN
Cover by DOUG MANHKE
...
On sale AUGUST 21 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
TRINITY WAR CHAPTER 5! The Justice Leagues continues to fracture as the murder of a hero is solved—and the line between justice and vengeance blurs as they head off to find those responsible!


The line between justice and vengeance is blurred, huh? I wonder if anyone's ever done a story about that in a sueprehro comic before.


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA’S VIBE #7
Written by STERLING GATES
Art by PETE WOODS and SEAN PARSONS
Cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale AUGUST 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Afraid that A.R.G.U.S. has been lying to him, Vibe goes on the run! But he doesn’t get very far before a new villain with ties to his past threatens to turn his future upside down!


Kinda surprised this one isn't tying into the "Trinity War" event (it's got the word "Justice League" in the title and everything), as that would have helped stave off the book's inevitable cancllation by another month or three.


SUPERGIRL #23
Written by MICHAEL ALAN NELSON
Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR
On sale AUGUST 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Supergirl struggles to survive against one of the most dangerous villains in the entire universe – Cyborg Superman! But what could superman’s robotic doppleganger want with Supergirl? The answer will blow your mind—and set the stage for a massive story this fall!


I like what Asrar has done with the capes on this cover, and the way they form a big, bright red arrow that is striking even from afar.

I'm not sure how exciting the words "Cyborg Superman" can possibly be in the New 52 though, once the character is decoupled from his own history in "Reign of The Supermen" and the subsequent stories, which have been bounced out of continuity.


SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #3
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
Backup story art by DUSTIN NGUYEN
1:300 B&W Variant cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
On sale AUGUST 14 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
Retailers: This issue will ship with ten covers. Please see the order form for more information. Watch for further information on variant covers coming soon.
Superman’s found out the secret the U.S. Army tried desperately to keep from him—or more specifically, that secret’s found him! But with hijacked drone aircraft tearing Tokyo apart, there’s not much time for mystery…and with Lois Lane on the case as well, what’s in the darkness will come to the light!

Ten covers? Ten covers?! That seems like a lot of covers. Especially for the third-issue of an ongoing title. Are there ten different ways to show Superman breaking chains? Does that number take into account the 1-in-300 black and white variant, or would that be 11?

If DC feels the need to publish a Jim Lee comic with ten covers to sell the damn thing, well, something's really, really wrong.


I suppose the movie-i-fication of comic book Bane was inevitable, but I don't like the way this looks. The movie costume and mask would probably work okay on a more human-scaled comic book Bane, but it just looks ultra-weird on a hulking, Hulk-sized, Kelley Jones-style Bane.


In general, I am very pro-beard, but I'm not sure how I feel about War's licorice whip beard on this cover.

Aside from wanting to eat licorice now, of course.

7 comments:

Tam B said...

Dammit now I want to eat liquorice too! LOL

Yonatan said...

just out of curiosity, how many comics do you actually read on a monthly basis. You seem to spend most of the time complaining about the books or making fun of them, but it doesn't seem like you actually read any.

JohnF said...

Boy I sure hope Wonder Woman spends a few more issues figuring out what to do with that baby. That storyline can just keep on going.

Rob said...

apparently DC didn't get the memo on boob armor. It would be plenty deadly - for the wearer.

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/05/boob-plate-armor-would-kill-you

Not to mention that it's just a stupid looking sort of fanservice.

Greg said...

Re: The Knight. Um, I have some bad news ...

Dexter Soy is indeed the original artist on Captain Marvel, and yes, the art was terrible.

Caleb said...

just out of curiosity, how many comics do you actually read on a monthly basis. You seem to spend most of the time complaining about the books or making fun of them, but it doesn't seem like you actually read any.

If by "comics" you mean serially-published DC comic books, like the subject of this post, then, at the moment I read...three a month.

If by "comics" you mean comics I...Well, jeez, I don't know.

Feel free to count up all the books discussed or reviewed under EDILW posts that begin with the words "Comic shop comics", "Review:" and "Meanwhile", add about five or six to account for the books I read but don't review anywhere because they either aren't good enough or bad enough to generate any sort of comment from me at all, and that should give you the answer.

Boy I sure hope Wonder Woman spends a few more issues figuring out what to do with that baby. That storyline can just keep on going.

At this point, I'm wondering how long before the title of the book changes to Wonder Woman's Baby Brother.

Rich said...

"....he's not the guy who drew the Captain Marvel series that half the Internet complained about the art on, is he...?"

Yes. Yes he is. Exciting, no?