So for the first time in memory, DC Comics released their solicitations for comics they plan to publish three months hence, and I didn't even notice until Thursday night, when I saw Tom Bondurant's column on Robot 6 (This despite visiting ComicsAlliance and Comic Book Resources daily). So, naturally, my monthly review of the previews is a few days later than usual this month. Sorry.
Why didn't I notice? I don't know. I hope it's not because of a growing, perhaps ever terminal apathy toward super-comics. I mean, if I quit super-comics, there are certainly enough reprints of old comics and manga out there that I'd never be in want of comics to read, but I really, really love superhero comics, and it seems like DC and Marvel (and Dynamite and Dark Horse and IDW) are just publishing fewer and fewer superhero comics for a price I can justify spending them on. That is, $2.99-$3.50.
Like, $3 is just a cup of coffee and a doughnut, but $4? That's a cafe mocha—a special treat for when I'm flush and wanna spurge on a sweet, caffeinated beverage, you know? That's not just most of a gallon of gas, it's more than a gallon of gas.
I thought this piece on The Beat about DC's quietly moving away from their "drawing the line at $2.99" pledge was interesting (and really, who can blame them for doing so quietly? It'd be weird to make a big deal about going back on a pledge, or even just saying you've changed your mind, or the pledge has expired).
In the comments, Kurt Busiek chimes in by noting that market research shows that the difference between a $3.50 book and a $3.99 book doesn't discourage anyone from buying the more expensive one, so of course the company is going to take the extra 49-cents if their audience wants to give it to them (Someone at Marvel once said something similar in response to a question from Newsarama or CBR, to the effect that they charge $3.99 for comics because their readers are willing to pay $3.99 for their books).
Now, I draw my personal line at $2.99 (but will make exceptions if the content warrants it; like I really, really, really wanna see a Ross Campbell Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic even if it costs 33% more than I think it should, or if the $4 book has 30 pages worth of story or something), but I must be in the minority.
Anything over $3 I want to read, I can trade-wait, which means in some cases buying the trades, and, in others, borrowing them from the library.
DC's price hikes, and the fewer and fewer high quality series I feel I need to read serially rather than trade-waiting, has dwindles precipitously and, this round of solicitations indicates I'll be cutting the number of DC books I read serially in half, from two books to one (The print version of Batman '66, happily, will replace it, keeping the number of DC books I read serially at two).
Here's what my linen closet currently looks like:
You probably can't make out all the covers, but those stacks are for Adventures of Superman, Legends of the Dark Knight, Daredevil, Hawkeye, FF, Young Avengers, The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Saga, Classic Popeye, SpongeBob Comics and then a little stack of random comics (Right now I think the last Empowered special and the last Multiple Warheads mini is in that pile). At this precise moment in time, those are the only comics I'm not trade-waiting (with the intent to either buy, like Batman, Batman Inc, Batwoman, Morrison's Action Comics, Red She-Hulk, maybe Hickman's Avengers stuff, etc) or intent to borrow (Wonder Woman, Geoff Johns' Aquaman and Justice League stuff, Indestructible Hulk, maybe Bendis' X-Men stuff, Brian Woods' boring Star Wars book and all-girl X-Men, all that Dynamite pulp stuff if I can ever find it in an Ohio library, etc).
The only reason I picked up Superior Foes was because it was a $2.99 book, and thus not something I felt was too expensive to gamble on; in fact, that same week I also tried out Avengers A.I. #1, which I didn't like enough to want to read another issue of, but $3 comics are the kinds of comics I feel I can sample, while $4 books just seem like too big an investment to impulse buy (So, super-specific anecdote, I know, but last week Marvel sold me two books I wouldn't have bought that week if they were at the other price point, and hooked me on one of them enough that I plan to keep buying it as long as they're publishing it). Like, I almost bought this book about army guys and dinosaurs this week—Chronos Commandos, maybe?—but it was $4, and I figured it would take me longer to drink and enjoy a cafe mocha some day then it would take me to read that comic.
My point—I think I had one, or thought I might have one when I started typing—was that perhaps my failure to notice a new round of solicitations had something to do with my increasing apathy for the the serially-published comic book-comics, as I reluctantly become more and more of a trade reader, due in equal parts to the unreasonably high price of so many comic books and my difficulty in finding ones so great I can't wait six-12 months to read 'em.
Anyway, what's DC got going on in October...?
Written by JUSTIN GRAY and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by ADAM ARCHER and STEVEN CUMMINGS
Cover by EDUARDO FRANCISCO
On sale OCTOBER 16 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Three new Ame-Comi Girls go on three separate solo missions to wrap up the series. Big Barda provokes a head-to-head confrontation with Darkseid, White Canary evens the odds in Vegas, and Mera defends Seattle from an attack by her evil half-sister, Black Manta.
Written by MARC GUGGENHEIM
Art by VICTOR DRUJINIU, JUAN CASTRO, ALLAN JEFFERSON and JONAS TRINDADE
On sale OCTOBER 23 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
After the shocking events of the season one finale, Oliver reflects on the regrets of his past...and his course of action for the future. Plus, when a pilot gets in deep with the wrong kind of people, the Starling City vigilante becomes an unlikely ally in the fight to save his family.
LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #13
Written by PETER MILLIGAN and TIM SEELEY
Art by RICCARDO BURCHIELLI and FREDDIE WILLIAMS II
Cover by DAVID WILLIAMS
On sale OCTOBER 16 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST • FINAL ISSUE
Batman returns to his low-tech roots after years of counting on WayneTech gadgetry in “Return of Batman.” Then, when The Dark Knight takes one of Gotham City’s unluckiest criminals into protective custody, Thirteen forces him to reconsider in “Unlucky 13.”
So here are three of DC's digital first comic books that are being canceled; these were ones that you could apparently buy digital chapters of online and then, shortly afterward, DC would publish good old-fasioned paper-and-staples versions of 'em and then, later again, trade collections. Essentially, they were selling the material to three different audiences at three different times in three different ways, and the economics sure seemed to be working, based on how many of the series they have now.
These three are getting axed though, and I suppose in a few months Marc-Oliver Frisch or someone will theorize as to what this means regarding the bottom line (like, exactly how few of these comic book versions they needed to sell to make the comic book versions worthwhile).
The only one that really annoys me is LDK as, it is one of only two comic book-comics I still buy and read from DC serially (and provided a nice "refuge" from the New 52, as Batman: Black and White will). I understand that they'll still do them digitally and go straight to trade, which kind of makes sense: Those trades, while a grab bag of subject matter and quality and even characters, will make fine gifts for random friend or family member that likes Batman but you don't know what books he already has, and are great for public library collections.
Me, I'm just personally bummed because after canceling Superman Family Adventures, it looks like someone from DC is breaking into my apartment, looking to see what DC comics I still buy as comic books, and then canceling out of spite. I don't expect Adventures of Superman to last much longer.
I'm not surprised to see Ame-Comi go, as that was a sort of confused and pointless endeavor from the beginning. The point of inspiration was manga/anime style reimaginging of DC characters as scantily-clad fan-service statues. The comics kept the basic costume designs, but the ever rotating art teams didn't draw in a manga/anime style, the storytelling wasn't manga/anime and the writers eschewed fan-service completely: I could find more of it any five pages of, say, Yasuhiro Kano's Pretty Face Vol. 2 (the last manga volume I read) then in any five issues of this series, which was basically just generic superhero stuff in a world with no male super-people (I was pretty put off and dropped the series around the time the writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray had a good guy character and a villain both call Harley Quinn retarded in roundabout ways ("special," and "short bus," if I recall corectly).
One virtue was that we got to see artists like Sandford Greene and Ted Naifeh draw some DC super-comics, even if their talents were kind of wasted here.
It is odd, however, that the book was just upgraded from a mini-series to an ongoing, and then canceled just a few issues into its ongoing statues.
(Given all that, I would probably be down with a Bombshells book based on their new line of super-ladies redesigned as 1940s-era pin-up girls and airplane nose art, if DC could secure a really good good-girl artist—Guillem March? Bruce Timm? Darwyn Cooke? J. Bone? Ronnie del Carmen, who they probably can't? Arthur Adams or Frank Cho, who they probably also can't? George Perez or Jerry Ordway would be good for this, as would Kevin Maguire, although he's got a pretty plum assignment...—and a good writer for a World War II era story (Maybe James Robinson?) of super-Rosie the Riveters kicking Axis ass).
As for Arrow, I have no experience with that book, and am as uninterested in it as I am in the TV show. I wonder if it's simply being canceled because the TV show is, or because, as the solicit says, it ties in to the end of a season, and thus maybe it will be relaunched in the near future with a new season...?
AQUAMAN ANNUAL #1
Written by JOHN OSTRANDER
Art by GERALDO BORGES and RUY JOSE
Cover by PAUL PELLETIER and DANNY MIKI
On sale OCTOBER 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Aquaman must reunite with The Others to investigate whether or not their recently deceased member Vostok has returned from the dead. If he has, he is definitely not the same Vostok they remember…
Hey everybody, look! It's veteran writer John Ostrander!
I'm sort surprised to see an The Others focused storyline, given how dull I found "The Others," and I don't recall hearing much excitement in the shops or online about those character (aside from disappointment that Johns introduced a female Iranian character just to have her murdered to move the plot along).
That said, I would totally buy an The Others Vs. The Justice Experience comic!
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
On sale OCTOBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
“The Big Burn” part one of five! Two-Face’s first epic in The New 52 sees Batman unraveling the mysterious connections between Harvey Dent’s life and the origin of Carrie Kelley!
Okay guys, if Damian's not really coming back to life and we're not getting a new Robin or a new/old Robin in Tim Drake, I think we can just go ahead and cancel Batman and Robin, rather than just changing it's title every couple of issues to reflect a different guest-star.
You still want Tomasi and Gleason to have their own Bat-book? That's fine. Give 'em TEC or Dark Knight or, hell, just launch a new book—you're not using Gotham Knights or Shadow of the Bat at the moment—and you can even have a new #1 and everything...!
Hey, that girl who looks exactly like Barbara Gordon isn't supposed to be Carrie Kelly is it? Because that would be kind of silly if there were two teenage girls hanging around Batman and they both looked the exact same, wouldn't it?
BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE #2
Written by RAFAEL GRANPA, DAN DIDIO, RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE, JEFF LEMIRE and MICHAEL USLAN
Art by RAFAEL GRAMPA, J.G. JONES, RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE, ALEX NINO and DAVE BULLOCK
Cover by JIM STERANKO
On sale OCTOBER 2 • 48 pg, B&W, 2 of 6, $4.99 US • RATED T
The Eisner Award-winning series continues with a second amazing issue! Don’t miss new takes on the Dark Knight from legendary creators including Rafael Grampá, Dan DiDio and J.G. Jones, Rafael Albuquerque, Jeff Lemire and Alex Niño, and Michael Uslan and Dave Bullock! Plus, a cover by the amazing Jim Steranko!
Let's pause a moment to look a little more closely at the credits of this comic, the second issue in the second series in which DC rounds up the world's greatest living comics artists and allows 'em to do pretty much whatever they want for the length of a short black-and-white comic book.: Jim Steranko, Rafael Grampa, Rafael Albuquerque, Alex Nino, Jeff Lemire, Michale Uslan, Dave Bullock, Rafael Albuquerque and Dan DiDio.
Tell me, does one of those names look just a little out of place?
I can appreciate DiDio's desire to write comics, and I imagine if he does write them, he feels he must do them for the company he's working for rather than, I don't know, self-publishing mini or webcomics or something. And I can see him taking on a special challenge like "None of the last 80 guys we hired to make an Outsiders series work? I guess I can take that challenge and see if I can do better," or to work on something by special request, like the Metal Men strip he did in Wednesday Comics (another series in which he was [one of] the odd creators out in terms of talent, acclaim and stature).
But to give yourself—or even accept an offer—on such a prestigious project as this? I don't know, guys; it seems like a basketball coach deciding to put himself in the game for a quarter or something.
I know appearances and perception of being stand-up, genteel, all-around admirable and cool guys isn't something DC management are overly concerned with these days (see Before Watchmen), but this just looks gauche.
You know, if they lost all the little lines, that would rather pleasantly like a blue and black version of a the Batman from Batman Beyond, wouldn't it?
Written by KEITH GIFFEN
Art by DEXTER SOY
Cover by ED BENES
On sale OCTOBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
After the shocking ending to issue #2, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe find themselves hunted by the Justice League. In the midst of the chaos, Skeletor’s plan moves into its next, dangerous phase!
I'd be a lot more interested in this series if they hadn't just redesigned all of the characters from both franchises to make them nigh-unrecognizable. Like, I suppose that lady on the right is supposed to be Teela, but I'm not sure why she's dressed like Man-At-Arms and shooting a laser gun at Wonder Woman, who has traded her magic lasso in for a sword.
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
On sale OCTOBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, 2 of 7, $3.99 US • RATED T
The villains have taken over the world! The Teen Titans fight back! Can the inexperienced teen heroes do what the adults could not? (Answer: Nope. It goes very poorly.)
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.
Oh my God, DC has Batman appearing on so many covers now that he's got cover appearance fatigue, and whenever he sees two or more characters doing a cover shoot, she just assumes he's supposed to be on the cover too and just shows up and starts posing.
I believe Wolverine suffered from that for a while not too long ago...
You know, after watching that little promotional video DC made up for "Trinity War," this whole event is starting to feel kind of Marvel-ous, what with the hero vs. hero war leading to a take over of the DCU by the villains a la "Dark Reign"(And Brian Michael Bendis was basically just writing Norman Osborn like he was Lex Luthor with a toupee for much of that time period anyway, except for the parts where he was talking to his mask and being all Goblin-y, of course). See also DC's own Final Crisis for another "the heroes lose, the villains win" storyline.
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by SCOT EATON and JAIME MENDOZA
On sale OCTOBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
As FOREVER EVIL hits the world, no corner of the DC Universe is in worse shape than Gotham City! Madness and mayhem hit the streets as both Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison unleash their prisoners upon the helpless citizens of Gotham. And with no Dark Knight to protect the city, what horrors will follow?
If that is the creative team for the series, it's not a bad one, and this would (pre-New 52) been right up my alley. Post-New 52? Well, as someone who hasn't read all that much New 52 Batman yet (like, relative to the amount they've published so far), I think it might be interesting to see who made the continuity cut and who didn't, how radically some of them have been transformed (Like Joker's Daughter; yeesh) and how the new guys (Emperor Penguin, and, what was it, Lingerie Bunny...?) fit in with the older villains.
The thing is, there's so little information in that solicitation that I have no idea what this is gonna be about. Are the villains gonna be fighting one another? Is it just going to be six issues of them murdering civilians? Are Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon gonna team-up with Bat-Mite, Bat-Cow and Titus to kick the living shit out of all these bad guys What's the conflict here, exactly...?
Hey, why is Emperor Penguin called Emperor Penguin if he looks nothing at all like a penguin? Why isn't he just called, like Blue Face...? (I mean, aside from the obvious fact that it's a really stupid name).
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art and cover by SEAN CHEN
On sale OCTOBER 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Don’t miss the stunning conclusion of “Lights Out!” Can Relic be defeated? Who lives? Who dies? The new status quo for the Lanterns is revealed here!
Wait a minute, didn't the new status quo for the Lanterns just get revealed, like, two issues ago? Three more issues and they'll be ready for a new new status quo...?
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by RAFAEL KAYANAN
Cover by YILDIRAY CINAR
On sale OCTOBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
A new adventure begins here! With Eternia still occupied by the Horde, He-Man and King Randor lead a small group of Masters on a quest to find the one object that might free Eternia! Join the new creative team of Dan Abnett and Drew Johnson as they take He-Man and the Masters of the Universe into their next great chapter!
He-Man's the one with the H, right? And I guess the bearded guy is supposed to be King Randor...? He's...changed. And Teela and Stratos? Is that you Stratos? Jeez, these redesigns are all headed in the wrong direction; rather than updating the original costumes with tweaks that made them look more cool, more detailed and more realistic, as they did for that cartoon a few years back, they seem to be moving everyone away from the medieval/barbarian look and towards something more superheroic and sc-fi; this feels more The New Adventures of He-Man than the 21st century version of He-Man and THe Masters of the Universe.
Hey, serious question: Have they shown the new Buzz-Off design anywhere? I really, reeaalllly wanna know what Buzz-Off looks like now.
Here's something I never expected to type: Man, I sure am glad there are variant covers for these comics.
(Hey, "Justice League Dark" isn't actually the team's name, right? No one "in story" calls them that; it's just the title of their comic book, right?)
Written by KEITH GIFFEN and J.M. DeMATTEIS
Art and cover by KEVIN MAGUIRE
On sale OCTOBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Don’t miss the debut of the new series starring the heroes of today—tomorrow! But what are they doing in the year 3000? And who (or what) brought them there? Get ready for a double dose of wonder as only the stellar creative team of Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire can deliver!
God knows I love this creative team, and I'm pretty much always up for Kevin Maguire art, but there is absolutely nothing on this cover that doesn't make me want to laugh at this book. And I think is is supposed to be a straight, serious super-comic, and not a "Bwa-ha-ha" parody of one, right?
Kind of surprised they're going with that title instead of some form of Justice Legion, given the setting...
Like Earth 2, this is a title I'm extremely curious about, but not necessarily interested in, if that makes any sense; I'll definitely check out the first trade in a year or so.
Written by ANN NOCENTI
Art by ALEX SANCHEZ and ART THIBERT
Cover by FABRIZIO FIORENTINO
On sale OCTOBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Don’t miss this rematch with Coil! Plus: Who is the Mad Samurai, and what is his connection to the soultaker?
I don't know, he's mad at it...?
NIGHTWING ANNUAL #1
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art by JASON MASTERS
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale OCTOBER 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Robin and Batgirl grew up fighting side by side…but with Dick Grayson about to embark on a new crimefighting quest and Barbara Gordon no longer fighting under the Bat, is there anything left between them? Following the “Batgirl: Wanted” epic, this is the story of a twosome with nothing left to lose, fighting for the only thing they can: each other!
They did? Then how come that Robin is now a grown-ass man while Batgirl is still Batgirl?
(Wait, they didn't grow up fighting side by side...I thought Dick Grayson was only Robin for like eight and a half months in this new continuity...?)
Written by CHARLES SOULE
Art by TONY S. DANIEL and BATT
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale OCTOBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Beginning a bold new series that details the relationship between The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess as rising star writer Charles Soule is joined by fan favorite artist Tony S. Daniel to tell the tale of a romance that will shake the stars themselves. These two super-beings love each other, but not everyone shares their joy. Some fear it, some test it—and some will try to kill for it. Some say love is a battlefield, but where Superman and Wonder Woman are concerned it spells Doomsday!
Well, they had me right up until the art credit...
(This would be an excellent book for Phil Jimenez to draw, as he draws both of those characters very, very well. Ditto George Perez).
It is well worth noting that this is the first time that Wonder Woman has been able to support two—well, one and a half—titles—since...well, in my life-time anyway. Odd to see Hermes and Zola on that cover too, as there has been such an incredibly rigid, impenetrable wall between Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman (which features those characters) and the rest of the DC Universe. Not only has Wondy's relationship with Superman never been referenced in the book, Superman's existence hasn't been referenced. If you were only reading Wonder Woman, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was set outside the DCU, in its own world where the only super-people are gods and demigods (and at least one New God).
I don't think there's anything wrong with that, of course. Wonder Woman works just fine as it is (even if it is glacial in its pacing) and doesn't need to constantly check in with the rest of the DCU line, but it's an outlier in that DC editorial seems to be letting Azzarello get away with ignoring the rest of the universe, whereas so many other writers have left their books complaining of constant interference, and that if you read both Wonder Woman and Justice League, it really does seem like there are two entirely different Wonder Women in those books.
Naturally, they had to DC it up though, and so the pony is a big, scary, angry monster pony standing atop a mountain of skulls.