Sunday, August 18, 2013

DC's November previews reviewed

Well once again I completely missed the release of th Big Two solicitation information, and am only just getting to covering it days later than usual.

What jumps out at me the most this month is that the latest big event in the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman series is, like "Night of the Owls" and "Death of the Family" is spreading outside of its home book and generating plenty of tie-ins all across the Batman line of books (which compromises most of DC's New 52 line; with 14 of the 50, in-continuity, DCU titles shipping in November).

It's easy to see why DC is gung-ho about doing this, as the all of the secondary Bat-books always see a pretty significant boost from these tie-ins, even if their story value is extremely limited (The handful of "Night of the Owls" tie-ins I've read, for example, were all identical in plot: The book's hero fights a Talon Assassin to protect a high-profile target).

There are a few unusual things about the "Zero Year" tie-ins though. First, they're spreading far, far beyond the Bat-Family of books, with Action Comics, Green Arrow, The Flash and even the usually space-based Green Lantern Corps featuring tie-ins.

More unusual still is the fact that it's set during Batman's first year of crime-fighting—actually, the last issue I saw just had the bat-through-the-window scene in it—and Batman seems to be the first active superhero in the New 52U. So those tie-ins are the adventures of future Flash Barry Allen before he becomes The Flash, future Green Lantern John Stewart before he becomes a Green Lantern, and so on. The tie-ins to the younger hero's books, like Nightwing and Red Hodd and The Outlaws and Batwing are even weirder, as they are just little kids during these events. (Oh, and as Tom Bondurant pointed out in his Robot 6 column this past week, there's actually more tie-ins to the Batman storyline "Zero Year" this November than there are tie-ins to Forever Evil, a linewide event/crossover series).

The specific plot-line involves The Riddler as the big bad, setting off a black out in Gotham City. Too bad DC went with a mathematically impossible five-year timeline for the New 52U, rather than the 10-12-year timeline of the old DCU, as this year is actually the 10-year anniversarry of that huge black out that knocked power in New York City out for a while.

In addition to expecting a goose in sales for those titles involved, there may be something practical in the inclusion of so many titles from outside the Bat-family, as it gives them something to do while Forever Evil is going on. From what we know so far, Forever Evil seems to have something to do with the Justice Leagues dying (or, more likely, ending up in a different universe, perhaps Earth-3 or inside Pandora's Box) and the villains inheriting the Earth, which would wipe a lot of heroes off the grid for a bit, so stories set during the past is a decent work-around.

It's somewhat unfortunate though, as November sees the releases of the 25th issues of much of the New 52 (i.e. the original launches that haven't been cancelled), and that's the sort of milestone number issue that super-books used to do something big and noteworthy in to commemorate/celebrate. It is for Batman of course, which looks like it will have an embossed cover (sigh) and a $5 price tag (siiiigh), but for, say, Flash and Action, they're merely tying-into and feeding off the big Batman anniversarry event.

Also worth noting this month? The price tags, with a lot more $4 books than in months previous.

So let's start noting things, shall we? For the full soclicits, you can see 'em here at Comic Book Resources.


ACTION COMICS #25
Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by AARON KUDER
...
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
This BATMAN: ZERO YEAR tie-in features the reintroduction of a major character! A cocky young Superman battles the forces of nature to save Gotham City, while a woman from his past tries to do the same thing on a smaller scale. But both are headed for a collision course...


That's a nice cover, and a pretty good creative team.

Now see, this book is saying it's 40 pages for $4, but there's no mention of a back-up...are Pak and Kuder really doing a 32-page story (with eight pages of ads), or are there 12 pages of extra ads, or...what...? The math doesn't seem right,doesn't it...?


ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #7
Written by DAVID LAPHAM and TIM SEELEY
Art by DAVID LAPHAM and MIKE NORTON
Cover by CHRIS SPROUSE and KARL STORY
On sale NOVEMBER 27 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Join comics’ finest talents as they celebrate The Man of Steel himself: Superman! First, in a story written and illustrated by Eisner Award-winner David Lapham, Superman discovers a mysterious new cult that worships him as a god! Then, the Last Son of Krypton squares off against Darkseid and visits a very special fan, brought to you by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton!


I'm pretty sure I've read about Superman discovering new cults and religions that worship him as a god like, at least six times now.


Holy Audrey Hepburn, Batman! Is that...is that pixie-cut Barbara Gordon...?

Well, at least one good thing has come out of the New 52boot...


BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE #3
Written by LEE BERMEJO, RIAN HUGHES, DAMION SCOTT, PAUL DINI and MARV WOLFMAN
Art by LEE BERMEJO, RIAN HUGHES, DAMION SCOTT, STEPHANE ROUX and RICCARDO BURCHIELLI
Cover by OLLY MOSS
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 48 pg, B&W, 3 of 6, $4.99 US • RATED T
It’s another spectacular selection of adventures by some of comics’ top talents, with tales of The Dark Knight by Lee Bermejo, Marv Wolfman and Riccardo Burchielli, Rian Hughes, Damion Scott, and Paul Dini and Stephane Roux.


This is going to be the DC book getting the most rave reviews from the most serious comics credits this fall. The name that jumps out at me most there is Damion Scott, an artist whose work I love (and was what originally drew me to the excellent first half or so of the Batgirl series that starred the Cassandra Cain version of the character. His art has only gotten quirkier since then (as seen in that odd Raven miniseries DC published not so long ago, and in his issue of Solo), so I'm eager to see him drawing Batman again.


BATMAN/SUPERMAN #5
Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
...
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
When the new Toymaster uses a secret, potentially deadly element in his new video game, the characters created by players manifest in real life! The ultimate fighting game results—and a world-wide network of players must team up to create the most powerful, skilled Super Heroes imaginable with one goal: To kill Batman. Can Superman come to the rescue before the game claims its victim? Find out in this amazing issue that’s printed in a special horizontal storytelling format.


Okay see, this is what I wondered/worried about when DC first announced Batman/Superman as a Greg Pak/Jae Lee title. What they really meant is that the first story arc is a Pak and Lee one. Replacing Lee, at least for the nonce, is Brett Booth, and artist whose work I just can't get used to.


Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


DC UNIVERSE VS. THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #4
Written by KEITH GIFFEN and TONY BEDARD
Art by DEXTER SOY
Cover by ED BENES
On sale NOVEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
At long last, the identity of Skeletor’s dark master is revealed! Can the combined forces of the Masters of the Universe and the Justice League withstand the power of his dark magic?


John Constantine. And He-Man. In the same comic book. Raise your hand if you ever thought you'd see that happen. Okay, now put your hands down, liars.


DOCTOR MID-NITE TP NEW PRINTING
Written by MATT WAGNER
Art and cover by JOHN K. SNYDER III
On sale DECEMBER 11 • 160 pg, FC, $14.99 US
The classic adventure is back in print! Dr. Pieter Cross uses his scientific genius and acquired wealth to assume the identity of vigilante Doctor Mid-Nite. As Doctor Mid-Nite, he swears to protect the downtrodden from the vermin that prey on them. But in order to fulfill his mission, he must take down an evil criminal triumvirate bent on profiting from the demise of his city.


Hey, this is a fine comic book and all, the one that introduced a new version of the Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite that bore a much closer resemblance to the original than did the short-lived Dr. Mid-Nite II, and a character that would later play a major role in the the JSA revival that bore a roster composed by throwing together all of the various, independently-created legacy versions of original JSA-ers. As the only real superhero doctor, he played a pretty prominent role not only in the pages of JSA and its successor title Justice Society of America, but in many other titles as well.

DC did recently de-create the character in the New 52-boot though (Like the other Dr. Mid-Nites, he just plain doesn't exist anymore, and I don't think they've even introduced a new verison of him in Earth-2 yet, but I could be wrong about that), so I'm not entirely sure why they've decided to make this book newly available again, as it's sort of a dead end into the DC line of super-comics.


Check it out! According to Francis Manapul's cover for Flash #25, the book is literally a "red sky" tie-in to "Batman: Zero Year"....!


FOREVER EVIL: A.R.G.U.S. #2
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by PHILIP TAN and JASON PAZ
Cover by MIKEL JANIN
1:25 B&W Variant cover by MIKEL JANIN
...]
As the world adjusts to its new status quo, Col. Steve Trevor and A.R.G.U.S. go on the offensive to stop the rise of evil! The first obstacle in Trevor’s path? Deathstroke!


The story no one ever wondered about or wanted to see! Trevor vs. Deathstroke! Can Trevor really take him? (Come on, no, of course not; even in what looks like it's a Steve Trevor book with a more saleable title than Forever Evil: Steve Trevor, which would give Trevor home-book advantage.


I give up. What's being thrown at Green Lantern on this cover...?


GREEN LANTERN CORPS #25
Written by VAN JENSEN and ROBERT VENDITTI
Art and cover by BERNARD CHANG
...
On sale NOVEMBER 13 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
A BATMAN: ZERO YEAR tie-in! When The Riddler throws Gotham City into total darkness, a young Marine named John Stewart is deployed as part of the peacekeeping measures. But he gets much more than he expected when he must deal with the costumed chaos known as ANARKY!


Wwwwaiiit a minute..."ANARKY" as in Anarky...? The brilliant, politically and philosophically motivated anti-Robin created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle in 1989, when Batman was between Robins? That Anarky?

Because I love that character, and if he's really playing as big a role in the next Batman animated series as I've heard he might, it would make sense for DC to reintroduce him.

But in a "Zero Year" story, meaning he predates pretty much every DC superhero, including the first Robin, with only Batman, Superman and maybe Green Arrow pre-dating him ..? One of the New 52U's oldest heroes or villains is a teenager...?

Weird.

Almost as weird as him showing up in GLC instead of one of the 14 Batman comics DC publishes now.


HARLEY QUINN #0
Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by DARWYN COOKE, SAM KIETH, TONY S. DANIEL, PAUL POPE, WALTER SIMONSON, ART BALTAZAR and others
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
...
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
This bombastic debut issue features art by award-winning illustrators including Darwyn Cooke, Sam Kieth, Tony S. Daniel, Paul Pope, Walter Simonson, Art Baltazar and others—but will any of them measure up to the exacting standards of the Clown Princess of Crime? Don’t miss the thrilling return of Harley Quinn in her own monthly series!


Well, I like—no, love—the work of five of the six artists working on thie special first issue of the new volume of a Harley Quinn comic, so I'll almost definitely be checking at least this issue out.

I don't know who's going to be drawing the monthly series, although it would be nice if Conner drew every other arc and switched off with someone like Cameron Stewart or Rick Burchett or someone whose style isn't incompatible with hers. I guess we'll see, but I'm fairly sure it won't be an artist I'm overly enthusiastic about, as DC has fairly few of them on their payroll these days, and those they do are busy.

Well, Guillem March would be pretty great for this, depneding if it's going to be more Batman: The Animated Series or more Batman: Arkham video games, and I don't see him doing anything other than covers in November.

Conner sure makes the new design work pretty well on that cover, and I think it has a lot to do with the colors, as the black and red aren't as dilluted by effects as they usually look when I've seen New 52 Harley previously...


INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US ANNUAL #1
Written by TOM TAYLOR
Art by XERMANICO
Cover by JUAN JOSE RYP
On sale NOVEMBER 13 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Lobo invades the world of Injustice in “The Main Man Among Us.” When Superman’s world was cruelly taken from him, his retribution was swift. But one of the perpetrators is still out there, and her freedom gnaws at him. But The Man of Steel can’t spend time tracking down one person—not when the entire world needs him. So he enlists the help of Lobo, one of the greatest bounty hunters in the universe, to track down a now super-powered Harley Quinn!


The plot of this sounds really stupid, even for an alternate dimenson type of story where Superman turns evil. He'd still do things like that himself rather than hire bounty hunters, wouldn't he? I only read the first issue, but I got the impressions Superman went all King of the World because he wanted to be even more in control and more proactive than he was before.

I do like that Ryp image on the cover though, particularly the texture of it. Kinda wish he was drawing this whole series, which I suppose I'll catch up on in library trade some day...


SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #1
Written by SHOLLY FISCH
Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale NOVEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Rumors of a giant bat-creature bring Scooby and the gang on the run—but Batman and Robin are already on the trail of their old foe, the monstrous Man-Bat. Before long, the crooks behind a fake bat-creature will come face-to-face with the real thing…with the good guys caught in the middle! Don’t miss the start of this new, bimonthly miniseries!


Miniseries? This oughta be an ongoing. When not teaming-up with Batman and Robin, he could team with Dyno-Mutt and Blue Falcon, Space Ghost, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and the dozens of other mystery gang and superhero characters WB should own the rights to. But Batman and Robin, most of the time.

Is it weird to admit that this is the book I am most excited about in DC's offerings this month, even edging out Batman: Black and White...?


SUICIDE SQUAD #25
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by PATRICK ZIRCHER
Cover by JASON PEARSON
On sale NOVEMBER 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
A FOREVER EVIL tie-in! A villain from the early days of The New 52 has taken over Belle Reve, and he’s formed the Reverse Suicide Squad! But who—or what—is the Reverse Suicide Squad? Harley Quinn is about to learn the hard way that Power Girl is one of its members…


You know if Matt Kindt was the original Suicie Squad writer instead of its—what, fourth? Sixth?—and Jason Pearson were the interior artist instead of just the current cover artist, I might have happily bought read and enjoyed 25 issues of Suicide Squad by this point...

2 comments:

Michael Hoskin said...

Holy inter-company crossover! Green Lantern is being attacked by Gambit?

Akilles said...

It would be weird if the scooby-mini wouldn`t be the one you most await from that month. Hell, I do, too.