Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DC's April previews reviewed

Well, this month I count 46 ongoing "New 52" titles, although if you factor in the four issues of the year-long weekly Batman Eternal, that brings us up to 50, and there's a one-shot Forever Evil: Arkham War follow-up that brings us to 51. And enough annuals to put us over the 52-title mark, but, one-shots and annuals really shouldn't count.

Oh, and of those 46 a few—StormWatch, Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, Superman Unchained, JLoA—are publishing their last issues. So DC needs about 10 new monthlies if they're going to stick with 52 ongoing, monthly series. Which they apparently aren't. (I honestly expected to see a Plastic Man and Doom Patrol solicited this month, spinning out of Forever Evil).

Also of note is that a bunch of books have stayed at the $3.99 price point despite losing their back-up features, so the line is no longer being held at $2.99.

Additionally, there are some rather surprising new titles being launched this month, including one more test of whether Green Lantern fans are willing to buy as many comics as, say, Batman or X-Men fans every month.

Speaking of surprising launches...


AQUAMAN AND THE OTHERS #1
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art by LAN MEDINA and ED TADEO
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale APRIL 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T.
A “FUTURES END” prelude! Spinning out of AQUAMAN, the King of Atlantis and his teammates find themselves targeted by an unknown foe that wants their Atlantean artifacts! Don’t miss the start of this all-new series!

Hoo boy.

Okay, yes, on the one hand, the very idea of a second ongoing Aquaman title is patently ridiculous, given the character's historical difficulty in keeping a single monthly title afloat (Ha ha! Water jokes!). Even given Aquaman's current success, producing a second title just seems silly, like DC is daring readers to stop reading Aquaman (Additionally, the success of Aquaman had a lot to do with Geoff Johns writing it, and he's only been not writing it for, let's see here, one issue so far, so launching a second title under the assumption that new Aquaman writer Jeff Parker will sell close to as well as Johns did seems...what's a kind word for it...optimistic.

The creative team doesn't inspire a ton of faith, either, as all of the books Dan Jurgens has been involved with since the New 52 have either been canceled (Justice League International, Firestorm), or among the more chaotic in terms of creative teams (Green Arrow, Superman). This sort of looks like a way to give Jurgens something to do as much as anything else.

On the other hand, DC managed to take the unexpected success of Johns on Green Lantern almost ten years ago and build a franchise of five Lantern books atop it, so maybe it's not completely crazy pants to try and do the same with Aquaman (although they did build the Lantern franchise up quite slowly comapared to this; if I recall correctly, there was a Johns-written or co-written Green Lantern Corps miniseries before they launched the GLC ongoing).

And given how quickly many of DC's attempts to revive more off-beat concepts and titles have crashed and burned (Vibe, Amethyst in Sword of Sorcery, The Green Team, etc), maybe they're just trying to play it safe, and the thinking is that if X number of people buy Aquaman every month, we can assume at least Y number will buy a second Aquaman comic, and that Y will be > the number of people buying The Demon or Stanley and His Monster or Vixen or Gen 13 or...

BATMAN AND WONDER WOMAN #30
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
...
On sale APRIL 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
The quest for Damian’s remains takes Batman to Paradise Island and into direct conflict with Wonder Woman!

I'm really looking forward to seeing Gleason get to draw some Justice Leaguers again, but they really need to pull the plug on this Batman and... business and just re-title this book Batman: The Brave and The Bold if they're not going to resurrect Damian or give Tim Drake his old job back at the end of this arc.

Here's something I never expected to type: Batman looks a lot like Ursula from The Little Mermaid on this cover, doesn't he?

CATWOMAN #30
Written by ANN NOCENTI
Art by PATRICK OLLIFFE
Cover by TERRY DODSON and RACHEL DODSON
On sale APRIL 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
“The Race of Outlaws” begins! Despite her best efforts, Selina Kyle just can’t stop being Catwoman. What’s dragged her back into the catsuit? A globe-trotting contest that will have her competing to earn the prize for being the best thief in the world. But watch out, Catwoman – there’s no honor among thieves!

I like the premise. Wish I knew the other thieves though. I think that's New 52 Mirror Master, and I'm guessing that's Golden Glider and...um...?


DETECTIVE COMICS #30
Written by BRIAN BUCCELLATO and FRANCIS MANAPUL
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
On sale APRIL 2 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
A bold new direction for DETECTIVE COMICS as THE FLASH creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelato take over the creative reins! Batman finds himself knee-deep in a new mystery involving a deadly new narcotic that has hit the streets of Gotham City.

I'm really interested to see what that particular creative team, a pencil artist and color artist writing and providing the art, will do with Batman. But damn, "a deadly new narcotic" hitting the streets of Gotham is one storyline I've read about eight times too many at this point in my life.


THE FLASH ANNUAL #3
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI and VAN JENSEN
Art by BRETT BOOTH, RON FRENZ, NORM RAPMUND and LIVESAY
Cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale APRIL 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
The start of a major new arc for the Fastest Man Alive! In the future, The Flash is a broken man. His powers have failed him time and again at great cost to him and the city he has sworn to protect. Now he’s coming back to 2014 to stop the one event that destroyed his life. Meanwhile, in the present, Barry Allen must contend with thieves trying to capitalize on the devastation of FOREVER EVIL. It’s a tale of two timelines that ushers in one of DC’s most storied characters…featuring The New 52 debut of WALLY WEST!

Weird. Going off of what little info is right there in the solicitaiton, it sounds like Wally West might be the Flash of the far-flung future. And that he will wear a terrible, terrible costume (and Barry's New 52 costume is already pretty terrible).

I think Tom Bondurant talked a bit about this last week, but the thing about bringing Wally West back is that just having another Flash with the name Wally West isn't the same as having the real Wally West around. It's not the name people like, it's the character, and West was one of many DCU characters that is fairly difficult to divorce from his history, as he became that character over the course of that history, rather than being born fully-formed with certain ticks and characteristics the way that, say, Batman or Superman were.  (I wonder Spoiler fans will likewise receive the New 52 intro of Spoiler; I know that, personally, I'm a fan of characters like Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, Martian Manhunter and Captain Marvel, but have had zero interest in reading New 52 comics starring them because of them, because they're just the same names, not the same characters).


GODZILLA HC
...
Written by MAX BORENSTEIN and GREG BORENSTEIN
Art by ERIC BATTLE, YVEL GUICHET, ALAN QUAH and LEE LOUGHRIDGE
Cover by ARTHUR ADAMS
On sale MAY 7 • 72 pg, FC, $19.99 US
In May 2014, audiences will witness the epic rebirth of the King of Monsters as Legendary and Warner Bros. bring Godzilla to the big screen. To pave the way for the iconic creature’s return, Legendary Comics is proud to present the official Godzilla graphic novel!
Delve into an incredible mystery, generations in the making. At the dawn of the atomic age, humanity awakens lifeforms beyond imagination, unleashing monumental forces of nature. This explosive, larger-than-life adventure is the perfect way for fans to experience the new Godzilla before seeing it in theaters.

Godzilla...? What are you doing over here? Shouldn't you be in IDW's solicitations? (Incidentally, I've been reading as many as IDW's Godzilla trades as I can find in libraries, and will have some posts on the subject soon, including a gigantic one on James Stokoe's ridiculously good Half-Century War. The ones I've read so far have been penciled by Stokoe, Simon Gane and Phil Hester, all of whom get me a lot more excited about reading giant monster comics than the names Eric Battle and Yvel Guitchet do).

JUSTICE LEAGUE #30
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
...
On sale APRIL 23 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
It all changes here with the first chapter of “INJUSTICE LEAGUE”! The next era of the Justice League begins as heroes quit, villains join and a Justice League roster you’ve never seen before emerges, led by the world’s greatest hero — LEX LUTHOR?! As the dust settles and the bodies are buried, the violent consequences of FOREVER EVIL must be dealt with — while a mysterious new force sets its target on the League. But is this force friend or enemy? And why does he want Luthor dead? (If you ask Batman, it’s a long list.)

This is only really interesting in that it's rather unexpected, moreso that Captain Cold is one of the holdovers from the not-so-bad team of bad-guys Luthor is putting together to fight the Crime Syndicate in Forever Evil (Luthor and Black Adam have both been played as anti-heroes in the past; the latter by Johns for a really rather long time).

On the other hand, that Luthor could be Earth-3's Lex Luthor (Remember the captive in the hood the Crime Syndicate brought with them from their world?), which would explain why he's on the Justice League, and why some heroes might not like it, whether he's a "good" Luthor or not. (I do hope that the hostage isn't Earth-3's Luthor, though, as that was my first thought was seeing him, and Luthor is the traditional good villain from Earth-3. I'm hoping it's someone more surprising, like, I don't know, The Joker).

I'm glad to see Captain Marvel Shazam apparently finally officially joining the New 52 Justice League, but I hope he's not just there as some sort of temporary, substitute Superman. I've never seen the two characters as so similar they can't be on the League at the same time. Certainly if Superman can serve on the League at the same time as Martian Manhunter or Wonder Woman, his powers don't overlap so much that he can't be on the same team as Captain Marvel.


JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #0
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art and cover by MIKE McKONE
...
On sale APRIL 23 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
Top comics writer Jeff Lemire teams with superstar artist Mike McKone for the all-new monthly series JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED, starring the new team of powerful heroes Earth calls Justice League Canada!

In the aftermath of FOREVER EVIL, Adam Strange is caught up in an adventure across the far reaches of the cosmos that will unite an unexpected team of heroes including Supergirl, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Stargirl, Martian Manhunter and Animal Man – but if they’re on the team, who exactly is Canadian? Plus: Don’t miss the debut of a new Canadian hero who will have a huge effect on the group!

Well, I guess in retrospect it should have been obvious that they weren't actually going to call a book Justice League of Candada, but boy, Justice League United sounds as clunky as any of their other titles of late (Superman Unchained, Batman Eternal).

Still, it seems a shame to be scrapping Justice League of America so soon (14 issues) to make way for this, particularly given the huge promotional push (remember the 50+ variant covers?) and the promise of a new ongoing series by Geoff Johns and David Finch, of which the latter lasted only three issues, and the former about twice as many (And, perhaps even more frustrating for those who don't care for Finch's work anyway, JLoA was really only around for one story so far: The lead-up to "Trinity War," the "Trinity War" crossover that was itself a lead-up to Forever Evil and the Forever Evil tie-in).

The make-up of the team, as revealed on that cover so far, doesn't exactly thrill me and, in fact, Star Girl and Supergirl on the same team seems somewhat redundant, but I do find it amusing how blonde this team is: Everyone but bald J'onn and dark-haired Hawkman (I think; I haven't seen New 52 Hawkman without his helmet on yet) is fair-haired.

I think long-time League ally Adam Strange is a perfect candidate for Justice League membership—I've always thought if they were going to stick with the random zeta beams taking him to and away from Rann aspect of his origin, being on the Justice League as a superhero would give him something to do while he waits to return to Rann. And, in a welcome surprise, his costume doesn't look horrible. Huzzah!


THE MOVEMENT #11
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by FREDDIE WILLIAMS II
Cover by RAYMUND BERMUDEZ
On sale APRIL 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Virtue’s mysterious past is revealed! Plus, The Movement travels outside of Coral City for the first time to rescue their teammate Burden from his demonic brother!

Still not canceled!


The cover of Nightwing #30 just doesn't have enough blood on it.


SECRET ORIGINS #1
Written by TONY BEDARD, KYLE HIGGINS and GREG PAK
Art by PAULO SIQUEIRA, WILL CONRAD and others
Cover by LEE BERMEJO
...
On sale APRIL 23 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
....
At last, the SECRET ORIGINS of the World’s Greatest Heroes in The New 52 can be revealed! This new series gets off to an awesome start with the origins of The Last Son of Krypton and Kara Zor-El, Supergirl, plus the first Robin, Dick Grayson.

Now this is interesting. The New 52 is only about two-and-a-half-years-old, although the weird semi-reboot nature of the continuity rejiggering means the DC Universe mega-story is actually about five-to-seven fictional years old at this point...they just haven't told us what happened during most of that time (and don't seem to know themselves).

A lot of characters origins we've already seen unfolding in flashbacks or stories set in the past—Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Superman in their titles, the Justice League in Justice League #1-6, Batman in "Year Zero," Martian Manhunter in the JLoA back-ups—and some of the other characters more recently introduced to the fictional time-line have had their origins unfold "live" (Captain Marvel, Vibe, Simon Baz, the heroes of Earth 2, etc). And then there was Zero Month and, to a lesser extent, Villains Month, the former of which told origins of most of the new DCU's heroes, the latter of which told the origins of some of the DCU's villains.

For example, of the three characters mentioned in this month's solicitation, I feel like I've already seen the origins of two-thirds of them in The New 52 (not that they can't be retold or expanded on, of course).

What this DCU needs more than a Secret Origins title is a "Lost Years" one, filling in the blanks of what happened between the origins and the stories of September 2011.



SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SUPER FRIENDS VOL. 1 TP
Written by E. NELSON BRIDWELL and others
Art by RIC ESTRADA, RAMONA FRADON and others
Cover by ALEX TOTH
On sale MAY 21 • 448 pg, B&W, $19.99 US
Don’t miss these tales based on the hit animated TV series “Super Friends,” from issues #1-34! Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and other heroes battle The Riddler, the Time Trapper and others in these all-ages stories.

Huzza—aw, what am I so excited about? I still have a pile two-and-a-half-feet high of Showcase volumes to read. Not that I can stop myself from buying new ones, though.


SINESTRO #1
Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art and cover by DALE EAGLESHAM
1:25 Variant cover by DOUG MAHNKE
On sale APRIL 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Thaal Sinestro has lost everything he’s ever loved: his home, his family, his only friend. But no matter how desperate he becomes, Sinestro will never be without fear...a lesson his one-time ally, one-time enemy Lyssa Drak is eager to teach him! Can he take back the despicable Yellow Lantern Corps? Or does the universe have a new destiny in mind for Sinestro?

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say DC had managed to build Johns' GL run into a line of five books? I meant six.


THE SPECTRE VOL. 1: CRIMES AND JUDGMENTS TP
Written by JOHN OSTRANDER
Art and cover by TOM MANDRAKE
On sale MAY 14 • 320 pg, FC, $19.99 US
In these tales from THE SPECTRE #1-12, detective Jim Corrigan tries to end his mission as The Spectre. But the grisly crimes of a serial killer pull him back into the battle for justice – and send him on a trip to hell! Plus, Madame Xanadu tries to help Corrigan – but her help may lead one of them to suicide.

This, if you've never read it, is an excellent series, mixing the mood, subject matter and quality of the Vertigo imprint of the time with some DC Universe characters. That's a pretty good price-point too, though you can probably find all of these comics in back-issue bins if you're diligent (I ended up reading the whole run out of order that way).

That cover originally glowed in the dark, but something tells me they won't retain that feature for the trade collection.


SUICIDE SQUAD #30
Written by SEAN RYAN
Art by IG GUARA and RUY JOSE
Cover by PATRICK ZIRCHER
On sale APRIL 9 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+ •
FINAL ISSUE
In the ashes of FOREVER EVIL, A.R.G.U.S. and Task Force X leader Amanda Waller must face the consequences of her failure to protect the United States from the Crime Syndicate

I'm a little surprised to see Suicide Squad getting the axe. From what I've seen so far, it's been pretty consistently terrible since its launch, and burned through creative teams as quickly as any of the other failed New 52 relaunches, but I didn't think its dropping sales had dropped that low yet, and it if DC could only find an interested, interesting creative team to stick around an arc or two, it doesn't seem like it would be that hard of a book to get on track and moving in the right direction.

If it was only going to last 30 issues though, it probably wasn't worth so drastically rebooting the looks of Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, Deadshot and King Shark (Man, his New 52, half-assed species change still bothers me).


SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #9
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and wraparound cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
Backup story art by DUSTIN NGUYEN
...
On sale APRIL 30 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US •
FINAL ISSUE
This is it – the extraordinary finale of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman saga, surrounded by an epic wraparound cover! It’s a battle in the sun as Superman and Wraith accept their destinies…and Lex Luthor pulls the trigger on his ultimate weapon!

Final...issue...? I coulda sworn that this was meant to be an ongoing but, well, that was fast.

Well, maybe now Jim Lee can get back to drawing the comic book he was born to draw, All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder.


TEEN TITANS #30
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by TYLER KIRKHAM and ART THIBERT
Cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
...
On sale APRIL 23 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T •
FINAL ISSUE
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
In the wake of FOREVER EVIL, The Titans return to learn that Harvest has grown more powerful in their absence! And with the body of Jon Lane Kent gone from its chamber, Harvest is marshaling all the resources of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to get it back! All this and the return of Bunker and Beast Boy!

Like Suicide Squad, I'm surprised to see this book ending, and don't think it can be down to the usual reason of poor sales. I'm hoping it's because someone of some authority at DC finally noticed that it was 2014 they had Scott fucking Lobdell writing a book called "Teen Titans" featuring horrible redesigns and reboots a few popular DC characters and some equally gross-looking new characters and thought, "Hey, this is the dumbest idea ever. Maybe we should do something closer to that popular, fan-favorite cartoon show about young heroes we had on TV for a while, Young Justice, or even the one before that, what was it called? Oh yeah—Teen Titans."

Honestly, the premise of this Teen Titans doesn't really work in the universe of The New 52, where the four generations of DC superheroes have all been squished into a single handful of years (Nor does the premise of the original Teen Titans book, given that Batman is the only hero in The New 52 to have ever had a teenaged sidekick).

I'm assuming they'll replace this with a new version of Teen Titans in the future, but, honestly, I can't imagine what it will be. They have enough "name" teenage characters laying around The New 52—Static, Blue Beetle, Supergirl, Star Girl, Steel's niece Natasha Irons, Raven Red, Black Alice, Amethyst, a time-lost Shining Knight, the kids from The Movement or The Green Team or The Super Young Team, Batgirl, any of those dumb-looking characters from The Ravagers—that they could easily come up with newer, more recognizable rosters if they really wanted to, but I hope they just let the Teen Titans rest and detoxify for a while. Maybe relaunch it when they semi-de-reboot, and it makes sense to have a team of teenage heroes built around characters like Robin III and his contemporaries.


I love Guillem March, but I hate his cover for this month's Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger. It's the different positions of Superman and Light's heads.

8 comments:

CultureWarReporters said...

Just wanted to wanted to drop in and say that I get excited whenever solicitations come up because I know one of these posts will be written by the end of the day.

Was also fully expecting the analysis of The New 52 and how they're supposed to reach that holy number after canceling so many titles. It's just as much a mystery to me, that's for sure.

doron said...

I respectfully disagree regarding Adam Strange's new costume. I really liked Pascal Ferry's redesign in the Planet Heist mini (although why even mess with a perfect original Infantino design amirite?). In this new 52 one where are the 'x' jet pack straps? Why is there a small superman 's' shield on his chest? And again with the segmented armor? That circle helmet design is just off. And Lastly the black sides isn't working for me. I don't think I would have even known it was Adam Strange if it wasn't for solicitation text.

Ty said...

I am so excited to see the Justice League #30 preview, because it leads me directly to this 6-point prediction:

* Lex Luthor shoots and kills Superwoman and is thereafter hailed the world's greatest hero.

* Luthor goes on to lead a Justice League of villains and a renamed Checkmate that hounds all the other superheroes into hiding.

* Superman leads a fierce resistance before finally surrendering to "Truth, Justice, and the (new) American Way," whereupon he is immediately killed on the courthouse steps by a kryptonite bullet.

* Luthor and his rebranded Checkmate declare Paradise Island a terrorist nation and send the Injustice League to invade and conquer it; the ensuing defeat finally gives the president the cover he needs to disavow Luthor.

* In a last-ditch attempt to hold onto power and glory, Luthor retaliates with a combination of Earth-3 evil science and Apokolyptian sorcery that destabilizes reality.

* When the dust settles, the New 52 universe is gone and the DC returns to the "Heroic Age" status quo of the Post-Crisis universe.

Or anyway, that's what I hope happens.

Jer said...

but they really need to pull the plug on this Batman and... business and just re-title this book Batman: The Brave and The Bold if they're not going to resurrect Damian or give Tim Drake his old job back at the end of this arc.

Why? "Batman and ..." is just as good a name as "The Brave and the Bold" except for nostalgia reasons.

The only reason to cancel it and relaunch it with a new name is to goose sales OR if Tomasi leaves the book and a new writer comes on board. If Tomasi wants to write a Batman team-up book, then he should keep the name.

Also darn you Ty for making the obvious Secret Invasion/Dark Reign vs. Forever Evil/Injustice League comparison I was going to make (shakes fists)!

Caleb said...

Doron,

Oh, the costume's far from perfect, but given how hideous so many New 52 redesigns have been (all of the Teen Titans, The Metal Men, etc), I think Adam Strange got off okay.

Jer,

What I don't like about the Batman and... titling is that they're changing the title monthly now. So in April we get Batman and Wonder Woman #30, which implies that there's a #1-29, which there isn't. I don't think they need to reboot it, just change the name to Brave and the Bold or Batman Team-Up or Batman + or whatever. (Captain America and... similarly bugged the hell out of me).

I don't see the point of keeping the title/numbering as such if it's NOT going to revolve around Batman's relationship with Robin (which these Justice League team-ups seem to be doing).

I was assuming they would either resurrect Damian or make Harper Robin, but I guess they could always make Dick Grayson Nightwing again now that he's been outted...

Rev'd '76 said...

It's interesting to me that the three phrases of the Justice League being able to sustain a monthly title in my own lifetime were the New Jersey League during the early 80s, the Giffen / DeMattis JLI / JLE period, and the Morrison mad kaleidoscope of poptimism from the 90s. Since then the League just seems to teeter from one disaster / iteration to another with no real through-line, no story, virtually no human interest in the characters beyond who's been raped / betrayed / mindwiped.

The League is supposed to be DC's flagship, isn't it? It's really what the DCU is about. Much as I appreciate the Trinity concept, the League is the real representative in that respect. They had Zatanna, Black Canary, Sue Dibney, Tamara Fox... It wasn't about trying to shoehorn in a strong female lead for quota's sake, the ladies were always there. AND it was more prone to racial diversity. But that was old DC.

DurararaFTW said...

Thing is, we've already seen Earth-3 Joker. He was killed and more importantly, revealed to still be pretty evil. Everyone is evil on Earth-3, seems to be the theme. Luthor probably won't be an exception.

Caleb said...

Oh yeah. I totally read that issue with Earth-3's Joker. The wrapped up pieces of Richard Grayson in boxes and gave Evil Alfred his laugh, huh?

Hmmm...

Man, then I am stumped as to who that could be in the hood. Someone Owlman wants alive and who seems to be scheming with Superwoman (as is everyone else).