Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DC's June previews reviewed

Well, I'm either getting worse and worse at counting, or DC's getting less and less interested in tying the name of their line—"The New 52"—to the number of ongoing monthlies they're publishing. This month, I counted only 40; if you subtract the two limited series—Batman Eternal and Future's End—then it's down to 38.

You can check my math here; the biggest development I noticed overall was the launch of the Geoff Johns/John Romita Jr. Superman comic. As far as common threads, I see "DC Collectibles Bombshells variant cover by ANT LUCIA" appearing in a lot of the solicits.

The DC Collectibles Bobmshells are a line of those goofy, super-expensive statuettes/paperweights that the merchandising arms of various publishers release. The idea is casting various DC heroines as 1940s-style pin-ups, of the sort that might be on a calendar hanging in the barracks or painted on the side of an airplane. I'll be curious to see how they turn out, just to see how closely they're related to the comics they're covering. The site i09 has a few examples, as well as a list of all the books participating; some of those titles seem hard to "bombshell"-ize (Batman/Superman, Batman and Ra's al Ghul, Flash...Justice League United does have a female in the cast, but it's teenager Stargirl, and I'm not sure they'd wanna pose her in lingerie).


ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #14
Written by MAX LANDIS and FABIAN NICIEZA
Art by JOCK, PHIL HESTER and ERIC GAPSTUR
Cover by JOCK
On sale JUNE 25 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
The Joker’s in town...and he wants to meet Superman! Find out what happens next in this one-of-a-kind story from Chronicle writer Max Landis and legendary artist Jock (GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE)! Plus, don’t miss Clark Kent’s babysitting adventures as he looks after none other than Sugar and Spike!


Huh. I woulda put money on a Showcase Presents showcase of Sugar and Spike before they appeared in a comic book, and Phil Hester isn't one of the first artists that I would have thought of having draw Sugar and Spike. I'm interested to see the results.

Superman vs. The Joker stories can sometimes be pretty fun, too.


BATMAN: A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS HC
Written by BILL FINGER, EDMOND HAMILTON, JOHN BROOME, DENNIS O’NEIL, ARCHIE GOODWIN, STEVE ENGLEHART, MIKE W. BARR, DOUG MOENCH, GREG RUCKA, CHUCK DIXON, PAUL DINI, SCOTT SNYDER and others
Art by BOB KANE, DICK SPRANG, CARMINE INFANTINO, NEAL ADAMS, ALEX TOTH, MARSHALL ROGERS, FRANK MILLER, MICHAEL GOLDEN, ALAN DAVIS, JIM APARO, J.H. WILLIAMS III, GREG CAPULLO and others
Cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
Retrosolicit • On sale JULY 16 • 384 pg, FC, $39.99 US
This amazing Batman best-of collection includes stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #27, 83, 211, 216, 327, 359, 395, 442, 474, 574, 633, 711, 757 and 821, BATMAN #1, 49, 181, 497, BATMAN #2 (THE NEW 52), WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #94, DC SPECIAL SERIES #21 and BATMAN SPECIAL #1!
THE JOKER: A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS HC
Written by BILL FINGER, DENNIS O’NEIL, STEVE ENGLEHART, JOHN BYRNE, J.M. DeMATTEIS, CHUCK DIXON, GREG RUCKA, PAUL DINI, TONY S. DANIELS, SCOTT SNYDER and others
Art by BOB KANE, JERRY ROBINSON, JACK BURNLEY, DICK SPRANG, NEAL ADAMS, MARSHALL ROGERS, JOHN BYRNE, JIM APARO, JOE STATON, BRIAN STELFREEZE, TONY S. DANIEL, GREG CAPULLO and others
Cover by BRIAN BOLLAND
Retrosolicit • On sale JULY 16 • 384 pg, FC, $39.99 US
It’s the best of the Clown Prince of Crime in this new title featuring stories from BATMAN #1, 5, 25, 32, 85, 163, 251, 427, BATMAN #15 (THE NEW 52), DETECTIVE COMICS #64, 168, 180, 475, 476, 726, 741, 826, DETECTIVE COMICS #1 (THE NEW 52), WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #61, SUPERMAN #9 and BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #66.

DC released similar projects featuring Superman and his long-time love interest-turned wife-turned friend Lois Lane. Given Greg Hunter's recent reading of Batman: Death of the Family for The Comics Journal, I found it amusing that, looked at one way, these books suggest that The Joker is to Batman as Lois Lane is to Superman.

For the Joker cover, they're reusing Bolland's cover for an issue of the not terribly well regarded 2001 crossover Joker: Last Laugh which, as noted in my recent-ish review of a the most recent collection I could find, DC has changed the object in Joker's hand previously to reflect their changing logos. Now they've replaced the short-lived swooshing-bullet with...I don't know what that is. A black orb with a Bat-symbol, I guess...?

Kinda surprised they didn't go with the Bolland cover from The Killing Joke, or even from the sixth issue of Last Laugh:


BATMAN AND RA’S AL GHUL #32
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
...
On sale JUNE 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
“The Hunt for Robin” concludes! Batman has caught up to Ra’s al Ghul, and the battle for the bodies of Talia and Damian begins!


So, based on he cover, it looks like Ra's wants to toss Damian into a Lazarus Pit to resurrect him, and Batman's not down with that...?

The "rules" of the pits have changed quite a bit over the years, and I'm actually not at all sure how they work in the New 52. But if Damian's just recently died—and I'm not sure how much time is meant to have passed between his death and the events in this particular storyline, as Batman inter-book continuity tends to be messy, and easier to figure out once ongoing arcs like this have concluded—and the Pit can bring him back, only slightly crazier, well, is that really such a bad thing...?

Grown in some sort of robot womb and apparently artificially aged (He was ten-years-old during the New 52's "Year Five," and Batman couldn't possibly have met any al Ghuls any earlier than "Year One"), Damian's conception, gestation, birth and childhood were already pretty unnatural—would un-doing his death violate the laws of nature much more? (Particularly in the eyes of his grieving father?)

Also, if I'm remembering the conclusion of Batman Inc correctly, Batman and Alfred were the ones who buried Damian and his mom in the backyard. Where do you think they got that crazy child-sized coffin, and why did they pick that design?


BATMAN ETERNAL #9
Written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV, RAY FAWKES, JOHN LAYMAN and TIM SEELEY
Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH
On sale JUNE 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
As the weekly Batman epic continues, the questions continue to mount. In this issue, find out why Batman is in Hong Kong teaming up with Mr. Unknown!


The first of June's four issues features a member of Batman, Inc, wearing the costume from the Batman, Inc special. I had hoped that just because Batman, Inc dissolved and/or Bruce Wayne withdrew his funding, that most of those heroes would keep on hero-ing in their hometowns.

Hong Kong actualy had it's own version of Batman who, like many of the eventual members of Batman, Inc, actually predate Batman, Inc: The Dragon, from 2003 original graphic novel Batman: Hong Kong, by Doug Moench and Tony Wong.

Although wasn't Hong Kong the assigned territory of The Black Bat, aka Cassandra "Batgirl" Cain, pre-New 52...?


Here's your monthly reminder that Mike Allred is awesome.


BATMAN ‘66 MEETS GREEN HORNET #1
Written by KEVIN SMITH and RALPH GARMAN
Art by TY TEMPLETON
Cover by ALEX ROSS
...
On sale JUNE 4 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED E • Digital first
...
In 1967, television history was made when two masked crime fighters met in a historic crossover. Now, superstar filmmaker Kevin Smith and actor/comedian Ralph Garman join forces with artist Ty Templeton (BATMAN ’66) to bring these two iconic characters and their famous partners together again. Set in the continuity of that earlier team-up, Batman, The Green Hornet, Robin and Kato must go up against a very different General (formerly Colonel) Gumm. What crime could be so deadly as to force these rivals to put aside their differences and join forces again? And what surprise does Gumm have up his sticky sleeve?

Co-published with Dynamite Entertainment.


Huh. I have no idea who Ralph Garman is (although "actor/comedian" doesn't recommend him the way that, say, "comic book writer" might), and I can't imagine Smith's writing matching up with that of another co-writer all that well. Smith's Green Hornet writing was among the best, non-Clerks comics writing of his I had read, but, on the other hand, I can't imagine a Kevin Smith version of the TV Batman, so...I don't. Color me curious.

I'll be reading this issue for the Ty Templeton art, and will hopefully read the following five issues, provided the writing isn't so bad that I can't stand it (Like that of, say, Batman: The Widening Gyre).

I'm glad the book is being priced like a DC Comic ($2.99), rather than a Dynamite comic ($3.99).


BATWOMAN #32
Written by MARC ANDREYKO
Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
DC Collectibles Bombshells variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale JUNE 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
...
At last, Nocturna makes her presence in The New 52 known! And Batwoman must face her past when her former girlfriend from West Point comes to town!


I like the way the solicit starts with "At last," as if people have been waiting on pins and needles for Nocturna to make her New 52 debut.

Curious to see that Batwoman will have a "Bombshells" variant, as aside from her latex sheathe of a costume, DC has generally shied away from portraying this female character in a super-sexualized way (Although maybe that had more to do with the creators on the title than anything else).


BRIGHTEST DAY OMNIBUS HC
Written by GEOFF JOHNS and PETER J. TOMASI
Art by IVAN REIS, PATRICK GLEASON, ARDIAN SYAF, SCOTT CLARK, JOE PRADO and others
Cover by DAVID FINCH and SCOTT WILLIAMS
On sale AUGUST 20 • 696 pg, FC, 7.25” x 10.875”, $75.00 US
In this follow-up to BLACKEST NIGHT, twelve heroes and villains were resurrected by a white light expelled deep within the center of the earth. Now, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Deadman, Jade, Osiris, Hawk, Captain Boomerang and Zoom must discover the mysterious reason behind their return and uncover the secret that binds them all in this massive hardcover collecting issues #0-24 of the hit series!


Hey, DC Comics fans! Want to drop $75 on a 700-page hardcover in which superstar writer Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi and a handful of artists reinvent a half-dozen of your favorite character, setting up new directions for new titles, introduce Swamp Thing and John Constantine back in to the DCU and set up new directions that will impact the DC Universe for years to come...only to be immediately kneecapped by the New 52 relaunch, which rendered almost every single aspect of this comic irrelevant and out-of-continuity?


I like the cover for this month's issue of Constantine.


HARLEY QUINN #0 DIRECTOR’S CUT
Written by AMANDA CONNER, JIMMY PALMIOTTI and others
Art by AMANDA CONNER, JIM LEE, TONY S. DANIEL, WALTER SIMONSON, CHARLIE ADLARD, BRUCE TIMM, ADAM HUGHES, ART BALTAZAR, DARWYN COOKE, CHAD HARDIN, JEREMY ROBERTS and others
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
On sale JUNE 4 • 56 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
The sold-out, four-wall breaking issue that jump-started Harley’s bestselling new series is back! This special issue features a new cover by Amanda Conner, commentary by the writers and many of the superstar artists, plus unpublished material, top entries from the talent search, sketch material and more!


There are few things I find more annoying than the application of the phrase "Director's Cut" applied to a comic book, which doesn't have a director, and isn't "cut"/edited in the style that movies are.

Why, even the use of the expression "four-wall breaking" instead of "fourth-wall breaking" doesn't annoy me as much!


INFINITY MAN AND THE FOREVER PEOPLE #1
Written by DAN DIDIO and KEITH GIFFEN
Art and cover by KEITH GIFFEN and SCOTT KOBLISH
...
On sale JUNE 11 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
Four of the best students from New Genesis arrive on Earth to study and aid in the advancement of humanity – but they soon discover a darker purpose to their mission: a threat so great that it may bring the multiverse itself to its knees! The only thing that stands between them and total destruction is the mysterious entity known as the Infinity Man!

Don’t miss the start of this new series by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen, the team that brought you the over-the-top adventures of O.M.A.C.!


Oof. I don't even know what direction to go in with my response to this, there's so many possible directions.

#1: It's nice to see that everything at DC Comics is going so great that co-publisher Dan DiDio can take some time off to write an ongoing series.

#2: This is another piece of Jack Kirby's Fourth World mythology, which has been cut-up into a bunch of little pieces and passed out to various creators on various, unrelated titles throughout the publisher's New 52 line.

And so now we've had Geoff Johns and Jim Lee handle Darkseid, The Parademons and Boom Tubes in Justice League; Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and company handling Orion and Highfather in Wonder Woman; James Robinson, Nicola Scott, Tom Taylor and others handle Mister Miracle, Big Barda and Steppenwolf in Earth 2, Paul Levitz and Yildiray Cinar Desaad in Earth 2 #15.1 (which was an issue of Levitz's Worlds' Finest in all but name) and now The Forever People in their own, sure to be swiftly canceled book by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen.

That can't possibly be a good way to handle Kirby's character and their stories.

#3: If a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, then doesn't that make DiDio assigning himself a new book, knowing ahead of time that it's going to ship pre-canceled by issue #8; #12 if DC's lucky?

Not counting his participation in anthologies where he is hardly the main event, everything DiDio's written for DC has sold extremely poorly and ended up being canceled, from The Outsiders (a title which, to be fair, he was like the 15th writer on) to the critically-acclaimed but market-poison O.M.A.C. (among the very first New 52 titles to be canceled, making it only eight issues) to DC Universe Presents (DiDio wrote issues #6-#8 before the book featuring rotating creative teams on different characters was canceled with issue #19).

A title featuring those characters has about as much of a chance of survival in the current market as, say, The Green Team or The Movement...only it also has the handicap of having the one creator that every DC Comics reader with an Internet connection has agreed they are not too fond of attached to it.

With failure guaranteed, I have to assume this is simply an act of trademark renewal, but even then, why not assign this Fourth World-related book to one of the other teams already working on other elements of Kirby's Fourth Wolrd...?


In Justice League United, The Savage Hawkman dukes it out with a Lobo—but which of the three Lobos that DC has introduced into The New 52 is it? Apparently, the little one with glowing splotches that I think are supposed to be space tattoos...? I don't really remember his Villain's Month special issue, as it wasn't that great.


LARFLEEZE #12
Written by KEITH GIFFEN and J.M. DeMATTEIS
Art by SCOTT KOLINS
Cover by TYLER KIRKHAM
On sale JUNE 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T • FINAL ISSUE
With “help” from the Wanderer and G’nort, Larfleeze sets out to destroy the Council of Ten!

I'm no good at determining batting averages, as doing so combines my two worst subjects—sports and math—but as poorly as DiDio's writing might be received in the direct market, Keith Giffen ain't exactly batting a thousand either. This is a title that kinda sorta spun out of the Giffen-written Threshold series, after that was canceled with issue #8, and now it too is canceled.

I wonder if Larfleeze's death means that DC has found the upper threshold of how many Green Lantern books their fans will support. This was the fifth Lantern book, following Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians and Red Lanterns. I guess to find out though, we'll have to wait another six months or so, and see if any more Lantern books get cancelled, since DC is launching a Sinestro title, which will keep the Green Lantern franchise at a robust six books even without Larfleeze.


Uh-oh. I'm leery about New 52—Future's End in general, but the cover for issue #5 looks particularly troubling—Marvel's Cable is in it!


NIGHTWING VOL. 4: SECOND CITY TP
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art by BRETT BOOTH, NORM RAPMUND and WILL CONRAD
Cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale JULY 9 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US
After The Joker’s attack on the Bat-family, Nightwing finds himself in a new city with an unlikely ally, The Prankster. Together they are hunted by the mysterious Mask Killer while Dick tries to find the man who killed his parents, Tony Zullo. Collects NIGHTWING #19-24.


This trade chronicles Nightwing's time with the famed Chicago-based improvisational comedy troupe, I imagine.


SECRET ORIGINS #3
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI, MARC ANDREYKO and SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by MARTIN COCOLLO, TREVOR MCCARTHY and TYLER KIRKHAM
Cover by LEE BERMEJO
On sale JUNE 25 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Green Lantern takes center stage this month in a tale by Robert Venditti and Martin Cocollo! And don’t miss the origin of Batwoman by Jeremy Haun and Trevor McCarthy, and Red Robin’s origin, courtesy of Scott Lobdell and Tyler Kirkham!


Hmmm...They really seem to be erring on the side of having the most popular characters covered in this book, which makes a certain amount of sense, but, again, these are characters whose origins don't really need retold. Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Batwoman are among the only characters whose origins were completely unaffected by the New 52 reboot (In fact, the first story arc or so of New 52 Batwoman was already in the can before the relaunch), and while Red Robin Tim Drake's origin changed incredibly significantly due to the reboot, his origin has also already been told during DC's 2012 "Zero Month."


SUPERMAN #32
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and wraparound cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON
...
On sale JUNE 25 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
...
“THE MAN OF TOMORROW” chapter 1! A NEW ERA for SUPERMAN begins as Geoff Johns takes the reigns – and he’s joined by the legendary super-talent of John Romita, Jr. in his first-ever work for DC Comics as they introduce Ulysses, the Man of Tomorrow, into the Man of Steel’s life. This strange visitor shares many of Kal-El’s experiences, including having been rocketed from a world with no future. Prepare yourself for a run full of new heroes, new villains and new mysteries! Plus, Perry White offers Clark a chance to return to The Daily Planet!


I'm really bummed that this is a $4 comic, as I was really rather looking forward to it.

I'm very excited that Romita's at DC, even if it turns out to only be for a relatively short while, and I'm frankly a little surprised to see him drawing Superman instead of Batman, or Justice League, where he'd get a chance to draw more DC heroes. Romita's been in the field so long, and not drawing DC comics for so long, that I have to imagine there are a lot of people like me who can't wait to see him draw Aquaman and Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern and The Scarecrow and so on for the first time.

So here's hoping Johns fills his scripts with DCU guest stars...

Now if they'd only let JRJR do something about that costume...


TINY TITANS: RETURN TO THE TREEHOUSE #1
Written by ART BALTAZAR and FRANCO
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale JUNE 4 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED E
The Eisner Award-winning series is back for an all-new six-issue miniseries! Superboy and Supergirl return to the treehouse to discover…IT’S MISSING! Or is it just…really small? Who could have done such a thing?! Find out as all your favorite Tiny Titans search for answers!


I really missed this comic book when it was cancelled...right up until Baltazar and Franco launched Superman Family Adventures, anyway.

I'm glad it has come back, but I'm also glad it's going to be a miniseries: I'd like to see Baltazar and Franco work their magic on other characters throughout the DC catalog. I sure would love a Batman Family Adventures or Justice League Adventures or Legion of Super-Pets....

6 comments:

Rev'd '76 said...

John Romita Jr. would be THE man to redesign Supes properly.

Eric Lee said...

I much rather like the way JR JR draws the Superman Suit. The lines are pretty seemless with the shadows and not super distracting or busy.

Anthony Strand said...

I'm surprised Larfleeze made it this long. I'm a diehard Giffen/DeMatteis fan, and even I thought it was borderline unreadable.

Every single page of the first issue felt like recycled Manga Khan/L-Ron dialogue from Justice League International. Which was funny the first time, but not so much the fifth or sixth.

CalvinPitt said...

What's with the glowing blue lines on Lobo's face in that cover? Are they tattoos? Did hawkman cut him, and that's what Lobo's blood looks like?

SallyP said...

Well, I am looking forward to Tiny Titans. As for the rest of it...Um...hard to say.

I find Lobo annoying, but NEW Lobo is twice as annoying. And I too am a Giffen/DeMatteis fan, and I tried to give Larfleeze a chance, I really did. And it WAS unreadable!

ShadZ said...

I know Ralph Garman from one of Kevin Smith's podcasts, and I guess he is an actor and a comedian, but his day job is radio DJ. He's a pretty good impressionist (I love his Ed Wynn), but I didn't even know he did standup.

He loves the Batman TV show, and was instrumental in getting Adam West his Hollywood Star.