Monday, October 20, 2014

DC's January previews reviewed

This coming January DC will once again have a theme to their many, many variant covers, and it will be focused not by artist, as will be the case with Darwyn Cooke's December variants, but by subject matter: The Flash.

Next year is apparently the Scarlet Speedster's 75th anniversary, so DC is celebrating by having The Flash appear on variant covers throughout the month. Interestingly, the bulk of those covers seem to consist of The Flash running "on-screen" of a classic DC cover of some sort, essentially photo-bombing—or should that be cover-bombing?—famous DC covers.

In almost every single case, the version of The Flash that is depicted is the New 52 version of the Barry Allen Flash, with the zig-zagging seams of his costume emanating from his face and torso, making his costume look a bit like some sort of dark red citrus fruit that an be peeled in sections. By contrast, the characters he interacts with tend to be dressed in their original, mostly Silver Age costumes.

Take, for example, Michael Allred's awesome image of the original Teen Titans above (following Cooke's Teen Titans variant from December, which depicts that iteration of Titans as a rock band, that's two months in a row the original characters in their original costumes, appear on variant covers. Maybe that's the team that should star in the next Teen Titans reboot). Or Tony Harris' recreation of the famous Justice League vs. Starro image from 1960's Brave and the Bold #28, which features the other four characters in their Silver Age costumes, while The Flash is in his New 52 costume (also, they're fighting the giant alien starfish in the middle of a city, instead of at sea, for some reason).

The Bat-books seem to have had the most fun with the idea:

Aaron Lopresti, forgetting Babs' purse (and WTF is up with the the thumbs-up?)

Dave Bullock, who should really draw more comics.

Tony S. Daniel

Thinking of what Grant Morrison has his characters discussing in The Multiversity, regarding every comic book being a window to a different world, this really works for The Flash in a way it might not for other, non-Deadpool characters, as one of The Flash's Silver Age gimmicks is, of course, his ability to vibrate his molecules at different speeds in order to travel to different dimensions/realities.

Of course, it probably should be the Silver Age Barry Allen on the cover rather than the New 52 Barry Allen, but whatever. There are some nice images generated. (Although, now that I think about it, celebrating The Flash's 75th anniversary is a lot different than celebrating Superman's, Batman's, Wonder Woman's or Captain Marvel's, as "The Flash" isn't one character like the others, but those 75 years consist of years of Jay Garrick as The Flash, then Allen, then Wally West, then Barry Allen again...and some years where two or all three of them were The Flash;"The Flash" is a codename, color scheme and power set more than a character.)

Anyway, to see a bunch of other DC Comics covers—those featuring The Flash and those not featuring The Flash—you can check out the publisher's solicitations for their January-shipping books here. To see a bunch of words I wrote about those covers and solicitations, don't go anywhere.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Cover by IVAN REIS
On sale JANUARY 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Can the Others survive the combined onslaught of Cheshire, The KGBeast and The NKVDemon? Or will the sins of one member’s past finally destroy the team?

Did you bet a friend that a second Aquaman book, co-starring the lackluster super-characters Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis introduced in their second story arc on the main Aquaman book, wouldn't make it past eight issues? If so, then you my friend just lost a bet.

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by DAVE BULLOCK
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The team of Batman and Robin are together again! But what is the new dynamic for this crimefighting duo now that Damian has super powers of his own?

So who were you guessing would be the next Robin? Carrie Kelly? Tim Drake? Harper Row? Duke Thomas? Stephanie Brown? Julia Pennyworth? A resurrected Damian? Chris Kent? Well, it is apparently one of them! (That link, and the next paragraph, contain spoilers, I guess...if the reveal isn't a red herring, of course).

And the one it turns out to be is...the most obvious one, at least given how much time Batman and Robin writer Peter J. Tomasi invested in devoting just about every issue of the book since Damian's death to Batman trying to get Damian back in one form or another. I've always assumed that Grant Morrison planned out his story with Damian dying at the conclusion, so that DC could essentially reset the Batman franchise back to where it was before Morrison took over the Batman title (that is, with Tim Drake resuming the role of Robin), but Morrison ended up staying a lot longer than he originally intended...and Damian ended up proving a lot more popular than one might expect Batman's long-lost, 10-year-old son would be. Hell, he even survived the New 52 reboot, which included a timeline so compressed that even with some super-science bullshit about a sped-up aging process still doesn't leave a lot of room for Damian to exist in.

This is the Ivan Reis-drawn cover to Batman Eternal #42, featuring the debut (not counting the flash-forward, actual debut) of Harper Row in her terrible, terrible, godawful, stupid-looking Bluebird costume.

For some reason, she fights crime using a big-ass, almost Cable-sized gun, despite Batman being completely 100% anti-gun.

Anyway, I just put that there to note that January should be the best-drawn month of Batman Eternal yet, as it will feature two issues by Joe Quinones, one by David Lafuente and another by Juan Jose Ryp. They are all talented artists...but I don't think any of them are talented enough to make the Bluebird costume look good. Perhaps it was designed to draw some of the criticism away from Red Robin's terrible, terrible, godawful stupid-looking costume...?

Written by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale JANUARY 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Slade’s journey into his past takes an unexpected turn, leading him to Gotham City – and Harley Quinn!

Based on how surprisingly hight sales on Harley Quinn have been, maybe DC should have tried launching this book, the second stab at a Deathstroke monthly since late 2011, as Deathstroke/Harley Quinn. If Superman and Wonder Woman can share a book, why can't these two...?

Daniels's figure work on Harley and her extra accessories are cool, but I find it highly amusing that, not content with the weird angle of the rooftop to hid their feet and lower legs, Harley and Deastroke apparently also brought a smoke machine with them.

Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by HOWARD PORTER
On sale JANUARY 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The all-new, all-murderous Flash is posing as Barry Allen while the real Scarlet Speedster is trapped in the Speed Force!

Fun idea for the Howard Porter's Flash variant, although I'm not sure why New 52 Flash seems to be attempting to catch the girder instead of move the poor guy about to get squashed by it. Your power is super-speed, not super-strength, Flash!

Also, it's nice to see Jay Garrick, the version of The Flash who actually debuted 75 years or so ago, on at least one of these Flash variants, instead of Barry (who debuted in 1956, less than 60 years ago).

Written by TIM SEELEY and TOM KING
Art and cover by MIKEL JANIN
On sale JANUARY 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s the battle you never thought you’d see, as Grayson goes toe to toe with the Midnighter!

Well given that I saw Grayson go toe to toe with the Midnighter in Grayson #1, I'm actually not the least bit surprised that they will be battling again in the book's sixth issue.

This is the regular cover to Justice Leaguer Dark #38, but Guillem March, who should stop drawing covers and start drawing more Batman Eternal interiors. When I first saw the cover from far away (i.e. before clicking on it to embiggen it), I thought the character at the center was some weird amalgamated version of Black Canary and Huntress, but I see that it's actually Zatanna's new costume, which mixes her original magician's assistant look with that of her later, lamer superhero costume.

Check out the line work on that...whatever it is that they're all swirling about in.

This is the Flash variant to that same issue, by Kelley Jones. I find it interesting not only because I love Kelley Jones (but I do love Kelley Jones...or his art, at least. Never met the guy), but because while Jones is one of the first artists I would consider were I picking an artist to draw Swamp Thing, he's also one of the last guys I would consider were I picking an artist to draw The Flash. So nice to see him do a Flash/Swampy team-up on the cover, then.

On sale JANUARY 21 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED T
The guidebook to the greatest adventure in DC’s history is here! With a detailed concordance featuring each of the 52 worlds in the Multiverse, a complete history of DC Comics’ universe-shattering “Crisis” events, a map of all known existence, AND an action-packed dual adventure starring Kamandi of Earth-51 alongside the post-apocalyptic Atomic Knight Batman of Earth-17 and chibi Batman of Earth-42, this 80-page mountain of MULTIVERSITY madness cannot be missed!

The MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK contains everything you ever wanted to know about DC’s parallel worlds and their super-heroic inhabitants. Meet the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R. The Light Brigade, the Super-Americans and the Love Syndicate! Meet the Accelerated Man, Aquaflash, BiOmac and more! Overflowing with today’s top artists and completely written by Grant Morrison himself, readers of the DC Universe can’t afford to pass up this oversized, sixth chapter of MULTIVERSITY!

This seems like the sort of book I don't see much any more, certainly not from DC, and, if Marvel still publishes them, I haven't noticed one since around Civil War or so. DC used to publish a line of over-sized comics they called Secret Files and Origins, generally about once a year for each franchise, and each big event got one too (DC One Million, Joker's Last Laugh, Our Worlds At War, etc). Those were usually a mixture of pin-ups with text about characters and a few short comics-format stories of various length.

The above solicitation makes it sound like it will have at least one comics story (the Batman team-up), and I suppose if there's anyone that can make "a complete history of DC Comics' universe-shattering 'Crisis' events" make a lick of sense post-New 52, Morrison would be the one.

The $8 price tag sounds insanely high to me—at that point, you're no more than $2.99 away from a 200-page collection of manga—but it's not really all that much more than the regular issues of Multiversity. The fact that this is all written by Morrison is certainly a bonus, and that's a damn impressive line-up of artists.

Written by WALTER SIMONSON and others
On sale MARCH 25 • 688 pg, FC, $75.00 US
Legendary writer/artist Walter Simonson takes on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World! These tales star the heroes and villains of the Fourth World as Darkseid seeks the Anti-Life Equation and Orion battles to stop him! Collects ORION #1-25 and stories from JACK KIRBY’S FOURTH WORLD #9-11 and 13!

These are some pretty damn good comics here, and some of the best New Gods comics not by creator Jack Kirby you'll find. I'm pretty sure you can assemble your own collection of these for less than $30 if you don't mind hunting back-issue bins (that's how I assembled my run of Orion), but then, I guess you're paying the $75 to not have to look in back-issue bins, huh?

Well, now I know what a Bryan Hitch drawing of Swamp Thing would look like, thanks to the solicitation for Secret Origins #9.

Written by GAIL SIMONE
On sale JANUARY 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
What is Catman’s strange secret – and how will it affect this new team? Find out in the second sensational issue of SECRET SIX!

Huh. That's strange. I simultaneously like and dislike this new Catman costume. It's a cool-looking costume for a cat-based villain, but it's a terrible costume for Catman, whose previous costumes—all of 'em, save maybe the out-of-continuity Legends of the Dark Knight one—are better. It certainly hints at a radically revised origin, as there's no hint of Batman inspiration to it, and no cape, which may mean he no longer has that magical cloth that his old cape was fashioned from.

That's a pretty striking cover image though; it's going to be one of those that, like March's Justice League Dark cover, you hate to see them put a logo, issue number and credits on.

On sale MARCH 4 • 400 pg, FC, $39.99 US
DC Comics celebrates the World’s Mightiest Mortal in this new collection starring Captain Marvel and his extended crimefighting family: Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, Tawky Tawny and more, plus villains Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind, Black Adam and others!

Really looking forward to this...although I don't know how much they really need include after the Binder and Beck stuff...

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and wraparound cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON
On sale JANUARY 28 • 40 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
An extra-sized special issue of the world’s greatest hero brings in the New Year with a new costume, new powers and new friends and enemies! The epic team of Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson conclude their first arc with twist after twist that will send Superman onto a new path and force Clark Kent to making a shocking decision! Plus: John Romita Jr. draws Batman!

"New costume"...? Could this be the long-awaited return of Superman's red shorts? Is he ditching the nanotech armor in order to start dressing like Superman again? It looks like we'll have to wait until January to find out, but even if this is just the New 52 version of the Electric Superman saga, it should still be worth checking out, if only just to see John Romita Jr. draw more DC stuff, like the fellow mentioned in the last sentence (And, honestly, the book has been pretty good ever since the new team took over).

You get two choices for the cover of Superman/Wonder Woman #15. One features The Flash impishly tying Superman and Wonder Woman up in her magical lasso of truth (note that this is a rare example of all of the characters in a Flash variant being in their New 52 costumes). The other features Superman impaled to a wall behind a sword-wielding Wonder Woman, with both character's feet hidden by rubble.

Unfortunately, while you may get to pick which cover you want, the contents of the issue will be the same underneath each, and presumably fall closer to that of the second cover than that of the Reis-drawn one.

THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
On sale JANUARY 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The fight for the soul of the Teen Titans continues as S.T.A.R. Labs and the team find themselves bonding over a new common enemy, just as the Titans bring in a new member: Power Girl.

Does anyone else think it's weird that we're only about three years into the deck-clearing, continuity de-confusing New 52 reboot, and we've already got two Power Girls, one of whom has already changed costumes at least twice (not counting her Supergirl costume, as she was Supergirl from a parallel Earth...or parallel Krypton, I guess)...?

So here's a pretty perfect illustration of how far Wonder Woman has fallen over the decades. In the Terry and Rachel Dodson Flash variant, we see New 52 Flash cover-bombing the classic cover of Wonder Woman #155 (not sure why he looks so damn serious in the close-up image, though). That's gotta be one of the all-time great weirdest Wonder Woman covers, of the sort it hardly matters what the story attached to it actually entails (Also? I kind of love the ballerina slipper-style foot-wear).

As for the regular cover, it is drawn by interior artist David Finch, and features Wonder Woman as the pupil-less Greek goddess of war (that's her war goddess get-up; she inherited the job after War died), splattered with bloody sword cock at the reader.

I like that Finch has seen fit to splatter her cleavage with blood too, as nothing says Everything Wrong With Comics to me quite as eloquently as the blood-splattered breasts of a superheroine.


SallyP said...

These light-hearted Flash covers are just the bee's knees!

Anonymous said...

although I don't know how much they really need include after the Binder and Beck stuff...

I hope they get at least one of Bob Oksner's Mary Marvel stories in there, because hubba hubba.

Anonymous said...

"Blood-Spattered Breasts of a Superheroine" would be a great band name.

Caleb said...


I was half-kidding. A lot of other folks did produce a lot of great Marvel Family stuff. Like, I will be shocked if there isn't at least one Mac Raboy Captain Marvel Jr story in there, for example.