Monday, April 27, 2015

DC's July previews reviewed

The  theme for July's variant cover program is Teen Titans Go! variants, which means appearances by the Titans from the show and/or characters drawn in the style of the show (or something approaching the style). The above cover for July's issue of Justice League is a pretty good example; it's the Justice League, in their New 52 costumes, but in TTG style, and acting silly. One doesn't normally see Cyborg busting dance moves anywhere other than Teen Titans Go, after all (Which is at least parto f the reason why Teen Titans Go Cyborg is the best Cyborg).

The results are predictably pretty fun, although is another month in which the variant covers seem to belong on awesome comics that don't actually exist, and the stuff you'll find under those variants will be tonally and stylistically completely different. Unfortunately so, in many cases.

For a complete list of what DC plans to publish in July of this year, you can click here; for me talking about those solicitations, you need simply read on.

If this cover for July's issue of Action Comics isn't the single greatest comic book cover of all time, well, I'm having trouble thinking of a better one at the moment. It's by Dan Hipp, the art director for Teen Titans Go!, which goes a long way toward explaining why it (and Hipp's other contributions to this month's suite of variant covers), looks so much more Teen Titans Go!-ish than some of the others.

Art and cover by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale SEPTEMBER 9 • 224 pg, B&W, $34.99 US
This stunning unwrapped collection features the game-changing BATMAN: R.I.P., the story that led into Grant Morrison’s best-selling FINAL CRISIS. Batman is dead – and with him out of the picture, The Club of Villains begins a crime spree through the streets of Gotham City, while Batman’s allies attempt to keep order. This deluxe edition presents the art of Tony S. Daniel from issues #676-681 in pencil form.

I'm not a fan of Daniel's artwork at all, and was really irritated by this storyline, as it seemed like a good Grant Morrison script ruined by poor art. Like, there are scenes that just don't make sense, that aren't legible, from a visual storytelling perspective, and Morrison's not exactly a writer who writes for his collaborator, so if the artwork is less than 100% crystal clear, whole panels and pages just don't work right. That said, Daniel's art usually looks much better in straight pencils than once the coloring is added, so this might work a lot better than the original comics and collections did. I can't imagine that will impact the visual storytelling at all, but it certainly won't hurt it any.

Oh come now Corin Howell, did Bat-Mite really need New 52 Batman gauntlets...? I'm pretty sure that's one character who did not, and will never need, a costume update.

Art and cover by ANNIE WU
1:25 Variant cover by BABS TARR
On sale JULY 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
In the wake of their first major fight, Dinah’s realized that her new bandmates are completely unprepared to keep themselves alive in a scrap…so it’s time for a training montage! (Cue the squealing guitars!) Plus: Who is Bo Maeve, and why does she hate Black Canary so much?

I...don't actually have anythigng to say about this, other than that it looks and sounds awesome. Canary looks cool in a pink and white costume, although based on her face and hair color, and the fact that her bandmates are all yellow, I'm sure that's just an effect, and not, like a new costume or anything. I'm really hoping this book lives up to my high expectations for it.

Hey, both of these are great covers! Ben Caldwell draws the awesome TTG variant, while the great Kevin Wada draws the regular one. Actually, the Wada one is pretty good, but wouldn't it be better if he had Spoiler wearing a fancy, fashionable dress instead of her dumb new Spoiler costume? Wada draws nice fancy, fashionable dresses, and I'm sure he could give her one in lavender or purple.

Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale JULY 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The machine that gives Cyborg his powers is evolving! The only problem is that machine is his body and he has no idea what’s causing these changes!

The only of the founding members of the New 52 Justice League without a title of his own finally gets a title of his own. And, from the looks of it, a re-re-redesign. I'm not crazy about it, as from afar the color scheme and the lack of sleeves suggest New 52 Mr. Terrific, but it's certainly better than the Transformer-sized armor Jim Lee put him in way back in fall of 2011.

I hope this sells well, and I think the fact that DC put one of its higher-profile (and all around better) art teams on it means they hope it sells well as well, and are putting some effort into seeing it happen. I think the New 52 reboot kind of hobbles Cyborg in the same way it hobbled most of the characters better known as supporting characters or characters from ensemble books, as it divorced him from much of his history, and I for one don't really want to read a book about him crying about being half-robot or anything. Of course, as I said before, I'm so fond of the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go versions of Cyborg at this point, that I have a hard time reading about any other version and being able to maintain interest for long.

Speaking of which, is it weird that one of the only characters featured on Teen Titans Go! with their own title (the other being Starfire), doesn't have a Teen Titans Go! variant cover attached to their book...?

TEEN TITANS GO! Variant cover by DAN HIPP
On sale JULY 1 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will arrive in stores with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
The all-new Batman tries to find his place in Gotham City! But how can he manage his already uneasy relationship with the GCPD?

But I don't want to read about the all-new Batman and how he manages his uneasy relationship with the GCPD! I want to read about every Robin ever teaming up!

So, is it just me, or does Hipp's variant cover look like a much more compelling than that of We Are...Robin, which has an Everyone's-A-Robin premise, although a quite different one that that suggested by this cover?(I've been watching the first part of the second season of Teen Titans Go! on DVD this past week or so, and just watched the episode "The Best Robin," in which Robin teams up with three other Robins, and it was awesome. Part of me was of course stressed out that Damian and Tim Drake were conflated into a single character, and that there were two Dick Graysons, the Golden/Silver Age one and the current Teen Titans Go one, which is Dick with a version of Tim's original costume and hairstyle).

Maybe it's time Tim Drake launched a Robin, Incorporated initiative, and pulled alternate Robins from throughout The Multiverse to fill its ranks...

I really like Sonny Liew's cover for the second issue of Dr. Fate. It's the eyes and the lines around his helmet that make it, I think.

Art and cover by JORGE JIMENEZ
On sale JULY 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
After the shocking assassination of one of Earth-2’s most prominent leaders, humanity’s survivors struggle to believe their world can last. Can even Superman help build a society better than their previous world?


The solicitation copy seems to suggest that Earth-2 survived the events of World's End, but, well, that  book ended with a huge swathe of the population fleeing the planet as Apokolips encased that Earth like an orb-shaped iron maiden.

The cover image seems to suggest that they're going to build a new Earth-2 though, on the planet Telos, where Convergence is set, which seems like a pretty plausible conclusion to that series, actually.

Nice. I hate Flash's lightning brows, of course, and I think the execution could be slightly better, but it's a strong gag, and the fact that there's wordless "dialogue" is clever.

On sale SEPTEMBER 23 • 200 pg, FC, $24.99 US • MATURE READERS
“A long time ago, I wrote the first part of a story, and waited to find out how it middled, then worked with Jamie Delano and Alisa Kwitney on the end. For years people have asked how and when they could read all the story of The Children’s Crusade. I’m glad to say that it’s now been retooled and refinished, and is something both old and new – a forgotten jewel and a new delight.”—Neil Gaiman
For the first time ever, the two-issue miniseries THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE, written by Neil Gaiman, Alisa Kwitney and Jamie Delano, is collected – and with them, a new chapter written by Toby Litt that completes the tale as Gaiman originally envisioned it.

When several children go missing in a small English town, the Dead Boy Detectives are on the case. A series of strange and unexpected twists takes them to Free Country, a place that dates back a millennium, where children never grow old and are free from the abuse and tyranny of adults. But Free Country is failing, and what it needs is the strength of five innately powerful children – including the young sorcerer Timothy Hunter – to restore their uncanny world to what it once was.
This hardcover collects THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #1 and THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #2, written by Gaiman with cowriters Alisa Kwitney and Jamie Delano. A brand-new middle chapter written by DEAD BOY DETECTIVES novelist Toby Litt and drawn by artist Peter Gross (THE BOOKS OF MAGIC, THE UNWRITTEN) completes this compelling tale of ancient history, stolen dreams and lost children. It also features a new introduction by Gaiman, plus new cover art by artist Mark Buckingham (FABLES, DEAD BOY DETECTIVES).

Hmm. This sounds unusual. Originally produced as the Vertigo equivalent of the event stories that that used to run through the summer annuals of the DCU superhero line at the time, The Children's Crusade story/event featured a two-part bookend series, with tie-in annuals of all the other Vertigo series of the time (Swamp Thing, Animal Man, The Books of Magic, etc), focusing on the children or young characters in those comics (Tefe, Maxine, Tim Hunter, etc). It was one of the few instances of a suggestion of a shared "Vertigo Universe" of the time, in which the books definitely tied in to one another, but not the DC Universe (as a teenager myself at the time reading books like Robin and Superboy, I remember wishing more DC characters were incorporated, as it was such a good premise).

For this collection, they seem to be excising all of the tie-ins and adding something new to replace them, which, as I said, is say the least. I'd be curious to read it...after I reread the original (I think I have most of the tie-ins), to see how they differ. If I recall correctly, many of the characters from the other books play at least small roles in the beginning and ending, in which case their individual chapters would seem to be somewhat important, but I guess it depends on what they do in that middle chapter. They're all rather prominently featured on the cover, anyway.

Those super-curious abut this project should probably be advised that those annuals, like most Vertigo comics of the period, can be easily found in many a discount back-issue bin.

I like the gag of this cover to July's issue of Green Lantern quite a bit...I just wish they were all colored right, with the Titans in all-green versions of their costumes (Robin's still wearing red and yellow) and Raven wearing a yellow cloak.

Bizarre choice for a cover image serving as the image summarizing 75 years of Green Lantern stories, which I imagine will cover at least Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner, a bunch of the alien GLs in supporting roles in the stories of the others, and maybe Simon Baz. I know there are fairly nice images of at least four of those dudes together, while The Indigo Tribe and Larfleeze aren't exactly major players in the Green Lantern mythos over the course of the last 75 years or anything.

 Regardless, these collections are always a lot of fun, in part for the stories they contain and in part for sussing out what's in there, what's not and why those choices might have been made. And, of course, second-guessing those choices and imaging your own version of such a book.

Harley Quinn is the rare book where both of the covers are pretty good and pretty funny (or at least fun-looking) this month. In fact, the non-TTG cover featuring Popeye Captain Strong is probably the more fun-looking of the two, which is remarkable.

WTF? Surely Beast Boy should be a green Great Dane cradled in Cyborg's arms as the two shiver in fright (or vice versa), rather than a corgi? Please see the cover of Scooby-Doo Team-Up below for reference. That's the TTG variant for Gotham By Midnight, by the way. The kid in the green coat is apparently meant to be a chibi version of Jim Corrigan, which doesn't quite work, as he looks to be a teenager rather than a grown-up, but whatever.

This TTG variant for Grayson is conspicuously Teen Titans free, but I like seeing the TTG version of Batgirl, who has had a few interesting appearances in the show, from what I've seen.

Written by DAN ABNETT
Cover by GENE HA
On sale AUGUST 5 • 208 pg, FC, $14.99 US
Based on the hit videogame INFINITE CRISIS, the cosmos-spanning series is now available in print! In an alternate Earth, Atomic Two-Face has stolen the Eternal Key, an artifact that could give him the power to level a universe! The heroes of every Earth in the universe must band together to stop him. Arcane Green Lantern, Gaslight Catwoman, Atomic Wonder Woman and Nightmare Robin are only a few of the millions of alternate versions of our heroes and villains who will play a part in this universe spanning adventure. Collects issues #1-6 of the new series!

Given my previous experiences with based-on-videogames-I've-never-played adaptations from DC, I'm assuming this will be an absolute mess visually (the number of artists involved and the fact I know few of them draw anything like one another seems to back this up). And based on previous based-on-videgoames-I've-never-played adaptations from DC and manga publishers, I'm assuming I'll have a hard time even making heads-or-tails of this.

I'm still interested in reading it. The synopsis sounds pretty insane--and pretty familiar to Convergence, doesn't it? At least in the sense that characters from different realities are banding together and/or opposing one another--and I'm sure I've read (or at least tried to read) worse.

As a non-gamer who is curious about these games, be they the Batman Arkham games or the Lego stuff, because the characters involved, I'd be totally cool reading somewhat straight adaptations of them (Although the pattern seems to be to create prequels and suchlike to the stories of the games for the Arkham business....and to not make Lego comics at all).

See J'onn, this is why you're always getting your ass kicked. Why are you using your fists against Superman? Dude's as strong and as invulnerable as you; probably a little more so. Use your telepathy and attack his mind, you fool!

Art and cover by ACO
1:25 Variant cover by KEVIN WADA
On sale JULY 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
Marina Lucas woke up this morning as a suburban martial-arts instructor…but when God Garden tech unexpectedly falls into her lap, she’ll end the day as the deadliest woman on the planet! That’s bad news for her – and worse for the Midnighter!

I still think this book would get a lot more attention--and stave off cancellation longer--if rather than the prosaic title of Midnighter, it was called Midnighter: The Gay Batman

Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale JULY 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
When peace talks between two rival nations are threatened, the call goes out to the ultra-top-secret International Sneaky Service’s number one agent: Secret Squirrel! And since the thing threatening the talks is a medieval ghost, the call also goes out to the not-so-secret Scooby gang!

Secret Squirrel? If there's a more unpredictable series, I'd sure like to know what it is. So I can start reading it.

Written by GARTH ENNIS
On sale JULY 8 • 32 pg, FC, 2 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T+
It’s Green Lantern’s turn in the barrel as Sixpack’s quest for the eighth Section Eighter continues. But what does GL himself think about all this? Why is Sixpack hearing voices? And can Bueno Excellente really have found love? Find out in part two of the miniseries the creative team themselves are calling an unprecedented masterpiece.

It's a rare instance in which I wouldn't be happy to see an Amanda Conner cover, but this is one of 'em. Hitman-related comics without Jim McCrea covers are an abomination. Ab abomination, I say!

Art and cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON
On sale JULY 22 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The Superman epic you never expected – “TRUTH” continues! Has Lois Lane betrayed Superman with the truth?

I remain perplexed as to why DC decided to launch a Superman run by Gene Yuen Lang--one of the biggest names in comics at the moment, if not within direct market superhero comic books-- during a multi-book, multi-writer crossover...let alone one that runs for (at least?) two months.

Awesome cover on this one, though; it really makes me wish the interiors were going to be anything at all like some of the more fun covers, although DC is trying some comedy books this summer, including Bizarro and Bat-Mite.

You know the only problem with Sean Galloway*'s TTG variant for Superman/Wonder Woman? Superman did not order Superman ice cream. Perhaps he's too modest to order the ice cream flavor named after him though; I guess I could see that.

Hey, Ben Caldwell drew the best--i.e. most tolerable--version of The New 52 Red Robin costume yet seen! That Ben Caldwell is the best. This cover is a pretty great illustration in the gulf of design quality between the Teen Titans on TV and the Teen Titans in DC's current comics line, too. I mean, just compare those Ravens (The New 52 Raven is the one with her head stuck in a hollowed-out cabbage, if you couldn't tell, because why on Earth would you suspect that was supposed to be Raven?).

The best-selling BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE line of statues continues with this finely detailed statue of Arkham's most adorably insane inmate, Harley Quinn—based on the original design for the character by co-creator Paul Dini!
Limited Edition of 5,200
Measures Approximately 7" Tall
$79.95 US • On Sale November 2015 * Allocations May Occur

I thought this was a typo at fist glance, as Paul Dini is primarily known in comics circles as a writer rather than an artist, but I suppose it shouldn't com as a surprise that an animation producer can draw well enough to design characters. His Harley Quinn looks a lot more like the Golden Age Green Lantern villain Harlequin than the one that co-creator Bruce Timm ultimately put in the show.

*Sorry, I can't bring myself to call him "Cheeks".


JohnF said...

You should be the Martian Manhunter's fighting coach. Then he'd finally win a battle or two.

Jer said...

As far as "Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse" goes - I read it digitally because I'm a sucker for multiverse books, Multiversity hadn't started yet, and I like Dan Abnett's writing in general.

It's not quite what I expected from a video game tie-in. It's mostly played as a straight team-up book with various alternate characters teaming up to help Nix Uotan fight some multiversal threats. It's been fun if you like the core idea.

As far as the art goes - it's a good question. The art seemed fine in individual chunks, but I know it varied from chapter to chapter and I doubt it will look as good reproduced in a single collection. (Plus DC's digital comics all have the same problem for me when collected - I can tell that they're originally half-page pages that have been stacked onto the page together. The visual sameness of the format starts to get to me after a while since there's basically a horizontal line right across the page that forces my eyes to see it every time. It's probably my odd tic and no one else notices, but it bugs me whenever I read a Legends of the Dark Knight or Adventures of Superman collection...)

Nick Ahlhelm said...

I'm not sure if "Truth" is really a traditional crossover in the Superman books. Usually DC numbers these kinds of things and here it seems to just be the thematic similarity of Superman dealing with his new status quo.

But I could totally be wrong about that, as we're still over a month away from them.

SallyP said...

I've gotta say...those are some really snazzy covers. If only the interiors were as good!