Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DC's September previews reviewed

The theme for DC's variant covers this month is Green Lantern, in honor of Martin Nodell's character's 75th anniversary (The original, Alan Scott iteration of the character first appeared in All-American Comics #16 in 1940). So as they've previously done with Batman, The Joker and The Flash, there are variant covers guest-starring Green Lantern throughout the publisher's line in September. Noticeably, the vast majority of the Green Lanterns appearing on the variant are the Hal Jordan version of the character (created in 1959); I only spotted two appearances of Scott (one of which is the variant for Green Lantern #44 by Howard Chaykin, above), and no appearances of the other major Earth Green Lanterns from throughout the past 75 years (Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Simon Baz...the latter of whom I haven't seen anywhere in a long time now).

Something else to look for this month are the price tags and page-counts on the books. DC is apparently joining the Marvel bandwagon in an attempt to drive more and more people out of the serially-published comic book market and into trades, as more and more titles reach the $3.99/22-page price point.

They do still have quite a few $2.99 comics, and these tend to be their new ones or newer ones, and comics without the built-in, guaranteed audiences of Batman or Justice League comics (Marvel similarly started out with just their biggest books at $3.99, like the various Avengers books of the time), so it looks like DC is actually incentivzing trying their new series out. That seems pretty smart on their part, although it's well worth noting that if you're a Batman fan who's spending an extra $3 a month on Batman, Detective Comics and Batman/Superman, you're not going to have the $3 you'd need to try out We Are...RObin or Robin: Son of Batman...let alone Dr. Fate.

That said, DC does seem more committed to reasonably priced comics than their major rival, as Marvel is down to just three $2.99 comics, only one of which is part of their main superhero universe (Ms. Marvel).

Still, the way in which DC rolled out the increased price points seems pretty sneaky; they took two months off for Convergence, the tie-ins for which were priced at $3.99 but did offer extras in an attempt at compensation (those unintelligibly scrambled wikipedia entries in the backs of month one's offerings, and then the eight-page preludes to their post-Convergence comics in their month two books), and when the "regular" books all returned, most of them had the new, inflated price points.

The Twix ads further masked the change, as it spread a single page of comics content over two pages, so that the books all looked at least a page longer than they were.

Fie. Fie I say to $3.99 comics!

At any rate, you can see the solicitations for all of the comics and suchlike that DC plans to publish in September here, and you can read my blathering about many of them by staying right where you are.

Okay, I give up. Why does Superman have a red force-field akin to the Green Lantern Corps' green forcefields on Neil Edwards' GL variant cover for Action Comics? I don't see a Red Lantern ring on his finger, and if he was wearing one, he'd also be vomiting blood while he flew, right?


Francis Manapul's GL variant cover for this month's issue of Aquaman is pretty dope.


BATMAN ‘66 #27
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art by SCOTT KOWALCHUK
Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
On sale SEPTEMBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Riddle me this: What kind of ring isn’t round? A wrestling ring, of course. This issue, Batman finds himself in the middle of a rigged contest. The Caped Crusader pursues The Riddler south of the border and encounters half of a terrifying tag team: the masked menace known only as Bane! All this, and Batgirl too!


We've seen more and more Batman comics characters being introduced into the Batman '66-iverse, with Clayface and Solomon Grundy appearing in the last issue published, but I honestly didn't expect to see Bane, who isn't a very Silver Age character, like, at all. Allred sells it on his cover though, and I'm looking forward to seeing if and how Jeff Parker and Scott Koawalchuk pull of Bane '66.


BIRDS OF PREY VOL. 1 TP
Written by CHUCK DIXON and JORDAN GORFINKEL
Art by GARY FRANK, MATT HALEY, DICK GIORDANO, GREG LAND and others
Cover by MATT HALEY and WADE VON GRAWBADGER
On sale OCTOBER 7 • 296 pg, FC, $19.99 US
In BLACK CANARY/ORACLE: BIRDS OF PREY #1, BIRDS OF PREY: REVOLUTION #1, BIRDS OF PREY: MANHUNT #1-4, BIRDS OF PREY: WOLVES #1, BIRDS OF PREY: BATGIRL #1 and SHOWCASE ‘96 #3, Oracle must help Catwoman take down a Catwoman impersonator, Black Canary invades Santa Prisca to stop a slavery ring, and Black Canary pursues a felon with secrets that could be deadly, and more.


At almost 300-pages for $20, this seems like a hell of a deal, and these are comics that I think a lot of people would have liked to read in trade form for a very long time, but have been sadly unavailable. Gail Simone's run of BOP, and those of the writers who followed her on the series, have long been available in trade, but the original adventures of the character? Not so much.

By the way, if you only know Greg Land from his Marvel work, don't let his name as one of the four named artists scare you away from this book; this was back when Land was drawing, really drawing, his comics. I can't remember how good his work was now, but I know it didn't look anything at all like the weird, stiff, airbrushed-over magazine photos thing he's been doing for...God, a decade now? Longer?


BIZARRO #4
Written by HEATH CORSON
Art and cover by GUSTAVE DUARTE
On sale SEPTEMBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED E
Cigam! Look out Zatanna—you’re about to meet your match in backwards magic spells when Bizarro and Jimmy break up your act in Branson, Missouri!


Backwards Superman Bizarro and backwards-dialogue speaking Zatanna are such a perfect compliment to one another–I know I've previously coupled the pair together when talking about characters that are perfect for the comics medium that don't operate as well outside of their home environment–that pairing them seems obvious. That said, I don't think I've ever seen them in the same story together before, interacting with one another, and while I've noticed the similarity of their relationship to appearing in printed comics, I've never thought of pairing them before either. So good job, Heath Corson!


BATMAN/SUPERMAN #24
Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES
GREEN LANTERN 75 Variant cover by DAVE BULLOCK
On sale SEPTEMBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
The epic “Truth” arc reaches its finale as Superman discovers the true fate of Batman and makes a fateful decision.


You know the number one problem with DC Comics at the moment? Dave Bullock doesn't have an ongoing monthly, and thus there isn't more Dave Bullock art on a more regular bases.

I wonder what the "fateful decision" regarding the "true fate of Batman" will be? Maybe Superman will move into the Batcave, done Batman's costume and become the new Batman...?


BLACK CANARY #4
Written by BRENDEN FLETCHER
Art by PIA GUERRA
Cover by ANNIE WU
GREEN LANTERN 75 Variant cover by EVAN “DOC” SHANER
On sale SEPTEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
Guest artist Pia Guerra (Y: THE LAST MAN) joins the series! Dinah is on the hunt for her kidnapped guitarist, Ditto, and when she finds the person responsible, you better believe she’ll make them pay! Also: Uncover the secret of the band’s former singer, and how she plans to exact revenge on them for kicking her out!


Fuck yeah, Pia Guerra! This is one of those comics where I don't really want to see people other than the regular artist drawing it...until they announce a fill-in artist, and it turns out to be someone totally awesome, like Pia Guerra.

As for regular artist Annie Wu, I like the way she draws Black Canary's "costume," so that she's always wearing her signature fishnets and black, but various versions of the familiar outfit. Also, the mic stand as weapon? Awesome.


Cute idea for a Catwoman GL variant. It would be cuter still if all of the cats had GL rings on their tales and were flying around in adorable little Green Lantern uniforms with little green masks on, but it's not bad.


Cliff Chiang's GL variant cover features a "First Appearance" Batman teaming up with the original Green Lantern, now with buttons! As with many of these variants, and the variants DC publishes in general, the stories suggested by them seem a lot more interesting than what's underneath them (Here, for example, the story is about The Joker's Daughter in conflict against the new Batman, Bullock and Montoya).


Things That Should Not Be: Jay Garrick with a faux-hawk. Oh, and I guess he's drinking awfully heavily for Jay Garrick, but still, that's nothing compared to the faux pas of his faux-hawk...


GRAYSON ANNUAL #2
Written by TOM KING and TIM SEELEY
Art by ALVARO MARTINEZ and RAUL FERNANDEZ
Cover by MIKEL JANIN
On sale SEPTEMBER 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
When Dick comes home to find that the Batman he knew is gone, he seeks out his mentor, Superman. But both friends have changed since they last met. Can they find common ground and team up to stop Blockbuster’s plans for Spyral?


Interesting that the solicit here refers to Superman as Dick's "mentor;" given how short a time New 52 Dick spent as Robin, and how short the time between the beginning of Superman's career and today (about six years), it would seem as if Dick lost the relationship he had with Superman in past continuities.

I've always liked the implication of young Dick Grayson seeing Superman as sort of a cool uncle, and the fact that he eventually grew up to be peers with Superman, after he became Nightwing (a name suggested by Superman) and worked with the Titans more than Batman.


No idea what's going on in this GL variant for Green Arrow, except for the fact that it was drawn by Neal Adams, which, well, maybe that explains what's happening–it was drawn by post-Odyssey Neal Adams.



Both of the Harley Quinn covers, Amanda Conner's featuring Harley's renovation to the Hollywood sign and Dan Panosian's riff on the old yellow weakness, have pretty decent gags to them.


Speaking of Harley Quinn covers, Neil Googe draws the Basically Just Lingerie version of her costume that she wears in the pages of Injustice on the cover of Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four #10.


JUSTICE LEAGUE #44
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JASON FABOK
GREEN LANTERN 75 Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale SEPTEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
...
Darkseid versus Anti-Monitor! A corrupted Superman versus Lex Luthor! Myrina Black versus Grail! This chapter of "Darkseid War" has it all—plus an ending that will change the League forever!


What? A corrupted Superman? I don't think anyone's ever thought of that before!


JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #13
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art by PAUL PELLETIER and ROB HUNTER
Cover by TONY HARRIS
On sale SEPTEMBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Guest artist Paul Pelletier joins the JLU for a special storyline that sees Stargirl and the team of Steel, Robotman, Batgirl and Vandal Savage enter a war zone that’s at once very familiar and utterly weird. Plus: the long awaited return of a legendary DC Comics hero.


I like that creative team, and I like almost all of those characters named–with Stargirl being the only one I don't care much for, at least in this iteration of the DCU–but this sounds a lot like a comic I would have loved to read in the old DC Universe, but not so much the new. Like, I loved the original Steel, but haven't yet warmed to this new, cape-less, history-less version yet.

I wonder who the "legendary DC Comics hero" might be; the cover that appears to feature Swamp Thing, Poison Ivy and a bunch of birds doesn't seem to offer any clues.

...

It's not Manitou Raven, is it? Because as much as I like that guy, I don't think he counts as "legendary"...


MARTIAN MANHUNTER #4
Written by ROB WILLIAMS
Art by EDDY BARROWS and EBER FERREIRA
Cover by DAN PANOSIAN
On sale SEPTEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
What is tying four individuals around the world to the ghost of J’onn J’onzz? And will they find out before they’re torn to pieces by the unstoppable Martian Maneater?!


Hey, has no one ever thought to use "Martian Maneater" before...? If not, that seems like a glaring oversight, and I'm glad Rob Williams has corrected it.


SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #12
Written by SHOLLY FISCH
Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale SEPTEMBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
An urgent cry for help sends Scooby and the gang rushing to Gotham City—but the call was made by Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy! They stole an ancient relic, and now they’re sure it was cursed. Our heroes have to join Harley and Ivy to get to the bottom of the mystery—and, with a little help from Batgirl, they just might capture the villains, too!


If this isn't a testament to Harley's current popularity, I don't know what is: She's guest-starring in a Scooby-Doo comic! It looks like this will be the Batman: The Animated Series version of the character, particularly given Poison Ivy's costume on the cover. That makes sense. This one could be a particularly weird issue of SDTU, but there are few creative teams with as kick-ass a track record as Sholly Fisch and Dario Brizuela on this title, so I'm assuming it's going to turn out pretty okay.


Hey, it's Joe Quinones! I like his art quite a bit. This is his GL variant cover for Superman/Wonder Woman, as you probably guessed by the fact that it has GL, Superman and Wnder Woman on it. I don't like the glowing, ropey-looking energy emanating from Hal's ring, as it sort of muddles things given how much it looks like Wondy's lasso, but the overall concept is good, the drawing is nice and Wonder Woman especially looks good.


I guess we can add Mike McKone's name to the list of artists who can't help the New 52 Teen Titans look cool. Raven? Red Robin? I'm afraid there's just no hope for you guys–change clothes, already!


I'm not that crazy about the execution, but that's kind of a cute idea for an image pairing Wonder Woman with the superhero-whose-secret identity-is-a-pilot.

5 comments:

Brian J said...

What? The faux-hawk is kinda cute!

collectededitions said...

John Stewart appears on the Flash cover (http://speedforce.org/2015/06/flash44-variant/), which is welcome but a little strange considering the historical Hal Jordan/Barry Allen relationship.

>> DC is apparently joining the Marvel bandwagon in an attempt to drive more and more people out of the serially-published comic book market and into trades ...

This is intentional, you think? I'd be more than happy with one or more "trade-first" mainstream series, but I thought it still wasn't a winning proposition for the publishers. What benefit do you see for the publishers in moving away from serial publication?

Saint Godard said...

I would totally pay for a WW / GL team book. Fantastical plane teamup FTW!

dannyagogo said...

Just as you note, I'd pay good money to see the GL variant cover for Detective Comics as a story.

In contradiction, I love the Wonder Woman Invisible Plane cover :)

Caleb said...

Brian,

Man, I think Jay looks weird whenever I can see the top of his head (i.e. when he's not wearing a hat), so I can't quite wrap my head around a Jay Garrick with, like, a hairstyle.

Collected Editions,

Oh, I was just kidding. I don't think they're doing it intentionally, but I think that's the inevitable end result, even if it's still some years away. They're intentionally leaning really, really hard on their diehard fans willing to pay $4 a pop, as between that and digital they make a ton of money before actually going to trade.