Wednesday, August 19, 2015

DC's November previews reviewed

DC has two huge Batman-related projects scheduled for November, with a member of the All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder creative team attached to each: Jim Lee drawing parts of Batman: Europa and Frank Miller co-writing Dark Knight III (can they call it that, even though the previous ones were entitled Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and thus there were no Dark Knight I and Dark Knight II...?).

I think I speak for every single person in the world when I say that what we would all prefer is for Miller and Lee to quit screwing around with that stuff and get back to finishing All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder.

There is, as is always the case now, a theme for this month's variant covers, but I discussed that at length in the previous post. To see the complete, Caleb's commentary-free solicitations, you can click here; otherwise, read on...

ALL-STAR SECTION EIGHT #6
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art by JOHN McCREA
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
On sale NOVEMBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, 6 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Sixpack travels to the ends of the earth in his search for answers, but Dogwelder has already come face-to-face with his own past. The awful truth about Section Eight begins to dawn on our ragged little band—but just when things are at their bleakest, a hero appears with exactly the solution they’re looking for. Not a minute too soon, as the long-awaited threat finally appears in Gotham City!


As you can see, the cover for the final issue of All-Star Section Eight features an image of Sixpack attempting to drink the Bottle City of Kandor. This is the sort of thing that used to be accompanied by a cover blurb stating "It had to happen!"


Hey, it's Spoiler! I just thought I would point out that Spoiler is going to be in November's issue of Batgirl. If only there was some sort of phrase I could use when I wanted to alert someone of the presence of Spoiler...

Hmm...

Anyway, while former Batgirl (in the pre-New 52 continuity) Stephanie Brown has already met current Batgirl in the pages of the recent Batgirl Annual, this time regular Batgirl artist Babs Tarr will be drawing the meeting, so that's something to look forward to.


BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL #5
Story by JAMES TYNION IV and SCOTT SNYDER
Script by STEVE ORLANDO
Art by SCOT EATON
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
On sale NOVEMBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The new Batman weekly powers into its second month—and goes international! Batman’s greatest secret has torn the Robins apart, sending them on different missions around the world. What is the significance of the case Batman and Robin worked five years ago in Prague? What will Jason Todd and Tim Drake find on the island of vice that is Gamorra? And can Harper Row get through the wall Cassandra Cain has built around herself?


The solicitation copy for all four issues of Batman and Robin Eternal that are shipping in November is the same; the other art teams are Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea and Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez.

I don't really have anything new to say here. I'm still tentatively looking forward to the series, and while I hope it will be at least as good (and hopefully better) than Batman Eternal, I have a few concerns. I'm not exactly thrilled about the fact that Dick, Jason and Tim are seemingly the focus, given how goofy Dick's current status quo is (Grayson is good, but the premise regarding Dick Grayson being outted as Nightwing and no one other than Lex Luthor figuring out that Bruce Wayne is just mind-boggling, and I'm not crazy about the faked-death aspect, either). And I've never liked Jason Todd post-resurrection. And while I like Tim Drake a lot, I can't stand that costume, which it doesn't look like he'll be changing out of as of November of this year. And I wonder where the current Robin is.

On the other hand, I'm kinda sorta looking forward to the new iteration of Cassandra Cain, if only because I liked the original iteration so much.


BATMAN: EUROPA #1
Written by MATTEO CASALI and BRIAN AZZARELLO
Layouts by GIUSSEPPE CAMUNCOLI
Art and cover by JIM LEE
...
RESOLICIT • On sale NOVEMBER 18 • 40 pg, FC, 1 of 4, $4.99 US • RATED T+
...
Superstar artist Jim Lee returns to the Dark Knight with this premiere issue! The impossible has happened and Batman is on the verge of being taken down by an enemy he cannot defeat: a virus for which there is no cure! And the only hope for his salvation is The Joker! Who infected Batman, what does the Clown Prince of Crime know, and how will the Dark Knight get that information? Together, the enemies crisscross Europe, desperate to find answers before time runs out.

Co-conceived by Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello, this 4-issue miniseries event will feature art by top talents over layouts by the incomparable Giuseppe Camuncoli (HELLBLAZER, Dark Wolverine), with the first issue pencilled and inked by none other than Jim Lee!


It has been so long since DC first talked about this project publicly that I can't even tell you off the top of my head how long it's been. Certainly long enough that I forgot all about it.

I'm sure it will do well for the publisher though, as JIM LEE + BATMAN is almost always winning arithmetic for them, even if neither Lee nor Batman are necessarily as popular on their own as they are when they're together.

The fact that DC has been using The Joker so much more sparingly since the New 52-boot (coupled with the fact that Batman himself is temporarily MIA from the Batman line of comics) should also make this book a bit more appealing to some fans than it might otherwise be.

The Batman vs. Virus plot sounds a little too familiar to me, as I still have pretty clear memories of the "Legacy" and "Contagion" crossover storylines from the Bat-books, but I'm intrigued by the Batman/Joker team-up aspect. I hope The Joker is along for the ride based on some particular scientific knowledge he knows, and not just in a Hannibal Lector-like capacity; one of the few areas of The Joker character that has long been under-explored, at least to my knowledge, is the idea of The Joker as a brilliant chemist who invented a particularly insidious type of chemical weapon in his Joker Gas/Joker Venom (Did Scott Snyder explore that in "Endgame"...? I haven't read "Endgame" yet; I read Batman in trade, so I'm generally about one story arc behind at all times).

Speaking of not remember things, I can't remember the last time I saw Cary Nord art anywhere. That's his cover for Batman/Superman #26, which apparently involves Superman teaming up with Batgirl to fight Vandal Savage. I really like Nord's Batgirl.


BATMAN/SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN: TRINITY DELUXE EDITION HC
Written by MATT WAGNER
Art and cover by MATT WAGNER
On sale JANUARY 13 • 208 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875”, $29.99 US
Matt Wagner’s 3-issue epic that unites DC’s three greatest heroes is offered as a Deluxe Edition hardcover for the first time! When Ra’s al Ghul recruits Bizarro and a renegade Amazon warrior to help him create global chaos, the Dark Knight Detective suddenly finds himself working with the Man of Steel and the Amazon Princess. Looking to thwart the madman’s plot to simultaneously destroy all satellite communications as well as all of the world’s oil reserves, Earth’s greatest heroes are forced to band together—if they can work out their differences!

This is very good, in case you're wondering. The price-point seems a little on the high side–I suspect you can find the three prestige-format issues that comprised this series in back-issue bins for much less than $30, if you wanted to put some effort into it–but I imagine you're paying for the "DELUXE EDITION" format to a certain degree.

If I'm remembering correctly, this is essentially a Ra's al Ghul vs. The Trinity story, with Ra's emplying henchmen or lieutenants specific to Superman and Wonder Woman.

I think this may also have been one of the first uses of the term "Trinity" to describe the "World's Finest" + Wonder Woman team, and one of the earlier attempts at a story set in the past that treated DC's premier heroes as a trio rather than a duo.


BATMAN: THE DOOM THAT CAME TO GOTHAM TP
Written by MIKE MIGNOLA and RICHARD PACE
Art by TROY NIXEY and DENNIS JANKE
Cover by MIKE MIGNOLA
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 160 pg, FC, $16.99 US
In this tale of horror co-written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, Bruce Wayne unintentionally unleashes a dark evil on his city. Includes appearances by The Penguin, The Demon, Man-Bat, Ra’s al Ghul and more! Collects BATMAN: THE DOOM THAT CAME TO GOTHAM #1-3.


Here's another three-part prestige-format Batman series I didn't expect to see collected in trade format this month. I recall liking this one an awful lot too, although I'm bleary on the specifics. If I'm recalling correctly, it's a Lovecraft pastiche, reimagining Batman and related characters into a late 19th century version of Gotham. Lots of great art, from the covers to the interiors, with some rather inspired redesigns.


BLACK CANARY #6
Written by BRENDEN FLETCHER
Art and cover by ANNIE WU
LOONEY TUNES variant cover by PIA GUERRA and Warner Bros. Animation
On sale NOVEMBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
...
The secret of who assembled this pack of misfits into the band that became Black Canary is revealed—and the answer is stranger than you’d ever dream! There’s a higher purpose to dropping Ditto into Dinah’s life, but will they both survive the mission they’re meant to complete?


I really like the way Annie Wu costumes Dinah, in that she costumes her, rather than just drawing her in the same clothes all the time. Because there are slight differences in her outfits each cover and/or issue, Wu's Black Canary has a style, rather than simply having a superhero uniform.


Wrong universe, Deathlok.


DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #4
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by BILQUIS EVELY, MIRKO ANDOLFO and MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale NOVEMBER 11 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Shipping twice in November! In a London hospital, a strange patient has a message for Dr. Harleen Quinzel…one that leads the doctor to hijack a plane out of the city! And, Supergirl and Stargirl lead a bombing raid, only to discover a terrible secret that leaves them questioning their loyalties. Plus, Batwoman arrives in Italy where she encounters Contessa Selina Digatti—a.k.a. the Catwoman!

DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #5
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by BILQUIS EVELY, LAURA BRAGA and MIRKA ANDOLFO
Cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale NOVEMBER 25 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Shipping twice in November! While Wonder Woman leads an American infantry division in an attack on an Axis battalion, Harley makes a none-too-graceful landing in France, where she encounters a woman with a strange affinity for plants. Plus, Supergirl and Stargirl fly home to protect their parents, only to be attacked by a fearsome forest spirit known as the Swamp Thing.


I can't tell you how disappointed I am to see names other than Marguerite Sauvage's under the "Art by" credit for these issues, given what a huge role her art played in making the first issue so enjoyable. Hopefully the other three artists are as good as (or at least not much worse than) Sauvage.

I'm intrigued by the mention of Swamp Thing in the copy for the fifth issue. I'm hoping that means we'll see Swampy in skimpy, WWII-era pin-up clothing, but I imagine he'll look pretty much like he does today. From what I understand, muck monster fashion hasn't changed much over the decades

DC COMICS PRESENTS DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE
DC Comics is proud to present the debut issue of DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE, one of the most ambitious projects ever from a major American comics publisher. Here are the details...
Each issue of DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE will include:
• A 32-page standard format comic book that will measure 6.625” x 10.1875”
• A 16-page minicomic with no interior ads that will measure 5.5” x 8.375”
The minicomic will be tipped on to an insert and bound into the main comic.
After the release of each issue of DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE, DC Entertainment will release a volume of the DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE COLLECTOR’S EDITION that will collect the both the main story and mini-comic from latest issue of DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE as a single 7.0625” x 10.875” title, with both stories presented at the same trim size.
After the first seven DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE COLLECTOR’S EDITION have been published, DC Entertainment will ship a special slipcase designed to hold the entire set with the eighth COLLECTOR’S EDITION.
DKIII also will feature a dazzling array of variant covers by some of the biggest names in comics today. And, for the first time ever, DC will offer custom store variant editions to qualifying retailers. Watch for more information coming soon!


DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE #1
Written by FRANK MILLER and BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art by ANDY KUBERT and KLAUS JANSON
Mini comic art by TBA
Cover by ANDY KUBERT and KLAUS JANSON
1:10 variant cover by KLAUS JANSON
1:25 variant cover by ANDY KUBERT and KLAUS JANSON
1:50 variant cover by TBA
1:100 variant cover by FRANK MILLER
1:500 variant cover by JIM LEE
1:5000 original sketch variant by JIM LEE
Blank variant cover
On sale NOVEMBER 25
32 pg comic: 6.375” x 10.1875”
16 page minicomic: 5.5” x 8.5”
FC, 1 of 8, $5.99 US • RATED T+
Retailers: This issue will ship with multiple covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The epic ending you never saw coming is here because you demanded it! The Dark Knight rises again to face the dawn of the master race!


DC had previously announced this book's existence, but I was still sort of surprised to see it listed here, probably because of the listing itself. I've read the solicitation copy over a few times now, and I'm afraid I still don't quite understand what the hell they're selling here, or at least how they're selling it.

That said, it's Frank Miller and Batman, so it oughta do quite well for DC.

Personally, I'm uncomfortable with the way this is being branded as a Frank Miller Dark Knight project, despite the fact that Miller is reduced from his original, auteur-like status as the writer and pencil artist to simply a co-writer. I imagine that is to help get the book out as fast as possible, but I wonder if Miller's recent output like Dark Knight Strikes Again, All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder (both of which were awesome, although not received too terribly well by the expected fan base) and Holy Terror (a well-drawn, but legitimately terrible comic book), not to mention that bizarre anti-Occupy Wall Street screed, isn't part of the reason a reliable, company man writer like Brian Azzarello is co-writing.

Is Azzarello there to dilute Miller's impulses, or to ensure that Miller writes more like Frank Miller circa 1987 than Frank Miller circa 2011...?

Regardless, I for one find the prospect of a Frank Miller Batman comic book that Miller doesn't draw and only half-writes a hell of a lot less exciting than a Frank Miller Batman comic book by Frank Miller. (I am curious to see Kubert drawing what looks, at least based on the very scant evidence so far provided, in a Miller-inspired style, and inked by Janson as well).

[Speaking of Miller, he would have been a pretty good candidate for redesigning the DC Universe in 2011; I know a lot of folks weren't crazy about his designs in Dark Knight Strikes Again, but I really liked his take on Supergirl and Flash's costumes, and even his Wonder Woman costume had some interesting elements that could have been made to work...it certainly works better than either of her New 52 costumes.]


THE DEMON VOL. 1: HELL’S HITMAN TP
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art by JOHN McCREA and others
Cover by JOHN McCREA
On sale DECEMBER 23 • 296 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Garth Ennis’s tales of The Demon are collected for the first time! In these dark, fast-paced tales, Etrigan the Demon battles the Gothodaemon, the demon of Gotham City, with the help of Hitman. Then, a company of German soldiers from World War II are resurrected to capture an army base—and it’s up to the Demon and the crew of the Haunted Tank to send them back to their graves. Collected from THE DEMON #40 and 42-49, plus ANNUAL #2.


Buy this. It's good.

 If it includes the entire run, and it certainly seems to, then it features the first appearances of Tommy Monaghan and his love interest in Hitman (back before she made detective), a revival of Bat-villains The Tweedles and a revival of The Haunted Tank (as is explicitly stated in the solicitation copy).


DETECTIVE COMICS #46
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by MARCIO TAKARA
Cover by ANDREW ROBINSON
LOONEY TUNES variant cover by BEN CALDWELL and Warner Bros. Animation
On sale NOVEMBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
For the first time since taking on the mantle of Batman, Jim Gordon has left Gotham City. But he’s not alone! Recruited by the Justice League, Gordon taps into his detective skills to help Superman, Wonder Woman, and the World’s Greatest Heroes solve the murder of a mysterious, super-powered being.

Well, for the first time since the current story arc in Batman/Superman, in which Gordon travels to Metropolis to investigate Clark Kent/Superman, anyway...


I'm a little shocked that Doctor Fate isn't one of the titles with a Looney Tunes cover, given the obviousness of a gag involving the character and Bugs Bunny's catchphrase.

That, however, is a pretty great cover by artist Sonny Liew.

FLINCH BOOK ONE TP
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO, GARTH ENNIS, BILL WILLINGHAM, GREG RUCKA and others
Art by JIM LEE, FRANK QUITELY, BILL SIENKIEWICZ, EDUARDO RISSO, KELLEY JONES, TY TEMPLETON, PHIL JIMENEZ and others
Cover by PHIL HALE
On sale DECEMBER 9 • 192 pg, FC, $16.99 US • MATURE READERS
The first eight issues of Vertigo’s quirky, star-studded horror anthology is collected for the first time! These stories spotlight a small-town cult, a violent gang of senior citizens, the deadly results of creating a home-made rocket pack, and much more.


I read this Vertigo horror anthology series when it was published serially, and remembered generally liking it quite a bit. As you can tell by the names above, they went out of their way to get some pretty big name talents, almost certainly including a few of your favorites.


JUSTICE LEAGUE #46
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
LOONEY TUNES variant cover by SCOTT WILLIAMS
On sale NOVEMBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
“Darkseid War” rages on! The Justice League has become Gods! Grail discovers a truth about Wonder Woman that disturbs even her! And a shocking secret about the fate of the Anti-Monitor will force the League to seek out new and unlikely allies!


The third chapter of this storyline comes out this week, and it will still be going on in November? And that, remember, is after a month of special tie-ins featuring various characters.

Manapul's cover sure looks nice; it's too bad the insides haven't looked as good as that cover does.


THE OMEGA MEN #6
Written by TOM KING
Art by BARNABY BAGENDA
Cover by TREVOR HUTCHISON
On sale NOVEMBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Former Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and the Omega Men—captured at last! Now, these alleged terrorists are about to be processed and jailed with all the dignity and rights afforded them by benevolent Citadel law.


Nice cover. This, Constantine and Midnighter have been maybe the three biggest surprises of DC's "DC You" initiative. In all three cases, they were characters and titles that I had between little and no interest in, and all three have turned out to be surprisingly good. I'm not sure where they're all going, and if they'll remain of the relatively high quality they've been sustaining over the course of their first couple of issues (Omega Men's storyline in particular is still unfolding), but those are three I'd recommend checking out at some point if you're casting about for DC titles to try.


RED HOOD/ARSENAL #6
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by DENIS MEDRI
Cover by HOWARD PORTER
On sale NOVEMBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Roy and Jason have been through a lot with their new start-up business, and a therapy session to vent a few grievances seems like just what the doctor ordered. Too bad Sera Phina and her team of villains are finally assembled and ready to launch their attack!


Sera Phina. Man. I don't know whether to curse or congratulate Lobdell for that character name.

Finally, the Scooby-Doo vs. The Spectre story I never knew I wanted!

SECRET SIX #8
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art and cover by DALE EAGLESHAM
On sale NOVEMBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
As monstrous giant beings from beyond the stars pound at the gates of reality, the Secret Six reluctantly race around the globe (with their guide, the demon ETRIGAN) as they attempt to prevent a horrifying fate for all mankind. Guest stars galore as the balance of power in the DCU rests solely in the hands of teenager Lori Zechlin, a.k.a. Black Alice!


Given recent revelations, I'm curious to see how Secret Six sustains itself, and what direction it goes in. The inclusion of Etrigan would have excited me pre-New 52, but man, I can't cotton the chainmail version of Etrigan (Please refer to the cover of The Demon collection above for John McCrea's particularly creepy, cartoony version of the character, which I rather like...especially the way McCrea handles his cape.)


SUICIDE SQUAD VOL. 2: THE NIGHTSHADE ODYSSEY TP
Written by JOHN OSTRANDER and others
Art by LUKE McDONNELL, KEITH GIFFEN and others
Cover by JERRY BINGHAM
On sale DECEMBER 9 • 272 pg, FC, $19.99 US
In this title collecting SUICIDE SQUAD #9-16, JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #13 and DOOM PATROL/SUICIDE SQUAD SPECIAL #1, the team must take down the island headquarters of a drug cartel that’s more than it seems. Then, the squad and the Justice League both try to infiltrate a Russian prison.


Regardless of is eventual quality, I think the Suicide Squad movie will have been well worth doing if it results in DC finally collecting John Ostrander and company's entire run on Suicide Squad. The current situation is kind of dismal, as when people ask for Suicide Squad comics, there are plenty of collections of the bad Suicide Squad comics, but (almost) no collections of the good Suicide Squad run.

I work in a library, not a comic shop, but I've had a few people ask about Suicide Squad graphic novels, and I was depressed on the inside, knowing what they were going to end up reading.


SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN #1
Written by MAX LANDIS
Art by NICK DRAGOTTA
Cover by RYAN SOOK
...
On sale NOVEMBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 7, $3.99 US • RATED T+
...
Hollywood screenwriter and Eisner Award nominee Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN) joins forces with top comics artists including Jock, Francis Manapul and Jae Lee to bring you SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN, a 7-issue miniseries chronicling the life of Clark Kent and his development into the archetypal hero he will eventually become. But these are not the stories of the iconic “Superman” as you know him, but of the soft-spoken, charming, often-funny Kansas farm-boy behind the Man of Steel. With the tone of each issue ranging from heartwarming and simple, to frighteningly gritty and violent, to sexy, sun-kissed and funny, SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN is unlike anything you’ve seen before.

In this first issue, superstar artist Nick Dragotta (East of West, Fantastic Four) illustrates the story of Jonathan and Martha Kent as they struggle to deal with their 12-year-old son’s latest quirk—he’s been floating up into the air, sometimes hundreds of feet!


I don't have any jokes or sarcastic remarks here, I just wanted to pull this one out to note it looks interesting, and how interesting will likely depend on who the other "top comics artists" aside from those named are.

I suppose it will also be interesting to see if this series ends up being in continuity, since, as far as I know, Superman's childhood (and life in Smallville in general) has been fairly unexplored since The New 52-boot, which tinkered with the previous iteration of his origin (his parents both died before he became Superman this time around).

4 comments:

David page said...

Amen on ostrander suicide squad man...amen

Michael Hoskin said...

First, Before Watchmen; next, Dark Knight III; if Azzarello isn't pitching AfterMaus, then he's doing something wrong.

Saint Godard said...

"....one of the most ambitious projects ever from a major American comics publisher."

Bury the lede, why don'cha, DC? That's pretty self-congratulatory. Pretty much "Aren't we amazing for making this come out?"

As I recall the old copy, the big push for both DKR and DKSA was the name recognition of the creators. Hell, when DK2 came out, I mainly remember the surprise that a sequel had come to pass and no-one had heard much-if-any chatter or promotion. The book just dropped, sorta like the 'Dance of the Gull Catchers' coda to From Hell. It was a pleasant surprise.

Here, the publisher's basically patting themselves on the back for managing to emulate the film industry's fixation on selling trilogies. Analogy seems fitting as the names on the marquee are names-for-hire, none of them valued any longer for their strength as individual voices. No auteurs, just company product.

CBrown said...

Re: Miller's role in DKIII ... I can't say for certain, because I don't usually read the more gossipy comics news sites, but I saw something a year or two ago that suggested that Frank Miller was sick, like really sick, and there were some photos of him that seemed to support it. So maybe he's just not physically capable of the workload.