Maybe the biggest news in DC's December solicitations isn't what they're planning on publishing that month, but what they plan to stop publishing after that month: About a half-dozen titles, including a hard shift in direction for Catwoman, pivoting from its current realistic crime drama format back to straight superheroics (Also, I notice two of the digital-first series I buy and read on a regular basis are also shipping their final issues).
None of the cancellations are too terribly surprising, although I did raise my eyebrow at the news that one of those titles being canceled would be Omega Men. Not because Omega Men is such a salable entity or anything–it's not, and was one of the many "Well, let's throw this at the wall" books that have characterized DC's output in the last few year–but because it's creative team was deliberately telling such a deliberately paced, slow-boiling story that it seems like DC would have (should have) either decided not to greenlight it as conceived at all, or to give it a year to find its audience. I've read each issue that's come out so far (three, I think), and it's still very much a story in-progress, with the characters still being introduced and the premise still being revealed. Everyone who has read it seemed to like it, though, and that's the sort of book that really needs to make it to trade before a publisher decides whether or not to keep publishing it. That DC is deciding to pull the plug on it after just three issues seems sort of insane; were they simply looking at the sales for the first two issues and, noting that it was already dipping below 20,000, decided to cancel it as soon as possible?
Looking at The Beat's latest sales chart analysis, Omega Men #2 moved about 17,000 copies in July (a huge drop of almost 50% from #1's 33,000-ish issues), making it one of DC's lowest sellers along with fellow cancel-ees Prez, Lobo, Doomed and Gotham By Midnight. In July, the also critically acclaimed Midnighter moved 19,800 copies, Justice League 30001 moved 21,300 and Gotham Academy 22,350.
One hopes that DC will be a little more judicious the next time they take the scalpel to their current line, and that they'll realize that books like Midnighter or Gotham Academy are different enough from the rest of their DCU line, and targeted towards different enough audiences that they may be worth keeping around even if they're selling slightly less than, say, Justice League 3001 or Secret Six or Sinestro or whatever.
Also of note this month is DC's variant program, which is...well, it's weird this month (What, no TMNT variants?). The theme is, once again, Harley Quinn (I lost track; is this the second time or the third time?), although this time the artists are of particularly superstar status and, weirdest of all, the variants are all coming polybagged. I can only assume this is because all of the covers feature nude drawings of Harley.
For DC's complete solicitations, you can visit Comic Book Resources. For my commentary–including a long summary of the fan-fiction I used to imagine as a high schooler, stay right where you are.
BATMAN BEYOND #7
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art by STEPHEN THOMPSON
Cover by PHILIP TAN
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
The sun rises on a new day in BATMAN BEYOND! With the threat of Brother Eye finally gone, Tim Drake is a man lost in time and without a mission. But now that he finally has the opportunity to explore this new Gotham City, he may find it just as dark as ever beneath its shiny new surface. And what Justice League secret does Matt McGinnis think will be unlocked with Green Lantern’s severed hand? Guest artist and FUTURES END veteran Stephen Thompson kicks things off in this prologue to “City of Yesterday”!
This book, for example, seems particularly ripe for cancellation. It's not selling horribly or anything, but the Batman Beyond concept was growing rather creatively exhausted well before the launch of this series, which puts the Tim Drake from the pages of Futures End into the Batman Beyond costume and sends him to the nightmare future of the earlier chapters of Futures End.
Not to be a jerk or anything, but I don't recall anyone really clamoring for more comics about the world of Futures End after the 52nd issue of that series shipped, nor for more featuring the Batman Beyond costume after the cancellation of the last few stabs at a Batman Beyond series, nor for more Dan Jurgens-written comics.
Written by LEE ALLRED
Art and cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST • FINAL ISSUE
BATMAN ‘66 comes to a close as we unleash cover artist Michael Allred on the entire issue! Mobs of villains arrive in Gotham City for what appears to be a full-blown Criminal Convention. But one bad guy is not happy with how he’s being treated, and decides to tip off Batman and Robin. Will even this valuable bit of information be enough to help the Dynamic Duo overcome the overwhelming odds?
Based on the fact that this is issue #30 of the series, I think I have been wishing aloud that cover artist Michael Allred would also draw the interiors one of these days for almost 30 months now. And in December, I'll finally get my whish!
I guess it couldn't have been 1966 forever, but I was hoping for at least a few more years...
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art by DAVID HAHN
Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
1:25 Variant cover by JOSE LUIS GARCIA-LOPEZ
On sale DECEMBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
Two 1960s television icons cross paths for a groovy, globe-spanning adventure in this one-of-a-kind miniseries. The deadly organization known as T.H.R.U.S.H. has a new twist in their plans for world conquest—they’re recruiting some of Gotham City’s most infamous villains! Agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin bring this information to the one man who knows everything about these new enemies: Batman. Before you can say “Open channel D,” the Dynamic Duo and the Men from U.N.C.L.E. are jetting off to Europe to thwart the schemes of this deadly criminal cartel.
I've never seen a single episode of Man From UNCLE and know next to nothing about it, but after this and the Green Hornet crossover, I'm really hoping we're in for a whole series of Batman '66 crossovers, with the Caped Crusader teaming up with every TV show from 1966. I want to see Darrin Stephens invite Bruce Wayne to a dinner party at his house while he tries to land the Wayne account for his advertising firm; I want to see Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson summering in Collinsport, Maine; I want to see Batman and Robin helping Dr. Marsh Tracy to protect African big cats from getting recruited to a life of crime by Catwoman and Catman; I want to see the Dynamic Duo fighting Nazis with the Rat Patrol, visiting Hooterville, pursuing Richard Kimble and rescuing the castaways from Gilligan's Island
Written by JAMES TYNION IV
Art and cover by FREDDIE E. WILLIAMS II
1:50 Variant cover by KEVIN EASTMAN
On sale DECEMBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T
DC Comics and IDW team up for the crossover you never saw coming as two of the greatest entertainment icons meet for the first time! In Gotham City, a series of deadly raids leads Batman to believe he’s up against a group of highly trained ninjas known as the Foot Clan! Somehow, they’ve crossed over to another dimension and are determined to take advantage of the situation while looking to get back home. But they haven’t come alone: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are hot on their trail. Get ready for excitement as heroes and villains from both worlds clash and team up in an epic battle that threatens the very fabric of reality!
This is one of those very crossovers that I actually used to fantasize about as a kid, spending God-knows-how-long in class or car trips or wherever day-dreaming about a comic like this (Daredevil/TMNT and X-Men/TMNT were among the others; I really liked the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, okay?).
Here was my version: Batman would be on patrol one night and run across Casey Jones savagely beating gang members in Robinson Park. Batman would intervene, they would fight, Batman would do his whole "This is my town; beat it vigilante thing!", there would be the requisite joke about Casey being the real "bat" man, and it would end with Jones hauled away by the cops. Casey would have been in Gotham scouting the place out for his allies, the Turtles, who were planning on joining him. A mysterious group of ninjas would have been slowly consolidating power in Gotham, taking down the Street Demonz (who might be introduced in a gang fight with the Purple Dragons) and The Ghost Dragons and Gotham gangster types like The Penguin, THe Ventriloquist and whoever was still alive to run the Falcone family.
The Foot Clan would have been seeking to branch out and take control of the Gotham City criminal underworld, and while they would be doing a bang-up job taking on and down most of the competition, they would repeatedly find attempts on certain targets foiled by Batman.
Meanwhile, the Turtles (who break Casey out of a police van en route to Arkham Asylum For The Criminally Insane, where he would have been sentenced to for being a crazy man in a hockey mask beating the hell out of people with sporting equipment) have followed The Foot to Gotham in order to thwart their plans of expansion. They try to set up shop in the Gotham CIty Sewer System, but find it an even more dangerous place than the New York sewers, and they have to deal with the likes of Killer Croc, Ratcatcher and maybe Solomon Grundy while down there.
Naturally all the fighting brings them to the attention of Batman, who is seeking the escaped Casey and puzzling over the ninjitsu in the supposed maniac's fighting style, and the mysterious group of ninjas he's allied with...especially since they use the same weapons and fight in the same style as The Foot Clan.
While the heroes remain in conflict, The Shredder is forced to come to Gotham City himself to remove The Batman as an obstacle. When Batman and The Shredder are engaged in their battle, Batman's getting torn to pieces, and likely wouldn't survive the fight without the timely intervention of The Turtles and Casey. THe Shredder's still holding his own against those guys when, ultimately, Lady Shiva arrives, swats the Mirage gang away and claims Shredder for herself, claiming his ability to defeat Batman makes him the best fighter in the world at the moment. They're fight would end with Shredder pulling out a thermite grenade and blowing the top off of the rooftop they are fighting on.
Neither Shredder's body nor that of Shiva are found when the Turtles comb through the wreckage, however.
Or at least, that's how I would have written it at 14. Now I'd do something completely different. There are two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles storylines I'd really like to write someday, one of which no one has really done with any version of the turtles before, but which lends itself to a crossover with the DC Universe at large. But that is, I suppose, neither here nor there.
Wait, what was I posting about...? Oh yeah, DC's December solicits! So yeah, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is quite literally a dream come true for me, although I'm tempering my hopes. The creative team is a solid one, but it leaves a lot to be desired for a story like this, which really ought to be treated as a bigger occasion. Ideally it would have the biggest-name creators associated with the characters involved, so I would expect a team more along the lines of Geoff Johns or Scott Snyder co-plotting with Kevin Eastman, and writing the script, with Eastman penciling or inking or at least laying-out the art for a Batman artist. This would be a rare opportunity to let Batman creators do the Turtles, and Turtles creators do Batman (I'd prefer to see some of the old Mirage guys like Eric Talbot, Jim Lawson, Mike Dooney and so on getting to do covers or back-ups or something to DC guys, but let's get a Jim Lee cover in here somewhere at least, you know?).
Writer James Tynion IV is a Batman writer, although he's not the definitive one that his frequent collaborator Scott Snyder is, and, as far as I know, he doesn't have any Turtle experience (I'm actually a little surprised this isn't being co-written by whoever's currently writing the IDW series...the last volume I read was scripted by Tom Waltz from stories by Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow and Waltz). Freddie Williams' art is good, and seems like a good fit for both sets of characters, but, again, he's not exactly a definitive Batman or Turtle artist.
At least Eastman is doing covers. I can't tell you how excited I am to see a Kevin Eastman-drawn Batman...even in just that one image, with Batman in the background.
Beyond the team involved, the solicitation doesn't give us too much to go on. Given that crossing dimensional borders is mentioned, then I suppose that means this is going to be set in-continuity for probably both the Turtles and Batman...or at least the Turtles, who are wearing their color-coded masks, as they do in the current IDW comics, all of which revolve around their particular, peculiar take on the Turtles.
Part of me can't wait to read this as soon as it comes out, but I see the Eastman cover is a 1-in-50 variant, meaning it won't be on the already-too-expensive issue that will be for sale in my comic shop come September. But I should be able to wait for the trade on this one. I mean, I've waited like 25 years to read a Batman/TMNT comic, what's another year or so...?
Written by FRANK TIERI
Art and cover by INAKI MIRANDA
On sale DECEMBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Catwoman is back in action! Leaving the mob behind, Selina is on the prowl again. When she gets wind of what might be the biggest score of her life, she’ll need to remind everyone just who is the greatest thief around.
This is a little disappointing. The current Genevieve Valentine-written direction of the book, in which Catwoman kinda sorta went into temporary semi-retirement as Catwoman in order to consolidate and run the Gotham mob (spinning out of events in Batman Eternal made for a fresh, new take, and about as dramatic a new direction for the character as she's taken since the launch of the previous volume, when her new, Darwyn Cooke-designed costume debuted and the book became a sort of cartoon noir crime comic.
The New 52 version looked to be straight superheroics, and I bought and read exactly zero issues of it (Wait, that's not right; I read the "Death of The Family" tie-in that was collected in The Joker: The Death of The Family. I may have also read a #0 issue or Futures End tie in. The fact that I can't even remember though is a pretty good indication of how generic the book was, though). I've read and liked all of the Vanetine-written issues so far though; it's not a great comic or anything, but I'm reading Catwoman. It also seems to be a particularly-easy-to-adapt-into-a-TV-show take on the character, something DC seems very interested in these days, but with Gotham already on the air, perhaps that's not a concern. The similarly-canceled Gotham By Midnight, which is basically just Gotham Central + Spooks, also reads like a based-on-a-comic book TV show waiting to happen.
At any rate, it's kinda disappointing to see that Catwoman is going back to being just another super-book. On the other hand: Inaki Miranda art. That ought to make this one of the better looking DC superhero comics.
Written by GEOFF JOHNS, GRANT MORRISON, TONY S. DANIEL and FABIAN NICIEZA
Art by ANDY KUBERT, TONY S. DANIEL and others
Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US
It’s Robin vs. Robin vs. Robin in these stories from TEEN TITANS #29, BATMAN #657, NIGHTWING #139 and BATMAN: BATTLE FOR THE COWL #3.
Interesting to see this book existing at all. It is apparently some Robin vs. Robin fights from recent-ish Batman comics history, collected together for no reason other than the fact that DC is doing a Robins-fighting-people crossover storyline called "Robin War."
The credits say that it will feature a cover by Ryan Sook, but the one above is by Andy Kubert (and from the Grant Morrison-written Batman #657, in which Robin Tim Drake comes to blows with Damian al Ghul, shortly after the latter arrived in the Batcave during Morrison's "Batman and Son" story arc.
The other comics are...well, they're all pretty bad, actually. Johns and Daniel's Teen Titans issue is a kinda-sorta Infinite Crisis tie-in, in which the resurrected-by-Superboy-punches Jason Todd, aka The Red Hood, infiltrates Titans Tower in order to fight Robin Tim Drake. I recall it having a pretty hilarious scene in which Todd rips off his Red Hood costume to reveal a Robin costume beneath it, but he does it all in one panel, so it appears as if he was wearing, like, another pair of boots under his Red Hood boots, another pair of pants under hps Red Hood pants, et cetera.
The Nightwing issue is by Fabian Nicieza, Don Kramer and Wayne Faucher and features Tim Drake fighting Dick Grayson. It's also part six of the seven-part, completely unintelligible "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" crossover.
Finally, the Battle For The Cowl story is written and drawn by Daniel, and it is probably the worst of the lot. That's the story where Jason Todd was trying to murder everyone to be Batman, and Dick Grayson reluctantly decided to become Batman while Bruce Wayne was dead/Omega Sanction-ed.
So not only are these comics all out of continuity now--like, way out--they're all parts of bigger storylines. I wonder how much sense any of them will make divorced from any sort of context...
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art and cover by SONNY LIEW
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
One of the most acclaimed new DC Comics series concludes its first amazing epic as Anubis defeats Fate and takes his body and soul on a surreal journey into the ancient and mystical House of the Dead.
If you look at this book's place on the sales chart in relation to the books DC is cancelling, then this looks like it could well be a near-future casualty. I certainly hope not. While Levitz's writing leaves a lot to be desired, and the book is paced for a trade (as is Omega Men), Sonny Liew's art is fantastic, and this is one of the relatively few DC books that is easy to recommend to young people and relative newcomers to the DCU, as you don't need to know anything about the characters, setting and their history that isn't contained in Doctor Fate itself.
Also, look at that cover.
Written by DANIEL H. WILSON
Art by JORGE JIMENEZ
Cover by ANDY KUBERT
On sale DECEMBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
As the fledgling society of new Earth threatens to disintegrate into chaos, can the raw power of the Green Lantern overcome the godlike abilities of Doctor Impossible? Or is Alan Scott just a man, after all?
I'm honestly surprised this wasn't one of the book's that was canceled. In addition to being pretty terrible, the entire premise just seems exhausted. Since DC launched Earth 2, this is the third or fourth writer, and it's already been renumbered and relaunched once. It's also a continuation of Convergence which, despite not being too terribly popular a series, has apparently spawned this on-going follow-up and 2-3 additional spin-off ongoings (I'm not sure how the upcoming Titans Hunt spins out of Convergence, but DC is saying it does.)
Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by AMANDA CONNER and a bunch of people who owe her favors
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
Variant covers by J. SCOTT CAMPBELL
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+
It’s the sensational debut of a bimonthly, overstuffed, oversized team-up series in which Harley meets (and almost certainly annoys) the greatest heroes and villains of the DC Universe! First up? The incredible Wonder Woman! There’s a plot to assassinate Wondy, and Harley is convinced that only she could possibly stop it! (Hey, you want to tell her about all the other options? We tried.)
This issue features open-to-order variant covers by J. Scott Campbell that will be shipped in opaque polybags.
As I mentioned earlier, based on how much Conner/Palmiotti-written Harley DC releases, a 32-page bimonthly ongoing may not actually be much of an increase. I'm a little surprised by the title; I assume it has an in-story explanation, but it doesn't sound much like an ongoing comic book title. I would have expected something more like Harley Quinn Team-Up or Harley Quinn: The Brave and The Bonkers.
I'm not a fan of Connimotti's sense of humor, like, at all, but a couple of those anthology issues have featured some really great artists, so if the bunch of people who owe Conner favors includes the likes of Paul Pope and Darwyn Cooke, this book may be well worth keeping an eye on.
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art and cover by TRAVEL FOREMAN
On sale DECEMBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • FINAL ISSUE
Artist Travel Foreman returns for this “trippy” trip to the House of Secrets to reveal at last how Adam Strange came to be trapped in the Zeta Beam! And just what will that mean for the mysterious, reality-warping Breakers that have brought so many disparate heroes and villains to the team?
This isn't the first time DC has canceled a Justice League comic that was doing decently in sales since they launched The New 52; they previously canceled Justice League International and Justice League, the latter of which introduced one of this book's ongoing cast members, Stargirl.
The premise of this series, post-Convergence, seems to be that a handful of the characters from "Justice League Canada" (Stargirl, Animal Man, the new Equinox and the New 52 Adam and Alanna Strange) recruit random characters a la Justice League Task Force. The first two were completley unreadable to me (I really can't take Foreman's art; it hurts my eyes). The last issue, which I think came out just last week or so, was a great improvement (Paul Pelletier on art) and full of characters I know and/or like (Steel, Robot Man, Batgirl, Vandal Savage, Enemy Ace, Sgt. Rock), but since this is the NEw 52-iverse, I actually don't know most of them, and so it read a lot like an Elseworlds story to me.
I'm not surprised to see this getting canceled, therefore, as I imagine it has more to do with trying to keep the Justice League brand focused than actual sales. I expect Justice Leage 3001 to soon follow for the same reasons (well, that and the fact that its sales are so close to those of some of the titles that got canceled this month).
Written by TOM KING
Art and cover by KHARY RANDOLPH
1:25 Variant cover by LEE BERMEJO
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 48 pg, FC, 1 of 2, $4.99 US • RATED T
THE ROBINS FACE THE COURT OF OWLS!
In part 1 of this new epic, it’s Robins vs. cops! Robins vs. Robins! Robins vs. Batman! And Robins vs. the Court of Owls?!
Damian Wayne returns to Gotham City, and he is not happy. There are kids all over the city calling themselves Robin, Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman and the GCPD, led by the new, armored-up Batman, is cracking down on anybody wearing the “R.” And things only get worse when Red Hood, Red Robin and Grayson all come back to Gotham City…
Oh good, The Court of Owls. I'm definitely not sick of those guys at all.
Written by TRINA ROBBINS
Art by CHRIS GUGLIOTTI
Cover by ANNA DITTMAN
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST • FINAL ISSUE
Diana’s compassion is tested when Dr. Barbara Minerva appears, begging for assistance as she seeks out the last remaining source of urzkatarga, the plant that supplies the serum that transforms her into the Cheetah. And if she can’t use it to replenish her supply, she’ll die. But when the Amazon princess/super-hero and the scientist/super-villain make their way to the “Island of Lost Souls,” they find more is at stake than expected!
If DC was going to cancel a Wonder Woman comic, why did they have to go and cancel the good one...?
Well, I'm super-bummed about this, and of all the titles shipping their final issues in December, this will be the one I miss the most. It varied in quality from issue to issue, naturally, but some of the most fun comics I've read in the last year or two have been published within these pages.
Also, this is, like, the only DC-published comic book I could ever imagine writing a story for...
Written by GENE LUEN YANG
Art and cover by HOWARD PORTER
Variant covers by LEE BERMEJO
On sale DECEMBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with a standard cover, as well as polybagged variant editions. Please see the order form for more information.
What would happen if the powers of all of Superman’s foes were contained in one villain? You’ll find out when you meet the Amalgam of Composite Superman Foes—and this is one nightmare a semi-powered Man of Steel may not survive! Join series writer Gene Luen Yang and guest artist Howard Porter for an unforgettable new epic!
This issue features open-to-order variant covers by Lee Bermejo that will be shipped in opaque polybags.
There are relatively few proper nouns that I like more than "Composite Superman," but I do believe "Amalgam of Composite Suerman Foes," which I've just heard for the first time, is now one of them.
SUPERMAN: LOIS AND CLARK #3
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art by LEE WEEKS
Cover by STEPHEN SEGOVIA
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Who—or what—is Blanque? What is being held in this Superman’s Fortress of Solitude? And what is Intergang, and why is their discovery dangerous to Lois? Whatever the answers, neither Clark nor Lois want their son to learn the truth…
Written by JEFF KING
Art by CARLO PAGULAYAN and JASON PAZ
Cover by STEPHEN SEGOVIA
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Telos battles Validus while his revolutionary allies—K’Rot, Captain Comet, Stealth and Techne—make a horrifying discovery about Computo. He’s creating a super-powered clone army! Techne asks Telos to fight alongside her team. But is Techne who she seems? And will Telos abandon his personal quest for his fellow prisoners’ cause?
Based on how quickly Omega Men was canceled, I believe we can expect the announcement of these two books' cancellations in late December, with their final issues shipping in April. That's just a guess, mind you. The book starring the alternate universe version of Superman and Lois Lane may last a few months longer than the book starring the generic character from the crossover no one liked, who will be teaming up with some characters from a quickly canceled series I've already forgotten the name of.
...Threshold? Was it Threshold...?
Written by LEE BERMEJO
Art by KHARY RANDOLPH
Cover by JORGE CORONA
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
RED ROBIN VS. RED HOOD—TO THE DEATH! “Robin War” part 4 pits Tim Drake against Jason Todd in a steel-cage match—and only the Court of Owls can say who will escape the cage with his life!
Do they really fight to the death? Does one of them really die? Can we pick which one? Maybe vote on it? With a phone number or something? If so, I say death to Jason Todd. If both Todd and Tim Drake survive, however, perhaps they can at least kill off Red Robin's costume? I hate that thing so much.