Tuesday, December 15, 2015

DC's March previews reviewed

This $75, 688-page omnibus of Silver Age comics due out in May is maybe your best best for Supergirl comics in the near future, for some reason.
Next March is going to be a pretty big month for DC Comics, as it will be their 50th month of "The New 52" reboot/relaunch (not counting a skip month here or there). That means that all of the comics that relaunched with new #1s back in September of 2011 will be publishing their 50th issues in March, which, as per tradition in mainstream comics, means big things: The climaxes of several events or storylines, the beginning of new directions by new creative teams and so on.

Of the 52 new monthlies lauched in September 2011, 11 of them will reach #50 in March (Justice League, which took one more month off than some of its peers, will hit #50 in April...and will be the only book other than Batman to have the same writer for that entire time). Considering how often comics tend to renumber with new #1's these days–at Marvel, for example, it was pretty much every time the creative team changed, but now books seem to renumber even more often than that–the fact that a a little more than one-fifth of the line lasted over 50 months is pretty damn impressive.

Most of the books that made it/will make it to their fiftieth issues are in no way surprises: Action Comics, Detective Comics, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Catwoman, Aquaman, The Flash and Green Arrow. Of those, Green Arrow is the only one I really scratch my head over, as it has had, what, 50 different creative teams so far? And, no matter who was writing and/or drawing it, the book has been pretty consistently terrible. I mean, I read a lot of terrible comics, and there have been few issues of Green Arrow I've been able to force myself to read, from beginning to end. I suppose the argument can be made that an Aquaman book reaching that number over some of the books that didn't is kind of remarkable, although it did launch with Geoff Johns writing, which no doubt helped considerably.

Of note among the variant themes/schemes this month is the fact that DC is continuing to mess around with polybagged variants, an alarming return to an alarming trend from the bad old days of the early '90s, although I'm not sure where the blame actually lies for the return to that trend. I'm pretty sure Image beat DC there, thanks to the "naughty" variants of Sex Criminals. There are also some Batman V. Superman: Genysys of Justyce movie variants, which look like mildly tweaked versions of some of the movie posters, incorporating the logos of the books bearing them.

For a complete list of what DC is planning on publishing in December, you can check out this post on Comics Alliance. Otherwise, stay right here for me-talking-about-stuff...


AQUAMAN #50
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
Variant cover by JOSE LUIS GARCIA-LOPEZ
On sale MARCH 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
...
Dead Water is a killer and a monster. No matter where you go, he can reach you if there’s even one drop of water present. Pray that Aquaman finds you first! And the most famous oceanic hero on Earth is Aquaman, right? In our gala 50th issue, make way for…Aquawoman!

It looks like Aquaman is getting a new creative team, with Brett Booth as the pencil artist, which...well,  let's just say he's not a favorite of mine (that cover looks pretty okay, though; I think Booth is much better at covers and pin-ups than comics). What's really too bad is that Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is providing a variant cover, apparently just to make anyone who sees it sad that he's just drawing the variant cover, and not the interior art as well.

Also of note is the fact that Aquaman is apparently going back to his classic look, after a few months of experimenting with a black, sleeve-less shirt for some reason, and the mention of "Aquawoman." Who could this be? The gender-flipped one who played a fairly large role in The Multiversity? The queen of Atlantis seen in the pages of Earth-2? Mera from the pages of DC Comics Bombshells...? Or is that the superhero codename they're going to give the lady on the cover of this issue, Mera...?

I sincerely hope they're not going to start calling the "real" Mera "Aquawoman," if only because she's done just fine going by "Mera" for decades now, and because having "Aquaman and Aquawoman" together seems a little too Hawk for Arthur and Mera...


First off, and less importantly, I just wanted to say that I love when comics covers do these sorts of call-backs to earlier covers, like Kevin Maguire's seemingly endless riffs on that first Justice League cover he did.

Secondly, and more importantly, HOLY SHIT Batgirl is teaming up with Spoiler, Black Canary, Harper "Bluebird" Row and he friend Frankie, who has been Babs' unofficial "oracle" for a few months now?! Could this be the line-up to an all-new, all-awesome Birds of Prey?! Yes, it could be, and, in fact, it should be.

DC YOU MUST PUBLISH A NEW BIRDS OF PREY COMIC WITH THIS EXACT LINE-UP AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!

(Just let me know if you guys need help picking out a non-terrible creative team for it. The very busy Brenden Fletcher seems like an ideal writer or co-writer, and David LaFuente would be a swell artist, if you ask me. Which you didn't. But you should, because remember how terrible that last Birds of Prey book you guys tried was? Yuck.)



BATMAN #50
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by GREG CAPULLO and DANNY MIKI
Polybagged variant cover by JIM LEE
On sale MARCH 23 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
...
Batman has returned to Gotham City! In this extra-sized conclusion to Snyder and Capullo’s epic story “Superheavy,” Bruce Wayne returns to the cape and cowl to battle Mr. Bloom alongside Jim Gordon for the fate of the city they both love.

Huh. I know Jim Gordon's been Batman since June, which will mean about nine months by the time this sees publication, but so far at least, that doesn't seem like too terribly a long time. It is, after all, only a single story arc in Batman, although I suppose it's well worth remember that between Detective and Batman/Superman and guest-appearances all over the place, there have actually been a lot more Gordon-as-Batman stories than just Snyder's "Superheavy."

The solicit for Detective mentions that it will deal with Gordon's future, which I'm honestly quite curious about, as not only does he need a new job, but she quit smoking, shaved his mustache, got a mohawk and had Lasik done, so, when he gets out of the Batman suit, he's going to look like a completely different person than he was prior to putting it on.

I guess another reason that the return of Bruce Wayne to the role seems so sudden is that Snyder took such pains to show that this was not a simple matter of amnesia, but that Bruce Wayne had somehow basically re-grown an entirely different brain, making it impossible for him to return to Batmanning. I'm eager to see how Snyder writes himself out of that, and hope it's more inspired than Mr. Bloom's-super-seeds-fixing-Wayne or something to do with The Joker's alleged mystical powers (I liked how "Endgame" treated Joker's semi-immortality as a possible joke on his part, so having that aspect of the character confirmed in an unequivocal manner will sort of retroactively spoil an element of the previous storyline).


BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL #22
Story by JAMES TYNION IV and SCOTT SNYDER
Script by GENEVIEVE VALENTINE
Art by FERNANDO BLANCO
Cover by CARLO PAGULAYAN
On sale MARCH 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s the catastrophic conclusion of the acclaimed weekly series that brings together all of Batman’s one-time partners! Mother’s trap has been sprung, and the whole world is feeling her wrath! Can Dick Grayson pull together his allies to fight an entire army of foes? Is one among them still under Mother’s control? And what will become of Cassandra Cain? You won’t believe how huge this battle can become!

Here's an other storyline that seems to be concluding a lot earlier than I might have expected. I think I forgot it was going to be shorter than Batman Eternal was, and just assumed it would be a year-long story arc.

I sort of love the cover, with all those sidekicks on it; it's like a nice, deadpan joke about Batman being a loner who doesn't play well with others.

Is it significant that Cassandra Cain is on the cover, even without a mask, but Azrael, who was also re-re-introduced in the course of the series, is not? I assumed the former would take on her Batman Inc-derived Black Bat costume and persona by the end of the series...although I guess it's worth noting that this is not necessarily the cover of the final issue. As with past months, there is only a single paragraph of solicit copy, repeated four times.

Anyway, props to artist Tony Daniel for obscuring the worst of the bad costumes–those of Bluebird, Red Robin and Red Hood–as much as possible while still drawing them on the cover.


DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE #4
Written by FRANK MILLER and BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art by ANDY KUBERT and KLAUS JANSON
Minicomic art by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
Cover by ANDY KUBERT
...
On sale MARCH 16
32-pg comic: 6.375” x 10.1875”
16-page minicomic: 5.5” x 8.5”
FC, 4 of 8, $5.99 US
...
The Master Race will rise. Cities will fall. Bruce Wayne is dead. What will the heroes of the world do to save it?

I can't tell you how bummed I was to discover that Frank Miller would not, in fact, be drawing all of the pages of the mini-comics, but is apparently only drawing the first issue, and then turning the art chores over to high-profile and/or highly talented other artists, reducing his presence even further. His art on the mini-comic portion of the first issue was by far the best part of that entire package. Other than all the Batman-on-a-horse variant covers, of course.


DC COMICS/DARK HORSE: ALIENS TP
Written by RON MARZ and IAN EDGINTON
Art by BERNIE WRIGHTSON, STAZ JOHNSON, JAMES HODGKINS, CHRIS SPROUSE and KEVIN NOWLAN
Cover by STAZ JOHNSON and JAMES HODGKINS
On sale APRIL 27 • 400 pg, FC • $24.99 US
The stories that brought the dread Aliens into the DC Universe are collected in this new title! First, Batman follows the trail from his home turf to the Amazon jungle to discover the horror of the Aliens—but how can even the Dark Knight stop them? Then, an Alien is discovered in a Gotham City construction site—and it’s going to wreak havoc on Arkham Asylum! Plus, the 1998 tale that pitted the WildC.A.T.s against the might of the Aliens is back. Can even the WildC.A.T.s survive a battle with the Aliens—when StormWatch has already fallen?

That is a lot of comics for $25, and an interesting theme for a collection. I suppose a Predator edition will follow...although I think the Batman/Predator comics so outweigh the others that they might just skip including the non-Batman ones (Actually, I think the Superman/Predator crossover is the only one to not include Batman in some capacity).

Or maybe an second volume of DC heroes combatting Aliens-with-a-capital-A will follow, as there's no mention of the Green Lantern crossover, for example, which seems a lot more "DC Comics" than the WildC.A.T.s, who are only DC Comics characters retroactively...

Anyway, check out that list of artists and that price point...this should  be well worth one's time if they have any interest in comics about people in tights fighting the aliens from the Alien/s movies.



ELSEWORLDS: BATMAN VOL. 1 TP
Written by DOUG MOENCH, MIKE W. BARR, ELLIOT S. MAGGIN, HOWARD CHAYKIN and others
Art by NORM BREYFOGLE, HOWARD CHAYKIN, KELLEY JONES, P. CRAIG RUSSELL and others
On sale APRIL 20 • 536 pg, FC, $34.99 US
Some of the best Elseworlds tales starring the Dark Knight are collected for the first time, including BATMAN: HOLY TERROR #1, BATMAN: DARK ALLEGIANCES #1, BATMAN: DARK JOKER – THE WILD #1, BATMAN: IN DARKEST KNIGHT #1, ROBIN 3000 #1-2 and more.

This is a pretty great idea for a trade, too (and not a bad price point either).  It appears to be all of–well, a lot of, anyway–the Batman-related Elseworlds that were originally published in "prestige format," ones that are too short to justify a trade collection all their own.

That's about as all-star a list of creators as one could hope for, including my two personal favorite Batman artists. Of these, In Darkest Knight (the cover of which is used for the cover of this trade) is the only one I've read, so I'll be very interested in this.

If I recall correctly, the Russell-drawn Robin 3000 should be of some interest as it was originally published in the early '90s when the then-new Robin was something of a hot commodity, and because it was one of the earlier Elseworlds stories to actually be branded as such...and one of the relatively few not to be a Superman or Batman story.

I'm a little surprised that Speeding Bullets, the one that asks what would have happened if The Waynes adopted Kal-El instead of The Kents and thus never had Bruce, as it's such a natural companion to In Darkest Knight (which I'm pretty sure it inspired, if not simply informed). But then, it does say "Vol. 1" in the title, so perhaps that will follow in a second volume.


THE FLASH BY GRANT MORRISON AND MARK MILLAR TP
Written by GRANT MORRISON and MARK MILLAR
Art by PAUL RYAN, JOHN NYBERG and RON WAGNER
Cover by STEVE LIGHTLE
On sale APRIL 13 • 336 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar put their distinctive mark on the Scarlet Speedster in this run on THE FLASH from issues #130-141, plus the crossover issues GREEN ARROW #130 and GREEN LANTERN #96! Confined to a wheelchair after a run-in with the mystery villain known only as The Suit, how can The Flash protect Keystone City from evil run amok? Plus, The Flash is forced to represent Earth in an cosmos-spanning race against an alien being called Krakkl!

Woah, woah, woah...was this really not already in print? Is DC really just now publishing a Flash comic by two of the most popular writers working in comics today? Yeesh.

While neither as long nor as beloved as the runs by Mark Waid or Geoff Johns, this is a very good run of Flash comics, with Morrison bringing the Silver Age zaniness to the post-Crisis, de-Silver Aged version of The Flash (Wally West, naturally), and Millar working at or near the height of his creative powers (His Superman Adventures comics are his absolute best, but the superhero writing he was doing for DC around this time was pretty top-notch, and far superior to the Marvel and movie pitch comics that would follow).

Not mentioned in the solicitation copy is the fact that Jesse Quick plays a decent-sized role in this, temporarily taking Flash's spot on the JLA, and there's a fantastic Jay Garrick spotlight issue. And the idea of The Black Flash, which Geoff Johns would mess with during The Flash: Rebirth, is introduced in this. I don't recall the specifics of the "Three of a Kind" crossover event that teamed the modern age Flash with the late Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen's successors Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke, although I recall not liking it much (despite liking all three of those characters a whole lot).


GREEN LANTERN #50
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by BILLY TAN and MARK IRWIN
Cover by JUAN GIMENEZ
Variant cover by DOUG MAHNKE
On sale MARCH 2 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
In this extra-sized issue, it’s a battle for the fate of Earth! Parallax believes Hal Jordan has failed this universe—and now, he’s prepared to wipe Hal out of existence! Hal has to get over the shock that Parallax still exists so he can unleash the power of his gauntlet to stop him! It’s a battle neither Jordan can win, and one that will change both forever.

Awesome. I was so disappointed when DC had Parallax Hal Jordan redeem himself by giving his life to stop the suneater in Final Night; it seemed like such a waste of a character that had the potential to be the DC Universe's most powerful and complex villain. I guess this is going to be the pay-off of the character's re-emergence in Convergence...?
LEGENDS OF TOMORROW #1
Cover by AARON LOPRESTI
On sale MARCH 9 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED T
It’s four powerhouse tales in one colossal comic, as some of comics’ most legendary talents launch new tales of Firestorm, Metamorpho, Metal Men and Sugar and Spike—that’s right, Sugar and Spike!
FIRESTORM
Written by GERRY CONWAY
Art by EDUARDO PANSICA and ROB HUNTER
Firestorm is back! To save Jason Rausch, Firestorm will need to retrieve Danton Black’s stolen research from Professor Stein’s lab. But if Jason can’t fuse with Ronnie by the Firestorm Protocol…who can?
METAL MEN
Written by LEN WEIN
Art by YILDIRAY CINAR and TREVOR SCOTT
Doctor Will Magnus’ Metal Men may be the next step in robotics technology, but when the mysterious cyber-terrorist known only as Nameless comes after them, they may have met their match!
METAMORPHO
Written by AARON LOPRESTI
Art by AARON LOPRESTI with MATT BANNING
Metamorpho—a prisoner of millionaire industrialist Simon Stagg! Now, the only person who can save him is Stagg’s beautiful daughter, Sapphire!? But can they defeat Stagg’s prehistoric bodyguard, Java?
SUGAR & SPIKE
Written by KEITH GIFFEN
Art by BILQUIS EVELY
The last time we saw Sugar and Spike, they were still in diapers! Now, they’re grown up, and they’ve become private investigators who specialize in cleaning up embarrassing problems for the DCU’s greatest heroes. Sugar & Spike’s first assignment: retrieve a cache of Batman’s retired costumes that have been stolen by Killer Moth!

Huh. DC can get their shit together enough to put together a comic set in the DC Universe but kinda sorta tying in to a TV show based on their characters, but they're just now getting around to maybe kinda sorta almost capitalizing on some of the positive Supergirl buzz from a few months ago when that show debuted. (On the subject of DC's extremely belated Supergirl digital comic, Sterling Gates and Bengal sound like an excellent creative team, but the publishing move makes no sense at all to me. If they're skipping comics, and going right from digital to a trade, that means there still won't actually be anything to give people asking for Supergirl comics for months. And there still won't be a Supergirl comic set in the DC Universe, and thus serving as a gateway to the DC Comics line, which is what I assume the point of having a Supergirl comic when there's a popular Supergirl TV show would be. I never quite understood why DC publishes comics based on TV shows based on their comics,  as they've done with Arrow and The Flash. How hard would it be to do a tonal and costume reboot of New 52 Supergirl, ala Batgirl? Gates and Bengal would be a great team to do just that. Why is DC publishing books starring Black Canary, Starfire and Poisin Ivy, but not Supergirl? It's weird. Weirder still? Your best best for a quality Supergirl comic in early 2016 will be the extremely expensive collection of Supergirl comics from over 50 years ago, Supergirl: The Silver Age Omnibus).


MARTIAN MANHUNTER #10
Written by ROB WILLIAMS
Art and cover by EDDY BARROWS and EBER FERREIRA
On sale MARCH 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
In the shadow of an epic war on the Living Mars, DC Comics presents the definitive origin story of J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter—and reveals his terrible destiny!

I think it's cute that they use the term "definitive origin story" for any character in the always-in-flux continuity of the DC Universe, which has had several minor continuity re-jiggering stories since the big New 52-boot, but especially for a character whose origin is so often being tweaked like poor J'onn J'onnz. Maybe we'll get a definitive origin for Donna Troy and Hawkman later in 2016...



SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #15
Written by SHOLLY FISCH
Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale MARCH 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Sure, The Flash runs faster than anyone on Earth. But Scooby and Shaggy run away faster than anyone on Earth! And it’s no wonder why, when the gang accompanies the Scarlet Speedster to the heart of Africa to come face to snout with that talking, anthropoid apparition—the Ghost of Gorilla City!

"The Ghost of Gorilla City" is one of those terms that I didn't know I ever wanted to hear until I actually heard it.

I'm assuming that this particular Flash will be Wally West–note the Wally eyes on the costume–which probably makes the most sense, as he was the cartoon Flash, and thus the one most likely to team-up with Scooby-Doo and the gang.

As a more light-hearted character than Barry Allen, with a fully-functioning sense of humor and a huge appetite, Wally West is the best Flash to pair with Scooby and company.


SUICIDE SQUAD VOL. 3: ROGUES TP
Written by JOHN OSTRANDER
Art by LUKE McDONNELL, GRAHAM NOLAN, KEITH GIFFEN and others
Cover by KARL KESEL
On sale APRIL 6 • 280 pg, FC, $19.99 US
The Suicide Squad is back in stories from issues #17-25 and ANNUAL #1! First, the team stumbles into the Meta-Zone, where they encounter Shade, the Changing Man. Then, the Jihad is back—and there are scores to settle! And Captain Boomerang is about to pay for masquerading as Mirror Master!

I'm really excited that they're doing a Suicide Squad movie, if only because it seems to be driving the suddenly urgent collection and publication of the original (i.e. the good) Suicide Squad comics. I wish these were all in print months ago, when people were asking for good Suicide Squad comics...


SUPERMAN #50
Written by GENE LUEN YANG
Art by HOWARD PORTER
Cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON
...
On sale MARCH 16 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
...
Superman returns in all his glory in this very special issue that sees the Man of Steel back to full power as he faces his greatest enemy and also comes face to face with the pre-Flashpoint Kal-El! At last, it’s the meeting of the Supermen you’ve been waiting for!

Well, I wasn't waiting for that meeting...especially since it's not really the pre-Flashpoint Kal-El, but the pre-Flashpoint Kal-El after he, Lois and their son lived through Convergence, re-jiggered Crisis On Infinite Earths off-panel somehow and then spent six years or so in The New 52-iverse. That Kal-El is more post-Convergence than he is pre-Flashpoint at this point, isn't he?

With his power and costume back, this too seems to be the conclusion of a nine-month status quo change for its hero, and it too seems to be coming awfully suddenly. There's no mention of the biggest change though, Superman's secret identity no longer being secret, so I wonder if that too will be reversed at the same time as his power loss and costume change. That's a much harder genie to shove back in the bottle, especially in a way that doesn't seem like a cheap out.


Okay, there's obviously a lot of stuff in DC's publishing plans to question or criticize, but there is one thing that the publisher is doing exactly, unequivocally right: They are having Kelley Jones draw Swamp Thing. Look at that cover. Look at it!

Jones generally fares much better with monsters and Batmen than he does with the female form, but that's a pretty good Zatanna. Also, how awesome is that Swamp Thing? And the ornate background?

Man, it's nice to be able to end one of these posts on a note of unbridled, unqualified enthusiasm...!

3 comments:

David page said...

There are no words to how happy i am for the ostrander suicide squad getting traded

Robert Jazo said...

I am surprised you have never read Batman: Holy Terror considering what a fan of Norm Breyfogle you are. Personally it is one of my favorite Elseworlds.

SallyP said...

So...the New 52 has been around, or will be around for fifty issues?

Huh.

I...I still miss the OLD continuity, and considering how bleak the "new" books have become, I will continue to do so.