Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DC's September previews reviewed

I can tell without checking that this year's Suicide Squad movie is opening in August, based on the number of times "Suicide Squad" shows up in DC's August solicitations.

There's the first two issues of the relaunched ongoing series, Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 and Suicide Squad #1. There's a new Suicide Squad's Most Wanted anthology miniseries, featuring two different characters than the previous one, Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Boomerang (Did Digger Harkness lose his rank? In both the title and the solicitation copy, he's called "Boomerang" instead of "Captain Boomerang"). There's Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1, a one-shot written by John Ostrander (whose basic vision of the team is the one propelling the film), the cover of which is above. And there's Suicide Squad: Katana, a trade paperback collecting the Katana half of the previous Suicide Squad's Most Wanted anthology series. (There's also a ton of Harley Quinn material, as there so often is, but the $10, 160-page Harley Quinn's Greatest Hits, which includes a few issues worth of Suicide Squad material.)

They are also, of course, publishing many comics that have nothing to do with the Squad or Harley Quinn, and you can find their complete solicitations here. And to look over my shoulder as I read them--or is it more like having me look over your shoulder while you read them?--you can stay right where you are.


AQUAMAN: A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS HC
Written by JACK MILLER, STEVE SKEATES, GEOFF JOHNS and others
Art by PAUL NORRIS, NICK CARDY, JIM APARO, RAMONA FRADON, IVAN REIS and others
Cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
Celebrate more than seven decades of the ruler of the seas, king of Atlantis, and Justice League team member: Aquaman! Since his debut in 1941, Aquaman has defeated villains and saved the world on land and in the ocean, and this anthology collects his brightest and darkest moments in the definitive look at his history as a DC Comics Super Hero. Whether it’s Orin or Arthur Curry, Aquaman is a beloved and timeless hero, and we’re pleased to present this collection in honor of his 75th Anniversary.
On sale OCTOBER 19 • 400 pg, FC, $39.99 US


These 75th anniversary collections are always interesting, not simply because of the stories they contain, but because of what the stories within say about how the publisher perceives the character. Given DC's rather defensive attitude about Aquaman in general, and their recent attempts to over-compensate by making the character more powerful and more violent and more "dark," I'm particularly interested to see the contents of this particular book.

Looking at the artist, it seems like the first four listed comprise those one would expect to see in any collection of the greatest Aquaman comics, although I'm genuinely surprised not to see Peter David's name listed under writers. I'm assuming there's a David story in there somewhere–there would have to be, right?

I'm slightly baffled by the cover, which is from a cover of the first story arc of the Geoff Johns-written, Jim Lee-drawn New 52 Justice League. Not only is that particular version of Aquaman not a particularly, popular, enduring or even familiar one–that's his look from that one single storyline–but Green Lantern Hal Jordan is lying at his feet, which sure sends a weird signal. They couldn't find a single Aquaman cover that was just Aquaman? I find that a little hard to believe.

To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that these A Celebration... collections haven't all just recycled Alex Ross covers or posters for their covers, as presenting iconic images of the most recognizable and resonant versions of DC superheroes is kind of his whole deal.


ALL-STAR BATMAN #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by JOHN ROMITA JR., DANNY MIKI and DECLAN SHALVEY
Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR. and DANNY MIKI
...
“My Own Worst Enemy” part one! Superstar writer Scott Snyder explodes into an all-new Batman series alongside legendary artist John Romita Jr., reimagining some of the Dark Knight’s greatest villains. First up: Two-Face! Batman must take Two-Face to a destination out of Gotham City, but the duplicitous villain has a two of spades up his sleeve. Every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide is on their tails with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before!
On sale AUGUST 10 • 40 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T


Given the fact that Two-Face has been all but MIA in the New 52–correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he was only featured in a single story arc in Batman and Robin, and had a cameo or three elsewhere–Batman writer Scott Snyder focusing his attention on the classic, Top Five Batman villain makes an awful lot of sense. (Two-Face's relative absence from the DCU over the last five years or so has actually been kind of curious, given what an increasingly prominent role the character has played since "Batman: Year One.")

I wish I knew what "Rebirth" meant for DC continuity, however, as I thought I had read that Two-Face was killed off. Of course, the previous books DC published with the words "All-Star" in the title–All-Star Superman, All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder and I suppose All-Star Section Eight–have all been set outside the "real" DC Universe (Well, the Superman and Batman books definitely were; the Section Eight book had a more ambiguous relationship with the DCU, and I guess the best way to put it was that it was set in the New 52 DCU but shouldn't be considered canonical).


BATGIRL #2
Written by HOPE LARSON
Art and cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
...
“Beyond Burnside” part two. Batgirl is off to Singapore! Following the mysterious advice of the ancient superhero known as Fruit Bat, Babs dives into the dangerous world of MMA fighting. But her first opponent may be more than just an adversary in the ring. Could she be connected to Babs’ new travel-companion-slash-maybe-crush?
On sale AUGUST 24 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Well, I like the name "Fruit Bat" for a Bat-Family character, and I remain curious about what a Hope Larson-scripted superhero comic book might be like, but other than that I don't see anything here that really excites me, either in the solicitation copy or in Albuquerque's relatively bland cover. That's a pretty big difference from how I would feel when seeing Babs Tarr's covers for the previous volume of Batgirl in these monthly solicits.


THE DC UNIVERSE BY NEIL GAIMAN DELUXE EDITION HC
Written by NEIL GAIMAN
Art by ANDY KUBERT, SIMON BISLEY, MARK BUCKINGHAM, KEVIN NOWLAN, MATT WAGNER, MICHAEL ALLRED and others
Cover by BRIAN BOLLAND
New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s tales of DC’s greatest superheroes are collected in a single volume. Gaiman, co-creator of THE SANDMAN and author of American Gods, teams with superstar artist Andy Kubert to tell the story that truly defines the years of Batman’s life in the epic “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” Also included are stories starring Batman, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, Metamorpho and others from the pages of SECRET ORIGINS #36, SECRET ORIGINS SPECIAL #1, WEDNESDAY COMICS #1-12, BATMAN #686, DETECTIVE COMICS #853 and GREEN LANTERN/SUPERMAN: LEGEND OF THE GREEN FLAME #1.
On sale OCTOBER 12 • 224 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” $29.99 US


I think I have all of these in single issue format save for the story from Secret Origins #36* (it's a Poison Ivy origin with Mark Buckingham, if you're curious), but I would highly recommend this to anyone who is missing many of those.

I think it's pretty safe to say that none of the above represents Gaiman's best work, regardless of how strong that Secret Origins Special comic is or how brilliant-ish as that Legend of the Green Flame story is. For the most part, these are simply decent, more-clever-than-most superhero comics, most significant not for their writing, but for their art.

The Green Flame comic, originally conceived and written as a kind of coda to Action Comics' weekly, anthology phase, was completed by a who's who of artists, for example. Some of them are among those credited above, but also contributing were John Totleben, Eric Shanower, Eddie Campbell and Jim Aparo...Oh, and Frank Miller drew its cover. That story is a who's who of artists in a collection that looks to similarly be a who's who of artists, some of whom do the real heavy lifting in some of those stories (The Metamorpho comic from Wednesday Comics, for example, is more Mike Allred's show than it is Gaiman's).


I still hate all those costumes, but now I feel kinda guilty saying that I hate Tim Drake's new Red Robin costume, given that it's so many hundreds of times better than his previous Red Robin costume, which he is apparently still wearing in the pages of August's issue of Teen Titans.


DOCTOR FATE #15
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by SONNY LIEW
Cover by INAKI MIRANDA
Trapped in the realm of the Efreet, young Khalid Nassour must fight to regain his soul or be lost for all eternity in another dimension, and the only person who can aid him is the previous Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson. But has Nelson returned to help Nassour learn how to wield his powers, or to wrest them from him and keep them for himself. As we learn the startling answer to that question, Nassour’s life hangs in the balance.
On sale AUGUST 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

EARTH 2: SOCIETY #15
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by FEDERICO DALLOCHIO
Cover by JORGE JIMENEZ
A new menace rises to threaten the fragile order the Wonders struggle to maintain. Emboldened by Green Lantern’s loss of power, the Ultrahumanite emerges from the shadows with an army of super-powered slaves. His goal is nothing less than reforming Earth-2 in his vision, utilizing the Amazonian technology that Fury had hoped to use to rebuild a better world.
On sale AUGUST 10 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED


I am honestly shocked that both of these comics are still going to be published as of August, given that so many of those launched--or, in the case of Earth 2, re-launched aound the time of DC's "DCYou" initiative have been canceled...and/or re-launched. Neither of these seems to sell particularly well, neither are particularly well-written, and, in the case of the latter, its very existence just seems to dilute the DC Universe brand in general.

Earth 2 also has an annual shipping in August that promises "an epic turning point in the history of Earth-2’s Batman." Fun fact: The current Batman of Earth 2 is the third Batman of that planet (well, planets, since the first Earth 2 was destroyed and settled a second Earth 2) since the title first launched in 2012. So it's not like this particular Batman has much in the way of a history, nor would any change of it seem too terribly epic, as these Batmen serve shorter terms than Presidents do...


THE FLASH BY MARK WAID BOOK ONE TP
Written by MARK WAID
Art by GREG LAROCQUE, JOSE MARZAN, JR., MICHAEL COLLINS, TRAVIS CHAREST, MIKE PAROBECK and others
Montage cover
In 1990, Mark Waid’s legendary writing career began when he scripted his first issue of THE FLASH. Waid would continue to work on Wally West for nearly a decade, building a world that would keep the character running for years. In this first volume of a new series, Young Wally West is quickly in danger—not only from The Flash’s enemies, but from powers that he doesn’t know how to control! Collects THE FLASH #62-68, THE FLASH ANNUAL #4-5 and THE FLASH SPECIAL #1.
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 368 pg, FC, $29.99 US


So here's a comic book I've been meaning to try and read for almost ever now (I've only really read the later years of Waid's run, plus a random back issue-bin find here and there). This seems like the perfect opportunity to finally do so.


HARLEY’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK #5
Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art and cover by NEAL ADAMS
...
(Mumble-mumble) years ago, the alien race known as the Scrubb forced Superman into a boxing match for the ages, against Earth’s greatest heavyweight champion, (mumble-mumble)! Now, (mumble-mumble) years later, the Scrubb have returned…but with said champion unavailable, the Scrubb have chosen the next-best thing: Harley Quinn! This can’t end well for anyone involved. Featuring unbelievable art by the legendary Neal Adams, it’s a tribute to one of the greatest Superman stories of the 1970s, in Harley Quinn’s own particular, ah, idiom!
On sale AUGUST 24 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+


Well, that sounds like a pretty much perfect use of a guest artist, having him draw an elaborate homage to one of his own previous stories.

What's with the "(Mumble-muble)" business, though? I sincerely hope those aren't supposed to be Muhammad Ali-Parkinson's jokes, because jokes about people with Parkinson's or other such diseases generally aren't very funny. (UPDATE: Actually, read the comments to see how wrong I was!)


JUSTICE LEAGUE #2
Written by BRYAN HITCH
Art by TONY S. DANIEL and SANDU FLOREA • Covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES
...
“The Extinction Machine” part two! Massive earthquakes shake cities to the ground as the ancient intelligence known as the Awakened takes control of the people of Earth, forcing them to turn against anyone with superpowers—including the Justice League! Unable to fight a war on two fronts, Batman asks for help from the one man he trusts less than anyone.
On sale AUGUST 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

JUSTICE LEAGUE #3
Written by BRYAN HITCH
Art by TONY S. DANIEL and SANDU FLOREA • Covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES
...
“The Extinction Machine” part three! The hive-mind entities known as the Awakened take their vendetta against the Justice League to the next level by changing ordinary people into grotesque monsters bent on hunting down super-humans all over the world. Meanwhile, Superman journeys to the center of the earth to stop the catastrophic quakes that are taking lives all over the world.
On sale AUGUST 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


As weird as it might seem that DC has handed one of their top books to artist Bryan Hitch to write but not draw, it seems weirder still that DC re-launched the book with Hitch writing it before his previous Justice League book even ended. Counting the Rebirth Special, the above are the third and fourth issues of Hitch's tenure as the new writer of Justice League. Meanwhile, his run on Justice League of America finally concludes in August with the publication of JLoA #12 and JLoA Annual #1, neither of which feature artwork by Hitch which, if you'll remember, was kind of the whole selling point of the title--a new Justice League comic written and illustrated by superstar artist Bryan Hitch.

I can't imagine what goes on behind the scenes at DC--and a lot of times, I don't think I want to--but it sounds like the publisher rather unexpectedly found themselves without a Justice League writer, and simply moved Hitch from one League title to the other, where he can continue to tell whatever stories he might have had planned for the franchises B-title.


NEW SUPER-MAN #2
Written by GENE LUEN YANG
Art by VIKTOR BOGDANOVIC and RICHARD FRIEND
Cover by VIKTOR BOGDANOVIC
...
“Made in China” part two! The New Super-Man must face off against the Justice League of China? When Kenan Kong was imbued with the powers of Superman, he didn’t waste any time using them! Now it’s up to the New Bat-Man and New Wonder-Woman of his home country to bring our hero back down to earth—just in time to stop the attack of the deadly Sunbeam!
On sale AUGUST 10 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Feh. I'm looking forward to this book quite a bit, and while a Superman of China is cool, I feel weird about there also being a Batman and Wonder Woman of China. Get you own heroes, China! I think The Great Ten still exist post-Flashpoint and, if not, I'm sure Yang can make up his own fairly inspired Chinese superheroes.



SIXPACK AND DOGWELDER: HARD-TRAVELING HEROZ #1
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art by RUSS BRAUN
Cover by STEVE DILLON
Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
...
In the tradition of the original Hard-Traveling Heroes, Green Lantern and Green Arrow, Sixpack and Dogwelder are ready to bring their allegedly socially aware brand of justice to the lands beyond Gotham City!
After the events of ALL-STAR SECTION EIGHT, Sixpack is fighting to keep what’s left of his team together. Dogwelder has gone in search of his past, while newlyweds Bueno Excellente and Guts are dealing with some fidelity issues. Could Section Eight be done for good?
But everything changes when a mysterious trenchcoat-wearing chain smoker offers our favorite dog enthusiast some clues about his true nature. Is Dogwelder everything he seems? Or is he meant for something greater?
On sale AUGUST 24 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+


Well this is unexpected, particularly since All-Star Section Eight didn't exactly set the sales charts on fire or anything. I'm a little disappointed that Sixpack co-creator John McCrea won't be involved--and I'm really disappointed by that price tag--but at this point I'm more surprised by the book's very existence.

Neal Adams' bizarre homage to one of his own most classic covers is...something, and I'm glad that Steve Dillon gets to draw Dogwelder, as I understand it was he that originally suggested the character.

It's probably worth pointing out that, aside from the various Harley Quinn books (which I never find the least bit amusing), this is the only comic book DC is publishing this month that appears to be a genuine attempt at a comical comic book. That stands in sharp contrast to the massive superhero line of their rivals Marvel, who publish plenty of superhero books that double as comedies.


SUPERGIRL: REBIRTH #1
Written by STEVE ORLANDO
Art by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO and RAY McCARTHY
Cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO
...
Supergirl turns to the shadowy organization known as the D.E.O. (Department of Extranormal Operations) to restore her lost powers once and for all! But as a fateful experiment sends Kara Zor-El rocketing toward the sun, disaster strikes at home in the form of the lost Kryptonian werewolf Lar-On! All the epic action of the brand new Supergirl series starts here!
On sale AUGUST 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


As glad as I am that the Supergirl TV show wasn't actually cancelled (along with Agent Carter and the Netflix Marvel shows, that's the only other superhero TV show I watch), I did think it would be kind of funny if the network decided to cancel Supergirl right before DC finally--finally!--solicited a new Supergirl comic book. As you can see from the solicitation, the comic will reflect the TV show in at least one respect.

It's probably also worth noting that DC has a bunch of Supergirl collections solicited for August as well.


SUICIDE SQUAD: REBIRTH #1
Written by ROB WILLIAMS
Art and cover by PHILIP TAN and JONATHAN GLAPION
...
Soldier. War hero. Traitor. Captain Rick Flag was one of America’s greatest military commanders before he was banished to a secret military prison. But after years of isolation, Flag’s life changes forever when a woman called Amanda Waller offers him redemption in exchange for taking on the single most dangerous job in the entire DC Universe: keeping the Suicide Squad alive!
On sale AUGUST 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+


It kind of amazes me that it took the publisher this long to re-introduce a key character from the Ostrander-written, 1980s iteration of Suicide Squad to the series, which is being relaunched here for the third time since September 2011. It depresses me that adding Flag back into the mix was more likely a response to the film than to anything else.


SUPERWOMAN #1
Written by PHIL JIMENEZ
Art by PHIL JIMENEZ and MATT SANTORELLI
Cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
Variant cover by TERRY DODSON and RACHEL DODSON
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
“Who Is Superwoman?” part one! Lois Lane takes flight! Now powered up with the abilities of Superman, Lois pledges to carry on the super-legacy as Superwoman! There’s only one problem: Lois’ new powers are killing her, and neither she nor her friend and confidant Lana Lang know what to do about it. Will Lois even survive long enough to learn the deadly secret of Ultra Woman?
On sale AUGUST 10 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


In the grand DC Comics tradition of giving readers exactly what they want, but in a way they don't want it, we finally get that Lois Lane ongoing series we've been asking for forever...and it will feature Lois Lane as a distaff version of Superman instead of, you know, Lois Lane.

On the bright side, it's being written and drawn by Phil Jimenez, who was responsible for what I think is probably the strongest post-Crisis run on the Wonder Woman title, which happened to include a pretty great issue teaming Wonder Woman with Lois. So while I kind of hate this premise, especially since a newspaper version of Gotham Central starring Lois seems infinitely preferable (and truer to the character), if anyone can do right by it, Jimenez can.



*I know all of those particular secret origins are like two-to-four reboots out-of-date now, but I still kinda wish DC would go ahead and collect that entire series. I'd read it. It's one of the many comics I've tried finding in back-issue bins over the years and, like Suicide Squad and All-Star Squadron, I never got as far as I'd like...and would greatly prefer something bound and not smelling of moldy paper, if possible.

3 comments:

Robert Jazo said...

I honestly don't think the "mumble-mumble" is a reference to Ali's Parkinson's Disease. Since it occurs whenever they would be mentioning 1978 or Ali's name it is supposed to be a jokey way for dealing with "comic book time". After all, a Superman who has only been active for five or so years wouldn't have even been born in 1978 and is way too young to have ever sparred with Muhammad Ali. Sort of the way a TV character who is sensitive about their age might trail off into a mumble when it comes up in conversation.

Simon (formerly Johnny Sorrow) said...

Following up on what Robert said, I would suspect that DC may not even have the rights to produce new stories featuring Ali. So the solicit (and maybe the issue) will ostentatiously murmur about the timeframe and identity of the champ, sort of how Marvel would sneak ROM into stories by describing "the greatest of the Spaceknights, (mumble mumble)!"

Caleb said...

Oh yeah, that makes much more sense! I was concentrating on the mumbles, and not the placement of the mumbles. Thanks guys!