Tuesday, January 24, 2017

DC's April previews reviewed

You may start your cancellation countdown...now!

So the big news this month is that DC is raising the price of all of their formerly $2.99 monthly comics to $3.99, which is the over-inflated price that Marvel has been selling their books at for years now (and most of the direct market publishers have followed suit; I think DC and Image are the only ones still publishing $2.99 books, but I could be wrong).

Normally I would be gnashing my garments and rending my teeth, so full of rage and unable to think straight enough to remember what gets gnashed and what gets rent, at such news. But since DC's "Rebirth" initiative switched the publishing schedule of so many of their comics to bi-monthly, most of the DCU titles I'm currently reading regularly will be unaffected.

Just a second here...

Okay, so it looks like at the moment I am reading nine DCU books that aren't All Star Batman (which has always been $4.99, given its bigger page-count). Of those, only Teen Titans will see a price increase, so it looks like I'll only be dropping one of those nine books (I can always catch up with the adventures of Damian Wayne and his new, press-ganged pals in trade paperbacks borrowed from the library).

These are the books getting price-increased: Batgirl, Batgirl and The Birds of Prey, Batman Beyond, Batwoman, Blue Beetle, Cyborg, Hellblazer, New Super-Man, Red Hood and The Outlaws, Supersons, Supergirl, Superwoman, Teen Titans, Titans and Trinity.

DC is offsetting the price increase by including digital copies or whatever, which is what Marvel used to do and just stopped doing, if I understand this business correctly (and having always ignored digital comics, there's no reason to believe I do). Even still, I imagine this announcement could be translated into "DC Comics Announces the Cancellation of Cyborg."

I can't see how this can possibly help any of these books in the not-that-long long term, although I suppose for the immediate future (like, a few months) it means they will be able to generate a bit more money as their readerships gradually abandon them.

A few of those books appeared to be on their way out anyway, like Cyborg and Superwoman (New Super-Man's sales estimates look pretty poor too, but I am imagining that writer Gene Luen Yang's involvement will make that a success in the trade market, whatever Wednesday readers think of it; I like the writing and dislike the art, personally). Others, like Hellblazer, Blue Beetle and Red Hood, DC keeps canceling and relaunching, in spite of their audiences' ongoing refusal to read those books in sufficient numbers.

The book I honestly feel bad about here is Batwoman, which was already going to have an uphill climb. Given the impression that it's original creative team made, it seems that fans of the Batwoman comic book aren't exactly primed to embrace the work of a creative team that differs so greatly from that of J.H. Williams III and/or Greg Rucka. The creative team is okay, Margeurite Bennett's Bombshells Batwoman is pretty great, but I think the monthly was always going to be a bit of a hard sell, and this will just make it harder.

Well, that and Supersons, which I've really been looking forward too.

I'm a little bummed to see Supergirl, Batgirl and Teen Titans in here, as those are all books I think DC should always be publishing and always be as accessible as possible, even though I'm not reading those first two (they were mediocre, which isn't good enough with all this competition).

I'm surprised DC's still publishing a Batman Beyond comic, and was fairly shocked with how poor the first story arcs of Titans and Batgirl and The Birds of Prey were. I just don't think you can do a book featuring the characters in Titans given the current state of the shared-setting DCU (and I suspect a large part of that book's continued existence involves readers interested in DC's cosmic continuity-altering mega-story), and the new BOP is just really, really badly written (That's why DC apparently passed on the Burnside-based BOP that was set up in the pages of Batgirl? Well, probably that and the fact that James Tynion had plans for Harper Row and Spoiler elsewhere...)

Anyway, let's see what else DC has in store for readers in April, aside from those price increases, shall we?

Written by SCOTT SNYDER • Art and cover by AFUA RICHARDSON
“Ends of the Earth” finale! It all comes down to this. After months of searching, Batman has found the mastermind behind the blight sweeping the planet, and must face off against one of his most dangerous villains in a battle of wills for the fate of the Earth.
On sale APRIL 12 • 40 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T

It's not Mister Freeze for the whole "Ends of the Earth" arc, then? Huh.

Well, if it's a disease sweeping the planet, then that sure makes it sound like Ra's al Ghul is behind it, as that's sort of his MO, but I honestly hope it's not Ra's.

I know Snyder has barely written Ra's, and I think the only time he may have done so was in the pages of Batman Eternal, when Snyder and James Tynion were basically just crossing off everyone's guesses for who was behind it all, but I am personally kind of sick of Ra's, having seen so damn much of him and his daughter and organization in the pages of Batman and Robin and Robin: Son of Batman and now Teen Titans.

Ra's al Ghul could really use a vacation, a cooling off period like they gave The Joker and Two-Face in order to make his appearances seem more special.

Written by TOM KING • Art and cover by JASON FABOK
“THE BUTTON” part one! The cataclysmic events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 continue here! The Dark Knight and The Fastest Man Alive, the two greatest detectives on any world, unite to explore the mystery behind a certain blood-stained smiley button embedded in the Batcave wall. What starts as a simple investigation turns deadly when the secrets of the button prove irresistible to an unwelcome third party—and it’s not who anyone suspects! It’s a mystery woven through time, and the ticking clock starts here!
On sale APRIL 19 • 32 pg, FC
Lenticular cover edition $3.99 US
Nonlenticular edition, international edition and variant edition each $2.99 US • RATED T

Well, this is a bit of a surprise. I imagined that when DC finally addressed the events of DC Universe: Rebirth in a direct fashion it would be in some big event series by Geoff Johns.

It looks like there's at least one more stop on the way to finally explaining what the fuck has been going on with the DC Universe and it's fucked-up continuity over the course of the last 5+ years though. It's kinda cool that they are addressing this within the pages of the regular Batman and Flash books though, although I honestly can't imagine what would actually fill some 80-pages worth of comics. I mean, Batman found a smiley-faced pin with some blood on it embedded in the wall of the Batcave. Okay. And I guess he determined it maybe came from an alternate dimension somehow. Then what, exactly?

I suppose much of it will depend on who the "unwelcome third party" is; it better not be Ozymandius or Rorschach, because that's who everybody suspects. Maybe Seymour?

Three quick thoughts:

1.) That button looks huge. Is it just the way Batman is holding it, or is this a very large button? Maybe everything in the Watchmen-iverse is scaled larger than it is in the DC Universe....?

2.) Did you notice that they called Batman, The World's Greatest Detective and The Flash, The Fastest Man Alive, "the greatest detectives on any world"...? I wonder what The Elongated Man and Detective Chimp have to say about Barry Allen being one of the greatest detectives in the world...Oh wait, I'm sorry, on any world. Also, Sherlock Holmes.

3.) The blood on that button still hasn't dried? Jeez.

Written by DAN JURGENS • Art and cover by BERNARD CHANG
“RISE OF THE DEMON” part two! As Terry McGinnis considers whether or not to take a break from being Batman, Gotham City Police H.Q. is overrun by a horde of ninjas. The League of Assassins has launched a full-out assault on the city and CurarĂ©, leaving Terry no choice but to jump into the fray. What news does CurarĂ© bring that makes her a target for death?
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

The Demon, The League of Assassins...

See? More Ra's al Ghul!

I'm not a statue guy, and would never pay actual money for any of these things, but I thought I should highlight this month's offering in the Batman Black and White line of collectible statuary, as it features Norm Breyfogle's Batman, which in my humble opinion is the best Batman.

Written by SCOTT SNYDER and STEVE ORLANDO • Art and cover by RILEY ROSSMO • Variant cover by TIM SALE
Two of history’s greatest vigilantes are reunited at last! Murder has come to Gotham City, and Lamont Cranston appears to be the culprit…but he’s been dead for over fifty years! Batman will go to the ends of the Earth to unravel the mystery of Cranston’s life, but the mysterious Shadow will do everything in his power to stop him from learning too much…

The superstar team of writers Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando and artist Riley Rossmo brings you a dark and twisty modern noir like nothing you’ve seen before, with a brand-new villain unlike any either hero has faced! This is the unmissable crime series of 2017, so get on board now! Co-published with Dynamite.
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T

Huh. I was pretty surprised to see this, mostly because it seems like something that would be a big enough deal to both DC and Dynamite that it would have been announced previously but, if it was, I totally missed it somehow.

I say this is a big deal, and I say that more because it's more Snyder-written Batman, rather than because it involves a crossover of some kind with The Shadow (I note it says "reunited," so I assume they have crossed paths before; was that when DC was publishing Shadow comics?). I'm really glad to see that Riley Rossmo is doing the art, too. Rossmo is a great artist, and been getting decent DC gigs of late, but mostly just an issue or so at a time. Hopefully this will be the big showcase Rossmo needs to get him all the attention his work deserves.

This is a pretty good example of a comic with a variant cover strategy that makes me want to wait for the trade though. Like, why buy a Batman/Shadow comic without a Tim Sale drawing of Batman and The Shadow now, when you could just wait six months and get the whole series with the Sale drawing or drawings, you know?

Oh look, there's Ra's al Ghul again, this time on the cover of the Batman'66 and Wonder Woman '77 crossover.

The fight of the century is on! But it’ll take more than muscle for Batman and Wildcat to shut down a secret superhuman fighting ring that’s killing its combatants! Two of the DC Universe’s greatest fighters go head to head in these slobberknockers from BATMAN/WILDCAT #1-3, CATWOMAN/WILDCAT #1-4 and THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #88, 97, 110, 118 and 127.
On sale MAY 17 • 280 pg, FC, $24.99 US

Weird. I was literally just talking about this comic, as my friend and I have been struggling to get through an IDW collection of writer Beau Smith's original, horribly-drawn Wynonna Earp comics (They are the worst). When discussing what else Smith has written, the Batman/Wilcat comic was one of the first that came to mind, and I wondered what that would read like today. I guess I can find out in a few months!

The Dark Knight stories tying into ZERO HOUR are now collected in their entirety. Time is collapsing upon itself! The villainous Extant has ushered in a series of black holes that are swallowing the universe, past, present and future! And like everyone else in the DC Universe, the Bat-family has seen time loops affect their lives. The result? The return of Barbara Gordon, Batgirl! Collects BATMAN #0 and 511, BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #0 and 31, DETECTIVE COMICS #0 and 678, CATWOMAN #0 and 14, BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #0 and ROBIN #0 and 10.
On sale MAY 31 • 272 pg, FC, $24.99 US

This is a fun collection. I know fan reaction to Dan Jurgens' Zero Hour was mixed (I liked it), but many of the tie-in comics were excellent, as they basically just gave the regular creative team of every DC Comic an excuse to tell a 22-page story having pretty much anything at all to do with time travel, so we got Robin Tim Drake teaming up with Robin Dick Grayson, a previous iteration of Alfred showing up trying to fight crime, a hale and hearty Batgirl facing a post-Killing Joke Batman, Jim Balent drawing Ka-Zar on the cover of Catwoman and so on.

The other cool thing about Zero Hour is that it rebooted the DC Universe's history, but only technically. In brief, Parallax Hal Jordan un-created almost all of creation and was going to recreate it in a controlled fashion, but Superman and a handful of survivors managed to stop him at the dawn or time and re-start the universe with their own, un-controlled new big bang that put the DCU more or less back in order, save for the usual problem children like Hawkman, The Legion of Super-Heroes, Donna Troy and so on, while giving in-universe cover to any tweaks any creators might have wanted to make then and there. The result of this was that at the series' conclusion, every DC series got a new #0 issue (with neat, metallic ink on the cover!) that was essentially an origin story, although set in the current DCU (that is, they weren't literally starting over). It was a month of great jumping-on points. I don't think there was a single #0 issue I didn't enjoy, although I certainly didn't read them all.

I haven't read all of these particular comics, though I read most of them. I'm drawing a blank on the contents of the Catwoman, for example. There was probably a Smilodon in there somewhere.

While they are all pretty high quality, I suppose they are mostly irrelevant now (Zero Hour was like three or four reboots of varying degrees ago)...aside from capturing the characters as they stood at that particular time period, and, of course, showcasing all of the great talent working on the Batman line at the time (I notice few if any of those artists are seen anywhere near Batman anymore, for example; the LDK issue, by the way, features a Joe Quesada cover and is something of a jam issue, with contributions from artists as various as Tim Sale, Mike Zeck, Ted McKeever, John Watkiss and Phil Winslade).

One notable absence? Superman: The Man of Steel #37 by Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke:
As you can see by the cover, though technically a Superman comic, the time-travel weirdness Simonson chose to go with was throwing a flock of Batmen from different eras and realities at the Man of Steel. Go on, study Bogdanove's cover, see if you can place all those bats...!

I suppose it's possible that this will be followed by a Superman: Zero Hour trade, though, as at the time the Superman line was about the same size as the Batman one (There were four Superman books, and Superboy and Steel both had their own books).

Vampire Batgirl, Enchantress, Ravager, Killer Croc and Frankie join together to form the all-new Suicide Squad in this special extra-size issue! After the events of the Bombshells Annual, follow them on their first mission into an underwater Nazi submarine to rescue Vampire Batgirl’s long lost lover, Luc!
On sale APRIL 5 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

Oh cool, it's the Bombshells-iverse's Suicide Squad! I liked those guys.

And there's Ra's al Ghul again, this time on the cover of Detective Comics.

Written by GERARD WAY
Backup story art by BRANDON BIRD
How have you been, Niles Caulder? The Chief is back, and he’s ready to reshape the new Doom Patrol to be just like the old Doom Patrol—a prospect not everyone is happy with. But the team’s former leader hasn’t grown less manipulative in his old age, so nobody make any rash decisions. Pretty sure he’s up to something. Michael Allred (iZOMBIE, Silver Surfer) joins Young Animal for this special one-off issue.
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • MATURE READERS

Please be advised of the presence of Mike Allred.

That is all.

Well, and I suppose it's noteworthy that Brandon Bird has a back-up in this issue, which would have been slightly more surprising and exciting if I didn't know he also had a back-up of sorts in this week's issue of Doom Patrol.

“THE GREEN IMPURITY” part two! Following the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD, Polaris strikes! The two Earth Green Lanterns are caught between the two warring personalities of the Master of Magnetism.
On sale APRIL 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

"The Master of Magnetism"...? Is Doctor Polaris legally allowed to call himself that? Magneto didn't trademark that phrase?

Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI • Backup story written by PAUL DINI and JIMMY PALMIOTTI • Art by JOHN TIMMS • Backup story art by BRET BLEVINS • Cover by AMANDA CONNER
“Deadly Sin” part one! The twisted Harley Sinn’s been released from prison, and she’s looking to hurt Harley in a whole new way…by going after somebody she loved and lost! And to make this issue extra-unmissable, a brand-new backup story begins, set in Harley’s earliest days with the Joker—and co-written by one of Harley’s original creators, Paul Dini! “Harley Loves Joker” kicks off as Harley makes the biggest mistake of her burgeoning criminal career…accidentally revealing the location of Mistah J’s hideout!
On sale APRIL 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

Written by JIMMY PALMIOTTI and AMANDA CONNER • Backup story written by PAUL DINI and JIMMY PALMIOTTI • Art by JOHN TIMMS • Backup story art by BRET BLEVINS • Cover by AMANDA CONNER
“Deadly Sin” part two! How can Harley protect somebody who’s vanished into witness protection? Unfortunately, Harley Sinn has a lead that she doesn’t! And in “Harley Loves Joker” part two, Harley tries to make it up to her puddin’ after her colossal blunder—but The Joker’s wrath is not easily soothed!
On sale APRIL 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

It looks like Harley Quinn creator Paul Dini is going to be writing some Harley Quinn comics for DC again. That's cool; I like his version of the character a lot more than Palmiotti and Conners (although he will be co-writing with Palmiotti), and Dini deserves to get in on some of that Harley Quinn money, as his co-creation is making a lot of other folks a lot of money these days.

Dini's back-ups are going to be drawn by Bret Blevins, an excellent artist who is one of those whose work will be in that Batman: Zero Hour trade...you know, the guys I said you don't see drawing any Batman related comics anymore...?

Written by GENE LUEN YANG • Art and cover by VIKTOR BOGDANOVIC
“COMING TO AMERICA” part two! Superman meets Super-Man! As the battle with China White and Lex Luthor intensifies, the Man of Steel steps in to settle things once and for all. Can the combined might of three supermen turn the tide? Don’t miss the fate of Central City’s own Avery Ho, repercussions from the “Superman Reborn Aftermath” story in ACTION COMICS, and a new member of the Justice League of China!
On sale APRIL 12 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I'm going to take a wild guess here and say the new member of the Justice League of China is going to be a Flash. But wait, where will they put a hyphen in The Flash? All the Justice Leaguers of China have hyphens! Super-Man, Bat-Man, Wonder-Woman...will she be The-Flash? Fl-ash?

“The Rise of Aqualad” finale! Out of the depths of the San Francisco bay rises King Shark, backed by an army of mutant shark-people! Outnumbered and out…teethed, can Damian, the Teen Titans and their new ally Jackson Hyde defend their city from the jaws of disaster?
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

When it comes to leading an army of mutant shark-people, wouldn't The Shark be a better shark-man DC Comics supervillain than King Shark? Just saying.


Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, since the word is used both ways, are the bi-monthly comics you refer to released every other month or twice a month?

Caleb said...

Bi-monthly as in they publish them twice a month.

David said...

That would be bi-weekly or semimonthly.

Anyway, the first Titans arc had the same problem as the last volume of New Warriors where it took a 4-issue story and dragged it over 8.

Red Hood and the Outlaws has amazed me by being actually quite good despite Lobdell still writing it. The "dark trinity" has far chemistry than Jason/Roy/Starfire.

Teen Titans I'm probably dropping as Jonboy Meyers left and from interviews he was the one holding Percy back from doing another stupid Trigon arc. The Teen Titans curse seems to be alive and well. At this point I just want Teen Titans cancelled and replaced with Young Justice. The young heroes I care about are already over in Supersons anyways.

Batwoman suffers from Detective Comics already heavily focusing on Kate. She's not exactly a two-comic character.

CBrown said...

Batman and the Shadow met at least once before, in Batman #253, 1973. That would be a cool thing to include in the trade collection.