Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DC's September previews reviewed

The weirdly-named Dark Nights: Metal event seems to be growing. In addition to two-issues of the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo series of that name, there are a bunch of one-shots with names like Batman: The Murder Machine and Batman: The Dawnbreaker, each featuring a cover seemingly illustrated by a silhouette and some sort of fusion of the Bat-symbol with that of one of his Justice League peers (the above is from Batman: The Merciless). And there's a multi-part tie-in storyline running through the pages of Teen Titans, Nightwing and Suicide Squad. I liked last week's The Forge just fine, but I'm still not entirely certain I get the premise of this--representatives of an evil Multiverse invading Gotham City and/or the world, I guess?--and when it comes to big super-comics crossover event stories, usually the simpler the basic premise, the better the series (there are, of course, exceptions to that rule).

We'll see. Anyway, beyond Metal, DC has plenty of other comics on their September schedule, and these are the ones that stuck out to me. (I read the full solicits at CBR, and you can too.)


ACTION COMICS #987
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art by VIKTOR BOGDANOVIC
Lenticular cover by NICK BRADSHAW
Variant cover by MIKEL JANIN
“THE OZ EFFECT” part one! The agents of the mysterious Mr. Oz begin to move as the Man of Steel works to stop the chaos they unleash in Metropolis and across the globe. But when Mr. Oz steps from the shadows his identity rocks the Last Son of Krypton to his core. The story that began in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 begins to end here!
On sale SEPTEMBER 13 • Lenticular version $3.99 • Nonlenticular version $2.99 US • RATED T

ACTION COMICS #988
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art by PATCH ZIRCHER
Lenticular cover by NICK BRADSHAW
Variant cover by MIKEL JANIN
“THE OZ EFFECT” part two! As Superman struggles with the ramifications of Mr. Oz’s identity, the mysterious figure’s origins and the long road to Superman’s doorstep finally reveal themselves.
On sale SEPTEMBER 27 • Lenticular version $3.99 • Nonlenticular version $2.99 US • RATED T


Oh man, September's first issue of Action just "begins to end" the story that began in DC Universe: Rebirth...? How much longer are they going to draw this out?

I am increasingly curious about this Mr. Oz person, the longer they tease it and the more cryptic solicitations I read. The popular, obvious assumption is that it is Ozymandius from Watchmen, working for or with Doctor Manhattan. That seems too obvious though, and these bits of solicitation copy suggest it is someone known to Superman. I'm not entirely sure how Ozymandius would have the power to do what he's been doing, including capturing and holding both Doomsday and Mr. Mxyzptlk, but then, I'm not entirely sure how Doctor Manhattan was powerful enough to "steal" ten years from the DC Universe when Pandora was apparently screwing around with it in the final pages of Flashpoint. (Also, there's no real reason for Ozymandius to "disguise" himself with a new costume and a codename, since no one who has seen him in the DC Universe would know who he is anyway...other than readers, of course). I guess we'll see.



ALL STAR BATMAN #14
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
Backup story art by SEBASTIAN FIUMARA
Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
...
“The First Ally” finale! In the final issue of Scott Snyder’s high-octane run on ALL STAR BATMAN, he and superstar artist Rafael Albuquerque put Batman to the ultimate test! Faced with either losing his future as Batman or the person he loves most, the Dark Knight must decide which ultimate price he is willing to pay.
On sale SEPTEMBER 13 • 40 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T • FINAL ISSUE


I can only hope that All-Star Batman is being canceled so as not to confuse the market when DC resumes printing new issues of Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder in October.


I just read Batman: Zero Hour this weekend, and it was a nice reminder of just what a fine artist Graham Nolan is. And look, here's some new Graham Nolan art! That's the cover for September's issue of Bane: Conquest, which Nolan is drawing and his old Detective Comics collaborator Chuck Dixon is writing.


BATGIRL #15
Written by HOPE LARSON
Art by CHRIS WILDGOOSE
Cover by DAN MORA
...
“Summer of Lies” part two! Just as Batgirl and Nightwing discover which villain from their past has returned, they realize something worse…it was all a trap! When everything they thought they knew comes crashing down, will they be able to confront their true feelings for each other?
On sale SEPTEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T


Fun fact: According to The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe, Batgirl Barbara Gordon is 5'11, while Nightwing Dick Grayson is only 5/10.


I'm not entirely sure what's what in the Batman/The Shadow crossover, as I know next-to-nothing of The Shadow's story and mythology, but the art has been great, and this is a rather fine cover. I really dig the way artist Riley Rossmo uses The Shadow's crazy-long scarf and Batman's cape to make an abstract Joker face.


DASTARDLY & MUTTLEY #1
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art and cover by MAURICET
...
It’s a red-letter day for the good folk of Unliklistan as they start to power up their first atomic reactor. But after pushing the wrong button, the ultra-rare radioactive element, unstabilium, has been released into the atmosphere! Now it’s up to pilot Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Atcherly and his navigator Captain Dudley “Mutt” Muller to save the day. Will they safely complete their mission? Or are things about to get a little…wacky?
On sale SEPTEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+


When I saw that cover, my first thought was something along the lines of "The only person who could make me want to read a Dastardly & Muttley comic that looked like that would be Garth Ennis...and what do you know, Garth Ennis is writing it!


DC’S GREATEST HITS BOX SET TP
Written by FRANK MILLER, SCOTT SNYDER, GEOFF JOHNS, GREG RUCKA, BRIAN AZZARELLO, AMANDA CONNER, JIMMY PALMIOTTI and others
Art by FRANK MILLER, JIM LEE, GREG CAPULLO, GEORGE PEREZ, CLIFF CHIANG, AMANDA CONNER and others
Four of DC’s recent “greatest” trade paperbacks are collected in a slipcase set featuring BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: THE GREATEST BATTLES, HARLEY QUINN’S GREATEST HITS, WONDER WOMAN: HER GREATEST BATTLES and JUSTICE LEAGUE: THEIR GREATEST TRIUMPHS (solicited in this catalogue for October on sale), featuring some of comics’ greatest heroes and villains!
On sale NOVEMBER 1 • FC, $39.99 US


I can't speak for the quality of the material within each of the these anthologies yet--of the ones I've seen, it is about as hit-or-miss as you would expect--but it's cool to see Kevin Maguire doing putting the current Justice League into his classic Justice League pose. I think each and every time there's a change in the Justice League line-up, Maguire should be hired to do some version of that image for a cover. Hell, I'd buy a "gallery"-style comic that was just pin-ups of Maguire drawing all of the Leagues like that.


DETECTIVE COMICS #965
Written by JAMES TYNION IV
Art by EDDY BARROWS
Cover by EDDY BARROWS
Variant cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
“A Lonely Place Of Living” part one! It’s the story you’ve demanded: Where in the world (or otherwise) is Tim Drake? Red Robin faces a crossroads…escape the most devious prison ever devised, or find himself abandoned beyond time and space for all eternity! Not much of a choice, right? But when he finds out just who is locked in there with him, Tim’s world will change in ways he never imagined! This is one of the biggest stories of the REBIRTH era, setting the stage for an explosive DETECTIVE COMICS epic!
On sale SEPTEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Hopefully Tim is intensely looking at that costume there in his hands, perhaps the second worst costume he's ever worn, and considering whether he should through it in an incinerator or not. Perhaps I can help you make that decision, Tim. Yes! Yes! For God's sake, throw it in an incinerator immediately!

I think you should go back to your original costume and just go by Robin once again (or, ugh, for the first time in current continuity); there can certainly be more than one vigilante named "Robin" operating at the same time. And, if you must keep the code name Red Robin, and least get a decent costume. Maybe something close to your original, but swapping out all the greens and yellows in it for reds, blacks and/or grays? At the very least, lose the double-R logo; maybe your traditional R, only in red instead of yellow...?


HARLEY QUINN 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1
Written by AMANDA CONNER, JIMMY PALMIOTTI, PAUL DINI and CHIP ZDARSKY
Art by AMANDA CONNER, CHAD HARDIN, JOE QUINONES and others
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
Variant covers by JIM LEE and BRUCE TIMM
Celebrate twenty-five years of Harley Quinn with this collection of stories by some legendary Harley talent and some who’ve never drawn her before! How does Harley manage her insanely jam-packed life on Coney Island? What haven’t we seen from her past with the Joker? And can even Harley’s psychological acumen crack the twisted mind of…Robin, the Boy Wonder?
One-shot • On sale SEPTEMBER 6 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+


It didn't occur to me until I was reading solicitations today--for both this and September's issue of Teen Titans, a Metal tie-in featuring Harley Quinn, but I can't recall a time in which Harley Quinn and Damian Wayne have ever interacted before, can you? Given how long both have been around at this point--twenty-five years in her case, obviously, and ten in Damian's--that seems kind of remarkable. Surely I'm missing something? If not, then that could prove interesting. As I've said a few times before, Damian has become such a particular and distinct character that it's actually fun to see him meeting and interacting with other characters in the shared DC Universe.

I was a little surprised to see Chip Zdarsky up there among the credited writers, as I just sort of assumed Marvel had him under some sort of exclusive contract by this point.


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTMARE THE DELUXE EDITION HC
Written by MARK WAID and FABIAN NICIEZA
Art by JEFF JOHNSON, DARICK ROBERTSON and others
Cover by KEVIN MAGUIRE
In this three-issue miniseries that led into Grant Morrison’s JLA run, something is wrong with the World’s Greatest Heroes! Each has forgotten the life in which he or she wore a costume and protected the planet with their own unique powers and abilities. Even stranger, ordinary people everywhere are gaining their own powers in an insidious plan to cultivate Earth’s population as a race of super-soldiers!
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 128 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” $24.99 US


I read, re-read and re-read this one a lot when it first came out, as it was just before the Grant Morrison/Howard Porter/John Dell JLA launched, and that was and is one of my favorite super-comics of all time. I think the idea of this series was to kinda sorta show how the "Big Seven" iteration of the League came together, but it wasn't necessary to make sense of JLA #1 (there's simply a line of dialogue from Metamorpho or Atom-Smasher or someone from the previous line-up mentioning how the big guns were going to be taking over).

Now, though, I'm hard-pressed to remember too terribly much about it. I remember the artwork being somewhat uneven, with at least two distinct styles on display throughout. And I remember the inter-connecting covers, which formed a single horizontal image by Kevin Maguire when all three issues were placed next to one another.

The above cover, the middle-part of the triptych of covers, is the one that accompanied this week's solicitation. When the series was originally collected back in 1996, though, the cover looked like this:


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: THE DETROIT ERA OMNIBUS HC
Written by GERRY CONWAY, J.M. DeMATTEIS and others
Art by CHUCK PATTON, MIKE MACHLAN, LUKE McDONNELL and others
Cover by CHUCK PATTON and DICK GIORDANO
A new era of JLA thrills began with these 1980s tales in which Aquaman assumed leadership of the World’s Greatest Heroes! First, Vixen traces the financing for a terrorist group to the African nation of M’Changa, where she must battle a charismatic leader who wants her powers. Then, the team races to the Soviet Union to rescue Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash, and Amazo returns to find a completely different team! Plus, Despero escapes his prison on Takron-Galtos to menace the universe again!
Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #233-261, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA ANNUAL #2, INFINITY INC. #19, JLA CLASSIFIED #14-16 and #22-25 and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA RETROACTIVE #1.
On sale DECEMBER 6 • 952 pg, FC, $99.99 US


So my first thought upon seeing this was "Good God, who would spend $100 on a 1,000-page collection of the Detroit Era of the Justice League?"

And my second thought was along the lines of, "Actually, I wouldn't mind owning that...maybe Amazon will have a steep discount on it..."

I'm not a fan of books that thick, and I would actually be more likely to buy this chopped up into three 300+-page collections or so, but this is one of the several eras of Justice League history I haven't been able to assemble whole runs of from back-issue bins, so I've mostly read these comics out-of-order, oftentimes months or even years apart from one another.

Somewhat surprisingly, this collection includes individual issues of rather recent vingtagee, including issues from the relatively short-lived Justice League anthology book JLA Classified and the 2011 DC Retroactive: JLA--The '80s special (there seems to be a typo above, though; while JLA Classified #22-#25 did indeed feature the Detroit-era League, #14 and #15 were the fourth and fifth chapters of Warren Ellis and Butch Guice's six-part "New Maps of Hell" featuring the then-current League line-up, while #16 is the first issue of the Gail Simone/Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez story also featuring the then-current, Big Seven League.

As for the quality of these comics, I think that in general they are rather unfairly maligned. Sure, pretty much everything having to do with Vibe in them now seems dumb, insensitive and possibly even insensitive, but I think it more likely has to do with the fact that they did not age well at all. I assume that Gerry Conway and company all had their hearts in the right place when they were trying to create a young Hispanic superhero.


THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE #9
Written by TOM KING
Art by KEVIN EASTMAN
Cover by MARK BUCKINGHAM
Variant cover by KEVIN EASTMAN
After the epic battle among the animals of last issue, Eisner Award-nominated writer Tom King and legendary artist Kevin Eastman (making his DC interior art debut) weave a suspenseful tale of Kamandi lost at sea! Imprisoned alongside a menagerie, Kamandi devises a plan to escape. Will they ever see land again? Or are they trapped in the veiled Vortex forever?
On sale SEPTEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, 9 of 12, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST


I haven't been following this book too closely, but I was struck by the art credit here. Weird to think of Kevin Eastman drawing anything for DC Comics, let alone an interior of a comic book that isn't a Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover one. Of course, this being Kamandi, it will be full of half-human, half-animal characters, and that is definitely in Eastman's particular wheelhouse. Weird too that DC is using the ninth issue of this fairly random project as the place to debut Eastman's first interior artwork for them, instead of something a little more prestige and notable/noticeable.

I'll be interested in seeing what this looks like when it comes out.


I like this Ryan Sook cover for Superman.


WONDER WOMAN #31
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by CARLO PAGULAYAN
Cover by BRYAN HITCH
Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“Children of the Gods” part one! Spinning out of the pages of DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH and JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARKSEID WAR, legendary writer James Robinson (JSA: THE GOLDEN AGE, STARMAN) comes on board to answer one of the biggest questions of the year: Who is Wonder Woman’s brother? Taken away from Themyscira in the dead of night, the mysterious Jason has been hidden somewhere far from the sight of gods and men…but his life and Wonder Woman’s are about to intersect in a terrifying way, bringing them face to face with a cosmic threat they never imagined! Don’t miss the start of the next great Wonder Woman epic!
On sale SEPTEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Huh. So incoming, temporary Wonder Woman writer Shea Fontana will be followed by James Robinson. That is something of a surprise. I mean, just by virtue of being "James 'Starman' Robinson," the man's writing credit is almost always gonna carry with it some cache, but it was my understanding (mainly from Airboy, admittedly) that Robinson wasn't really happy with the (mostly quite poor) work he was doing for DC between Cry For Justice and Earth 2, and that DC wasn't all that happy with him, either. At least, that was a plot point in Airboy.

That said, more perplexing than Robinson returning to the publisher to write Wonder Woman--I was honestly expecting to hear that Margeurite Bennett and Bilquis Evely would be the new team, or perhaps that Phil Jimenez would be returning, given how well Rucka coming back seemed to do for DC--is his particular pitch. This is following up on plot points from the pre-"Rebirth" Justice League story "Darkseid War" which, I'll be honest, I forgot a whole lot about, and other DC series seem to be intentionally forgetting about as well (see Mister Miracle, for example). That ended almost a year ago, and, by the time this sees print, will be a reboot and over 30-issues of Wonder Woman ago, following a story which, as I understood it, seemed to re-re-rejigger Wonder Woman's origin in such a way to call into question some background events of "Darkseid War."

So honestly, I'm not sure what DC and/or James Robinson are thinking here.

On the other hand, from what I've read regarding the announcement, Robinson's run is also intended to be a temporary one; longer than Fontanas, but not by much. So I don't know, maybe we will get a Bennet/Evely Wonder Woman in the near-ish future, or a Devin Grayson/Phil Jimenez one (Shut up! It's my daydream!).


WONDER WOMAN/CONAN #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by AARON LOPRESTI and MATT RYAN
Cover by DARICK ROBERTSON
Variant cover by LIAM SHARP
What makes one a legend? How do legends carve their names into history, when countless others are forgotten? Wonder Woman and Conan the Barbarian are destined by the fates to be legendary, but when their stories collide, will both emerge victorious, or will the fickle Gods cut their lives short? Co-published with Dark Horse Comics.
On sale SEPTEMBER 20 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+


I...don't think this is a good idea. I haven't kept up with Dark Horse' Conan comics--it's probably been almost a decade since the last one I read--but unless they've radically re-written him as a particularly woke version of himself, Conan and Wonder Woman seem almost antithetical to one another, and it's hard for me to imagine the pair of them so much as holding a conversation without even Wonder Woman at her most patient slapping him every few minutes.

That said, it's weird enough a pairing that I'll want to check it out. In trade. From the library. Someday.

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