Wednesday, December 20, 2017

DC's March previews reviewed

It wasn't until the second time that I read through the solicitations that I noticed there was a human head atop that trident--I blame cover artist Andy Kubert, in part, for the overall design of the image, which crowds the human head stuck atop a trident out with elements of the throne. Anyway, that's the cover for the March issue of Aquaman, and perhaps not a bad image with which to sum up any given month of DC Comics in the 21st century.

March of 2018 seems to be a relative quiet one for the publisher, with the most noteworthy happenings apparently being the relaunch of the Vertigo-esque Young Animal "pop-up imprint." Actually, while the natural comparison for Young Animal has always been early 90s Vertigo, it's perhaps worth keeping in mind how much Young Animal leans on the publishing strategies for superhero comics.

For example, following a line-wide crossover series, all of the Young Animal books are being relaunched with new #1s and slightly different titles--Shade, The Changing Girl is now Shade, The Changing Woman, for example--but otherwise look largely unchanged in terms of the people making them.

DC's other major 2018 initiative, the launch of a suite of seemingly doomed to fail new books kinda sorta spinning out of Dark Nights: Metal, will be continuing in March, with a few new titles launching, and the others reaching their third issue.

Let's take a closer look though, shall we...?

Hey look, Nightwing and Batgirl! That's kind of exciting, I guess. I mean, their presence, at least, serves to further differentiate James Tynion and Freddie Williams' second Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series from their first, anyway.

Written by LEE ALLRED and MICHAEL ALLRED • Art and cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
Forager is just one of the Hive before he breaks out of his cocoon and finds himself in a mysterious house in an unknown realm, where he meets a ghostly girl, a talking teddy bear and otherworldly weirdos. Worst of all is General Electric, who is on the hunt for a reality-bending metal that could alter the fabric of life itself. To preserve the Multiverse, Forager must travel through alternate dimensions to seek the metal before it gets into the wrong hands!
Collects issues #1-6.
On sale APRIL 25 • 168 pg, FC, $16.99 US • MATURE READERS • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7530-3

So I just read the first issue of this series, figuring I would wait for the trade. It's Mike Allred drawing Jack Kirby creations; how could it not be worth a read and the better part of a twenty dollar bill, you know?

Have any of you guys read the whole series? Thoughts?

Written by JUSTIN JORDAN • Art and cover by PHILIP TAN
Joe Chamberlain would do anything to save his small, forgotten town—even make a deal with the devil. But things get worse, and Joe finds himself cursed with the power of BRIMSTONE. With the power of fire and destruction coursing through his hands, Joe must now track down and destroy the demon he made his deal with before the power he now wields destroys the town he was trying to save. But as the fiery pain inside him grows, can this young man overcome his own demons before his power rips him apart from the inside out?

Huh. So, this is apparently another of the Metal spin-offs, featuring the artists that DC has alternately referred to as superstars and part of "a master class"--although I have trouble seeing how Tan fits into either of those categories--and that doesn't strike me as too terribly sustainable. Like many of the others, it seems based on a pre-existing DC character, but only somewhat loosely.

The name Brimstone will probably be familiar to anyone who read John Byrne's 1986 Legends; there Brimstone was basically just a big, giant monster created by Darkseid to give the heroes someone to fight for a while. Based on the above copy, it doesn't seem like they are keeping much other than the name and, perhaps, a few design elements. It also sounds kind of like a generic horror comic. given that neither writer Justin Jordan or Tan are the sorts of comics creators whose names alone can move thousands of units, I'm not sure how this survives at all, as it literally seems to have nothing going for it--although I guess if they throw a "From the pages of METAL!" slug on the cover, it might last as long as Damage or the Dan DiDio-written series...

Written by ROBERT VENDITTI • Art and cover by TONY S. DANIEL and DANNY MIKI
Even the unstoppable power of Wonder Woman herself is tested by the destructive might of the monster unleashed from Ethan Avery’s transformation into Damage! But when the Amazon Princess wraps the brutal beast in her Lasso of Truth, it reveals more than either expected to find!
On sale MARCH 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

It's Wonder Woman vs. The Hulk! No, wait, this is DC, it must be Doomsday. No, wait, the name of the book is Damage, so that must be the new Damage, I guess!

Wonder Woman looks like Wonder Girl there, doesn't she?

Dang, Guillem March draws awesome dinosaurs...! That's the cover for Future Quest Presents. I haven't read any of that particular series yet, but I dug Future Quest in trade. How is the spin-off? The same, but different?

Written by JAMES TYNION IV • Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
“THE END OF FOREVER” part one! There is a secret history to the DC Universe of heroes who have protected humanity from the shadows since the dawn of time…and who can live forever. Enter the Immortal Men! The team, headed by the Immortal Man, has waged a secret war against the House of Conquest for countless years—but Conquest has dealt a devastating blow. When their base of operations, known as the Campus, is savagely attacked, the Immortal Men must seek out their last hope—an emerging metahuman known as Caden Park! Caden’s emerging powers may be able to ensure the Immortal Men’s survival—but will Conquest get to him first?
RESOLICIT • On sale MARCH 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • FOLDOUT COVER • RATED T

With Jim Lee on art, Tynion writing and making use of plenty of pre-existing DC Comics characters--one of the the covers features what looks like a half-dozen or so of the publisher's various immortal characters--this series looks like one of the two post-Metal series that is poised to last the longest. I mean, it may not even see very sharp declines until around issue four or six when Lee moves on. That said, I was rather struck by the fact that the above copy sounds almost exactly like the premise of the New 52 StormWatch, just with a few different proper nouns in it.

Written by JAMES ROBINSON • Art and cover by PAUL SMITH
DC’s first generation of superheroes have been driven into retirement, hiding, or madness—except for a few who are willing to change with the times. But behind the scenes, something even more sinister is unfolding—a subtle plot that may engulf the planet and remake it in one man’s image.
Collects THE GOLDEN AGE #1-4.
On sale APRIL 25 • 216 pg, FC, $19.99 US • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7843-4

I have an older edition of this, with a different cover and a different title (the "JSA" was a later addition to the title), and I haven't re-read it in a while, but I recall liking it rather a lot. It was my first introduction to a lot of the Golden Age heroes who play parts in it. If I am remembering correctly, the actual members of the Justice Society of America all show up, but the bulk of the drama focuses on the lesser-known heroes of the era, those that played fairly big roles in All-Star Squadron (a book, by the way, I am still waiting for DC to properly collect, as they abandoned the Showcase Presents program too soon.

Anyway, I would recommend it.

Written by CHRISTOPHER PRIEST • Art by PETE WOODS • Cover by DAVID YARDIN • Variant cover by J.G. JONES
“JUSTICE LOST” part two! What does justice mean in a lawless world? This is the question the team must struggle with when the League finds itself trapped between warring factions, helpless refugees and mercenaries with advanced weaponry, all manipulated by Deathstroke’s frenemy the Red Lion. Meanwhile, Batman forces a showdown between himself and the League’s biggest fan.
On sale MARCH 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

It actually took me a few issues of Deathstroke to realize Christopher Priest's Red Lion character was a sort of more morally dubious analogue of The Black Panther. If he wasn't being written by Priest, who had a long and healthy run on Black Panther, it might have taken me even longer. But seeing him in his costume on the cover of a comic book full of superheroes, it's pretty much immediately obvious, huh?

“New Life and Death” finale! As the battle for the soul of Angor rages on, Batman and Black Canary face Lord Havok and his mad army of loyal servants. But it will be up to the Adjudicator to decide who will have any say over Angor’s rebuilding—and who will die!
On sale MARCH 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Wait, is that Aztek? Did Orlando--or is he in the process of--introducing a new, post-Flashpoint Aztek? Jeez.

Look, I liked Aztek as much as the next guy (actually, more, given the fact that Aztek, The Ultimate Man written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar somehow only lasted 12 issues), and I loved Morrison's run on JLA as much as it is possible for a human being to love a comic book, but come one. Orlando, like Tynion, has a fannishness to his writing that makes me extremely uncomfortable. It's not always easy to put my finger on or even articulate, but the ratio of borrowings from particular writers' bodies of work seem to push certain stories, titles or runs from works of homage to exercises in appropriation.

Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
You think Scooby and the gang have seen it all? Just wait till the gang’s latest case leads them to the wackiest corners of the DC Universe, where they join forces with semi-simian private eyes Angel and the Ape, screwy superheroes the Inferior Five…and Stanley and his m-m-monster!
On sale MARCH 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E

Angel and the Ape! Now that I see them on the cover of an issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, I can't help but wonder why it's taken them so long to guest-star, as they fit so perfectly with Scooby and the gang. Writer Sholly Fisch has a tendency to get as many characters in as possible when doing a theme issue--like, instead of doing just one or two ghost-ly characters, he will attempt to do all of DC's ghost characters--and it sounds like this issue will try to get as many of the weirder characters in as possible. This should be fun.

It sounds weird to say, but if you were only allowed to read one DC Comic book, Scooby-Doo Team-Up is probably your best choice. Eventually, everyone in the DCU should put in at least a cameo appearance, and the issues that feature particular characters usually do a fine job of defining that character, presenting a sort of ultimate take on them, and including a huge swathe of supporting characters and villains. I don't always like the non-superhero issues--it usually depends on my affection for the characters guest-starring--but the DC supherhero issues are always superb.

Written by ED BRUBAKER
In these classic stories by writer Ed Brubaker, Grifter is investigating the attempted murder of his friend John Lynch, while covert operative Holden Carver has been placed undercover in a villainous organization led by TAO. As Holden and Grifter cross paths, will cooler heads prevail? Hell no.
Riddled with noir undertones and the action of a spy thriller, SLEEPER BOOK ONE collects POINT BLANK #1-5, SLEEPER #1-12.
On sale APRIL 25 • 424 pg, FC, $29.99 US • MATURE READERS • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7844-1

It's been a long time since I read Sleeper--I did so via the first run of trade paperback collections--but I remember liking it quite a bit. It was a superhero crime series, basically, improbably set in the WildStorm Universe and, correct me if I'm wrong, but it was one of--if not the--series that granted Brubaker his crime comics rep.

Superman #42 begins a Bizarro-centic story featuring BOY-Zarro, a Bizarro Superboy. What is most notable about Patrick Gleason's cover, however, is the fact that the Bizarro Krypto is wearing glasses. Perhaps that is his disguise, to protect his secret identity...? Good boy, Bizarro Krypto!

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