Tuesday, March 20, 2018

DC's June previews reviewed

Scott Snyder and Jim Cheung relaunch Justice League, and it looks like it might be good! Brian Michael Bendis' run on the Superman franchise begins!There's a new round of Hanna-Barbera/DCU crossovers, and they look much better than the first round! There's actually quite a bit exciting stuff in DC's solicitations for the comics they plan to publish in June...or May through July, I guess I should say, as some of these are "retro-solicited" and others "advanced solicited."

Anyway, here's some of what we can look forward to, three months hence...

Backup story written by JEFF PARKER • Backup story art by SCOTT KOLINS •
When the town of Amnesty Island is besieged by a series of shark attacks, authorities call Aquaman for help! What’s unusual about this case is that the shark isn’t trying to kill people—he just wants to talk to them. The very confused Jabberjaw needs to get back to Aqualand, the future undersea utopia where he came from. But that peaceful city where man and sentient sea life have been living in harmony has been turned into a dystopian nightmare created by a new Ocean Master. Now the King of Atlantis and his friendly shark ally have to team up to set things right. Also includes a Captain Caveman meets the wizard Shazam in a short story by Jeff Parker and Scott Kolins.
RETRO-SOLICITED • ONE-SHOT • On sale MAY 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T

Well hell, this one practically writes itself, doesn't it? I actually rather like Jabberjaw, which is one of the weirder of the many, many riffs on the basic Scooby-Doo formula that Hanna-Barbera experimented with. I'm also a big fan of Paul Pelletier's artwork, although since most of these seem to involve translating the simpler, more dynamic old school cartoon designs into busier, more realistic DCU house style designs, I'm not sure how well Jabberjaw and the will look in the book itself. The glimpse on the cover isn't too terribly promising; I do hope Jabber's human bandmates play a decent-sized role in the story.

I'm also pretty excited about the back-up. As you all know, I'm a fan of the original Captain Marvel. As you likely don't know, I'm also a fan of Captain Caveman and The Teen Angels. Futurequest, which weaved together many of Hanna-Barbera's superhero and adventure characters together into one, big, epic storyline was fine and all, but I'd much rather see a series weaving together the studio's many crime-solving teenagers-and-their-mascots into a single story.

Art and cover by DAN BRERETON
Back in print at last! It’s 1961: a world of jazz and smoky cafes, Italian suits and skinny ties, beatniks and bohemians. In Gotham City, two thrill-crazed youths calling themselves Batgirl and Robin are making headlines. But when Dick’s family is murdered, mere mischief becomes serious business as Batgirl and Robin arm themselves and set out to get justice. At it’s up to Detective Bruce Wayne to stop the young thrill-seekers and solve the mystery of the Grayson murders. Collects THRILLKILLER #1-3 and THRILLKILLER ’62 #1. Includes a new introduction by Howard Chaykin and never-before-published art by Dan Brereton.
On sale JULY 4 • 144 pg, FC, $19.99 US
ISBN: 978-1-4012-8074-1

I'm afraid I don't remember much about the story, although I do recall liking these comics, and, in particular, Dan Brereton's art. That guy is the best. It seems far too long since I've seen something he's drawn and/or painted on the racks of a comic shop...

Written by BRYAN HILL • Art and cover by DENYS COWAN and BILL SIENKIEWICZ
Backup story written by JEFF PARKER • Backup story art by SCOTT KOLINS •
Back from Viet Nam, kung fu master Hong Kong Phooey has set up his own detective agency in the inner city. Meanwhile, Jefferson Pierce (a.k.a. Black Lightning) has uncovered a plot by three assassins to collect the components of a sacred text revealing the darkest secrets of Martial Arts magic, and they’ll kill anyone who owns them—including the dog who holds the last chapter of the book, Hong Kong Phooey. Plus, a tale of the Funky Phantom as he goes toe-to-toe with the Spectre in a tale by Jeff Parker and Scott Kolins.
RETRO-SOLICITED • ONE-SHOT • On sale MAY 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T

This isn't a pairing I would have imagined--it's certainly not as obvious a one as the Aquaman/Jabberjaw--but it actually makes a lot of sense, as a 1970s-era, blaxploitation/kung-fu movie kind of thing. I'm not sure that's what they're going for, exactly, but the cover seems to indicate that--particularly with Jefferson wearing his original, "first appearance" costume. God, I hope that afro is detachable...!

The Funky Phantom/Spectre pairing sounds pretty promising, too; hopefully Kolins draws an old-school Spectre, and not the weird-looking New 52 version.

Art by MIKE MIGNOLA and others
This new title collects Mike Mignola’s work on comics including SUPERMAN: THE WORLD OF KRYPTON #1-4, ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #2, SUPERMAN #18 and #23, BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #54, BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #36, SWAMP THING ANNUAL #5, PHANTOM STRANGER #1-4 and more! Also collects dozens of covers by Mignola!
On sale JULY 25 • 400 pg, FC, $19.99 US
ISBN: 978-1-4012-6888-6

So DC has a collection of shorter works by Alan Moore and another collecting shorter works by Neil Gaiman, both using the "The DC Universe By..." titling convention. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the first time they have had a "DC Universe By..." book devoted to shorter works of an artist (although considering there's a four-issue miniseries in there, I don't know if you can consider these all shorter works, but probably shorter than, say, Cosmic Odyssey). I'm not familiar with a lot of the particular stories here--except the LDK story and the Phantom Stranger mini--but this sounds like a pretty interesting book. I'm particularly happy about the "dozens of covers" bit, as I suspect there are an awful lot of those in Mignola's work for the publisher.

I wonder if this one, which I just re-encountered in the pages of Aquaman By Peter David Book One, will be included...?
I love that picture so much. In large part because it's Mike Mignola drawing nineties Aquaman, in larger part because I like the contrast in how natural Mignola-drawing-Kirby designs looks compared to Mignola-drawing-Whoever-Designed-That-Aquaman-Look and, in largest part, because I like that Aquaman looks like a rectangle, with limbs drawn in the corners, a head plopped on top, and then everything rendered expertly. Like, it looks like the basic design of a very little child, but with the drafting skills of a brilliant adult artist.

“On The Outside” part one! Duke Thomas. Cassandra Cain. They and other young heroes don’t intend to stand down, no matter what Batman thinks is best. Who can Batman trust to guide them? They need a teacher…and Black Lightning fits the bill!
On sale JUNE 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

“On The Outside” part two! Batman wanted Black Lightning involved in the lives of his protégés—but how involved was the Dark Knight thinking? What kind of missions will Jefferson Pierce take them on? And what, exactly, is he whispering in their ears about Batman himself?
On sale JUNE 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Hey, remember when I predicted that Brian Michael Bendis would take over 'Tec, if not the whole Batman line, upon arriving at DC? Boy was I wrong! Bendis instead took over DC's flagship--but secondary, in terms of sales--franchise, and 'Tec went to...some guy named Bryan Hill. Well, whatever; readers will show up for the Batman, not whoever the writer is.

This solicits sounds...odd. It seems like Hill may be continuing with outgoing writer James Tynion's concept, of the title being devoted to a team consisting of Batman's many, many sidekicks all being trained by trustworthy adults. At least in part. Like, one of those sidekicks is explicitly mentioned, Cassandra Cain, aka "Orphan." The other, Duke Thomas, aka "The Signal," hasn't been involved in 'Tec or with that squad, but, as per Scott Snyder, Tynion and company, was being taken under Batman's wing to be trained personally by him. That seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit--the last time I saw Duke was in Batman and The Signal--and here it looks like Batman is trying to pawn off his two newest, worst code-named sidekicks on another hero to train.

Black Lightning seems like a pretty logical choice, given his long, long history with Batman on The Outsider and then the Justice League, and the fact that his day job is a teacher, and the fact that he has two daughters who are also metahumans...Oh, but wait. That's PRE-Flashpoint Black Lightning I'm thinking of. This is post-Flashpoint Black Lighting, from the continuity in which there never was a Batman and The Outsiders and Black Lightning was never on the Justice League, but he helped them fight Atlanteans that one time. I suppose the pair may have met during that get-together, or on the Satellite once or twice, but I'm hard-pressed to remember them even having, like, a conversation (That said, the retcon-iriffic Metal does mention Black Lightning being part of a secret squad of heroes Batman works with, so whatever).

Well, whatever goes on in this next run of Detective Comics, I hope the first order of business if for B.L. to give Duke and Cassie new codenames, because The Signal and Orphan are the worst.

Written by SCOTT LOBDELL • Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
When Wally West tries to take down Kilg%re, he’s stunned to find he has an unknown ally who can move just as fast as he can. Dr. Pernell, a brilliant S.T.A.R. Labs scientist, has found a way to power his buggy using the Speed Force. When The Flash agrees to help test the limits of the vehicle in a race, something sends them spiraling out of the Speed Force and into the unknown. They land in a post-apocalyptic future, but Dr. Pernell is gone, leaving only the buggy, which is now sentient. Together with his new anthropomorphic ally, The Flash must find a way to repair the time stream and stop the triple threat of Savitar, Speed Demon Buggy and…Reverse Speed Buggy!
RETRO-SOLICITED • ONE-SHOT • On sale MAY 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T

Good God, what is with Brett Booth and this "Pizza Fish" thing he works into, like, every image...?

I think this is a pretty swell pairing--although it's curious they're using the current iteration of Wally West as opposed to The Flash who looks like what one imagines The Flash looks like when they hear the words "The Flash." It's also curious that this Speed Buggy doesn't sound like the Speed Buggy, at least according to the few sentences of solicitation copy above, but I suppose we'll see. I dislike the work of the writer and the artists, though, so my hope for this one is to be able to read the whole thing from start to finish, not necessarily that it turns out to be a really good comic or anything.

Written by ROBERT VENDITTI • Art and cover by BRYAN HITCH •
Spinning out of the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, Carter Hall returns to the DC Universe! An explorer of the ancient and unknown, Hawkman finds himself embroiled in a long-standing mission to discover the true purpose of his many reincarnations. Carter races around the globe trying to piece together an ancient prophecy, but will he be able to face down his past lives lurking around every corner?
On sale JUNE 13 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I suppose it was inevitable after Hawkman's rather prominent role in the set-up of Metal, although given how...troubled the character has been pretty much ever since the Geoff Johns and Rags Morales-launched ongoing ended, well, good luck, guys!

“THE END OF FOREVER” part three! The Immortal Men have risked everything to save the otherwise unremarkable teenager Caden Park. But neither Caden nor the immortal heroes who saved him know the crucial role he’s predicted to play in the upcoming war between the Immortal Men. So when the hero Reload falls into the horrifying hands of the Bloodless, Caden Park must learn the Secret History of the DC Universe, and the truth behind his family heritage—and fast—before the Batman Who Laughs has all his pawns in play!
On sale JUNE 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Well, unlike the most of the Dark Matter New Age of DC Heroes line, Tynion's book sure seems to be tying into Dark Nights: Metal as directly as possible, even using one of the most prominent of the new characters from that miniseries front and center on the cover. As this was originally announced as an artist-driven series, with the artists being responsible for the creation of the characters and co-writing, I was a bit surprised to see the name "Ryan Benjamin" up there, as it doesn't quite seem to demand the same market clout as some of the other involved artists. But I had to Google who the original artist tied to the series was, as it's been so long since it was first announced--and the first issue hasn't yet shipped. It turns out that this was the Jim Lee series.

I didn't expect Lee to be able to stick around all that long, but, originally at least, I thought he would make it about four to six issues. But then, it appears that most of the New Blood New Age of DC Heroes books are only being drawn by their creators for the first two or three issues.

“THE TOTALITY” part one! A brand-new era begins here! Comics legends Scott Snyder and Jim Cheung launch the Justice League into a cosmos-shaking mystery that will draw out their most terrible foes…in ways our heroes couldn’t possibly imagine! In this debut issue, Martian Manhunter struggles to protect the team from an incoming threat that will shatter the world as they know it, while a familiar face strikes out on a dark path…
On sale JUNE 6 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+

Written by SCOTT SNYDER • Art and cover by JORGE JIMENEZ •
“THE TOTALITY” part two! The League faced an impossible decision…and now they must face the consequences! While Martian Manhunter and Batman attempt to recruit an old ally back into the fold, The Flash and Hawkgirl are blindsided by new challenges that could rewrite their mythologies!
On sale JUNE 20 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+

So after the events of last month's No Justice--and by "last month" I actually mean May, which is of course still two months in the future--it looks like we see what the future of the post-Metal Justice League is.

Scott Snyder is writing, which is good news, and quite surprisingly, art will be provided by Jim Cheung, who wasn't even on my radar as a possibility. It looks like the book will stay biweekly, and Cheung will be alternating with artist Jorge Jimenez. Both are pretty good artists, although their styles aren't at all similar, and they seem like a pretty poor match. Hopefully once they get settled, they can alternate arcs rather than issues, as if the book goes back and forth between two artists and two radically different styles ever 20 pages, that's going to be...less than ideal.

We also get a sense of the line-up. Remember, other than a brief shake-up between the end of Forever Evil and Rebirth, wherein Captain Marvel Shazam, Lex Luthor and Captain Cold joined, and then then Green Lantern Hal Jordan being replaced by Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz at the start of the Rebirth era, the League line-up has been remarkably, even boringly steady: Six of the Big Seven, plus Cyborg.

Here we get the return of too-long missing Martian Manhunter (who was assigned to Stormwatch for some strange reason in the New 52 launch), the return of Hawkgirl (or maybe the debut of Hawkgirl? The Hawks' continuity didn't get any more streamlined by recent-ish reboots!) and Green Lantern John Stewart in for Baz and Cruz (and joining the Justice League for the very first time, in the current continuitiverse). That is, as you've probably noticed, the original Justice League TV show line-up. Plus Cyborg. Men, I'd prefer the Justice League Action line-up.

Anyway, the team make-up is actually rather refreshing; it's nice to have J'onn back where he belongs, and for Wonder Woman and Cyborg to not stick out so much as the only non-dude and the only non-white person, respectively. Aside from John's inclusion, this is basically the team being suggested by the events of Metal--minus Mister Terrific, Plastic Man and Deathstroke, of course, the first two of whom are half of the line-up of The Terrifics (at least until it gets canceled) and the last of whom was in the No Justice event.

J'onn's elbow spikes may take some getting used to (although he's a shape-changer, so maybe they'll just change as soon as the cover is turned), as will Kendra's feathers.

Oh and John, dude, maybe cool it with the guns, yeah? You've got kids looking up to you, you know?

A new era begins for Superman as a threat from his earliest origins reemerges to destroy the Last Son of Krypton. As Superman struggles to come to grips with what has happened to his wife and son, he must also face a new threat that’s determined to burn down Metropolis!
RETRO-SOLICITED • On sale MAY 30 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T

"What happened to his wife and son"...? I don't like the sound of that at all. I do hope that there isn't some sort of weird, franchise-specific reboot that radically alters the status quo of Superman and his family, given that it seems like DC just did that not too long ago, in the story that gave us his wife and son.

Super Sons is no longer being solicited--except for the Hanna-Barbera team-up special below--but I kinda sorta assumed that maybe DC was canceling all the Super-books until after this series, at which point we'd get a new status quo, including a new Supergirl. Now I'm worried Superboy is going to be written out of existence or something dumb like that...

With an arsonist loose in Metropolis, Superman’s powers are almost useless in finding the culprit. And back at the Daily Planet, everyone wants to know what’s going on with Lois Lane. How can Clark hold on to the secret of what happened to Lois and Jon much longer?
On sale JUNE 6 • 32 pg, FC, 2 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T

Oof. This solicit does nothing to allay my concerns.

Hard to imagine an artist better suited for a Superman comic than Evan "Doc" Shaner, though.

Written by WALTER SIMONSON and others
Legendary writer/artist Walter Simonson takes on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World! These tales star the heroes and villains of the Fourth World as Darkseid seeks the Anti-Life Equation and Orion battles to stop him! This volume includes material from ORION #1-11, SHOWCASE ’94 #1, DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY BASH #1, NEW GODS SECRET FILES #1, SECRET ORIGINS OF SUPER-VILLAINS 80-PAGE GIANT #1, LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE 80-PAGE GIANT #2 and more!
On sale JULY 11 • 368 pg, FC, $29.99 US
ISBN: 978-1-4012-7487-0

I honestly don't know anyone who read Simonson's 25-issue, 2000-2002 Orion series and didn't rave about it, so I imagine this will be pretty damn good. I've only read a handful of issues, so I'm really looking forward to this. I'm pretty curious about all the stuff that's not from Orion is, exactly, as some of it pre-dates Simonson's series pretty dramatically. Like, Showcase '94 #1 is, obviously, from 1994 (The Simonson contribution to that issue is the script for a 10-page New Gods story drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, if you're wondering).

Meet Eel O’Brian: a petty thug, thief and con artist who runs a strip club. Hey, he’s also dead, at least according to the gang that tossed him out like last week’s garbage. Literally. Don’t worry, though—he bounced back from all that, and now he’s trying to make a new life for himself, but the effort is stretching him pretty thin. How can he get revenge on his old boss, keep a street kid out of trouble, make a dancer fall in love with him and stop a mysterious society from taking over the world? Eel has no idea!
On sale JUNE 13 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

Jesus. I love Plastic Man, but they lost me on the first sentence. That last bit, "RATED T+", doesn't help either. I'm not sure we need a more adult, more mature Plastic Man comic, any more than we need a dark, gritty Plastic Man comic.

On the plus side, this sounds like it's meant to be self-contained--Plas is currently appearing in The Terrifics, and dressed completely differently--and sounds pretty different than where we last saw the DCU version of Eel O'Brian (in a Forever Evil tie-in), so I imagine this can be safely ignored.


Actually, come to think of it, I remember Simone and artist Ethan Van Sciver having talked about wanting to collaborate on a Plastic Man comics for years, so I wonder if this miniseries is simply Simone dusting off an old pitch and DC publishing it now, either because The Terrifics hit better than expected, or because it was time to publish something under the title "Plastic Man" or risk losing exclusive legal rights to do so in the future.

Nice Scooby Apocalypse cover by Kaare Andrews. Well, actually, Scooby himself looks wrong here, as that looks a lot more like a German shepherd than a Great Dane. And Daphne looks a bit generic. So nice Velma on a Scooby Apocalypse cover, I guess I should say.

Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
To stop a spectral menace in the 21st century, the gang will have to travel back through time to solve the mystery before it even begins. But that’s easier said than done, as visiting World War II means facing spies, saboteurs and Nazi monsters! Good thing the gang isn’t alone, fighting side by side with the Golden Age’s premiere superhero team: the Justice Society of America!
On sale JUNE 27 • 32 pg, FC • $2.99 US • RATED E

I've been eagerly awaiting the return of the Justice Society since the events of DC Universe: Rebirth, but this is maybe the last comic I expected them to show up in. That's cool though; Scooby-Doo Team-Up generally offers better versions DC's classic superheroes than the DCU line.

When the sun temporarily goes out, Superman temporarily loses his powers…but when they return, they are not what the Man of Steel expects! Clark Kent is suddenly transformed into a being of crackling blue energy, complete with new abilities and a totally new look! And before long, the villainous Cyborg Superman splits the Man of Steel into two beings: Superman Red and Superman Blue! Will Metropolis have two protectors? Includes stories from SUPERMAN #122-125, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #545-547, ACTION COMICS #732-734, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #67-69 and SUPERMAN ANNUAL #9.
On sale JULY 11 • 376 pg, FC, $24.99 US
ISBN: 978-1-4012-8091-8

Okay, I deliberately passed the bulk of this Superman storyline up while it was occurring on a weekly basis. And I'm pretty confident that, if I really wanted to, I could find all of these comics for cheaper than $25 in back-issue bins. That said, I'm sorely tempted to get this.

It’s no fun for Jon Kent to be visiting Big City with his parents for the funeral of an old friend. So his best pal Damian Wayne decides to follow along and give him the inside scoop on the city. But when they go to meet Robin’s local friend, Dynomutt, they find him injured and in need of help. And Dynomutt’s human superhero companion, Blue Falcon, has seemingly turned evil. What’s the reason for this betrayal between once-loyal companions, and what role might the evil Red Vulture play in this scenario?
RETRO-SOLICITED • ONE-SHOT • On sale MAY 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T

The Super Sons team isn't who I would have paired with Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, but then, I'm not writing a Blue Falcon and Dynomutt DCU team-up book (although I've got a swell idea for one!). Still, I fucking love Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, and their existence as a weird parody of Batman and Robin, particularly the most prominent pop culture expression of the Dynamic Duo at the time of their creation, makes them a pretty perfect fit for DC Comics.

As I said in the last edition of this column, wherein they were solicited as guest-stars in an upcoming issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, I've been curious about their absence from DC's Hanna-Barbereboot books to date, so it's cool to see them here.

In the aftermath of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, the DC Universe has been forever changed as new heroes are called out of the shadows. Amid this all is Janet Fals…Firebrand! Once a paramedic dedicated to saving lives, she must now start a fight once every 24 hours to feed the Conflict Engine that’s replaced her heart. But Janet’s heart isn’t just a curse—it’s a beacon, drawing out both the mysterious Neon the Unknown and the seductive, malevolent Bad Samaritan. One of them wants to cut out her heart, the other wants to save it—but neither of them knows the true danger hidden within that will kick off a superhero manhunt ranging from Thanagar to the deepest heart of the Dark Multiverse!
On sale JUNE 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Hey, this is unexpected...! Based on the cover image, this group looks pretty Fourth Worldly--the lady with the axe looks like a gender-reversed Kanto, the big blue guy appears to have a Megarod--but the characters mentioned in the solicit copy instead reference new versions of two obscure-ish Golden Age heroes (Firebrand, Neon THe Unknown) and a new version of a minor character from Mike Barr and Jim Aparo's The Outsiders (Bad Samaritan). If I'm counting right, this will be the fifth version of Firebrand, and the third version of Neon.

Man, nothing says "New Age of DC Heroes" like Firebrand V!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Comics Shop Comics: March 14th...I got nothing

Nothing. Nothing! Not even a single comic book! Sorry. So I've got nothing to fill this feature with this week, which is kind of too bad, as you may have noticed EDILW has gone from being daily-ish to weekly-ish, and this was generally the one post I would do every week. I've been working on something else that has been devouring the majority of my free time, and I've been spending my writing-about-comics time on occasional pieces for Good Comics For Kids, since that pays me money, and writing here doesn't help me buy food or keep a roof over my head. (Speaking of which, here's a super-long post about Black Panther comics; I'll probably return to the subject here on EDILW...someday?)

Scrutinizing the shipping list this week, I see that there were new issues of Gotham City Garage and Mister Miracle, but I'm trade-waiting those series, so I didn't pick up issues of either.

In a perfect world, where Marvel didn't charge 33% more than DC for 20-pages of content and I still read their comics serially, I would have bought All-New Wolverine, Avengers, Marvel Two-In-One, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but ours is not a perfect world. So instead I'll buy the trades collecting all of those issues...except for Wolverine; that I'll read in a trade I borrow from the library.

I'm curious about Vampironica and Kong On The Planet of the Apes, the first of which launched this week and the latter of which is in-progress, but not so curious that I'd drop $4 on 20-page installments instead of wait for the trade.

So yeah, no new comics from the shop for Caleb this week, and thus no new content for EDILW readers today. Hopefully one of my in-progress posts will be ready soonish.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Comic Shop Comics: March 7th

Batman #42 (DC Comics) I'm not sure how this necessarily rates as a Batman story, but it's a pretty good Justice League story. Batman and Catwoman continue their campaign to retake planet Earth, which Poison Ivy has completely taken over via plants, leaving only Batman, Catwoman and like maybe one dude in Gotham City who was immune for a reason Batman here figures out un-brainwashed. Ivy sends the big guns after the Batman/Catwoman team here, including having Superman chaperone their outting and The Justice League and all The Flashes to take them down at one point.

Artist Mikel Janin is still working with Tom King. So far, his run has been hit or miss but mostly hit; so far, this arc definitely seems to be one of those hits.

Bombshells United #13 (DC) The last two arcs of this series, featuring Wonder Woman and the team of Batwoman and Montoya respectively, have kept the series relatively far away from its inspirational origin: World War II era pin-up girl art. With this new arc, we finally meet the Bombshells-iverse's Black Canary, a songstress to at least bears the visuals of that original inspiration. Not only has she her almost-ever-present fishnet stockings, you can even see a hint of the lace of her bra beneath her unbuttoned blouse (both on Sandy Kelly's cover, as well as in Sandy Jarrell's interior art.

For this arc, writer Marguerite Bennett sends two of Gotham City's Batgirls to Hawaii, seeking the source of a bizarre phenomenon. Apparently some dark force has co-opted music playing over pirate radio, turning those who here it into smiling but murderous zombies. Once there, they meet Bumblebee, the Canary herself and, in an unexpected twist, the Frankie Charles-lead Suicide Squad. Who want to arrest Canary for murder. The murder of Oliver Queen!

As always, the art is very nice, the script is perhaps a bit over-textured for my tastes and it's nice to see characters here that don't appear often enough throughout the DC Universe line--or, when they do, aren't drawn as nicely or as written as well as they are here.

Justice League #40 (DC) Following a rather public argument involving the two Justice Leagues--the primary League of this title, and the "of America" League of Steve Orlando's Justice League of America--The Fan arranges for them all to be teleported onto the satellite watchtower, which is in the process of falling out of space, killing them all. Or, at least, killing most of the Leaguers who aren't A-Listers (as several characters point out, it is mostly the of America and the weaker Leaguers who will be done in. Superman, wonder Woman, The Ray and The Atom would all be fine; Cyborg and Vixen should be okay too, and maybe they can save some of the others, but not all.

Credit to Christopher Priest for actually selling this dilemma. Being trapped on a satellite plummeting from the sky really shouldn't be that big of a threat two the combined might of two Justice Leagues. First, he removed the two Lanterns--who also would have rendered the conflict in the last issue moot--and then explains why it is that Superman can't just push the satellite back into space, for example.

I wasn't entirely convinced. I still think Superman could have saved them all himself applying his powers slightly more creatively, and The Ray should be able to do almost anything the Lanterns could do with his ability to construct hard light, but, for the most part the threat to the characters' lives is convincing enough, if you want to be convinced, and it was fun trying to pick the situation apart, and figure out alternative ways the heroes could have applied their powers to save them all. What Cyborg comes up with is a plan that involves a whole bunch of them, and should save all of them. That's the cliffhanger ending, so I suppose we'll find out for sure next issue (Also, couldn't The Atom shrink everyone down to sub-atomic size, put them insider Superman, have Superman fly down to Earth at super-speed, and then everyone can re-enlarge before enough time elapsed that they would explode? Or couldn't Superman and The Ray ferry them down from the satellite to Earth one or two people at a time?)

Anyway, another pretty good issue in the singular, although I'm not sure how the run is holding together as an overall arc.

I was a bit confused by the presence of The Atom, as I had no idea which Atom it was. The last of the JLoA I read was about halfway through that arc where they met a combination of Danny Rand and Tarzan, but it was Ryan Choi who was The Atom, and he was wearing that dumb suit from the CW shows. Here The Atom is wearing what looks an awful lot like Ray Palmer's original costume, but with some of the paneling that is all the rage these days. He's never called anything other than "The Atom" though.

Oh, and Cyborg gets a pretty radical redesign via The Fan. I actually kinda like it quite a bit. I'm not crazy about the left arm, but I like this look much more than all of his post-Flashpoint variations, or that of the movie. I think I'd prefer his C-cymbol and his robot eye be the same colore though.

Nightwing #40 (DC) I am 99% sure that giant squid don't work like that, but artist Bernard Chang sure drew the hell out of that scene, highlighting its extreme surreality.

Dick is still fighting The Judge, as he's been doing since writer Sam Humphries run the book began a half-dozen issues ago. I am eager for the story to end at this point.

Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of The Capes (DC) Wow, has no one ever used that title before? It's one that seems so obvious once you hear it that you assume someone must have used it somewhere before, but then, the fact that it's used here certainly implies that no one else ever has. The bulk of this five-issue trade is devoted to that four-part story arc. Robin and Superboy are on patrol together with a 10 p.m. curfew, until the former gets called away by his super-team the Teen Titans on a more urgent mission. While Robin refuses to let Superboy join them--as a ten-year-old, he technically doesn't qualify as a teen*--they are forced to turn to him for help when they encounter a threat that bests them all...but Robin more than the others. Ultimately, our title heroes find themselves on another planet in another dimension, where they are the rather unlikely inspiration that lead to an important conversion.

As with the first volume, writer Peter Tomasi's take on the characters, their interactions with one another and their interactions with their families is the truly inspired, really winning element of the writing, while the plots involving the genre-conflicts are a lot less so (Here, Tomasi has a rather convoluted way of getting to use some minor super-villains that may or may not comport with whatever is going on with DC's Multiverse this month). The artwork by Jorge Jimenez and, to a lesser extent, Carmine Di Giandomenico, who helps fills in during part of thetitle story, and Jose Luis and Scott Hanna, who draw the fifth issue, is mostly very good. Jimenez has a very energetic style that is equal parts superheroic posing and posturing and melodramatic character acting leaning hard towards cartoonish that suits the book's tone pretty perfectly (although the variant covers by Dustin Nguyen that run in the back of the book as a gallery--particularly that one with the duck--makes me wonder what a Nguyen-drawn issue might look like).

The fifth issue of the collection, the one drawn by Luis and Hanna, has the dads of the Super Sons again interfering, building them their own superhero headquarters and giving it to them on one condition for Damian: He will have to start attending a real school. And it's going to be the same school as Jon. That sounds pretty awesome, actually.

*Er, does Starfire?

Thursday, March 01, 2018

On The Terrifics #1

*As with Sideways, I didn't read this one. That, however wasn't because of the creators, who are all decent enough at their jobs, or the characters, three of whom I really like, and the fourth of whom I barely know. No, it was that last page, in which Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse's 1999 creation Tom Strong, a pulp hero pastiche that starred in a title for Moore's America's Best Comics line at the pre-DC WildStorm, makes his completely unnecessary appearance. I've talked about this so much already that I'm sure no one wants to read me talking about it again, certainly not any more than I want to talk about it again. But I just can't bring myself to support trying-to-annoy-Alan Moore-just-for-the-sake-of-annoying-Alan Moore as a publishing strategy. Seriously, that is it. That's the sole reason to put Tom Strong in a new DC comic book in 2018.

It's not because DC anticipates a huge sales boost or anything, as they might with importing his Watchmen characters into their latest continuity cleaning event series Doomsday Clock. In 2013, Sprouse and writer Peter Hogan launched the second of their Moore-less Tom Strong miniseries, Tom Strong and The Planet of Peril, under the umbrella of the wilting Vertigo imprint. I think it's safe to say that if you added every single person who bought a copy of all six issues of that miniseries to the, what, 40,000 or so who might buy a copy of the Terrifics, you're still not going to see the sales needle move in any appreciable way. Certainly not any more than if you had Mister Terrific and company team-up with Grifter or He-Man or Huckleberry Hound or Yosemite Sam or the cast of Camelot 3000 or Jack from Dan Brereton's Giant Killer.

So I honestly can't think of a reason DC is so committed to getting all their Moore-created IP into the DCU in the wake of their weird Watchmen crossover. One would think that the market's more or less complete and total rejection of the WildStorm characters being added into the DC Universe during the New 52 initiative might have sent them the message that there's not much of an audience for non-DC comics characters in the DC Universe. Beyond it basically just being a dick move, and one more instance of doing whatever little thing they can to try to get irritate Alan Moore, I can't figure out why they are doing it, and I'm honestly trying here. Anyway, as I've said before, I'm done with Jeff Lemire and Steve Orlando (who wrote Promethea into Justice League of America) for signing their names to this sort of thing; both should know better, and neither should be financially desperate enough to have no choice other than to take such directives.

*This book is unlike all the others in the "New Age of Heroes" line of Metal spin-offs in two ways. First, of those four so far released, it looks to be the one most directly tied to the events of Metal, as Mister Terrific and Plastic Man have been appearing through the Metal event series. Second, and perhaps more dramatically, it neither features original characters (like The Silencer and Sideways) nor new versions of preexisting characters (Damage, The Challengers of The Unknown and Curse of Brimstone), but is rather a teaming of four exceptionally long-lived characters into an original arrangement as a new team.

*So let's see, that makes two of the first four of DC's "New Age of Heroes" books that I couldn't bring myself to read. They're not off to a great start. That, or I am most definitely not the target audience for DC Comics after all.


On Sideways #1

On The Silencer #1

On Damage #1