Thursday, May 24, 2018

DC's August previews reviewed

DC Comics has released their solicitations for the comics they plan to release in August, including Action Comics #1,002, the cover of which by Patrick Gleason is above, simply because I kinda like it. Nothing too exciting or noteworthy going on in the last month of summer: Another round of DC/Looney Tunes crossovers (that look more deeply weird than appealing), the return of the secondary Super-books after the deck-clearing that heralded the arrival of Brian Michael Bendis, a couple of new costumes and, most importantly, A BRAND-NEW KELLEY JONES BATMAN COMIC FOCUSING ON THE SCARECROW.

Anyway, this is what jumped out at me this month...

written by PETER J. TOMASI
cover by DAN MORA
The Super Sons are back in an all-new 12-issue miniseries written by Peter J. Tomasi! Check out the lost and secret adventures of Damian Wayne (Robin) and Jon Kent (Superboy) in this flashback miniseries that takes a deep dive into the bombastic bromance between the sons of the DC Universe’s greatest heroes. It’s an epic dual storyline that transcends current events, as Superboy and Robin find themselves targets of an interstellar team of young badasses called the Gang.
ON SALE 08.01.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | 1 of 12 | RATED T

"The Gang," huh? For the sake of my friend Meredith, I hope this The Gang is the same The Gang that fought Supergirl in her Daring New Adventures phase: Brains, Bulldozer, Ms. Mesmer and Kong. There's just no better name for a gang than The Gang; they're not just a gang, they are The Gang.

These ones are an interstellar team of young badasses though, so I guess we'll have to see.

I'm relieved that Peter J. Tomasi's Super Sons book didn't completely go away after all. So far, I've found the book somewhat hit or miss, but I really like the Damian character, I really like the Jon character and I particularly like the way the pair play off of one another.

Given the shake-up to the Super-books that is accompanying Brian Michael Bendis' arrival, I assumed the book was going to just be temporarily canceled (as I assumed Supergirl and maybe even New Super-Man would be). Of course, although this is a pretty long "mini" series, it is also a "flashback" one, so I suppose it's still possible that something mysterious and bad is going to be happening to Jon as well as Lois in the near future. So Jon might not be long for this fictional shared universe, but there's still a good two trade paperback collections worth of Super Sons coming after August.

art and cover by SHIORI TESHIROGI
From mangaka Shiori Teshirogi (Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas) comes a new series starring Batman and the Justice League. Currently being serialized in the monthly Japanese anthology Red, the story focuses on a young boy who comes to Gotham City from Japan. He’s trying to solve the mystery of what happened to his scientist parents after their disappearance following a factory explosion a year earlier. As it turns out, the factory was owned by Lex Luthor, who has now teamed with The Joker. Together, they plan on using the research of the boy’s parents to tap into a mystical, all-powerful, worldwide energy source. But for what purpose? It’s a bigger challenge than Batman can handle on his own, so he’s going to need some help from the League.
This series will be published in the original manga right-to-left format.
ON SALE 10.17.18
$12.99 US | 208 PAGES
5.75” x 8.1875”

I don't actually have anything to say about this, beyond the fact that it looks kind of cool and I'm really looking forward to checking it out. In the mean time, let's all pause a few moments and appreciate manga Superman's face, shall we...?

(Man, those New 52 costumes that Wondy and Superman are wearing don't look any better in a Japanese comic than they do in American ones, do they...?)

That's a pretty scary Scarecrow on Viktor Kalvachev's cover for Batman Beyond #23. Wait, is that The Scarecrow, or Scarecrow Beyond...?

Man, 23 issues. I honestly can't believe this book is still being published...

art and cover by KELLEY JONES
variant cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ
Legendary artist Kelley Jones makes his triumphant return to the Dark Knight in this explosive miniseries written by former BATMAN editor Scott Peterson! Batman’s been overseeing Gotham City for years now and isn’t sure how much of a difference he’s making. Doubt, fear and insecurity are starting to take over. And as all of those negative feelings set in the Scarecrow orchestrates a riot at Arkham Asylum to give the Dark Knight one of his greatest challenges yet! This six-issue miniseries will see the Scarecrow in a horrifying new way that you’ll have to read to believe.
ON SALE 08.22.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | 1 of 6

Wow, it doesn't seem to happen all that often--or at least not as often as I'd like--but sometimes it seems like they announce a comic book specifically designed to appeal to me personally. So my favorite Batman artist is getting another miniseries of his own, and it will feature my favorite Batman villain. Yes, this seems like it should be particularly awesome.

As excited as I am for any comic that involves Kelley Jones drawing Batman and The Scarecrow--and, apparently, a large swathe of Batman's rogues gallery--I'm actually even more intrigued about Scott Peterson returning to Gotham. He was an editor in "the good old days," and I'm pretty curious to see what his Batman writing will read like in 2018. The last few Batman limited series that Jones has drawn were written by either Doug Moench or Steve Niles, so it will be interesting to see Jones working with a new writer, let alone one who was up to his elbows in Batman stories at a particular period of time.

Also, take a look at that image again. It's a Kelley Jones-drawn image of Batman apparently attempting to stave off a riot at Arkham Asylum, right? Well guess what the very next image is...?

The event that changed Batman’s world forever kicks off with this new volume, including never-before-collected material, in stories from BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE #1, BATMAN #484-491 and DETECTIVE COMICS #654-658. Bane, the man destined to one day destroy Batman, has his sights set on taking over Gotham City, just as the Dark Knight is starting to feel he has lost his edge as he is forced to deal with the return of Black Mask, a crazed killer called Metalhead and an assassin hired to take out Commissioner Gordon.
ON SALE 09.05.18
$19.99 US | 376 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-8422-0

I'm actually a little surprised these comics haven't been collected and packaged like this before. Looking at the issues within, I have to confess I'm not entirely sure what some of them are doing in here, though. Batman #488-489 feature Tim Drake training Batman-to-be Jean-Paul Valley and Bane brutally beating down Killer Croc as one of his first acts in Gotham City, but the preceding issues featuring Black Mask, Metalhead and Headhunter...? I don't even recall Valley appearing in those; maybe there are a few panels of Bane lurking in the shadows here and there in them...?

Anyway, taken all together, these are the comics from the relatively short period of time after Valley joined the Batman family as a hero-in-training, a period that, in retrospect, existed only so that he could temporarily assume the role of Batman during the "Knightfall" to "KnightsEnd" cycle of stories. And there's some really great art in these comics, not only from Jim Aparo and Norm Breyfogle, two of the all-time greatest Batman artists, but also Graham Nolan, Tom Grindberg and Mike Netzer (who drew way too few comics, but whose work was really incredible) and there are some extremely striking Sam Kieth covers on those issues of Detective, including this rare gem, a collaboration between Jones and Kieth:
Huh. You know, I think I have every single one of the comics collected here as they were originally published, but I've just about talked myself into buying this collection anyway...

written by JOELLE JONES
art and cover by JOELLE JONES
variant cover by STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU
Gotham’s a toxic litter box for Selina Kyle of late, so she hits the road looking to clear the air, change her look and clear her name, too—there’s a copycat burglar swiping her M.O. who needs sorting out. In her hometown, Catwoman runs afoul of a crime boss who’s also hunting this impostor. Can the two declare a truce to hunt a mutual enemy, or will Selina end up just more roadkill?
ON SALE 08.01.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

You can't really tell from the image above, but Catwoman is sporting a brand-new costume. The "real" Catwoman is the one in the middle, the one not wearing the costume she's been wearing, it's been over 15 years now since the late, great Darwyn Cooke redesigned Catwoman's costume for 2002's Catwoman relaunch.

This new version looks an awful lot like her all-gray one, the one that immediately pre-dated the Jim Balent purple one, only it's all black and features some cut-outs here and there. It's an interesting design in that the closer you look at it, it's obviously very different than what she's been wearing for a very long time, but it also looks extremely familiar (I guess in addition to evoking the gray, 1980s costume, it also looks quite a bit like her second Batman: The Animated Series costume and the get-up from Batman Returns, sans all the visible stitching).

Anyway, I'm cautiously optimistic about this comic, given that I know Jones is a great artist, but I've never read anything she's written, and I'm not sure what the post-wedding status quo for Catwoman is going to be.

written by GAIL SIMONE
backup story written by SHEA FONTANA
backup story art by WALTER CARZON
In his relentless pursuit of Tweety, Sylvester suddenly finds himself with a new, human ally—Catwoman. Tweety then realizes that he’s going to need some help too, and recruits a super-hero of his own. It isn’t long before the scale of the conflict begins to get out of control and suddenly theres’s a full scale war between cats and birds that threatens to take over all of Gotham.
ON SALE 08.29.18
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES

Wow, does Sylvester ever make a horrifying "realistic" cat, at least as drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino on the cover. I suppose Inaki Miranda's interior Sylvester might look quite different; same goes for Tweety, who looks very, very odd drawn so realistically. Like the previous round of DCU/Looney Tunes crossovers, I'm assuming these will all be at least a curiosity-sating look, and, if the pattern from the previous ones holds, the back-ups featuring the DC characters in Looney Tunes style will all be much better than the cover stories.

The idea of a cats vs. birds war sounds fun, especially if it spirals outward to include various cat and bird-themed heroes and villains, of which there are many. If I were doing a Catwoman-related Looney Tunes crossover, I probably would have had her acquire a white stripe along her back and then coming to the attention of Pepe Le Pew, essentially just casting her in the role of that poor black cat he chases around in his cartoons. Although, now that I think about it, Pepe Le Pew is probably...problematic these days, huh? I mean, he was problematic in the 1980s, and like, two years ago, but post-#MeToo...? Even more so.

written by MARV WOLFMAN
cover by WILL CONRAD
Cyborg’s looking at a fatal systems crash against high-tech troublemaker N-Jin, whose newfound ability to upload his consciousness into robot bodies around the world makes him nearly uncatchable. Can Vic find an upgrade to negate N-Jin’s escapability, or will he have to put in a trouble ticket with the I.T. department?

Ha ha ha! N-Jin! Like "engine"...! I get it!

backup story written by SHOLLY FISCH
backup story art by DAVE ALVAREZ
A violent storm leaves a large crate washed up on the beach at Coney Island. When Harley breaks it open to see what’s inside, she suddenly has a new playmate to add to her cast of friends—a large, furry, orange beast called Gossamer. It’s all fun and games until a giant robot attacks them. But who sent it? Harley immediately suspects only one man, but is it really The Joker behind this destructive rampage?
ON SALE 08.29.18
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES

Using Harley in a Looney Tunes crossover feels a little like cheating, given that she is generally written like a cartoon character herself. Amanda Conner's Gossamer doesn't look much different from cartoon Gossamer, either, but I suppose we'll have to see what Pier Brito's looks like on the inside; I imagine a DCU version of Gossamer would just look like an orange Shaggy Man with sneakers on...?

written by SCOTT LOBDELL
art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
backup story written by JOEY CAVALIERI
backup story art by LUCIANO VECCHIO
When Daffy Duck pays a call to the Acme corporate headquarters in Gotham City, he finds the company long gone and their abandoned building now occupied by The Joker. With a hit in progress, Daffy tries to sneak away, only to find himself in the clutches of the Clown Prince of Crime. But Joker decides that there’s some potential in this manic bird and forces Daffy to join his gang. Will he find a way to escape…or will he become The Joker’s new right-hand duck?
ON SALE 08.29.18
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES

Aaaa! Well that's just...that's just horrifying. I think a realistic Daffy Duck should look more like a duck and less like Brrr...! That image is going to haunt me, I think. If you can get past the image and read the solicitation copy, it sounds like an okay set-up for a crossover. In general, it shouldn't be too hard to plug pretty much any DC villain into a Looney Tunes crossover, and have them chase around Bugs or Daffy or the Road Runner or Tweety or whoever.

written by JAMES TYNION IV
art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Lex Luthor’s back in the present just trying to live his best life after seeing what the future could have held for him. Luthor’s new mantra? “Embrace Your Doom!” So now he’s rounding up a new Legion of Doom to go on a cosmic wilding and establish himself as the biggest baddie in the DCU. In full recruiting mode, Luthor approaches both Sinestro and Gorilla Grodd to join his new team, and he doesn’t exactly have to twist any arms. (They’ve got a matching 401K plan and great bennies, after all!)
ON SALE 08.01.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

James Tynion? Hey, that's a completely different person than Scott Snyder! If I wanted to read James Tynion's Justice League comics, I could just pick up Justice League Dark, written by James Tynion.

Anyway, it doesn't look like Snyder and company are holding off all that long before going to the evil answer to the Justice League well, and based on the characters on Doug Mahnke's cover and name-dropped in the solicitation, it's a pretty standard group making up this version of The Legion of Doom (Well, I guess The Joker is in for The Riddler and/or Scarecrow, so that's something).

I certainly understand the appeal of those characters, but after Alex Ross and Jim Krueger's Justice series--which looks like it might be out of print, for some reason...?--I certainly wouldn't be eager to try and duplicate the Legion from Challenge of The Super Friends. Ross and Krueger did about as thorough a job as possible, making Justice the ultimate grown-up version of Super Friends imaginable.

written by MARK RUSSELL
backup story written by JIM FANNING
backup story art by JOHN LOTER
cover by BEN OLIVER
Facing financial and personal ruin, a desperate Porky Pig applies for and gets and entry-level position with LexCorp. Grateful to his new benefactor, Porky becomes Luthor’s most loyal employee and defender. But when a major scandal breaks in the news and Lex is called before a Congressional Committee, guess who is about to be offered up as the sacrificial pig?
ON SALE 08.29.18
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES

I'll be honest, Porky Pig with pants looks a little off to me, so Porky Pig as a more-or-less humanoid, realistic man-pig? That's just straight-up nightmare fuel.

It took me a few seconds to "get" this cover, in which Lex Luthor has apparently just given Porky Pig a Luthor-style hair cut and the monstrous pig-man responds with a Donald Trump style double thumbs-up, but, um...isn't Porky Pig always bald...? Is that the joke? I don't get it. Maybe it would have been funnier if we saw Lex holding the one hair that grows out of the back of Porky's head and holding scissors up to it, about to cut it...?

I don't know. Weird cover. Weird pairing, really, even by the standards of DC/Looney Tunes crossovers, but then, I guess if they did something like, say, Professor Pyg tricking Porky into a prince and pauper deal, so that Batman and Robin chase Porky Pig around Gotham while he's forced to hang out with Daffy Duck, maybe it would be too T-rated a comic, given how psycho a villain Pyg is...

art and cover by MICHAEL GAYDOS
From the Peabody Award-winning creators of Jessica Jones comes a brand-new creation. PEARL is the story of an exceptional tattoo artist and accidental assassin for one of the modern-day San Francisco Yakuza.
She was born into one life, but another is calling to her. When Pearl accidentally meets one of her peers, her doppelgänger from another clan, she starts to dream of a better life. But Pearl has a very special ability that keeps pulling her back into the violent world she is desperate to escape.
PEARL is a major series launch from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos that features their first brand-new original character since Jessica Jones. Fans of the Jessica Jones comic and TV show will be thrilled and delighted by this bold new direction the creative team has taken.
ON SALE 08.15.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | 1 of 6

Jessica Jones won a Peabody...?

So this is interesting. We knew Bendis was bringing his Jinxworld titles to DC, but I didn't expect to see any knew books or characters so soon, as I would have assumed Bendis wouldn't be able to start working on anything knew until after his contract with Marvel expired and his contract with DC went into effect but, hell, it's not like I know anything about contracts.

DC seems pretty excited about a new Bendis/Gaydos character, but it's hard to imagine this being an Alias-esque hit instead of, say, Scarlet 2.0, and doing Vertigo-esque sales. But maybe what DC really wants is an IP to adapt to film or television.

I know that I personally would have been pretty excited about the prospect of a new series from the Alias creative team in, say, 2002 or so, but now? I've grown to hate Gaydos' art style, and I'm pretty sure I've missed the last four to six Jinxworld books...

story by NEIL GAIMAN
cover by JAE LEE
blank variant cover available
From the mind of New York Times #1 bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a new world filled with dreams, nightmares and wonderful characters living together in a shared universe for a new story unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
A rift between worlds has opened, revealing a space beyond the Dreaming. Meanwhile, a book from Lucien’s library is discovered by a group of children in the waking world where it should not exist. Lucien calls for Matthew the Raven to seek out their master, Daniel, Lord of Dreams.
As Matthew flies across the Waking World and others, he finds a young boy named Timothy Hunter who, in his dreams, has become the world’s most powerful magician—but in his nightmares he is the world’s greatest villain. A new House has appeared in the realm of the Dreaming: the House of Whispers, with its proprietor, a fortune-teller called Erzulie. And elsewhere, Lucifer has fallen again, only this time he might be trapped in a Hell of his own design.
Spiraling out of this special issue will be four all-new series set in the Sandman Universe. It all starts here!
ON SALE 8.08.18
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES
This issue will ship with eight covers.
Please see the order form for details.

Speaking of things I would have been interested in a decade-and-a-half ago...

I'm sure this is a great opportunity for all of the creators involved, and I like the work of many of those artists quite a bit, but something about this feels slightly sad, like seeing a band you loved as a teenager touring as a nostalgia act. Obviously Gaiman has moved on to other stuff in the years since he completed his Sandman epic--which he's returned to for brief stints, what, two or three times before this?--and his presence here seems like something akin to obligation. Like, I can't shake the feeling that DC has this chunk of his body of work hostage, and there's some sort of nebulous implied threat that if Gaiman doesn't participate and/or give DC his blessing, they'll just go ahead and Before Watchmen or Doomsday Clock him.

But hey, that's just me. Fun fact: This picks up a plot point from Dark Nights: Metal, the last place we saw Daniel, Lucien and The Dreaming...!

art and cover by ALEX MALEEV
From the creative team that brought you Daredevil and Infamous Iron Man comes the latest explosive chapter in their creator-owned epic, which IGN called one of the best comics on the stands. SCARLET tells the story of a woman whose life has been ripped ap
art by police corruption. When she pushes back, she starts a chain reaction of events that will bring about the next American Revolution.
In this brand-new, new reader-friendly chapter, fully painted by Eisner Award-winning artist Alex Maleev, SCARLET tells the story of what happens when one young woman is pushed too far—and what one country will do to stop her.
ON SALE 08.29.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | 1 of 5

Bad news for Marvel--it looks like Bendis didn't just jump ship, but he also brought some of his artistic collaborators with him! Good news? It's just for Jinxworld comics like Scarlet that no one reads anyway.

written by MARC ANDREYKO
Mourning the loss of the Kryptonians wiped out by Rogol Zaar, Supergirl decides to play detective and sets off into deep space to learn more about the would-be usurper. Using whatever tech she can scrounge, Supergirl builds a star cruiser, and after intel from Green Lantern, she blasts off into the cosmos with Rogol Zaar’s deadly axe to solve the mystery—along with a traveling companion you won’t believe!
ON SALE 08.08.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Marc Andreyko is a pretty great comics writer. Kevin Maguire is a quite great comics artist. This is, any way you look at it, a very solid creative team for a superhero book. That said, a twelve-issue detective story spent in outer space is pretty much the opposite of what I would want from a Supergirl comic and, in fact, sending one of the last survivors of an alien super-race away from Earth and back into space seems lie kind of antithetical to the character's core. Like, Superman adventuring in space is cool and all, but only for a few issues, not as the premise for a new direction to a series, you know...?

As for the costume, ugh, the costume. Here, take another look:
I...I don't even know. At first glance, she looks like Sue Storm wearing a Superman-branded sleeveless hoodie...and a red combination cape/toga/loin cloth...? I've read there's a "story" reason for why her costume is the most complicated costume anyone could come up with, but unless that story reason is that she has a terrible costume that everyone makes fun of her for constantly, I can't even imagine...

Anyway, given the character's relatively higher pop culture profile in recent years, it really does seem like their should be a Supergirl series from DC at the moment. I wouldn't say that it should be forced to follow the template of the TV show too rigidly, but I would think common sense would dictate the character dress in a way that might make her recognizable as Supergirl, and that her adventures be set somewhere on the planet Earth. But what do I know?

written by DAN ABNETT
art and cover by BRANDON PETERSON
variant cover by STJEPAN SEJIC
As if the Source Wall incursions causing a metagene pandemic weren’t enough, team dysfunction threatens this latest iteration of the Titans before their new mission even gets off the ground! Nightwing and Miss Martian butt heads over the team’s M.O. as the fate of the latest metahuman hangs in the balance! They’d better get their act together, because one of the Titans won’t be coming home from this Source Wall mission—and it’s not a vacation day!
ON SALE 08.08.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Oh no! Nightwing and a bunch of new, rebooted versions of old characters are going off on a dangerous mission, and one of them won't be coming back! Given that Nightwing is the only one on the team that is recognizable himself, it's kind of hard to care if, say, Miss Martian dies two issues after being introduced...

I completely forgot how much I hated Nat's head tentacle...

1 comment:

Jose Gregorio Bencomo Gomez said...

Scott Peterson not only was an editor, he also wrote the Gotham Adventures cartoon tie-in book for a rather lenghty run, if I remember correctly.

The Looney Tunes purist in me wants to complain Sylvester as a fat cat doesn't look right; Sylvester was supposed to be this loser everybody took advantage of, and half the time he was starving in an alley. Even when he was Granny or Porky's housecat he always kept on looking lean rather than chubby, and he hardly was a pampered fat pet; his owners always seemed to be rather negligent to him.

Also, that Daffy reminds me of some other cartoon duck or another rather than Daffy... I don't know, maybe like a mixture of Deadeye Duck from Bucky O'Hare and Duckman...? Or maybe something I once saw in a Fritz the Cat cartoon, I'm not sure.