Friday, September 21, 2018

DC's December previews reviewed

The tides turn for the Sea King with a new creative team! Star scribe Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly) and red-hot artist Robson Rocha (TEEN TITANS, SUPERGIRL) take the rudder to steer Aquaman into uncharted waters. In the wake of “Drowned Earth,” an amnesiac Arthur washes ashore on a remote island, and ends up being cared for by a young woman named Callie, who’s just a little TOO curious for comfort. And as a lifetime of horror movies has taught us, there’s something strange going on in this island village. Aquaman needs to come to his senses quickly…or he might wind up sleeping with the fishes instead of chatting with them.
ON SALE 12.19.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Woah woah woah! Four water-related figures of speech in the the first two sentences of the solicitation for an Aquaman comic? That seems a little much, don't you think?

Anyway, DeConnick is a great get for DC and, in particular, for Aquaman, a title that doesn't generally get the most popular of writers attached to it (Which was part of the reason Geoff Johns relaunching the book during the New 52-boot was such a big deal; it was an aberration). I do find it somewhat amusing that almost any time a new writer takes over Aquaman, it means there will be a new direction for the character in the book, like no one really likes the character as he originally was--or was in the preceding writer's run--and so they must take him in a new direction. That appears to be the case here as well. I hope this one is both a good direction that produces good comics, and a popular one so that it will stick, and they won't end up announcing a new writer and new direction for issue #55 or so.

I kinda lost interest in current Aquaman comics sometime after Jeff Parker's run on the New 52 version of the character, so I would kind of love it if someone could reignite my interest in a character that was one of my favorites for a while there.

written by BRYAN HILL
When the quest for justice drives Batman into some morally ambiguous areas, he calls in the most moral man he knows: Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning, and his team of operatives known as the Outsiders!
Several years ago Batman personally put the Barrera family into hiding after they suffered through terrible experiments at the hands of an organization called the Ark. Now all but one of them has turned up dead…and Batman needs to locate Sofia Barrera before the wrong people get their hands on her—and her surprising power! But it wouldn’t be Batman without a hidden agenda, would it? And when Black Lightning, Katana, the Signal and Orphan find out what Batman is really up to, their every loyalty will be called into question!
ON SALE 12.12.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

The Signal and Orphan? On the same team? Wow, this book will have all the Bat-sidekicks with the worst codenames! Bring back Orpheus!

So, this is another property that was and is rather hobbled by the Flashpoint/New 52 reboot, as Black Lightning Jefferson Pierce and Katana Tatsu Yamashiro went from long-time allies of Batman's who he once founded his own answer to the Justice League with and then would have an on-again, off-again superheroing relationship with to, well, random strangers. There have been a couple of continuity glitches (Batman, Inc) and retcons (Dark Nights: Metal) to suggest that the Outsiders were, like, a Batman black-ops squad that have had adventures behind the scenes but, well, it's not terribly convincing. Bryan Hill wrote a Detective Comics arc that presumably set the stage for this book, but I didn't yet read it, as I switched to trades on 'Tec. Maybe that will make this concept make more sense now. I really like (almost) all of these characters, even if I hate some of their code names (Orphan, Signal) and costumes (Orphan, Black Lightning). Hopefully the first story arc will be about Orphan deciding to go by The Black Bat again and getting a more Bat-like costume, and Signal getting a bat-derived codename to match his costume, which is fucking covered in bat imagery...

written by SCOTT SNYDER
art and cover by JOCK
“A Batman who laughs is a Batman who always wins.”
Left rattled by the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, Bruce Wayne must come face to face with the nightmares spawned from the Dark Multiverse. But even though evil devoured evil in the collapse of Challengers Mountain, the Dark Knight still has his doubts. He discovers that the Batman Who Laughs not only survived the fight with The Joker at the end of METAL, but now he is enacting a sinister plan across the Multiverse—something both terrifying and oddly familiar. But when Bruce Wayne realizes the only way to stop this madman is to kill him, he must consider violating the very rule Batman won’t break…the same rule that created this insatiable villain—the Batman Who Laughs!
ON SALE 12.12.18
$4.99 US | 1 of 6 | 32 PAGES

I'm a little surprised that Scott Snyder is writing this, given that his sometimes partner James Tynion has more-or-less adopted the character, and that Jock is drawing it instead of Riley Rossmo, who drew the character's one-issue origin, although Rossmo is pretty busy, as we'll get to below. That said, Snyder created the character, if one can really be said to created a character who is basically just smooshing two characters into one, and Jock is a pretty good choice to draw him, being a previous collaborator of Snyder's and having a weird energy to his art that should translate well to a story about a madman version of Batman.

I'm a little curious about what this will entail exactly, as that's a lot of pages to fill, and we've already read his origin story. I imagine this will feed into Snyder's ongoing Justice League plans, as it's one of the places The Batman Who Is Also The Joker has been popping up. I don't envy Snyder and DC here though; it's gotta be a fine line to walk between capitalizing as much as possible on a popular new character without over-exposing him to the extent that they exhaust their audience's interest too quickly. Unexpectedly popular super-comics characters are kinda precious resources, and there's a science to carefully managing them. Publishers usually just put them in a million comics until everyone is sick of reading about them (Although Deadpool and Harley Quinn are still going strong, so who knows).

DETECTIVE COMICS exploded in 1939 with the debut of Batman in issue #27—and now, for the first time, DC reprints the first 26 issues of this groundbreaking series, almost none of which have ever been reprinted before, in a two-volume slipcased set! The first volume, collecting issues #1-13, stars crime-fighters like Slam Bradley, Bart Regan, Speed Saunders and more! And Volume Two, collecting issues #14-26, stars characters like the Crimson Avenger, Fu Manchu and more!
Please note that these stories will be scanned directly from original copies of these issues.
ON SALE 03.20.19
$150.00 US | Each 896 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-9302-4

I confess to being super-interested in this weird project, although I'm pretty unlikely to buy it barring an unexpected but welcome lottery win; my monthly comics budget is currently set at...let's see...$100, and that won't even cover this one purchase (Although maybe if Batman: Damned #1 skyrockets in value, I can trade it in for this...?). Not that DC cares, but I would also be interested in something like Action Comics Beyond Superman and Sensation Comics Beyond Wonder Woman, collecting the stories of all the other characters who were overshadowed by the breakout stars in those books.

It's kind of cool to see Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's name in all caps like that in a creators credit.


Oh hey, this reminds me that I never caught up with New Superman, which had a hell of a cliffhanger splash page where the guy from the cover of Detective Comics #1--Fu Manchu, I imagine, though he went unnamed--showed up...!

art and cover by EDDY BARROWS
Line up for this all-new maxiseries set on Earth X, where the Nazis won World War II! Twenty years after invading and occupying America, Germany wiped out all metahuman resistance, including the original Freedom Fighters.
Fast-forward to the present day, and a new team of Freedom Fighters emerges to challenge the Nazi occupation once again. But if they’re to have any chance of victory, they’re going to need Uncle Sam—who disappeared after his original team was killed. The 12-part epic “Death of a Nation” storyline kicks off here!
ON SALE 12.19.18
$3.99 US | 1 of 12 | 32 PAGES

I do so love The Freedom Fighters, even though every single revival I've read has been disappointing in one way or another (or in 100 ways). At this point, I feel like I'm in a Charlie Brown-and-Lucy-with-the-football relationship with those characters, but then I long ago decided to just wait a while and borrow the trade collections of their comics from the library, so if they turn out to be bad, the only cost will be my disappointment...and the time I spent reading them, I guess.

The fact that this is set on Earth-X--or a Earth-X, as it doesn't sound like this will have anything to do with Grant Morrison's Earth-X from Multiversity is a positive sign in terms of its quality (if not its marketability), as it means it will be largely self-contained and, I imagine, it will eventually read more like an original graphic novel than an ongoing superhero universe comic. That said, 12 issues is awfully ambitious considering the usual performance of these characters in the direct market.

I'm not terribly excited about these creators. I'm sure I've read a bunch of Venditti's comics, but I can't name one off the top of my head, which isn't a good sign (Did he do Curse of Brimstone? Something with Green Lantern?), and Barrows' style isn't to my liking, but the quality of his work is very flexible. Like, I've read godawful-looking comics he's drawn, and some pretty okay looking ones, so who knows.

I guess as long as they work in The Red Bee and Michael, and treat the characters with the dignity and respect they deserve, then the project will be worthwhile.

written by JAMES TYNION IV
It’s on—the Totality will totally total the Multiverse! What could possibly go wrong when the Legion of Doom gets their hands on it? Plus, what is the connection between JUSTICE LEAGUE and the new BATMAN WHO LAUGHS miniseries from Scott Snyder and Jock?
ON SALE 12.05.18
Each $3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Oh, yeah. The Batman Who Laughs will definitely tie into Scott Snyder and company's Justice League run. This appears to be another Legion of Doom-focused fill-in issue. I'm excited about the prospect of seeing Guillem March draw a bunch of characters I haven't seen him draw before. I really like that guy's art.

written by STEVE ORLANDO
art and cover by RILEY ROSSMO
No matter what you know about J’onn J’onnz, you’re not prepared for this! The acclaimed team of writer Steve Orlando and artist Riley Rossmo (BATMAN/ THE SHADOW, BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN) reteam for a reinvention of the Manhunter from Mars in this twisted, unexpected series. Back on Mars, J’onn was about as corrupt as a law officer can be, and when a reckoning comes for his entire society, he’ll get a second chance he doesn’t want or deserve! One shocking murder, and an unexpected fragment of the Mars he lost, will change his life—and the course of the Earth—forever!
ON SALE 12.05.18
$3.99 US | 1 of 12 | 32 PAGES

On the subject of characters who are long-time favorites who I lost interest in after the Flashpoint/New 52 reboot...! Poor old J'onn J'onnz was one of the dozen or so characters were were particularly hard hit, given that so much of his history and character after his earliest adventures (like, basically those collected in the Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter phone book) are tied to the Justice League. So Once they rebooted Justice League history sans J'onn, well, there wasn't much left to J'onn, save his powers and basic origin, and, well, "extremely powerful alien superhero with a bunch of crazy powers and that's it" isn't really much to hang an ongoing superhero comic on, especially not in such an over-crowded and competitive market (They did try, though, with a 12-issue, 2015 series written by Rob Williams and drawn by Eddy Barrows and a bunch of other artists (I read the two issues or so. Seemed like an interesting concept, but it reinvented-the-wheel of Martian Manhunter so much that it felt like some kind of Ultimate Martian Manhunter than a comic starring the "real" character).

Restoring him to the Justice League fold in No Justice and Justice League has helped enormously, and the way Scott Snyder and company have been doing that seems to be that they are going to just stop pretending there was ever a reboot, and go back to pre-Flashpoint continuity, basically by just ignoring the former and referencing the latter until the change sticks.

I have pretty mixed feelings about this series. There was a lot of enthusiasm in my Twitter feed about it, and I'm not entirely sure how genuine it all was, given that much of it was along the lines of "Finally, a Martian Manhunter series!", and, um, it's only been like two years since we had one of those. On the other hand, writer Steve Orlando keeps referring to it as a dream project of his, and I suspect a great deal of that enthusiasm stems from his own enthusiasm for the series. It is always exciting to see someone excited about what they're doing, especially when it's a guy who has already written Batman and the Justice League tackling a traditional C-list hero (In the market's assessment of DC's hierarchy, not in my book, where J'onn is A-list all the way!). All those tweets and some of the sketches and testimonials I have seen online have looked really intriguing, although it's hard to match those up with the generically bleak sentences above.

I kind of swore off buying Orlando books after he wrote Promethea into his Justice League comic, but even before that I was often uncomfortable with his writing, as his DC comics tended to lean too heavily on the work of other creators, and it wasn't always clear that he was referencing the work of those creators, so it could feel like appropriation. I'm sure that wasn't his intent; he seems to just genuinely be a fan of Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison and recent DC history and isn't trying to pass of their ideas as his own, as that would be insane. But the way he writes often makes that unclear to anyone who hasn't already grown up reading the same comics he has. I have a difficult time explaining it, as you've probably noticed in reviews where I have attempted it, but his writing just makes me uncomfortable in a way almost no other writers' does (I do get a similar feeling from some of James Tynion's Detective writing, which relied so heavily on rewriting Chuck Dixon characters and other early '90s Batman characters specific to certain creators, to a lesser extent). So I do hope this doesn't just end up being a 12-issue riff on a few ideas from John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's excellent (and under-appreciated) 1998-2001 series.

I am quite fond of the work of Riley Rossmo, though, and I think he's one of the more promising artists to have drawn Batman in a while, for example. I'm a little surprised to see him on Martian Manhunter, too, as the character would seem a step down from Rossmo's previous work, but I think his presence will make this really worth reading. I like his big-eyed version of J'onn there, which suggests the version on Justice League Action, and note that J'onn seems to be wearing a version of his original costume, instead of the any of the many, more recent redesigns that have sought to cover up all that green skin he had on display from the '60s through the aughts or so (Not sure I like the fact that his cape and harness appear to be painted on rather than fabric though; I suspect that's on purpose, and the implication is that it's just his shape-shifted flesh affecting colors, rather than texture...?).

Like DeConnick's Aquaman run, this is a series I want to keep my eye on, and one I hope is both good and does well.

written by SCOTT LOBDELL
The repercussions of the cataclysmic events of BATMAN #55 continue as a scarred Dick Grayson has given up his vigilante persona in favor a normal existence. A new job, new friends, new life—all are compromised when a safehouse full of old Nightwing gear falls into the wrong hands. Confronted with a past he’s worked so desperately to escape, will Dick Grayson answer the challenge by becoming Nightwing…or something else? The newest chapter in the evolution of Dick Grayson reaches its next level!
ON SALE 12.05.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Scott Lobdell...? On Nightwing...? Huh. That's unexpected. Lobdell has writing constantly canceled and relaunched books starring the second ex-Robin for seven straight years now, so I guess DC finally decided he had earned a shot at the first ex-Robin...

Before Tonya Lightfoot became Los Angeles’ most decorated detective, she was a wee sasquatch roaming the Appalachian mountains, fed a steady diet of tennis and golf (as both of her parents are pros at the local country club) and CSI episodes. But her idyllic life of pranking campers and squatching around the local golf course hits a bump in the fire road when Bigfoot hunters come to the dense forest. Would Tonya back down in the face of adversity? Not yeti! But experiencing this abominable anti-sasquatch sentiment gives her the determination to leave her home behind—she heads to the dangers of the city. After all, it’s hard to fight un-conscious bias, but crime is something America’s sassiest sasquatch is ready to tackle.
This special features a new 30-page lead story plus the backup stories from EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2-6.
ON SALE 12.12.18
$7.99 US | 64 PAGES

This is striking for how completely unlike anything else that DC Comics is soliciting this month...or any month in a long, long time, really. I was surprised as I read this that it apparently began as a backup in that weird Snagglepuss comic DC published, which is particularly weird, since the character doesn't appear to be at all related to Snagglepuss in any way.

Hey, it's all those other Shazam-powered characters that never got superhero names! I imagine that's something that's going to be addressed in the new series? Changing Captain Marvel's name to "Shazam" would seem to render Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. as unusable for those characters, and while I guess Mary Shazam and Shazam Junior are on the table, both sound pretty terrible (Also, I can't see this version of Freddie Freeman wanting to go by the name Shazam Junior). I don't even have a guess what the other three Lieutenant Marvels might go by, though...

written by MARC ANDREYKO
variant cover by AMANDA CONNER
It’s a super-sized issue of SUPERGIRL!
Supergirl and Krypto go back to the “scene of the crime”—the ruins of Krypton! With Z’ndr hitchhiking, Supergirl is not only there to find clues on who the killers of Krypton are, but to pay her respects to her dead family and friends for the first time since she left the planet. But a mysterious caretaker whose duty is to protect Krypton’s remnants at all costs attacks and won’t let Kara through! As if that weren’t enough, the Kryptonian powerhouse and her super-powered pooch are stricken with radiation poisoning from the dead planet and must also fight their inner demons!
This anniversary issue also includes two backup stories! First, witness the thoughts and fears of Krypto as he is affected by the radiation poisoning from the wreckage of Krypton. Then, learn more about our new hitchhiker, Z’ndr Khol, as he scavenges a booby-trapped ruin in a remote corner of the galaxy in an off-the- wall space adventure!
ON SALE 12.12.18
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES

I am surely in the minority of readers who would rather read a Krypto comic co-starring Supergirl than a Supergirl comic co-starring Krypto, but as this has both Supergirl and Krypto, it should please fans of either to some degree. I think this issue is worth highlighting because it features art by Jill Thompson. Man, imagine what a Supergirl title written and drawn by the creator of Magic Trixie< and Scary Godmother might be like...

Oh, and, um, by the way, what is Supergirl wearing? It looks a bit like a corset, based on its effect on her torso, but it's pretty low on her poor, whalebone-crushed body...

Stricken with amnesia and stripped of her costume and super powers, Diana wanders the streets of New York unaware that she is in fact an Amazon warrior. With a little help from an ardent Wonder Woman fan, Diana needs to put the pieces of her life together in time to stop the Shattered God—a cosmic entity with the power to warp reality to his evil will. One way or another, Diana must figure out her past to save the future. Collects Wonder Woman #189-194.
ON SALE 01.30.19
$16.99 US | 152 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-8588-3

My initial reaction to seeing this was Walter Simonson has a Wonder Woman story? How did I not know of this before now?!. But this is Simonson writing a Wonder Woman story arc, not drawing one, or writing and drawing one. This is the six-issue fill-in arc from 2003 that bridged the end of Phil Jimenez's run and the beginning of Greg Rucka's. I skipped it at the time, and all I remember hearing of it was that Wonder Woman got a haircut.

Now even though Simonson's not drawing it, it's well worth noting that Jerry Ordway and P. Craig Russell are both amazing artists, and I am now quite curious to see what their collaboration might look like. The title here is a little curious though. I'm not sure why they used the creators' names in the title instead of the name of the story arc--which would make this Wonder Woman: The Game of The Gods--unless DC is banking on "Walter Simonson" and "Jerry Ordway" being the selling point here, as opposed to Wonder Woman.

I'm totally going to buy this...and hold out hope that Walter Simonson draws a Wonder Woman comic book at some point.

1 comment:

collectededitions said...

If you lost interest in Aquaman during the Jeff Parker run, it's worth picking it back up starting with the New 52 Aquaman Vol. 8: Out of Darkness, Dan Abnett's first volume and essentially a prologue to his Rebirth series (so basically you'd be skipping Parker and then the one volume by Cullen Bunn). Abnett's Aquaman has an interesting geopolitical tone plus some detailed characterization; especially lately, for me it's pulled ahead of the Johns run.

I also swore off Freedom Fighters comics after reboot after reboot, but Robert Venditti's name makes me take this more seriously; he's been the writer for a while on Green Lantern and then Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and he's done a pretty admirable job. And the interview I read said that this was branching off from Morrison's Multiversity; I understand why you see that as a negative but I think that tie to the greater DC Universe might actually help marketability.

I'm concerned about Steve Orlando's discussion that he'll be revealing some secret from Martian Manhunter's past -- it's OK in my book if J'onn is just victim and not cause of his people's destruction -- but Riley Rossmo's twisty turny art on the shapeshifting Martian Manhunter is can't miss for me.

Somehow I too totally blanked that Walter Simonson and Jerry Ordway did a Wonder Woman run between Jimenez and Rucka. Definitely their names sell this book better than a subtitle.