Friday, April 26, 2019

DC's July previews reviewed

Eager to prove himself as a guardian for the criminals of Gotham City, Killer Moth has set his sights on taking out one of Gotham’s finest heroes…Batgirl! Does this insect menace really stand a chance against Batman’s smartest ally? Meanwhile, after their daring escape, the Terrible Trio is on the hunt for new ways to cause trouble for Batgirl. Little do they know, Lex Luthor has already beat them to it and is about to bring Batgirl’s worst possible nightmare to life! Oracle is back online. And she’s angry.
ON SALE 07.24.19
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

I've always liked the Killer Moth character, ever since I first met him in Alan Grant, Tim Sale and company's "Misfits" arc from Shadow of The Bat. I like his funny name. I like his original costume. I like that he's one of the "loser" type villains that fights Batman, the type of villain that only seemed to appear to be greater losers over the years as Batman and his a-list villains were depicted as increasingly hyper-competent. I liked his original scheme of being the Batman of bad guys--something James Tynion recently referenced in his referenceiriffic run on Detective Comics--and the way he was linked to Batgirl's (original) origin. I like his Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go redesign. I did not care for his becoming "Charaxes" during Underworld Unleashed (In fact, I believe I wrote a letter to the editor of Robin to convey my distaste for that development). I did not care for his weird New 52 redesign, which was apparently just a gas mask and, um, nothing at all moth-related...? But despite that, I did like his role in Keith Giffen and Bilquis Evely's Sugar & Spike, in which his enmity for Batman had a rather specific, rather moth-like source.

When I was a teenager, I really wanted to grow up to write Batman comics, an interest that has waned quite a bit over the years--although I'd be totally cool doing shorter, funnier stories for holiday specials and anthologies and the like, if there are any DC editors in the reading audience!--but Killer Moth is one of the few Gotham City residents I still get ideas about and whose inner life I am most curious about. I mean, I don't love him as much as The Scarecrow (a character I have next to no interest in writing, I just like hanging around him) or The Calendar Man (whom I also met in "Misfits"!), but he's a pretty great character.

Anyway, the point is, I am glad to see him appearing in Batgirl and getting back to his roots of losing to one of Batman's sidekicks--who beat him on her very first day on the job!

I just hope he looks moth-y. The cover seems to indicate he will.


Have I mentioned that I don't like Batgirl's current costume much? I have? Oh. Well, I still don't like it very much.

written by SEAN MURPHY
art and cover by SEAN MURPHY
In this explosive sequel to the critically acclaimed blockbuster BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT from writer/artist Sean Murphy, The Joker recruits Azrael to help him expose a shocking secret from the Wayne family’s legacy—and to run Gotham City into the ground! As Batman rushes to protect the city and his loved ones from danger, the mystery of his ancestry unravels, dealing a devastating blow to the Dark Knight. Exciting new villains and unexpected allies will clash in this unforgettable chapter of the White Knight saga—and the truth about the blood they shed will shake Gotham to its core!
ON SALE 07.24.19
$4.99 US
1 of 8 | 32 PAGES

Sean Murphy's White Knight has been on my "To Review, Eventually" table for a very, very long time now--pretty much since it was released in trade. I am and have long been a big fan of Murphy's artwork, and always thought he was a particularly good fit for Batman, so I was happily surprised to find out that he's also pretty dang good at writing Batman comics. That said, I found the book sort of uncomfortable and awkward in terms of its premise.

I think it took me a while to realize what, precisely, felt strange about the book's very existence to me, but I eventually realized that it was that unlike most Elseworlds/What If...? style super-comics, Murphy didn't just take an extant element of the character or point of their history and change it or diverge from it, nor did he transplant the narrative to a different setting.

Rather, he just changed various things at random, while leaving many of them the same. So, for example, Jason Todd's fate was very, very different, and, for another, Mister Freeze was a Nazi war criminal who had worked with Wayne's parents. There are other ones, but I think it was when we got to Jason Todd that I first realized that what Murphy was doing was basically rebooting Batman to tell a specific story; it wasn't a simple "What If The Joker Went Sane? (And This Time In A Sean Murphy Comic)", but "What If a Rather Random, Specific Version of The Joker in a Specific Version of Gotham Went Sane?"

And that just made it feel strange and off to me. I really enjoyed the art, and the story was structured well and mostly moved the way a story should, but it was so off-brand that I couldn't find it truly compelling. I did dig all of his rogue's gallery redesigns though, and particularly liked the incredibly implausible scene where The Joker and Harley trick them all into drinking mind-controlling nanobots or whatever simultaneously (Who drinks something the fucking Joker hands you?).

So I certainly see why people seemed to dig this as much as they did, and it's cool they're going to let Murphy do whatever he wants to do in that version of that world he's created, but it feels uncomfortable to me as a reader.

And, if I'm being perfectly honest, it also kinda disappoints me that a really great Batman artist like Murphy is drawing an out-of-continuity Batman miniseries that is just pretty okay--I should note, too that it's not just that it's not canon or a traditional non-canonical story that disappoints me about White Knight, it's also that it isn't so good that it justifies the changes it makes--every time a mediocre or simply not-as-good-as-Murphy artist draws Batman or Detective.

new cover by NICK DERINGTON
Available to comics shops for the first time! Following the theft of a priceless Fabergé egg, the Riddler leads the Dark Knight on a wild hunt after its true owner: Jinny Hex, descendant of Jonah Hex! Guest-starring Deathstroke, Green Arrow and dozens of Riddler look-alikes in stories by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Nick Derington, originally published in BATMAN GIANT #3 and #4!
ON SALE 07.10.19
$4.99 US | 1 of 6 | 32 PAGES

Starting in July, the original content that was appearing in those bargain-priced Walmart-exclusive anthologies--that is, the stuff that might conceivably entice existent DC comics readers--will finally arrive in comic shops. I will confess to being slightly surprised that it will be appearing in serialized-comic book format first, rather than going right to trade. But that surprise only lasted for a few seconds, because of course DC is going to try and make as much money off of this content as they can, so they will re-sell it to the direct market as a comic book before going to trade, where I look forward to eventually reading this comic.

Bendis' Superman comics have been surprisingly good, although I assumed the character that would lure him to DC Comics would be not Superman, but Batman. And here he is, writing him for the first time! Outside of a few appearances in those Superman books! Frankly, I'm more exicted to see Derington's artwork though, as from what little I've seen of his Batman comics, they have been amazing.

As for the theft of the egg, I'm going to guess The Penguin. As it's an egg. And he steals bird stuff.

This month DC will also being selling the Tom King-written Superman comic and the Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti-written Wonder Woman comic, neither of which seem particularly interesting, although I'm sure I'll at least borrow the Superman one from the library when it eventually gets here. King's Superman and Lois have been pretty good in the pages of his Batman, but from what little I've seen of his Heroes In Crisis, I just don't know about his take on the wider DC Universe of superheroes...

designed by ANT LUCIA
sculpted by TIM MILLER
She’s the drum major of the most electrifying marching band on Earth! Mary Shazam! is the newest addition to the DC Bombshells statue line. This whimsical piece, designed by Ant Lucia, features Mary in mid-marching action, having a spectacular time.
This polyresin statue is sure to become an iconic look, and one you don’t want to miss!
• Limited to 5,000 pieces and individually numbered
• Statue measures 12.35" tall
• Allocations may occur
• Final product may differ from image shown
$125.00 US

Mary Shazam...? That's not her name. I quite clearly remember that when Miriam Bätzel says the magic word "Shazam" she is gifted with superpowers and the abilities of Jewish heroines Shiphrah, Huldah, Abigail, Zipporah, Asenath and Miriam, becoming Miri Marvel, or sometimes just "Shazam." She was one of the more interesting imports into the Bombshells-iverse, I thought, and I really loved her costume (As drawn by Sandy Jarrell and others in DC Comics Bombshells, she looked more small, slim, girlish and less, well, bombhsell than this, though. Also, I don't remember that hat).

Although, I suppose it's possible that "Mary Shazam" is meant to be the name of her DCU character nowawdays, and that's why the statue is listed as it is here...?

I'm trade-waiting Geoff Johns' Shazam ongoing, so I still don't know: Has the hero formerly known as Captain Marvel officially adopted "Shazam" as his name yet...? What about Mary, Freddy and the rest of their siblings...?

art and cover by ALEX MALEEV
variant cover by JASON FABOK
“The Detectives”! EVENT LEVIATHAN, the new miniseries by the award-winning team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, continues! As the mystery of Leviathan continues to rock the very foundations of the DC Universe, the world’s greatest detectives gather for the first time anywhere to solve the mystery before it’s too late! Lois Lane leads Batman, Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Manhunter, the Question and a couple of genuine guest sleuths in the search for who Leviathan is and how their plans have already unfolded. This issue also guest-stars Red Hood, Batgirl and more!
ON SALE 07.10.19
$3.99 US | 2 of 6 | 32 PAGES

Plastic Man...? You guys sure you got the right stretchy superhero? Because there just so happens to be a similarly-powered DC superhero renowned for his detective skills...

written by GEOFF JOHNS
It’s a new era for the Flash as Barry Allen returns to a world he doesn’t recognize anymore. Then, Barry Allen and Wally West must battle the undead Rogues! But can even two super-speedsters stop these unbeatable foes? Plus, the Rogues reassemble to remind the world why no one should mess with them! Collects The Flash: Rebirth #1-6, Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3 and FINAL CRISIS: rogues revenge #1-3.
ON SALE 08.21.19
$29.99 US | 344 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-9263-8

Ugh, poor Geoff Johns. It must suck to have some of one's early, career-making works forever linked to an artist who has since become radioactive among non-asshole comics readers with Internet connections...

written by GARTH ENNIS
art and cover by JOHN McCREA
The cult hit from writer Garth Ennis (PREACHER) returns in a brand-new “greatest hits” collection! These tales include the introduction of super-powered gun for hire Tommy Monaghan, his encounters with Superman, Batman and the Justice League of America and more! Includes stories from THE DEMON ANNUAL #2, HITMAN #4-7, #13-14, #34 and JLA/
HITMAN #1-2.
ON SALE 08.14.19
$19.99 US | 320 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-9963-7

Well this is certainly a surprise. Those comics are the first appearance of Tommy Monaghan (with kicky red scarf) in The Demon's tie-in annual to 1992's "Bloodlines" event; the four-issue "Ten Thousand Bullets" story arc; the two-part "Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium" (from which the collection's cover comes from...don't worry, that baby seal is a zombie); the Superman team-up issue "Of Thee I Sing" and then the weird JLA/Hitman miniseries, which sort of follows up on the events of "Of Thee I Sing" and, to a lesser extent, other books not included in this collection.

It's a strange package, really. Some of it seems geared toward DCU hero team-ups (Demon Annual, "Of Thee I Sing", JLA/Hitman), but not "Ten Thousand Bullets" or "Zombie Night" and, of course, more obvious stories with more prominent DCU guest-stars aren't included, like "Local Hero", "Ace of Killers" and the Lobo "team-up" one-shot. Some of these are among the book's--which, might I remind is, still one of DC's best ongoing series and my personal favorite series--greatest hits, like "Zombie Night" and "Of Thee I Sing", while others are among the lesser Hitman stories.

I'm honestly not sure why this book exists at all--did the individual Hitman trades all go out of print?--but there are certainly worse ways to spend $20 than this...

This is the cover for the Justice League Dark Annual, by Riley Rossmo. And it's got Guillem March art on the inside! Those are two artists whose work I like quite a bit, although there's almost never an alignment of their work plus a project I am interested in (beyond their involvement) on a sizable or sustained comic.

I really like Zatanna, Wonder Woman and even Floronic Man's faces on this image, and Detective Chimp and Man-Bat look downright cute (if distressed).

I've only read a handful of issues of this series, but, for the most part, it struck me in much the same way that writer James Tynion's Detective Comics run did--I really liked the concept, and wanted to like the book, but it just didn't connect with me.

written by JIM KRUEGER and ALEX ROSS
cover by ALEX ROSS
The best-selling 12-issue series illustrated by Alex Ross is now available as a new deluxe edition hardcover! The villains of the Legion of Doom—led by Lex Luthor and Brainiac—band together to save the world after a shared dream that seems to be a vision of the Earth’s demise. They are confronted by the Justice League of America, who doubt their motives—and as their true plans unfold, the two teams do battle. Contains over 100 pages of bonus material!
ON SALE 08.07.19
$49.99 US | 7.0625” x 10.875”
496 PAGES | FC
ISBN: 978-1-4012--9343-7

I liked this quite a lot. As I recall, it was basically Challenge of The Super Friends for grown-ups. The Justice League line-up was essentially the one of Alex Ross' personal head canon, which is a pretty good one that I heartily approve of, but the Legion line-up was pretty much exactly that of the cartoon, although obviously some of them had some weird redesigns and updates (I recall The Riddler's costume being particularly strange).

I am blanking on many of the specifics of this though, so maybe revisiting it in a collected format like this wouldn't be the worst idea in the world. I think that fans of the current Justice League who missed Justice the first time around might be particularly interested in it, as its conceit as an all-out war between the two super-teams from the cartoons is pretty similar.

written by SHOLLY FISCH
art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
With his chemical shape-shifting powers, Metamorpho the Element Man is more than a match for pretty much any super-villain…except maybe a huge elemental monster with shape-shifting powers of its own! It’s up to the gang to solve the mystery and unmask the monster—once Scooby and Shaggy stop running in terror from both the monster and Metamorpho, that is!
ON SALE 07.24.19
$2.99 US | 32 PAGES

To recap: Scooby-Doo and the gang are teaming up with Metamorpho, The Element Man. That is all.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I find it weird that Billy Batson/Captain Marvel/Shazam's current costume appears to have Kirby dots permanently embedded in the emblem, even though that is one of the, like, 15 superheroes currently appearing in monthly super-comics that Jack Kirby didn't create.

written by NANCY A. COLLINS
In these 1990s tales written by critically acclaimed Bram Stoker Award-winning horror novelist Nancy A. Collins, a mad priest has come to Houma to test his followers with a fatal poison, and Swamp Thing must stop him before things go too far. Then, Swamp Thing finds himself a surprise candidate for governor of Louisiana. And when Swamp Thing must save Abigail Arcane and their daughter, Tefé, from the murderous dream-pirates of Dark Conrad, who’s he gonna call? John Constantine! Collects SWAMP THING #110-139 and ANNUAL #6 and #7, BLACK ORCHID #5, and a story from VERTIGO JAM #1, plus never-before-published behind-the-scenes material.
ON SALE 01.08.19 | $125.00 US | 968 PAGES
FC | 7.0625” x 10.875”
ISBN: 978-1-4012-9709-1

This sizable chunk of comics comes from quite late in the run of the Swamp Thing comic run that people think of when they think of Swamp Thing--the series would finally ship its last issue in 1996 with Swamp Thing #171, written by some guy named Mark Millar. I've only read a handful of these, but some of them--like the piece from Vertigo Jam--was my first introduction to Swamp Thing outside of the USA live action TV series. I would certainly be interested in reading this complete run, although it's hard to imagine a book that huge being one I want to bring into my apartment, put on a book shelf, have to pack and move some day. I guess that's what libraries are for...?

That sure is a gorgeous Mike Zulli cover, isn't it...?

art and cover by JOHN TIMMS
Young Justice—lost in the Multiverse! After the explosive conclusion to their Gemworld adventure, the team is having a tough time finding their way back to their Earth. No, we can’t tell you where they end up, but rest assured, you will be surprised! But as exciting as all that is, we have bigger problems to deal with as Tim Drake is about to do something he has only done...lots of times before. He is about to announce his new alias...a new superhero name. A Young Justice name. And this time, it’s permanent. Like, forever.
ON SALE 07.03.19
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Wait. I keep re-reading those last few sentences because I'm not sure I understand them. Tim Drake has announced new superhero names lots of times before? What? Red Robin'm drawing a blank. In continuity, I think that's it, isn't it? (I guess he was Batman briefly during Battle For The Cowl, and...actually, all the other superhero identities I can think of for Tim have all been Batman in various alternate futures).

Anyway, is this still good? I thought those first few issues were quite good, and then I went into trade-waiting mode on it.

Oh, speaking of artist Riley Rossmo, as I was a few entries ago, here's his variant cover for this month's issue of Young Justice. I think that book, written by Bendis, would be one that would be a good fit for the artist, and one that I would be happy to read.

1 comment:

Kevin McHugh said...

I read Justice years ago by assembling second-hand copies of the trades, which had fallen out of print. I mostly enjoyed it despite a slightly annoying plot. I wasn't exactly there for the plot, of course.