Friday, June 21, 2019

DC's September previews reviewed

Something about those piles of rubble in the foreground of this cover image to Batman #78 by Tony S. Daniel looks weird to me. I guess it's mostly that when we get a Batman "pose" cover like that, he's usually posing atop a gargoyle, rooftop or maybe even a sign or fire escape, rather than a pile of rubble. That is, presumably, reflective of the contents of the issue, and Daniel wanted to show that Gotham City was in more dire straits than is usually the case when Batman and/or Catwoman pose for covers.

On the other hand, the rubble piles are stacked in such a way, and lined up just so, that they also happen to obscure both characters' feet, which makes me wonder if the image wasn't composed specifically so that Daniel wouldn't have to draw feet. If so, mission accomplished! There are two people in the image, which equals four feet, but he ended up only having to draw, like, half a foot.

Man, the more I look at it, the more crowded and unsightly the image looks. Daniels has gotten to be pretty accomplished and Jim Lee-like figure work, but overall, that's a not-very-good cover image. I wonder what it will look like with the logo and other stuff added, making it still more of a jumble and, I imagine, obscuring important-ish information like Batman's head and the bat-signal.

Catwoman's ears look weird and horse-like here and I don't like them. Um, that is all. I didn't mean to dump on Daniel so much this post. I'm sorry, Mr. Daniel.

Oh hey, the lady Catwoman is attacking, is that Magpie...? It looks like her costume from Beware The Batman, but with her original, John Byrne-designed glasses. I really rather liked what they did with the character in that show; in fact, I think that particular cartoon is really underappreciated. The computer animation was not to my taste, and they certainly made some unusual choices, but I really dug the fact that the creators seemed to have sat down, reviewed all of the Batman villains ever, and then restricted themselves only to ones that hadn't appeared in all the previous Batman cartoons, so that instead of The Joker, Catwoman and Bane we got Anarky, Magpie and The Silver Monkey. It was a really weird show, but it was a good, refreshing kind of weird.

What was I talking about...?

Oh yeah, Batman #79's cover. I kind of love that Bane stamped his "logo" on those boxes. The solicitation mentions that Batman and Catwoman are teaming up to attack Bane's supply line or some such, and it doesn't look like it would take the World's Greatest Detective to find Bane's supplies...

Oh hey, Daniel didn't draw any feet on this cover, either! But see how much more natural the image looks? Like, the lack of feet was the tenth thing I noticed, not the first, and it doesn't seem to be an intentional design choice in the way that the awkwardly-placed rubble piles in the previous image did.

art and cover by SHIORI TESHIROGI
In the next chapter of the manga adventures of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes, Ocean Master has summoned a massive tidal wave to flood Gotham City! While Aquaman tries to reason with his brother, Batman is determined to stop him by any means necessary. Superman soon joins the fray, but the challenge becomes even greater when the mysterious oni known as Akurou summons a giant snake to engage the heroes. Plus, new villains arrive on the scene—Sinestro, Reverse-Flash and Cyborg Superman...and the nexus point of the greatest congestion of ley lines on Earth is revealed to be directly under the Batcave!
ON SALE 10.02.19
$12.99 US | 208 PAGES

Reminder: This series is great and I love it. I'm looking forward to meeting the new characters--well, new to this narrative, of course--and seeing how Teshirogi has redesigned them. That Reverse-Flash chest emblem, for example, looks neat.

Oh hey look! It's a Kevin Nowlan cover randomly atop an issue of Batman and The Outsiders! That's cool. Comics generally look better when they have Kevin Nowlan covers atop them. And look, he even incorporated black-colored lightning bolts into it, of the sort I've argued that maybe Black Lightning should be throwing around these days.

Sadly, Nowlan's just drawing the cover, and not the interior pages. Sadder still? He did not get to redesign poor Cassandra Cain's dumb "Orphan" costume...

art and cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
variant cover by JEROME OPENA
The Batman Who Laughs’ plot is bigger than either the Caped Crusader or the Man of Steel realized. Following a showdown with the devious killer’s first sentinel, a jacked-up, Dark Multiverse-infected Shazam!, the pair has to figure out who else has been targeted for similar transformations. Their first two guesses: someone very close to Batman and the one hero that would make failure nearly impossible—Superman himself!
ON SALE 09.25.19
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Oh come on now. Is there a single Captain Marvel/Shazam fan on the planet who wants to read about a "jacked-up, Dark Multiverse-infected" version of the character...? No, the answer is no, there is not. And if a wisenheimer out there says that they are a fan of the character, they just wish he was a little more jacked-up and Dark Multiverse-infected, they are liars. Liars, I say!

Also, the jacked-up, Dark Multiverse-infected Shazam looks dumb...though not really any dumber than the New 52 redesign of the character, I guess. I wish they would have at least gone comically evil in the design, and given him, like a curly mustache or purple and green costume or something...


Oh no. I can't stop saying "jacked-up, Dark Multiverse-infected"...!

written by TOM TAYLOR
cover by RYAN SOOK
variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
horror movie variant cover by YASMINE PUTRI
While the mainstays of the Justice League—Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman—battle the worldwide infection in the pages of DCEASED, a group of other heroes work to stop the impending apocalypse—no matter who they have to kill!
Mr. Terrific assembles a motley group of surviving heroes including Mister Miracle, Big Barda, John Constantine, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold as they attempt to fight back against the tide of death. Can this ragtag group save the world where the Justice League has thus far failed?
ONE-SHOT | ON SALE 09.04.19
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES

I've only read the first issue of DCeased so far, but I really, really didn't like it.

It just read like DC's Marvel Zombies, but somehow even less inspired than the original Marvel Zombies which, remember, was a spin-off of a Mark Millar comic (Granted, that was before Millar had completely given up on trying, and had yet to transition into having popular artists draw up the notes from his old Marvel/DC pitch files as pitches for Hollywood movies starring Marvel and DC analogues but still).

I think it was all the more disappointing than it might have otherwise been because I've seen really rather great work from Tom Taylor, and a lame comic from a great comics writer will always read worse than a lame comic from a mediocre comics writer.

Anyway, it's apparently selling like hotcakes, so it's getting a spin-off featuring John Constantine and some of the publisher's fun third-stringer characters.

I'll try it again when they release it in trade, which I imagine will include this as well.

written by GREG RUCKA
art by J.H. WILLIAMS III | cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III
Reprinting the first chapter of Batwoman’s epic clash with the Religion of Crime.
ON SALE 09.04.19
$1.00 US | 32 PAGES | FC

This appears to be DC's answer to Marvel's True Believers series of $1 reprint comics. I've never quite understood the exact economics of those, but my guess is that Marvel considers them as a sort of advertising for trade collections and/or runs of trades (certainly most of the ones I've bought and read end with a "Continued in..." slug referring the reader to a collected edition of some form).

The particular titles that DC is starting with here are the first appearance of Batwoman outside of 52 (the first chapter in her first starring solo arc), the first chapter of the "Hush" story arc in Batman (which is not a very good storyline, although it doesn't fully fall apart until the last chapter or so, and up until then is mostly an okay "Greatest Hits" type of story in which Jeph Loeb has a popular artist draw all the Batman characters), the first issue of the first New 52 Harley Quinn ongoing (which I sort of hated, as it was the introduction of the Jimmy Palmiotti/Amanda Conner "Deadpool, but sexy" take on the character, but I was and am obviously in the minority there) and the first issue of Crisis On Infinite Earths (which every DC fan should read, if only to see George Perez draw the entire DC character catalog circa the mid-1980s).

In addition to being single issues that point toward particular collections, three of the four have multi-media tie-ins, in the form of an upcoming Batwoman TV show, a direct-to-DVD animated adaptation of "Hush" and a Harley Quinn animated series (plus that Birds of Prey movie). Actually, I think the "Arrowverse" stuff have been doing things with the infinite Earths and Monitor, so hell, maybe that counts too, I don't know.

I'm certainly on board with DC publishing $1 reprints, as I like cheap comics and have always preferred DC's characters to Marvel's, but I won't be purchasing any of these, on account of the fact that I've already bought and read all of these.

cover by JOHN BYRNE
The original World’s Strangest Heroes are back, in the way that only the legendary John Byrne can deliver! Picking up in the wake of the events of “The Tenth Circle” saga in JLA, this series reunites Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and Niles Caulder with a host of edgy new superheroes! They’ve defeated the vampire Crucifer...or have they? This title collects JLA #94-99, DOOM PATROL #1-18, SUPERMAN #20, a story from SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL #1 and behind-the-scenes material.
ON SALE 02.19.20
$75.00 US | 7.0625” x 10.875”
672 PAGES | FC
ISBN: 978-1-779500847

I'm sort of surprised to see this here, although I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, as there is a Doom Patrol TV show now, and that show looks pretty good from what I've seen of it (that is, trailers on YouTube). In addition to John Byrne's relatively short-lived Doom Patrol series, this collects the JLA arc by Byrne and Chris Claremont that rebooted the Doom Patrol independently of the rest of the DC Universe (in my reading experience, those types of reboots never work, and will just be cleaned up in the next line-wide reboot anyway), and, if memory serves, this signaled the ruining of the Doom Patrol characters for a bit and, more relevantly to me at the time, the beginning of JLA's slide into irrelevance prior to its relaunch after Infinite Crisis.

Prior to this JLA arc, the book was written by Grant Morrison (with fill-in issues and arcs by Mark Waid, Mark Millar and Waid and Devin K. Grayson), then by Mark Waid (with one fill-in issue by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty), then Joe Kelly (with a fill-in by Rick Veitch), and then there was a three-issue arc written by Denny O'Neill where the book got...weird, essentially becoming an anthology series, with an arc apiece from Byrne and Claremont (bad!), Chuck Austen (bad!), Kurt Busiek (great!), Geoff Johns (better than Identity Crisis, at least!) and Bob Harras (okay!). The Byrne and Claremont  arc was the second of those arcs from the "Fuck it, it's an anthology now" period of the book. So while it's not necessarily Byrne's fault, when I think of the Byrne Doom Patrol, I think about my once-favorite comic book title falling apart.

That said, I never read any of these comics. I think I read JLA #94 and maybe #99. I do not feel any great compulsion to read it now, either.

I like the reference to "edgy new heroes" in the solicitations, though. The only "new" Doom Patroler I remember was a gorilla who had not two but four arms. That's twice as many arms as gorillas usually have! Edgy!

written by STEVE ORLANDO
cover by PHILIP TAN
Leviathan has dismantled S.H.A.D.E.—and that means Frankenstein is once again a free agent! Now he can set his sights on his former mentor, Melmoth, the one evil that got away. With bad things happening all across the Multiverse, this may be Frankenstein’s last shot at setting things right. Of course, Melmoth has his own agenda, and it’s going to take more than a lone monster to take him down. So Frankenstein heads to Gotham City in search of allies and recruits Killer Croc, Lady Clayface, Orca and vampire Andrew Bennett. But will even these dread creatures be enough to save humanity before the entire cosmos collapses in on itself?
ON SALE 09.11.19
$3.99 US | 1 OF 6 | 32 PAGES

Steve Orlando, an apparent Grant Morrison fan turned professional comics writer who writes Morrison creations, gets his hands on another Morrison co-creation...or, re-co-creation, I guess.

I've read enough of Orlando's work to know this is very much not for me (and I'm still pissed off about that Promethea appearance), but I think it's worth pointing out the appearance of Orca, The Whale Woman on the team line-up. Everyone thought it was so funny when Larry Hama and Scott McDaniel introduced her in a 2000 Batman arc and now, not even 20 years later, she's been in a movie and is a Lego and has become a recurring villain in the pages of Nightwing and now a new miniseries called Gotham Monsters featuring, like, one to three monsters from Gotham.

Orca is a good example, I think, of creating new characters for your Big Two super-comics, even if it means you lose ownership of them (Especially if they're just so-so characters; like, Hama and McDaniel were unlikely to ever do an Orca, The Whale Woman ongoing series at Image and then see it optioned by a studio and turned into a blockbuster movie). Maybe Orlando will create some new characters some day. In the meantime, I guess he'll stick to those Morrison has created and worked on...?

"Lady Clayface" is a particularly weird inclusion on the team. I only remember her appearing in a couple of Batman stories proper (as opposed to Batman and The Outsiders), most memorably "The Mud Pack" four-parter by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, and she was thus never much of an ongoing presence in Gotham City. I think the last I saw here was when Jean-Paul Valley was Batman, but Wikipedia says she is in Johns' Watchmen II: The Story Continues, sooooooooo maybe this is a post-whatever-Johns-is-doing-to-continuity storyline...? That, or she's being reintroduced here for the first time; Clayface continuity is probably the part of Batman continuity most screwed up by The New 52boot.

 Like, yeah, obviously the Robins and Batgirls are all fucked up now in terms of who came when and which stories happened and how, but the Clayfaces aren't really touched on...they seem to have just given Clayface I the powers of Clayface II and left it at that; I don't know if Clayfaces II-IV even existed anymore...

Hey, that's the least terrible Carol Ferris has looked in a long time...! Another high five for the The Green Lantern artist Liam Sharp!

written by JODY HOUSER
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are taking their show on the road in this new miniseries! They’ll have to evade villains and heroes alike while they explore their relationship and unpack their time and experiences at Sanctuary. Set after the events of HEROES IN CRISIS and smack in the middle of “Year of the Villain,” it’s a journey across the DC Universe that will change their friendship forever...if they live that long!
ON SALE 09.04.19
$3.99 US | 1 OF 6 | 32 PAGES

What's the comic book equivalent of the term "box office poison"...? Is it just "comic shop poison"...? Because I've gotten the sense that no one really liked Heroes In Crisis much at all, and I wonder how series spinning out of and deliberately name-checking DC's logic-defying story of superhero PTSD/super-mass shooting-esque events/hero-turned-murderer will be received. Usually these two characters are played for laughs when they are together, but then there's that whole Heroes In Crisis angle, as well as a reference to the "Year of the Villain" effort, which seems to involved Underworld Unleashed-like villain upgrades.

By the way, what the fuck is going on with Ivy's design on that cover...? She looks oddly Swamp Thing-y...

backup story written by JEFF LEMIRE
backup story art by JEFF LEMIRE
variant cover by JEFF LEMIRE
The citizens of Dangerfield, Arizona, are beset by strange goings-on after the “Invasion” that rocked the DC Universe, but only five misfit kids seem to notice them. Can they uncover what’s happening before some sinister force collects them all? Find out in this new miniseries!
And in the backup feature with story and art by Jeff Lemire, the Peacemaker is on a top-secret mission from Checkmate and Amanda Waller to find a mysterious weapon before the Russians can.
ON SALE 09.18.18 | $3.99 US
1 OF 12 | 32 PAGES | FC | RATED T

Weird. Given that the solicitation copy seems to suggest a "new" Inferior Five rather than the originals--last seen in the pages of Scooby-Doo Team-Up!--and that their story is the work of Keith Giffen, I am going to hazard to guess that the existence of this book has something to do with trademark renewal, but that doesn't mean it won't also be worthwhile. I imagine some folks will be more excited by the prospect of Giffen doing his own art (or at least part of it) than by the fact that there's an Inferior Five reboot coming down the pipeline.

The fact that the book is being paired with a Peacemaker back-up is also kind of weird, and that's another character so out-of-left field that I have a feeling that characters was on the same list as the Inferior Five, in terms of IP DC has to do something with every so often for some legal reason. Or maybe in hopes of getting a sixth CW show going, I don't know. A Checkmate-related story seems oddly timed too, given that Bendis' big event comic was premised on Leviathan dismantling all such organizations.

Anyway, that too will have Lemire drawing his own comic, for the first time in...way too long, really. I was just thinking the other day how weird it is that I've enjoyed all of Lemire's personal work for Top Shelf and elsewhere, but his superhero writing has always left me cold, and I wondered if part of it wasn't just the corporate, doing-it-for-the-paycheck aspect as much as cartoonists tend to do their best writing when they are also drawing that same work.

Anyway, this is the all-around most surprising solicit of the month, I think.

variant cover by JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
“The Justice Doom War” part two! The culmination of Lex Luthor’s plan hinges on his beating the Justice League to the prize, ratcheting up the peril as the Year of the Villain continues! The Totality has shattered and its pieces have been tossed across space and time. Thus, the Justice League must also split apart, forming three search teams to comb the past, present, and future to re-combine the Totality before the Legion of Doom can get its villainous hands on the cosmic weapon. What allies will our heroes find in these other timelines? In the future, it’s the Last Boy on Earth, Kamandi! But in the past, there are the familiar faces of the Justice Society of America!
ON SALE 09.04.19
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Oh wow, I really like that first cover, which is Julian Totino Tedesco's variant cover for the issue. I like that all of the pictured characters seem to be striking poses that are fairly natural-ish for them, and to be all doing so on the same cover. The Batman pose is pretty nice, too; on a Batman comic (or in a Batman comic) we would see him coming at us from the front, but here, on a JLA cover, we see him from a different point of view. I also lie that everyone seems to be wearing spandex or tights of some kind, rather than weird, sectional armor (aside from Wonder Woman, of course). Hell, I don't even see The Flash's stupid lightning bolt-shaped eyebrow patterns on his cowl, but maybe that's just because it's far away.

As nice as that cover image is, though, that's probably not the one that will be talked about most, given the fact that the JSA is on the cover of the other one, and while this may involve some dumb multiverse stuff, where the JSA ends up inhabiting some kind of Earth-2.9 or whatever, I'm hopeful that the DCU is being restored to it's post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint continuity, at least regarding the Golden Age heroes having existed in the DCU, as foreshadowed in DC Universe: Rebirth. Maybe Geoff Johns' Watchmen Vs. Justice League story is finally wrapping up and they can make good on shooting off all the Chekov guns in that one-shot from a million months ago...

Anyway, the JSA is back! Hooray!

That's quite an unfortunate haircut on poor Klarion, The Witch Boy, a kid not really known for having decent-looking haircuts. The Floronic Man and Solomon Grundy have both seen better days too, come to think of it...

cover by RYAN SOOK
Brought to you by some of comics’ greatest talents, this epic story spans the course of 1,000 years and, for the very first time, connects all of DC’s future timelines! Starring the unlikeliest of DC heroes as she learns to cope with newfound immortality and roams through the disparate societies of Batman Beyond, Kamandi and Tommy Tomorrow, wrestling with her own inner demons and desperately trying to find her purpose in an ever-changing world. Do not miss this truly unique take on tomorrow’s DC Universe, all leading up to a special launch on the millennium!
ON SALE 09.04.19
$4.99 US | 1 OF 2 | 40 PAGES

Hmm. I have no particular interest in the Legion of Super-Heroes characters or comics--although I do find a couple of aspects of the basic concept extremely compelling--so I am not one of the many, many DC fans who will likely be very excited that DC seems committed to bringing them back in some capacity (a return that, like that of the JSA, was teased forever ago now, in the pages of DC Universe: Rebirth). I think the fact that Bendis appears to be attached to their return in some capacity also means DC is committed to making it work this time too, in the way the team's way too many past reboots indicate that DC wasn't too terribly invested into whatever was going on 1,000 years in their future.

Personally, I thought writer Geoff Johns had done a pretty solid job of "fixing" the franchise forever ago, when he was writing Action Comics and did that Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds series, but just like everything else Johns seemed to have fixed for the publisher, that too was jettisoned in The New 52 reboot.

I hope I'll be able to read this one day. Andrea Sorrentino's inclusion makes me think I might not be able too. Like, I know this is more a matter of personal taste than the quality of the art or the talent involved in producing it (although Sorrentino's storytelling does leave a lot to be desired), but I just have a really, really hard time reading his art.

Given the subtitle, and its history at DC Comics, I can't help but wonder if this will have any kind of connection to the 1988 crossover event, particularly since Millennium seemed to have such an influence on Bendis' Secret Invasion series.

written by GREG RUCKA
art and cover by MIKE PERKINS
variant cover by NICOLA SCOTT
Jon Kent surprises his mother with a visit to her hideout in Chicago with big news that ties directly into the events of SUPERMAN #15, also on sale this month. While Lois must deal with her now-17-year-old son making life-changing decisions, the two Questions—Renee Montoya and Vic Sage—try to understand their own confusing continuity.
ON SALE 09.04.19
$3.99 US | 3 OF 12 | 32 PAGES

Wait, Jon is 17 now? Jeez, the last time I saw his age mentioned in a comic book he was still too young to technically qualify to be a Teen Titan. They really do grow up fast.

art and cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL
DC’s biggest, newest mystery starts here! When a fight between Superman and Mongul crashes into a small Northwestern town, Naomi begins to uncover the last time a super-powered person visited her home—and how that might tie into her own origins and adoption. Follow Naomi’s journey on a quest that will take her to the heart of the DC Universe and unfold a universe of ideas and stories that have never been seen before. Join writers Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker and breakout artist Jamal Campbell in Wonder Comics’ massively ambitious new series and star...Naomi. Collects NAOMI issues #1-6.
ON SALE 10.23.19
$19.99 US | 160 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-9495-3

I can't believe how wrong they spelled the word "volume." It's V-O-L-U-M-E, not S-E-A-S-O-N.

written by SHOLLY FISCH
art and cover by SCOTT JERALDS
Magical fanboy imps Bat-Mite and Scooby-Mite are back—and they’ve brought along a host of Batmen and Scooby-Doos! But when the mites conjure up the ultimate trans-dimensional menace for our heroes to battle, will even a League of Batmen and Society of Scoobies be enough to save their infinite Earths? Plus, can they unravel the mystery behind the shadowy figure known only as…Scrappy-Doo?
ON SALE 09.25.19
$2.99 US | 32 PAGES

What?! "Final issue"...?! That's...that's about the worst comics news I can imagine! Scooby-Doo Team-Up is one of only two regular, ongoing series that I order in single issues anymore (the other is Justice League), so this, like, the second-to-last nail in the coffin of my comic book buying, as opposed to graphic novel buying, I guess.

The good news is that this sounds like it might be a particularly awesome issue. I've often wondered about some sort of "Crisis of Infinite Scooby-Doos" type of comic or cartoon story, in which the various Scooby Gangs of all their many iterations intersect in some way. I doubt that's what this will be--like, I don't see Freddie Prinze Jr or Robbie Amell's live action Fred Jones appearing alongside the trap-obsessed lunkhead from Mystery Incorporated and the pint-sized, buzzcut conspiracy theorist of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, as awesome as that might be--but rather Scooby-Doos from alternate dimensions. I hope those Scoobies will correspond to extant worlds in the DC Multiverse that correspond to the Batman's that appear. Like, I would love to see Earth-3's evil Scooby Gang, Earth-2's World War II-era Scooby Gang, Earth-X's Nazi Scooby Gang...maybe a Scoobies from the world of Kamandi where he's a hyper-evolved dog man and the kids are barbarians, or from the world of the Atomic Knights, where the gang rides around on Scooby's back or...Oh man, is there a Scooby-Doo from the Elseworlds Red Rain-verse? A Scooby-Doo '66? (If so, would Scooby and company even be distinguishable from the characters in the first season of the original Scooby-Doo cartoon?) Does the Dark Knight Returns-iverse have a Scooby-Doo? Is there a Scooby-Doo One Million?!

Oh man, the more I think about Scooby-Doos from all the worlds that have Batmen, I am getting more jazzed--I hope this is 80-pages long and drawn by an all-star roster of artists...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I have to go write some Scooby-Doo Meets Vampire Batman fan-fic, and imagine everyone looks like Kelley Jones drew them...


Nicholas Ahlhelm said...

The Inferior Five series seems to be VERY out of continuity. It's been promised to have something of a Stranger Things vibe, with the new series taking place right after the Invasion comics in the year 1989. I'm guessing Lemire's Peacemaker will do the same thing from the solicits, running parallel to the lead.

Unknown said...

I recently did a full reread of JLA, and while I did read Claremont and Bryne's arc at the time and remembered it being bad, I was startled to find it was actually even worse than I remembered. You're lack of interest in reading it shows great wisdom on your part.

Nacho said...

Peacemaker was rumored to appear in the new Suicide Squad movie. Maybe that is the reason...

David page said...

yup arrowverse is indeed doing their own version of crisis

as for poison ivy yeah i don't like her hic redesign at all