Wednesday, February 19, 2020

DC's May previews reviewed

I really like the way that John Romita JR drew Cheetah's face on this Action Comics cover.

That is all.

I'm not going to lie, I legitimately love this cover for Batman #94 by artist Tony S. Daniel, whose work I am usually not very enamored with, even when he's just drawing covers. I mean, that is an amazing sad Batman face, and were I just casually looking at a rack of comics in a comic shop, you're damn sure I would see that sad Batman face and pick that book just to see what Batman is so sad about.

Oh, and Catwoman also looks pretty sad, too.

written by JAMES TYNION IV
art and cover by JORGE JIMENEZ
It was always going to come to this. The Clown Prince of Crime and the Dark Knight Detective go head-to-head for the last time. The Joker has never wanted to win before, he’s never wanted his battle with Batman to end, but now his motivation has shifted. He has decided that one way or another, this will be the final chapter to their story. “Joker War” begins here!
ON SALE 05.20.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

What's this?! Batman...vs. The Joker?! The fuck you say!

Also, I am one billion percent positive that this is not the last time that they will go head-to-head. It's not even the last time they will go head-to-head in this month's solicitations, as they will be in conflict in Detective Comics #1023 and Batman: The Smile Killer (a sequel to Joker: Killer Smile) Oh, and he's also going to be appearing in this month's Batgirl #46.

variant cover by DAN MORA
From the visionary producers of Batman: The Animated Series come all-new stories in this seminal animated world. In this opening chapter, Wayne Enterprises in Gotham City is attacked by a giant robot that steals an entire room from the laboratory. Who’s controlling the robot? How will Batman stop the mechanized menace? And what does it all have to do with Lex Luthor’s sudden appearance in Gotham?
ON SALE 05.06.20
$3.99 US | 1 OF 6 | 32 PAGES

I'm legitimately excited about this one.

First, it's a really good idea for a comic book series and, second, that is pretty much the ideal team for it. Oh, and third, I'm looking forward to getting a good 120 or so pages of new Ty Templeton art, even if it's going to be Templeton in Bruce Timm design mode. Templeton is a great artist, and there's never really enough of his art available on new comics racks to satisfy me.

I'm a little surprised to see that this is "1 of 6," though, as it really seems like an easy enough ongoing series to do. Like, even if they could only get that particular creative team together for six issues, one imagines there are a lot of really talented, fairly popular creators who would love to play in that particular world of Batman. Hell, if they've had various Batman Beyond series running for about a decade now, then it shouldn't be too hard to keep an ongoing series based on Batman: The Animated Series going indefinitely.

written by SCOTT SNYDER
Get ready for the earth-shattering encore! The legendary team behind Dark Nights: Metal and Batman: Last Knight on Earth take center stage and reunite for one last tour.
When the Earth is enveloped by the Dark Multiverse, the Justice League is at the mercy of the Batman Who Laughs. Humanity struggles to survive in a hellish landscape twisted beyond recognition, while Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman have all been separated and fight to survive. Unleash the beast and let the head banging begin!
$4.99 US | 1 OF 6 | 32 PAGES

On one level, I am not surprised that they're doing a sequel to Dark Nights: Metal, given its popularity. Nor am I surprised by the title; I suppose it was either going to be Death Metal or Black Metal. I was pretty shocked that writer Scott Snyder decided to "end" his Justice League runor is it just a temporary ending?with a cliffhanger that will apparently see its resolution in Death Metal. Given that, as I've often complained, Snyder's Justice League has just been one single story line without any distinct, standalone story arcs, and that it spun-out of the original Metal, it increasingly looks like Snyder has crafted a single massive storyline, bookended by Metals.

That is, from a certain angle, an impressive accomplishment, and I think he deserves credit for attempting to tell the single biggest Justice League story of all time (by page count, at least), but, on the other hand, it's not a terribly satisfying read.

When I read the first issue of the post-Snyder Justice League last week, I was sort of surprised at what a relief, and what a pleasure it was to once again read a Justice League story that wasn't about Perpetua and the Totality and the Justice/Doom dichotomy for once.

I kinda wish there were more specials and miniseries and spin-offs, in the way that the JLA era was punctuated by various JLA prestige format specials, Secret Origins & Files and 80-Page Giants and the occasional awesome miniseries. Some were great, some were okay and some were bad, but there was, altogether, a lot of JLA content, and such additional content would have been particularly welcome over the past few years, when there has been, in essence, just one, single Justice League story.

written by SCOTT SNYDER
The World’s Greatest Heroes unite as the Dark Multiverse threatens the DC Universe!
ON SALE 05.13.20
$1.00 US | 32 PAGES | FC | DC
Offered to coincide with Death Metal #1.

In addition to reprinting the first issue of the original Metal series, this month's $1 reprints include 1992's Batman Adventures #1 by Kelley Puckett, Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett, which featured The Penguin and which I totally bought back in the day (It isn't worth a whole bunch of money now is it? Is it? Am I finally rich?!); 2008's Green Lantern #29, the first chapter of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Oclair Alberts's "Secret Origin" arc of the series (which seemed to play a role in the Green Lantern film's script); 2004's Manhunter #1, the first issue of Marc Andreyko, Jesus Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti's series introducing the Kate Spencer version of the character; Stars and STRIPE #1, Johns and Lee Moder's introduction of Courtney Whitmore, who would eventually become Stargirl after some time as The Star-Spangled Kid; and two issues of Wonder Woman from Greg Rucka's well-written but awfully boring original run on the character.

I don't recall having too terribly strong feelings about any of these as individual issues, although I read them all. I'd definitely recommend Stars and STRIPE, though; it's the least predictable of this batch, and therefore a pretty good one for DC to offer a practically-free sample of, before a curious reader makes the commitment to buy the $35 Stargirl By Geoff Johns comic collection solicited last month.

The march toward DC’s future begins here!
By an all-star team of writers and artists!
In May, DC launches a series of special one-shots that detail the history of the DC Universe starting with the debut of Wonder Woman, DC’s first superhero, and leading all the way to a bold new era unlike anything you’ve seen before...It starts on Free Comic Book Day with Generation Zero, and continues in May with Generation One—with each subsequent month seeing a new one-shot spotlighting the next generation of DC’s super-heroic legacy.
The secret history of the DC Universe unfolds before us as seen through the eyes of Wonder Woman, Lucius Fox, King Faraday, and more!
What is the previously undocumented “big bang” of the heroic age? What was the real reason behind the Justice Society’s retirement? Which hero of the Golden Age makes a shocking transformation into its greatest villain? The answers set up the boldest DC storylines ever told in this, the first of five one-shot issues that chronicle the history of the DC Universe and lays the groundwork for excitement yet to come!
ON SALE 05.27.20
$5.99 US | 48 PAGES

Ugh. I absolutely cannot get excited about another DC continuity reboot, given that the DC Universe has been in a state of near-constant reboots since about 2006 or so, and the pace of them are only accelerating. At this point, I just want them to pick a continuity and fucking stick with it.

While the "all-star team of writers and artists" involved with this particular comic book haven't been revealed, one can assume this is masterminded by Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns and many of the creators (plus Brian Michael Bendis), responsible for all the other reboots...that quickly proved untenable, and needed new reboots. Perhaps the presence of Bendis at DC will be enough to make this the new status quo that sticks, but at this point, it's a little like this: The DC Universe line of shared-setting comics is a car and, every time it needs maintenance, you take it to the same shop, where the same mechanics tinker with it and, the next time it needs maintenance, those same mechanics look it over and say, "Wow, whoever fixed this for you last time didn't know what the fuck they were doing, and caused a whole bunch of unnecessary damage that we'll need to fix for you." And that happens over and over; I've actually lost count of how many times the same people have "fixed" the DC Universe since Infinite Crisis.

So yeah, barring some completely unexpected surprise, like Grant Morrison writing the whole thing and Rafael Grampa drawing it, I honestly don't care. I'll check out the trade eventually.

Nice cover on Justice League #46 by Gary Frank. Yes, it's a little weird that so many of the characters who can fly are shown running uphill, but that's okay, it's part of what makes it such a cool cover.

written by MATT WAGNER
art and cover by MATT WAGNER
Writer/artist Matt Wagner’s noir tales of the Dark Knight are collected in a single volume for the first time! Batman has spent his first year fighting organized crime—but nothing in his early career as the Caped Crusader has prepared him for the new menace facing Gotham City: super-villains! Plus, Two-Face creates an army of deformed slaves! Collects Batman and the Monster Men #1-6, Batman and the Mad Monk #1-6, Batman: Riddler: The Riddle Factory #1, Batman #54, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #28-30, and a story from Batman Black and White #3.
ON SALE 06.03.20
$49.99 US | 488 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-77950-259-9

Let the record show: These are all awesome comics.

Well, I think they are; I didn't read The Riddle Factory and actually have no memory of that.

Oh, wait, I can use the Internet to look for clues about it, can't I...?
Okay, now that I look it up, I see that it was a 1995 prestige format comic written by Wagner, but drawn by Dave Johnson. It was one of those prestige specials released in conjunction with the sequels in the original Batman cycle of films. Brian Stelfreeze drew the cover, which is why I couldn't picture a Wagner comic with that title.

But LDK #28-30 is Wagner's 1992 three-part, Freaks-inspired Two-Face story "Faces," which was young, teenage Caleb's first introduction to the work of Matt Wagner. Batman #54 is Wagner's 2018 collaboration with Tom King, a done-in-one-ish story in which Nightwing tries to cheer up Batman by fighting crime alongside him, which repeatedly flashes back to Dick's time as Robin (this was also, I believe, the first appearance of Dick's original costume post-Flashpoint; it also seemed to assume his pre-Flashpoint origin, having been adopted as a little kid rather than an older teenager).

The two miniseries, Batman and The Monster Men and Batman and The Mad Monk, were a pair of "Year One" era miniseries extrapolated from Golden Age Batman stories, from 2005 and 2006, respectively.

That's a fairly complete-sounding list of Batman comics by Matt Wagner; the only ones missing I can think of are Wagner's two Batman/Grendel crossover series, from 1993 and 1996, and Trinity, and his 2003 Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity miniseries.

written by DAVE WIELGOSZ
cover by KYLE HOTZ
variant cover by KEVIN NOWLAN
For years Kirk Langstrom has struggled with his monstrous alter ego Man-Bat and the serum that transformed him. But he’s finally hit rock bottom following a devastating setback, and he’s going to take out his anger on every single citizen of Gotham City. Will the combined might of Batman and the GCPD be enough to stop Langstrom once and for all? Or will this just be the start of Man-Bat’s devastation?
ON SALE 05.06.20
$3.99 US | 1 OF 5 | 32 PAGES

I like both of these covers, and boy, there sure is a lot of variance between them, isn't there? The Kyle Hotz one looks downright horrifying, while the Nowlan one makes Langstrom looks more like the original design of the character. I also kind of like how Nowlan's version really puts the man in Man-Bat, whereas Hotz puts the werewolf in Man-Bat.

Neither of them is drawing the interiors, however. Those are being handled by Sumit Kumar, who drew the Sinestro story in New Year's Evil. I liked the art on that story. The writer, Dave Wielgosz, also contributed to New Year's Evil, having written the Chronos story. The work of both are therefore still pretty fresh in my mind, as I just wrote about that book in the previous post.

written by MARC ANDREYKO
art and cover by RENATO GUEDES
variant cover byJAE LEE
After the revelation of Leviathan’s true identity in the pages of Event Leviathan, Kate Spencer—an earlier Manhunter—must go on a quest to uncover just how deep Leviathan’s plans go. What Kate didn’t expect is a conspiracy that goes back to the very beginnings of DC history! Unearthing the past to save the future, this is Manhunters: The Secret History! Eisner Award-winning writer Marc Andreyko returns to his classic crime-fighter in this hard-hitting miniseries that will reverberate across the DC Universe!
ON SALE 05.13.20
$3.99 US | 1 OF 5 | 32 PAGES

The only Manhunters I care about are the Golden Age ones, particularly the one with the robot dog, and I don't see either of them on this cover.

I really like this Young Justice cover by John Timms.


Bram said...

Ouch. Andreyko's Manhunter #1 remains one of my top ten first issues. Whole series had a lot going for it … until it got mired down in Manhunter continuity.

Garrie Burr said...

For some unexplained reason, a few years back when DC was putting all of their Jack Kirby material in nice hard-covers they did -not- include the Simon & Kirby Manhunter stories. Maybe now would be a time for this to happen?