Wednesday, May 20, 2020

DC's August previews reviewed

With all of the chaos the pandemic has caused the comic book industry, DC's August solicitations contain a whole bunch of resolicits, as books originally scheduled for release in June were pushed back to August. That means that a big chunk of the latest round of solicitations were previously released, and therefore written about by me in the previous installment of the feature (which you can consult, or re-consult here). There are a bunch of new books included, though, so let's take a look and see what we have to look forward to/be demoralized by in August of this year, shall we...? The Nick Derington image above, by the way, is a variant for Justice League #51, which looks like it's going to be an otherwise pretty lame comic.



BATMAN: THE DEMON TRILOGY HC
written by DENNIS O’NEIL and MIKE W. BARR
art by NORM BREYFOGLE, TOM GRINDBERG, and JERRY BINGHAM
cover by NORM BREYFOGLE
What connects Batman and the villainous Ra’s al Ghul? Find out in this collection of three 1980s graphic novels! How did Ra’s al Ghul become the villain that he is? How would a union between his daughter Talia and the Dark Knight benefit him? Why would he want to father an heir? Follow along as Batman lives through and tries to unravel the mystery behind the mind of Ra’s al Ghul!
Collects Batman: Birth of the Demon #1, Batman: Bride of the Demon #1, and Batman: Son of the Demon #1 at their original published dimensions of 8.5” x 10.875”.
ON SALE 09.22.20
$75.00 US | 320 PAGES | 8.5” x 10.875”
FC | ISBN: 978-1-77950-450-0


Breyfogle's fully-painted Birth of the Demon is pretty excellent (I wrote about it at some length here), but I still haven't read the other two books. It seems like it would be nice to have all three of these in the same package, but I would probably need to hold it in my hands before I could decide if I wanted to add it to my book shelves. Hardcover comics over a certain length seem to be pretty fragile to me, although that might be in large part because so many of the ones I see are here at the library, where they're read by dozens of people, and are thus under a lot greater stress than a book an individual might read once.


DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL #3
written by SCOTT SNYDER
art by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
...
All aboard! When the Justice League launches its assault on New Apokolips, the team’s goal is to free Superman from his solar prison. But it’s all going off the rails when they learn that the Man of Steel is gone for good thanks to the Anti-Life Equation. Plus, the deep secret of the Darkest Knight is revealed—but how much darker could the Batman Who Laughs possibly get? And don’t miss the surprise return of everyone’s favorite wanna be Robin!
ON SALE 08.11.20
$4.99 US | 32 PAGES | 3 OF 7
CARD STOCK COVERS
FC | DC


I have to assume everyone's favorite "wanna be Robin" is Jarro, right...?


DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL GUIDEBOOK #1
written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV, JOSHUA WILLIAMSON, BECKY CLOONAN, VITA AYALA, CHIP ZDARSKY, and CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
art by DOUG MAHNKE, BECKY CLOONAN, EDUARDO RISSO, KHARY RANDOLPH, and DAN PANOSIAN
cover by YASMINE PUTRI
...
Earth is turned upside down, shrouded in a realm of darkness after the Justice League’s defeat by the cosmic goddess Perpetua. Now the Batman Who Laughs and his army of Dark Knights rule the planet, wreaking havoc on humanity and raining destruction on the world. As Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and other heroes fight to survive in this strange new landscape, one cloaked figure has been observing from the sidelines, creating a guidebook to this new world and its evil leaders in the hope of forming a plan of justice…and penance.
This issue showcases the new factions of Earth and explores the mystery of what happened to our heroes after their battle with Perpetua. How does Wonder Woman, the new queen of Hell, reign over her prisoners? What is Batman doing with the Black Lantern Ring? And what happens when Harley Quinn takes charge of the Wasteland, and finds love in the process? All this and more in this jam-issue exploring the new world order.
ONE-SHOT | ON SALE 08.18.20
CARD STOCK COVER
$5.99 US | 48 PAGES
FC | DC


Chip Zdarsky...? That's...not a name I expected to see attached to a DC event comic. That looks like a pretty interesting creative line-up; I like the work of all of the artists and most of the writers. I assume this will be a series of short stories, as opposed to the sorts of pin-ups and profiles that used to fill many of the pages of the Secret Files & Origins specials DC used to publish.

Re-reading the solicitation copy just now reminded me that this event supposedly occurs right after the completion of Snyder's Justice League run, even though DC kept publishing Justice League with various fill-in teams. I can't help but wonder if Dark Nights: Metal would be more exciting, or at least urgent-feeling, if it began, like, the month after Snyder's last Justice League issue, and if DC had cancelled, or at least temporarily suspended, publishing the series. As is, Justice League will have published what, like at least a half-dozen story arcs by the time Death Metal concludes...? And that would have been the case even without the pandemic's screwing with the creation, publication and distribution of comics...


DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHTS #1
written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV, JOSHUA WILLIAMSON, PETER J. TOMASI, WARREN ELLIS, GARTH ENNIS, DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON, and FRANK TIERI
art by TONY S. DANIEL, JIM CHEUNG, JO√čLLE JONES, DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON, RILEY ROSSMO, and FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA
cover by TONY S. DANIEL
...
The DC Universe has become engulfed by the Dark Multiverse, where demons dwell and reality is overrun by monstrous versions of the Dark Knight, all ruled by the Batman Who Laughs. In this collection of short tales, learn the terrifying secrets of these new Bats out of hell and other creatures of the night like Robin King, whose origin is just the worst! Plus, read about the secret buried beneath Castle Bat, the sentient Batmobile, and…how did Batman turn into a dinosaur?
ONE-SHOT | ON SALE 08.04.20
CARD STOCK COVER
$5.99 US | 48 PAGES
FC | DC
...


Ellis and Ennis...? This special also has a pretty great line-up, including some of my favorite writers and favorite artists.

I am getting a real Spider-Verse vibe with some of these Batmen this time around...is that just me...?


DETECTIVE COMICS #1025
written by PETER J. TOMASI
art and cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
...
“The Joker War” explodes with an assault on Wayne Enterprises! The Joker has taken control of Waynetech R&D—and with it, all the weapons hidden in its sublevels—plus Lucius Fox as a hostage! The Joker and his clown-masked henchmen are now using Wayne Enterprises as an armory, using sophisticated 3-D printers to produce weapons to rule Gotham City...but Batman and Batwoman might have something to say about that. It’s all-out action in this nonstop issue!
ON SALE 08.11.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
...
FC | DC
...


Pretty solid cover by Kenneth Rocafort on this one. I particularly like the shape of Batman's cape. Does anyone ever draw his cape with that shape when it hangs behind him when he's at rest, or does it only ever take on the appearance of bat wings when he's leaping through the air...?


HARLEY QUINN #75
written by SAM HUMPHRIES
art by SAMI BASRI, RILEY ROSSMO, EMANUELA LUPACCHINO, RAMON VILLALOBOS, JOE QUINONES, NICOLA SCOTT, and NGOZI UKAZU
cover by GUILLEM MARCH
...
At last, it’s the star-studded roast of Harley Quinn! Nothing is off-limits, no topic is out of bounds, and no one—and we mean no one!—will escape unscathed. Harley may be the funniest person in the DC Universe, but how well can she take a joke?
Plus, in a backup story illustrated by superstar artist Riley Rossmo tying into “The Joker War,” Harley Quinn faces off against Punchline!
ON SALE 08.04.20
$5.99 US | 48 PAGES
FC | DC
FINAL ISSUE — YES, WE’RE SERIOUS!


Final issue? For serious? Huh. What are the odds that there's a new #1 solicited next month for September release? They've got to be pretty good, right...?


JUSTICE LEAGUE #51
written by JEFF LOVENESS
art by ROBSON ROCHA and DANIEL HENRIQUES
cover by PHILIP TAN
...
At the mercy of the Black Mercy! As they return from their adventure on the planet Trotha, the Justice League crashes on the homeworld of the Black Mercy! There, they fall prey to the most powerful psychological threat they’ve ever faced! Written by Jeff Loveness (Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty), this two-part descent into the dark corners of the superhero psyche will unearth fresh horror.
ON SALE 08.18.20
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | DC


I can't imagine what on Earth would possess a writer to begin his run on DC Comics' flagship team book with a story as creatively bankrupt and somewhat scummy as returning to a particular well that writer Alan Moore, who has made no secret about his distaste for DC and other writers continually recycling his work, dug in 1985's Superman Annual #11, but Jeff Loveness has apparently, and disappointingly, decided to do so.

It's particularly distressing because it's not like Loveness is the first, third or fifth writer to fetch a storytelling shortcut from that particular well. So too has Geoff Johns (2006's Green Lantern #7-8), Gail Simone (2008's The All-New Atomo #20), Peter J. Tomasi (2008's Green Lantern Corps #23-26), Jeff Lemire (2011's Superboy #7*), Bryan Q. Miller (2011's Batgirl #24), and Phillip Kennedy Johnson (2018's Aquaman Annual #1), not to mention episodes the of Justice League Unlimited and Supergirl TV shows.

It's more disappointing still in that I just read a really excellent Superman and Lois Lane short story by Loveness in DC's Mysteries of Love In Space, so I would have been particularly excited to see what he could do with the whole Justice League, but I've got my answer early: He's going to exploit the work of a still-living writer everyone at DC seems to exploit as much as possible, maybe the only writer who regularly makes a point of publicly saying he hates that they do that and wishes they would knock it off.


JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED: GALACTIC JUSTICE TP
written by ADAM BEECHEN, JAMES PEATY, and MATT WAYNE
art by CARLO BARBERI, ETHAN BEAVERS, and GORDON PURCELL
cover by BEN CALDWELL
The greatest heroes across the DC Universe unite in this collection featuring the best spacefaring stories of Justice League Unlimited, the comic book series inspired by the beloved animated series of the same name! These stories feature sci-fi adventures starring Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, Sinestro, Space Cabbie, and more! Collects Justice League Unlimited #4, #6, #18, #24, #34, and #46.
ON SALE 08.25.20
$9.99 US | 5.5” x 8” | 152 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-77950-673-3


This was a sometimes surprisingly good series, and I enjoyed many of the issues of it I read. Thematic collections of it seem like a pretty good idea. Double-checking, the only one of these particular issues I read was #46, which was the final issue of the series, guest-starring the Green Lantern Corps.


THE POWER OF SHAZAM! BOOK 1: IN THE BEGINNING HC
written by JERRY ORDWAY
art by JERRY ORDWAY, PETER KRAUSE, CURT SWAN, MIKE PAROBECK, and others
cover by JERRY ORDWAY
In 1994 Billy Batson’s origin story was revitalized for a new era in The Power of Shazam!, the acclaimed graphic novel written and illustrated by Jerry Ordway. The story reintroduced Shazam, the Wizard, Dr. Sivana, and Black Adam, and was followed by an ongoing series, set four years later. This volume collects both the OGN and the first year of the series, bringing retro elements from Fawcett Comics history into modern-day continuity. Collects The Power of Shazam! graphic novel, The Power of Shazam! #1-12, plus a story from Superman & Batman Magazine #4.
ON SALE 08.18.20
$49.99 US | 408 PAGES
FC | ISBN: 978-1-4012-9941-
5

I'm going to have to ponder this one a bit. I've been meaning to read this series forever (I only read a couple of issues when it was originally released, like the one guest-starring Plastic Man), but $50 is a hefty price-tag, and, as I mentioned earlier, hardcovers of a certain high page-count/width give me pause. I wonder if it would be possible to track all these down for far cheaper than $50. I mean, I'm fairly certain it would, but would it be worth the time and effort one could save with a single, $50 investment...?


TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #2
written by ADAM GLASS and ROBBIE THOMPSON
art by EDUARDO PANSICA
cover by BERNARD CHANG
After Batman discovers the Teen Titans’ most shocking secrets, he arrives at Mercy Hall…and he wants a word with Robin. Don’t miss the confrontation between father and son that will alter the very course of the DC Universe. Will the Teen Titans ever be the same?
RESOLICIT | ON SALE 08.25.20
$4.99 US | 48 PAGES
FC | DC


Cool, does this mean Tim Drake can be Robin again...? Because that whole "Drake" thing isn't really working for me...


TEEN TITANS: BEAST BOY TP
written by KAMI GARCIA
art and cover by GABRIEL PICOLO
Author Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo, the creative duo behind the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller Teen Titans: Raven, take you on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, while reminding us the value of true friendship—especially when life gets wild.
Garfield Logan has spent his entire life being overlooked. Even in a small town like Eden, Georgia, the 17-year-old with green streaks in his hair can’t find a way to stand out—and the clock is ticking. Senior year is almost over. If Gar doesn’t find a way to impress the social elite at Bull Creek High School, he will never know what it’s like to matter. Gar’s best friends, Stella and Tank, can’t understand why he cares what other people think, and they miss their funny, pizza-loving, video game-obsessed best friend.
Then Gar accepts a wild dare out of the blue. It impresses the popular kids, and his social status soars. But other things are changing, too. Gar grows six inches overnight. His voice drops, and suddenly, he’s stronger and faster. He’s finally getting everything he wanted, but his newfound popularity comes at a price. Gar has to work harder to impress his new friends. The dares keep getting bigger, and the stakes keep getting higher.
When Gar realizes the extent of his physical changes, he has to dig deep and face the truth about himself—and the people who truly matter—before his life spirals out of control.
ON SALE 09.01.20
$16.99 US | FC | 6” x 9”
176 PAGES
DC GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR YOUNG ADULTS
ISBN: 978-1-4012-8719-1


I liked Garcia and Picolo's first Teen Titans OGN, Raven, a lot, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they will do with the next Teen Titan they tackle.




*Okay, Lemire's story had a Red Mercy flower instead of a Black Mercy flower. It was still a riff on a plot element "For The Man Who Has Everything".

4 comments:

thefuzzdaddy said...

Why the distaste towards other writers using the Black Mercy? The story was work for hire, and I am sure Moore knew his work was now DC's toy to use. Creators build off other writers' old ideas all the time (Batman of Zur-en-arrh, Celestials in the Avengers), so I don't get what the big deal is here. I don't quite get why his ire at DC's using elements he introduced should have any influence. It's their property, they can do what they want.

Nicholas Ahlhelm said...

I'm with fuzzdaddy here. I can see it be annoying when they're exploiting things he thought should be creator owned (i.e. Watchmen) but this is definitely a different animal. I never understand these kind of complains.

Why not take the time to complain that Johns revived Jack T. Chance or Boodikka? Both GL characters with connection to only one writer before Johns. Or Grant Morrison for reviving Michael Friedman's Darkstars?

It feels very strange to complain about work for hire creations being used by other work for hire creators.

Caleb said...

I've written about this ad nauseam before, so I don't want to get too much more into it than I did in the post, but here are a few reasons:

1.) DC Comics has in the last decade or so taken a very clear, strong position of "Fuck Alan Moore and His Feelings," and yet they continue to exploit intellectual property that he created for them, often going far out of their way to do so (Like, there was almost no reason to use Tom Strong or Promethea in The Terriffics or JLoA). If he's beneath their consideration, why keep returning to his work so often?

2.) Moore has been quite clear that he'd rather DC and their writers just leave him the hell alone and get on with their company and their lives and he's gotten on with his, and yet so many writers who should know better continue to allude to, homage or otherwise recycle his work. I think morally/socially, it's better to err on the side of NOT irritating the creators of work you admire (and/or are profiting from), or even just going against their wishes, even if it's legally fine. It's gross. Like, for a recent example, if I were Brian Hill, I'd have been very cagey about writing Black Lightning at all, knowing how his creator Tony Isabella feels about the character (There are gradations to all this stuff, too, I think. I think it feels sketchy re-using other people's work in general, and it's worse if the creator is still alive, and worse still if the writer is still alive and takes public positions on the matter of the continued exploitation of their work).

3.) The Black Orchid is such a lazy plot device. And that's all it is; it's not a concept or character, like, Mr. Mxyzptlk or Kanjar Ro or whoever. If a writer wants to do a story exploring the imaginary worlds the various Justice Leaugers might build for themselves to make themselves happy in their minds, well, think of your own way to do so; why steal Moore's? Especially since so many other writers have already used it (Even this idea of going to the Mercy's home world was previously used).

4.) Johns and Morrison are odd and special cases. Obviously both have done a LOT of work with other writers' creations (in fact, I don't think Johns has ever created an original comic, at least not that I know of, whereas Morrison has contributed a lot of original IP to DC and Marvel and done his own work that's been unattached to remixing 1960s DC comics), but often times they do very different things with them, or take them in unique directions (Morrison's Blackstars take on the Darkstars, for example). Johns' Watchmen vs. Superman comic is extremely shitty, and I've talked about its shittiness on here a lot before. As is the fact that he/DC are using Moore's Killing Joke to promote Three Jokers, his next big work immediately following his sequel to Watchmen...

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

For what it is worth to anybody, I agree with Caleb when it involves the Black Mercy. Not so much because of Alan Moore. Just the fact that certain objects/villains/etc. are examples of lazy writing.

When the first story was written, the idea was that it was a rare plant. So by using it again and again, it might as well be another Superman and Kryptonite in the 1960s story. A decent writer will create a new X and give it a history etc. etc. DC has a big universe and anyone working for them should be able to grasp that.

Its like after IDENTITY CRISIS, the go to seemed to be to put Doctor Light into a story. For that matter, before the Priest run, I'd hate when Deathstroke appeared out of the blue working with other villains when the character's original premise was to work alone.

Again, my opinion. Yes, Moore got screwed. But I see DC (and Marvel) just relying on a default and it gets tiresome.