Monday, August 20, 2007

DC's November Previews Reviewed

DC Comics will be releasing a lot of comic books in the month of November. Most of them will have the word "Countdown" and/or some combination of colons and dashes in the title. I could wait to make snarky comments about their plots and nitpick the cover art...but I can't wait to make snarky comments about their plots and nitpick the cover art. So it's time for the monthly EDILW ritual of preemptive criticism.

Okay, I give up. Who is that in the upper right-hand corner? A badly miscolored Osiris? And who’s the girl in the lower left-hand corner, the one with Supergirl’s coloration, Mary Marvel’s short sleeves and a Wonder’s wristband?

BOOSTER GOLD #4 Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz. Art and cover by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund. The critically acclaimed smash hit of the decade continues! (Hey, we’re optimists!) Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, Barry “The Flash” Allen and Wally “Kid Flash” West are stranded in time with a broken cosmic treadmill, and hot on their tail is the murderous…Supernova? Plus, what’s going on with Dan Garrett — the Golden Age Blue Beetle?

Awesome. Last week’s #1 exceeded all of my expectations, and from the looks of the next few solicits—this one included—it’s not going to be getting any less fun in the near future.

I do hope “Supernova” turns out to be someone other than Hank Hall/Monarch/Extant or the Lord of Time or some similar tired time-traveling bad guy. Now, a Mr. Mind-controlled time-traveling bad guy, however, would be awesome

Dear Bronze Tiger: Your mask makes you look like an idiot. Please take it off.

Dear Deadshot: You can either wear your original costume, or you can wear the one from your recent(-ish) miniseries, but you can’t mix ‘em together like that. Please stop.

COUNTDOWN TO ADVENTURE #4 Written by Adam Beechen and Justin Gray. Art by Eddy Barrows & Julio Ferreiro and Fabrizio Fiorentino. Cover by Eddy Barrows & Oclair Albert. In this issue’s lead story, the Healers have arrived to "sterilize" the planet Earth and stop the contamination that's plaguing the planet. But what does this mean to Starfire and Animal Man? And in the backup, Forerunner battles magic versions of DCU heroes on the Conjuror's world. Meet Batmage, master of the Dark Arts, Kal-El, wielder of Kryptonian magics, and Lady Flash, keeper of the Speed Force.

The appeal of the Forerunner story arc just confuses the heck out of me, and not just because I don't understand why anyone at DC thought Forerunner was a good idea for a new character and/or that anyone would actually be interested in reading about her, but that in her first appearance she was taken down by the Monitor Gang.

What hope does she have against a magical Justice League? Is her storyline just going to be her getting her ass kicked in different dimensions every issue?

COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS 25-22 The countdown continues with a new name and even bigger thrills! Karate Kid makes it to the bunker in Bl├╝dhaven and confronts both Firestorm and the Atomic Knights! Jimmy Olsen enslaved on Apokolips! Mary Marvel not enslaved on Apokolips! The Monitor, Jason Todd and Donna Troy home in on Ray Palmer’s trail! Desaad takes control! Lex Luthor kidnapped — but by whom? Trickster and Piper: One will live…one will die! And Mister Mxyzptlk explains it all! Plus, more DC VILLAINS origin backup stories, including: Desaad and Mr. Mxyzptlk!

Still not reading the actual book, although the villains back-ups are enticing, I’ve got to assume they’ll be posted online as the 52 origins were and, eventually, collected along with the last weekly’s origins.

I am glad that with this weekly DC seems to have learned its lesson and started running the origin back-ups of characters in issues they actually appear in, something I complained about weekly last year. At least, I think that’s what they were doing. I see Poison Ivy was in last week’s issue, and the back-up origin was hers; Mr. Mxyzptlk and Desaad are both mentioned in the solicitation, and their origin backups are also mentioned.

Coupled with ditching the day-by-day continuity of 52 (The “Week Whatever, Day Whatever” datelines), that makes exactly two things Countdown does better than it’s predecessor.

I’m curious to see what the covers will look like with “To Final Crisis” added to the title and logo. I noticed several past covers that were pretty obscured by the number design at the top (The Bart Allen funeral issue, for example, cut off the heads of virtually all the characters).

COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: RED RAIN #1Written by Peter Johnson. Art and cover by Kelley Jones. Will the Challengers of the Beyond become legends on a world ruled by vampires? Or will one of them become a threat to the rest of the team?

Uh-oh. One of my favorite comic book artists of all time, the one who co-created the trilogy of Batman vs. vampires graphic novels that apparently got its own Earth after the events of 52, illustrating a Countdown tie-in featuring Resurrected Jason Todd and a title with two colons. I may actually have a seizure in the comic shop trying to deal with this book, and whether I get it or leave it on the shelf or not.

Wonder why they didn’t get Moench to script…

COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT #1 Written by Brian Augustyn. Cover by Dustin Nguyen. Art by Greg Tocchini. The quest heats up as one of the Challengers of the Beyond becomes an enemy. Plus, could finding Ray Palmer prove fatal?

Okay, this is just wrong.

This is the first Elseworlds title, an Elseworlds title before there was even an Elseworlds imprint. As Alan Moore and company’s Swamp Thing was to Vertigo, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is to Elseworlds. Unlike the colon-tastic Red Rain/Monitor Gang one-shot, the original artist isn’t involved here, although the original writer is. However, if Mike Mignola’s not drawing it, I don’t see how it’s going to look like the right “Earth.”

And what’s this? One of the Challengers of the Beyond becomes an enemy? It wouldn’t be the evil one who cut off bad guys’ heads before joining the team, would it?

I can’t help think that this whole thing might have been a ton of fun if the characters were interesting and/or at least not completely reprehensible. Like, I don’t know, maybe the actual original Challs, or a Forgotten Heroes style team, or even a team culled from characters stranded on New Earth from actual different continuities/universes (Mister Miracle, Mera, Power Girl, Blue Jay and characters like them) rather than just characters Judd Winick futzed with.

Oh, and we seem to be burning through Earths awfully quickly now—have they hit 52 yet? They’ve gotta be getting awfully close.

COUNTDOWN SPECIAL: JIMMY OLSEN 80-PAGE GIANT Written by Jack Kirby. Art by Kirby, Mike Royer and Vince Colletta. Cover by Ryan Sook. Collecting SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #136 and #147-148, featuring Jimmy’s dealings with the DNAlien and Cadmus!

Jack Kirby? Jimmy Olsen? I’d totally buy this if DC wasn’t already publishing a series of omnibuses (omnibusi?) featuring this work in a better format and couched within a complete collection. I really love that cover though. They should really have Sook doing images like this for the covers of Countdown, instead of just doing house ads.

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #2Written by Judd Winick. Art and cover by Cliff Chiang. Variant cover by Chiang. Black Canary and Speedy head to Amazon Island, where a job offer from Athena seems to be the perfect opportunity for Dinah to focus some of her frustrations over what’s happened to Green Arrow.

Look DC Solicitation Writer, I understand you work for DC and that I should therefore defer to you when it comes to using the names of DC people and places, but I’m pretty sure it’s called Themyscira, although Paradise Island is a popular nickname for it.

Never heard of “Amazon Island” though. You sure you got the right place?

I’m really on the fence about this title because it seems to be chockfull of characters I love, and drawn by an artist I love, but I’ve given Winick so many chances, I’m not sure he deserves a 32nd one. But tying things into the Amazons Attack mess? Man, that’s a guaranteed way to get someone not to buy something.

GREEN LANTERN #25 Written by Geoff Johns Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert.Variant cover by Gary Frank. This is it! The most talked-about storyline of the summer, “The Sinestro Corps War,” concludes in this double-sized anniversary issue! Why does Sinestro believe he has won? How will Hal Jordan stop his greatest enemy? What is the truth behind the prophecy of “The Blackest Night”? Where will the end results of this battle take the Green Lantern Corps? What is the bizarre fate of the Anti-Monitor? Why has Earth been assigned so many Green Lanterns? Learn all the secrets! Witness all the battles! Prepare yourself for the startling ending of the greatest epic in the history of Green Lantern!_Retailers please note: This issue will feature two covers that may be ordered separately. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (featuring a cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert, retailers may order one Variant Edition (featuring a cover by Gary Frank). See the Previews Order Form for more information. On sale November 28 • 64 pg, FC, $4.99 US

I’m really digging this story—at least the parts I’ve seen in Green Lantern—and am glad to see the conclusion will be coming in such a huge, oversized book.

TALES OF THE SINESTRO CORPS PRESENTS: ION #1 Written by Ron Marz. Art by Michael Lacomb. Cover by Ivan Reis. Ion is the chosen one of the Green Lantern Corps, whose coming was foretold as a prophecy in the Book of Oa. But now that Kyle Rayner has been possessed by Parallax, can he ever bear the mantle of Ion again? Or will it pass to a completely new bearer? This all-important Sinestro Corps tie-in reveals the answers, and sets the stage for Green Lantern — and Kyle Rayner — for years to come!

Can Kyle Rayner ever bear the mantle of Ion again? Here’s hoping that no, no he can’t. And that the future of Kyle Rayner will be that he gets a Green Lantern ring back and goes back to being a GL. If the universe can have 7200 of ‘em, and Earth at least four, I don’t see why he can’t be one of those Lanterns, and Earth Lantern #5. And it’s not like the whole Ion concept/maxiseries set the world on fire with sales and popularity or anything.

Written by Karl Kesel
Art and cover by Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson
The Joker’s lovable partner in crime takes the spotlight in this new hardcover volume collecting
HARLEY QUINN #1-7, written by Karl Kesel (SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL) with art by the fan-favorite team of Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson (WONDER WOMAN)! Don’t miss these beautifully illustrated tales of lunacy!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 16 • 192 pg, FC, $24.99

This is probably the weirdest thing on the whole list this month. Seven issues of a cancelled series for $25…four dollars more than seven issues of a $2.99 comic book. Additionally, you can find all seven of these books in back issue bins for somewhere between $1.75 and $7.00, depending on how cheap a back issue bin your looking in. For $25, you could buy most of the 38-issue series.

What’s even weirder is why it’s being released now…it’s not simply to capitalize on the Dodsons’ rising star, is it? Because DC’s never showed much (okay, any) interest in reprinting older material by superstar creators before. After all, it’s not like there’s an Invasion! trade featuring Todd McFarlane art, or anything collecting the bulk of Mark Millar’s many stories.

Cool title for the collection, though.

Check it out—Wonder Woman's totally wearing the wrong belt.

And Alex Ross painted the wrong belt on her on the cover of last week's JLoA too (Well, one of last week's two JLoA covers). Maybe that's her working-with-the-League belt, and she changes into the W-shaped one for solo missions?

Written by Sholly Fisch
Art by Gordon Purcell & Al Nickerson
Cover by Zach Howard
Gorilla City is missing, and the world’s greatest sleuth is on the case: Detective Chimp!

Oh DC, how could you cancel a title capable of supporting solicits like this?


SALVATION RUN #1 Written by Bill Willingham. Art and cover by Sean Chen & Walden Wong. Variant cover by TK. Don’t miss the stunning debut issue of a 7-part miniseries written by Bill Willingham (SHADOWPACT, FABLES) with art by superstar Sean Chen (Iron Man, X-Men: The End) & Walden Wong (COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY, DAY OF VENGEANCE)! The world has finally had enough of the villains of the DCU — so they’re exiling the evildoers to another planet, where they’ll be left to their own diabolical devices! Who will thrive…and who will survive? Retailers please note: This issue will feature two covers that may be ordered separately. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (featuring a cover by Sean Chen & Walden Wong), retailers may order one Variant Edition (featuring a cover by TK TK). See the Previews Order Form for more information.

Well, it looks like a boom tube in the upper right hand corner—it’s even got Kirby dots—so I’m going to imagine that there’s some New God-age responsible. I’m afraid this will be written by the Bill Willingham of Shadowpact rather than the Bill Willingham of Fables, so I guess whether I give it a look or not will depend on what else is on shelves that week.

Also, I notice there’s an incentive variant cover scheme tied into it, where if retailers order ten copies, they get one TK TK cover.

Um, who the hell is TK TK?

SHADOWPACT #19 Written by Matt Sturges. Art and cover by Phil Winslade. A lethal trap has been sprung by Shadowpact’s crafty foes…and our heroes have no choice but to walk straight into it, to save one of their own!

I was totally going to drop this series, and then what do I see on the cover? Could that be General Stuart, he of Haunted Tank fame? Goddamit, it better not be, or I’m totally not dropping this series till November. Looks like a new creative team too…or at least just guests.

SUPERGIRL #23 Written by Kelley Puckett. Art and cover by Drew Johnson & Ray Snyder. Variant cover by Adam Kubert. The Teen of Steel embarks on a brand-new direction as writer Kelley Puckett (Batgirl) joins forces with acclaimed art team Drew Johnson & Ray Snyder (Countdown, Wonder Woman) as the new SUPERGIRL creative team! An enthralling story arc begins with a bizarre delivery to Kara’s apartment that very quickly has her hopping dimensions and traveling through deep space! Guest-starring Superman, Batman and the Green Lantern Corps!

Hmm, a new direction, a new creative team and plenty of guest-stars…sounds like business as usual for the title, actually.

SUPERMAN CONFIDENTIAL #9 Written by Vito Delsante
Art by Julian Lopez & Bit. Cover by Pete Woods. Rising stars Vito Delsante and Julian Lopez team up to tell the tale of how the Man of Steel met the original Emerald Sentinel, Alan Scott! As a mysterious team of scientists tracks a dangerous threat headed toward Metropolis, Superman learns the first lesson in super-heroism from the man who wrote the book.

I’ve mostly forgotten all about the Confidential books. The first issue of the Batman one was just awful, and while I read the first few issues of the well-crafted Superman book, I quickly lost interest in the story, which seemed oddly out-of-touch. This story looks pretty interesting though. These are two characters that don’t really spend much time together, and, I don’t know, I just kinda like the way they’re capes look next to one another.

Written by Doug Moench
Art by Kelley Jones, Malcolm Jones III and John Beatty
Cover by Jones
TALES OF THE MULTIVERSE is a new series of titles collecting stories of familiar heroes reimagined in startling ways. This inaugural volume collects the dark tales originally presented in
BATMAN/DRACULA: RED RAIN, BATMAN: BLOODSTORM and BATMAN: CRIMSON MIST, written by Doug Moench with macabre art by Kelley Jones.
The legendary horror known as Dracula has descended upon Gotham City — and he’s brought his deadly children of the night with him. Now, it’s up to Batman to stop the Lord of the Undead’s assault on his city — but after being bitten by Dracula, Batman himself joins the ranks of the undead. Will Batman be an even greater threat to the citizens of Gotham City than Dracula?

Did you know that the character of Dracula has appeared in more films than any other fictional character? It’s true!

Did you know that every day, Barnes and Noble shelves at least seven new books about vampire? Okay, well that’s not true, but it could be.

My point is, Batman’s a pretty popular, well-recognized fictional character, even outside the direct market. Dracula even more so. And vampires in general are a cross-media pop culture institution.

But if you’re not a hardcore DC reader of a certain age, you probably aren’t going to know what the fuck a “Multiverse” is.

So renaming a trilogy of stories that kicked off with something called Batman/Dracula and could easily be summed up by the two-word “Batman, Vampire” or “Batman: Vampire” into Tales of the Multiverse: Batman—Vampire is just—well, what’s the best way to put this?— fucking retarded.

Now, I love Kelley Jones. He’s seriously one of my favorite comics artists. His run on Batman with Dough Moench and John Beatty (I liked it so much, I remembered the inker’s name) is one of my favorite, right below Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle as the Greatest Bat-Team Ever (and that’s mostly due to Jones’ work…I liked Moench’s contributions, but without such exaggerated, theatrical artwork, the scripts would have read pretty badly).

This series isn’t bad (it’s better than Moench and Jones’ other Batman Elseworlds series, Batman: Dark Joker—The Wild and Batman: Haunted Gotham). The stories get progressively worse, but that first one is pretty strong, and even the third isn’t that bad.

But giving it that ridiculous title is practically daring people not to buy it. The Elseworlds imprint was pretty easily explained. There would be a tiny logo somewhere on the front or back cover, and a sentence on the inside cover saying Elseworlds imagines DC heroes in worlds they don’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t exist. And that’s it. You weren’t narrowing your potential customer base to people who want to follow all of the Countdown spin-offs but weren’t reading Elseworlds stories 15 years ago.

Written by Brian Augustyn
Art by Mike Mignola, Eduardo Barreto and P. Craig Russell
Cover by Mike Mignola
Reoffered to coincide with the
BATMAN — VAMPIRE TP! Collecting the stories that pit the Dark Knight against Jack the Ripper and a death-dealer from the skies over Gotham!

What, no stupid fucking Tales of the Multiverse: Batman: Gotham By Gaslight title for this one?

This book is awesome, by the way.

Written by Doug Moench
Art and cover by Tony Wong
Reoffered to coincide with the
BATMAN — VAMPIRE TP, also written by Doug Moench! This thrilling tale sends the Dark Knight to the other side of the globe on the trail of a killer!

I really liked this one too. Mostly because of the art. But still, not a bad read. The Dragon isn’t a bad character, and someone other than Grant Morrison could totally have used him and Alan Grant creation The Hood and a few other characters in a pretty decent version of the Club of Heroes/Batmen of Many Nations story (although now that Grant Morrison has brought the Silver Age club into post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, there’s really no need).

TEEN TITANS EAST SPECIAL #1 Written by Judd Winick_Art and cover by Ian Churchill & Norm Rapmund. Titans Tower is back up and running on the East Coast as Judd Winick, Ian Churchill & Norm Rapmund assemble an explosive new team of Titans under the leadership of Cyborg! But their first mission may be their last as powerful forces gather to destroy all Titans past and future!

Judd Winick. Ian Churchill. “Titans East.” It’s like a perfect storm of things that would repel me from a comic book. This one might actually knock me to the floor and across the comic shop when I walk past it.

Written by Judd Winick
Art and cover by Mauro Cascioli
Sabina and Freddy race to find the hidden Mercury…as this test is about gaining his speed ability! And if Sabina finds him first, she’ll be equal to Freddy in the ultimate Trials for Shazam’s power!

Wow, this series still isn’t over? What the hell’s taking so long? It was part of the “Brave New World” slate of book that debuted in Brave New World #1, and All-New Atom, another of those books, is already on isse #17.

Was it original artist Howard Porter who was slowing things down? Because according to this, he’s been replaced.


Baal said...

From The Black Canary-Green Waste Of Ink SOlicit:

"the perfect opportunity for Dinah to focus some of her frustrations over what’s happened to Green Arrow".

I would have focused a little less on Amazon Island and more on the fact that the solicit writer gave away a wee bit more than I think they meant to...

Anonymous said...

The other odd thing about the Multiverse: Batman/Vampire title is this: Dracula is public domain. They don't have to HIDE his inclusion in the story. In fact, they'd be much better off putting "Dracula" on the cover than "Multiverse."

Actually, in the direct market, what I just said may not be technically true. The word Multiverse does hold an uncomfortable sway over certain factions of comic book readership.

But I'm certain that the bookstore market would respond to Dracula over Multiverse.

David page said...

Sorry to disappoint you dude but thats the black rider on that shadowpact cover he is a new character who appeared during the recent Etrigan storyarch in shadowpact

Caleb said...


I've heard a lot of online theorizing about Ollie getting killed, but I can't imagine them killing him again, so I'm guessing that maybe Ollie gets kidnapped at the altar or something...either way, they aren't exactly playing it as close to the vest as they could.


Yes. Yes! Stupid DC trade collectors...


Awesome! That's good news. So I can go ahead and drop Shadowpact. Thanks! (That would explain why he's wearing that color and not gray, too).

googum said...

On the Batman/Vampire business: "The stories get progressively worse, but that first one is pretty strong, and even the third isn’t that bad."

I remember the third one being out in hardcover forever, and I waited and waited for the cheaper softcover. Glad I did. It's not terrible, but there's a sense of "We need to wrap this up" to it.

But I still love Vampire--er, Crimson Mist Batman: I wanted the action figure for Christmas, and asked my wife for it. She spent hours, the day after Thanksgiving, scouring the racks of movie Batman toys for him. And it wasn't out for another three weeks, at comic shops. Why my wife hasn't shot me, I'm not sure, but she totally came through for me...