Monday, September 17, 2007

DC's December previews reviewed

BAT LASH #1 Written by Peter Brandvold & Sergio Aragones. Art by John Severin. Cover by Walter Simonson. Variant cover by Severin. Will he save the West – or ruin it? Acclaimed Western novelist Peter Brandvold (Rogue Lawman, .45-Caliber Deathtrap) teams up with Bat Lash co-creator Sergio Aragones (Groo, MAD) to answer that question as BAT LASH begins! This 6-issue miniseries recounts the origin story of the most unusual cowboy of them all as young Bat Lash braves a corrupt sheriff and a greedy rancher just to woo a rancher’s lovely daughter. With interior art by the legendary John Severin (DESPERADOES) and beautiful covers by Walter Simonson, BAT LASH is a classic Western high adventure made fresh and exciting for today! 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 Walter Simonson, retailers may order one Variant Edition (featuring a cover by John Severin).

Couple of questions:

1.) Should I be embarrassed to realize that I didn’t even know Sergio Aragones created Bat Lash?

2.) Is it wrong to hope there are Aragones cartoons in the margins of this issue?

3.) Doesn’t having a “variant cover” with art by the guy who drew the interiors kind of defeat the purpose of the variant? Like, if you wanted pictures of Severin drawing Bat Lash, congratulations, here’s 22 pages of it! Why shell out extra for what come with the book itself?

4.) Where’s my damn Showcase Presents: Bat Lash?

5.) Where’s my damn Guns of the Dragon trade collection?

BATMAN: FALSE FACES HC Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Art by Scott McDaniel, Scott Kolins, Rick Burchett, Marcos Martin, Karl Story, Mark Pennington and others. Cover by McDaniel & Andy Owens. Don’t miss this hard-hitting volume from award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughan (EX MACHINA, Y: THE LAST MAN, Lost), collecting Batman #588-590, Detective Comics #787, Wonder Woman #160-161 and Batman Gotham City Secret Files! In the first of these tales of the DCU, Bruce Wayne adopts the guise of Matches Malone — the seedy identity he uses to infiltrate the Gotham underworld. But when Matches is shot, it’s up to Batman to determine what really happened…and how Scarface is involved! Plus, in other stories, Batman takes on the Mad Hatter, and Wonder Woman and Donna Troy square off against Clayface!

What the fuck? This seems like the most random collection of Batman stories imaginable (if Batman’s even in the Wonder Woman two-parter…I don’t recall much of anything about that story, other than that it was a fill-in and had a mud-wrestling themed cover by Adam Hughes on one of the issues). Did BKV really write them all? Is that what holds this book together? Why not just center it around that fact, then?

I read all of these stories, but don’t remember anything at all about them, so they couldn’t have been all that great. Some good artists involved, though.

Or else my memory's even worse than I thought. Still, it's usually pretty good when it comes to things comics related.

BOOSTER GOLD #5 Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz. Art and cover by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund. "52 Pick-Up" continues! Booster Gold has been tasked with preventing the origins of the world's greatest heroes from unraveling. Next up is his greatest challenge yet: preventing one of the most horrific wrongs that's ever befallen a hero in the DC Universe. Leaping into the pages of BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, Booster attempts to stop a tragedy that he discovers never should've happened — the Joker shooting and paralyzing Barbara Gordon, Batgirl. Plus, what dark secret is Rip Hunter keeping from Booster?

Hmm, considering how light-hearted the last issue was, this seems like an…odd subject for Booster Gold to tackle. I mean, after Identity Crisis, this has got to be one of the darkest and grim-'n'-grittiest stories to actually occur in the DCU (Not that an Alan Moore and Brian Bolland story about the Joker and the Batman shouldn’t be dark, grim and gritty…the thing about Identity Crisis was that it put its rape square in the middle of a story starring Superman and the Justice League. Yeesh).

So, I’m pretty surprised to see this book going there. Without opening the whole Killing Joke can of Internet worms again, the phrasing in the solicit seems pretty particular: “Booster Gold has been tasked with preventing the origins of the world’s greatest heroes from unraveling. Next up is…preventing one of the most horrific wrongs that’s ever befallen a hero in the DC Universe.”

If someone weer trying to unravel Barbara Gordon from becoming Oracle, they could stop the shooting, couldn’t they? That would put Booster in the horrible position of having to ensure she get shot. A while back, when people were going crazy over this 20-year-old story that a former DC editor had just read for the first time and didn’t like it and told the Internet so, there was some argument over whether Killing Joke deserves credit for making Barbara Gordon into Oracle or not.

Obviously, the creators of the story didn’t intend for it to happen—there’s no scene of Barbara in a hospital vowing to become the world’s greatest computer hacker or anything—but it is the first domino to crash leading to Babs becoming Oracle. She could have become Oracle anyway, sure—she had retired from being Bagirl anyway—but being put in the chair is always cited as part of why she became Oracle, and, realistically, I can’t imagine any DC writer turning her into Oracle if there was still the possibility of her running around rooftops as Batgirl again.

That is one scary-ass picture of the Joker on the cover, by the way.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #9 Written by Mark Waid. Art by George Pérez & Bob Wiacek. Cover by Pérez. The Book of Destiny’s been opened, but look who’s come spilling out…the Metal Men! The Blackhawks! The Newsboy Legion! And the new Atom and Hawkman team!

Woah! The All-New Atom and Same Old Asshole Hawkman! The Blackhawks and the Newsboy Legion! The Metal Men! And they didn’t mention Dial ‘H’ For Hero! So, this is going to be the greatest comic book ever, is that it?

Well, it looks like there are 14 individual books in the Countdown story, including the four issues of the weekly, plus the ones with Countdown in the title and/or that DC told were tie-ins. Fourteen individual books, or a $48 pricetag.

For just this month.

If we count Batman and the Outsiders, which ties in to Countdown tie-in Salvation Run, and Death of the New Gods, which ties in to the deat of the New Gods plotline in Countdown, that brings us to 16 books at $51.50. There are also two $4.95 books of reprint material branded as Coutndown tie-ins. If we want to count those, that's 18 books at $61.50.

So, to recap, 14-18 books, at $48 to $61.50. For one month.

COUNTDOWN PRESENTS THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: SUPERWOMAN/BATWOMAN #1 Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray. Art by Randy Green_Cover by Ryan Sook. In a world of gender-reversal, an army of Greek warriors led by Wonder Man march against Washington and the JLA! The Challengers must battle to find Ray Palmer and to stop the Multiverse-spanning war.

To be fair, they probably started working on this before anyone knew just how bad Amazons Attack was gonna turn out, but given its poor performance and the pounding it took from critics and comics fans (honestly, the best things I’ve heard anywhere about the series was “It’s not the worst Wonder Woman story ever”), it's kind of unfortunate that DC’s riffing on it already.

I wonder what they’ll call male Amazons though…Amamans?

DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #4 WRITTEN by Jim Starlin. Art and covers by Starlin & Matt Banning. Orion, Mr. Miracle and Superman break into the Forever People’s hideaway — only to make a shocking discovery!

What, that they’re behind the killings? No shit.

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #3 WRITTEN by Judd Winick. Art and cover by Cliff Chiang. Variant cover by Chiang. Black Canary and Green Arrow conclude their mission on Paradise Island and are stunned to find out what’s really been going on there — and just who’s been behind the kidnapping of their missing friend! 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 Cliff Chiang, retailers may order one Variant Edition (featuring a different cover by Chiang)

Bit of a spoiler in the solicit there, isn’t it? I mean, I didn’t really expect Oliver Queen to die on the wedding altar myself, but I know some people were expecting it. Wouldn’t slightly different phrasing in the
solicit, like not mentioning the word "kidnapping," have kept the suspense going for at least a few more days? Also, here’s another silly variant scheme—they’re both by the same artist! Ghah.

Ice! I hope this is good. I haven’t been reading it, despite my affection for Gleason’s art, simply because I don’t really give a shit about alien space cops. But with Kyle and Guy in the title again, I plan on checking it out. Ice is certainly a bonus. While I hated the way she was brought back to life, in probably the worst brought-back-to-life story ever (it just kind of unfolded in the background of a story that had nothing to do with her, in a title that had nothing to do with her, full of characters that had nothing to do with her…If Gail Simone wanted to bring Ice back, they should have done an Ice-centric resurrection story in JLA: Classified geaturing Guy, J’onn, Fire and the Justice League. It’s not like anyone was doing anything worthwhile with the title those months anyway), I guess I’m curious to see if the pay off is worth the badness. (Wow, that last sentence was horrible. The parenthetical bit is like ten times longer than the part framing it. If I were getting paid to write this, I’d feel guilty. Sorry about that. But not so sorry as to re-write it better).

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY: THE WEDDING HC Written by Tony Bedard, J. Torres, Judd Winick and Dwayne McDuffie. Art by Paulo Siquiera, Tom Derenick, Mike McKone, Amanda Conner, and others. Cover by Ryan Sook. Celebrate the superhero wedding of the year with this amazing hardcover collection that includes BLACK CANARY #1-4, the JLA WEDDING SPECIAL, the BLACK CANARY WEDDING PLANNER and the GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL! Before the nuptials can take place, The League of Assassins tracks Black Canary to Star City in an effort to liberate the child, Sin, they believe to be the DCU's next greatest assassin. Luckily, Black Canary has other plans for Sin's abilities and future! Then, the fun unfolds in the most unexpected way possible!

I believe I’ve previously shared with you my theory that the person in charge of DC’s trade program isn’t a person at all, but a half-starved, rabid wolf that’s taken over an office and no one can get close enough to reason with for fear of being bitten and infected, right?

Well, here’s some more evidence.

Not only is the first time that I can remember seeing a trade being solicited containing books that haven’t even come out yet, but look at what’s included. The JLA Wedding Special, which is the first chapter of a Justice League of America and which has next to nothing at all to do with the wedding, is going to be in this book? Really? Because they’re also going to have to reprint it in JLoA Vol. 3, and that’s just nuts to sell it to the same audience in trade format twice.

GREEN LANTERN/SINESTRO CORP SECRET FILES #1 Written by Geoff Johns & Sterling Gates. Art by Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver, J.G. Jones, Patrick Gleason and Joe Prado . Cover by Reis & Oclair Albert. For the first time ever, the secrets of the Book of Oa and the Book of Parallax are revealed in short stories looking at the past, present and future of the Corps! This 64-page Special features new tales of both the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps!

I really like the old Secret Files & Origins Specials, at least the ones that were done really well (the first round of ‘em, I guess). Looking at who it is that’s contributing to this one, it sure seems like it will be done well (i.e. have content relative to the monthlies it spins out of, and of a similar level of quality).

I wonder why they droped the “and Origins Special” off the title though…

And Sterling Gates? That is a great name.

Okay, I can kind of understand why Hawkman might want to hit Green Arrow in the back of his head with his spiked ball on a chain thing, but I’m not sure why Green Arrow would want to shoot Wonder Woman in the back of her head.

I guess it's nice to see a "Year One" story after DC rejiggered the time-line to replace Wonder Woman replacement with Black Canary. (Or add Wonder Woman to the line-up alongside Wonder Woman replacement Black Canary? It apparently depends on the story you read).

Sadly, this isn’t even the worst cover this month. Close though. I think the little Atom vaulting over the golden lasso helps a bit. Little men running around your comics covers always helps.

JLA CLASSIFIED #49 Written by Andrew Kreisberg. Art and cover by Paulo Siqueira & Amilton Santos. With the JLA away from Earth on a dire mission in space, the wives and loved ones of the heroes gather to support each other when at any moment any individual in the room could be left alone forever.

Hmm, I have no idea who any of these creators are, or what era of the team that’s supposed to be. J’onn J’onnz, Superman and John Stewart and…is the stretchy guy Elongated Man? Because he’s not wearing goggles to indicate that it's Plastic Man, who served on a League with John Stewart… Hmmm. Not sure who all the “loved ones” are either. Who’s the black lady? John’s very young looking mother? And the redhead? And the lady in green…is that supposed to be Sue?

Anyway, the thought of Lois Lane, Alfred and Queen Hippolyta in the same room at the same time strikes me as amusing enough to be worth $2.99, whoever made this thing and whichever team it is up on the screen.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #16 Written by Dwayne McDuffie. Art and cover by Joe Benitez & Victor Llamas. Lightning strikes again as a Flash returns! Where's this Flash from…and what is she doing on our Earth?

I don’t kow, let me guess…from the Tangent line of comics?

I’m really surprised to see the mileage DC is getting out of those characters, which were originally created as a way to keep trademarks (“Oh God, we need to publish a book called Secret Six and Sea Devils soon or we’ll risk someone else scooping them up. What do we do? Dan Jurgens, do you have any ideas?")

This is just a guess of where the Tangent line came from.

This doesn’t sound terribly interesting to me at all. The Joker was the only Tangent character who really stuck with me. And I remember liking Doom Patrol and Secret Six at the time, but now I honestly can’t remember anything about them at all. One of them had a cool dog, I remember that much.

Nice to see someone other than Benes on art again. Not so sure about Benitez though. His cover looks…less than awesome. In fact, John Stewart is really kind of scaring me. Is it that hard to find a good penciler who can produce 22 pages of art a month these days? This is at least the third penciler for a McDuffie-written JLoA story, and his run just kicked off last week, in September. Meltzer only wrote 12 non-artist jam issues, and they had, what, four pencillers during that time?

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 2: THE LIGHTNING SAGA HC Written by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns. Art by Ed Benes, Shane Davis, Dale Eaglasham, Jim Lee, Adam Kubert, George Pérez, and others. Cover by Michael Turner. Two of DC’s most prominent super-teams join forces in this stunning hardcover volume collecting JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #0 and #8-12 and Justice Society of America #5-6! In the wake of “The Tornado’s Path,” the JLA has discovered the existence of several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the present. With the help of the JSA, Superman and his team must track down all seven Legionnaires to discover why these heroes of the future have traveled back in time!

I was wondering if this was going to be trade-collected as a JLA/JSA book, or be numbered to follow one or the other’s sequence, since both JLoA and JSoA are being traded.

And I was wondering how they were going to collect the balance of Meltzer’s run, since, if you subtract “Lightning Saga,” he only wrote two one-issue stories after “Tornado’s Path," which is already collected, wrapped up.

Well, there’s my answer to both questions.

If you haven’t read this, I’d recommend avoiding it at all costs. “Lighting Saga” makes no sense at all; if you though Identity Crisis had some plot holes ,or strained logic, your head will explode trying to make sense of “Lihting Saga.” It’s really, really bad. Even Geoff Johns writing every other chapter, and some nice art from Dale Eaglesham can’t save it. JLoA #10? Maybe the worst DC comic book ever published. It's only competition is probably Teen Titans #46.

It’s a really random-ass collection, too. The #0 issue is included (that’s where they get the Jim Lee, Adam Kubert and George Perez up there…each contribute a page to #0) is actually the first part of “Tornado’s Path,” as it features The Trinity getting ready to sit down around a table to look at pictures, between flashbacks to the brand spanking’ new post-Infinite Crisis/52 continuity, and flashforwards to stories that Brad Meltzer will likely never write, nor will anyone else (The death of Pa Kent, the death of Batman, the wedding of Wonder Woman, et cetera).

Oh, and I haven’t said anything snarky about Michael Turner in a few days, so let’s look at that cover: Keeping in mind that Flash, Black Canary, Batman, Black Lightining and Red Arrow are all unable to fly or float or hover, what do you imagine they’re standing on there?

All that said, I am going to borrow this from the local library when they get it. Because I want to experience Martian Manhunter talking to Aquaman II as if he were Aquaman I and Aquaman II answering him as if he were Aquaman I for myself.

They’re totally going to crash into something if they don’t watch where they’re flying and running.

Also, Citizen Steel runs like a girl.

Nice to see Alex Ross doing something other than posing a character standing in a dark room on the covers now. I liked the first 15 covers he did of that, but I think it’s time to move on.

Written by Jim Shooter
Art and covers by Francis Manapul & John Livesay
Celebrate a bold new era for the Legion of Super-Heroes with the return of writer Jim Shooter and the debut of new series art team Francis Manapul (
Witchblade, Tomb Raider) & John Livesay (THE FLASH)!
Several Legionnaires find themselves in mortal peril as the universe is faced with a frightening and mysterious alien threat. Plus, in the absence of longtime team captain Cosmic Boy, the Legion seek new leadership, only to find themselves under the the shaky and uncertain control of...Lightning Lad?
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two interlocking covers by Frances Manapul, one featuring the left half of the art above (Cover A) and one featuring the right half of the art above (Cover B), that are separately orderable. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

I understand, historically, why this is a big huge deal, but I honestly, personally, couldn’t care less.

It’s interesting they’re keeping the latest Legion reboot for Shooter though, instead of using a different Legion, like the one Metlzer and Johns unleashed in “Lightning Saga.” Actualy, I was kind of expecting a new Greatest Hits Legion, with their troubled history of reboots woven right into their origin this time, a la Johns' idea revealed in the Infinite Crisis trade (Which, if you didn’t read it, was to have a new all-star line-up kind of Legion, with the best characters from each of the previous versions combined into one ultimate Legion).

Also, interlocking variant covers, in which everyone who buys an issue gets half a cover image for their $2.99? That’s evil. JLoA did it three times, and is about to do it again. And now Legion. For shame DC, for shame. (And shame on any of you who buy more than one issue of this book!)

ROBIN #169 Written by Peter Milligan. Art by Freddie Williams II. Cover by Andy Kubert. Part 5 of the 7-part “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul!” Robin goes off the deep end as the temptations of Ra’s al Ghul prove too strong to resist! Will Nightwing take his big brother role to heart and try to drag Tim off the ledge? Guest-starring Batman, Damian and Talia al Ghul.

I would think it would actually be hard to tempt Tim Drake with resurrecting a loved one. I mean, where to start? His mother? His father? His ex-girlfriend? His teammate and best friend? His other teammate and friend? Dude knows more dead people than living people at this point.

So, just about everyone drawing covers for DC these days? You should go read Steven Grant’s feature on Jack Kirby’s cover work.

And then feel deeply ashamed at how terrible you are.

This goes double for whoever drew this cover.

UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS # Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray. Art by Renato Arlem. Cover by Dave Johnson. The Doll Man War begins! Plus, Red Bee’s daring escape from a government lab. And if that’s not enough...the return of Neon the Unknown!

Oh man, don’t tell Richard he’s been replaced by a sexy female legacy heroine. He’s gonna be so pissed.

That’s a nice drawing there, but could they have found a less original design for Red Bee II? She looks like The Wasp wearing one of Ant-/Giant-Man’s discarded helmets. Seems weird to me that the original, male Red Bee’s costume would be so much more feminine than the new, female Red Bee’s costume, too.

Wonder Girl #4 Written by J. Torres_Art and cover by Sanford Greene & Nathan Massengill. The mystery of who’s hunting Wonder Girl and Hercules is dragged into the light! But Wonder Girl’s about to get some unexpected “help” in the form of a face from her past…

Wow, the freaking Female Furies? Wonder Girl in battle gear? This looks awful, despite the great artwork. I was disappointed that last week’s #1 was continuing storylines from Amazons Attack and Teen Titans, and it doesn’t look like the mini will get any less dependent on other crappy stories as it goes on. I mean, the leader of the Female Furies was behind the whole Amazon Attacks mess in-story, so it looks like in three more months, poor Cassandra Sandsmark will still be wallowing in AA aftermath.

That really bums me out. J. Torres should be able to write a kick-ass Wonder Girl story, and I love Sandford Greene’s art work.

This just seems like a waste of their talents, and a missed opportunity.

Written by Bob Haney and Dennis O’Neil
Art by Neal Adams, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo and others
Cover by Jim Aparo
A second volume collecting the greatest Batman team-ups of the Silver Age, from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #88-109!

Let’s see, so this volume will contain Batman teaming-up with Green Arrow, Green Lantern, The Metal Men, Deadman, Wildcat, The Phantom Stranger, Adam Strange, (New) Wonder Woman, Metamorpho, The House of Mystery, The Flash, Sgt. Rock, The Teen Titans, Back Canary and then there's the introduction of something called “The Bat-Squad” (which evidently didn’t last too long), and all of these stories will be written by Dennis O’Neil (like it or not, the definitive Batman creator) or Bob “Insaney” Haney, and drawn by Neal Adams and Jim freaking Aparo, at the top of their game, and without the period’s crappy coloring quality obscuring their lines.

Wow. That's going to be 500 very satisfying pages of DC super-comics right there.

This, like the other three Showcases solicited, are all going on my “To Buy” list, but God knows when I’ll get around to them. I’m only a few stories into Brave and the Bold Vol. 1 at the moment.

I hope you al buy the hell out of the Brave and the Bold book too, because I reaaaalllly want to read a Vol. 3 of it.


Well, for starters to see if they include this one or not

Because God knows if a kid sees Swamp Thing in the same place at the same time as Batman, the kid might then check out Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, and run headlong into scenes of interspecies sex fueled by magic sweet potato drugs.

(Hey, if Batman and Swamp Thing are never seen in the same place at the same time, does that mean that Batman's secret identity is...Swamp Thing?! And, come to think of it, I've never seen Superman and Dream of the Endless in the same place at the same time either...).

Also, a third Brave and the Bold volume should also contain this story

and, while I can't be sure, it appears to be a story in which Metamorpho transforms himself into the cute little Whirly-Bat that Batman zips around Gotham in, while Plastic Man guest-stars. And let the record show that I love Plastic Man, Metamorpho and the Whirly-Bat.


Matthew said...

RE: what male Amazons are called - Greeks, I believe they're using.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Dream with Superman in that Grant Morrison JLA where the League fights Starro the Conquerer? They might have called him Lord Morpheus, but I thought it was supposed to be the same guy.

Tony said...

Amen to the Guns of the Dragon trade. I got three of the four issues and have never been able to find the fourth.

Unknown said...

That was actually Daniel in the JLA story.

Times Three said...

Agreed on "The Lightning Saga." Just read the TPB, and it wasn't very good!