Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DC's May previews reviewed

ACTION COMICS #865 Written by Geoff Johns. Art by Jesus Merino. Cover by Kevin Maguire. The Flash has Captain Cold and Gorilla Grodd. Batman has the Joker and Two-Face. Superman has Lex Luthor and…the terrible Toyman? Take a look inside the mind of one of Superman’s strangest and most twisted adversaries as the original Toyman, Winslow Schott, returns to Metropolis. Plus, an alien who is everything Superman isn’t is heading towards Earth. And he’s not alone.

Hey, Kevin Maguire art! Awesome! Too bad it’s just the cover. This issue…could be interesting. I like the disconnect between Superman and power-less gag villains like Prankster and Toyman. But with Geoff Johns handling scripting, I worry if he’ll play up the dark, scary, pedophile vibe of Toyman rather than the fun, dude-who-attacks-Superman-with-remote-controlled-planes aspect.

Seeing people kiss makes Batman gag, apparently.

BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #17 Written by Fabian Nicieza. Art and cover by Kevin Maguire. Kicking off a 5-part story by Fabian Nicieza (X-Men) and Kevin Maguire (Justice League INTERNATIONAL)! Batgirl crosses paths with the Catwoman for the first time... and that’s bad luck, especially for Batgirl's father: Commissioner Gordon!

They seemed to have turned this anthology title around a bit, moving from terrible boring-ass stories to ones featuring exciting artists. It seems like it’s been far too long since Maguire’s pencils have had a regular, monthly home. This particular story doesn’t seem one that needs retold, but what the hell; Nicieza writes far more good scripts than bad ones, and Maguire…monthly! At least for five months.

BATMAN: GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT #1 Written by Steve Niles. Art and cover by Kelley Jones.“There are things that go ‘bump’ in the night. Be thankful that one of those things is on our side…” When the full moon rises and casts its eerie glow over the land, the creatures of the night come out to hunt and feast and prey on the innocent citizens of Gotham City, and only one man stands in their way: The Batman. These are the bizarre and frightening case files of the Dark Knight Detective, featuring grave-robbers, men making monsters, night terrors, and the debut of an all-new moonlight monster known only as Midnight. In this fatal first issue by the creative team of Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, SIMON DARK) and Kelley Jones (BATMAN: RED RAIN), Batman will come face-to-face with the Master of Fear himself — but just what is the Scarecrow after? And what does it have to do with the Axeman? Could it be some elaborate scheme to trap the Bat? Be here at the beginning — and beware!

I can’t wait for this. While much of Niles’ work has struck me as mediocre—not great, but not bad either—including his past collaborations with Jones, Jones is one of my favorite comics artists, and my second favorite Batman artist (right behind Norm Breyfogle). So, a nice, long twelve-issue run of Jones on a Bat-book is music to my eyears. Er, eyes. Whatever.

OMAC or not, this looks awesome.

Hey, wait a minute....apparently Booster's messing with the timeline has not only lead to a present dominated by OMACs, but it's had drastic consequences for Martian Manhunter's foot wear as well. He's wearing red boots now! Red! Boots! Change back to blue, J'onn; those make you look like a whore!

CHECKMATE #26 Written by Bruce Jones. Art and cover by Manual Garcia. “Chimera, ” by Bruce Jones (Hulk) and Manuel Garcia (COUNTDOWN) begins! Left for dead on a Middle East minefield, one soldier's only chance to survive is as a test subject of a dangerous-but-invaluable project run by the Black King. Both the King's wildest hopes and fears will be realized when the project takes a wrong turn, creating a fighter remarkably well-suited for supernatural battles!

Bruce Jones, huh? Is this just a fill-in, or does this mean that Greg Rucka has left the company after the end of his exclusive contract? If so, I can’t imagine this book is long for this world…

Dude, she wiped your mind. She lobotomized Dr. Light. She altered the personality of The Top. She put the whammy on Martian Manhunter. Don’t tell me that not only is all forgiven, but you’re teaming up with her, like, every third story arc now? I think you've teamed up with her more in Detective than you've teamed up with your partner Robin.

FINAL CRISIS #1 Written by Grant Morrison. Art and covers by J.G. Jones.Witness the historic start of the final chapter in the Crisis trilogy that could only spring from the mind of Grant Morrison — Final Crisis, featuring stunning art by J.G. Jones (52 Covers)! Worlds will live and heroes will die in this epic tale spanning the beginning and end of the DC Universe! The entire Multiverse is threatened as the mysterious Libra assembles an army of the DCU’s most terrifying super villains. But what is the ultimate plan, and who will live to find out? Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers by J.G. Jones that will ship in approximately 50/50 ratio.

A pretty simple design for this particular cover by Jones, but it’s a nice image. I wonder if it means all seven issues of the series will have some sort of iconic pose featuring one of the DC heroes, in which case they may take on a cumulative strength not seen here.

I see there are going to be variants, with Jones doing both. If this thing ships late, and they have him drawing twice as many covers as necessary….

I’m pretty excited about this story, as “Grant Morrison does whatever the hell he wants with the DCU” is the exact synopsis of my ideal super-comic, but the solicit sure seems to promise more of the same. “Heroes will die.” “Who will live to find out?” Yeah, yeah, yeah, DC superheroes dying. That shit ain’t exciting when it happens every other Wednesday.

On the plus side, when Morrison kills off a character—Animal Man’s family, Animal Man himself, Zauriel, Metamorpho, Mister Miracle II—he generally either brings them right back to life, or makes it easy for someone else to do so.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #24 Written by Peter J. Tomasi. Art by Patrick Gleason & Prentis Rollins. As their quest to track down Sinestro Corps rings continues, the Green Lantern Corps discover to their horror that fellow Lanterns Sodam and Arisia have been captured by Mongul and subjected to the dreaded Black Mercy, causing their deadliest fears to be dragged into the light

“For The Man Who Has Everything” was a great story and all, but, come on guys, how many times are going to be subjected to “homages” to it?

I think GLC #24 will make it, let's see...

...three times too many.

THE HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE #1 & 2 Written by Ivory Madison. Art by Cliff Richards and Art Thibert. Cover by Matthew Clark_As the last survivor of a family eliminated by bloody rivalries among the mobs of Gotham, young Helena Bertinelli was sent overseas for her own safety — but began a quest for vengeance instead. Breakout writer Ivory Madison teams with Cliff Richards (WONDER WOMAN) for a continent-spanning story that reveals one woman’s journey from hunted to Huntress!_And in issue #2, shipping two weeks later, Helena Bertinelli’s vow never to return to Gotham is tested by her vigilante fight to reclaim her inheritance from the Sicilian underworld — and by her unexpected feelings for the son of a Gotham kingpin!

This six issue series will run you about $18 over the course of three to six months, depending on whether or not they stick to the biweekly schedule. For $12.95 (or less on Amazon), you could just read this:

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL VOL. 2 HC Written by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and John Ostrander. Art by Kevin Maguire, Bill Willingham, Luke McDonnell, Al Gordon, Bob Lewis and others. Cover by Maguire_. he second hardcover volume collecting the classic JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL comics of the late 1980s, co-written by 52 mastermind Keith Giffen! Included here are JUSTICE LEAGUE ANNUAL #1, JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #8-13, SUICIDE SQUAD #13, featuring Batman, Blue Beetle, Martian Manhunter, Guy Gardner, Black Canary, Mister Miracle, Dr. Fate, Booster Gold, Doctor Light, and the power of Shazam! Rediscover the book that redefined the term "super-hero team" for a generation.

Yayyy! Now keep ‘em coming, right up until you hit the end of “Breakdowns,” Person Who's In Charge of Deciding What DC Trade-Collects.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21 Written by Dwayne McDuffie. Art and cover by Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino. Meet Libra and the Human Flame, two central villains in the upcoming FINAL CRISIS! Where’d the Human Flame come from, and who does he hate more than anything in the universe? As Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman assess the future of the Justice League, their days may be numbered.

Come May, McDuffie’s run on Justice League will still consist of nothing but tie-ins to other books. On the plus side, it looks like DC has finally freed him from the shackles of Ed Benes; although this may just be a temporary respite. After all, Pacheco’s not exactly a monthly kind of guy.

THE LOST BOYS: REIGN OF FROGS #1 Written by Hans Rodionoff. Art by Joel Gomez & Don Ho. Cover by Jonathan Wayshak. Before Buffy…before Blade…there was one name that was whispered in fear and awe among the undead: The Frog Brothers. Edgar and Alan Frog, the no-nonsense vampire slayers from the cult film The Lost Boys, are back with a vengeance in a 4-issue miniseries that bridges the gap between their adventures in the original film and the upcoming feature THE LOST BOYS: THE TRIBE, due to be released this summer. Find out what’s happened since the first film, brought to you in various shades of crimson by Hans Rodionoff (Mnemovore) and Joel Gomez (Wetworks)!

Actually, Blade started fighting vampires almost fifteen years before 1987’s Lost Boys.

Something seems really wrong about this comic (not to mention the second direct-to-DVD film mentioned in the solicitation copy). I think it’s that while the movie was indeed an awesome movie, it wasn’t simply because it was a great story (far from it), but that it had a pretty neat story paired with funny characters and sexy characters, a great cast, cool music, nice special effects for the time, and so on. In other words, it worked just fine as a movie, but the reasons it did won’t be present in a comic book series, you know?

I’ll probably try at least the first issue anyway, though.

Man, I hope someone’s working on comics featuring The Goonies and The Monster Squad too…

Wow, Jim Starlin sure draws a terrible Bizarro…

Check out The Flash, who’s so fast that, instead of running at super-speed, he’s power-walking at super-speed!

God, this book looks and sounds terrible…

TOR #1 Written by Joe Kubert. Art and cover by Kubert. Driven into exile by his own people, a young Tor stuggles to survive alone in a periious prehistoric world. But beyond mere existence, Tor struggles for answers to the questions that have plaqued humankind for eons — why are we here? Is violence the only answer? is there more to life than suffering and survival?_His quest will take him deep inside a mysterious mountain — a dark land filled with strange peoples, evolving animals, and death at every turn. And while Tor must fight these battles alone, he will find some new friends along the way -- all the time coming a step closer to what it means to be truly human._As relevant now as it was when Kubert first created the character, Tor continues to be defined as the lone soul looking for answers in an unforgiving world he barely understands. Beautifully written and illustrated as only Joe Kubert can! On sale May 7 • 1 of 6

I really enjoyed the six-issue Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy miniseries that Kubert did recently, when I finally read it in trade. This seems to be a long the same lines, and will be hard to resist reading in it’s serial installments.

THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT #1 Written by Bruce Jones. Art by Al Barrionuevo & Jimmy Palmiotti. Cover by Neal Adams. A lone USAF pilot, about to warn his superiors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, finds his craft suddenly crash-landing on a mysterious island populated with prehistoric creatures and soldiers of wars of the past, present and future — including Tomahawk, Firehair, and Hans Von Hammer, the Enemy Ace! What bizarre force has compelled these military masters of every era to inhabit the same strange territory? Can they survive without killing each other or being devoured by dinosaurs? Don’t miss this incredible miniseries by the team of writer Bruce Jones (Hulk) artists Al Barrionuevo (DETECTIVE COMICS) & Jimmy Palmiotti and legendary cover artist Neal Adams (BATMAN)!

Army guys + Dinosaurs is a formula that’s pretty hard to improve upon, but adding the likes of Enemy Ace and Tomahawk sure does the trick. Why, the only way to screw something like this up would be to—Oh. Written by Bruce Jones, huh? Nevermind; DC beat me to the punchline.


Jacob T. Levy said...

“For The Man Who Has Everything” was a great story and all, but, come on guys, how many times are going to be subjected to 'homages' to it?"

I think you misspelled "strip-mining." And FTMWHE isn't the only offending story-- the Moore Book of Oa stuff has also been strip-mined.

It's weird-- I actually have no lingering loyalty to pre-Crisis GL/ GLC stories; I hardly ever read any. But I still look at the stuff Johns is doing and say, "there were hundreds of issues of the thing. There must be more of a mythos to mine than the stories Alan Moore happens to have written." It makes The Dreaming look like a fountain of originality; and at least The Dreaming had the excuse that there was only one author (Gaiman) available to mine.

Patrick C said...

I think building on Alan Moore's GLC stories is different than just rehashing "Mongul uses the Black Mercy." I don't have a problem with the GLC stuff, but the Black Mercy has kind of become his Batarang, his signature weapon.

I agree, Titans really does look terrible. I'm hoping it doesn't last long, because Nightwing is so good, I don't want Judd Winnick messing with what Tomasi's doing. And please don't let the team be based in NYC.

I don't know if you noticed Grodd is mentioned in the Flash solicitation. I wonder if they'll explain how he didn't really die on Salvation Run, or if he'll just show up as if he wasn't punted off of a cliff. I really feel like reading Salvation Run is just a waste of time.

And I also agree, I hate that JLA has just become crossover fodder. I felt like that was happening towards the end of the prior JLA run. I mean, the 100th issue of JLA was just a marketing blitz for Byrne's Doom Patrol. Lame. I'm pumped for Final Crisis, but if McDuffie doesn't get to just tell stories once that crossover is over I'm done with that particular book.

Anonymous said...

Rucka's not leaving DC. He IS off of Checkmate, but he alluded to having TWO Question projects in the works, and something else he hasn't announced.

Anonymous said...

Elsewhere, I put the over/under on the return of Grodd, Mallah and the Brain at two years.

It seems that the "under" will win that bet.

None of these solicits matter anyway -- there's a new USAGI YOJIMBO trade listed among Dark Horse's offerings. That's the book that keeps me coming back to this medium no matter how disgustingly burnt out on it I seem to sometimes feel. USAGI makes comics worth reading.

SallyP said...

Ooh, ooh! Look, there's Enemy Ace! By Neal Adams, right there on the cover!

Be still my heart.

A lot of these look pretty good to me, but I will probably be steering clear of the Titans one. I'm sorry to see Rucka go on Checkmate, but Booster Gold looks fantastic.

Matthew said...

The answer to your Final Crisis query is yes - each one will have a single character in an iconic pose. Apparently Jones originally wanted each one to have the same pose, but that was quickly amended.

Unknown said...

I really can't complain with any uses of the Black Mercy, because two of the three involved Mongul and I thought the use in Atom was genius and played for great comedic effect. Honestly, the Johns use appears to be the weakest (without having seen GLC yet). Using it on a Daxamite with the Ion power? Can't decide whether it feels more fitting...or just that much more derivative. Have to wait and see, I guess.

Loved the Bruce Jones jokes. Sadly, I think I'll just drop Checkmate with Rucka's last issue. Nagging thoughts about how Jones turned Hulk into a spy/espionage book for an extremely long arc has me wondering if he might wind up being decent on it, though.

Anonymous said...

Okay, they're taking the idea of the cool hidden subforum on Superdickery, and turning it into a mini written by the only writer as bad as Winnick? Ugh.

Hey, look at the bright side. As long as Starlin is drawing, he'll be too busy to write about Thanos being revealed as the actual progenitor of all life in the universe and more powerful than all gods that have ever existed.

So did Blue Beetle not get solicited? Or was the cover boring?

Also, that Batman cover looks like someone partially tore the front of a historical romance revealing the bodice ripper inner cover.