Friday, May 22, 2015

DC's August Previews Reviewed

The variant theme for this month–every month has a variant theme now, apparently–is another round of "Bombshells" variants. As you're likely aware, those are the covers in which various DC heroines were presented as WWII-era pin-up girls in various contexts (mostly having to do with advertising of some sort, like Mera advertising Atlantean tourism, or Wonder Woman-as-Rosie The Riveter on an inspirational, war effort-like poster). It's also the name of a line of those goofy little statues; I'm not sure which came first, the statues or the variants, but the latter certainly seemed rather popular (and often very cool; the A League of Their Own-style Batwoman may just be my favorite Batwoman costume ever).

So this month we get another bunch of Bombshell covers, this time including male heroes as well. I recall some complaining that there were no male Bombshell covers on the Internet the last time, and while I kind of rolled my eyes at the time–I suppose it was sexist, but then, they were evoking a sexist art form from a sexist time period–but DC apparently heard and responded to that criticism.

One could still quibble that most of the men aren't as unclothed as the women–and something tells me some of those who complained about the lack of male Bombshells last time will do so–but we do get a shirtless Aquaman, so hey, there's that (Kind of disappointed that we don't get a similarly exposed Nightwing, as Dick Grayson is the universally-acknowledted Sexiest Man Alive...In The DC Universe. Maybe if they do a month of People magazine-inspired covers).

More interesting still, DC is launching a Bombshells comic book series, which will apparently feature some sort of super-team consisting of various Bombshell designed characters. That's kind of exciting; I enjoyed the similar Ame-Comi Girls least for a few issues. I liked seeing those designs in a comic book, a medium I enjoy, rather than in a collectible statue, a medium I don't understand the appeal of. That particular series lost me after a half-dozen issues, as the story sort of meandered into medioctricty (the inconsistent, ever-changing art didn't help), but it was fun from a curiosity-sating point-of-view for a while. I assume this will be at least as good.

Other than that, DC seems to just be just keeping-on with their new, post-New 52,
"DC You" (they're not really calling it that, are they?) status quo. For the complete solicitations for the comics DC plans to publish in August, you can click here; otherwise, stick around here for my talking about 'em...

Okay, so here's Action Comics, where we see our first male "Bombshell," in the form of Superman, being held aloft by his sometimes cousin, Power Girl. As you can see, he's not showing as much flesh as some of the other female bombshells. On the other hand, OH MY GOD LOOK AT HIS MUSTACHE IT'S SO COOL!!!!

Superman's gone through like three or four different redesigns since September of 2011, but I think it's safe to say that this, this is the best of them all. Throw a short cape on Bombshell Superman, and let's have that guy start appearing on all the Superman books, huh?

(Say, did you guys read DC's FCBD offering? In it, we learned that Lois Lane revealed Superman's dual identity to the world, and, in order to disguise himself, he stopped wearing glasses and started wearing a hoodie with the hood up. Not exactly a master of disguise. But hey, what if he grew that fantastic mustache? Surely no one would recognize him then! It just makes so much sense for Superman to have an old-timey handlebar mustache in current continuity!)

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art and cover by TREVOR McCARTHY
Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Since his exile from Atlantis, Aquaman has been exhibiting strange new powers. Now learn the secret of these powers as the former king comes face-to-face with Poseidon! And as the Atlantis of old wages war on Earth, the forces behind Arthur and Mera’s estrangement are revealed! All is not what it seems...

Well, I don't like the looks of what appears to be a strange new direction for Aquaman, although, to be fair, I haven't seen much of it, just a few covers and the eight-page preview in the back of Convergence: Suicide Squad #2. It strikes me as pretty early for such a radical overhaul, and Cullen Bunn is the third writer on the series so far. Aquaman has had a relatively low turnover for a New 52 book, but that's simply because the bar being set low. Three writers in a little over three years is too many (By contrast, DC's best and best-selling New 52 book, Batman, has had exactly one writer; I haven't been too fond of Justice League, but it too sells really well and has had but one writer since the relaunch).

The one thing I do like about this new direction is that it seems to introduce a version of Garth/Tempest, in a blue costume and general design somewhat akin to that of the one he sports on Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go!. I like his old magical scar/tattoo better than this one though...

Oh yeah, and how about that Ant Lucia variant cover? There's some Bombshell beefcake to go with the cheesecake!

On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Tech genius Luke Fox has brought his startup to Burnside, and he seems to be hiring all of Barbara’s friends…but not her! Unfortunately, someone else is setting up shop in Burnside as well…the mysterious Velvet Tiger!

Velvet Tiger?! If you were to ask me to name a Batgirl villain–not a Batman villain that Batgirl sometimes fights, or an Oracle villain–Velvet Tiger would be both the first and last name I would be able to think of. So I'm pretty excited to see her appearing in Batgirl, especially since I anticipate it being a pretty cool design, based on, um, everything Stewart and Tarr have designed and drawn for this book so far.

Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
In the start of a new epic, a new villain stalks Gotham City. Will Batman be able to uncover the mystery of Mr. Bloom?

Now that's a Batman villain! He's got a striking, intriguing look which, when paired with his name, makes it so I can't wait to find out exactly what his whole deal is.

BATMAN ‘66 #26
Written by JEFF PARKER
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Can it be? Is Louie the Lilac really pushing up daisies? Batman’s investigation of the criminal’s apparent demise leads him to the abandoned Isley Nursery. But it’s a floral trap that awaits the Dynamic Duo as they encounter a new villainess, the one and only Poison Ivy!

In a month devoted to special variant covers featuring sexy drawings, regular old Batman '66 cover artist Mike Allred delivers the month's sexiest drawing. I'm pretty sure I've said this a few times before–probably 25 times before, based on the issue number–but DC reeeaaaalllly needs to get Allred to draw an entire issue of Batman '66 some day. Preferably one starring Batgirl.

Written by PAUL POPE
Art and cover by PAUL POPE
On sale OCTOBER 14 • 240 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875”, $29.99 US
Visionary writer/artist Paul Pope presents a futuristic mystery of epic proportions! In Gotham City, 2039, a federal agent is murdered, and a contingent of Washington’s top agents is hot on the trail of the Batman, long thought gone, but now the suspect in the murder. This new collection of the 4-issue miniseries includes never before published sketch material!

If you like comics, Batman and/or Paul Pople–and I have good reason to believe you like at least one of those things–than you're going to want to read this. If, for some reason you haven't, it looks like DC is offering a nice, big, "deluxe" version for you to purchase late this summer (although you can find trades of it in your library right this second). Years after reading it for the first time, I'm not super-clear on all of the individual aspects of the plot, which seemed very post-9/11 (to the point that I'm curious about how it might have aged), but what I remember most clearly are 1.) The contents of Batman's utility belt laid-out and explained, which I found interesting and exciting (as it handicapped Pope from the easy cheat of having Batman pull-out whatever the hell the writer wanted at any given point), 2.) Batman eating (something one hardly ever sees), 3.) Batman's fake vampire teeth, which took the whole theatrical, dressing-like-a-bat-to-scare-criminals thing to a logical, hilarious extreme and 4.) How goddam awesome that folded-up Bat-cycle in a tarp looked; it was like a giant, mechanical bat hanging upside down (I'm pretty sure a much weaker version of that showed up in a Batman comic within the last few months).

Anyway, this is awesome.

On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Someone is murdering ghosts, a supernatural crime so impossible to solve that John Constantine is forced to return to London and seek help from the one person he hates more than any other; a magician above reproach, a darling of London high society, and a friend to superheroes everywhere. She is Georgiana Snow…the HECKBLAZER!

I really like the first nine words of this solicitation, especially the first four.

Cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 12 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
The ultra-popular statues from DC Collectibles come to life in their own ongoing comic book series! Learn the story behind this alternate reality where the Second World War is fought by superpowered women on the front lines and behind the scenes! It all begins with the stories of Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl.

So here's the aforementioned Bombshells comic. Based on the cover, and the similar Ame-Comi Girls series, I assume this will be some kind of super-team book, but reading the solicitation closely, perhaps it will be more of an anthology series.

Whichever, I'll be interested in checking it out. I am particularly amused by the thought that DC chose this particular creative team based solely on the fact that they both have the same first name.

This variant cover for Deathstroke is a good example of one that elicits an increasingly common reaction from me: Why couldn't the interior of the book reflect the infinitely more interesting variant cover than the story of the regular cover?

Despite having died and had her consciousness somehow downloaded into a Red Tornado android, Lois Lane is apparently returning to her old job as a reporter on the new Earth-2, which I'm assuming is going to be Telos, terraformed into something more Earth-like after the events of Convergences (If that is the case, I wonder if it will stay in the universe of Earth-0, where Telos is headed, return to whatever universe Telos was housed in, or if it will return to the universe Earth-2 is from?).

I was all set to make a comment about how ridiculously tight her business attire is, but then I remembered she has been completely naked, without so much as a cape to cover her shoulders and back, since she came online.

Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Barry Allen is a man divided, forced to either help his father remain on the run from the law, or bring him to justice. As Barry grapples with that impossible choice, The Flash becomes a target of the Folded Man, a mysterious deadly new villain to Central City who’s hell-bent on tearing The Flash apart—literally!

Created by writer Mark Waid in 1999, back when the star of The Flash was a mysterious character in a black costume and Waid was stoking speculation as to who was under the mask as a strong-selling point, The Folded Man comes from a particularly unusual vintage to be reintroduced post-Flashpoint. He's so young a character, and so associated with a particular creator, that this is one of those instances where I actually feel kind of funny about other creators using him.

Like, they're only 43 issues into this new volume of The Flash; did they really run out of all the other villain to use, and all the new villains of their own they want to create? (Did they use The Turtle yet? They should use The Turtle.)

Hey, that's not Green Arrow on the Bombshell variant for Green Arrow #43, it's Black Canary! And now she has her own book, so shouldn't be be on a variant cover for Black Canary...?

Regardless, this is a particularly nice offering by Ant Lucia (Did you know I have a sister named Lucia? Which makes her my nieces' Aunt Lucia?).

Because of the text, though, whenever I look at it, all I can think of is this extremely weird bit from the extremely weird Batman: The Brave and The Bold cartoon.

Okay, that's pretty cool. Bravo, Ant Lucia.

I like how all three of these superheroines (only one of whom is actually on the Justice League) are wearing versions of uniforms from different branches of the military.

You know, it's really too bad that Mera's become such a horrible character, as she would actually fit in okay with the Justice League, with her and Aquaman kinda sorta replacing the old Satellite Era Hawkman and Hawkgirl as the team's married couple. (Or wait, was Hawkgirl just an ally, because of some clause in the JLA charter about no duplication of powers? Which was bullshit, considering the overlap in Superman and Martian Manhunters' power-sets. Maybe I'm just thinking of Hawkman and Hawkgirl from the Alex Ross fantasy version of the Satellite Era League...(

Written by GARTH ENNIS
On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T+
All of Sixpack’s problems are solved when J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter, volunteers for the team—ready to blaze into battle with the heroes of Section Eight. But as news spreads across the DC Universe, can our hero’s good luck really last? Can Bueno Excellente defeat an unexpected rival for the hand of his lady love? What is J’onn J’onzz thinking? And what’s that smell?

And speaking of J'onn J'onnz...! You know, I don't even think Section Eight is the worst superhero team J'onn's ever been on. I mean, he was on the Justice League Task Force during the '90s...

(Kidding! I loved and still love JLTF! Even if there were some of the worst DC Universe costumes prior to The New 52 on that team, and the L-Ron-in-Despero never really made much sense to me).

I wonder if I'll ever get used to the new shape of Martian Manhunter's head...

No lie: I love Zoot Suit Sinestro. Imagine how much cooler the Sinestro Corps would be if they all wore matching yellow zoot suits.

On sale SEPTEMBER 2 • 232 pg, FC, $19.99 US
In these stories from SUICIDE SQUAD #1-8 and SECRET ORIGINS #14, the team must take down the evil Jihad before it can attack the U.S. Then, the Squad is sent into Russia to extract a famous dissident—but can they get out alive?

Good news? DC is finally printing a collection of the fan-favorite, critically-acclaimed Suicide Squad series by John Ostrander and company. Bad news? It's another printing of the one volume they've already printed. Hopefully this just means they're getting ready to start collecting the whole damn thing, as I have to assume there's going to be more interest in Suicide Squad comics in the next year or so than there has been in a long, long time, and well, it wouldn't hurt to have the good stuff available as well.

I had a friend tell me a friend of hers was interested in reading some Suicide Squad comics based solely on the announcement of the film, and wanted some recommendations for good Suicide Squad comics, since she'd heard the New 52 stuff was all pretty terrible (It is!). Trial By Fire was about all I could come up with.

And now it's time for my monthly making fun of the Teen Titans' costumes! So, just for the sake of comparing and contrasting, here are the variant cover and the regular cover for August's issue of Teen Titan, the former of which features Raven in a radically designed version of her costume...which still looks much closer in visuals and spirit to her original costume, and the costume she's worn in the two cartoons in which she's played a prominent role.

Can you even find raven on the "regular" cover? Do you think you'd be able to if you didn't know that her costume looked like she was wearing a suit of icicles already, and you only knew her from watching Teen Titans and Teen Titans go?

And hey, speaking of Teen Titans Go!, here's TTG's Dan Hipp's cover for the comic book-based on the cartoon-based on the comic books!

This too is a good example of the weakness of the New 52 costume designs. Hipp manages to draw them all pretty well, and to make them "fit" in his style and the world of this version of the Teen Titans, but man, compare those ultra-busy, line-filled costumes to the smoother, less-fussy costumes of the Titans in the foreground.

Also, where's your mustaches Diana? Don't use that old "But I'm a woman!" excuse. Starfire and Raven aren't letting a little thing like "being female" stopping them from sporting awesome mustaches.


Hey, this is the second time I've talked at some length about mustaches in this post. Maybe that will be the theme for the next round of variants: Mustaches.

No, better to wait for No-Shave November, when they can do mustaches and beards...


Scott Beattie said...

I can't remember where (and I'm too lazy to look it up, sorry), but I did see somewhere that DC had already mentioned that they planned on releasing vol. 2 of Ostrander's Suicide Squad early next year (February-ish?).

Nothing would make me happier than if DC were to release the full Ostrander run over the next year or two.

Brian said...

The entire history of of variant covers has existed only to lead up to that Sinestro image. In fact, I'm pretty sure that all of comics has just been a march up to that Sinestro image. The industry can now safely shutter itself and go buy itself ice cream like a little league team that's finished the season...