Thursday, July 27, 2017

Comic Shop Comics: July 27th

All-Star Batman #12 (DC Comics) Oh ho! Good job, Scott Snyder! You totally got me! The title of this story arc is "The First Ally," and I just sort of assumed that it was referring to Alfred Pennyworth, and the fact that he was Batman's first ally, seeing as this book is called All-Star Batman and not All-Star Alfred Pennyworth ("Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddam butler!"). But, in actuality, the First Ally is Briar, the dude from the Alfred-centric flashbacks, and he's not Batman's first ally, but Alfred's! So good show there, Snyder.

The issue, like all of Snyder's Batman work, is quite well written, although I think it's safe to say that Snyder is probably pushing it with the parallels, as young Alfred found himself being recruited to be trained as a "black ledger" British super-agent that Briar refers to as a "Dark Knight." What a funny coincidence! That's one of Batman's nicknames!

While Snyder has Briar sell the concept pretty well, it tracks so close to Christopher Nolan and company's conception of Batman as a pretend pariah, scapegoat cultural figure in the movie The Dark Knight--something that wasn't too terribly convincing, given how the scene in which that idea was expressed played out--that it seems as if Snyder had the film playing in the background during his first draft of this scene.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque continues to do a pretty great job on the artwork, although I really don't care for his monocole-less Penguin, as it's hard to even identify the character given his costuming he here: He just looks like a long-haired fat guy in his Hawaiian shirt, lacking any of his accessories. And The Penguin has more accessories than just about anyone.

The back-up, written by Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone and drawn by Sebastian Fiumara continues to look fantastic--there are a couple of panels that are quite evocative of David Mazzucchelli's "Year One" art--but it occurred to me while reading this chapter that this is basically just a Batman-fights-a-generic-crime story of the sort that feels kind of unimportant compared to everything else that's occurred in All-Star Batman so far.

Dark Days: The Casting #1 (DC) Yes, this came out a few weeks ago, but I didn't get a copy until today, as my local comic shop was all sold out before I could get there. I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising: It's Scott Snyder (and James Tynion) writing a Batman-centric crisis story, with art by Jim Lee, Andy Kubert and John Romita Jr. And there's metallic ink on the cover? Is that a selling point? Me, I hate it. The not-terribly-engaging cover that Lee drew doesn't really support the ink; it's literally jsut a few characters standing around, looking at something that shocks a few of them somewhere off-cover. The Joker kneels before Batman, covering his feet (four characters, zero feet!), looking in the same direction, but seeming a little happier about whatever's over there. (Also, it doesn't scan well, so there's no picture of it above; I went with Batman fighting a gryphon instead, which is more metal than metallic ink anyway.)

This is the second half of the two-part prelude to the Dark Days: Metal event series, but it has it's own #1 and a different sub-title than the first half because, I don't know, comics hates us.

Snyder continues his rather Morrisonian synthesis of pre-existing DCU elements created across decades by dozens of creators, coming up with a new and rather interesting (so far) unified theory of what makes the DC Universe the DC Universe. Hint: The metal is apparently Nth Metal, and there's more to it than we ever thought, including the fact that Hawkman Carter Hall (and his wife?) didn't start their cycle of death and reincarnation in ancient Egypt upon their first contact with the metal, but have been doing it for much further back. And it may even be traces of Nth Metal that causes meta-human; (a?) The Joker even spells it out to Duke Thomas at one point, so that it becomes clear that "meta" is just one letter away from "metal." Huh.

Snyder's script, or at least the part that accounts for Carter Hall's journal, rather pointedly contradicts DC's post-Flashpoint/New 52 continuity, as ad hoc and slapdash as it was. Here, Hall and his wife were Hawkman and Hawkgirl in "the first decades of the 20th century" (although Kubert pencils them in their Silver Age, Thanagarian costumes), which would place two more superheroes before the first appearance of Superman. The wizard Shazam is one of the many immortals that appear in one rather intriguing scene, and he looks to be closer in appearance to the pre-Flashpoint Shazam, than the post-Flashpoint one (who was black). Hawkman also worked with The Challengers of The Unknown and The Blackhawks, although the when isn't exactly clear.

Anyway, Snyder works a birds vs. bats, light vs. dark symbology pretty hard throughout, which certainly makes a sort of sense when one considers the wings of angels vs. those of bats, at least in a certain kind of Medieval Chistian symbology, although it's made pretty clear that "this"--whatever this is exactly--goes back far farther than Medieval Christianity...or even Christ.

Batman is globe-trotting, trying to solve the mystery of Nth Metal. Along the way, he meets Wonder Woman and Talia al Ghul (he also fights a gryphon while wearing a suit of bat-emblazoned armor). Meanwhile, Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Duke Thomas contend with The Joker imprisoned in the Batcave (while there has been mention of three Jokers, this Joker is the one that Snyder has been writing since the first issue of the previous volume of Batman #1; the one from "Death of The Family" and "Endgame"). And then there's Hawkman's story, told through his journal.

While Kubert draws the Hawkman thread, JRJR handles the Batman business and Lee the Batcave business, although they overlap a bit near the end, when Batman returns to the Batcave.

Detective Comics #961 (DC) So it's come to this, has it?

Also, someone with the surname "Zatara" mind-wipes Bruce Wayne, so this single issue manages to refer back to two questionable storylines--one I liked and one I didn't, but both of which should be erased by the reboot and thus not referred to like this in these new stories.

I have to admit the passing reference to The Obeah Man, the one-off villain who killed Tim Drake's mom and plunged his father into a coma shortly after the events of "A Lonely Place of Dying" in the early 1990s, intrigued me, as I always thought it was weird that Drake as Robin never had any kind of major encounter with the character, who was basically his Joe Chill. It always seemed to Young Caleb that The Obeah Man could have rather easily been made into one of Robin's own personal rogues (Not unlike Anarky, originally presented as a kind of anti-Robin, although they only had a few fleeting encounters, and then like a decade passed before someone did some dumb stuff with Drake and Anarky).

Of course, that too is something that sticks out awkwardly here, as it's not exactly like The Obeah Man and John Zatara would be in similar circles, even as far as magic goes, and, again, that particular storyline in which The Obeah Man originally appeared was made irrelevant by the reboot. Unlike other aspects of the Batman Family's saga, Tim Drake's life story was rather radically re-written.

Die Kitty Die: Summer Vacation Special #1 (Chapterhouse) I'm...not sure who Derek is, or who this "Assie" might be, as no one by either name nor matching either's appearance is actually inside the book. Katty is, but just as part of an ensemble in the pin-ups.

This 23-page $3.99 one-shot is much like the original Die Kitty Die miniseries and what I've read of the second one. In other words, it's a pretty good concept, with the lead character being the buxom, Sabrina-like witch who is the real-life star of a comics publisher whose line is an old-school Archie/Harvey hybrid, and the tone being somewhat risque comedy...albeit risque in a juvenile, PG-13 rather than R-rated kind of way. The fact that is create by Archie comics creators Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz is just frosting.

The problem? It's just not that funny. Like, at all. There's one pretty great visual gag in here, and I think it was presumably just something contributing artist Gisele Lagace inserted into the foreground of a panel, as Parent and Ruiz's background comics titles and images aren't usually that...unusual.

There are two short stories in this issue, both of which occur mostly at the beach. The first, a 10-pager by the regular creative team, finds Kitty and friends at the beach, enjoying tacos sold by two monsters from a nearby taco truck. When two of her friends disappear, Kitty investigates, and finds that the monsters were using tacos to lure kids to their homes to feed them to a bigger, scarier monster. For reasons not quite clear, these monsters seem to concentrate on child stars, who they bury up to their neck in their gardens, and then label them. The names of the stars should give you an idea of how fresh the humor here is; they span the gamut from Lil Rascal Alfalfa and Shirley Temple to Britney Spears and Jaleel White (they are labeled with cutesy analog names though, so White is "Jerkel", for example, and the head labeled "Screech" is harvested and referred to as "Justin Jewel...'Leech' on that show 'Shaved By The Smell.'")

So yeah, not exactly cutting edge or anything.

That's followed by a story written by Ruiz and drawn and lettered by Gisele Lagace, whose art I just discovered rather recently (and rather by accident), and who is an all-around terrific artist. While the fact that the series is drawn by Parent is a part of its essential joke, it's safe to say that Kitty and company have never looked so good as they do in these five pages. Kitty and her friends are going to the beach with her new boyfriend, a cyclops named "Eye-Van" who speaks in what I assume is supposed to be an Eastern European accent. It looks great, but, again, the only really funny part is that one image Lagace drew, as opposed to any of the jokes, which are about how outsiders don't seem to know how the comics industry works and a double entendre referring to a handjob.

Those two stories accounts for just 15 pages. The rest are filled by pin-ups, from Parent, Andrew Pepoy, Dean Haspiel, J. Bone, Joe Staton, Thom Zahler and Bill Golliher. Some of them are about what you would expect from a pin-up in this book (Pepoy's, especially), but most are just images of Kitty doing stuff, some of it summer-related and some of it not.

Lumberjanes #40 (Boom Studios) In true Lumberjanes fashion, this issue would seem to be the natural conclusion of the Parent's Day/Fox spirit story arc, as the various conflicts introduced in its first chapter are all resolved and the girls even say goodbye to their parents. But it's not the end! There's at least one more issue to go, as Fox is revealed to be answering to a bigger, scarier creature of some kind, and we finally meet Molly's late-arriving parents.

They are only on two pages, but for the longest time it's been foreshadowed that part of the reason Molly didn't want the summer to ever end was that she didn't want to go home because something was wrong there, and the implication was that her parents didn't accept the fact that she was gay. Well, maybe there's more to it, as when her mom sees her, she roughly grabs her arm and yells at her. Rosie intervenes immediately, and we see Molly rubbing her arm.

I don't know exactly where they are going with this, but a case could certainly be made that child abuse is being pretty heavily implied and, no offense Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh, but that's not really a subject I wanna see tackled in the pages of Lumberjanes, as the sudden shift of focus to something so deadly serious in this particular book can't help but feel off. There's would be an aura of the "very special episode" about it, given the usual subject matter and tone of the book. We'll see, I guess.

Saga #45 (Image Comics) Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan usually like to open an issue of Saga with one of Staples' regular amazing, crazy, "Well there's something I never thought I'd see" splash pages, but here the issue ends with such an image, when there's a reveal of what I guess is the space equivalent of a back-alley abortionist. There's a point earlier in the book where a character says the place our heroes are headed--The Badlands--"is run by monsters."

"And that ain't a figure of speech," another chimes in.

The last page is devoted to what is apparently one of those monsters. And, yes, that is literally a monster, although I haven't seen that particular monster drawn in that particular way in a comic book before, and certainly not in that particular field of...medicine...? (I don't want to get too deep into abortion politics here, but to reap, a very pregnant Alana had a miscarriage, and her son is now dead inside her, so the gang traveled to what is apparently an Old West-themed abortion planet, only to be turned away, and now they are seeking a less legal, scrupulous and safe way to remove the dead child. Look, this is a really weird comic, okay?)

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #28 (DC) In this issue, Sholly Fisch, who has the most fun gig at DC Comics, wants to team Scooby-Doo and the gang up with Jonah Hex and a couple other old timey DC Western heroes (Namely Bat Lash and Cinnamon). How would he and regular artist Dario Brizuela accomplish such a feat? Time travel?

No. In a more-complicated-than-usual set-up, Fred and friends are rummaging around the Jones family attic when they discover Freddy's great-great-grandfather Frederick Jones' journal. Frederick, who looked just like Freddy save for a mustache, used to travel around the Old West in a covered wagon called The Conundrum Contraption, chasing ghosts and monsters with his friends Thelma Lou, Carrie, Gabby and Smiley-Doo. In other words, the Scooby Gang essentially play their own ancestors for a period-specific mystery in the town of Blizzard's Belly.

The monster terrorizing town is a big, scary, metallic one in a poncho, and while there aren't too many suspects, there are a few guest-stars, as Bat Lash is on the run from bounty hunters Jonah Hex and Cinnamon, who Daphne is constantly being mistaken for, much to her irritation.

It's...well, it's pretty awesome, actually.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo (IDW Productions) After teaming-up with IDW's version of The Ghostbusters and Batman (twice!), this is a much more natural, even traditional TMNT team-up, with Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's anthropomorphic ninjas from the 1980s black-and-white boom sharing panel space with Stan Sakai's anthropomorphic samurai from the 1980s black-and-white boom. I was immediately dismayed when I saw these at the comic shop and saw there were three variant covers to choose from. The one from Mouse Guard's David Petersen was easily dismissed, as I'm a fan of his comics, but not his version of these characters. But the other two were by Sergio Aragones and Sakai himself; how am I supposed to choose between the two of them?

Usually when presented with such an impossible choice of covers, I decide to just wait for the trade, which will most likely include all the variants in a gallery form in the back, but given that this is a rather meaty one-shot, it won't be in trade. But then, I got to thinking--maybe it should be?

Usagi first crossed paths (and swords) with a ninja turtle in 1987 anthology Turtle Soup, featuring Leonardo. The following year, Peter Laird contributed an eight-page story (once again featuring just Leonardo) in the pages of Usagi Yojimbo #10. The next year, it was Sakai's turn again, and Leonardo traveled back to Usagi's time to help him battle the Neko Ninjas in the anthology Shell Shock. And then finally, in 1992, the "Shades of Green" story arc in the newly relaunched (at Mirage) Usagi Yojimbo brought all four turtles into Usagi's world, via a rat sorcerer that looked identical to Splinter. That's over 80 pages right there, so add in this 40-page one-shot, a gallery of covers, the drawing Sakai first made of his character and one of Eastman and Laird's that lead to the collaborations and, well, that's a trade's worth right there. Most of those individual stories have all been collected somewhere or other previously, but I don't think anyone of the two groups of characters has ever collected all of the crossovers between a single set of covers before, nor using that as the organizing principle for a trade paperback collection.

The one thing I'd want is an introduction of some kind, like an interview with Sakai or perhaps Kevin Eastman, or at the very least an essay by someone knowledgeable tracking Usagi Yojimbo's history with the Turtles, as some of isn't limited to the comics (the toyline and the cartoons, as previously mentioned). After finishing this issue, I was happy to see that IDW Publisher Ted Adams actually interviewed Sakai briefly in the back of this issue about that very subject; it's not as thorough as I would have liked, but I'm still glad it was there.

After eventually deciding on the Sakai cover and then bringing it home to read last night, the desire for a trade collection became even more urgent, as the inside front cover shows postage-sized stamps images of all the various variant covers. Not only were there the three I saw in my shop, but also a couple by Kevin Eastman (with Sakai; it looks like Sakai at least penciled the Usagis on those covers, but it's hard to tell who did what at that tiny size) and a couple different covers by Sakai as well.

As for the story, it is pretty much a direct sequel to "Shades of Green." Usagi Yojimbo is asked by Kakera, the Splinter lookalike (although, as Sakai's art has changed over the decades, he looks less like his old self, or any version of Splinter) once again requests the rabbit warriors assistance in a quest to save all of Japan. Essentially, he must return a fragment of a magic stone to a particular place to properly imprison a monster, whose convulsions are threatening to destroy the country in a terrible earthquake.

Because their foes are so many, and they include Jei, Kakera uses the same spell he did in "Shades" to call forth the Turtles (If you haven't yet read that, it's kinda neat; they gather four turtles from a pond, and the spell transforms those turtles into the Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo Michelangelo. When the adventure is over, the counter-spell is cast, and the turtles become ordinary turtles again, rather than the physical components of the characters from the TMNT comics).

This is slightly different, as these aren't the original Mirage/"Volume One" Turtles, the ones who appeared in "Shades," but those from the current IDW/"Volume Five" Turtles. This is apparent when they initially attack Usagi, and he's surprised to find that Leonardo doesn't recognize him. Kakera realizes that these aren't the exact same Turtles they had met before, but are from "a different reality than the last time" he called upon them. That's a pretty elegant solution, really and, for the purposes of this story, the fact that Leo and the others have no memory of Usagi and his world are really the only things differentiating this version of the Turtles from the other (Well, that and their color-coded masks, of course).

It's a pretty straightforward story. Fight scene, delineation of the quest and a spell to summon their allies, fight scene, travel sequence, fight scene, fight scene. The last one is a pretty damn big fight scene too, with the climax coming in the form of two consecutive double-page spreads showing a single scene across its four pages (I'm not a huge fan of comic book gimmickry, but man, that would have looked amazing in a fold-out).

As with all previous Usagi Yojimbo crossovers, it's a great introduction to the work of Stan Sakai and his signature creation, and it also serves as a bit of reminder of what the Turtles used to be like, before the current, sprawling, multi-titled IDW Volume Five iteration--little in the way of continuity, leaving the focus on the art and the milieu.

And may I again state for the record: IDW should totally do a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo collection (but don't colorize it, unless you can do a good job of it, which I have seen little evidence of so far!), gathering all of the crossovers to date, along with a solid introduction and/or interviews with  or forewords by Adams and Eastman (and Laird, if possible!).

I'm pretty confident I have all of those crossovers somewhere in my longboxes, but I would certainly pay good money to have them all between the same set of covers.

Wonder Woman #27 (DC) I was a little surprised at how final this issue felt, in terms of the concluding a conflict that began last issue, which was, of course, new writer Shea Fontana's first on the series. It was my understanding that her five-issue run would comprise a single arc, and it may, but aside from a weird transition to a seemingly random cliffhanger in the last panels of the issue, this felt a lot like the second half of a two-part story. We'll see.

Artist Mirka Andolfo really knocks it out of the park here--I particularly enjoyed her flashback to a little girl version of Diana training on Themyscira, which reminded me of both that one scene from the film and Wonder Tot--and alternately depicts the title character as vulnerable, bad-ass, sexy and grimly determined (The panel where she seemingly goes into automatic as she puts her tiara on in profile? That is a great panel).

Fontana and Andolfo even manage to work in a little light bondage--a mad doctor type shackles an unconscious Wonder Woman to a table for a procedure at one point--which I'm sure William Moulton Marston would have approved of.

So far, the new (and temporary) creative team's run on Wonder Woman has certainly felt less epic and, I suppose, less important, but it also feels newer and somewhat refreshing: Rather than fussing over the character's origin story and trying to convince everyone they've come up with the way it should be told, they are just telling Wonder Woman stories. It's kinda cool to just see the book finally getting on with it after some five and a half years of "Everything you thought you knew about Wonder Woman is wrong!"

Monday, July 24, 2017

Friends don't button the top half of their shirts around friends.

That's the second-to-last page of Wonder Woman: I Am Wonder Woman, a 2010 junior reader book written by Erin K. Stein and illustrated by Rick Farley. I am fascinated with the image. Actually, I'm fascinated with just about every image in the book, but this one is my favorite. I love that Wonder Woman is just having a casual dinner with her friends Superman and Batman, who are shown training with her and helping her fight a dragon earlier in the book, and her guests are both wearing suits...but with their dress shirts unbuttoned enough to reveal the icons on their superhero costumes.

That is fantastic.

I can't imagine the exact circumstances that lead them to be half-dressed in this particular way; they are obviously somewhere private (Wonder Woman's home in Washington D.C. is my guess, based on the context), where they can be free to air out their costumes a little, but the World's Finest still feel compelled to have their civilian clothes on over their costumes. Superman looks pretty disheveled, with his tie just hanging there, while Batman has his pocket hankerchief impeccably folded.

I kind of love the fact that these two egomaniacs who spend so much of their lives wearing logos for themselves just can't bear to cover up their logos when they don't have to, particularly in the company of Wonder Woman. This is like them saying visually, constantly, "I'm Superman" and "I'm Batman."

I suppose there's another reading, though. Maybe they do that so they can help Wonder Woman tell them apart better? Raised on an island where she never had occasion to lay eyes on a man, perhaps all men look alike to Wonder Woman? And thus the two fit, dark-haired dudes wear their logos like name tags?

I'm also finding myself wondering about how breathable spandex is, because good God it must be warm wearing a bodysuit under a suit all day, and if they always wear their costumes under their suits, as that would mean that they're always just a few broken buttons away from having their secret identities exposed.

I could go on--I have lots of thoughts about what they're eating!--but I'll shut up now. If you ever want to stare at weird pictures of Wonder Woman and ponder the world in which they are illustrating though, you probably can't go wrong with this book. (Ralph Cosentino's Wonder Woman: The Story of The Amazon Princess is still the best Wonder Woman book for children, though.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Marvel's October previews reviewed

October will be a pretty big month for Marvel, as it is the beginning of their "Legacy" initiative, which, I confess, I don't quite understand.

Some of it is merely cosmetic, like the return of character boxes in the upper left-hand corners, where they used to help readers tell which comic was which when most comics were shelved on grocery store spinner racks.

They are also doing special variant covers, which are basically "cover versions" of previous famous covers, that will be recognizable to fans, like the Ben Caldwell cover for America #8above, an homage to the 1966 John Romita Amazing Spider-Man cover (Although, if we're being honest here, you have to be a pretty hardcore fan to really "get" all of these. For my part, I recognize many of the poses and the characters who appeared in the original images, but I couldn't tell you, like, which particular title, or the number of which particular book, the covers reference; I actually had to do some Googling to see what year that ASM cover was from, and if it was Steve Ditko or John Romita who drew it).

And then there's the numbering, which I don't get at all. Cognizant that the diminishing returns of relaunched books with new number one issues on an increasingly regularly basis have now gotten so diminished, they are actually a negative rather than a positive, Marvel has decided all (well, most) of their books again...? Only this time with a completely randomly high number that is essentially meaningless (Well, it's not completely random, there is a nonsensical method in which, say, to get to the numbering for Incredible Hulk, they add up all the issues of all the previous Hulk series. Which...isn't really how issue numbers work on comic books).

But those cover-versions of covers are hardly the only variant covers! The solicitations list the following types of variants:
Design Variant
How-To-Draw Cariant Cover by Chip Zdarsky
Jack Kirby 100th Anniversary Cover
LH Variant
Legacy Headshot Variant
1965 T Shirt Variant
Trading Card Variant
Now not every issues will have all six types of variants, but most of the books seem to have between one and four of 'em.

Finally, the books will also feature "Primer Pages," which sound like they are meant to be something between the "Previously In..." prose synopses you find in many Marvel comics and trades, and those two-page origin stories that ran in the back of DC's 52 series. Of all of this business, these seem like the only things that might actually entice a new reader to try jumping-on to any of these books.

Which books? Well books like these, of course...

LH Variant Cover by KRIS ANKA
DAKEN, the enigmatic son of Logan, has been kidnapped and it’s up to the ALL-NEW WOLVERINE to find him. But when the trail leads Laura, a genetic clone of the original Wolverine, back to the FACILITY where she was created and tortured, she will find new horrors waiting for her. Who are the ORPHANS OF X and what do they have in store for the children of Logan? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and art by Mark Bagley!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Perhaps the All-New Wolverine can find Daken's shirt, while she's at it!

This sounds...the exact opposite of what I thought we would be getting after I finished the most recent All-New Wolverine trade. It really seemed like Taylor was ready to move on, and let the character move on, from all this facility and cloning and torture business.

Cover by ALEX ROSS
LH Variant Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
Following the events of GENERATIONS comes the long-promised clash between the Avengers and the Champions! The countdown has started as the High Evolutionary, a twisted scientist determined to create a better world at all costs, sets the Earth on a collision course with destruction! The Avengers and the Champions are ready to meet this threat — but will their first cataclysmic clash deter them from Changing the World? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I do so love when Mike Allred draws superheroes...!

This Avengers vs. Champions story could be fun, and the two teams look surprisingly well-matched at this point. I really like when Marvel teams fight one another like this, and it's not, like, such a big deal it needs a line-wide event, just an issue or two or four of Marvel heroes hitting one another.

It will never happen, but one of my dream Marvel movies would be an Avengers/Defenders War using some iteration of the MCU's current line-ups, with maybe Namor thrown.

CABLE #150
ED BRISSON (W) • Jon Malin (A)
Cover by JON MALIN
LH Variant Cover by ROB LIEFELD
The time-traveling mutant known as Cable has made it his one-man mission to preserve all of time itself. But when a disturbance in the timestream sends Cable back to the recent past, he’ll find a mutant killer he won’t be able to handle alone. Cable’s led teams of X-Men before and he’ll have to turn to some old allies and new friends to stop this deadly threat. Get ready for the newer New Mutants! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and art by Mark Bagley!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I like "Newer Mutants" as a story title, and I think it would be an even better title for the series. I'd be much more likely to read a Newer Mutants or Cable and The Newer Mutants series than I would a Cable series.

Personally, I've grown to prefer the black costume, but Marvel neglected to ask for my input on the matter.

Cover by JESúS SAIZ
Sam Wilson – winged warrior, avian Avenger and one-time sentinel of liberty – takes to the skies again, reborn and recommitted as the fighter for freedom, THE FALCON! Engaged in an all-new assignment while training his new partner THE PATRIOT, Sam Wilson soars high and sees all. But Sam’s new mission finds him on a collision course with an enemy way out of his weight class—the demonic BLACKHEART! Writer Rodney Barnes (THE BOONDOCKS) joins artist Joshua Cassara (SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND) to challenge Sam Wilson as never before! From the stratosphere to the streets, the Marvel Universe now has a high-flying hero circling above them ready to strike! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and art by Mark Bagley!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Hrrm. Well, I can't say I like the idea of Sam Wilson giving up the shield and title of Captain America to return to being The Falcon; that seems like a major step backwards for the character, personally, and I'm not sure how it can be spun or sold within the comics so as to make it seem like a positive choice for Sam Wilson (Writer Nick Spencer often presented Wilson's being Captain America as a real pain in the ass, but more in a burden-I-proudly-bear than a God-I-hate-my-job kinda way).

This also has a domino effect to it, as new character Joaquin Torres had taken up the name of the Falcon, so if Sam takes the name back, what becomes of Joaquin...?

Unless...that's not Joaquin on the shield/hoverboard cover, is it? There's already a character named The Patriot, from Young Avengers (although I haven't seen him in so long, maybe he's dead at the moment?), but I don't think that's him; if it is, then they gave him a much, much worse costume than the one he usually rocks.

Of course, they've given Sam a much worse costume, too. The red and black color scheme is perhaps preferable to the red and white (or the green!), but the cape feels off. I think I'd prefer that, if he must quit being Captain America, he just kept that costume with a red and black color scheme, taking the star and other American signifiers off it.

Also, in some of those images it looks like The Falcon's penis has long red wings.

HULK #11
JEN WALTERS here, asking you to kindly pre-order your copy of HULK #11…or else I’ll come into your shop and rip up all of your issues of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1! That last-page reveal won’t be so revealing when it’s in shreds on the floor…What? No, I’m not deflecting. Yes, the events of the last arc WERE challenging, but I’m fine…Listen, I just told you, I AM FINE. If you keep asking me, you’ll make me mad…and you won’t like me when I’m mad…
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

So, um, what on earth is going on with Marvel's She-Hul/Hulk book, exactly? I was surprised and confused by this post , which indicated that Marvel was either changing the name of the book back to She-Hulk, or, at the very least, were collecting it in trade under She-Hulk rather than Hulk. Either way though, isn't the numbering remarkably low for the publisher's dumb-ass "legacy" initiative? I guess they folded all the (He-)Hulk book numbers into the new Incredible Hulk book, but, at the very least, shouldn't this Hulk book take on the numbering of all the various She-Hulk series there have been over the decades? Or is it excused for some reason?

Don't get me wrong, I think just-not-relaunching-constantly is a better method than randomly-adding-hundreds-of-issues-from-other-series, but it seems like Marvel is applying their legacy numbering rather haphazardly. Shocking, I know.

SINA GRACE (W) • Robert Gill (A)
ICEMAN, one of the most powerful mutants within the Marvel Universe, discovers his powers and his outlook on life evolving. He needs to lead the charge with a team who stand proudly by his side in the war to “protect those who can’t protect themselves.” Hercules, Ghost Rider, Black Widow, Darkstar, and Angel re-unite with Marvel’s fearless frozen fighter setting ICEMAN on an all-new path. As more unexpected enemies emerge, can Bobby mature into the warrior he’s destined to become? Hope he survives the experience! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

While I've certainly read plenty of comics featuring various Avengers and X-Men teams, it was the other Marvel teams I always had more affection for, teams like The Defenders and The Champions, with their ad hoc line-ups that don't make any sense at first glance...and never make more sense even when you read the comics they star in.

So I'm actually kinda jazzed about this story arc. I hope these Champions meet the other Champions at some point, too.


You know, I'm genuinely kinda surprised that Iceman is still wearing a red-and-black onesie. I know it won't last forever, as so few superhero costumes ever seem to, but that one was so dumb-looking I expected it to have a very, very short shelf life.

Tony Stark has vanished! The mystery deepens as Stark friends and foes must decide, finally, who will wield the power of Iron Man! All the contenders are in position, and all the armor is polished. There can only be one Armored Avenger! The path to the most startling Iron Man story ever begins here! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

So, Battle For The Cowl, but with Iron Man...? Oh wow, I'm sorry I even typed that sentence, because the very thought of it depresses me. Well, it can't possibly be that bad; Bendis is a better writer than Battle's Tony Daniel, and Caselli's a better artist than Battle's Tony Daniel.

I remain completely fascinated by what age Jessica and Luke's daughter Danielle is supposed to be, as she is constantly sliding up and down the spectrum between newborn and toddler, depending on who is drawing her.

This is David Mack's cover for Jessica Jones #13, by the way. So in terms of "Legacy" numbering, they seem to have left this book alone too, and not factored in the Alias issue numbers.

After the earth-shattering events of issue #23, Moon Girl needs a new partner! Lunella takes three candidates for a test drive, but who will be the lucky hero to become her newest sidekick? Guest stars galore! Ghost Rider! Daredevil! The X-Babies!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

I say Daredevil, because at least he's got a "devil" in his name. Otherwise, she should probably just go shopping around the Savage Land or Mole Man's kingdom; surely there are other dinosaurs and/or Kirby-created monsters she could team-up with.

By the time the Punisher was born in Vietnam, Frank Castle had already become a dark legend of the battlefield. Stories about him were told in whispers, if at all. Now the legendary Punisher team of Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov (PUNISHER MAX, FURY MAX) brings the first of those stories to light: the tale of Frank Castle’s first command, and his first kill. Don’t miss this epic new series!
32 PGS. (EACH)/MAX/Parental Advisory …$3.99 (EACH)

Huh. Garth Ennis. Back on The Punisher. I didn't expect to see that. I'm not unhappy that I did, though.

Variant Cover by KEVIN WADA
The RUNAWAYS are back, but are they ever, ever, ever getting back together? Did Chase and Gert’s love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional land mines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?! And should we be more worried about those, or about the shadowy scientist watching them from a distance?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Maybe I'm shallow, but what I'm most worried about is the presence of their dinosaur.

Wait, is Old Lace not hanging out with The Runaways anymore? Because, if not, Moon Girl is looking for a new dinosaur pal...

A dead angel. A silver bullet. A kept promise. For ages, the war between Heaven and Hell raged in the unseen corners of society, both sides in delicate balance that could topple if the right weapons were in the wrong hands… When an undercover angel is murdered, Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, must find the killers and punish them…But this time he won’t do it alone: A deadly team must rise from the darkest depths of the Marvel Universe to form an unholy alliance – HELLSTORM! SATANA! BLADE! They are the SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I like all these characters, so I'll look forward to this miniseries in trade. I'm not crazy about Daimon's street-clothes look here, though. No one has designed or drawn Daimon in a suit as well as Nick Dragotta in the apparently-forgotten 2011 miniseries Vengeance (Which, I should take this opportunity to remind you, is the best thing ever).

LH Variant Cover by CHRISTIAN WARD
Legacy Headshot Variant Cover by MIKE MCKONE
The U.S. Avengers have a new mission—to find their missing teammate! Squirrel Girl, Red Hulk, Iron Patriot, and more head into outer space to find Cannonball! The search leads them to strangest planet of all…Glenbrook, U.S.A.! Home — and fiefdom — of Ritchie Redwood, America’s best loved teen! What shocking events will lead the U.S. Avengers to uncover the secrets of the seemingly idyllic planet of Glenbrook whose teenagers keep disappearing? And how will this lead them to Cannonball? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and a TBA artist!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I've totally lost track of Ewing's ongoing Avengers adventures since the conclusion of his New Avengers, but I'm looking forward to catching up. This sure looks awesome.

Oh my God look at Venomized Rocket!!!!

Real quick on that Plastic Man-related announcement.

So a couple of Twitter posts eventually lead me to something official about Plastic Man's return to the DC Universe proper, from which he has been MIA since Flashpoint and The New 52 reboot (not counting, of course, an appearance in a group shot in Dan Jurgens' short-lived Justice League International, what sure as hell looked like the start of his origin during the 2013-2014 Forever Evil event and that cryptic cameo in Dark Days: The Forge #1).

It appears Plas will be part of a Fantastic Four analogue team called The Terrifics, along with super-genius Mister Terrific, Ben Grimm-like Metamorpho and the sometimes invisible girl from the Legion of Super-Heroes, Phantom Girl. That likely explains Plas' terrible-looking new costume, which is meant to be a sort of uniform that echoes that of Mister Terrific's current costume.

Allow me to go on record as hating the new Plastic Man costume. He's got one of the all-time great, there's-really-no-way-to-improve superhero costumes, but that hasn't stopped DC from redesigning anyone else's costume in the past six years, so why exempt Plas? The thing is, Plas' color-scheme is so tied to powers that changing him out of it sorta screws it up. After all, Plas' essential gag is that he can use his fantastic shape-changing powers to turn into pretty much anything, but that anything is always red, black and yellow. Characters in the comics usually don't notice, or don't notice right away, but it's a visual signal to the reader.

Now, I've never actually understood the ins-and-outs of Plas' costume, and how it seems to change with him, since he wasn't wearing it when he was doused in those stretchy chemicals or anything, so perhaps there's a very, very easy fix to this, and Mr. Terrific will just discover some unstable molecules he can use to make a new costume for Plas. We'll see. Maybe. (I honestly didn't like a single one of Jeff Lemire's DC super-comics so far, so depending on who's drawing this, I'm somewhere between completely indifferent and mildly curious about this, and if it were, say, The Elongated Man or Offspring* there instead of Plas, I wouldn't even be mildly curious.) Anyway, seeing that it's just a team uniform, than I suppose it makes some sort of sense for him to wear it rather than his traditional red.

I do kinda like the chutzpah of DC attempting to do a Fantastic Four-like book during a time that Marvel has either given up on the franchise, or are at least giving it a good, long rest until they come up with a new take, which I have to imagine a lot of folks at Marvel are thinking about more-or-less constantly. Seeing Plastic Man on "The Terrifics" reminded me of an idea I used to think about back when I was a youth.

I spent an inordinate amount of time daydreaming as a teenager and in the first few years of my twenties, as that was when I was spending large amounts of time in classes, where one's mind is almost constantly wandering. I remember thinking about a Plastic Man-lead team of former Leaguers that added up to an FF analogue team: Plas, Metamorpho, Firestorm and Gypsy. They would have been The Plastastic Four.

Then my mind wandered to an official DC/Marvel Fanastic Four/Justice League crossover, back when the two publishers could and would still crossover (Their crossovers had calmed down at that point, I think, but the JLA/Avengers one hadn't yet been published). This would have been titled JLA/FF:, with the subtitle of either The Plastastic Four, The Fanplastic Four or The Fantastic, Plastic Four.

The plot, as I remember daydreaming it, would have been that Doctor Doom had developed some new weapon with which he hoped to finally defeat the FF, and he was traveling through alternate dimensions, battling alternate versions of the Fantastic Four to "practice" before taking on the genuine article. He arrives in the DC Universe and targets the Challengers of The Unknown, and he has them on the ropes when the JLA intervenes to save the day.

By that point, Mister Fantastic has figured out what Doom was up to, and the FF also arrive in the DCU to stop him. Overwhelmed by the small army of superheroes, some of whom he's never seen the like of, Doom is defeated. The two teams socialize a while, and when Mister Fantastic expresses how much there is to learn from this new universe, the League invites him to say for a while. Plastic Man volunteers to travel to the Marvel Universe, so that the FF won't be short-handed or long-limbed, to which everyone agrees to a sort of pan-dimensional, foreign exchange student kind of situation.

It quickly becomes apparent that the FF got the short end of the stick though, as even though Plas has Mister Fantastic's powers, he doesn't have his brains or leadership ability. The League, on the other hand, couldn't be happier with their new recruit, who proves an invaluable addition to the League. And Reed is having the time of his life, comparing notes with the DCU's super-scientists, exploring that universe's most fantastic settings and phenomena and even developing theories as to why the two universes share so much in common, but in slightly altered fashion.

The ongoing gag would be that the FF can't wait to get rid of Plas, and are ready to call the exchange off almost immediately, while the League wants to hang on to Reed as long as possible, and Reed's so wrapped up in science stuff--and the luxury of not having to be so responsible for his team, and referee Ben and Johnny's constant fights, that he doesn't want to go least, not right away.

I wasn't reading any Marvel Comics at all back then, so mostly what I knew of Marvel's characters came from cartoons, reading books about comics history and comic shop osmosis, so I didn't know that Reed and Sue had a child (or was it two at that point?), which I guess would complicate that particular story, as Reed's ability to tune out his wife and teammates when he's into some gnarly new science stuff becomes kind of a dark quality when applied to his children (Although I suppose maybe even Franklin and/or Valerie woulda been into having Plas in the Baxter Building instead of their real dad? Plas seems like he would be a lot more fun for a little kid to play with, anyway).

Anyway, that's the sort of stuff I used to think about when I shoulda been taking notes on a lecture. Luckily, I was an English major, so most of my tests were essay ones on things we had to read.

*Although I suppose it's possible that that is Offspring, perhaps posing as his dad, isn't it...? With the Multiverse coming in and out of play,
and the fact that the DC heroes are aware that someone stole ten years from their timeline, it's hard to count on what will be continuity months into the future. Either
Metal or Geoff Johns' Superman Vs. Watchmen thing could always return or re-reboot current DC continuity in some way.

Friday, July 21, 2017

DC's October previews reviewed

Cover by BENGAL
Trapped in the Dark Multiverse, Batman must face his greatest fears!

Written by FRANK TIERI
As the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL rock the DC Universe, the creatures of the Dark Multiverse stand ready to invade our world! How can the World’s Greatest Heroes stop a horde of deadly beings that appear to be powerful nightmare versions of familiar figures? Find out in these special tie-in issues!

As the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL rock the DC Universe, the creatures of the Dark Multiverse stand ready to invade our world! How can the World’s Greatest Heroes stop a horde of deadly beings that appear to be powerful nightmare versions of familiar figures? Find out in these special tie-in issues!

I confess to being both a little confused and a little annoyed by the way this event is taking shape, as it seems to consist almost entirely of one-shots. I suppose that could mean that everything other than the Dark Nights: Metal mini-series proper is unimportant/optional, but somehow I doubt that (two of these above books, for example, are written by the co-writers of the Metal prequel issues, two of which have been published so far, and both of which were also marked "#1.")

Of course, DC did provide the following house ad/checklist in all of their books this week:
That's kinda helpful, I suppose, but I don't know, I get the feeling there are gonna be a lot of those that I'm not going to want to read, based on the books they appear in or the creators involved. We'll see.

Looking at the three solicited above, I'm sure what Lost could be, but the other two look like villain versions of the last round of solicitation' one-shots in which there seemed to be Batman versions of various Justice League heroes. The Batman Who Laughs is a pretty great title, and Rossmo is a hell of a Batman artist. As I'm not really a fan of Tieri, Daniel or Doomsday, The Devastator, on the other hand, looks pretty skip-able. Or will they be collected in the trade? Is this an event I should trade-wait? I don't like the Marvel-pricing on these, and since I'm not sure how to read the event yet, maybe I will end up reading it in trade next year...?

•Written by DAN ABNETT
•Art and cover by STJEPAN SEJIC
•“UNDERWORLD” part five! Desperate to penetrate the supernatural barrier surrounding Atlantis, Mera enlists the help of an ex-Atlantean magician: Garth, the Titan known as Tempest! But Aquaman’s former protégé has sworn off his mystical practices, and the magisters of the Silent School don’t take betrayal lightly. Meanwhile, as Arthur and Dolphin fight off both the armies of the Drift and Krush’s criminal empire, Vulko discovers that which the former will need to take back his throne…something forgotten!
•On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I tried about an issue and a half or so of artist Stjepan Sejic's Aquaman, and as gorgeous as it looks--in fact, I'm unsure of a time when an Aquaman monthly has looked so good--I just couldn't get into the story. It's set in Atlantis, involves Atlantean politics and palace intrigue and societal woes and, well, the retcons, deaths and resurrections, the sinkings and risings, the legacy passing down and up, the reboot--I've not only lost track of all that since the Peter David-launched 1994-2001 series concluded, but I have also apparently lost interest. I think I would have been more into this if it were set on the surface world, or at least wasn't so wrapped up in the rebooted, rectonned and rejiggered Atlantis, but I found myself looking at the pictures appreciatively, but losing interest every time I took in a few lines of dialogue.

The current Aquaman is perhaps a perfect jumping-on point for new readers, but I'm afraid I'm just not invested in the Atlantean national story as I was 15 years ago.

Written by PETER DAVID
Art and cover by ESTEBAN MAROTO
At last, the epic history of one of DC’s most iconic characters is collected! Chronicling generations of Atlantians, this epic saga reveals why Atlantis sank in the Great Deluge, tells of the ancient war between undersea cities and much more!
On sale NOVEMBER 1 • 328 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” • $49.99 US

Speaking of which...! This is a miniseries I had been trying to track down for quite a while at one point, and had wished DC would have released in trade. I started reading Aquaman with 1996's Aquaman #26, and then started following the series forward through new releases of monthly issues, and backwards through back-issue bins. This 1990 miniseries was one of the few chunks of the Peter David version of Aquaman that I could never completely track down; I probably read four issues of it, and not in the correct order. I guess I'm a little surprised DC is releasing this, if only because it would seem that it is no longer canon. Aquaman's real father being the ancient Atlantean sorcerer Orin, for example, or Kordax presenting a vision of what could and would happen to Aquaman if he pushed his telepathic powers too far to dominate others, no longer seem to be at all relevant.

That's okay, though. If I'm not reading New 52 Aquaman anymore, then the one from the David-launched volume of Aquaman and the Grant Morrison-written JLA comics can still be my Aquaman, and this trade will remain relevant to that version of the character.

•Written by TOM KING
•Art and cover by JOELLE JONES
•“A DREAM OF ME” part 1! Following his marriage proposal to Catwoman, Batman leaves Gotham City on a quest of renewal and redemption. As he travels and fights, he encounters members of his family—each disturbed by Batman’s journey, each ready to stand in his way, each ready to push back against Batman’s stubborn determination to evolve into something better than a superhero.
•On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Oh hey, look! A lady! Drawing an issue of Batman! That doesn't happen very often. What is this, the second issue in 77 years...?

The basic plot sketch here reminds me of that from 2013's Batman and Robin #19-23, where Batman was met and challenged by a different member of the Bat Family in each issue as he went about a lunatic quest to resurrect Damian from the dead, so I guess we'll how similar they end up being. If nothing else, it will inevitably have different members of the Bat Family involved! I'm a little intrigued by what Batman considers "better than a superhero" too...

While investigating the murder of a Gothamite, Batman identifies his prime suspect as Lamont Cranston…but there are two problems with that. One, Batman is not aware of Lamont’s alter ego as the master detective known as the Shadow. Two, and more importantly, Cranston seems to have died over half a century ago! The Shadow was a major influence of the Batman himself and now appears in this incredible six-issue miniseries.
Collects BATMAN/THE SHADOW #1-6 and a story from BATMAN ANNUAL #1.
On sale NOVEMBER 22 • 168 pg, FC, $24.99 US

I'm trade-waiting this, in part because of the price point and in part because the Tim Sale variant covers looked so good that I didn't want to buy the single issues when I could just wait for the trade and presumably get all the Sale variants in the back. I was a little surprised that the first issues of this didn't sell better than they did, at least according to available sales estimates because A) The first issue was really, really good and B) It's Batman, by Scott Snyder and, Shadow crossover or no, it appears to be in continuity...why isn't it selling as well as Snyder's Batman was...? Were people reading that book for the Capullo art more than the Snyder or the Batman...?

I was a little surprised to see this get a sub-title, but then I do believe a second Batman/Shadow crossover has already been announced.

Written by SEAN MURPHY
Art and cover by SEAN MURPHY
Variant cover by SEAN MURPHY
In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City. He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the “Clown Prince of Crime” but “white knight”? Never. Until now…
Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as “Jack,” sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman!
Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero—and which the villain?
On sale OCTOBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 7, $3.99 US • RATED T+

Sean Murphy is a hell of a Batman artist, so this should be worth taking a look at, regardless of whether the plot is intriguing or how well Murphy handles the script.

There's already a very, very minor Batman villain named The White Knight--I think he's only had the one appearance, in that one Batman and Robin story arc where we learned that Batman can shoot the tips of his ears off like little missiles--but I guess that's just the subtitle of this series, and not the name this good guy version of The Joker will be going by.

Written by MIKE W. BARR
Collecting a Batman classic in hardcover for the first time! A close friend of Bruce Wayne introduces him to Rachel Caspian, and the two quickly develop a romantic relationship. But in the midst of love, Rachel’s father decides to come out of retirement as the Reaper, Gotham City’s first vigilante!
On sale NOVEMBER 22 • 176 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” • $29.99 US

Confession: I have never actually read this story. I've long had the impression that, despite the title, it was more-or-less murky in terms of Batman's official continuity, and it definitely seems like the whole Batman-flirted-with-firearms-early-in-his-career aspect has been long ago retconned away.

I find the cover of this particular collection interesting, as it features Alan Davis art rather than that of Todd McFarlane. Is that, perhaps, a reflection of how much the heat of one-time red-hot artist Todd McFarlane has diminished over the decades? Because, for the longest time, whenever I heard anyone discussing this particular series, it was always in the context of "The Batman story that Todd McFarlane drew."

Clayface is on the loose! How can Wonder Woman protect Cassie Sandsmark, Donna Troy and their friends and family from danger if Clayface can disguise himself as anyone in the camp—including Wonder Woman herself?!
On sale OCTOBER 18 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

The current iteration of Bombshells, which I'm still reading regularly, has gotten a little stale, particularly as Bennett has seemed to stop trying to tie it to the specifics of the war and instead gone off on some (admittedly charming) tangents. So I'm kind of looking forward to this next iteration, which looks like it will be a bit more focused on particular characters and particular storylines, rather than the sweeping cast of characters that Bennett has been juggling. I'm also looking forward to Sauvage returning to the Bombshells-iverse after a way-too-long absence. And I'm actually even looking forward to seeing Donna Troy, given how cool her Bombshells costume looks. Why, I can't remember the last time I liked a Donna Troy costume that much! Maybe...War of The Gods...?

Team Allred's Bug comic is another promising looking miniseries that I've been anxiously trade-waiting. Look at that cover for its final issue. Damn, Mike Allred...

Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art and cover by MAURICET
From man to man’s best friend! Mutt has undergone a shocking transformation and unstabilium is to blame! Can he and Dick find a cure back home in the United States? Or will Air Force General Harrier personally make sure the guys are grounded for good? Meanwhile, the president holds a very important press conference…trust us, you won’t want to miss it!
On sale OCTOBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, 2 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

When this was first announced, all I saw was the above cover image and the headline and, before even clicking through to see who the creators were, I thought to myself, "The only way I would possibly be interested in reading this comic book is if Garth Ennis were writing it..."

And it turns out he is! I guess when I see airplanes in a comic book, I just naturally think of Garth Ennis...?

Sculpted by DAVE CORTES
Aquaman and Mera, first couple of Atlantis, are portrayed in this romantic new statue designed by Pat Gleason, illustrator of their epic adventures in Sub Diego and beyond.
Limited Edition of 5,000
Measures Approximately 16.32” Tall
$250.00 US • On Sale FEBRUARY 2018
Allocations May Occur

I don't normally have anything at all to say about DC's non-comics offerings in their solicitations, but this statuette caught my attention simply because I rather vividly remember the cover that it is based on. The reason?
Gleason seemed to have forgot to draw the bottom half of Aquaman on the cover.

My best guess was that his legs were behind him, and that he was meant to be swimming up behind Mera in a horizontal position, but that doesn't really square with the way his upper body was drawn.

An all-new, all-creepy one-shot set in the DC Universe—just in time for Halloween! Martha Kent fights for her life against a creature from a spacecraft that lands in front of her farmhouse. A young woman is possessed by the spirit of a murderous Amazon warrior. The last surviving member of the Justice League faces down a horror beyond imagining. All these and more are what happens when the most exciting new voices in contemporary horror fiction are paired with the talents of some of the greatest artists in the DC firmament! And if that isn’t enough to scare you, there’s Keith Giffen, too.
ONE-SHOT • On sale OCTOBER 25 • 80 pg, FC, $9.99 US • RATED T+

Not being much of a prose fiction reader, I can't tell you whether or not "the most exciting new voices in contemporary horror fiction" really are the all that exciting or not, but I really love the work of artists Rags Morales and Bilquis Evely, and that's a hell of a Kaluta cover, isn't it?

It's hard to believe we're at the point where an 80-page giant really costs $10; at that point, they really should just go ahead and take out the ads, add a spine and sell it as an original trade paperback. That's the price of the first volume of an Image series, and just about what you would pay for a manga volume these days.

Written by NEAL ADAMS
Art and cover by NEAL ADAMS
“Journey into Death” part one! When we last left Deadman, the true story had barely begun! Deadman’s death was unsolved, and his fate was intertwined with that of his parents and siblings. Even the Dark Night Detective couldn’t solve the mysteries of Boston Brand’s fantastic secrets! Now, Batman is back, confronting Deadman about who was really behind his death. Was Boston Brand’s assassination a test for the League of Assassins? Why does Batman think Ra’s al Ghul was involved? And why does Deadman need the help of Zatanna, Phantom Stranger, Dr. Fate and the Spectre to defend Nanda Parbat?
ADVANCE SOLICITED • On sale NOVEMBER 1 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6

Based on Neal Adams' recent Batman and Superman mini-series, both of which I started reading but just couldn't force myself all the way through, I think it's safe to assume this will be somewhere between rather weird and completely bonkers.

Glow-in-the-dark covers are, incidentally, the only cover gimmick I ever actually liked.

Variant cover by DAN PANOSIAN
A new series inspired by the DC Collectibles statue line! It’s been decades since Governor Lex Luthor turned Gotham City into a modern utopia, saving his people from the devastation that made the rest of the continent a wasteland. But his city isn’t paradise for everyone. If the Lexes network misfires, and a citizen wakes up and steps out of line, the Bat and his minions are brutal in restoring the status quo. So when young Kara Gordon, whose ridealong tech has never functioned optimally, rushes headlong into the Freescape, she’s shocked to find Gotham City Garage—where new friends might become family, if she lives long enough.
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+ • DIGITAL FIRST

Gotham City Garage strategist Barda Free is determined not to let the new kid slow them down. But when her team rolls into trouble in Clayface Valley, will Kara be the only thing standing between them and sudden death?
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+ • DIGITAL FIRST

Part of me sees this and thinks, "A comic book series based on some dumb collectible statuette line? Who wants that?" But then another part of me reminds that first part that I just finished reading my 31st consecutive issue of DC Comics Bombshells. (And before that, there was Ame-Comi Girls, which had a few bright spots, but wasn't actually all that good, and I'm pretty sure I dropped it well before it was canceled.)

I know almost nothing about these, other than they involve motorcycles. I just went to Google Image, and all I saw were the Wonder Woman one, and then ones featuring Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. It looks like Harley has hyenas riding in a sidecar? That's kinda cool.

I'll try it, and hope it's more along the lines of Bombshells than Ame-Comi Girls.

•Art and cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL
•Variant cover by MIKE GRELL
•“THE TRIAL OF TWO CITIES” part one! With the Ninth Circle crippled by Green Arrow and the Justice League, the Emerald Archer returns to a Star City ripe for a resistance. But Ollie Queen has one pesky thing to deal with first: his trial for murder!
•On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC • $2.99 US • RATED T+

What? Now Green Arrow is on trial for murder? Geez, what is with these archery-based superheroes and their murder trials?

Free college tuition for all Riverdale residents?! That’s the plan—after the town drains the wetlands that lie between it and Gotham City and then builds a new campus. The only snag? A certain botany-obsessed super-villain. When Poison Ivy enlists her bestie, Harley, to kidnap both Veronica Lodge, daughter of Riverdale’s most important citizen, and her friend Betty, she’s counting on some assistance—and the mayhem that ensues will probably work as well!

DC Comics and Archie are proud to present the adventure of a lifetime for all these best pals. Their hijinks are brought to you by the real-life team-up of Paul Dini (HARLEY QUINN) and Marc Andreyko (WONDER WOMAN ’77), with art by Laura Braga (DC BOMBSHELLS)!
On sale OCTOBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T

Well this is...unexpected. If DC and Archie Comics were going to do another crossover, their last being 2010's Tiny Titans/Little Archie by the Tiny Titans team of Art Baltazar and Franco, one might expect them to do something more obvious, like Archie Meets the Teen Titans or Justice League/Super Teens or, my preferred pitch, Archie Andrews and Jimmy Olsen pulling a prince-and-the-pauper thing for a Superman crossover.

Of course, the fact that this isn't an obvious crossover makes it infinitely more interesting than a Batman/Archie crossover might be (But admit it: You'd like to see Bruce Wayne and Hiram Lodge comparing financial portfolios and Alfred and Smithers in a butler battle). There's not a whole hell of a lot to go on so far, of course, but I like Amanda Conner's cover a whole lot, and feel pretty confident that a writing team like Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko could pull this particular comic off as well as anyone. Braga's a hell of an artist, although I have to admit that, stylistically at least, I woulda preferred someone with a bit flatter, more Dan DeCarlo-esque, old-school Archie art-iness in their design sensibility (If it were up to me and it weren't impossible, I'd kinda like Derek Charm to draw all Archie comics).

I'm somewhat bemused to hear that Riverdale is apparently a suburb of Gotham City. Apparently two cities famous for not being located in any particular state are in the same state, whichever state that might be.

Written by RENAE DE LIZ
Art and cover by RENAE DE LIZ and RAY DILLON
In the beginning there was only chaos. But Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, saw a better future—and eventually her daughter would be destined to bring that new world to life! Before her ultimate fate unfolds, though, Diana of Themyscira must learn the important lessons of an Amazonian childhood!
On sale NOVEMBER 15 • 288 pg, FC, $19.99 US

This is the comic I recommend to any fans of the Wonder Woman film who are so enamored of it they want to try reading a Wonder Woman comic. Sure, this is set during World War II rather than World War I, but then, no Wonder Woman comics are set during WWI, really; that's one of the things that made the film so distinct. This is, however, an excellent comic book, completely self-contained and broadly features some of the same characters and situations of the film.

That DC included a "Vol. 1" in the title gives me hope--perhaps groundless hope, but hope nonetheless--that despite what has been said publicly, De Liz and DIllon will get to make more Wonder Woman comics featuring this version of the character (I would love to see their Wonder Woman teaming up with Plastic Man and/or the Justice Society of America, for example; Plas appears on the cover of a comic book in, like, one panel of the series, and I believe there's a verbal mention of the JSA).

Spoiler alert: She's foe.

Written by RAY FAWKES
After a failed mission to raid a tomb in the Israeli Desert, war veteran Rory Harper is plagued by the death of his partners. As Rory battles his guilt back in Gotham City, he discovers that what was in that tomb has followed him home, and it’s about to change his life. But as Rory begins his journey, an evil is invading Gotham City, and it wants what he’s discovered. A hero is born in this visionary reimagining of the Ragman mythos by writer Ray Fawkes and artist Inaki Miranda!
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T

Ragman is one of those superhero characters that I really like a whole lot for rather superficial reasons--his name, his costume, his powers, his milieu--even though I would be hard-pressed to point you towards any particular stories featuring the character that are actually really great comic book stories.

With only an image and a few sentences of text, it's hard to speculate much about this comic, but if that cover image is any indication, he won't be wearing the Joe Kubert-designed costume, but...just mummy-like wrappings? (Based on that image, it looks like that could be a redesign of The Unknown Soldier, Negative Man or Hush, rather than Ragman.) It seems like the Jewish mysticism angle might be gone, although there is mention of a tomb in "the Israeli Desert," so maybe it is Jewish mysticism that makes, like, a direct flight from Israel to America, without a stop in Prague, or anywhere else in a Jewish/European tradition? Finally, the protagonist has a different surname, but then, maybe that is part of the story.

Like I said, hard to speculate. I'm not filled with much confidence though, and this looks like the sort of reboot-for-reboot's sake of, say, The New 52's Ray or Human Bomb rather than, say, the Grant Morrison-written reboots of Animal Man or The Doom Patrol.

We'll see. Someday. In trade. From the library.

(I do like that Guillem March cover, though; I'd be a lot more interested if March were doing the interiors too. Other good Ragman artists? Kelley Jones, who drew a pretty great Batman/Ragman crossover during his run with Doug Moench on Batman, and John McCrea, who briefly drew Ragman in a Day of Judgement-related special.)

Taking place after the events of BATMAN: DARK VICTORY, this epic tale recounts the beginning of Dick Grayson’s career as Robin, the Boy Wonder. The devious Two-Face is very interested in recent reports that Batman now has a teenage sidekick. Indeed, Bruce Wayne has taken young Dick Grayson under his tutelage as Robin the Boy Wonder! Alfred Pennyworth is unsure if the inclusion of Dick Grayson into Batman’s nightly adventures might not end up in a disaster, but the butler cannot deny the positive influence the lighthearted boy has on his master Bruce Wayne.
Collects ROBIN: YEAR ONE #1-4.
On sale FEBRUARY 21 • 208 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875” $34.99 US

Just a reminder, if you have somehow managed to never read this story, you should, as it's really rather great. It's Dick Grayson's post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint origin story as Robin, by Chuck Dixon, who is probably history's greatest Robin writer, and Scott Beatty, who collaborated with Dixon on the similar Batgirl: Year One. The art, by the way, is dynamite, as you can see from the cover image. I'm not sure that this hardcover is the best way to read the story, as DC published a Batgirl/Robin Year One collection a couple of years back that would have given you two great stories for less than the price of this collection, but, again, if you haven't read this, you totally should.

I always found it amusing that DC used this title, though, as Robin: Year OneBatman: Year Three in terms of telling the story of how Dick Grayson became Robin and, to a certain extent, Batman: Dark Victory, which is actually even name checked in that solicit. (Dark Victory, please recall, contains my favorite two pages of Jeph Loeb's comics-writing career.)

Art by MAC REY
Variant cover by MAC REY
In the Golden Age of television, Ruff and Reddy were on top of the entertainment world…until the world turned, and they were forgotten. Now, Ruff is a washed-up television actor. Reddy is a clerk in an upscale grocery store. Can a hungry young agent convince the two one-time partners to make a comeback—and convince the world that it wants to see the famously infamous dog-and-cat comedy team back in the spotlight? Don’t miss it if you can!
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

So a few months back DC did some pretty weird crossover series involving some pretty random DC characters (Booster Gold, Adam Strange, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, The Suicide Squad) and some equally random Hanna-Barbera characters (The Flintstones, Jonny Quest and others from the Future Quest comic, Space Ghost, The Banana Splits). They were...odd, but one thing they all had in common was fairly strong lead stories and fairly poor back-ups, featuring dark, adult-focused reboots of the stars of various Hanna-Barbera cartoons, mostly in the spirit of the "Hanna-Barbereboot" suite of books (all but one of which have been canceled). Each of those back-ups ended with a "To Be Continued," but it was unclear where. Well, this looks like it will be the first of them to get it's own series.

I...don't hold out much hope for it, as this pair of characters was so obscure I had to Google them to figure out who the fuck they were. So, um, good luck with that DC! I'm sure having Howard Chaykin, who is currently cresting a wave of goodwill and positive PR, attached will help sell four dollar comics featuring a dark, gritty take on those barely-remembered characters immensely...!

Written by K. PERKINS
“SUPERMAX” part two! It’s a clash of incredible power as Superwoman and Supergirl struggle to contain the might of Maxima! But with Maxima’s origin revealed, and a startling new villain looming on the horizon, do our heroes actually need to save Maxima…or be saved by her?
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

Honestly, every time I read a new batch of DC Comics' solicits, I expect to see this one with the words "FINAL ISSUE" in there somewhere, but it's still going.

Here's a pretty great Suicide Squad cover by Stjepan Sejic. Sadly, he's just providing the cover, while someone else handles the interiors.

Cover by DAN MORA
“HARD TARGET”! Still recovering from the events of DARK DAYS: METAL, the Teen Titans decide they need a day off…but their plans are soon interrupted when the one and only Green Arrow demands that his younger sister Emiko join the team! Are the Teen Titans about to get a new member? Or will Emiko Queen be Damian’s undoing?
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I really like that cover, and I'm really rather looking forward to seeing Andolfo draw the Titans. I'm not terribly excited about the prospect of Emiko Queen showing up, as Green Arrow is another character, like Aquaman, that I've lost pretty much all interest in after the Flasphpoint rejiggering (I have noted the art on Green Arrow has been pretty superlative since "Rebirth," however, and I do like that GA grew his beard back). So I don't really know and/or care who Emiko Queen is. That said, DC's super-teen teams--be they the Titans or Young Justice, in comics or in cartoons--traditionally have an archer on the line-up, so I suppose it must make some sense to at least consider some teen archer from Green Arrow's corner of the DCU.

“DARK DESTINY” part three! The Pandora Pits’ secrets start to be revealed as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman team with Constantine, Deadman, Zatanna, Red Hood, Artemis and Bizarro to attempt to close off the pits forever, but the dark energies are starting to corrupt the heroes.
On sale OCTOBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

This is another DC comic I keep expecting to hear is canceled. The main selling point of the book, I thought, was the artwork by Francis Manapul, and if he's not attached, then I'm not sure what the attraction is to a book that stars one-half of the current Justice League line-up.

“CHILDREN OF THE GODS” part two! Wonder Woman must find out who is targeting Zeus’ children before their sights are set on her! What kind of monster has the power to murder a demigod?!
On sale OCTOBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

“TIMES PAST” part one! Grail, the daughter of Darkseid, has been on a quest to restore her father to his full power and glory after the events of Darkseid War! She must challenge children of the gods to steal their energy for the almighty Darkseid. Will any hero of myth be able to withstand her onslaught?!
On sale OCTOBER 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

I question the wisdom of tying the next Wonder Woman arc directly into the long-past (and now mostly irrelevant!) "Darkseid War" of Justice League, but it looks like the best places to read comics featuring Wonder Woman will be those set outside the DCU proper (Bombshells United, for example, there's that Gotham Garage that may or may not be any good, and I just saw on Twitter there will be more Wonder Woman: Earth One OGNs).

I don't care for Hitch's cover. I mean, it's cool that she stole Hercules' lion hat, I guess, but it looks like she killed the hell out of those various mythological monsters, and I'm not a big fan of a Wonder Woman who kills the hell out of everything constantly.

Art by H.G. PETER
In these Golden Age tales that introduced Wonder Woman to the world, Diana heads into adventure and battles the evil of German operative Paul Van Gunther, the god Mars and more in stories from the pages of ALL STAR COMICS #8, SENSATION COMICS #1-14, WONDER WOMAN #1-3 and COMIC CAVALCADE #1.
On sale NOVEMBER 22 • 392 pg, FC, $24.99 US

Now here's the really good Wonder Woman stuff...! I'll have to consult the volumes of Wonder Woman Chronicles I have to see if I actually already have all of these in a different format or not--and yeah, it's kind of irritating that DC dropped the Chronicles format just to start over with a new format--but whether I end up needing this on my bookshelf or not, Marston and Peter's entire body of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics should be readily available to new readers for, well, forever, really (Ditto the original, Golden Age comics starring Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel and Plastic Man).