Monday, September 25, 2017

DC's December previews reviewed

Say, did you know that DC released the solicitations for the comics they intend to publish last Monday, a full week ago? I completely missed them, which came as something of a shock to me, as I used to live for those things. Even before I started blogging, I enjoyed devouring those things, and looking forward to what was coming up a few months hence.

The fact that days and days can pass without my even noticing the solicitations these days probably speaks to my growing disinterest in monthly super-comics, sure, but it also speaks to the sorry state of online comics coverage. I used to read Comic Book Resources and Comics Alliance daily, and so I would inevitably see the solicits there. CA is, sadly, no more, and if something somewhere has sprung up to replace it, I haven't heard of it yet. And CBR is...a lot different than it was when I was contributing to the Robot 6 blog they hosted. While I'm sure there are still a lot of fine people who contribute there, it's gotten noticeably more Hollywood-focused and, well, Wizard-y. Plus the ads generally make reading it a chore.

I mainly get my comics news now from Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter, sometimes The Beat when I'm bored (I mostly enjoy the month-to-month sales analysis there) and Twitter, which is where it seems that most comics news comes from these days anyway.

This is a long way of saying that basically Tom Spurgeon needs to start running solicitations on his site. No, it's really a long way of saying, "Damn, this monthly feature I do is late as hell this month!" The weird thing, I'm not sure that anyone noticed, or at least no one raised their fists and demanded to know why I hadn't written "DC's December previews reviewed" and "Marvel's December previews reviewed" yet. Which lead to a slight existential dilemma--regarding the exist of these posts, not my own existence, of course--should I keep doing them...?

I mean, I probably will, because I pretty much write about everything comics-related I read these days as a reflex, and doing so is a good form of procrastination that keeps me from writing the things I should be writing, but, anyway, I was thinking about it...

Anyway, here is your very, very late look at the comics DC plans to publish in December...

Written by ALAN GRANT
Following the devastating earthquake that rocked Gotham City, Anarky becomes one of thousands of refugees streaming out of the ruined city. On the hunt to find his missing parents, Anarky must confront the possibility that his biological father is none other than the Joker!
Collects ANARKY #1-8.
On sale JANUARY 17 • 200 pg, FC, $19.99 US • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7534-1

Say, have you enjoyed Anarky Lonnie Manchin's recent appearances in Detective Comics? Really? You have? Well then I suppose there's a pretty good chance you didn't read this rather short-lived 1999 ongoing series by the character's creators, which have him in a much cooler costume--a mild-ish, better-fitting version of his original costume, which served a particular function in the first story in which he appeared--and demonstrates that he's actually a much smarter character well-versed in political theory and philosophy than the guy who showed up recently in 'Tec.

The series began after a 1997 waters-testing miniseries, during which Anarky moved from Gotham City to operate on a world (or worlds, really) stage, becoming more an outlaw superhero than an outlaw urban vigilante. When he learns of a monstrous threat to the Earth, he seeks to warn the JLA, who are skeptical of him, and then attempts to take matters into his own hands, by stealing Kyle Rayner's Green Lantern ring (which lead to a GL redesign of his costume, which is one of the earliest such instances I can think of in which a superhero gets a Green Lantern ring that essentially amalgamates his regular costume with a Corps-specific design; 1994's Batman: In Darkest Knight did this to a degree with Batman's costume, then whiffed when other heroes got GL rings, essentially just giving them GL logos on their regular costumes).
From there, Anarky comes into conflict with Ra's al Ghul, participates in the Day of Judgement crossover (which means we get to see The Haunted Tank in action)
and, for the series finale, wrestles with the knowledge that he real father is one of Batman's worst enemies...or at least, one of Alan Grant's favorites from among Batman's worst enemies.
Given how short the series was, it's kind of a disappointment that DC isn't also including the four-part miniseries, which featured appearances by Etrigan The Demon, Darkseid and, of course, Batman (Breyfogle draws one of the all-time best Etrigans, in my estimation). Of course, that was collected in a trade format by itself once before, but I'd bet you $5 it's out of print at the moment...

Anyway, I heavily endorse this product, as it is the work of one of my favorite Batman creative teams, the all-around best Batman artist and it stars one of my favorite Batman characters...

Speaking of great Batman artists from the 1990s, this is the cover for Graham Nolan, Chuck Dixon and company's Bane: Conquest #8. Damn, check out that Batman in the lower right corner...

Variant cover by KEVIN EASTMAN
The team behind the smash-hit crossover series is back to reunite the Dark Knight and the Heroes in a Half-Shell. When Donatello goes looking for a new mentor to help him improve his fighting skills, he opens a doorway to another reality, hoping to summon the Turtles’ one-time ally, Batman. But instead, he gets sent to Gotham City and someone else comes through the open portal—Bane! Suddenly, there’s a new gang boss in New York and he’s out to unite all the other bad guys under him. Can Donnie get back in time and bring Batman with him to help his brothers before Bane causes irreparable destruction? Co-published with IDW.
On sale DECEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I assume the first of these sold pretty damn well, as this is the third one, and it's a direct sequel to the original, with the exact same creative team. It is still not at all what I want and, in fact, that this is a sequel to the original makes it even more disappointing, as there is just so much ground to cover with these characters. The number one thing I want from any crossover between these characters is to see Batman artists past and present (Tim Sale, Kelley Jones, Graham Nolan, Jim Lee, Riley Rossmo, John Romita Jr, etc) drawing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and TMNT artists past and present (Jim Lawson, Eric Talbot, Mark Martin, Sophie Campbel, etc) drawing Batman and company.

Seeing comics like this exist makes me wish I was a professional comics writer who could pitch publishers, even though the industry around the medium can seem so toxic, because man, there are very, very few things I would like to see happen exactly as I want them than a Batman/TMNT crossover...!

The crossover just before this one was the IDW-spearheaded Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series, which was a crossover between the Batman: The Animated Series version of the Batman characters and the latest cartoon version of the TMNT characters. It wasn't great, but it was at least as good as the Tynion/Williams series, and had some memorable moments. More importantly, it was something different, and this particular series sounds like it will be anything but that.

Art and cover by TONY S. DANIEL and DANNY MIKI
Ethan “Elvis” Avery just wanted to serve his country. Instead, he’s been changed into a monster! Tasked as the government’s own living, breathing, ticking time bomb, Ethan retains no control when the monster takes over. Cheaper than a nuclear warhead and twice as effective, Ethan fights to rein in the damage he unleashes when the beast inside him springs free for one hour a day. With everyone around him in danger, Ethan struggles to contain the DAMAGE he inflicts on the DC Universe.
On sale DECEMBER 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • FOLDOUT COVER • RATED T+

Yikes! Well, I guess that's one way to keep the "Damage" trademark, but this looks the opposite of promising. In fact, it looks awfully Hulk-y, doesn't it...?

DC Comics’ finest talents have assembled to bring you a holiday special like you’ve never seen before! Join Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash as they deliver powerful messages of hope like only The Worlds Greatest Super-Heroes can! Plus: Sgt. Rock fights the Nazis on Hanukah, the Teen Titans take on the literal ghost of Christmas past, and Swamp Thing battles that creeping feeling of existential dread! And don’t miss the legendary Denny O’Neil’s return to comics with an all-new Batman story!
ONE-SHOT • On sale DECEMBER 6 • 96 pg, FC, $9.99 US • RATED T

These are almost always somewhat disappointing, but I love them nevertheless. That's a pretty swell cover by Kubert, at least in conception--I think he should maybe take another pass on The Flash there, though. "Swamp Thing battles that creeping feeling of existential dread!" sound a little too...real for a Christmas special, doesn't it? If there is a scene where someone's Christmas tree turns into Swamp Thing, and he steps out of the tree skirt, gradually brushing off ornaments and lights but forgetting the fact that he's wearing a star on his head like a hat, I'll be fine with it though.

Written by PHIL HESTER
Art and cover by STEVE RUDE
For years, archaeologist turned superhero Ray Randall has aided Inter-Nation in their quest to make the world a safer place as the one and only Birdman! But when a group of ancient gods reemerge to destroy everything in their path, Birdman must choose between following them or fighting them for the fate of the planet. Can Birdman and his falcon companion, Avenger, find out who’s behind this resurrection before it’s too late? Don’t miss the first part of this epic three-issue adventure!
On sale DECEMBER 20 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

Okay, yes it's weird that DC Comics has Steve Rude willing to draw superhero comics for them, and the particular superhero he is drawing is fucking Birdman instead of, you know, pretty much anyone else. That's fine. One takes one's Steve Rude-drawn superheroes wherever one can find them.

I have no idea what on Earth is going on here on Guillem March's cover to Gotham City Garage #5, but I'm into it.

Written by JAMES TYNION IV • Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
“THE END OF FOREVER” part one! There is a secret history to the DC Universe of heroes who have protected humanity from the shadows since the dawn of time…and who can live forever. Enter the Immortal Men! The team, headed by the Immortal Man, has waged a secret war against the House of Conquest for countless years—but Conquest has dealt a devastating blow. When their base of operations, known as the Campus, is savagely attacked, the Immortal Men must seek out their last hope—an emerging metahuman known as Caden Park! Caden’s emerging powers may be able to ensure the Immortal Men’s survival—but will Conquest get to him first?
On sale DECEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • FOLDOUT COVER • RATED T+

As with the above Damage, this one looks like it's going to be a very, very heavy lift to get over in the current market. A title about DC's many, many immortals, who play a sort of collective role in Dark Nights: Metal, could be compelling, particularly if it spans history, real and DCU, but there's a lot of x-factors here.

The fact that Jim Lee is drawing should help a lot--and I think that's the best way to deploy Lee, honestly, putting him on title that need the help--but if Immortal Men follows the trend that the "Rebirth" relaunch of Suicide Squad did, Lee won't be on the title for too long, and sales will react accordingly.

Art and cover by PETE WOODS
Variant cover by NICK BRADSHAW
“LOST” part one! When the Justice League is confronted by three concurrent threats, a sleep-deprived Batman makes a crucial error that causes an unthinkable—and potentially unforgivable—tragedy. Legendary Eisner Award-nominated writer Christopher Priest (Deathstroke) is joined by artist Pete Woods for a brand-new must-read Justice League story like you’ve never seen before!
On sale DECEMBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Art and cover by PETE WOODS
Variant cover by NICK BRADSHAW
“LOST” part two! Still greatly affected by the shocking events of the previous issue, the Justice League attempts to regain its balance when an alien infestation threatens the Earth. But nothing can prepare them for an attack closer to home…one that will reveal devastating truths about the League itself!
On sale DECEMBER 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Fun fact: Way back in 1999, Christopher Priest wrote a two-part story arc in Legends of The DC Universe starring the Justice League of America, and it was one of my favorite non-Morrison, non-Waid League stories from back then. It was sharp, creative, fun and funny, and I remember thinking--hell, maybe even writing a letter to the editor back then--that Christoper Priest should really do more Justice League stories.

Well, it's about time...!

I'm not sure if this is going to end up being a fill-in or if Priest is the new writer for the book, but I'll be buying this arc either way (Here's another fun fact: I haven't bought an issue of Justice League since...I forget, actually. Johns' second arc, maybe...?). Priest is, on a technical level, one of the publisher's better writers at the moment. Shouldn't someone as good as him be writing the book that, by all rights, should be their flagship title, seeing as it stars like six of their biggest, most popular, most recognizable heroes...?

I still think Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo should take over Justice League following Metal, but I'll gladly settle (or should I say "settle"...?) for Priest and anyone-who-is-not-a-poor-artist. Woods is good. But do you know who is even better? Nick Bradshaw. Why the fuck is DC wasting Bradshaw on variant covers--as they have been for a while now--instead of interiors?!

Another great, crazy-looking Guillem March cover, this one for Ragman, who still just looks like a mummy on the covers, which is kind of a waste of an incredible character design.

In 1984, legendary writer/artist Jack Kirby returned to DC to illustrate tales of the Justice League of America in the pages of SUPER POWERS. At last, DC collects the first two SUPER POWERS miniseries in a single collection! These tales pit the Justice League of America—Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and more—against the forces of Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips. These stories are the only time in his long career that Kirby would draw the Justice League, elevating these stories to legendary status.
Collects SUPER POWERS Vol. 1 #1-5 and SUPER POWERS Vol. 2 #1-6.
On sale JANUARY 17 • 272 pg, FC, $39.99 US • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7140-4

This trade is pretty much a literal dream come true for me. I mean, in 2007 I wrote a post about how a collection of Kirby's Super Powers comics would essentially be a dream trade. It took DC a decade to get around to it--Good God in heaven, I have been blogging here for ten years now? And I still haven't gotten around to buying my own domain name?--but better late than never!

Hey, speaking of Super Powers, does anyone know what became of Tom Scioli's Super Powers back-ups in Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye...?

In the aftermath of the “Death of Superman” and the return of the Man of Steel, the new Superboy moves to Hawaii! But as his powers develop, the young clone of Superman must learn to be a hero as he battles villains including Sidearm and Knockout, and faces the effects of the dread clone plague!
Collects issues #0-11.
On sale JANUARY 3 • 296 pg, FC, $24.99 US • ISBN: 978-1-4012-7513-6

Geoff Johns has a fairly well-deserved reputation for rehabilitating Silver Age and Bronze Age DC superheroes who lost their way--Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Hawkman, Flash Barry Allen, all the characters that weaved in and out of his run on JSA--but one character he did no favors for was poor Superboy. The character's book changed direction a lot over the years, and by the time Johns became the character's main writer in the pages of Teen Titans, he started doing some darker, dumber things with the character, slowly draining all of the joy out of him until the cocky, smart-ass teen was a fairly dour downer.

I don't know what became of him after Flashpoint's reboot, as he mainly appeared in Teen Titans, the one New 52 book so bad that it actually hurt my eyes to look at, but with Superman and Lois Lane's son Jon using the Superboy name, I doubt we'll be seeing any iteration of this Superboy any time soon.

Unless we pick up this trade, which I likely will (as with Robin, my reading of Superboy was sporadic, and I basically read the issues that looked good to me, rather than reading it monthly).

Based on the solicitation, this is starting with the first issue of the post-"Reign of The Supermen" Superboy series, wherein Superboy picks maybe the nicest place in the United States of America to set up shop as resident superhero: Hawaii. He'll fight Knockout, The Scavenger, (the original and best conception of) King Shark, Parasite, Sidearm, the original Superboy (in the Zero Hour tie-in) and since they are apparently including the Milestone Comics/Superman franchise crossover "World's Collide," he'll also meet Rocket and Static.

If it sells well enough that they keep going, the next volume will include Superboy's first meeting with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, he and some of his villains temporarily joining Amanda Waller's then little-seen Suicide Squad, a team-up with mostly-forgotten "New Blood" Loose Cannon, and an appearance by the Legion of Super-Heroes.


Greg said...

Well, I like these posts. I just ignore Previews until I get the catalog at my store (which will be this week), so I have no idea when they go up on-line, so I wouldn't bug you about it because I wouldn't even know they're out!

Brian said...

“Sgt. Rock fights the Nazis on Hanukah”

When I read that phrase, I immediately conceived of the idea of a holiday special where every story takes place in or around battle, calling it the WAR ON CHRISTMAS SPECIAL...

The Krottage said...

Keep doing them. Like the highlights, especially DC of which I follow nothing but Batman.

Hdefined said...

"This trade is pretty much a literal dream come true for me. I mean, in 2007 I wrote a post about how a collection of Kirby's Super Powers comics would essentially be a dream trade."

But aren't you upset that DC has this "weird obsession" with profiting off the work of Jack Kirby? Why is it fine for DC to reprint Kirby stories and base new stories off his old ones, but not with Alan Moore?

Bram said...

It's not 'til about now when I'm working on the preorder picks newsletter that I catch up on your Previews reviews, so don't take it personally; I enjoy your take on them.

Kevin McHugh said...

This is the only place I come for previews, so I would never know if they're late!