Saturday, November 14, 2020

DC's February previews reviewed

Yikes, is it that time of the month again already? Apparently so. February of 2021 will look an awful lot like January of 2021 at DC Comics, as the Future State event continues. Some of the miniseries that began in January will continue into February, and there's at least one new one-shot. It's all very hard to pre-judge, and I mostly just feel curiosity about it rather than any genuine excitement. However curiosity is a feeling, so there's that!

I didn't do the math this time, so I'm not sure how much of DC's comic book-comics this month will be taken over by Future State, but it seems to be quite comparable to January, with future issues of the same books that weren't part of Future State being solicited this month, as well as a handful of intriguing original graphic novels I didn't mention at all and a couple of cool-looking trade collections.

Anyway, here's what jumped out at me, aside from Brian Bolland's fantastic cover for Future State: Dark Detective #4, of course...

I can't believe we're getting a Batman: Arkham: Talia Al Ghul trade before one featuring Calendar Man, Catman, Anarky or Killer Moth. 

I'm trade-waiting the new Batman: Black and White series, but February's Batman Black and White #3 is going to be particularly hard to not buy off the rack, as it's going to have a Kelley Jones-drawn story in it.

Warren Ellis might be (rightly!) cancelled, but his latest major work for DC sure isn't! In February you can buy the $40 The Batman's Grave: The Complete Collection, but can you actually go through with the purchase, knowing you may be financially supporting Ellis? And can you actually read it without getting icked out thinking about its creator and the damage he's done to untold women...? 

The perhaps oddly-titled Black Canary: Bird of Prey collects some 300-pages of Black Canary comics from the Golden Age to the Bronze Age, from creators like writers Gardner Fox, Robert Kanigher, Denny O'Neil and artists Murphy Anderson, Carmine Infantino and Alex Toth. That is a lot of talent, and a lot of comics starring a character probably best known as supporting character or member of an ensemble cast like on teams like the JSA, JLA and, of course, the Birds of Prey. This is one I'm definitely pre-ordering. 

Oh, now this is a good one. The 1996 weekly event series The Final Night, written by Karl Kesel and penciled by Sutart Immonen, was somewhat unusual for a superhero crossover series. The four-issue main series focused on the latest threat to Earth, a "sun-eater" that was consuming our solar system's sun, and, as the sun slowly began to extinguish, the world grew steadily darker, colder and more chaotic. The heroes, which here included some time-lost Legionnaires an eager-to-help Lex Luthor, raced to save the day, but what was most intriguing about the series was the idea that this time was really it, and while many heroes were involved with the threat, many more tried to lessen its damage, doing temporary, disaster-relief like tasks. Many of the tie-in issues just worked the dimming sun and growing cold into what were obviously pre-planned plots, but others basically addressed the question of how would a particular hero spend their last night...?

The day is obviously eventually saved, by Hal Jordan, who was then Parallax and rather fresh off his mad attempt to de-create all of time and space and then recreate it without the destruction of Coast City in Zero Hour. He does it, but at the cost of his life. This collection includes Parallax: Emerald Night #1 (by Ron Marz and Mike McKone) and Green Lantern #81, so the focus here is on the main series and its plot, but, if I recall correctly, most of the best bits of the crossover occurred in the many tie-ins. (GL #81, by the way, was the funeral of Hal Jordan, and it included a then very rare appearance of Swamp Thing and John Constantine in the DCU). 

Scanning the Wikipedia page, it looks like there are 18 tie-in issues, and some of those include some all-but forgotten books like Takion and Soviergn Seven. Collecting the entire event might take another book or two, but I suppose they could always do something like they did with Zero Hour, and just collect the tie-in issues of the popular families of books, like the Bat-books (Batman, Detective, Robin, maybe Gotham City-based Hitman and Green Arrow or something for filler) or Super-books (Superboy, Supergirl and the four Superman books).

I know I read several of the tie-ins, but the one that I remember best is Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman #8, in which Tommy Monaghan and his friends boarded up the doors and windows at Noonan's Sleazy Bar and decided to spend the last night on Earth drinking and swapping stories until either the superheroes saved the world or it really ended this time. 

As for Superboy and Robin?

They spent their time smooching. 

I don't know; I think future Superman aged a hell of  a lot better in DC One Million than he does in Future State, based on this cover for Future State: Superman: House of El #1...

This cover for Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #2 featuring giant space eels seems to be by artist Paulina Ganucheau, and it is definitely awesome. Ganuchea is not drawing the interiors, but Marguerite Sauvage is, so this should be a very nice looking comic book, inside and out. 

The solicitation for Future State: Shazam #2 mentions the "deadly new threat" Raven, so I am guessing that's supposed to be Raven there on the cover, ripping Billy Batson out of Shazam's lightning hole. I feel like we've seen a Raven-embracing-her-father's-side-of-the-family enough times in the past for it now to seem kind of boring, but I guess this look is a bit different; she usually has red skin, right...? 

Here's Jenny Frison's variant cover for Future State: Wonder Woman #2. I really like this costume design, and that breast plate looks really cool, although I confess I don't understand how practical it is. I mean, what if she drops her sword and has to pick it up? Can she bend at the waist, or would her breast point poke her in the tummy too hard? Or am I overthinking the practicality of a super hero costume, which doesn't have to be practical, given that the person wearing it and her adventures aren't even real? I think that one. 

We've already seen Kyle Hotz's cover for Man-Bat #1, but it's worth sharing again because oh my God is it awesome and horrifying. Sadly, Hotz is just drawing the cover. I'm not super familiar with the work of Sumi Kumar, but this seems to be one of those cases where having a cover artist who is different from the interior artists might be a bit of an anti-incentive, as now I really just want to read Kyle Hotz's Man-Bat, rather than Kumar and writer Dave Wielgosz's...

It looks like DC will begin doing what they've been doing with older, based-on-a-cartoon Justice League (Galactic Justice, Time After Time) and Batman (BatgirlA League of Her Own, Nightwing Rising) comics lately with Superman ones next, judging by Superman Adventures: Lex Luthor, Man of Metropolis. That is, publishing thematic collections. This will feature five issues culled from the 1996-2002 all-ages companion series to Superman: The Animated Series. These issues all feature Luthor prominently, obviously, and will include some unlikely writing credits, like Mark Millar, Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. 

If you weren't reading much DC back in around the turn of the millennium, it might be hard to believe now, but Mark Millar wrote an extremely good Superman, and probably the best writing of his entire career was on this title. His Superman Adventures comics have been collected previously, and I have them, but this is definitely a book for any Superman fan of any age to check out. And at just $9.99, it's about as perfect a value as one can get in comic books these days. 

DC published a Superman Vs. Shazam trade paperback collection in 2013, and while this one will contain a swathe of the same material1978's All-New Collector's Edition, 1981-1982's DC Comics Presents #33, #34 and #49, 1984's DC Comics Presents Annual #3this new volume is about 50 pages longer, and contains some far newer material. These are  1997's Kingdom Come #4, 1999's The Power of Shazam #46 by Jerry Ordway and Dick Giordano and 2005's Superman #216, in which Judd Winick has an Captain Marvel combat an Eclipso-possessed Superman, in a repeat of a plot point from the 1992 annual event, Eclipso: The Darkness Within. I'm not sure what the providence of the new Andy Kubert cover is (the 2013 volume used Rich Buckler's cover from the Collector's Edition), and I'm curious if it's a new, original piece or not. 

This is the first I am hearing of Truth and Justice, a digital-first "new team-up series." But! That's a pretty good title for a Justice Leaguer-centric team-up title, and this debut issue will have an extremely interesting team-up: Vixen, and Impala of The Global Guardians, a pretty cool team full of pretty cool international superheroes that I don't think we've heard much from (certainly nothing much good from) since the days of Keith Giffen and J. M. Matteis' Justice League run. (One of my dream comics is a Jack O'Lantern miniseries by Garth Ennis and John McCrea). 

I'm not familiar with the writer, Geoffery Thorne, but I like the work of artist Chrisscross quite a bit. 

Good news? DC is collecting their Who's Who, which is pretty much the ideal book for me, as I love both encyclopedias of stuff and DC superheroes. The bad news? Their Who's Who Omnibus Vol. 1 will cost $150. That's actually not that much considering the value, but I always have a hard time parting with such a large chunk of change; hopefully the Republican Senate will get off their asses and pass another stimulus bill so I can pre-order this and stimulate the economy; it is my patriotic duty!

I imagine this will make strange reading, as the information produced in the book was all current between 1987-1989 or so, meaning immediately post-Crisis. That was...God knows how many reboots ago (Having not read Doomsday Clock or Dark Nights: Death Metal, I honestly don't know if those contained reboots or not), and man, I 'd have a hard time telling you the history of my one-time absolute favorite characters or teams since 2011 at this point, continuity/DC Comics history is so goddam muddled. (Personally, I've always thought if DC isn't prepared to do a Who's Who and/or a timeline like that at the end of Zero Hour, then they shouldn't bother with any cosmic continuity reboots at all; like, if it isn't worth doing the work and figuring out, then it's not really worth doing). 

That said, I remain the sort of person who enjoys reading fake histories of fictional characters, and I know enough from what I've seen online and in the backs of various trades that these character profiles will be illustrated by a, well, a who's who of great artists. 

So yeah, this might be the most exciting offering in this month's solicitations. I guess I better start saving up now...

I don't think I even knew Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette had a third volume of Wonder Woman: Earth One in the works. I assumed DC had dropped the Earth One initiative some time ago, as it seems to overlaps awkwardly with their YA-focused original graphic novels, most of which do a far better job of presenting alternate takes on the heroes that the Earth One books do. In retrospect, the Earth One books all seem like pitches for expensive TV shows featuring the characters more than anything else, although I thin Morrison and Paquette's Wonder Woman books were the best of them all, based largely on the fact that they seem so devoted to doing William Moulton Marston/H.G. Peter's Golden Age Wonder Woman for a modern audience. 


collectededitions said...

That Green Lantern #81, if I remember correctly, also has a rare appearance by Starman Jack Knight outside his own title or JSA, along with Swamp Thing and Constantine.

Jose Gregorio Bencomo Gomez said...

"knowing you may be financially supporting Ellis?"

Once again, I guess all other creators involved who had nothing to do with that must be thrown under the wheels with him?

Why must you be so emotionally manipulative at times, seriously?

Caleb said...

Interesting choice of words Jose, but, yes. DC presumably still paid Bryan Hitch, Kevin Nowlan and all the other creators their page rate, so all they are missing out on by you personally not buying the complete collection of The Batman's Grave are potential royalties. If you are super-concerned about Hitch's income from royalties, there are plenty of comics he's drawn that weren't written by Ellis that you can buy instead.

Were I someone like, say, Hitch, I would be more worried about my reputation than whatever royalties I might get from some minor Batman miniseries that no one paid much attention to.

Dave said...

It's funny the last time DC did anything significant with the Global Guardians they were revamped as the International Ultramarine Corps back in '05 when DC had Grant Morrison and Ed McGuinness launch JLA Classified. Which was a book, much like Truth and Justice, featuring different characters and creative team with each storyline. Vixen, Kid Impala, and Jack O'Lantern were on the team.

JLA Classified seemed to eventually turn into a dumping ground for story arcs they had stocked-up over the years. I hope we get to see a lot of C to Z list characters getting arcs in this book.

J. Bencomo said...

Why would Hitch have to fear about something regarding 'his reputation' from having worked with Ellis? He had nothing to do with whatever Ellis did, he didn't force Ellis to do anything.

He drew a script from Ellis. That is all. He'd be just as guilty of anything as any of us would be from whatever a colleague at the job did outside of the law in their own spare time.