Tuesday, January 19, 2021

DC's April previews reviewed

The cover of Batman #107 offers the best look yet of artist Jorge Jimenez's new Scarecrow design (assuming that is the Scarecrow; this month's solicit doesn't name him, though the previous month's did). I kinda like it; it's takes elements from several other, previous designs and remixes them in a new and interesting way. His particular design looks incredibly, surprisingly Japanese. I'm...not entirely sure how I feel about Jonathan Crane's new long, glossy hair though...

There's been a  Scooby-Doo Team-Up-shaped hole in my heart (and in my pull-list) for ever since that book was cancelledso you can imagine how excited I am to see the solicitation for The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #1. This series will obviously be a slightly different animal, being focused entirely on Scooby-Doo and Batman team-ups, rather than the sort of grand tour of the DC Universe character catalog (with occasional visits from Hanna-Barbera characters) that Team-Up offered, but you won't hear me complaining about a new iteration of one of DC's better books of the last five years.

It doesn't say so in the solicitation text, but according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter, this is actually a 12-issue maxi-series rather than a new ongoing, and while Ivan Cohen will write and Dario Brizuela will draw this first issue, later issues will be written by Team-Up's Sholly Fisch and drawn by Randy Elliott.

This will mark the first time in forever that I'll be adding a new comic to my pull-list.

So what was the verdict on Batman: The Adventures Continue? Was it any good? The creative team seemed to be pretty close to ideal, although I had some reservations about the "Under The Red Hood"-esque plot-line, and how that might fit into the milieu. Now that the entire eight-issue series has ended, the collection is being solicited, so I guess the comic is now in its final form, and the one in which I will be most likely to experience. 

Now I just have to decide if I want to borrow the collection from the library, or buy it for for my own bookshelf...

Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert are launching a new Batman title, and DC has decided to give it the least imaginative name they possibly could, short of perhaps Yet Another Batman Comic—Batman: The Dark Knight

Making the title seem even more pointlessly confusing, given how many other comics there are with that title already in existence, it's a six-issue miniseries. I mean, I could read the solicit, which mentions a tragedy in  the United Kingdom and a hunt for a new villain called Equilibrium, and think of a better title—Batman: Equilibrium. At the very least, that way one wouldn't confuse the book with any of the trade collections from the 2011-2014 Batman: The Dark Knight ongoing series, or any of the many Dark Knight Returns-related books (one of which is drawn by Andy Kubert!). 

No mention in the full solicit as to  why Batman's wearing his outfit from the unintelligible flashback sequence from Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

As seems to be the case more and more, the DC release I am most excited about this month is a collection of Batman comics from the 1990s. Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 5 collects Detective Comics #612-#614, #616-621 and Annual #3 (#615 is part of a three-issue crossover with Batman). These are all from the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle/Steve Mitchell Batman team, i.e. the best Batman team, and actually account for the end of their run on the title. 

I feel like I've quite recently re-read all of these, so I am assuming they were collected in Norm Breyfogle-focused collections, but the most noteworthy issues here are probably the four-issue arc in which Tim Drakes' parents are kidnapped by The Obeah Man and Batman goes to rescue them...and is only partially successful, as Tim's mom is killed and Tim's father is left in a coma. This is a pretty pivotal point in Tim's journey to officially becoming Robin. 

There's also a Catman and Catwoman story, a Joker story and a trio of done-in-one issues of the type that this creative team excelled at. The annual is written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Dan Jurgens and Dick Giordano, and is the only part of this trade I haven't already read multiple times, but I'll probably buy this anyway, I so enjoy it and its sister series, The Caped Crusader. I hope DC keeps publishing these until they reach "Knightfall" or so. 

I've always maintained Bizarro Comics should be an ongoing anthology series, preferably hosted by a Stephen DeStefano-drawn Bizarro, but then, I am not the boss of DC Comics (and both DC Comics and I are poorer for it).

I can't imagine many—any?—comics fan who wouldn't already own 2001's Bizarro Comics and 2005's Bizarro World, as the premise of both is universally appealing. They are basically short, usually funny comics starring DC's heroes and villains by the greatest comics creators in the world (although I'm sure it was sold as DC heroes by "alternative" creators, even though said creators were only really "alternative" by the standards of DCU comics). The first one has a fantastic DeStefano-drawn framing story set partially in the Fifth Dimension that I adore; in addition to drawing great imps, Thunderbolts and the best Bizarro, DeStefano draws a heck of a Steel and Big Barda, too. 

Anyway, if for some reason you don't already own these, Bizarro Comics: The Deluxe Edition puts them both together for a $50, 430-page hard cover, and you should buy it. 

The big, mustachioed guy on Dan Mora's cover for Detective Comics #1035 is apparently new character Mr. Worth, an "eight-foot-tall stack of muscle and money," but I confess at first glance I thought this was an absurdly-muscled six-year-old Bruce Wayne dressed in a Batman costume fighting his dad Thomas Wayne. 

The Mariko Tamaki-written comic is followed by a Tamaki-written, Clayton Henry-drawn back-up called "The Huntress and The Hunted" starring the—get this—"Gotham's own Violet Vengeance." Has The Huntress ever been called that before...?

Flash/Impulse: Runs In The Family is a $35, 375-page collection of Flash #108-111 and the first dozen issues of Impulse. I like the character quite a bit, but I've actually never read any of these, and am sorely tempted to purchase this. The Impulse issues are all written by Mark Waid, and even when that guy's at his worst, he tends to be better-than-average, and I'm a fan of artist Humberto Ramos' work. 

On the other hand, $35 strikes me as kind of steep for a book I'm not 100% sure I'll like, and DC launched a bunch of series of collections of '90s comics I was interested in—Peter David and company's Aquaman, Jim Balent and various writers' Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Robin, Superboy, Ron Marz, Daryl Banks and company's Green Lantern starring Kyle Rayner—only to rather suddenly abandon them after a volume or three or six, so I can't imagine we'll get a complete Impulse or anything (Of course, eventually Ethan Van Sciver becomes the regular Impulse artist around issue #50, so we probably shouldn't get the complete Impulse collected in trade, because who wants that guy getting royalties?)

Green Lantern #1 looks like a pleasant surprise. The creative team of Geoffery Thorne and Dexter Soy isn't one I would have imagined, an in addition to featuring a whole bunch of Earth's Green Lanterns (all buy Hal and Jessica, looking at Bernard Chang's cover to the first issue), there's Young Justice's Teen Lantern. 

That's a really fun cover. Check out the look on Guy's face. 

The solicitation mentions the newly formed United Planets, a conceit from The Legion of Super-Heroes milieu, and its entry into the modern DCU is interesting, although I guess Brian Michael Bendis initiated that during his Superman run.

Uh-oh. The solicit for Justice League #60, the second issue by the new regular team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez, mentions the half-dozen heroes pictured above teaming up with Black Adam, and then reads, "enter the new mega-power sensation Naomi, who comes face to face with the League and brings along Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons."

All of those characters were on the cover of the previous issue, and seemed to be the new Justice League line-up. So it looks like it will take more than one issue for Bendis to assemble his Avengers League. That's sort of disappointing. He put his Young Justice team together so fast—in a single issue—that I was really hoping his Justice League would form just as quickly. Given that all of these people have already been on the League at some point, with the exception of Black Adam and Nomi, that it doesn't seem like there needs to be a gathering-the-heroes story. If everything is back in continuity, as seems to be the case, than most of these folks have been in the Justice League for decades, and Green Arrow or Black Canary joining the team really isn't any more interesting than me showing up for work on a Thursday morning, you know? 

Ah-ha! So that's why the solicits for the Future State comics were playing it coy with the identity of "The Next Batman," despite the fact that it was already announced long ago that John Ridley would be writing a Batman comic in which Lucius Fox's son takes up the mantle. Spoiler alert for a book that may or may not have even come out yet: Lucius has another son, aside from the one that has already spent some time dressing up in a bat-costume to fight crime in Gotham City alongside Batman. I didn't see that coming!

The Next Batman: Second Son #1 by Ridley and three (?) different artists will tell the origin story of Tim Fox, the next Batman. (Wait, Tim Fox? In addition to there already being a son of Lucius Fox's on Team Batman, there's already a young man named Tim on Team Batman.)


They should really lose the face-shield covering up the skin-color of the character in the bat-suit pretty quickly, right? Like, is there a good reason to hide the fact that the first Black Batman is a Black guy?

Well, with  Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov's Robin #1  set to debut in April, it looks like Damian's time as not-a-Robin is going to prove quite short-lived. He'll get a new costume for the new series, his fourth Robin costume sine his debut as the fifth Robin, and while it's a pretty cool-looking costume, I personally think it's a bit too divergent from the regular red, yellow and green color scheme to be a good costume for a Robin-Robin. It would be a pretty good Red Robin costume, though! (Or a Dark Robin or Black Robin costume). 

I'm not excited to see Ra's al fucking Ghul on the cover, though; in addition to being sick of the character in general, I fell like we've covered the hell out of the fact that Damian is Ra's grandson and Talia's son already, and we don't really need to see it addressed for the seventeenth time in the comics. But hey, that's just me. 

Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlweski's Superman #30 will feature a "Tales of Metropolis" back-up by Sean Lewis and Sami Basri and it will apparently feature Ambush Bug which, huh. Ambush Bug without Keith Giffen is an unexpected choice. 

I'm curious how DC intends to collect the back-ups, if these "Tales of Metropolis" will be in the back of a Superman trade paperback, or if they will be collected separately under that title. I hope the latter, as they'll otherwise likely fuck up the flow of the main story in trade collections.

I don't even know what a RWBY is, so I'm going to pass on this RWBY/Justice League #1, despite my interest in Justice League comics. 

That's a pretty cool chimera on the cover of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #109. It's drawn by Deark Fridolfs, who also writes this particular issue.

Speaking of cool covers, I like this one for Superman Red and Blue #2. I'm assuming that's the work of David Choe, who is drawing one of the issue's several covers.

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