DC in January. A month without new issues of Firestorm, Green Lantern, or Supergirl. A month with a lot less Grant Morrison than usual … but not a month without comics.
And the characters are still around — Firestorm in a paperback reprint collection and in 52, Hal in a new Showcase Presents, and Supergirl in Legion – but seriously, what’s with all the no-shows? There’s also no new monthly issue of Action Comics, although the Annual makes up for it. It’s an off-month for Wonder Woman (she’s in Manhunter), but really, why should it have to be? Aquaman is retrosolicited too. I doubt there is a single explanation for the drought (and I don’t want to speculate that it’s 52-related), but it’s an unfortunate confluence.
BECAUSE “YOUNG BATMAN VS. SCIENCE AND SORCERY! MONTH” WAS TOO WORDY
I figured that Batman Confidential would confirm the redundancy of Legends of the Dark Knight, and indeed, the latter is cancelled as of January’s #214. However, Confidential’s first story arc, with Batman versus a Luthor-engineered giant robot, looks pretty promising. Together with the conclusion of Batman and the Mad Monk and the (relisted) Batman and the Monster Men, January looks like Batman Vs. Non-Traditional Supervillains Month. (Yeah, Scarface is in Detective Comics, but I expect a new twist from Paul Dini.) I’d call this a trend, except that Judd Winick had Batman and Nightwing fighting Amazo not too long ago. Still, we’re getting farther away from the grim ‘n’ gritty — and really, Batman should destroy giant robots more often. It would help with the whole “most dangerous man on Earth” thing. Speaking of which…
WHERE’S GRANT MORRISON?
It’s an off-month for All-Star Superman, The Authority, and WildCats, and Morrison won’t be back to Batman until March. That leaves only a month’s worth of picking through 52 for one’s monthly Morrison fix. To make up for this, DC rolls out the final Seven Soldiers paperback and relists the other three.
COOL GUEST ARTISTS OF THE MONTH
Why, here’s a Soldier now! Frazer Irving draws this month’s conclusion of the Klarion two-parter in Robin, and Walt Simonson writes and draws two issues of JSA Classified focused on Hawkman and Hawkgirl. I don’t care if Hawkgirl has been wildly unfocused under Simonson, it’s always a treat to see his artwork. If it included more of the Justice Society, that would be a plus, but Simonson depicting the Rann-Thanagar War sounds pretty good to me.
WAITING (‘TIL FEBRUARY) FOR THE TRADE
I’m sure this is an old joke, but I’d love if DC called it Batman: The (Second) Greatest Stories Ever Told. The only Roy Thomas solo-Batman story I know of is the Marshall Rogers-drawn Earth-2 origin from Secret Origins #6, and it’s pretty decent. If the Greatest Stories series pulls together rarities like that, it might not exactly live up to its name, but it might still be worthwhile.
Otherwise, no complaints from me in this category. A new Birds of Prey paperback will help my back-issue budget, as will a second volume of the ‘70s Justice Society. I’m glad to see DC finally supporting Firestorm, although with no new monthly issue in January, and low sales numbers, I suspect this is a prelude to a relaunch. I also expect a couple of bloggers to be happy with Showcase Presents Aquaman.
With no new Justice League of America for January, JLA Classified picks up the slack, publishing three issues this month. Ah, the sweet smell of inventory stories being burned off! Not that they’re throwaways — the current Howard Chaykin/Kilian Plunkett arc has been entertaining, and I have no doubts that Dan Slott & Dan Jurgens’ 5-parter will be fun.
I’d say “Mon-El?!?” with a little more surprise and enthusiasm if he hadn’t just been on the cover of Legion #25 last month. Still, there he is in Action Comics Annual #10, along with a handful of Silver Age Superman elements reimagined for the 21st Century by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner. I know it’s almost pointless to speculate about the Johns/Donner approach before their first issue has appeared, but from reading Johns’ recent interview it sounds like Action Comics may be a more pragmatic, continuity-grounded version of All-Star Superman. Of course, it seems like every movie and TV writer who tackles venerable comics characters talks about bringing that kind of “film streamlining” to the comics (compare Bilson & DeMeo on Flash), but Donner may have more freedom to do what he wants.
Make all the jokes you want, but Superman & Batman Vs. Aliens & Predators – which, by the way, could also be another entry in Batman Vs. Science Month — has the potential to be pretty mind-blowingly awesome, even if (as I suspect) it is completely preposterous. The World’s Finest defeat two sets of unstoppable extraterrestrial killers in just two issues? Sounds like a lot of carnage to me, and if I remember correctly, Mark Schultz does carnage well. If anything, Ariel Olivetti’s art could be too pretty.
HERE’S YOUR HAT, WHAT’S YOUR HURRY?
The 5-part Helmet Of Fate “saga” kicks off with two issues this month, connecting Ibis the Invincible with Detective Chimp. If this were 1997, I could make a six-degrees joke.
I didn’t expect to see the Tangent characters on the cover of Ion #10, but I agree with the solicitation — time is running out for Kyle to find his place in the universe, or he may be about as relevant as the Tangents.
Likewise, the cover of Manhunter #27, which apparently has nothing to do with the title character and only tangentially (ha!) involves guest star Wonder Woman, makes me want to see what’s inside.
About Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #3: I can’t remember the relationship, if any, between Connor and Shado. Should I be creeped out by this cover, or should I just be worried about her lip?
And on Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #7: hey, that Sentinel looks a lot like Magneto!
THE SOLICITATION WRITER CHUCKLED AS S/HE WROTE …
“Whose side is [Etrigan] on?” for Shadowpact #9; and “…[t]hey’re all out of gum!” for Teen Titans #43.
ODDS AND ENDS
52 hits the three-quarter mark at the end of January, so you’d have to expect things to start moving pretty quickly. I thought the New Year’s cover was pretty chilling, and then an eagle-eyed Newsarama poster pointed out that those were people falling from the sky, engulfed in flames.
Infinite Crisis spinoffs collide in Checkmate #10 as the Shadowpact guest-stars. I don’t read Shadowpact, so I’m interested to see how a different writer handles them.
Tranquility #2 is giving me a lot of Watchmen #2 vibes (rainy funerals, mostly), and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m really starting to look forward to this series.
Is it just me, or could the new Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre series each spawn their own typical fan-debates about “violating established canon?” I read these solicits and start to wonder where they fit into the movies, and then I’m horrified at how Star Trek has affected my mind….
And lastly, DC probably wants to avoid perpetuating Native American stereotypes with Scalped, but the solicitation references The Sopranos, which has had its own stereotype issues.
* * *
As always, I can’t read it all, so if I missed something important, please comment!