I just kept looking through DC’s March solicits and thinking, “it’s about time, it’s about time.” There are a lot of long-awaited (at least by me) items in this list, and if there’s a downside it’s that we’ll have to wait a couple months more to actually see them.
HEY, IS THAT GODOT?
First up is Wonder Woman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, a paperback arriving in April. The solicitation copy doesn’t list the stories themselves beyond references to Wonder Woman’s Golden Age creators William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, but you’d expect recent stalwarts like George Pérez, Phil Jiminez, and Greg Rucka to be represented as well. (Yes, I am too lazy to look up the press release.) Although Diana had her own 1970s hardcover collection and (more recently) Complete History volume, when DC started the Greatest Stories series in 1988 for its biggest characters’ 50th anniversaries, a Wonder Woman volume never appeared until now. Therefore, I consider this book at least 16 years behind schedule. (Kevin Church, who I swear I am not copying with many of these initial observations, says “file this under ‘about f*cking time.’”)
Insert Jokey Late-Book Transition Here, I guess. Wonder Woman #5 was solicited last month, but it’s now been resolicited for March 14. That leaves Allan Heinberg and Terry & Rachel Dodson only two weeks to get everything ready for incoming writer Jodi Picoult and returning artists Drew Johnson and Ray Snyder, because #6 has been solicited for March 28. (But for how long? For — how — long?!?) Also, thanks, #6, for spoiling the fate of at least one big element of the previous arc.
At least WW #5 isn’t WildCats #2, which must surely feel the pressure of having to get fans excited about a series that so far has come out bi-seasonally.
Another bit of scheduling synergy may be on display with Justice League of America #7 and Justice Society of America #4. Both issues conclude their introductory arcs, although the JLA will take about twice as long to get the band back together as their predecessors. However, next month (April) brings the first new JLA/JSA crossover in a while, and the first intertitle JLA/JSA crossover since the 1980s. I’m sure the answer would be “it takes as long as it takes,” and we don’t know whether the story needs seven issues (and a zero issue) to tell, but I wonder if the JLA creative team figured they could use a few months of lead time to stretch out.
I’m really looking forward to the new Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus series, since it’ll finally collect Forever People and Mister Miracle in color. (The Jimmy Olsen issues have been collected in two color paperbacks, and New Gods was reprinted two at a time in a six-issue direct-market miniseries in 1985.) Presenting the issues in chronological order also helps evoke the You Are There feeling of something big unfolding. The various series didn’t really cross over as much as they backed each other up, so seeing all the various pieces revealed gradually, as they were back then, seems like a good way to experience the series. I wonder if they’ll replace the redrawn Superman and Jimmy Olsen heads with the Kirby originals.
The new Showcase Presents Legion Of Super-Heroes also makes me ask what took DC so long. From 1958 to 1994, the Legion rewarded its longtime fans with a mythology to rival any X-book, even withstanding (for the most part) having its Superboy linchpin wrenched away by the Superman revamp of 1986. However, as a casual Legion fan, it’s always been hard for me to justify a set of Archives volumes at $50 a pop. This is a great alternative, and (sorry, DC) an essential volume.
Finally, I will gladly give another “it’s about time!” award to DC when it catches up to the rest of us and realizes that a Doctor Thirteen series by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang should be the main feature in Tales of the Unexpected, if not its own book entirely. Anthro, Genius Jones, Primate Patrol, and the Haunted Tank? Come on, DC, the Showcase Presents volumes practically suggest themselves!
I remember when Walt Simonson and Howard Chaykin on Hawkgirl sounded like a can’t-miss proposition. Now here’s Hawkgirl: The Maw, ready to disillusion another unsuspecting fan with its assault on women’s underwear. The Crispus Allen Spectre gets a half-decent collection, with the Will Pfeifer/Cliff Chiang miniseries being the highlight. The stories from Tales of the Unexpected tend to blend into the same pattern of Allen’s frustration exploding in gory, ironic punishments, so they may read best individually, and definitely not over dinner. A second batch of Charlton-superhero highlights — mostly Ditko on Captain Atom, The Question, and Blue Beetle, with a Question story by Alex Toth too — arrives in May in the form of Action Heroes Archives Vol. 2.
Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert are back on the main title. The fill-in team on Detective Comics, Stuart Moore and Andy Clarke, sounds like it has a good story to tell. Otherwise, nothing in the Bat-titles really jumps out except the paperback collection of Batman and the Mad Monk, the even-more-fun follow-up to Matt Wagner’s Batman and the Monster Men. Oh, okay, the first five issues of Paul Dini’s Detective Comics run get collected too, but as much as I like Dini, if you have to choose I’d go with Wagner.
It might have taken me a while to figure this out, but I think Richard Donner has become the new Jim Lee of Superman. After Lee did a year’s worth of Batman, DC clearly figured he’d do wonders for a year’s worth of Superman, but the results (like the Batman arc) were all hat and no cattle. Donner’s presence on Action Comics seems to be more event-oriented as well, even without the 3-D, with things like #848′s “new Superman Revenge Squad” sounding like sops to fans (like me) who wondered as kids why Christopher Reeve didn’t open his Fortress with a big golden key.
If you can’t get enough of Mark Verheiden’s current “DCU aliens turned evil” storyline in Superman/Batman, you’ll probably love the upcoming “DCU androids turned evil” arc starting in #34. Actually, I like Pat Lee’s art better than I do Ethan Van Sciver’s, so I might like this after all.
I’m not terribly familiar with Tad Williams’ prose work, but I’ve liked Shawn McManus since he drew the late ‘80s Dr. Fate series. That, plus the decent amount of goodwill the Busiek run engendered, means I’m probably getting Aquaman: Sword Of Atlantis #50.
Its creative team makes me inclined to like the new Brave and the Bold, but I think its format also guards against decompression and insures that every issue will be pretty substantial. And if I might digress and/or generalize just a bit … from what I gather, comics bloggers seem to think the main Supergirl title has gotten at least marginally better, but still hasn’t caught up with Mark Waid’s fine treatment of Kara in Legion of Super-Heroes. Well, B&B #2 has Waid writing Supergirl in a non-Legion setting — so which book benefits more?
Nooo, Green Lantern #18! It burns our eyes, the new Star Sapphire costume does! (And we’re not alone!) Maybe the old one (not the armor, which I like to call “Gal-Actus,” ha ha) looked a bit matronly, but dear Lord, did they have to tear the whole front off? Add in the notion that the Star Sapphire itself is a “parasite” (not unlike Parallax, and I’m sure the comparisons will be subtle) and … yeah.
A much more pleasing cover announces Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil #2. Unlike last month’s Angry-Eyes Cap, this one has him getting pounded by a giant robot (Mr. Atom?). I notice this isn’t called an Elseworld (does DC still use that term anymore?), but it does seem to cover familiar origin-story-type ground. I’m not that concerned about it, but there it is.
Corporate synergy with the Kirby Omnibus volume? Maybe, but this month continues the Fourth World’s comeback in Superman #662 and Firestorm #34.
The Helmet Of Fate: Black Alice and Hawkgirl solicits both concern themselves with the heroines’ social lives. Black Alice is “the most hated girl in school,” so will Fate’s helmet “win her any friends?” As for Hawkgirl, lifting Hath-Set’s curse could either “leav[e] them free to be together…or forever apart.” Meanwhile, Supergirl #15 says things “intensify” between her and Powerboy, but the cover doesn’t exactly signify intimacy. The guys get it too: the Atom’s “college sweetheart reaches out to him,” and the aforementioned Green Lantern #18 features the disruption of Hal’s first post-Parallax date.
AND SPEAKING OF LOVE…
Slackers, cube-farmers, and Rick Veitch’s “pitch-black satire” give Army@Love a lot of potential, although the solicitation suggests more Office Space than MASH.
“IS THIS SOME KIND OF BUST?”
Boy, there’s just a mess of Stardust merch on the list this month, huh? The busts are very impressive, though.
52, AND CROSSOVERS TO COME
Early on, 52‘s background details and Easter eggs were compared to the clues lurking in any given episode of “Lost,” but lately I’ve been feeling like 52 is also emulating “Lost’s” meandering, nothing-happens-‘til-the-last-5-minutes style. These solicitations don’t do much to change that, making me wonder how much of the middle (i.e., current) portion of the mammoth limited series I could realistically skip. By the same token, I wonder if March and April’s issues will draw in new readers who figure they can come in late and still see all the good parts.
And whither crossovers in 52‘s wake? The final issues of Ion and Omega Men, and the penultimate Mystery In Space, all come out in March, making me wonder if there’s a big Monitor-flavored outer-space crossover a-brewing for May or June ‘07. That could, in theory, capitalize on the “momentum” generated by 52‘s slam-bang finish in the first week of May.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s just leave it there for now. What looks good to you?