The April DC solicitations contain a fair amount of news, including the first Minx title (top-billed, even), the cancellations of Manhunter and Firestorm, and more than a few Wonder Woman books. Regardless, I’m trying to wrap my head around the re-release of Michael Fleisher’s Batman encyclopedia, a relic almost from the date it was first printed … in 1976.
YOU’RE GONNA MAKE IT AFTER ALL
Let’s begin as the solicits do, with Minx’s inaugural title The Plain Janes. I hope DC keeps it prominent here for a few months, and doesn’t let it get lost among the other imprints’ listings. The cover design makes it look like a prose book and, going solely on my limited and long-ago experiences with the works of Judy Blume, like a book that would interest a young reader. Honestly, I’m curious about it, and if I see it at the LCS I’ll flip through it, but I’m clearly not TPJ‘s target audience and I don’t expect to be. I do hope that the Minx books have a long and productive reign, and I wish The Plain Janes all the success in the world.
“TIE-IN?” WHAT IS THIS … “TIE-IN?”
Of course, from there we go right into World War III, the four-issue, $10.00 appendix to 52 Week 50 that is not at all reminiscent of the four Infinite Crisis feeder-miniseries specials (or the “Sacrifice” appendage to The OMAC Project). Those didn’t really work as “seventh issues” of their respective miniseries, and neither did they fit particularly well into the Infinite Crisis issues. I’m inclined to view the very existence of these specials as a disappointment for what would otherwise be 52‘s triumph of logistics, but maybe that’s just me getting too wrapped up in structure. 52 (which actually ends in May, but #52 is solicited here) might be nothing more than a year-long Secret Files story, and if its goal is gap-filling exposition, who am I to begrudge DC an extra four issues? Still, there I go again, with all the negativity. Half of it is written by John Ostrander, and Keith Champagne currently has a good Green Lantern Corps arc going, so it might not be so bad.
BECAUSE EVERYONE ASSOCIATES “A_______ ATTACKS” WITH QUALITY
Speaking of overstuffing, check out the bigger-than-usual Wonder Woman presence: two issues of the regular series (for the second straight month), the Who Is Wonder Woman? hardcover, and the first issue of Amazons Attack. Way to avoid event fatigue, DC: schedule the “first major comics event of 2007″ right in the middle of “World War III” (which is somehow not a major event now…?).
Anyway, it’s good to see WW back on a more frequent schedule, and I’m looking forward to these issues. (I especially want to know why Sarge Steel wants to “caption” Wonder Woman…) I’m cautiously optimistic about Amazons Attack, because I generally like Will Pfeifer’s work but wasn’t that thrilled with the Captain Atom miniseries; and I have always liked Pete Woods’ art.
However, no Superman or Action Comics listed for April. I hope this isn’t the price we’ll have to pay for an on-time Wonder Woman….
LIKE THE WIKIS, IN CONVENIENT BOOK FORM
Sometimes I just shake my head and smile. The (Original) Encyclopedia Of Comic Book Heroes, Volume 1: Batman is a fascinating book, made to look even more like an artifact from somebody’s personal Golden Age by the old DC Bullet and Garcia-Lopez stylesheet art. Author Michael Fleisher planned a whole series of these on various DC and Marvel heroes, but ended up doing only DC’s “Big Three.” Each contains exhaustive — but not all-inclusive — entries on the principal characters, and Fleisher allows himself some room to psychoanalyze his main subjects. (I haven’t looked at the Wonder Woman volume in a while, but I think he pretty much lets the psychological stuff speak for itself there.)
The three books were published in the mid-’70s and focus on the ’40s through the ’60s, before some radical changes set in: leaving Wayne Manor and the Batcave behind in 1969; and Diana’s “white-suit” period around the same time. However, what remains is a detailed, if somewhat credulous, look at the Golden and Silver Ages of these characters, with Volume 1 having lots of information about Batman’s travels in space and time, Bat-Mite, Batwoman, Bat-Girl, etc. If Grant Morrison’s Batman run turns out to be a ’50s revival, the Fleisher Encyclopedia might be pretty illustrative. I don’t expect this means a follow-up volume covering the ’70s through the 2000s, but I never expected this to be reprinted either.
ONE HAND WASHES THE OTHER
Paul Dini brings back his creation Harley Quinn in Detective Comics #831, Gail Simone writes the Secret Six again for their appearance in Birds of Prey #105, and Checkmate and Outsiders start a three-month crossover.
While I’m troubled by Green Lantern #19′s implications about Star Sapphire and another alien parasite (didn’t we go through this already with the Predator?), I’m still intrigued and more than a little amused by a backup called “Tales of the Sinestro Corps.”
With Marc Andreyko writing and Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson drawing, the Nightwing Annual #2 should be good, but those are some awkward cover poses.
At the risk of gushing, I continue to get more and more excited about The Brave and the Bold. Batman and Blue Beetle vs. the Fatal Five and the Lord of Time? It’s not that Mark Waid and George Pérez are reading my mind, it’s like they’re looking into my soul to see what kinds of comics it wants.
Of course, the cover of Doctor Fate #1 reminded me of Dave Campbell’s “THE PAIN!” award. What’s inside could give me a headache too, thanks to the notion that Fate is once again a guy named Kent Nelson. This time it appears he’s a psychiatrist, no doubt reincarnated from the original archaeologist a la Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Still, Steve Gerber makes this hard to pass up.
The new writers on the (relatively) new Flash: Fastest Man Alive and Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis books both try to connect the new faces to the familiar supporting cast: Mark Guggenheim in Flash with the Rogues’ Gallery, and Tad Williams in Aquaman with Tempest and Black Manta. Still too early for me to tell whether these will be positive steps.
WE’LL MEET AGAIN; DON’T KNOW WHERE, DON’T KNOW WHEN
Sorry, Manhunter and Firestorm. I know you tried. I bet at least one of you shows up in next year’s JLA/JSA crossover.
THE EXTRA PAGES CONTAIN HEAD SHOTS AND A FOLD-OUT CARD TABLE
I’m having a hard time making the new Justice League of America hardcover’s math work. It’s 224 pages for $24.99, which doesn’t add up to six issues, even with some of them oversized. Including issues #0 and #7 would fill out the volume, so I’m hoping the “six-issue” reference was a mistake. Last month we learned the team first comes together in #7, and #0 was Meltzer’s sublime exploration of the League’s history. Leaving out either would not be good.
Of course, the revival of the JLA/JSA crossover kicks off in April, and it’ll be instructive to see how best buds Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns team up themselves. Meltzer has been notoriously slow at getting his first JLA arc off the ground, while Johns’ two JSA issues have been almost overstimulating in their rush of ideas. Basing a crossover around the identity of Trident, a D-list villain originally from New Teen Titans, doesn’t sound promising by itself, so I hope the investigation into the new Starman’s background provides the grand canvas upon which these team-ups have traditionally unfolded. (Except for the Spirit King/Mr. Terrific one, which was still good.)
Justice League of America is competing for my attention with JLA Classified, which has really been on a roll lately. However, the Dan Slott/Dan Jurgens arc that’s just begun, and “Kid Amazo,” the Peter Milligan/Carlos D’Anda arc solicited here, were both originally planned for 2004 or thereabouts. I hope DC isn’t just burning off its inventory with this title, because I’d like to see more of this diverse approach to the League.
Well, that’s about it for me this month. What looks good to you?