You-all are very lucky I couldn’t get a solicit-flavored “Visit From St. Nicholas” poem to work. I kept coming back to this closing couplet:
And I heard him exclaim, ere he took to the skies,“Merry Christmas to all, until someone else dies!”
WAY too bitter. So, having dodged that particular bullet … uh, so to speak … let’s jump ahead to March, and then I’ll wrap up with some more appropriate seasonal observations.
TOO LATE FOR THIS CHRISTMAS, TOO EARLY FOR THE NEXT
Big-ticket hardcovers due out in the spring include Absolute Sandman Vol. 3, the Absolute Black Dossier, the first Starman Omnibus, and the OMAC collection. I don’t have problems with three of those, but at this point I have to wonder whether it’s worth $99.00 (retail) to hear Alan Moore singing. Also, will the Tijuana Bible be Absolute-sized?
ONE ROUND ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS
Countdown may be almost over, taking its affiliated miniseries with it, but like they say across town, “cut off a limb and two more shall take its place!” Doing just that are Tangent: Superman’s Reign (12 issues), the Salvation Run-related arc in Justice League, and perhaps the Kobra goings-on in Checkmate.
Now, let’s do some math: Countdown #0 comes out April 30. Final Crisis runs seven issues, from May through November. The very fact that the new Tangent miniseries will run through March ‘09 (not to mention the “Blackest Night” event set for Summer ‘09) suggests to me that Final Crisis won’t produce a wholesale reboot of the main DC-Earth and/or a retirement of the current one. That doesn’t mean FC won’t reintroduce a much larger Multiverse, but it does seem to take the Ragnarok option off the table.
TITANS OLD AND NEW
Love the cover for Teen Titans Year One #3. Hate the cover for the Raven miniseries. Raven was one of my favorite New Teen Titans back in the day, and I think Wolfman would do right by her still (even after that whole “re-possessed by Trigon” stuff in the ‘90s), but I’ll need more convincing that Damion Scott is a good fit for this book.
The solicits for Booster Gold #7, Green Arrow/Black Canary #6, and (maybe) Batman #675 each offer pretty major clues about current who-lives-and-who-dies plot points. (The solicits for Detective #842 and Nightwing #142 also indicate they’ll be spinning plots out of the Ra’s Al Ghul crossover.) Additionally, considering that GA/BC #3 devoted significant space to the motives and players behind Ollie’s kidnapping, treating it as a “new mystery” in #6′s solicit just raises more questions.
No, I am not counting Action Comics #863′s “Superman Triumphant!” cover as a spoiler.
COMICS I AM HONESTLY EAGER TO READ
The New Frontier Special is at the top of this list … but I’ve gotta say — how long until DC releases the Revised Absolute New Frontier, which incorporates these 48 pages? And how much rationalization will it take for me to buy that one too?
The Detective and Nightwing solicits, crossover-dependent though they may be, do sound like the kinds of Batman stories I’d like to read. The pulpy language of the Nightwing solicit does an especially good job of selling it.
The first Superman/Batman Annual was all kinds of crazy fun, capitalizing on the hijinx sure to ensue when a mild-mannered reporter and a monomaniacal billionare have to share a cramped ocean-liner cabin. SM/BM Annual #2 looks a little less wacky, but still fun.
Even though Checkmate is subtly intertwined with DC’s perpetual crossover madness, its mission statement makes it well-suited to examine the behind-the-scenes activity the main crossover titles can’t. Greg Rucka and his writing partners are also good at incorporating those crossover elements pretty seamlessly into their own storylines. Therefore, when I read the solicitation for issue #24, advertising a Kobra plot that could mushroom into some huge, uncontrollable thing, I tend to pay attention.
THE CHLOE CONUNDRUM
Kurt Busiek and Rick Leonardi did a credible job with the “new” Kristin Wells, but the Chloe-to-the-comics development, starting in Superman #674, may be more redundant than even he thinks. Chloe is Lois’ younger cousin and the sister of one of Clark’s classmates. That means Clark went to school with another of Lois’ cousins; and if the school was Metropolis University, that’s not so far-fetched.
However, this only increases the Superman supporting cast, which grew steadily through the ‘90s. Back then, the books were a continuous weekly soap opera which could juggle everyone from Superman, Lois, and Jimmy, to Ron Troupe, “Cat” Grant, Bibbo, and Gangbuster. Today, Busiek must find room for the stalwarts while making sure Chris Kent doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Because Geoff Johns over in Action Comics doesn’t seem interested in the soap-opera stuff, Busiek appears to be the lone day-to-day manager of Superman and his friends. No wonder he’s worried about Chloe being redundant. Smallville-Chloe is a combination of best friend, platonic love interest, and exposition generator — equal parts Oracle and post-revamp Lana Lang. She’s probably the most “book-smart” of the regular cast. Smallville-Chloe is designed to be Clark’s peer and colleague. Therefore, it seems a bit unfair to the character to make her comics incarnation more of a match for Jimmy Olsen.
So we’ll see, I guess, but I hope this is the last cast addition for a while.
COMINGS, GOINGS, AND GUESTS
The new Atom team of Rick Remender and Pat Olliffe & John Stanisci starts in March with #21. Gail Simone and Mike Norton will be hard to follow.
Jerry Ordway is the guest-artist for The Brave & The Bold #11. Honestly, if/when George Pérez leaves B&B, DC could do a lot worse than to bring in Ordway. I continue to wonder why DC hasn’t locked him into its regular rotation.
The same analysis applies to Tom Peyer, guest-writing the new storyline (of indeterminate length, apparently) in The Flash. DC should also find regular work for Peyer, and he’d similarly do well following Waid on B&B and/or Flash.
I couldn’t remember where I’d seen Green Lantern Corps guest-writer Chuck Kim, other than in the “Heroes” credits, but he was a DC writer and assistant editor for a while (assisting Archie Goodwin and Denny O’Neil). So, belated congratulations on the “Heroes” gig, Mr. Kim! Glad to see it’s gotten you some more comics work!
Bernard Chang is the guest-artist for the Wonder Woman two-parter “How To Fight Khunds Like A Porn Star.” Yes, he’s done other superhero work, but I couldn’t resist.
OBSCURE PAPERBACKS OF THE MONTH
It had been announced already, but it’s still a bit odd to see the Aztek collection on DC’s schedule. Aztek was one of DC’s ‘90s series which had a lot of potential — and was advertised as a return to Silver Age-style anything-goes storytelling — but which never quite came together in any of its ten issues. I didn’t dislike Aztek, book or character, and certainly he was used as well as he could be in the Morrison JLA, but I don’t have wistful, regretful memories of the title’s short life. Maybe this collection will change that.
Second volumes of the Denny O’Neil/Denys Cowan Question and Showcase Presents The Legion of Super-Heroes are on the schedule for April. Again, I’m glad to see DC collecting the Question relaunch, although I didn’t expect it to be at the top of their list. Also, I wasn’t sure how the ongoing Superboy litigation would have affected the Showcase volumes. It doesn’t appear to have held up the first one, so here’s hoping we’ll see the second too.
It’s good news indeed to see DC paying attention to younger readers, both with Tiny Titans and now the new Super Friends. The Super Friends toys are adorable, and the book looks the same way. I hope it can find a niche far away from the direct market, where it can thrive. I hope too that DC has enough foresight to make its main line of superhero books into something the kids of today will want to read when they get a little older.
The all-ages allusions to mainstream continuity can be hard to handle. The kid who reads the Beast Boy/Terra story in Tiny Titans #2 may be shellshocked several years later by “The Judas Contract.” However, I can’t help but chuckle at the thought of a teenage Captain Cold and Golden Glider in Teen Titans Go! #53. “Ice Kate,” indeed….
UP THE CHIMNEY HE ROSE
Although I’ll be around next week as part of our year-in-review festivities, this is indeed the last Grumpy Old Fan of 2007. I can’t believe I’ve gotten to the end of the year without mentioning one of DC’s actual successes, a Big Event which promised all-out action and delivered in spades. Of course, I’m talking about The Santa Corps War, which revealed the Jolly Old Elf as a renegade Guardian handing out red-and-green power rings to beings throughout the universe capable of creating great merriment.
You’d think red/Anger + green/Willpower would = brown/Machiavelli. However, as it turns out, “brown” has a universe-wide association with delivery service (except on weekends, which cost extra, due to a necessary impurity in the power batteries). Therefore, the members of the Santa Corps aimed to bring joy to the worlds of their sectors through the fulfillment of wish lists.
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with the Guardians. How could universal order be preserved with a Santa Corps flying around, facilitating materialism? What’s more, the Santa Corps recruited beings with proven fun-making track records: Frosty the Snowman, Yukon Cornelius, Buddy the Elf, Genius Jones, ‘Mazing Man….
I don’t have to remind you of the chaos which ensued, especially once the Santa Corps came to Earth. Red and green lights everywhere, a Santa on practically every streetcorner — mass hysteria! The Green Lanterns were too busy recovering from the Sinestro Corps War to stop them, but I have a feeling that in their hearts — at least, in the hearts of the human GLs who were most susceptible to the Santas’ charms — they really didn’t want to.
Because honestly, when you get down to it, who can argue with fun? We readers of superhero comics come back week after week because we want, or even need, the things to be fun. Aside from anything else you might get out of this time of the year, it should yield at least one day where no one expects anything more from you than to be happy. Every December 21 (or thereabouts), the Northern Hemisphere turns a corner from increasing darkness into increasing light. It’s not corny or silly for us to do the same.
So Happy Holidays, blogosphere! Are you ready for “The World That’s Coming?” The wonders of 2008 have yet to be discovered!