The December DC solicitations are 40 pages lighter than they should be, what with Final Crisis #7 being pushed apparently into 2009. However, there’s plenty of other holiday cheer to discuss. Join me, won’t you, and let’s ring out 2008!
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DID DARKSEID BREAK THE SHIPPING SCHEDULE TOO?
Filling FC #7′s spot on the December schedule is the 40-page Final Crisis Secret Files special, headlined by what looks like a new Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely story. While that’s nothing at which to sneeze, the use of a Secret Files strikes me as a bit odd, and not just because it makes FC seem less high-toned. Final Crisis is supposed to eschew the big-picture widescreen-format perspective in favor of individual moments which hinted at the overall carnage. In combination, I think that’s been effective, but in isolation it brings to mind … well, the kind of narrow-focus stories one might find in a Secret Files issue. Therefore, FC:SF might end up as a big-picture overview, just to be different.
(In fact, a comprehensive timeline which also covers Countdown would be just right for FC:SF; although I doubt it’ll improve on this one.)
Legion Of Three Worlds #5 has also been pushed into next year, since October’s issue #3 was bumped to the first week in December; and Superman Beyond #2 continues to elude the solicits. One would hope that the first few weeks in January would see each of these in their appropriate order. In any event, Collected Editions notes that Amazon is taking pre-orders for the FC hardcover, ostensibly due in June 2009. There, I suppose, would be the ultimate deadline.
WHERE’S THE CAKE?
A couple of series are playing with my anniversary-issue expectations. I halfway thought Nightwing would go on hiatus following November’s issue #150, but here’s #151, still dealing with the current Two-Face storyline. Likewise, I’d have thought the upcoming is-this-the-end? storyline in The Flash would have stretched out to issue #250; but apparently a separate arc will lead into that anniversary.
Obviously DC has sentimental reasons for keeping Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman, and Batman in their original numbering. Action and Detective are in the high 800s, and Superman and Batman are in the high 600s. However, the other five “foundational” titles (Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League of America, and Legion of Super-Heroes) have each been restarted with new first issues within the past five years, despite the youngest of them (JLA, by my estimation) being in the neighborhood of fifty years old.
I mention this because the fast-approaching (ha ha) Flash #250, when combined with the previous couple of series’ 350 issues (i.e., the original Flash Comics #s 1-104 plus The Flash vol. 1 #s 105-350) would make an even 600. Yes, this number ignores Annuals, Specials, out-of-sequence numbers like 0 and 1,000,000, the All-Flash series, and the thirteen Bart Allen/Fastest Man Alive issues. Few could deny the power of the round number, though; and besides, this set of characters can especially claim historical precedent. So I say if you’re going to stop Wally’s series, do it with #249 so the first post-Rebirth number can be #600.
Additionally, if my math is right,* the January issue of Legion of Super-Heroes could be #700, as well as being the current title’s issue #50.
Meanwhile, over in Vertigo, Hellblazer hits #250 with a set of sure-to-be-heartwarming holiday-themed stories. See, that’s the way you do it — not by wondering about reboots past or future.
WHAT’S THIS? OTHER IMPRINTS?
Speaking of Vertigo, the new Haunted Tank series sounds like something I would read, but its conflicts have the potential to be rather heavy-handed and obvious. I’d love to see more of these kinds of revivals in the regular DC Universe line (the Haunted Tank was in “Architecture and Mortality,” remember), but I understand why this is a Vertigo book. For one thing, seems like all the mature-readers stuff goes over to Vertigo these days; and for another, I don’t think there’s quite the same Iraq War on DC-Earth.**
I see lots of love out there for the Wintermen special. The series originally caught my eye thanks to the artwork of John Paul Leon, but for some reason I never did pick up a copy. In all honestly, I probably won’t get the Special either, although this gives me hope for a collection.
ODDS AND ENDS
Marv Wolfman’s revamped Vigilante debuts this month, with art by Rick Leonardi. I have to say, a gun-toting take-no-prisoners figure doesn’t really seem to work within the context of DC. Wolfman has tried this twice before, first with a previous Vigilante and then with Deathstroke. Max Collins and Terry Beatty’s Wild Dog is more of a curiosity, and Dan Jurgens’ Agent Liberty doesn’t get much work outside of crowd scenes. Maybe the closest thing DC has to a Punisher is Deadshot, with not much room for another.
You know, I’d be more excited about this “New Krypton” thing if I hadn’t seen that “Lois & Clark” two-parter with the invading Kryptonian colony. For that matter, howcome the Kryptonians are always antagonistic these days? (It goes back to John Byrne, I know.) Does this mean that the “anti-Kryptonian laws” will be a heavy-handed real-world parallel? I’m a little surprised that, unlike previous months, December contains no first-week special (New Krypton: Front Line?) showing another facet of the current storyline.
Actually, the new all-ages Supergirl series will come out the first week in December, so maybe it will pick up some of the “New Krypton” crowd.
I enjoyed the first issue of the new El Diablo miniseries, but I’m not exactly sure why it involves a lower-case spirit of vengeance (apparently related to a minor demon) when the Spectre is a much higher-profile Spirit of Vengeance who answers to God Almighty. To me it invites unfair comparisons. Still, with FC: Revelations possibly removing the Spectre entirely, there might soon be only one s-o-v running around.
Sadly, last month I missed my chance to do an election-related Reign In Hell joke. I’m sure it was for the best.
I will be getting this year’s Holiday Special to see the “super-secret origin of Santa Claus.” Too bad he probably won’t be Kring-El.
Dennis O’Neil and Guillem March continue the parade of two-part Batman tributes with their look at a besieged Gotham City. Of course, Trinity, Booster Gold, and Nightwing are among the latest to show Gotham without a Bat-presence … but they won’t be collected in a $25.00 hardcover in between stories by Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman, now will they?
Finally (because I had nowhere else to put these items), December sees Andrew Kreisberg start as writer of Green Arrow/Black Canary; as well as a great Darwyn Cooke cover for the last issue of Ambush Bug: Year None.
I’ll probably end up getting the new Swamp Thing hardcover (making this the third time I’ve bought issues #21-27), but I have to wonder — why hasn’t Swampy gotten a Showcase Presents series before now? The original series would fit in the first volume, and the early non-Moore issues of Saga of the Swamp Thing would fit in the second, with the first Moore arc rounding out Vol. 2.
(I’m sure Mike Sterling knows the answer already, but sometimes I’m slow.)
The Strange Deaths Of Batman paperback should be pretty fun, if only because it includes the ‘70s storyline where Two-Face puts various villains (the Riddler, the Joker, Lex Luthor) “on trial” for the murder of Batman. I’m surprised, though, that it doesn’t include the John Byrne/Jim Aparo three-parter “The Many Deaths of the Batman.” You’d think that one would have fit right in.
It’s a month for obscure characters as December solicits a second One Year Later-era Aquaman figure, and makes happy those of you who have been waiting for a Live Wire figure (the Superman character, not the Zero-Hour-era Legionnaire).
Also, wow that is a nice-looking Christopher Reeve statue … and socially conscious, too!
THE CLOCK IS TICKING
The reprinting of Watchmen #1 seems to me to be a very good idea. It brings to mind the old English-class adage that a story’s first chapter needs to contain the core elements of the entire work, which issue #1 certainly does. However, Watchmen also had to function as a monthly comic book, relatively complete in each installment while enticing readers to come back. While Watchmen played with concepts of time within its pages, it was also aware that its audience had to wait a few weeks for the next issue.
Part of me thinks, snobbishly, that my experience of Watchmen in the original serialized format is somehow superior to one who merely reads the collection at one sitting, because they don’t have that enforced “rest period” to deal with. Sure, you can read a collection as slowly and meticulously as you want, but it’s different when the story’s being doled out one piece at a time. Without access to the whole thing, a reader has more incentive to study every detail, looking for deeper meanings and clues. If I were lending a fresh copy of Watchmen #1, I’d tell the recipient not to ask about the collection for at least a week.
Anyway, that’s what stood out to me this month. What looks good to you?
* [The original title picked up Superboy's numbering and ended with issue #325. Vol. 2 ended with #63, vol. 3 with #125, and Legionnaires -- which effectively made the Legion a biweekly title -- ended with #81. Add to that 12 issues of Legion Lost + 6 Legion Worlds + 38 The Legion + 49 current issues = 699.]
** [George W. Bush was never elected President of the United States, thanks to Lex Luthor’s third-party candidacy; and whenever a story needs a Middle Eastern setting, writers have tended to use fictional counterparts. Christopher Miller’s timeline says there was a 9/11 on DC-Earth, but in real time (i.e., the fall of 2001) the Imperiex War ended up subbing for it. I suppose that the Bush II presidency could be retconned into the timeline, as events slide forward, but it would have to be a retcon. By the way, notice that in Miller’s timeline, Superman dies just two months after 9/11. What a festive holiday season that must have been....]