You’ll forgive me if I include some of the news from Dan DiDio’s LA Times interview in this little roundup. Between that article and these solicits, there’s a lot to sort through … and, obviously, not all of it good. Cancellations, character shuffling, and general restructuring seem to be the order of business for the first part of 2009.
Any more of this and DC may need its own bailout–!
Wow, that’s a dark sentiment, isn’t it? Well, the days are getting shorter….
For February DC would probably like us readers to focus on “Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?” by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert, serialized in what may be the last issues (for a while) of Batman and Detective Comics. Certainly Gaiman’s involvement means that the story has the potential to reach out beyond the regular Batman crowd. (That would be a “crossover the hard way.”)
However, the cancellations of Nightwing and Robin cast a somewhat unsavory pallor over “WHTTCC.” Rather than being part of the end of an era — as when DC Comics Presents wrapped up in a muted sidebar to “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” — the final issues of Nightwing and Robin are only the beginning of what looks to be a rather conventional Batman event. Accordingly, I remain convinced that everything will be back to normal (with some details tweaked, of course) by … oh, let’s say the fall. (Ironically, April 18, 2009 is the 70th anniversary of Detective #27 — where’s the cake?) Not even the Nightwing #153 solicit’s surprising “Batman is dead” disclosure makes me think any differently.
Regardless, I am curious to see which books return when the status quo is eventually restored. The Batman line has been pretty dominant for a while now, and having only three titles (Batman, ’Tec, and Batman Confidential) rolls back its numbers to an almost-twenty-year low. The last time the line was this small, George H.W. Bush was President.
Speaking of Batman Confidential, I am eager to see Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis’ take on King Tut, and it’s always good to see José Luis Garcia-Lopéz’ work. I hope this Tut isn’t too grim ‘n’ gritty. If he was born in Arizona, even better.
“If you’ve waited to pick up [The Outsiders]…?” Yes, if you’ve been waiting to read Batman and the Outsiders, but didn’t like all the Batman, this “exciting new era” is for you!
You know, the more I think about it, I’d like to see Simon Dark win the “Battle for the Cowl.”
Looks like a transitory month for the three Superman titles, with James Robinson pulling double duty on Action and Superman, and Supergirl (thankfully) pursuing its own storyline. Apparently everything is building towards Superman’s self-imposed exile, which of course makes longtime fans like me think of a similar storyline which ran from the fall of 1988 into the summer of 1989.
And if I might digress for a moment … is it really fair of me to complain on one hand that DC is pandering to longtime fans, and on the other that the publisher is revisiting concepts from twenty years ago? I mean, for both to be true, DC would have to be pretty … “short-sighted” isn’t quite the word. “Unoriginal” doesn’t exactly fit either. How about “recidivist?”
In any event, DC does expect solicitation readers to know their history. The Justice League solicit refers to “another Final Night,” which as I’m sure you know was a 1996 event. I suppose going back twelve years isn’t quite the same as going back twenty, although one might easily find that Superman: Exile paperback on a store’s shelves next to the Final Night collection.
Oh well. I’ll let you have another “Exile” storyline, DC … but I may not be so understanding next time.
Back to the Superman titles, it is a little worrying to me that Superman won’t be dealing with Pa Kent’s death until the end of February. Apparently the “New Krypton” storyline will be pretty involving, but Pa’s death just happened a few weeks ago. It’s like the books will be standing still for the next three months.
FINAL ISSUES, FIRST ISSUES
Along with Nightwing and Robin, February sees the ends of Birds Of Prey, Blue Beetle, and 100 Bullets. (Okay, that last one wasn’t a surprise.) Oracle will continue in her own miniseries, and Blue Beetle will probably continue in Teen Titans. Of course, Blue Beetle will live on as long as moving images are carved onto DVDs, thanks to his star turn in the first “Brave and the Bold” cartoon.
(Boy, that was a fun episode! Giving Jaime the voice of Ron Stoppable was a great touch. Too bad about the timing, though….)
I’m not sold yet on The Mighty. The setup doesn’t sound that innovative (it sounds a little like the Howard Chaykin miniseries Power & Glory, for one thing) but it ought to look good.
Is this the first we’ve seen of a relaunched R.E.B.E.L.S.? I certainly wasn’t expecting it. I’d have bet on a new Omega Men ongoing ahead of this title.
The original Adventure Comics began its life as New Comics, then New Adventure Comics, and then simply Adventure Comics with issue #32 (November 1938). Therefore, apart from special issues, there was no Adventure Comics #1, so the upcoming Adventure #1 (starring Geoff Johns’ latest take on the Legion, I presume) isn’t trampling so much on history. Of course, because I am obsessive about these things, I would still rather have the old numbering back, even if it would have to pick up at issue #504.
This might also be a topic for another day, but I wonder why DC is bringing back Adventure specifically and not just launching a new Legion title? Trademark protection is no doubt a factor. However, to me it sounds like DC is hedging its bets on the New Old Legion, and leaving the title open for another headliner should this version of the team fail to sell. Naturally, the new Adventure could be an oversized duplex title, or even an anthology; but DC wouldn’t pander to me so blatantly.
None of this explains why there is no creative team listed for the “Origins And Omens” story solicited for Adventure #0.
ODDS AND ENDS
Besides their artistic and promotional merits, I’d say that all those “Origins And Omens” backup stories may also help the books ship on time. (Assuming one story or another isn’t late, that is.) However, I also can’t help but be reminded of the late ’70s/early ’80s, when a monthly book’s 25 pages of story might include an 8-page backup.
I know DC is reaching out via what is current and “hep,” but … the El Diablo #6 solicit refers to “all his Tony Soprano-like cleverness?” What? Where did that come from? Is this some backdoor way of advertising the new “Sopranos” DVDs (now on sale from HBO Home Video, a fellow subsidiary of TimeWarner)? Granted, I didn’t watch the last few years of the show, but are there parallels I’m missing?
Please, Lord, forgive Mary Marvel her trespasses, so that she can rejoin the side of good in Justice Society and the blogosphere will have one less complaint.
Okay. So. In the just-released Titans #8, the team learns that Jericho has turned evil and in fact is hiding inside one of them. According to the solicits for Titans #10 and Vigilante #3, this situation will be continuing at least until February’s issues. Probably longer than that, in fact, since Vigilante comes out the week after Titans (in theory, of course) and the mystery still won’t have been solved by then. Is this going to be a new Titans “thing?” Every month, one or more characters will say something squirrelly to make the readers think s/he is secretly Jericho. I suppose it would help deflect charges that Winick writes the Titans out of character….
Changing out Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragonés for Spirit movie producers Michael Uslan and F.J. DeSanto makes me think that The Spirit (the comic) now exists in no small part to promote the new movie. Darwyn Cooke I could see producing Eisneresque stories. Evanier and Aragonés were good storytellers, even if their fare was more lighthearted. This new creative team might have its heart in the right place, but at the moment it looks like they’re just in it for the ancillary marketing.
Looking forward to the Kyle Baker story in House Of Mystery #10.
The Batman Annuals collection might as well be called As Much 1950s Batman As We Could Fit Into One Book. (Indeed, Batman In The Fifties is about two-thirds the size of this book. Each of the Annuals had a theme: Annual #1 dealt with behind-the-scenes stories (“secrets of the Bat-Signal,” etc.); Annual #2 was full of alternate Batmen (including Chief Man-Of-Bats and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh); and Annual #3 contained stories mostly of obscure 1950s Bat-villains (Mirror Man, for example).
I suppose the Haunted Gotham collection piggybacks somewhat on the current Gotham After Midnight limited series, in that both feature more stylized and horrific Kelley Jones artwork for Batman and crew. However, there the similarites start to fade. Haunted Gotham was an Elseworlds miniseries which turned familiar Batman elements on their collective ear. Basically, it was Batman versus werewolves, zombies, a mad scientist and his patchwork creation, etc., in a Gotham described as “the closest Hell gets to Earth” (or words to that effect). It wasn’t bad, but it seemed mainly like an excuse to have Batman fight monsters.
Glad to see Showcase Presents Ambush Bug, but I wonder how “funny” Keith Giffen and Bob Oksner’s artwork will look in stark black and white. I usually associate black-and-white Giffen with moody noir stories.
I wouldn’t have expected Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee’s “For Tomorrow” arc to get the Absolute treatment, because it isn’t remembered that fondly (certainly not as fondly as “Hush,” its spiritual brother). It can be confusing, and it presents a somewhat idiosyncratic view of Superman. However, I kinda liked it (better than I liked “Hush,” for sure). I thought the ending didn’t quite live up to the potential of the first eleven issues, but nobody’s perfect. While that’s probably not enough to get me to buy an Absolute version, I haven’t read the issues in a while either.
Does anyone else think that Air got an unusually quick turnaround into paperback? The first five issues will be collected just as issue #8 hits stores.
REACHING ACROSS THE AISLE
Every month when these solicitation roundup posts come due, I feel a little guilty. As you know, DC releases previews of its solicits a couple of days early, but the full batch comes out Monday evening at 5:00 Eastern. This column goes live at noon Eastern on Thursdays. That gives me three full evenings to come up with smart-aleck remarks like the ones above.
Marvel previews its solicits a couple of days early as well, but their full batch doesn’t hit the ol’ series of tubes until Tuesday at noon. The Fifth Color goes live on Wednesdays. That gives Carla a little over twenty-four hours to pull together her thoughts. Now, I don’t think our respective schedules are entirely fair, but in the two years we’ve been blogging together Carla hasn’t complained.
Instead, Carla attacks every month’s solicits with the same vigor that she brings to any other Fifth Color. Obviously she loves comics, she loves selling comics, she loves talking and writing about comics, and she especially loves Marvel Comics. (She’s not entirely opposed to DC either.) After hanging out with her at the 2007 Comic-Con, I can’t imagine Carla not working at constant full speed. I bet if her nurse showed her the Marvel solicits today, she’d be typing “Forward To The Past!” within the hour.
Carla is plugged into Marvel in a way that my old cynical self can only envy. She knows what she likes and what she doesn’t, and she’s not shy about either. I get the sense from her writing (and from what little time I’ve spent with her in person) that every Wednesday brings new opportunities and new possibilities. Some weeks I don’t know exactly what I’m going to write about. I doubt Carla has that problem.
We all want good comics, and there are few more passionate about their tastes than Carla Hoffman. Unfortunately, having her on the sidelines means an enthusiasm drought that the rest of us must help make up. Therefore, face front!, and send Carla and Lance what you can in the way of money or other contributions, so that she’ll be better able to once again unleash the focused totality of her blogging prowess. I hear she’s the best she is at what she does.