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Bustin’ out all over: DC Comics Solicitations for June 2009

by  in Comic News Comment
Bustin’ out all over:  DC Comics Solicitations for June 2009

There’s a decent amount of good middle-of-the-road fare in the new batch of DC solicitations. Wonder Woman’s “Rise of the Olympian” arc concludes, as do Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye and Mysterius. Mon-El takes a victory lap around the world, we learn more about Nightwing and Flamebird, and we inch closer to Blackest Night. All of these developments are designed to maintain your interest in the individual books, but they’re not particularly noteworthy in and of themselves.

Instead, the big news looks to be in the shotgun-blast of relaunched Bat-titles, as well as with the “co-features,” DC’s latest experiment with formats and pricing. Those projects even overlap, perhaps not surprisingly, with Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham.

Anyway, let’s get to it, shall we?

UP TO BAT

Here we go: the main line of Bat-books reinflates in the wake of Battle for the Cowl. You know this already, but I want to get it straight for myself. Batman and Detective return, joined by Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Batman: Streets of Gotham, and Gotham City Sirens. To me the odd book out is Red Robin. Nothing against Christopher Yost or Ramon Bachs, but they’re not on a book with Batman in it, they’re not on a “core” book like Detective Comics, and they’re more than likely saddled with Jason Todd under the hood. Also, although Yost worked on the “The Batman” TV series, next to Morrison, Dini, Rucka, and arguably Winick, he’s fairly new to the Batman comics. I might still read RR, but I’m having a hard time getting excited about it.

I count two books about Batman, one about Batwoman, and one for Red Robin. Sirens sounds like it twists the Birds of Prey setup, with Catwoman as Oracle (or at least the default grownup), and Streets could be a more wide-ranging version of Gotham Central. (Longtime readers may remember that in the early ‘90s, John Ostrander wrote two Gotham Nights miniseries which presented the citizens’-eye view.)

What’s more, none of the solicits for these titles suggest their own endpoints. Batwoman is supposed to run for at least twelve issues in Detective, but nothing says she can’t stay there longer. Therefore, even after the regular status quo returns, and titles like Robin and Nightwing come back, these books could stick around as well.

By the way, to me the Manhunter backup is just as much an incentive to buy Streets of Gotham as the return of Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen.

Finally, Ed Benes on Batman might well mean he’s off Justice League — but watch out for Sexxay Vicki Vale, not just for All Star Batman anymore!

THIS AND THAT

Although I’m only moderately excited about one of the Final Crisis spinoff miniseries (Dance, which I’d like better if it were called Gotta Dance, or even Final Dance Crisis), I will say that their solicits this month are each pretty clever. The Run solicitation sounds particularly like someone fell asleep reading Nextwave … or at least the Nextwave solicits.

Not to spoil Flash: Rebirth #3 for anyone, but in six tries (or seven, depending on what you count), the guy in the red cape has never beaten the Flash. That would cut against the whole “Fastest Man Alive” thing, wouldn’t it? (Of course, Supergirl could race a Flash without having to worry about such things.)

I’m looking forward to the Static/Black Lightning team-up in The Brave and the Bold #24, especially since it’s written by former Milestone writer/editor Matt Wayne.

Speaking of former Milestoners, what’s happened to Dwayne McDuffie on Justice League? Nothing against Len Wein, because I’ve enjoyed his recent DC work, but it’s a little odd to see him again so soon after his Starbreaker fill-in.

I’m on the fence about the JSA vs. Kobra miniseries. I like Eric Trautmann and Don Kramer pretty well, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the modern Justice Society. Actually, maybe that should be “a modern fan of the huge Justice Society,” considering the 23 JSAers on the cover of issue #1.  Trautmann didn’t have that many to deal with in the Checkmate cast.

The “one-shot ‘Day in the Life’ stories” starting in Titans #14 make me think that the new regular writer is about six issues away. When JLA did its own series of one-off member spotlights, it was called “The Pain of the Gods” and let me tell ya, thanks to Chuck Austen’s scripts, we mortals felt some pain too. However, it was followed by Kurt Busiek’s eight-issue “Syndicate Rules,” which was pretty good. Here’s hoping Titans gets some more stability after this little series is over.

Yikes!  In Tiny Titans #17, “Cyborg learns what continuity is and why sometimes it works against you.” Starting ‘em on the hard stuff already, DC?

So far, “Rise of the Olympian” (concluding in Wonder Woman #33) has been dramatized pretty well. I hesitate to say it’s been “enjoyable” or “entertaining,” considering that it’s showed our heroine’s utter defeat and the despair of those around her. Since I take it that’s been the point, though, I’d say the efforts of Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti have paid off. However, since Diana’s last career-defining shocker was snapping Max Lord’s neck four years ago, it makes me a little queasy to think that the end of “ROTO” may try to do something comparable. I’m confident in Simone and Lopresti’s abilities, but I’m not expecting a lot of bunnies and unicorns.

GREEN LANTERN

Since Green Lantern Corps #37 is “the penultimate ‘Emerald Eclipse’” chapter, does that mean we won’t see Blackest Night until August? That would give the main GL book time to get back on track.

The Green Lantern(s) guest shot in the June issue of World Of New Krypton makes my little nerd heart go pitter-pat.

You know, I like Ch’p, but I have a feeling he’ll be “displayed separately” from a lot of those $325.00 Green Lantern statues.

CO-FEATURES

I know there are more co-features coming, including “Metal Men” in the Doom Patrol revival, so this observation might mean less and less as time goes by. Still, I notice that all four of the co-features in these solicits are legacy heroes (Manhunter, Blue Beetle, The Question, and Ravager), and two of them have been brought under the Bat-umbrella. Accordingly, DC doesn’t seem to be going out too far on that limb with this first batch of backups. Here are June’s new co-features, organized primarily for my convenience.

Batman: Streets of Gotham: “Manhunter” by Mark Andreyko and Georges Jeanty
Booster Gold: “Blue Beetle” by Matthew Sturges and Mike Norton
Detective Comics: “The Question” by Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner
Teen Titans: “Ravager” by Sean McKeever and Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson

While I’m thinking about it, this has nothing to do with these particular solicitations, but it would be nice if DC kept us fans updated on who was editing what features. Since the co-features will be here for a while, it would be nice to know whether (for example) Rachel Gluckstern was sticking with “Blue Beetle” in its new home.

COLLECTIONS

The solicitation for the JLA By George Perez hardcover is confusing me. The issue numbers don’t match the book’s purported content. By the numbers, the collection would omit the first part of the Darkseid/Fourth World storyline from issues #183-85 (#183 was veteran penciller Dick Dillin’s last issue before his death), and would include issue #186 (a one-off featuring the Shaggy Man). However, instead of the Secret Society storyline (issues #195-97), which by the way looks like it’s featured on the book’s cover, the collection would include a two-parter about Red Tornado (actually more exciting than it might sound) and a one-off Amos Fortune story. I’m hoping that the numbers are accurate (and the book really should include Dillin’s issue #183 regardless). Both stories referenced in the solicits were JLA/JSA team-ups, and therefore could have been collected more affordably as part of the old Crisis On Multiple Earths paperback series. There’s enough Perez JLA material to fit into two volumes, so Volume 2 could include issues #195-97, the super-sized #200, all of Perez’ covers, and maybe some random Perez JLA work like the flashback pages from Action Comics #650.

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 4 runs almost to the end of the 1960s, and therefore pretty much to the end of the “New Look.” If there’s a Volume 5, it will show Dick Grayson leaving for college, as well as the first Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams stories. Sometimes it seems hard to believe that the Bat-books could change so significantly in a little over five years.

PRICE WATCHING

June’s $3.99 books include Batman, Detective, Streets Of Gotham, Booster Gold, Strange Adventures, Teen Titans, and Seaguy. Each of those runs 40 pages total. WildStorm continues to publish a few 32-pagers at $3.99: Astro City, Gears Of War, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, and Prototype.

The JLA By George Perez book looks especially pricey next to the Sandman By Simon & Kirby collection. The Sandman book is 300 pages for $39.99, whereas the JLA book is the same price for only 176 pages.

The Vertigo Crime line kicks off August 19, with Filthy Rich (by Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos) and the John Constantine story Dark Entries (by Ian Rankin and Werther Dell’Edera). They look digest-sized, but at $19.99 each for about 200 pages, they may be a little on the high side.

There are a few good price points in these solicits: $12.99 for ten issues of Madame Xanadu, $9.99 for 240 pages of Showcase Presents Bat Lash. Plus, if you like the Madame Xanadu paperback, you only have to hunt up three issues of the ongoing series.

* * *

That’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?

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