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Cornucopia of DEATH! DC Comics Solicitations for November, 2009

by  in Comic News Comment
Cornucopia of DEATH!  DC Comics Solicitations for November, 2009

While pulling together my notes on DC’s November solicitations, I saw that I was talking about Blackest Night a lot. Big shocker, right?

Well, it kinda was. See, BN‘s actual presence doesn’t increase that much in November, but the event seems to have a bit more impact this time out.

As always, though, DC’s set its table with more than just a (reanimated, cosmically-powered) big bird. Let’s see what else is on the plate, shall we?

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BLACKEST NOVEMBER

Apparently no one was surprised by the Big Reveal. Heck, I would have been surprised if Johns hadn’t worked in you-know-who, especially since he was featured in a certain recently-collected 1980s miniseries.

In other BN news, the usual set of Blackest Night Colon [Character/Team] miniseries will take at least a month off, so that the crossover can in fact cross over into regular DC titles. As mentioned above, however, I was surprised at how limited the crossing over was.  Here’s the schedule.

11/4: Doom Patrol #4
11/11: GL Corps #42, Booster Gold #26, REBELS #10
11/18: Adventure Comics #4, Outsiders #24, Superman/Batman #66
11/25: BN #5, Green Lantern #48, Justice League of America #39, Teen Titans #77

Essentially, there will be three BN-related books each week instead of two. The exceptions are the first week, which BN‘s core books (BN and the GL titles) are still skipping, and the fourth, which will have four BN books (thanks to BN itself being delayed a week).  If you get only the core books, you get a break — half as many books without the tie-in miniseries.  However, if you want everything with a black ring on its necrotic finger, you’ll be getting almost twice as many issues (11, up from 6 normally).  I’m guessing most readers will find a middle ground.  I’d buy Doom Patrol, Booster Gold, and JLA anyway, and don’t plan to get any of the others.

Nevertheless, because we seem to have demanded it, orders for many of these titles will be tied to — and will probably be goosed by — a sales incentive involving various Lantern Corps ring trinkets. I can understand wanting to increase sales on middle-of-the-pack titles like Booster and REBELS, but you’d think that sales of Adventure, JLA, and Blackest Night wouldn’t need much help.

By the way, is it odd to anyone else that the original Doom Patrol is fighting reanimated-dead superheroes? Up until about five years ago, most of them would have been Black Lanterns.  Indeed, for a good twenty years, the original DP was pretty much synonymous with heroic sacrifice.

Compare that with the “no shortage of dead Teen Titans” line (in the TT #77 solicit). Yes, they all died with their boots on, and yes, it’s clearly meant as gentle self-mockery, but at some point it stops being funny, you know?

IT’S NOT JUST THE TURKEY THAT’S LEAN

The DCU section seemed a bit shorter this month, so I did some math. For October, the publisher solicited a total of 62 DCU issues, comprising ongoings, miniseries, Annuals, and specials. For November, that number was down to 50. Most of this was due to miniseries attrition: October will wind up the four Final Crisis Aftermath minis, the three Blackest Night tie-in minis, The Last Days Of Animal Man, and Strange Adventures.

Still, the drop in quantity is rather striking.  I’d have thought that the second round of Blackest Night minis would have started in November. Instead, the handful of regular titles crossing over into BN effectively supplants those tie-in miniseries. That’s not an unreasonable strategy — it could even help DC avoid charges of “milking Blackest Night” — and BN‘s overall appeal should boost sales of those books. However, the drop in DCU output pretty much guarantees that DC will once again be clobbered by Marvel (which, in my conservative estimate is soliciting around 75 MU books for November) in market share.

Now admittedly, the various Lantern-Ring incentives may jack up sales on their particular books; and there could be in-story reasons for delaying the second round of BN tie-in titles. Besides, it’s not incumbent on DC to judge its success by market share, as long as everyone is happy otherwise. Still, I suppose I was expecting the publisher to pounce on anything BN-related, and not wait a month if it didn’t have to.

Also missing from the November schedule are Batman: Widening Gyre #4 (issue #3 of 6 was solicited for October) and Power Girl #7.  I know you are shocked that a Kevin Smith-written book could be late, but I am a little concerned for PG.  Similarly, the fact that Batman Confidential is starting to go biweekly makes me think it’s burning off inventory stories in a prelude to cancellation. However, Vigilante is definitely cancelled, as of November’s #12.

BATMAN

Huntress fans should be happy in November, since she appears in Batman, Detective, and Streets Of Gotham. Likewise, Ra’s al Ghul appears in both Azrael and Red Robin.  Any more of this and I’d think they were in Iron Man 2.

Does it feel a bit odd to read something about Kate Kane being shockingly outed (in a Detective #859 flashback), over three years after the fact?  Regardless, I am eager to revisit Greg Rucka’s previous work on Detective, back when Montoya was still a cop and Bruce Wayne was Batman. I also continue to wonder if Kate is related to Martha (Kane) Wayne, but the more I read the less I think Rucka would do that.

It’s a very small detail, but I do hope The Unseen features a yellow-ovaled Batman costume, as seen on the cover accompanying its solicit.

Odds are the story in Batman Confidential #s 36-37 is set in the present, but I’d love to see another Golden Age Batman/Blackhawks period piece.

SUPERMAN

Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to Secret Origin, but I can’t look at Gary Frank’s version of Li’l Clark without seeing Harry Potter.  Oh well, I suppose he is a “Boy Who Lived….”

In any event, I like Superman: SO #3’s solicit tagline, “learn why Metropolis means everything to Superman.” It really makes me want to read the issue. Well done, anonymous solicitation writer!

In fact, that almost makes up for a detail in the Superman #694 solicit. I hate to be That Guy With The Abacus, but won’t “[k]icking off a new 5-issue storyline” in that issue “rocket readers all the way to” issue #698?

Just a reminder about World Of New Krypton #9 — if any of you are tempted to make fun of Jemm, Son Of Saturn, for whatever reason, remember that he was part of Lex Luthor’s Injustice League, and specifically was Luthor’s answer to J’Onn J’Onzz. I for one welcome our new Saturnian masters.

Alura’s outfit (on the cover of Supergirl #47) would be a good upgrade (albeit with an appropriate color scheme) for Kara’s duds. Sadly, DC seems pretty committed to the bare-midriff look.

ODDS AND ENDS

Hmmm … what about Madame Xanadu #17 doesn’t scream “Martian Manhunter?”

Boy, I hope the Metal Men beat the poo out of the living mannequins in DP #4. In fact, I hope they are the same mannequins in those hideous Old Navy commercials. I am sick to death of Old Navy commercials, and have been for a long time.  I have many irrational pet peeves.

JMS said a while back he’d be using Brother Power, and here he is in Brave and the Bold #29.

I bet at least one DC staffer has referred to Victorian Undead (which, by the way, looks promising) as Blackest Night: Sherlock Holmes.

(I’d also be willing to bet that “You Don’t Know Dick” was a rejected “Batman Reborn” tagline….)

Still not sure about the Great Ten miniseries. I’m glad that DC is trying to be more multi-culti, and I like the creative team, but it doesn’t quite feel like they’re close enough to the material. (Did they even ask Gene Yang…?) On the other hand, Scott Ian writing a new Lobo miniseries for Sam Kieth to draw seems like a perfect marriage all the way around. And speaking of which, who better than John Ostrander to write a Deadshot spotlight (in Secret Six #15)? I suspect, though, that there won’t be as many laughs in that issue….

Given Titans‘ recent history of rotating writers, the phrase “J.T. Krul returns for another issue” carries a kind of desperate poignancy.

For a second I read the villain in The Shield #3 as the “Bran Emperor,” and I must admit I was a little disappointed to find that wasn’t accurate. (Fear his colon-emptying wrath!)

In other villain news, I suspect — and I bet you do too — that Captain Atom’s adversary in Action #883 is actually Major Force, not Major Disaster. To be fair, there seems to be some confusion about whether MF is still alive. Perhaps Blackest Night will resolve that somehow…?

I give WildStorm a lot of credit for revisiting the abortive Grant Morrison/Gene Ha Authority. That version of the series has become so infamous, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had just been abandoned, in hopes that readers would have forgotten about it (or, more likely, designated it “out of continuity”). Obviously, WildStorm has moved on, so I don’t know how vital The Lost Year will be to Authority fans. Nevertheless, here it is, however overdue.

PULP HOPE

The DC PulpVerse sounds pretty intriguing, as long as DC doesn’t go overboard incorporating the superheroes. I take the phrase “new pulp-influenced universe” to mean that it is separate from the regular, less-pulpy DCU, although it would include other pulp-rooted characters similar to Batman. Therefore, I imagine that your Green Arrows, Black Canaries, Manhunters, Sandmen, Messrs. Terrific, etc., would be more at home in the PulpVerse than more sci-fi or fantasy-oriented superheroes. In other words, I’d rather it not be a thinly-disguised Elseworlds.

COLLECTIONS

You’d think I’d make some comment about Batman: The Cult being old enough to drink (it came out in 1988, as opposed to what the solicit copy says), but I’m really not surprised. It is very much a late-’80s, post-Frank-Miller story, whose central plot point is Batman’s defeat. I will have to read The Cult again, but I remember that it tries awfully hard to create an atmosphere of dread.  Despite Berni Wrightson’s art, it doesn’t quite get there, succumbing instead to an action-movie climax where, yes, this time it’s personal. Still, it does give Robin (Jason Todd) a good bit to do, which is nice.

Everything in the Absolute Green Lantern Rebirth book has been reprinted before, either as part of the Rebirth volumes or the No Fear collection, and there don’t appear to be any behind-the-scenes extras to sweeten the deal. Accordingly, I suppose it’s primarily an artistic showcase, but I’m not a big enough fan of Ethan Van Sciver to be interested. I realize I am probably in the minority on that.

Glad to see the Terra and Vixen miniseries collected, because it will give me another opportunity to read them. Glad also to see the Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In The Eighth Grade miniseries collected, because it was a lot of fun.

* * *

Anyway, that’s what jumped out at me this week.  What looks good to you?

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