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Grumpy Old Fan | I approve these messages: DC Comics Solicitations for November 2010

by  in Comic News Comment

Careful readers may have noticed that in past months I have been a little lukewarm towards DC’s solicitations.

Well, not this time.

Although we’ve already heard about many of these new titles, the fact that they all hit in the same month helps make the November solicits pretty eventful. So let’s see how DC’s loaded the pre-holiday season, shall we?

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INFINITELY INCORPORATED

The biggest new title is Batman, Inc., Grant Morrison’s new standardbearer for the Batman line. Essentially Morrison is transferring his flag from Batman and Robin to this book, and thereby shifting focus from a Dynamic Duo to a caped CEO.

At the risk of being immodest, I would like to point that on my solo blog, Comics Ate My Brain, I talked about the Bat-Brand back in February 2006. I noted then that “Robin and Batgirl can be seen as Batman’s ‘franchisees,’ officially-sanctioned emissaries of the head office further extending the head office’s reach,” and also that the Bat-Signal and various forms of Bat-gear constituted “active brand marketing and other forms of propaganda.” I even figured it was a good argument for the yellow oval’s return, so … yay me, I guess. It’s always nice to see one’s personal fanwankery confirmed in print.

Of course, it’s particularly appropriate to introduce Batman, Inc. in the same month as the new Batwoman book, David Finch’s Dark Knight series, new creative teams on Detective Comics and Batman and Robin, and Batman Confidential #50. I count fourteen ongoing series in November’s “Batman” block — which, admittedly, includes tangential titles Birds Of Prey, Outsiders, and Azrael — plus four miniseries (two of which wrap up in November, but still) and a Howard Chaykin special. Then there’s the DC Comics Presents Batman reprint, the Chase reprints featuring Batman, the Brave and the Bold relaunch, the guest appearances in Teen Titans and Titans, and the White Lantern thing in Brightest Day. Why not have a comic about the “business” of being Batman?

More pertinent to readers, perhaps, is the recognition that Dick, Damian, and Tim will continue in their post-Battle For The Cowl roles. With an extended stint writing Nightwing under his belt, Peter Tomasi is no stranger to the original Robin; but honestly — and ironically, given what I’ve said above — I thought his run was long on fannish ideas and short on execution. I suspect many readers will simply drop B&R for Batman, Inc. I’ll give Tomasi a chance, on the theory that his Dick/Batman must necessarily be different from his Nightwing; but I am not counting on buying B&R much longer.

BORING NON-BATMAN DEBUTS

The new Superboy series starts in November, and it didn’t seem like that big a deal to me at first. For one thing, last year around this time, the big news was the ongoing Kon-El feature anchoring Adventure Comics. However — and this will sound bad, so I apologize in advance — I’m intrigued by the fact that it doesn’t appear tied to a big DC event (the “next DC epic” hype notwithstanding) and/or anything in which Geoff Johns is currently involved. In other words, it’s like DC just wanted to publish a Superboy series and found Jeff Lemire to write it and Pier Gallo to draw it. Considering the heavy lifting required to bring Kon back to life, it’s refreshing that his new series has such a standalone air.

November’s other high-profile relaunch is the new THUNDER Agents series, and unfortunately I’m pretty sure about my ambivalence towards it. Granted, my exposure to the THUNDER Agents goes back only to Deluxe Comics’ mid-1980s revival, but that had the advantage of high-profile professionals like Steve Englehart, George Pérez, Keith Giffen, Dave Cockrum, and Gil Kane. It was basically an anthology, with short stories on individual agents supplementing the team’s regular feature. This will be a 40-page, $3.99 book, so I wonder if DC doesn’t have a similar co-feature arrangement in mind. The Deluxe series also featured a subplot where Lightning, the super-speedster, was aging rapidly as a result of his powers. The upcoming DC series seems to have expanded that notion to the team as a whole, presumably to set it apart both from the “classic” series and DC super-teams generally. Still, I know the “powers will kill you” thing reminds some of Strikeforce Morituri, and not in a good way.

ODDS AND ENDS

I saw that Authority #28 was written by Tom Taylor and I wondered if I’d missed a crossover with Unwritten….

At first I was going to say something about Sinestro going back to his old blue-collar duds on the cover of Green Lantern #60, but then I realized it was the DC-anniversary homage to GL vol. 2 #52 (April 1967).

Speaking of covers, that looks like Kono of the “5-Year Gap” Legion on the cover of Booster Gold #38, although the issue’s solicit copy is all about World War II.

The October solicits featured a couple of one-shots which seemed to come out of left field, namely Ragman and Victorian Undead. Now the November solicits include a Nightmaster special (good creative team with Adam Beechen and Kieron Dwyer) and a Dracula-oriented Victorian Undead sequel; plus, a Ragman co-feature starts in Streets Of Gotham #17. I’m tempted to suggest “eventually it all makes sense” as DC’s new slogan….

EVENTUALLY, IT ALL MAKES SENSE

Since REBELS #22 features the Green Lanterns, I wonder if it will play up the connection between the Guardians of the Universe and the Psions. I can see how the Guardians experimenting on the proto-Psions could be the foundation for some kind of “horrifying truth” about the latter.

And while we’re on the subject of odd DC connections, I wonder if its use of Skartaris will tie Secret Six into the just-ended Warlord. At first Warlord wasn’t part of the DC universe, but then Travis Morgan appeared in Crisis On Infinite Earths (and later, appropriately enough, Green Arrow), and Skartaris was part of the Captain Atom co-feature in Action Comics — but I didn’t think the more recent Warlord series were supposed to be part of the DCU.

COLLECTIONS

November’s DC Comics Presents mini-collections are all good choices. Flash/Green Lantern: Faster Friends found its way onto “Lost’s” Craphole Island, but it is a fine story in its own right. The Chase and Young Justice reprints will have to tide me over until more comprehensive collections come along. The Ed Brubaker Batman and Geoff Johns Superman reprints are from before-they-were-mega-stars periods, and the Firestorm reprint may give Brightest Day readers a different perspective on Jason and Ronnie’s relationship.

It is a personal failing, I know, that I am looking for some ulterior motive on DC’s part for publishing a Greatest Batgirl Stories book. It will probably be a good sample of the character’s salad days, and I should just accept it as such.

And although it’s not exactly the period for which I’ve been lobbying, the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Volume 3 reprints some fine Steve Englehart/Joe Staton comics from the first time DC tried to take the Guardians out of the picture.

For what it’s worth, the November solicits also include the final paperback collections of Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes version) and Planetary, and the last Starman Omnibus.

A MILLION LIGHTS ARE DANCING AND THERE YOU ARE, A SHOOTING STAR

Finally — man, I am bummed about the end of Madame Xanadu. Initially liked it for its not-very-subtle nods to the superheroes, and I wondered if maybe it wouldn’t have done better as a main-line DC Universe book. As the series progressed, though, I came to appreciate MX on its own considerable merits, including Matt Wagner’s lively scripts and Amy Reeder’s nimble pencils. By the time J’Onn J’Onzz guest-starred for an arc, it didn’t feel gratuitous or intrusive; and the current “Extra Sensory” storyline has been a fine series of thematically-connected horrors. I’m glad that Amy Reeder Hadley will be part of Batwoman, but I still hope that MX is only taking a temporary break so it can be relaunched in the main DC line.  It’s consistently been one of the publisher’s best books, and it deserved a longer run.

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Well, that’s what caught my eye this month. What looks good to you?