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Grumpy Old Fan | Old growth from DC in May

by  in Comic News Comment

Not a lot in DC Comics’ May solicitations really strikes me as “new.” That’s due partly to a lot of the new books being set to launch a month earlier. Generally, the superhero line continues to contract, while The New 52 — Futures End kicks off, the New 52 version of Doomsday keeps rampaging through the Superman titles, and Batman Eternal rolls on. Nevertheless, I do have the irrational sense that the line is gearing up for something even more significant, and will be adding new series over the next few months.

Still, if we’re to get excited about the regular fare, we may have to read between the solicitations’ lines — so let’s get on with it, shall we?

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A NEW 52 FOR THE NEW 52

And here it is, Futures End. Last year I wrote the New 52 needed its own version of 52, the year-long miniseries that spanned time and space to focus on the lesser lights of the superhero line. I talked about exploring the geography of the still-new shared universe, doing character studies, and essentially giving the reader a good sense of place and/or connection.

Obviously it’s too early to tell whether Futures End will do that, but by the same token I see a decent amount of scope to May’s four issues. I do note that the “war with another Earth” bit is ambiguous enough to refer either to Forever Evil or to something else — maybe, as I’ve been suggesting for a while, something involving Earth-2 — and that could have repercussions on the next few months’ worth of regular superhero fare.

Indeed, speaking of Earth 2, its solicitation indicates the current total-war/evil-Superman storyline is reaching a climax. If it comes to a head in June or July, it might start crossing over into the regular DC-Earth’s series before the summer’s over. In fact, the Worlds’ Finest listing suggests that may happen, at least in that book, pretty soon.

DOOMBOTS

I’m not sure the New 52 needed a new version of the Superman/Doomsday story. As I understand it, the original Doomsday story was deliberately simple: Something comes out of the middle of nowhere and starts tearing up everything in its path; only Superman can stop it; and it costs Superman his life. It took six issues, and that was apparently the end of Doomsday. Before too long, though, Dan Jurgens put out a few more Doomsday miniseries (including one where Brainiac took over Doomy’s body, and one exploring the post-traumatic stresses on a set of supporting characters). Eventually, the big gray plot device became a pointy punching bag.

In short, Doomsday is a good example of a character created to do a specific thing, and who did that thing, but who DC apparently couldn’t bear to leave in limbo. Moreover, I’d say Doomsday is a character who plays specifically on the notion that Superman has been around for so long that the only thing left to do is to kill him. The New 52 Supes doesn’t have the history that the Superman of 1992 did (and that’s saying something, considering Superman had just been revamped in 1986), so to have an All-New, All-Different Doomsday pop up now, he’d better have a lot more going for him.

GREEN LANTERNS AND OTHERS

The post-Forever Evil lineup of the Justice League includes Lex Luthor and Captain Cold, so you have to think it’s going through a bit of a phase. In that respect, I suppose that putting the new Power Ring on the team (which the solicit seems to imply) makes a certain amount of sense. Still, as the ring apparently houses an evil entity that preys on the wearer’s fears — and probably isn’t too good for the wearer as a general rule — I am not sure how long she’ll be Power Ring. Of course, with most of the Earth-oriented Green Lanterns busy out in space, and Simon Baz’s status unclear, I’m not sure how long it’ll be before she comes in contact with an Oan power ring, either. Hope this doesn’t mean Simon should be watching his back.

After a few months of being fairly interconnected (except for Larfleeze, naturally), the GL books are mostly striking out on their own again. Larfleeze and the new Sinestro are standalone, but I’m a little surprised to see New Guardians distancing itself from the other series. Red Lanterns is connected to Supergirl, and the two main GL titles are crossing over in May, but they’re doing so in ways that don’t feel as forced as they have in the past. I do wonder when GL itself will get back to Earth, though.

Also, I note that the Green Lantern in Smallville Season 11 is/will be John Stewart. I don’t have a problem with it, but I do wonder — and just for curiosity’s sake, not in a “who are these people?” way — who’s reading Smallville Season 11, and if they’d be more familiar with John than with any of the others.

THIS AND THAT

I’m impressed with Jeff Lemire bringing back The Unimaginable in Justice League United #1. It was a Gardner Fox/Mike Sekowsky creation debuting in Justice League of America #42 (February 1966) and returning in issue #44, and it got upset that the JLA turned it down, but offered Metamorpho membership instead. Did you see the Star Trek tribute episode of Futurama? It was like that disembodied being, only not as good a prospect as Metamorpho. Anyway, The Unimaginable apparently showed up many years later in Valor, but other than that has languished in obscurity. Therefore, color me intrigued.

At the other end of the obscurity spectrum, Secret Origins issue 2 will feature the origin of Batman. Way to break new ground, DC! (I am curious to see how this issue handles the New 52 origins of Aquaman and Starfire, though.)

Last week’s Batman #28 revealed that Batman Eternal would shake up Selina Kyle’s status quo pretty significantly. It’s not the kind of thing which would necessarily mean the end of Catwoman, but if she’s going to be a big part of BE, her own series would have to adjust accordingly. I say all that because the current “Race of Outlaws” storyline in Catwoman may turn out to be the last “normal” Catwoman story for a while.

The Flash solicit makes it sound like Future Flash isn’t Wally West. Naturally, this could be deliberately misleading, because Future Flash could well be Future Wally. Regardless, good to know that Wally is still Iris’ nephew.

POTPOURRI

After twenty-plus years, Astro City gets its first guest artist, in the person of Graham Nolan. I always enjoy his work, whether it’s on a Bat-book or Rex Morgan, M.D. He’s a great fit for the world of Astro City, although I hope he doesn’t have to pinch-hit too often.

I haven’t followed Superboy since very early in its current run, so I can’t speak to the current plot, which apparently involves an evil future Superboy who’s replaced the original Kon-El. This plot has been going on for a while now, and it seems to have involved a few different creative teams, or at least a few different writers. Aaron Kuder is the latest one, and while he’s more visible (no pun intended) as the artist of Action Comics, he also wrote a pretty decent Parasite spotlight for Villains’ Month. Again, not sure how much longer the evil-Superboy plot can hang on, but here’s hoping Kuder does well with it.

The April solicits gave me a bit of hope that The Movement would hang on past its first year, but sadly, it’s not meant to be. It ends with May’s issue #12, and as a practical matter, I suppose we won’t see much of its characters outside the work of writer Gail Simone or artist Freddie Williams II. In other words, none of The Movement are going to join the next version of the Teen Titans. There’s good and bad in that — obviously this was a pretty personal project for Ms. Simone, and you might not want these characters released into the wilds of the DC Universe — so on balance, I’d settle for a guest-spot in Batgirl somewhere down the line.

COLLECTIONS

Seems like the Showcase Presents The Atomic Knights collection has been a long time coming. At one point I think the material was solicited as a hardcover, but I don’t remember that ever being published. Anyway, I have heard good things about these stories, which started out as a variation on DC’s Silver Age sci-fi comics. Clearly they couldn’t be too dystopian in the mid-1960s, but when the setting was revisited in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the stories got darker. Along the way they got co-opted into Kamandi’s “Great Disaster” (post-Kirby, I think) and Superman guest-starred, so the reader interested in DC obscura can find some familiar guides.

Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s Doom Patrol gets the Omnibus treatment. This isn’t that surprising, given the popularity of these creators on this book — and by the way, Doom Patrol vol. 2 #19 just turned 25 last fall — but you don’t see a lot of Vertigo in the Omnibus format. I’ve got the singles and the six paperbacks, so I’m not exactly in the market for this big brick of weird; but if you’re so inclined, it’s still one of the best superhero comics ever made.

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