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Grumpy Old Fan | So it begins: DC’s April solicitations

by  in Comic News Comment

This look at DC’s latest round of solicitations may be quicker and dirtier than usual, mostly because this week I thought I was going to be talking about Teen Titans’ cancellation. We’ll do a little of that this week, along with the other titles on the chopping block.

However, for a while now we’ve known that April — being the first post-Forever Evil month — will feature some big changes, and those start right here.

BY THE NUMBERS

I count 47 ongoing New 52 series, but that includes the six books canceled as of April, and it only counts Batman Eternal — which, contrary to my expectation, is not solicited as a limited series — once. Thus, if DC still wants to hit the magic number, it needs to come up with 11 new series for May.

In terms of franchises, Batman still leads with nine titles (Batman, Detective, Batman and [Robin], Batwoman, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Batgirl, Batwing, Eternal), but Superman and Green Lantern each have six (Action, Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Batman/Superman, Superman/Wonder Woman; GL, GL Corps, GL: New Guardians, Red Lanterns, Larfleeze, Sinestro) and the Justice League still has four (regular, Dark, United, 3000). Those franchises account for 25 of the 41 surviving series.

Other associations suggest themselves:  Constantine, Phantom Stranger, Pandora, and Swamp Thing seem to be part of a “dark” group, Aquaman is getting a second series, we could add Birds of Prey and Red Hood to the Bat-total, and Worlds’ Finest and Earth 2 are naturally paired. That leaves six relatively standalone series: Secret Origins, Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman (yes, despite the Superman thing), The Movement, and All-Star Western. Makes me wonder how long it’ll be before Flash or Green Arrow gets a companion title. Green Arrow and the Outsiders, anyone?

MANY HAPPY RETURNS

Doomsday comes back in the three remaining Super-titles, emerging from the Phantom Zone in Action #30 (April 2), causing trouble in Superman/Wonder Woman #7 (April 9), and headed through the Earth’s core in Superman #30 (April 23).

Elsewhere, SHADE (late of Frankenstein) returns in Red Hood #30, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Scott Kolins pit G’Nort (!) against Larfleeze, and Gail Simone brings Ragdoll back (!!) in Batgirl #30.

Also in Gail Simone news, not only is The Movement not canceled (as of Issue 11), its first collection goes through issue #8. That suggests DC might want at least another eight issues for the second collection, which is good news for fans of the series.

VICTORY LAPS

I guess technically, Teen Titans won’t end with Issue 30, as its Annual #3 comes out a week later. (DC did something similar with the New 52’s Justice League International Annual.) Again, much more on Titans next week.

Ironic that Dick Grayson’s origin is retold two weeks after Nightwing ends. Maybe that’s supposed to be a consolation to distraught Wingnuts (are they still called that? I remember when they were Robin-Rooters). My money’s still on “Dick goes underground as a blond.” Maybe he’ll be the new Azrael. Remember, DC only canceled the original Nightwing ongoing series when Dick became Batman, and I have to think there’s a new Nightwing (if not a new person in the costume) waiting in the … well, you know.

I’m not surprised by the end of Superman Unchained. Scott Snyder and Jim Lee are both busy people, and I don’t know who DC could have gotten to replace either or both — or, for that matter, what would have justified another Superman ongoing. Anyway, these nine issues should make a good Absolute Edition.

Between the ends of Suicide Squad and Stormwatch, April’s not a good month for gritty, edgy super-teams. Again, I have to think that this is less final than it seems. Maybe there’s a Checkmate on deck?

ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT

One of those super-team slots will be filled by Aquaman and the Others. Now, I’ve always liked Aquaman, and I’ve liked his entourage, whether they’ve included Aqualad/Tempest, Mera, Dolphin, the Arthur Curry group from Sword of Atlantis, or just the finny friends. However, I don’t know that the world was clamoring for an Others ongoing series. I’ll try it — its fundamentals should at least be decent, with Dan Jurgens writing — but maybe that sense of ennui is why DC has tied it to Futures End.

By the way, I think the over/under for Aquaman and the Others should be 19 issues, because that’s how long Superboy and the Ravers lasted in the late ‘90s.  If leather-jacket Superboy could support a second title for more than a year and a half, surely Aquaman can do comparably well.

Batman Eternal is finally on the schedule, and despite its “big enough to fill every week” hype, it looks like it may be telling standalone stories for its first few issues. Jason Fabok draws the first three issues, and Dustin Nguyen returns to the main Bat-verse for the fourth, so it should look good. With five writers credited on every issue, I wonder if it’s going to be a 52-esque collaboration, with certain writers taking specific subplots. Of course, John Layman is leaving after Issue 4, so that’ll shake up the division of labor.

I am prepared to like Justice League United, because I’ve enjoyed Jeff Lemire’s superhero work and I’ve liked Mike McKone ever since his stints in the Justice League International days. Furthermore, I’m glad that since the “JLA as government pawns” subplot has apparently played out, the book — regardless of title or national affiliation — can get back to being a more straight-up adventure series, not dependent on an ongoing relationship to the main League. (That’s helped JL Dark too, I think.) Besides, having Adam Strange on the team pretty well guarantees getting away from Earth. As to JLA #14’s warning that “no one’s survival is assured,” I don’t see Vibe on the new United roster, and he got killed off toward the end of the original JLA series too. Oh, but DC wouldn’t do that again, so don’t worry too much.

Speaking of the main League, it’s appropriate that Sinestro gets his own book in the same month that Luthor becomes League leader. I think Geoff Johns may be positioning Luthor as the same kind of headliner Sinestro was in Green Lantern. He won’t like doing good, because it won’t be on his terms — and it’s a toss-up as to how sympathetic he’ll be.

The new Flash creative team takes over in April, with Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, and Brett Booth producing both issue #30 and Annual #3. Venditti and Jensen have been decent but not great on the Green Lantern books, so we’ll see what they bring to the Flash. Meanwhile, Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul move over to Detective Comics, no doubt inviting comparisons to their stylish Flash work. I’m just glad they’re still doing superheroes.

Not that it’s new or different, but it won’t fit anywhere else: I had dropped Catwoman during the whole “Underground/Joker’s Daughter” storyline, but the “Race of Outlaws” arc sounds intriguing. Maybe it’ll be a good paperback.

And that brings us to …

COLLECTIONS

The Shazam! paperback looks surprisingly affordable, so I’ll look forward to re-reading it in that format. The new hardcover of Dan Slott and Ryan Sook’s Arkham Asylum miniseries should look nice next to the spring and summer’s new Amazing Spider-Man issues.

I’m very glad to see Showcase Presents Super Friends Volume 1 on the schedule. I have a couple of color paperbacks DC put together a while back, but they were kind of hit or miss in terms of issues collected. Actually, I wonder if this volume will be the only Super Friends collection for a while, since the original series only ran for 47 issues and this collects 34 of those. I don’t see DC doing a Volume 2 just for those last 13.  Still, SPSF will give the 5-year-old more reading material.  She loves the more recent DC Super Friends paperbacks (collecting the very clever Sholly Fisch-written series) and we should work through all of Tiny Titans by the time the older Super Friends book comes out.

The John Ostrander/Tom Mandrake Spectre series is one of those about which I have heard good things, but which (for whatever reason) at the time I chose not to read. Same goes for their later Martian Manhunter series. I did read their Firestorm run, but that must have been the least-popular of their collaborations. Anyway, I have no excuse for not picking up this chunky (320 pages!) paperback when it comes out in May.

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