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Grumpy Old Fan | That extra “one”: DC’s July 2012 Solicits

by  in Comic News Comment
Grumpy Old Fan | That extra “one”: DC’s July 2012 Solicits

Good grief, it’s the eleventh month of the New-52! The forty-six books left from the original class are just about ready to wrap up their first year, and in some cases their second collection. Where does the time go? (And when can we stop calling it the “New” 52?)

In fact, both Batman #11 and Animal Man #11 promise “stunning conclusions” to their inaugural arcs. Of course, the Owls storyline looks more like a traditional multi-title crossover (even if most of it takes place in the main Batman book), whereas Animal Man’s storyline only involves an Annual and a little bit of Swamp Thing. Usually I am frustrated with the very idea of looking ahead three-plus months, because it’s the serialized-comics equivalent of being forced to check your watch halfway through a movie. Here, though, knowing that these two series are headed for big finishes in July helps adjust my expectations about where they are now.

Similarly, we’ve seen three months’ worth of solicitations (and more than that in hype) on the two Earth-2 titles, but for me that’s built up anticipation. Despite the concept’s radical reworking, I’m eager to see how it all comes together.

Now to more specific comments….

COVERS, JUDGING

Even if it’s just the cover of issue #11, I won’t turn up my nose at Bryan Hitch doing Justice League work. I liked his brief stint as JLA penciller (a dozen years ago, during the Waid Era) — although ironically, I think the classic costumes are better-suited to his style.

At first the cover of Aquaman #11 seemed like just another in a long (well, eleven months) line of “sometimes a trident is just a trident” offerings. In other words, having the Sea King indulging in a good poke (sorry!) seemed to have been a not-so-subtle way to offset the character’s perceived ineffectuality. However, a quick check of the Aquaman cover gallery at GCD shows that, in fact, the trident was only being used actively on the covers of issues #1-4, whereupon it took a break, presumably until June’s issue #10. Consequently, on that cover, Aquaman wields it against Black Manta, such that on July’s cover of #11, it’s done its work. Again, sometimes a trident is just a trident, but I’m still glad to see it’s apparently not shorthand (d’oh! inadvertent!) for something else.

Speaking of covers, Cliff Chiang just knocks it out of the park every month on Wonder Woman. I didn’t like the Amazons’ new backstory, but Brian Azzarello and Chiang have built up enough goodwill with me that I’m willing to see where it goes — and the sight of Wonder Woman striking a Machiavellian pose in royal garb seems to play nicely into what we’re learning.

MULTIPLE CHOICE

And speaking of the Amazing Amazon, it’s good to see DC putting out some all-ages Wonder Woman material. As much as I have liked the monthly WW book, there’s not a lot I’d feel comfortable showing to kids.

Regarding the Dark Arrows of Green Arrow #11: there’s something really twisted and appropriate about an “evil Green Arrow” sporting an old-school-GA-style goatee.

I like the idea of Action Comics #11 exploring “Earth’s first Superman,” mostly because I wouldn’t put it past Grant Morrison to sneak in a parallel-world Supes. Of course, he’s already done a Golden-Age-style Superman, but Morrison loves alternate versions.

POTPOURRI

The solicit for Superman #11 mentions “the true nature of Superman’s costume,” but don’t worry, I’m not going to make a Venom reference here. Instead, based on the costume-change scene in issue #7, I’m guessing that (at the very least) it’s the kind of thing which could be altered rather easily into something less armor-y — say, with a wider neck and a little more red around the lower torso?

Oh, and I notice that Keith Giffen isn’t listed as co-writer on Supes #11. I’m well aware of Dan Jurgens’ bona fides, but I did think Giffen worked well with him on the aforementioned #7.

So, according to G.I. Combat #3, the Unknown Soldier has superpowers now? My excitement for this series just took a hit.

At first I didn’t want the Leviathan from Frankenstein #11 to have any connection with the great whale from The Unwritten — but now I am not so sure. After all, a different (?) Frankenstein showed up in Unwritten as well.

There’s been a good bit of buzz around the upcoming James Robinson/Philip Tan Masters of the Universe miniseries, and I understand it’s an important cultural touchstone for a lot of folks my age. It seems like a good fit, and should be a good seller for DC as well. Personally, I was never a big MOTU fan, but it’s the kind of thing I could see DC building a little cottage industry around, kind of like the Star Trek and D&D books were in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Either that or it’ll be treated like an old WildStorm adaptation and fade away after the miniseries ends.

OBSCURITIES

I was about ready to buy Walt Simonson’s Judas Coin just on the strength of Batman, so it’s just gravy that it’ll involve some of the other DC characters with whom Simonson’s been associated. Perhaps this will encourage DC to reprint that Simonson-centered paperback collection from the late ‘80s, with his Hercules, Metal Men, and Doctor Fate stories — or even a Batman-centered Simonson hardcover with that “Dark And Stormy Night” two-pager that he and Len Wein adapted from a certain world-famous novelist….

It’s a very minor nitpick, I know — and I’m glad that DC is launching what amounts to a second Showcase-style anthology — but I do wish that the new National Comics was a proper ongoing series, and not just a series of issue #1s with different character-based subtitles. There’s no way around it, though: you couldn’t have National Comics: Eternity #1, National Comics: Madame X #2, etc. Anyway, Kid Eternity by Jeff Lemire and Cully Hamner sounds very promising. Since the solicitation doesn’t mention it, the original Kid Eternity could whistle up (temporarily, of course) anyone who’d died anytime he needed help. Most of the time it was the likes of George Washington or even Genghis Khan, and I want to say at one point in the ‘90s he called on a post-GL, pre-Spectre Hal Jordan. Tailor-made for modern reinvention, no?

COLLECTIONS

It’s great that Absolute Final Crisis collects the Batman and Director’s Cut material, but I’m a little peeved about the new story pages. Here’s hoping they make their way into a more conventional (and less pricey) collection later on.

Have I mentioned previously that DC needs to keep a collection of all the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams Green Lantern issues in print pretty much in perpetuity? Clearly the upcoming paperback is a step in the right direction. In the ‘90s, these stories had been collected in two paperbacks, and then in a single hardcover, but not so much since then. (Come to think of it, an Absolute Edition would be nice….) This collection looks about the same as that hardcover, since it includes the first three Flash backup stories (GA goes to a monastery), as well a standalone backup from Flash involving a novel susceptibility of GL’s ring. In any event, well worth your $30.00 retail.

To a certain extent, the same applies to Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude’s World’s Finest paperback (reprinting the 3-issue 1990 miniseries). It’s a nifty story which really takes advantage of the setting-swapping possibilities (although Robin isn’t in it, probably because it came out during Tim’s pre-costume training period). I will say that the last edition of World’s Finest was criticized for technical issues, so caveat emptor, especially given David Mazzucchelli’s similar criticisms of the latest Batman: Year One collection.

Volume 3 of the revised No Man’s Land collection won’t be out until August. I just got Volume 2 Wednesday, so it’s nice to know I have plenty of time to read it.

I know it’s just DC/Vertigo’s reprint schedule, but it was still a little surprising to see the final collection of House Of Mystery in these solicits. Actually, I was more surprised that the series only ended late last year and, therefore, that this collection will appear some ten months after the final issue. Trade-waiters probably won’t have to go that long between collections, but it still seems like a long interval.

Hitman’s been gone for a while too, but I’m still a little bummed to see the final collection solicited. Naturally, it includes the JLA/Hitman miniseries, which was a fine coda for Tommy Monaghan.

MERCH

DC has done Frank Miller/Dark Knight memorabilia before, so I’m not knocking them for something as natural as a Batman-vs.-Superman statue. Instead, I’m a little amazed it took DC Direct — excuse me, DC Collectibles — as long as it did.

The Arisia Ame-Comi statue looks more faithful to the regular costume than the Ame-Comi versions usually get. I guess that tells you all you need to know about the regular Arisia costume. Anyway, it’s a nice statue, even if that “Champion of Cuteness” slogan makes you cringe.

* * *

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

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